My name is Zarda…My name is Zarda…My name is Zarda….

Having hardly slept, my eyes flutter open, and I slowly rise from my warm childhood bed to greet the rosy dawn.

This is a good day to be reborn as a strong female and begin my foretold journey into womanhood.

Today is the final day of my Woman Rites. For nineteen life years I have followed the tradition of the Goddess Nede, my family, and the Temple preparing for my woman’s journey. Each new life year since I was nine, Morrigan, our priestess, had given me a task to learn, practice and share at the Temple. First, I helped the Temple teachers with the young ones. Then Morrigan took me into the woods and fields to recognize and gather herbs and wild plants used for healing. I have become an above average horsewoman, become proficient with the bow, sword and hand to hand combat under the tutelage of my father King Hector. In the Temple kitchen I worked long days preparing nourishing meals. Morrigan instructed me in prayer rituals, winemaking, dress, bathing, housekeeping, fire and sacred sex. My favorite though was being trained as a Temple dancer. What joy there is in rhythmic movement. These last two moons I have fasted, chanted, meditated, danced, and found my silent times. I feel clear, strong, and full of the Goddess spirit. This the culmination of my life’s preparation under Morrigan, my teacher, Rhiannon, my mother, and my father, Hector. Soon my journey toward womanhood will begin. I will travel beyond these familiar walls. As the only daughter of Rhiannon and Hector, my education for this Woman Journey has been carefully planned since the Day of my Birth.

“How blessed am I to have such a loving family…This is a good day to be reborn.” I mutter, as if trying to convince myself. Slipping into a simple blue dress I throw my arms out wide and lift my face to the rising sun. I sing. “This is a good day to begin my journey toward womanhood!” Suddenly anxious, I whisper “and step through the Iron Gate into the unknown…alone.”

Never again will I walk the blessed halls of our marble Temple, or ride through the woods to the sea, or lie among the wildflowers in the fields. I have never been alone. With my larger natural and extended family, I have always felt safe and loved.

“How blessed am I,” I whisper, even though my eyes burn with tears.

ZARDA, the novel, is available through BookBaby.com as an Ebook or paperback. Thank you for following my blog. I would appreciate comments, if you are so inclined.

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