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A Healing Myth

By "Nihasa" 


      This story can have a powerful healing effect when read out 
      loud (or recorded and then played) to someone suffering from 
      a phobia or other effect of childhood trauma. While names, 
      settings, and style can be varied to suit individual tastes, 
      the sequence which the apprentice describes, the sequence 
      the princess goes through, and the vagueness of the "bad 
      thing" descriptions should remain unchanged and no element 
      of the story should be left out. 

      Once, in another time and another place, a kingdom of magic 
      and beauty knew a time of peace. No armies threatened its 
      boarders, no bandits plundered its trade routes, no plagues 
      sickened its people. Yet even in such peaceful times, bad 
      things could happen: accidents, misunderstandings, even 
      good people doing bad things. 

      The third daughter of the king was a bright and cheerful 
      sort. She wasn't the strongest or the prettiest of the 
      royal princesses, but she did have the nicest wings of 
      anyone her age. She loved to fly around the countryside 
      and explore the groves and meadows she found...they were 
      always full of surprises. 

      One day she found a particularly pretty grove, with a pond 
      glistening in a little clearing in the middle. As she went 
      in for a closer look, she saw images start to form. She saw 
      her own reflection, and as she lightly touched the ground 
      she saw that her reflection was watching reflections of her 
      own...dim watery reflections from her past. 

      "So you can see the pictures." The voice from among the 
      trees made her jump. "Don't worry," continued the young man 
      as he stepped out from among the trees, "nobody else can see 
      the same images, Princess. It's part of the magic." 

      "How...?" she asked, looking him up and down. He was a young 
      man, no older than the princess herself, dressed in the 
      rough tunic of a wizard's apprentice. "Who are you? How did 
      you know who I am, what I saw?" 

      "I am apprenticed to the Court Wizard. Everybody knows who 
      you are, Princess...and besides, I have seen you at the 
      palace when I have been there with my master." He paused, 
      glancing at the ground and lowering his voice. "As to the 
      images...well, at one time I had need of their magic." 

      "When I entered the Wizard's service, I had a great and 
      secret fear. Something...bad...happened to me when I was 
      younger. It hurt to even think about, and after time I 
      didn't think about it much. But ever since that time, I had 
      lived with the fear. When my master learned of this, he 
      taught me the magic of this pool and its stream." 

      "The pool reflects images from your mind...scenes from your 
      past, dreams of the future, even fantasies of the present. 
      The stream flows like time itself, upstream into the past, 
      and downstream into the future. If I followed the ritual he 
      described, these magics could wash clean the fear." 

      She made a face. "I suppose this ritual involves deep magics 
      usable only by Wizards?" 

      "Not really. All the magic is in the waters, and anyone can 
      use the ritual. Even a lowly apprentice." He grinned. "It's 
      pretty simple. After he told me about it, he brought me here 
      and then stood back by the trees. He said that he would 
      answer any questions I had but otherwise I was on my own." 

      "I stood where I could see my reflection in the pool, and 
      then thought about my fear. As I thought, my reflection 
      watched a reflection of my thoughts...like a stage where 
      dimly lit actors played out the scene against a colorless 
      backdrop. I looked up and saw that I was still here, in the 
      glade. I looked back at the water, holding on to a small 
      part of the special feeling of fear it had given me. As I 
      turned and looked back upstream, I saw more images...each 
      earlier than the last. I relaxed and let the feeling guide 
      me back to the earliest image. When I had that, I turned 
      back to the pool and found my reflection watching the same 
      colorless players in their dim reflection of the memory. As 
      my reflection watched, the image went from a time shortly 
      before the bad thing happened, through the whole thing, and 
      on to a time when it was all over. When it passed the ending 
      that way, it stopped...like a drawing. Then the drawing 
      faded away, and I was just looking at my reflection. The 
      Wizard had told me that if I stepped into that last part of 
      the image, it would run very quickly backwards, with full 
      color and sound and me living backwards through it all...all 
      the way through to the part before the beginning. It sounded 
      very strange. As I looked at my reflection again, it was 
      watching the image go forward again in its dim, colorless 
      way. When it reached the drawing at the end, I stepped into 
      the image and was plunged into a world going backwards! It 
      went clear through to before the beginning in less than a 
      second, then stopped. Startled, I let the water carry me 
      downstream, through all that had happened since, with the 
      fear gone and the memory unable to hurt me. When I reached 
      the here-and-now, I got out and just stood there, knowing 
      that the fear would trouble me no more." He stopped, and 
      suddenly seemed to remember where he was, and who he was 
      talking to. "That was over a year ago, and the fear is still 
      gone. The Wizard says it is gone for good." 

      She thought for a moment. "So all there is to this ritual is 
      think of the problem until your reflection sees it, follow a 
      part of the feeling upstream to my earliest memory of it, 
      wait for my reflection to see it all the way through, step 
      into the ending, and live it backwards quickly? What kind of 
      magic is that?" 

      He thought for a minute, shrugged, and said "Effective? If 
      you wish, I will withdraw to the trees while you try it." 

      "What makes you think that I NEED it?" 

      "Because the images only come to those who do." His voice 
      faded to an embarrassed silence as he realized what he had 
      said. "I'll go now." 

      "Yes, do." She said absently, already thinking. Then: "But 
      not too far, in case I need you." She was remembering an 
      incident a few days back which had set off her special fear, 
      and just as the apprentice had described, her reflection in 
      the pool was watching a dim and watery scene of the memory. 
      Startled, she looked up again. Yes, she was in the clearing, 
      with the trees all around and the apprentice all but lost 
      among the closer ones. She could still feel a part of that 
      fear, so she kept that feeling while she looked back up 
      stream at all the images from the past that the feeling had 
      touched...until she found the earliest of them all. She 
      brought that memory back to the pool and released it as her 
      reflection started to watch it unfold in its dim and watery 
      way. Her reflection seemed to have a life of its own as it 
      watched the pale scene start before anything happened, run 
      through the bad parts, and then pause at a time when it was 
      all over. She watched her reflection shift as she prepared 
      for what she would do. Her reflection settled as it watched 
      the scene unfold again. The dim scene passed through the 
      beginning, through the bad time and on past again. When it 
      stopped, she jumped in to it. Suddenly, she was there again: 
      back where and when it had happened. Everything was moving 
      backwards, and in a flash she had lived backwards through it 
      and past the beginning. Shocked, she let the water carry her 
      down stream, forward through all the rest of her yesterdays 
      without the bad times for company. When she got to today, 
      she stood up. There she was...standing, dripping in a stream 
      in the clearing. She looked around for the apprentice, half 
      expecting him to be laughing at the soggy mess she must be. 
      He was there, by the trees...not laughing, just smiling in 
      an understanding way. 

      In the years that followed, they became friends. Although 
      they went their separate ways...he, as wizard to one of the 
      King's high lords and she as wife to a neighboring prince... 
      they valued that friendship to the end of their days. And 
      from that time on, neither was ever again troubled by their 
      great fears. 
                                    .........