Ch. 2: The Witch Hazel
By Kristen S. Sandoz
Let us start our story today by returning to Hazel and Pearl. They were both highly regarded among the Outcasters for not only their wisdom and understanding but also for the healing power of their voices. You can only imagine the intense and melodic sound that comes from one young and radiant voice and one old and, shall I say, well-worn voice. It is as if the two juxtaposed sounds stirred themselves together into a rich and nourishing formula. All who came and drank of this formula knew they found a fountain in which to renew their tired souls, weary hearts, and worn bodies. Of course, the content of the songs Hazel and Pearl sang were of only good, faithful and uplifting things and this helped the hearer in unexpected ways. One would come to listen to the two ladies sing because of the sound of their voices, but while they were smelling the pie they were being fed spinach, so to speak.
There is so much to be said on these two individuals that I will most likely be filling in the blanks as I go. As I have mentioned the Witch Hazel was a great healer not only through song but also through herbs and tinctures and your everyday practical wisdom, which many of us forget to employ. She learned the art of healing through her mother who was at one time the Official Healer to the King’s family. Her mother, Hyacinth, was often called upon by King Richmond, who is the grandfather to the present day king, to travel with his family to distant lands. King Richmond loved to travel and visit the far places of the world. Unfortunately, he married a woman who was of a weak disposition and was often struck with strange illnesses while traveling. You would think Richmond would leave his family home while he traveled but he never did. He loved his wife and children and preferred to have her and his youngest babes close to him even at the expense of the Queen’s own health. This situation therefore required a healer to travel with the family and Hyacinth was the Queen’s most favored healer. Hyacinth had children of her own and her husband was dead so she often brought Hazel and her brother, Sage (although he doesn’t come into our story much), with her to serve the King. It was in this way that Hazel learned so much about healing and herbs and the delivery of babies and other such necessary things.
One day during Hyacinth’s service to the royal family the Queen fell seriously ill in one of those far away lands and Hyacinth was not able to help her. Despite all that the healer tried the Queen languished. This shouldn’t have surprised King Richmond for he had been often warned of the folly in taking his fragile wife along with him in his frivolous pursuits. But he suffered, as many of us do, from the idea that he was King, and somehow this exempted him from having to mind the laws of nature. The Queen died and Hyacinth was blamed and chased away to live in Outcast Forest. Everyone knew that it was not Hyacinth’s fault but a that of the King and his insatiable appetite for strange lands and selfishness for the company of the one he loved who was really too sickly to travel in the first place.
There was still much work for Hyacinth in Outcast Forest. Many from the city would visit her there and of course there were all the Outcasters themselves, who were far more than we would care to count. All this time Hazel grew in her healing abilities and when there was one in the Royal City that needed immediate assistance and could not be moved, Hazel was sent to do her mother’s work. When Hyacinth died one night in her sleep, from good old age, Hazel was more than capable of filling her mother’s shoes. Hazel lived in the Royal City after her mother’s death for quite some time. She made a reputation for herself and it wasn’t until she was a very old lady of 50 (at least some think 50 is very old), that the vicious rumor started which eventually caused her expulsion from the Royal City.
This part of the tale may seem very sad with so much death and loss but do not fear; it all turns out happy in the end. As the wise old Witch Hazel often says, "The earth smells sweetest after the rain".
One…Now my story is done.
Two…I love you.Three…Please, kiss me.