Since coming home to Riversleigh, after a long stay in the City of Ladies, Sibyl Riversleigh is planning to spend a good deal of time showing people her estate. Sibyl does not take typical tours. She prefers to head out on little day adventures. Today she is in the garden and will lure people through a portal with a diffence. If you choose to come with Sibyl post your repsonses under Sibyl’s Scrapbook here at the house and do make sure to keep a copy in your room for safekeeping.
You head out of your room and down the grand staircase, a staircase that is very much like the staircase in Gone With the Wind or Rebecca. Ebony Wilder, the housekeeper, who has come back to Riversleigh with Sibyl, greets you briefly and reminds you that dinner is at 7.00 p.m sharp. Since it is only early in the morning and the sun is shining brightly you give this little thought. You have a basket of supplies with some sandwiches and a thermos so the day is your oyster so to speak. You smile at Ebony. Perhaps it is a trick of the light but you look back because you are sure Ebony had changed shape as you turned to leave. Things are like this here in Riversleigh. Things have a habit of changing shape and tomorrow even the staircase may be gone and you may find your room is a small quarter in a place that looks nothing like what it looks like today. No wonder Alice got confused when she went down that hole with the rabbit.
As you wend your way through the walled garden and towards the grove beyond you sing a little song and think happy thoughts. Sparkling sunlight and soft greens surround you. Riversleigh’s gardens are amongst the most beautiful in the world, rivaling Sissinghurst or Hidecote Manor.
When you arrive at the grove you find Sibyl and some other residents gathered. Sibyl is leading a meditation which involves an old tree. This tree has boughs which seem to reach into the heavens. The branches block your view of the sky and you cannot see the uppermost branches. An apple is growing on one branch but it does seem that there are walnuts on another.
There is a small opening at the base of this old tree and Sibyl encourages you to crawl inside. After a momen’t hesitatation you crawl in the narrow opening, only to find that it opens as you move, as if adjusting to you and your size. There is a strong smell of wood and moss and it is damp and moist inside. Within the darkness you reach and touch the walls and you can almost feel the blood pulsating through the veins of this living organism. Your eyes have not adjusted and it takes some courage to move forward in the darkness.
At first it is quiet but then you are aware that there is a distinct sound here. As you move forward the sound gets louder. Could this be a heartbeat? Are you listening to the heartbeat of the tree, to the heartbeat of creation? You move forward slowly and carefully but it is all so surreal and feels dream like.
You come to the end of a passageway. In the centre of the side is a doorway made of two immense upright stones topped by a massive lintel. There are two torches burning at the door providing light for the entrance into a cavern. It feels like a womb.
You emerge into a shadowy great hall. In the centre is a hearth with the glowing embers of a fire. Seated before the fire facing away from you is a hooded figure. Across the hearth from this figure is a bench. You circle halfway around the hearth clockwise and sit facing the figure. This is one of your guide. You bow before your guide.
As you look into the eyes of your guide you realise that you are looking in to your own eyes.
You may now question your guide. Your guide provides some answers to your questions.
When you have finished, your guide gives you a token that you will be able to use for help and guidance after your return to Riversleigh.
In a fair exchange, your guide now asks you a question. Answer as best you can. You find that you have a gift for your guide. Look at it and present it to your guide with thanks.
Finish your circuit around the hearth, go behind the guide, and carefully retrace your steps.
You come back to Riversleigh just in time for dinner where guest share their experiences inside Sibyl’s old tree.
‘Sibyl in Wonderland’
by Heather Blakey November 2007