The Blackberry Grove – A Pagan Parable
The students at the Summerland Valley were learning the secrets and ways of the Craft with their master and mistress.
One lazy student, in a fit of boredom, asked his master, “My Lord, I grow tired of practice. If the gods are so powerful, and if they are immanent as you say, then why must we work so hard to learn the knowledge they have provided to the elders of the Craft? Why are they secret at all? Why can’t we just be told the mysteries of our way like our Christian brethren?”
The Lord was not angered by the lazy student’s queries. In fact, he smiled as a father would for his child.
“Come with me.” the Lord replied.
He took the lazy student away from the others, through several fields and deep into the forests, until they arrived at a grove. This grove was thick with thorn bushes, save for a narrow path in between.
“Look at these bushes.” the Lord replied. The student did thus, and he discovered that the bushes were filled with blackberries.
“Go ahead, eat one.” the Lord said. The student eagerly ate a berry from a nearby bush, not bothering to see what he had picked. He quickly spat it out, realizing he had eaten a red one, one which was not yet ripe.
“The ripe ones are deeper in the bush.” the Lord said.
The student realized this, and spotting a ripe berry further within the bush. He immediately recoiled as the first thorn cut into his skin. He tried again and again, but each time he pulled back as the thorns scraped his hand and caught a hold of his robes. He started to pull away, to search for another, more convenient berry.
“No!” the Lord commanded. “You’ve been struggling to get that berry. Are you willing to lose to a bush?”
His pride irked, the lazy student thrust his hand into the bush and grabbed the berry. Yet to his dismay, the student’s hand was heavily cut, and the berry had been smashed in his hand.
“There there now, ” the Lord said as he healed the student’s hand. “Do not fret.”
The Lord then, with his infinite magic, made the thorns move away, until the bush exposed the ripest, most juicy berry it held. With great ease, the Lord plucked the berry from its branch, and then allowed the thorns to return to place.
The student looked expectantly at his master. “Master, may I please have that berry?”
The Lord replied, “Would you really deny me the pleasure of this sweet fruit? Are you so selfish that you would wish to reap from another’s work?”
The student, having felt ashamed of his request after what his master said, refused.
“I thought as much.” the Lord said, and then he ate the berry.
“My student, ” the Lord said, “do you understand why I have brought you here? This is the Blackberry Grove, where during the beginnings of summer, this thorny brush produces the sweetest blackberries. But you cannot just take them. The bushes demand more respect than that. Look at the berries on the outside of the bush. They are small, withered from the heat, and some are not even ripe. Yet if you look deep within the bush, you will see the prize berries, those that grow large and are never sour.
But the bushes won’t just let you take them. They want you to earn their treasures. If you can surpass their thorns, you will have the berry. But if you are weak, you will never reach them, and if you are too hasty, you will destroy the fragile berries and do a great disservice to yourself.”
“My son, these bushes are the gods, and their berries the mysteries, the secrets that they can reveal to you. There is the common knowledge that you can get from the surface of these gods, but if you really want knowledge and power beyond that of ordinary people, you must work with the gods, earn their trust, and be respectful of them, or they will never remove their thorns. Only those who have done the work that is necessary, only those who have entered a true relationship with the gods, can be granted this gift of knowledge.
It is also for this reason that you may never fully profit off another who has done the work. For once the knowledge is consumed, like the berry, it can never be completely released back into the world. The mystery of the Craft is something that must be experienced, not something that can be explained, just as nobody can perfectly explain the taste of the blackberry.”
The student understood. He remained in the grove the rest of the night, working to reach the sweetest berries. He worked hard to avoid the thorns and to not break the branches, and though he failed many times, he learned from his mistakes, and learned how to get the berries without being scratched.
The bushes, impressed by the student’s diligence and respect, soon began to recoil their thorns, so soon the student was able to access all of the ripest berries in the grove. He gathered what he did not eat, and returned the next morning to the other students and his master and mistress.
He offered the berries to his classmates, none of whom had eaten such fresh berries. When asked where he had gotten them, how he had gotten so badly scratched, or how to describe the taste of the berries, the student remained silent.
“You must discover that for yourself.” he would reply.
And for then on end, the student was no longer lazy, and would be forever known as The Diligent One.
This story was found on Witchvox. The author was contacted on November 5, 2008 and gave his permission to post the article here on our site.