Stop, settle, breathe. Finally, silence, save for the purring of the cat, and the hum of the computer. The pattern takes me, awareness fades, I see the mountain side beneath a half moon, quiet in the darkness. I take the path that leads down the hill into the deep woods, and come out onto the plain of Midgard and the Worldtree. I touch the rough bark of the trunk and hear Raven’s call. She is on a low branch, still high above me, but sails down.

I take her shape, and together we wing to the Bridge, and then upward to the glow that is Asgard. Heimdall sits by the gate, watching. He nods as I approach, in my own shape once more.

“Tonight, the feast meets in Alfheim,” he tells us. “Take the path down through the upper branches.”

We turn. I have not been this way before. I hear the sound of crunching and glimpse the dark form of the elk and the stags. Ratatosk skitters by me and disappears among the leaves. He has shown me the way, and I work my way downward, stepping from branch to branch. Other branches have been woven to make steps and rails; the way is not as difficult as it seems.

Now, from below, I can hear laughter. Light glimmers upward through the leaves. And there is music, delicate and lovely, sweet sounds of harp and bells. I come to a place where boards have been cleverly fitted together to make a spiraling walkway that leads down to a broad platform surrounding the trunk of the tree. It stretches off to either side, its edges hidden by foliage, and farther still, by mist. I should not be surprised that to me Alfheim looks like Lothlorien.

Two figures advance to greet me, male and female, both tall, slender, elegant, dressed in flowing robes. Before their angular elegance it seems natural to bow. Smiling, they welcome me, and I step onto the platform.

“Come, there is food and drink. Whatever you desire you shall find here.”

Others come along, bearing trays of food, scarcely less richly dressed than the guards. There are sweets in the shapes of little fruits, and spicy meats in pastry, and actual fruit, and silver goblets of a light, flowery mead. Nibbling, I make my way further in, drawn to the sound of singing.

More of the light-elves are here, interlacing their voices. An interlace of color ornaments their robes. Beyond the trees I can see the shape of a great house, Alfheim itself. Where I stand it is warm and summery, but beyond the house, the landscape cycles through autumn’s colors to a bare, snow-covered scene.

“Here all seasons come and go,” says one of the elves. “Here you will see the models for how the weather should go. Sometimes the currents of Mdgard are too strong, and we cannot work our will, but it is here that you will find the truth of what life on Midgard is meant to be. We hold the templates for beauty. Here are the originals, but our kin carry the imprint to the earth; each plant has a spirit, but we, the great ones, tell whole species how to grow.”

“Then I should ask you for help with my garden.”

They nod. “And set out offeirings. We like the ale you brew.”

I taste the mead again and wonder why anyone would prefer anything else.

I drift on, and sitting on logs where they can look out across a frozen lake, I glimpse the gods. Tonight they are dressed in light colored, shining garments Beauty…order… all those things are here, and a grace that is rarely found. One of the gods rises from the group and I recognize Freyr, splendid in gold His cloak is forest green. He has curling wheat colored hair and blue eyes.

“Give me your blessing, lord,” I bow. “Grace under pressure, a fertility of invention, the understanding of how to make things grow .”

He has a lovely laugh. His teeth are very white, his movements graceful. I feel a stirring of attraction.

These things I can give,” he replies. And a light wind whispers through the trees, setting the strings of bells to chiming.

“What do you want in return?”

“I want you to dance for me.” I am not sure what this means, to dance in his honor or to let him dance through me.

“I need you—and others, to dance for me, to dance my blessing into the world. Go for a walk in wood or garden. Let your step be light, march to music. Let my power fill you, and give my blessings to the living things you meet. That should be enough for now. You will find the results interesting. “

It is time now for me to go. One of the elves leads me to the entrance. Through the leaves I can see sky. Raven calls from above. I take bird form, and together we fly circling down to the ground. From there it is easy to return. I change my breathing, sigh, stretch, open my eyes and return.