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The gift of grapes and apples

The room is dimly lit and smells of spruces, spices and ancient books. In the flickering candlelight, tall bookshelves seem more distant than they perhaps are, and a dark wooden table is before me. A tall, hooded figure stands there, beckoning me.

‘Come closer. I have been expecting you ‘

The voice is soft, quiet and somber. It reminds me of the oak groves, tall blades of grass, wind on sea and crackling of wood in the fireplace. It is melodious, this voice, and it has both honey and blackthorn in it, and some strange power, too. You wouldn’t be able to defy it, or refuse its owner. This voice could break you in one minute and revive you the next. Such voices are not made to be forgotten, misheard, unobeyed. Such voices are not made on earth, they come from a different world. These are the voices of kings, rulers and magicians, shapeshifters maybe – and definitely warriors. Poets, prophets, no less.

I have heard many a voice before, but none could rival the voice I hear now. The figure comes forth, and in the golden candlelight its face seems to shimmer, when the hood is drawn back. This face is sharply shaped, clean shaven, its features clear and otherworldly. The eyes – hooded, shadowed, greenish-gray, of that particular kind of multicoloredness in them – they seem violet, blue, green, black, golden – all at once, and oh, they do see through me.

‘My lord’ I mutter, freezing in front of him, for it is indeed Gwyn ap Nudd, the mighty prince of the Underworld, the leader of the Wild hunt, the king of Plant Annwfn, or the Fairy folk. And, as far as i am concerned, he doesn’t come for talks. He comes for teaching, and his lessons are not for the fainthearted, cowardly or doubtful. His lessons are those of magic, wisdom and truth, however uncomfortable or tough it might be. His lessons are harsh, his lessons are at best…serious, if not severe. And that is the teacher who chose me – and no complaints on that, to be sure.

‘Look here’ he says, pointing at the table.’What do you see?’

A wooden tray full of ripe ruby red apples, and delicious grapes, full of juice, and so fragrant that my head spins. In this darkened room this tray glows with life, light and sensuality, if this definition can even be put to use here. Gwyn knows this, and his lips curl into an understanding smile.

‘You like it, don’t you? Make your choice then, pick a fruit and enjoy yourself. It won’t harm you ‘.

Hesitantly, my fingers reach for the apple, and Gwyn’s welcoming smile disappears, his glance hardens. It is not menacing in any way, but foreboding. Does that mean I am wrong? Perhaps I should have opted for grapes, instead? Trembling, I touch the grapes – silky,smooth, so alluring – and somehow… too perfect. Gwyn’s face is unreadable, like a statue’s, his eyes cold. What is wrong with all that, after all?

‘Have you chosen anything yet?’ Gwyn demands, ‘Or is anything wrong,my lady?’

He has never called me that before, so the words sound scornful, sarcastic even. Judging by his face, it was meant as a snub, not chivalry.

‘Show me’ I say, judging this to be the best thing to do. Gwyn smiles.


His hand passes over the fruit and I gasp – the apples are all rotten, worms crawling from the inside, the odor is revolting. The grapes lose their luxurious silkiness and turn to glass, just to become mere mudballs.

‘Everything the human mind sees, is but an illusion. That is the curse of the mortals, not the riches or pride. Illusion rules your world, illusion keeps you yearning for more. Illusion is everything the mortal world possesses, and it will never diminish, for you all crave for beauty where there can be none, and you look for it where the truth is unbearable. You create an illusion of life to convince yourselves in your own worth, and when it crumbles, you mourn it with passion that surpasses the passion for living itself. Tell me, my lady, when did the humanity change the reason for folly?’

I have no answer. He is right, and he knows it.

‘Where the blind rules the chariot, the chariot falls apart. Where the pretty things are more of value than the truth, however ghastly it may be, the world condemns itself. Listen to me, for I will not repeat it again. Look through the veils of illusion, strive to distinguish the truth no matter what. The mortal sight is weak, it is easily fooled by each and every traveling illusionist, each baffoon its value, and each one is always willing to use it for his own good, his own profit. Do not trust your eyes lightly, trust your heart. The heart is blind to the mortal glitter, the heart knows not how to lie. The eyes will betray you, but the heart will never let you down, as long as you trust it. Take the gift of the apples and grapes, and use it well. Taste what is too alluring to be true, and feel the difference between the real thing and what is posing for reality. Never forget the lesson of apples and grapes, for it will serve you at all times’.

The room darkens and is relit again, and the fruits are perfect – just like before. But I dare not touch them, for the lesson of Gwyn ap Nudd is within me. The very first lesson of many, and the most revealing one.

Published by aneuringwynn

Tarot master, channeler, awenydd and writer

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