Character Sketch: The Oracle

I needed to write this character so that I could visit them in my head. I have a lot of thoughts about divination tools, tarot, things that make “predictions”. And I think the best way for me to talk about them is to write little narratives of myself interacting with this character. There are also a lot of parts of this character that are things I would like to embody in myself, and bringing them to life with as much detail as possible enables me to adopt more and more of these things into my way of being.

I’m not sure “The Oracle” is really the right title for this character. Maybe “The Crazy Old Witch In The Wilderness” is more accurate. But “The Oracle” is succinct.

This character is the pretty much the crazy old witch lady who lives in a cave in the woods. Or up on the mountain. She is related to the Cumaean Sybil of ancient Greece, and also to Baba Yaga, the morally ambiguous witch-cum-fairy godmother of central European folk tales.

This character lives in a cave in the woods. The woods are her woods. She ranges widely in her woods for miles and miles, leaving little charms, altars and offerings wherever she goes. Her woods are blessed with abundance, with game animals, food plants, and medicine herbs aplenty. But her woods are also dangerous. Predators abound along with the food, and an unwary person will find themself being hunted while they’re hunting.

Her woods are dangerous, and so is she. She lives in relationship with the hunters and the predators. They respect each other, she and they. They are peers. Colleagues. She knows them as friends. She may wear their fur, teeth, claws as talismans, but rarely does she actually hunt them down. Usually they bring themselves to her when they are already dying. Or they leave themselves for her to find. And she knows too, that when she dies, she will return the favour. And the animals who are hunted know abundance also. They are abundant because there is balance. Abundance walks hand in hand with Death.

For those who are savvy enough to walk her woods, The Oracle is a powerful teacher, healer, sage. For those who are not savvy enough… well let’s just say it’s best they stay away. The Oracle does not suffer fools. She will not answer stupid questions. But she is not hostile. She is not lacking in compassion. She just isn’t willing to do anyone else’s work for them.

People do come to visit her. To ask for her wisdom, to ask for her Seeing. People who would be Wise test themselves in her woods. When they think they’re ready to take the right of passage, they walk her woods, they climb her mountain, come to her for teaching. The convenient thing about living in a vast and dangerous wilderness is that most of the truly foolish people will die before they get far enough to be really annoying. So by the time someone actually shows up in front of her, she knows they have already passed one test.

It is not physical prowess that enables a person to walk The Oracle’s woods. It’s not brute strength or warrior power. It is the ability to listen. The ability to be aware and present to everything going on around. It is the ability to hide, become invisible, become one with the environment. It is the ability to See things that are hidden.

She is expert in the arts of Divination. That is why she is The Oracle. That is also why she lives in the woods, outside and away from human civilization, settlements, villages. It provides her with clarity to be outside of the chatter of collective human thought. From the outside, she can see the Shape of Things, she can see the threads of potential and momentum. She is The Watcher, The Listener, The Seer. Sometimes she is The Weaver, but she tries to avoid that. Tricky business, that weaving. Full of Unintended Consequences.

Some of the people who come to her would be acolytes. They wish to know the ways of Hunting, Hiding, Listening, and Seeing. But The Oracle is not a patient teacher, and she does not particularly like company. She is a solitary creature, like a bear or a cougar. The ones who show up asking lots of questions get chased away before too long, and none too gently either. They come away with wounds, gashes, broken bones. They are lucky to escape with their lives.

i like this image, but The Oracle would never put anything on a leash

Her acolytes are the ones who come to her knowing that the way to learn is not to ask questions but simply to Watch and Listen. These ones tend to be solitary wanderers, like her. And they are few. Maybe a handful in a generation. Some of them have their own storylines. They are not necessarily why I wanted to write this character.

Why I wanted to write this character is really about the ones she chases away because of their stupid questions. And also to write about the relationship between The Oracle and the villages, town, nations, civilizations who would send their wisest champions to ask for her wisdom and guidance. It is never done frivolously. But The Oracle is the Keeper of The Path. She knows the shape of things from the outside, she can See the streams of potential, and she knows just exactly how to make the slightest, most gentle corrections in breath, in trajectory, to align oneself with the desired outcome.

And she is in no way unbiased with her information. Her allegiance is to the balance, to the intricate complexity of an abundant ecosystem. To the diversity of species who evolve to fill a specific ecological condition, and the ever-changing flow of cycles. Her allegiance is to Death, for healthy Death is at the heart of an abundant ecosystem. Death, Composting, Re-Birth.

She redefines the entire concepts of “civilized” vs “savage”… for to her, to be civilized means to walk with constant consciousness and awareness of the interconnected webs of life. She is gentle and delicate and sweet, she will sit for hours, watching baby birds hatch, watching salamanders hunt, watching the creatures of the ecosystem do their thing, the same way we might watch TV. But she is also violent and fierce, and will not hesitate to use her claws to defend herself.

Ok that’s if for now, lots of little stories about conversations with this character to come!

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