uddenly, I find myself standing at a ford under a cloudy sky. Is this a dream? It seems too real. Vision? OBE? Time warp?
The moon is freed of its cloudy cover and I see a figure approaching. She comes to t he water's edge and begins to wash some linen in the stream. An odd time for doing laundry, I think. As the moonlight waxes brighter, I see blood on the sheet, turning the water red. Three Irish wolfhounds begin baying, and the figure looks up and directly at me. A chill runs up my spine.
She stares at me penetratingly, and I know this crone is the most powerful I've ever met. Her appearance is frightening, but it almost seems that she is wearing a mask. A chill wind blows, and I want to pass and seek shelter, but I dare not approach her. She is intimidating. I recall other journeys, and 'checkpoints' where I had to put something metal in a basket in order to pass. I take out the shell I received from David, the Stone Knight, and--as much as I value it--I toss it into the water. It seems appropriate and I silently wish it all speed in returning to the sea from whence it came. I realize the symbolic meaning of 'discarding my shell' and meet the Washer's gaze, feeling all uncovered and exposed.
"Ah, yes," she croaks. "Discard the shell. It is of no use to you! When you hold on to such things in your life--and think about it! you know what they are!--they only weigh you down so that your essence cannot fly free! Tsatch!"
Suddenly, I can fly! She has turned me into a bird, and I can see reflected in the water that I'm a raven. "Feed my hounds!" she commands. I fly off and see that the landscape is like nothing on earth, yet it is very familiar. The first thing I see is the dreaded hangover beast, limping along with its weak stomach and throbbing head. I swoop down and grab it in my claws and drop it among the hounds, who gobble it up!
Then I find and bring to them the remote control bad mood rat, the isolation mouse, the vengeance weasel, as well as the nice guy rabbit. I try to bring the smoking beast, but it is too heavy. After I have removed all these vermin, I return to the ford and face the Washer, who restores my human form.
She takes a stone from the river and holds it up for me to see that the water has eroded a hole in the middle of it. "This is a holy stone," she says. "Whoever gazes through the hole will be able to see what is essential in life. Take it; you will need it!"
I thank her and cross the ford, finding myself back in the glade (see Lesson 49b) with a holy stone in my hand.