A folk tale by Georgie Grant, 2023
There once was a woman born of five witches (and a wizard called Tim).
Her birth was not easy, it was a journey of quests and adventures over many many years. Quests that would test the witches to the edges of their power. In order for her to be born, the witches had to learn how to open a portal into another world.
They learnt their collective power was formidable, and were able to open a chink in the universe large enough to act as gateway. When she was born, they called her Esther. The witches were both Great Mother and Divine Father to her. From the Great Mother Esther was nourished, soil from the red sandstone created the pink of her skin, all that she was came from earth and she felt the richness of it. From the Divine Father she learnt the strength of the world, the metal that gave her armour and the power of her rightful authority. From them both she learnt of creativity and life, of the connection of all things.
Each witch gave Esther gifts of themselves. One gave the ability to believe anything is possible, to overcome great adversity. One gave her the power to change minds and to teach of a way of life that would restore balance. One gave her regenerative powers of life, her spark of energy that brought back zest. And one gave her ability to talk to the plant and animal spirits, and to know that she would always have friends who wanted to help her. Tim gave his gift of creating order out of chaos using spreadsheets and excellent graphs.
But this new world was young, and turbulent. As with all youth it was full of mistakes and learning and both Esther and the new world were learning together. For the witches, holding open the portal to the new world whilst still living in the dying old one proved to be an exhausting business. As they held the portal open, they were battered with the anger, doubt, fear and resistance of the old, and equally felt the uncertainty and vulnerability of the new.
Soon though, and sooner than the witches dared hope, Esther became more and more able to hold the portal open herself. Thanks to the gifts the witches had bestowed upon her she believed wholeheartedly in a new world of connection and solidarity. Of care and interdependence. To her, it was entirely normal. Her calm confidence changed many minds, she was home to people who had not realised they had yearned for her teachings of creativity and inspiration. She ignited energy in all who visited her. And, if and when she felt doubt she would consult the spiders in her corners, and the moss on her walls and they assured her of her path.
One day, a traveller came to visit. He was dressed in strange but comforting clothes, neither simple nor ornate. Neither familiar nor unfamiliar. He spoke of other portals in other places where new worlds were also being born, and some too that were so old they came from before the troubles. Each place was slightly different and manifest itself in different ways but at the core of all these places was a belief in a connection to all things. In solidarity and care, in equality and kindness. In balance. In health.
He suggested that it wasn’t necessary for the portals to grow so large they encompassed and engulfed the old world. Rather what was needed was a way of spraying water on the spider’s web of connections between the new worlds that could act as a map for others to find them. Once the paths to the portals were visible those who believed in the values of solidarity and connection, of care and compassion would find their way. Those who clung to the old gods of competition, status, money and power were welcome to stay there.
And so it was that pathways were created between the witches’ portals and others just like it. The pathways became known as keys, those who saw the path could follow it and unlock their way through the portal into the new world.
Esther’s key became an important and well known pathway to the new world. But, over time as the centuries past, it slowly became forgotten, known only as East Quay. Until..not so long ago, five women, and an accountant called Tim built a beautiful building, with pink skin, and metal armour, with connection, solidarity and creativity at its core, and once again, many people found their way there.