You are walking on a forest path on a moonless night. Above you is a vast field of stars broken by the naked branches of trees. The night is cold, and the taste of the air in your mouth is like a drink of cool sparkling water. You walk, not knowing your destination, knowing only that this is an important path, not on the journey of feet, but on the journey of soul.
After some time, the stars ahead are obscured by a bulk of darkness. As you draw closer, the dark shape looms high overhead. Your feet encounter rocks, and you nearly stumble several times. Go slowly—there is no hurry.
Within several more steps, you begin to feel a damp breath on your face, colder even than the night air. There is a smell of earth and other, more subtle odors. You shuffle forward and your hands touch rock, dank and slick with moisture. Hands before you, you feel your way into what seems to be a cave. The opening is wide, but soon begins to narrow and constrict in height, forcing you to stoop. The unknown lies ahead, but your will is strong. This alone carries you forward.
Ten, twenty, thirty halting steps, and suddenly the cave opens to a chamber whose size you can only guess from the echoes of your steps. You pause, and listen.
From some distance away, you hear footsteps, and rasping breath. Not daring to move, you wait. A shuffle, an echo, a cough. Then, in an instant, a voice from right in front of you, “Seeker, why have you come to this place?”
In the darkness, you can barely make out her form. Her eyes, level with your own, glow with an unearthly blue light, like that of the hottest part of a flame. You answer her question as best you can, but you really don’t know why. She stops you, saying, “This is the darkest night, the darkest Moon. This is my time, and I have drawn you here. I am the Crone, who stands at the crossroads between darkness and light. Come, we must walk.”
She takes you by the hand and leads you deeper into the cave. The darkness gathers around you until it is complete. Your world narrows to the sound of steps and breath, echoing from the cold rock. You must trust in the Ancient One who holds your hand in hers.
After some time, the path begins to narrow and descend. She leads you, your hands on her shoulders, down and down, as the way turns to an endless set of stairs, winding down into the Earth.
At last, the stairs end, and you are once more in a larger chamber. Dim light filters from an unknown source, and you see that the space is dominated by a dark pool of water. The Old One bids you to shed your clothing, then guides you gently to the edge of the pool. You slide into the water. It is not cold, as you expected, but heated to a warmth that soothes and relaxes you. You find that you can float completely immersed in this gentle place. You rest in its depths, without thought or care, for an endless time.
Presently, you feel the touch of a hand, and you are drawn upward into the chamber. You come to your feet, and the Crone stands before you with both of your hands in hers. Slowly, before your wondering eyes, she begins to change. Her dark and withered form becomes straighter, her aspect more youthful with every breath. What once was the most ancient of beings is now a radiant young woman, fair of hair and clothed in flowing white.
“I am the Maiden. With each turn of the Moon, I grow and mature into fullness, then wane again into my ancient self. You have come to me at the moment of my rebirth, and through this, have yourself been reborn. Know this wisdom: you contain within you the power to be reborn endlessly, if you would only realize it. Remember this moment, and carry it with you into your daily life. This is the gift of the Moon, blessed one.”
With that, she leads you once more, ascending now on stairs and path, retracing your journey. Her gentle radiance illuminates the way, and it seems your return to the surface takes no time at all. She stops, and touches you on the shoulder. You kneel, and receive her kiss on your brow, the place of your inner sight. You rise, and depart into the outer world.
Low in the sky, you see the slimmest crescent of light. It is the Old Moon in the New Moon’s arms. The Maiden has returned, bringing hope and light to the world.