Elf Salon ~ featured elf

The Elf Salon spotlights different elves from the Gallery and tells the stories of my encounters with them. It will be updated periodically, so please check back the next time you're in the neighborhood. The Salon is now featuring:



"Magic is all around us — everywhere."

I emerge through a forest into a landscape of rolling hills.  The forest is behind me, slightly to my left.  The path I am standing on leads up and over a small hill.  Toward the crest of the hill, on both sides of the path there are several large stones — dark gray with broad, flat surfaces like slate or shale.

A figure walks towards me on the path — having climbed the hill from the other side.  As he passes between the stones I can see his face; it is the one from my painting.

I stand and wait for him to approach.  He is wearing a cloak made of some type of animal skin with the fur attached.  A large silver broach clasps the cloak at his throat.  Beneath the cloak he wears a dark green tunic, brown leather belt, brown trousers and brown leather boots that stop several inches below the knee.

He sees me waiting on the path and smiles in friendly greeting.  He does not seem to recognize me, but his manner is warm, open and welcoming.  I feel comfortable in his presence.

He is a bit surprised at encountering a stranger on this path.  I explain that I am from a different world, and that, by some magic I don’t really understand I have painted a picture of him.  Because of it, I have come here to meet him and learn more about him.  How easy it is now to make this explanation; it doesn't  even sound strange to me anymore.

Nor, apparently, does it sound so very strange to him.  He is interested, but shows no amazement or disbelief.  I wonder if this kind of thing happens to him all the time.

As I finish speaking, I begin to receive mental impressions — thoughts feelings, images directly from his mind.  He obviously does not require speech to communicate, although my mind automatically translates much of what I receive into words so that the communication is easier (for me) to follow.

Garen, he tells me, is his name, and he lives here in a — town? conclave? I am not sure of the correct word.  At any rate, a community of some sort within the hills ahead of us.  I receive an image of an opening in the hillside leading to vast, ornate caverns glowing orange with the light of fire and torch.

Garen is a craftsman, a worker in metal and gems.  The clasp holding his cloak is an example of his work.

I am surprised to hear this — having thought from his portrait that he might be a warrior of some kind.

He is entertained by this idea, his eyes light with laughter.  He is also surprised that I could think so.  There are no warriors at all among his folk — they are a peaceful people.  Many are artists and crafters of some sort, as he is, and others tend and care for animals.

The animals he shows me are not the usual pastoral farm animals I am familiar with, but wild beasts – hunting birds, and wolves and graceful deer-like creatures.  His people do not raise animals for food although they do hunt upon occasion.  They tend these beasts out of love and a sense of responsibility — as one cares for kin.  The word that comes to me is "guardianship."  I next see an image of a lovely, young-looking woman with long, wavy dark hair.  She is Garen’s mate, a healer.  I see her caring for both the wild beasts and Garen’s people, making no distinctions between them.  Again, Garen projects surprise that I would attempt to create this kind of separation.  A healer, I understand from him, is someone who heals all living beings — of whatever sort they happen to be.

Much information is being conveyed through this silent exchange.  Garen  responds to even my unverbalized thoughts, answering questions before I can ask them.  His people hunt, but do not farm, I learn, although there is another group of people nearby — people more like me, I think — who live above the ground and tend the land, planting and harvesting crops.  They co-exist peacefully and frequently trade with Garen’s folk for goods and services.

I wonder how I came to paint Garen’s portrait since he clearly has not been aware of me until this moment.  Are his people magic-workers, like Niniane?

Garen shakes his head, smiling at my thought.

Magic is a very big term, he informs me, encompassing all of nature.  As his people perceive it, magic is all about them — everywhere.  Magic is in the earth and air, the stars, moon and sun and is the very essence of all living beings.  Magic is a natural part of their daily lives and they "work" with these energies of nature according to their individual talents and inclinations.  How could it be otherwise?

Garen indicates that he wants to show me something that might explain the mystery of how his face appeared on my drawing board.

He leads me back the way I came, towards the trees and off the path into the woods.  There is another path there, less well defined, and obviously less-traveled.  We follow it a short distance.

As we walk I have been marveling at the size of the trees here.  They are huge — much bigger than any I have seen, in my world or on my other travels.  Soon Garen stops and motions ahead of him.

I look where he indicates and see a tree so vast my mind can hardly encompass it.  This tree is enormous — it is to the old-growth redwood trees of California as they are to the saplings in my neighborhood park.

Up and up I look, trying to get a sense of the tree’s height, giving up when vertigo overtakes me gratefully letting my eyes slide back down to the base of the trunk.

Garen is patiently waiting for me to focus on the small pool of dark water there.  He stands a few feet away from me at its edge.

I approach slowly, feeling something different in the air — a fresh, tingling sort of feeling unlike anything I have ever encountered before.

Garen bends over the pool and gazes into it.  Standing behind him, I see only his reflection in the dark water.

He indicates that I should come closer and look into the water myself.  I do so, and at first see only my own reflection as in a dark mirror.

As I continue to gaze, Garen reaches out and gently stirs the water with his hand.  Ripples wash over my reflected image and it changes, transforming into the startled face of a young black bear.

I jump back and Garen laughs gently at my surprise.  The images he sends tell the story of how he first found this place and sensed a strangeness, a difference in the quality of magic here.

Sometimes it is the light — a luminescence that has no observable source.  Sometimes it is a muted stillness, or an elusive vibration — like the tingling feeling I noticed.

At first he knew only that there was something unusual here, and then the mystery increased.  Sometimes he would see only his own reflection in the pool, and other times he noticed that it showed a moon when none was in the sky, or stars that did not shine here.  Sometimes he would see himself as a child or see scenes of places he had never seen before, people he had never met.

He theorized that the pool reflected inner realities as well as outer ones, reality being as fluid as the water of the pool itself, offering glimpses of other times, places, perhaps even other worlds.

"And perhaps," I translate his thoughts in my mind, "as I gazed into the pool here, you saw my face looking into your world."  He smiles sympathetically, aware that I am still full of questions.

Yet, certainly I have no better explanation.  It makes an odd kind of sense that like Ninian’s mirror, this place, too, is a type of portal, a two-way window between the worlds.  I thank Garen for showing it to me, and we part as easily and comfortably as we met.