Gigi let out a long, wistful sigh as she stood at the entrance of the labyrinth. As she looked out onto the candlelit expanse of the stonework floor she felt a slight shiver run up her spine. This was a different sensation than the feeling of life-force during her meditations, yet no less real a feeling. Her granddaughter was nearing the age, the time when Gigi would find out whether the teachings of her lineage would live on.
For Gigi, short for Hygigia, was the last in a long line of healers that, as far as anyone could tell, stretched back more than three hundred years to the founding of the little village that was her home. Her daughter, Maddie, bless her heart, possessed a unique knack for business and moved with ease through the physical world that thoroughly escaped Gigi’s understanding. Maddie had just as difficult a time grasping the world of her mother, with its flowing symbols and morphing metaphors that felt as ethereal as the undulating river of time.
Gigi was incredibly proud of her daughter, but one thing was evident from the start — Maddie was no shaman, to say nothing of a sha-woman. She simply had no interest in her mother’s manner of navigating the world. Although Maddie had listened politely to the stories that her mother had told, they remained no more than an effective way to keep children from getting bored before more modern methods of entertainment. Maddie’s child, Alisha was another story altogether. Gigi couldn’t recount how many times her granddaughter had asked her to retell the story of Humpty Dumpty and so many other tales.
No matter how many times Gigi told her granddaughter a story, she sat listening with rapt attention, focused on the nuance of every word and gesture that her grandmother made. Of course, this silence was immediately broken at the end of each tale, where Alisha invariably peppered her grandmother with a bevy of questions. Some were unanswerable. Others were more intriguing, leading Gigi to follow up Alisha’s questions with some of her own:
“Where did the egg come from?”
“Well, where do most eggs come from?”
“So Humpty came out of a bird?”
“Unless you think he came from a turtle or a snake.”
“No, I'm pretty sure that he came from a bird.”
“Alright then, you’ve figured it out - Humpty Dumpty came from a bird.”
Gigi was very careful not to guide her granddaughter, for tradition dictated that each person had to walk their own path, in their own unique way. Alisha didn’t say much about Humpty Dumpty for the next several months, especially after hearing how Athena, a true warrior-goddess had sprung fully formed from Zeus’ head.
Then one day, seemingly from out of the blue, Alisha asked her grandmother another question about Humpty Dumpty. Her question came right after Gigi had finished reading a series of nursery rhymes.
Grandma, what kind of bird did Humpty Dumpty come from?”
“Why don’t you tell me what you think?”
“Well, Humpty Dumpty must have been a very big egg, so he must have come from a very big bird.”
“That makes sense. So you're thinking he might have come from an ostrich?”
“I was thinking that Humpty Dumpty could have come from a goose. I mean ostriches are huge, but he could still have come from a goose, right?”
I don’t see why not.”
“Well, I think he came from a goose”, Alisha stated, as her finger jabbed at the picture on the front of her book of nursery rhymes.
“So, you think Mother Goose gave birth to Humpty Dumpty?” asked Gigi, as she looked at the cover of her granddaughter's book.
“I don’t see why not”, replied Alisha, sounding more like an adult than even her grandmother.
“Well, I don’t see why not either”, laughed Gigi.
“You know what?” Alisha asked.
“What’s that dear?”
“I think that Humpty Dumpty was a Golden Egg.”
“Why’s that?” said Gigi, genuinely intrigued as to what her granddaughter might say.
“Because all the king’s horses and all the king’s men were interested in him. They wouldn’t care about any old egg, now would they?”
“No, I suppose they wouldn’t, Dear.”, replied Gigi.
There was a fluidity and ease to Alisha’s questions that caught Gigi by surprise. Somehow, her granddaughter seemed to understand that there were some subtle ideas contained within these ancient tales. While Gigi doubted that Alisha was conscious of it, at least not yet, she seemed to sense that these stories, despite their disparities, might somehow be connected to one another through the metaphorical language of myth.
“Perhaps Alisha will choose to continue the traditions…”, Gigi thought to herself, “only time will tell.”
With a deep inhale, and a slow exhale, Gigi took her first step out onto the inky pattern of the labyrinth embedded into the surface of the stonework floor. Over the course of the next few hours, she would progress from the labyrinth’s outer edge to its innermost core, and back out again before making her way towards the ebon Goddess that overlooked the ever-flowing fountain.