Oh my how time flies! I was browsing some of my older posts and found this one which is a doozy! It was originally divided into two parts as it was created as a collaboration with @lindahas (who sadly doesn't appear to be posting recently) for a two stage contest.
The brief was to do a collaborative, creative project with another steemian.
Linda writes beautiful stories so for part 1 she wrote the beginnings of a story and I did illustrations.
For part 2 we did the same and I also added a sounds design that was meant to be listened to as you read the story :)
I will combine both parts in this post.
We ended up winning this competition and looking back it was a really fun idea and I am so happy to have had the chance to work with Linda :D
A Rabbit Hole Into Equinox Part 1 /// An Illustrated Story by @lindahas and @juliakponsford
The air was crisp and the grass full of dew. Young women with long dresses, flying in the breeze, dancing in the wet grass, ignoring the cold creeping up on their bare feet. There was no sound in the night, that was on a brink. On a brink to turn into the world of the light. It was coming soon, though, to sweep the magic away, to return it only in Autumn, in half a year.
Yes, there was magic everywhere, static in the air, seeping from each corner, every place. You could taste, smell and feel it without a doubt. It was a pitch black night, but your eyes saw better than ever. It was the one date of two in the year, that was full of magic, as beautiful as life itself. The one night of two, that was perfectly balanced, the night of Equinox, full of wonder.
A lone watcher, a tiny human, meant to be sleeping, hiding behind trees, was the only witness of something extraordinary, something pure. He saw the ladies dancing in the dark, he saw the men guarding the ruins. He saw the flashing lights and the darkness so pure. He wasn't afraid, he was just in awe of all the pagans dancing the night away.
There was a structure in the dark, reaching towards the sky, stone and metal joining in a dance, mixture of mystical, a passageway it was, a passage between darkness and light. The ruins of today where an anchor in a time long gone, an anchor of wisdom to enlighten the masses. Because the world can not live without darkness nor light, as if there was not one, we wouldn't know the other.
The women were dancing, moving towards the structure that formed a circle, the men were guarding each stone with their lives. Wearing masks that symbolized the fertility the night would bring, they knew to say thank you to the gods. They reached their hands towards the dancers, joined together in the move. It was not the time yet, but it was soon to come, morning was close and the doors almost open.
Just for a minute they wanted to reach in, grab all of the magic the world had to offer, some wanted to see, to feel the happiness of a new life starting to form, others were interested in the pain and darkness as they wanted to know what the world needed to be protected against, still searching for themselves and not having answers.
The dance continued until the sun started rising. The second the first rays touched the ground, everyone froze for a moment, they closed their eyes, they listened to the night, it was not quiet, not anymore. Thunder rumbled right next to them. A lightning bolt struck, dividing the world, pitch black it was at the same time as bright. The circled structure was gathering the energy, opening one door to two worlds.
What seemed like a lifetime, for the little one, was actually mere seconds for the crossers of worlds, the group of gifted returned soon enough, they seemed out of breath and full of thought. Some of their dresses had turned black, some of their pants crisp white, but all of their minds busy and shocked, nobody noticed the little boy.
The light disappeared as it had come, the thunder was gone without proof of ever existing, the sun was rising, the world was quiet, everyone left in a neat line. To share the knowledge, to return in Autumn, with lanterns and candles in their hands.
A Rabbithole Into Equinox Part 2 /// A multimedia story with art and sound by @lindahas and @juliakponsford
Press play and enjoy this soundscape while reading:
What was I thinking? I don't know. I guess my mind believed it longed for an adventure. My life had become gray and tasteless. I was starting to feel depressed in my cubicle at work, my bunny seemed to be my only friend and nothing was going my way.
My days had come to be boring, I had become what I had feared and I had become that at a very early age. A cat lady, but instead of cats I had rabbits. I needed a change. So, as my thirtieth birthday approached, I decided it was time to choose a different direction.
My birthday would be a day that my life would turn around. I regret that aspiration now, I was not in any shape or form ready for the situation I was in. Twenty-second of September, my birthday, and I was alone, on a slippery slope, trying to climb a hill in the rain.
At first it may have not been that bad, there was a dirt road going uphill, the rain was mere drops, and I was enthusiastic about the change. I wasn't just a talker, I was a doer and that fact alone made me proud of myself. I had started positively, with the thought that it was my birthday, and I was finally fulfilling one of the scribbles on my bucket list, I was going to spend a night in a cave, alone! Nobody to bother me, nobody to ask stupid questions. Yeah...
I guess it all changed when the road turned into a tiny path and the small raindrops started digging into my back with a determined force. I had taken courses, sure, but nothing had prepared me for this. My boots full of water, muddy as hell, my hair sticking to my neck and my clothes soaking to my bones regardless the raincoat on my shoulders.
Should I go back to my car? How far was I from the caves shown on the map? Would I even be able to get down the hill without landing on my ass? My destination was very secluded, there was nobody to help me here as I had specifically looked for peace and quiet. I was so tired of the busy city life. And it wasn't supposed to rain today, in fact the weather forecast said ''mostly sunny, with chance of clouds in the evening''. Bull.
I looked ahead, and it really seemed to be getting dangerous as the hill turned into rocks upon rocks, sliding down the hill, in the rain. The caves couldn't be far, but I was not crazy enough to risk my life for this. I looked back, it was a longer walk, but it was much safer.
A stupid check-mark on a bucket list was not as important as my life. I was ready to go back. Before I could, though, I noticed a rabbit on the road, it looked just like my bunny waiting at home. I don't know how, I don't know why, but my brain completely zoned out, I didn't care about life threatening dangers any more.
Up the little guy went, and I followed, holding onto the wet rocks, around the corner we went. The path getting tighter, the rain more dangerous, the mud more slippery. But the rabbit went on, and so did I, painfully slow.
It seemed to be forever, even though my wristwatch shoved that only minutes had passed, before I lost the creature behind a corner. I turned around and it was just gone. I snapped out of the weird bliss, and turned, terrified by what I had done. I think I would cry or shout if I wasn't in a clearing now, a single cave looking darkly at me.
What was I thinking? Was I going mad and could not control my own body anymore? The rain seemed to be extra persistent, my heart was pounding wildly. There was no going back anymore if I wanted to survive. So I chose to get into the cave and wait it out, in the end that was what I had come for. I walked into the cave, just in the entryway, where the rain couldn't reach me anymore, and turned around to admire the crazy storm that was raging on.
-- You are late!- I was startled, was I really going mad? Was I hearing voices? Turning around I faced a woman, she was holding a pot of tea in her arms that she pushed in mine. I felt the heat flow into my body immediately. She had one of those voices that made goosebumps form on my skin, or was it the cold that made my skin prickle?
My body longed for warmth more than it screamed ''danger'', I didn't care that there was a woman in a cave in the middle of nowhere. She looked me up and down, nodded to herself, turned around and waved me to follow.
I thought it to be a small cave, but what I had mistaken for a wall, turned out to be a curtain of weeds. Once more I stopped for a second, my senses seemed to slowly come back to me, but not yet fully there, my yearning for warmth and company was stronger than anything else.
What I saw behind the green curtain was like out of a fairy-tale, herbs and mushrooms strung along the wall, a pot brewing on the fireplace chiseled in the caves walls, a table in the middle and a bed on the side, it was covered in furs that I would have loved to hide under.
-- Come, change your clothes, you are wet like a rat, you will catch a cold if you stay like this.- I was handed a long dress, made of fabric that seemed like silk to my touch, but it was a thicker and warmer material. I was lost for words, so I looked at the woman, she rolled her eyes.
-- Put it on, we have no time for childish insecurities, dinner is almost ready, I am making a rabbit stew. What kind of a person am I if I don't help a stranger in need?
I didn't seem to be hungry, especially not for a rabbit, they had gotten me in enough trouble today already. For the first time today I opened my mouth, I was sure the lady thought I was mute before.
-- I am not really hungry, just exhausted, it has been a rough day. Thank you for the dress and the tea, I love it, and if you don't mind I would like another pot.
-- Hmm, no food, huh? Okay, then let’s make a compromise, I'll make you a tea and you can spend the night in my bed, but you have to let me give you a tarot reading, I haven't had a guest in so long, I would love some company.
I didn't believe in fortune telling and tarot cards, but a warm bed was, oh, so tempting to me. So I undressed myself, and put on the long, fuzzy dress. I could only imagine how silly it looked on my body, but I didn't mind, not today. I sat down on the chair in the middle of the room, I was passed a tea made from herbs, and a blanked that soothed my chills.
The next thing the woman did, was pull out a deck of cards from her apron, she put them on the table and sat down on the other side. I had a second to admire the fact that the deck was made of wooden sheets, it seemed crafted by a very skillful hand.
-- So, it is your birthday today, but that is not all, it is a special date this day as the worlds of darkness and light overlap. I am sure you have heard of Equinox.- I hadn't, but she didn't give me a moment to say just that.
-- You are a child of both, the dark and the light, and your life has been dipped in both sides of the coin. The sorrow has won in the last years for you, and even though you wear a mask of strength, you feel like the world is on your shoulders. You feel like collapsing, that is why you are here today, trying to bring that spark of light back in your life.
There were two cards on the table, they strangely reminded me of my own face. One dark and in the shadows, the other in the rays of sun. Two opposites and still, they seemed the same. The third card she pulled out was a warrior with a sword, dividing darkness and light, the fourth one a rabbit and fifth one some ruins.
She didn't stop talking, she continued on, about how my spirit was always fighting the light. How I never chose between two roads, but rather walked in the middle, how I was supposed to keep the balance and guard the gates of knowledge. I don't know at which point I started to drift away, but I did fall into a dark, dreamless slumber, my body and soul exhausted from everything.
It seemed forever again, even though I was sleeping, there was a weird sense of time in my head, it was like my consciousness was sitting in the dark, in a dreamless dreamland.
I woke up because of a distant melody, I was disoriented at first, but realized where I was soon enough. Somehow I had gotten to the bed, furs all around me, enclosing my body like a cloud. It felt like I had slept for days, but my wristwatch said differently, it informed me that it was still the same day, right before ten at night. I looked around, but there seemed to be nobody else around.
Slowly, I got up, I loved the melody that came from the exit, once again I slipped in that trance. Barefoot I walked out in the open, the rain had stopped and the night was just starting. The waves of the melody carried me forward, there was a path I followed again. This time it wasn't dangerous, the road was wide, it led me to the source of that magical music.
My bare feet were wet, but I didn't mind, what I saw in the second clearing was so very majestic. There were ruins of something I did not recognize. A breath from the past, rocks divided in pieces by time itself, and a structure that resembled a passageway. I had just a second to admire the view before a thunder-strike split the ground, and from within the ruins a bright light appeared.
There was that pull again, and I lost my head once more, I crossed through the passageway. Blind for a second, but then my sight returned, I realized I was in the middle of a meadow. There were trees in front of me, and that rabbit in the grass, that had led me to the cave. And right next to it was a boy, a young soul reaching out to touch the bunny, but stopping shortly before. He was so fixated on the little animal that he never noticed me.
I was watching in awe until I heard whispers and laughs behind me, I turned and saw what was supposed to be the ruins. Instead of just stones there was a majestic structure in front of me, metal and stone intertwined in one. It was such a glory to witness, so it took me a second to realize, there were those voices again.
They came from the passageway that I had crossed, so I stepped back in to greet them, but instead, once again, I was back in my own world.