Meditation: Visiting the Golden Queen, Hulda
You awake to find yourself in a forest of birch trees just before dawn. It is early spring and the air is damp and cold. Paperwhite narcissus nod their heads beneath the stands of slender white birch. You face the east, and notice a rosy glow in the sky there.
Suddenly from a thicket a rabbit darts forth. It stops in your path and sits upright on its haunches observing you. Its dark sparking eyes regard you coolly. It twitches its nose at you, as if to say, “follow me!” It turns slowly to the east and dashes through the forest. You hurry eastward after the rabbit. As you follow it you begin to realize that it is leading you along a clear and straight path through the forest, although you had not noticed the path before.
The rosy glow of the eastern sky deepens and shifts to soft coral pink and brilliant orange. A flock of geese fly overhead. They honk urgently as they sail through the flaming sky. You can feel yourself beginning to warm as you move swiftly down the path towards the growing light. You can see that the rabbit has stopped ahead in a bright clearing.
As you enter the clearing you are amazed to see a lake of fire flowing by it. Bright tongues of flame lick the bank like waves, and molten lava mixes with pure fire along the shores of this mysterious lake. The rabbit dashes along the riverbank and stops to look back at you, drawing your attention to a small boat tethered to the shore.
You approach the boat and notice a robed and hooded boatman within. His face is hidden in the shadows of his hood, but he stretches forth a pale bony hand towards you. You reach into your crane bag and pull forth a gold coin. On the face of the coin is the profile of a beautiful and merry lady with ornately braided hair. On its reverse is a lantern and two crossed brooms.
You place the coin into the boatman's skeletal hand and climb into the boat. The boatman pushes off and begins to row you eastward through the lake of fire. The heat of the lake is immense, but also comforting. You realize that this heat is the warmth of spring. It is the heat that melts snows and encourages tender plants to grow. The light of the lake is intense, but also beautiful. You understand that this light is the light of the sun at dawn. It paints the sky in brilliant shades of orange, rose, and crimson.
The boat is now ashore on this merry island. You climb out of the boat and as you set your feet upon the island you notice that they feel very light, as if imbued with natural grace. You feel warmth and joy flowing upwards from the land to your heart and all of your being is infused with comfort and contentment. The scent of a warm savory feast greets your nose, and lingers there with the smells of frankincense and amber. You smile widely and warmly.
The immense golden doors of the castle open to you, revealing a shining hall filled with laughter and song. The golden hall is draped with banners of many colors, and in it is an impossibly long table of birch. Seated at this table are heroes of myth and legend. Cuchulain feasts on roasted meat and golden mead while Odysseus and Finn MacCool laughingly trade boasts and riddles. Hercules drinks deeply of the toast that Boudica proclaims in honor of a song Orpheus has just sung. From beside him Taliesin smiles at you and waves you over. “We've been expecting you,” he says merrily. You ask him where you are and he replies, “There are many names for this place. Some call it Valhalla. Others call it Hell. I call it the Castle of Revelry. It is the home of Queen Hulda and her golden lantern.”
Taliesin points to a set of double doors near you. The doors are solid gold and covered in countless finely sculpted symbols. Among these you notice a goose and a broom. You move to touch the doors and they swing open at your gesture.
“I am called Hulda” she says. Her voice is a mixture of sultry, dusky alto and the tinkling of tiny brass bells. You can taste warm honey in your mouth when she speaks. The scent of frankincense and cinnamon fills your nostrils. Your entire being is infused with radiant heat and you feel slightly dizzy.
Hulda laughs. Her laugh is intoxicating and you can feel your head swimming in confusion and wonder. Hulda leans forward on her throne and captures your gaze. “I have a message for you,” she says. She takes your hand and whispers her secret message in your ear.
Hulda bids you farewell and kisses your cheek. Your flesh stings at the hot touch of her lips. The lantern beside her brightens like the white hot sun and you begin to sweat. You take your leave of the room hastily, disoriented by the heat and light.
Back in the great hall heroes continue to feast boisterously. Two yellow haired Valkyries gently take you by the arms and lead you through the hall. Taliesin winks at you as you pass by. The Valkyries escort you out the door of the Castle and into the boat you arrived in. They pay the boatman a gold token and you drift swiftly back across the lake of fire to the gray-skied birch forest. Geese honk in the distance. At the shore of the gray spring land is the start of a footpath, the same straight path that the rabbit first lead you down. You follow the path back through the birch forest, past the thicket and the paperwhite narcissus, back to the place where you awoke. You lay down in the cool, damp springtime forest and rest.