When I was a child, I wanted to be two things: a knight and a magician. Druid, priestess, I didn’t care. What was important was to do magic.
It seems that I have succeeded at both, though by crooked and unpredictable paths.
I grew up in a very small village in Auvergne, the center of France. Both my parents were Nature-lovers and as soon as I could walk, they took me to the forest. For me, nothing was more normal than to live at the same rhythm as Nature. There were mushrooms to pick in autumn and hazelnuts on our tree. Winter was snowy and frosty, and the house was heated by means of a coal stove that produced a living, glowing heat, with cinders and ash. Spring came slowly, but brought daffodils and willow-catkins. Summer was still and hot, and mostly about vacations near the sea. But it also held strawberries and raspberries and red and black currants.
My youth happened in paradise, really. Magic was ever-present. The land was alive with whispers and bird calls and treasures to be found. When I got grown-up enough to go walking on my own, I started populating the forest with dreams and visions of my own making: fairies and knights and imps. Around ten years old, I stumbled upon my first heroic fantasy story. It was an animated series derived from the comic Prince Valiant, much modernized and with better character-design. In parallel, I read a lot of legends. In France, Brittany has always been a land of very much alive folklore and I drank its cultural production like cider. By the gallon!
I was in junior high school when I noticed I really wanted to be a knight. I loved the concept of the hero’s journey, their learning, their becoming wiser. Their meeting with strange creatures and old mentors that taught them. Gandalfs and Obi-Wan Kenobis, basically… And the hero was almost always a “he”. I didn’t care. Prince Valiant had Roxanne of Birchford, and at the end of the series, she became a knight of her own right. So that was fine, I could be one, too.
But at the same time, I yearned to be an earth-magician. I talked to trees and listened to the song of the rivers, and I longed for “real” magic, imagining what it would look like. Like a gift, I was pretty sure.
My passion for the Middle-Ages drew a rather straight path to my enrolling, in 2009, both in a historical fencing club and a Tolkien’s Middle Earth reenactment society. It seemed like I had reached my goal of becoming a knight. A rider of Rohan actually, which was even better.
But I actually was very bad at fencing. I didn’t know it then, but I was pretty disconnected from my own body. I had always been a worried child, and then, a stressed and anxious young adult. I had suffered from bullying at school for almost ten years, that had left marks on my mind and soul. I hadn’t expected to struggle that much with fencing. I understood none of it and my right arm ached like hell. It took me almost ten years to understand that all of my *right* side was stiff, and poorly supplied in energy. The right side, the masculine side.
My feminine side had also suffered a lot. The bullying I had to put up with had mainly been due to my apparent weirdness. I had been a polite child, very good at school, and uninterested in the mischiefs the other kids wanted to experiment at the same age. A bit of Hermione Granger before she was even invented. And I was tender on the inside. Oh, so tender. My kindness and my bewilderment at such violence as I had met at school had made me an easy target.
Much damage was done under the surface. Daily dread had sunk beneath my skin, only to make itself felt much later.
“Much later” started in 2009. The same blessed year when I joined my two beloved societies. The poison I had absorbed in my youth was demanding to get out. But in that time, I didn’t have the tools. I started reading Lise Bourbeau’s personal development books and they helped me a lot, but that wasn’t enough.
In 2011, I became aware of Reiki. My sister in law had taken her first level and I felt like it could take me farther. I had no idea how deeply it would change my life. And without noticing it, I had become a magician.
But my old demons were still to be transmuted and all my being needed me to take part in the process. At the beginning of 2012, I fell into a deep deep depression. All the darkness needed to arise, and my mind wouldn’t have been able to deal with the emotional load. So, all my body went into “basic functions only” mode, putting the mind to a temporary halt. But I hated every bit of it and waited for only one thing: to get better, quite ignorant of the fact that my own mistreated body was trying to save my life. When I emerged out of the darkness, I left my job and became a Reiki master and a coach but I was far from being done with the healing.
The two sides of me needed to be acknowledged and merged. Fear had intoxicated my masculine side, which tried to protect me from harm with control, so much control. My feminine side was almost choked by this sprawling mind that wanted my energy all for itself. But Reiki and earth-magic were still alive in me.
Little by little, I realized that my desire to be a knight had taught me the real symbolism of the sword: it cuts through illusion. It sorts what is true from what is not. Fear is never real.
Year by year, I learned to face the fears and also to hold space for the associated emotions to be FELT. The dread, the loneliness, the anger, the guilt I had locked up at my deepest core so as not to be overwhelmed by them when I was young needed an outlet through actual feeling. And my feminine side was ready to play her part. She could be there. She could love me through it all.
Little by little, my right side grew less stiff, and my right arm less painful. I accepted my level at fencing, and, with much patience, I let go of my merciless demand for performance and success in this area of my life. A sword is sharp, if you wield it the wrong way, you’re gonna cut yourself. Wielding your masculine side in order to “perform”, to try to impress everyone (including you) is signing up for a lifetime of cuts. Being a warrior is about being your own self in a life and a world that hasn’t yet learned acceptance and unconditional love. Not about hewing orcs to bits and bringing the Holy Grail to Camelot. Well, except if the Holy Grail is your authentic Self, of course.
I’m told that Camelot has a very nice shower-room, too. The perfect thing after fencing. Yay.
And it brings us to now. 2019, fall is almost here. The healing isn’t done yet, by far. I still have to learn many things: non-grasping, commitment to my sacred work and trust.
Trust, trust, trust. Because neither a warrior nor a healer always knows what they are doing. Sometimes, the page is blank, pure white. And you have to tread an unknown path and try and see for yourself. In these moments, there is no one but you. And Spirit. A silent, unseen Spirit. And only trust can take you to the next step, the next crossroad, the next journey.
No one is all-feminine or all-masculine. We all are combinations of each in different proportions. Just make sure both sides are heard and acknowledged. Yes, you can be a wizard AND a warrior. You can be a princess and a clown. A leader and a healer. All aspects of you are worthy and useful and, well… indispensable. They make you, you. But they’re gonna be expressed in your own unique way. Look at me: I definitely am a warrior and yet rather bad with a material sword. Who cares? I’m becoming quite good with a spiritual one.