The Walkers, the Paths and the Trees

By Una Elfman

This is a story about the difference between Wicca and Christianity. The biggest difference, you see, is not the Path walked or the place reached, but the Trees.

There are two paths. They have quite a few names, but the simple ones are these: one is the path of the Ancient Ones, and the other is the path of the Reborn. Now, you and I both know that there is nothing wrong with either of these paths. They are both smooth in some places, and they are rocky in others, and sometimes they are so difficult that the walker just wants to stop and sit for ages and ages, until the rain comes and wears the rough part away.

The paths are walked by two kinds of people. One kind is the Reborn, who walk the newer, well-treaded, path. The others walk the older, overgrown, neglected path, and they are the Ancient Ones. The purpose of both the paths is to reach a place far, far down the road, called the Holy Lights, where the air is sweet and the atmosphere is harmonious and the walkers are happy. Of course, once the people visit this place they don't want to leave, and who can blame them? It's beautiful and wonderful, and it is what everyone walks for, and once you get there, you are no longer a Walker, because it's the very end of the paths. Once someone steps into the Holy lights he or she is a Light One.

In the early days, there were not many Walkers and they all walked down the path of the Ancient Ones. The path was beautiful and rugged and difficult in some places and as gentle as a water lily in others, and on either side of it there were young green trees. Then, some of the Walkers decided that although the path was smooth in some places and rough in the others, it really wasn't their kind of path. So they went back to the beginning and made another one, and named it the path of the Reborn. The Reborn's path was tested, and although it was a different kind of path, it worked just as well and it still got to the Holy Lights.

The paths were separated between a thin line of trees. The trees were names the Trees of Difference, because the path of the Reborn and the Path of the Ancient Ones were similar but not quite the same, and the trees separated them. The Walkers called to each other through the trees if they walked different paths, but they were always cheery and kind. The Reborn still liked the Ancient Ones, and the Ancient Ones still liked them, and although their paths followed different courses, the Ancient Ones and the Reborn looked forward to seeing each other in the Holy Lights.

Now, over time the Reborn started growing, until there were a lot of them, five times more than the Ancient Ones. And a couple of the Reborn got an idea: what if the Ancient Ones are not as good as we? This idea spread to all the Reborn, and a lot of them decided it was true, the Ancient Ones were inferior. And since the Ancient Ones were inferior, so was their path. It was too easy to walk, the Reborn decided. And the Trees grew a little more.

So the Reborn called out to the Ancient Ones that their path was not as good as the path of the Reborn. Some of the Ancient ones believed this, and turned around and went back to the beginning, where they started out on the path of the Reborn. And some of the Ancient Ones didn't, and stuck to the path they were on. But although things got a little tougher on the path of the Ancient Ones, they still walked it and were happy to do so.

The Reborn didn't like it that the Ancient Ones were still walking their path. They felt it was an insult; they had invited the Ancient Ones to walk the new path, and they had been turned down. So the Reborn began to get angry, and the Trees grew a little more. But they still talked to the Ancient Ones, chatting cordially and asking them to walk the path of the Reborn. But it was getting difficult to talk through the trees, and the words soon sounded muddled and cruel.

The Reborn were horrified at the misheard words, and they did not know that the trees had muddled the speech and that the Ancient Ones were still their friends. So they did something that has never been done before; fueled by anger and ignorance, they picked up the sharp stones on their path and rushed over to the Ancient Ones. There, in the name of the New Path, using the stones they had taken from the same ground that both the peoples walked, the Reborn killed all the Ancient Ones they could find.

They slaughtered quite a few, but not all of them, for the Ancient Ones are good at hiding. The Reborn knew this, and this made them angrier still, so over long lengths of time they searched for any other Ancient Ones, who hid and slowly scurried down their path, trying to lie low.

Now more slaughters of the Ancient Ones followed, and the name Ancient One became a curse and a threat. This was so extreme that if a Reborn suspected that one of the other Reborn was planning to turn around and walk the path of the Ancient Ones, all they would have to do was way this and the suspected one would be killed instantly and brutally. Some of the Reborn knew other Reborn that they didn't like, so they called them ancient Ones and were killed anyway, no matter if they were planning to turn or not.

Now the trees were so thick that the Reborn couldn't see the Ancient Ones' path any more, and they were afraid of it. So a few Ancient Ones managed to trudge down the hidden path, through all the lies and hate and bloodstained dust. The Reborn tried hard to stop them, but they never got all of the Ancient Ones. And even though they all reached the Holy Lights just the same, the Trees of Difference separated the people.

Now it just happened that some of the Reborn had been against the killing the whole time. They hadn't spoken up because they were likely to be killed themselves, but they still liked the Ancient Ones. They had never met any of them but they knew they weren't all bad. And one of them was called Jorryn. He was a sturdy, strong and smart Reborn, and he walked the path steadily.

It also happened that the remaining, hidden Ancient Ones were terribly frightened of the Reborn. Some of the Ancient Ones hated the Reborn and wanted to fight back and kill them as well, but a few didn't, and one of them was named Ince. She was graceful and powerful, and she rippled over the path as silkily as a little python.

Now, Ince the Ancient One and Jorryn the Reborn were about the same distance on the paths. At the same time, and in a parallel place, they stopped for a short, peaceful rest, and the trees grew thin between them. They looked at each other in surprise- although they were of different Paths, they could see each other's faces, and they spoke to each other courteously. The trees were thick enough so that they could not pass through, and thin enough that their words were still pure.

Ince decided she liked Jorryn, and Jorryn decided he liked Ince. And why shouldn't they? They were both just Walkers, after all, and they were very nice people. But of course, the other Walkers and the trees got in the way. So they spoke and thought about their feelings, and what they could do. Finally, they came up with an idea.

They each picked up a large, heavy, sharp stone from the path around them. This was what the Reborn had done years ago, and so often since, blinded by their fear and stupidity. But instead of taking them to each other's necks, they took the stones to the trees, and cut a link between the paths and embraced each other. And there, both of them found a little preview of the Holy Lights, right there within each other, within the link between the paths.

And if you walk down either of these paths, and know their ways, and their difficult spots and the smooth spots, you will stand in the center of the link, and you will know the taste of the Holy Lights.