Dying and being born
A heron lies dead in an old decaying boat near the beach. Ants and spiders crawl on the carcass and a vulture hovers overhead. Wild roses and elder- berry grow up through the rotting boat and butterflies flit through the greenery. Sinuous ropes like snakes are coiled below the deck. To the west are the islands of the Otherworld, and late afternoon sunlight sparkles on the water.
In Celtic mythology, the Otherworld — often conceived as islands — always lies to the West, and travelers often set off on their last journey by boat. Heron is a guardian spirit who stands at the gateway of life and death. Vultures feed on dead flesh and purify it, leaving only bones behind. Elderberry is an herb that is both medicinal and toxic.
The flash of sunlight on water has been called the “White Lady” in some Celtic traditions, and is seen as an epiphany or manifestation of the Goddess. When the heron sails home through the gates of the Otherworld, those of us who are left behind stand in awe of the Great Mystery.