THE LEGEND OF THE CELTIC SPIRIT FLUTE

Broceliande, oh Broceliande! The word kept coming back to me… Viviane the fairy… Merlin…! I’d just woken from a dream, and what a dream it had been! It was impossible to get back to sleep, not even worth trying. The forest of Broceliande and its legendary characters kept running through my head. But there was a strange depth of detail to this dream that intrigued me: it warranted further investigation.

Seven days later I took a weekend out and headed to the place itself… Just like on the night of my dream, I found myself with my back to the stone known as the “Pas de la Chèvre". I took off directly southward. The voice in my dream had whispered to me: “Head towards the south; into the spring will the beech leaf fall, the way is shown, heed its call.”

And there I was- at the spring of Barenton, and there was a beech, a hulking great beast of a tree! There was not a breath of wind; I walked over deep, thick moss, my footsteps inaudible. I approached the foot of the leafy colossus, a disconcerting silence all around.

By what strange pass had I come to this place? Me, the rational thinker, the logical one! It was a good job no one could see me now.

All of a sudden the ground began to tremble beneath my feet. A reaction to my scepticism? Aghast, I leapt backwards, only to see the giant leaf-bearer begin to shift, its branches twanging like the prongs of a giant pitchfork. It let out a dull groan which rose rapidly in pitch to a shrill, ear-splitting whistle, to suddenly break off… and then, nothing, just a leaf, a solitary leaf, twirling down to land on one of the hundreds of twigs floating on the surface of the spring; in landing, it had formed the shape of an arrow.

Staggered, I stood rooted to the spot. My heart was pounding. As I leant tentatively towards the water to grasp the woody arrow the diaphanous shape of a face suddenly came into view through the crystalline waters. The face drew a great breath, its cheeks billowing with a vast white beard, and appeared to blow on the arrow, which began to twizzle like a compass before stopping dead towards the south-west; then, with an indulgent parting smile, the apparition was gone.

I grasped my compass, which was fixed unfalteringly in the position of due south. I was walking at a brisk pace, but where was I going? I was starting to lose my grip on reality!

The sun worked its gradual way toward the zenith; it would soon be 10 o’clock. The misty veil was being gently torn back. And then I started, I began running from one path to another, to find myself suddenly stumbling… falling… flat in the heather, out of which rose… the “"Tombeau des Géants".

It was ok, no broken bones. Just a bit of mud on my trousers. What was it that had tripped me anyway? I picked up a stone in my right hand, or more exactly, a piece of green shale. Nothing particularly surprising about that- the upper forest being underlaid by a series of eroded folds, alternating between six hundred million year old green shale and four hundred and fifty million year old red shale.

But what a fabulous piece of shale I had stumbled upon, just about the size of the palm of my hand, with streaming veins of pink traversing a copper oxide face, giving off flashes of jade. It was tangled up in a bramble root, which explained how it had been unearthed in my fall.

No matter how hard I tried there was no digging the root out of the fissured rock. Prompted into action by the renewed twitching of the magic pointer I had clasped between my fingers, I resorted to tearing the root off short of the stone and bundling the whole lot hurriedly into my pocket.

I found myself skirting round the chapel of St Jean. No doubt I had come to the end of my journey? Apparently not, for now I was taking off again, this time towards the “Basse Forêt” and “les Forges” in the east. According to the Ancients, it was in this place that the Celts used to perform the subtle process of blending iron with fire and water; any metal forged in this forest was said to hold magic powers. On the ground round about, partially covered by the ubiquitous moss, were blackened, earth-covered scoria, discarded no doubt by our industrious distant ancestors.

And now, led towards the north, I found myself standing opposite "le tombeau de Merlin". In the middle of a surreal sylvan world I cast my eyes over the surrounding megaliths, the eldest of which dated back to three thousand years B.C.. The place was drenched in mystery, the lichens seemed to draw a special force from the mineral world they were so bent on cloaking; they shone as though sprinkled with silver and gold dust by the loving hand of Morgan the sorceress in her sorrow at having kept the magus prisoner in the famous “neuf cercles” stone circle. At a loss, I sat down; my pointer had ceased to move. Did it really have a life of its own? The imagination can often play tricks with our mind, especially in such mythical places as these. I rolled the twig mechanically between my thumb and index finger and the leaf detached itself.

I slipped my left hand into the inside pocket of my jacket and took out the shale, still attached to the root that had tripped me. The wood had hardened, forming a kind of bizarre sculpture, with the rock as its base. I put the object down in front of me on one of the rocks surrounding the tomb.

A dull lethargy seemed to take hold of me. The rustling of the forest about me dragged me, as if intoxicated, towards a hypnotic sleep, which I must say was not unpleasant. The clearing was bathed in an intense light. I could hear what sounded like the chanting of a liturgy.

And suddenly, a strange procession emerged from the underwood… a procession of monks! They formed a circle and began chanting psalms in Latin. They paid me not the slightest bit of attention, as if I were not even there. The tallest among them, who was evidently the superior, lifted his hands towards the skies, or more precisely toward the bright light, now gaining in intensity and clarity. A human form became apparent.

A man dressed in a magnificent blue gown embroidered with gold thread descended slowly from the blue sky above; the crown on his head, inset with precious stones, illuminated the surrounding bushes.
It was King Arthur! He was now in the middle of the circle of monks. The monks bowed the knee as one, their faces toward the ground. The sovereign appeared in good spirits.
Taking the chief monk to one side, he placed something in his hand. The monk thanked him before striking up a final chant and leading his fellows back down the path along which they had come. The King turned towards me, carrying a kind of crystal horn in his hands. He stopped and placed it in the tangled root that I had just put on the ground.

A voice inside me said: “The quest for the glass has now come to an end. Take it now and use it well.”
The king came closer and closer. I was transfixed with fear. He drew a sign of peace in the air. Stricken with fear, I collapsed heavily into the deep ditch behind me…
It was a violent awakening. I had just fallen on to my bedroom floor. Somewhat bewildered, I began to gather my thoughts.

The whole thing had been concocted by my nocturnal imagination. A nice cup of strong coffee would do me a world of good.
Still feeling a little confused I set off in the direction of the kitchen. My night-time ruminations had already begun to fade away. Then, as I opened the door, my cat Merlin leapt past me and disappeared, howling with fright.
Surely not! Was I back in my dream? On the table stood the piece of shale, the woody root, the horn… yes, of course- A CELTIC SPIRIT FLUTE!! ...