Day turns to evening. The sky is a deep azure, but traces of the heat of the day remains, a warm, gentle breeze carrying the scent of herbs and flowers. From somewhere in the distance come the plaintive notes of a harp playing a traditional love song. Nearby, doves are cooing softly. The well at the centre of this tiny garden was once the water supply for the chateau, but for generations now it has been the centrepiece of this tiny formal garden, turf seats planted with camomile dividing it from the formal herb beds. Beautiful, peaceful, private. Sacred.
The couple sit in silence as the night thickens around them, their world bounded by the light of a single candle-flame, reflected in the still water. For a few minutes, they hold hands.
As with the Hallows working, we're in the Courts of Love, this time within one of the chateaux in the F˘ret de Paimpont. The walled garden you must find for yourselves. Like the Hallows, my commentary assumes that you've worked through most of the other material in this section and are therefore able to fill in the gaps in the narrative. Although the nudity in the Hallows narrative is not obligatory, it forms an integral part of the working. Conversely, the clothing or robes form part of this working - despite the context some people may not be comfortable with nudity. This, however, means that you need to be fairly precise in developing the ritual context - use incense and music as well as the candle and the bowl: choosing them should be part of the build-up to the ritual. You could add wine (or juice) and special robes, but neither is really necessary. If you don't have robes, then wear loose-fitting, light clothing and wash it both before and after the working. (Of course, you can work naked, but you'll need to adjust the meditation).
I considered using a caravanserai as the setting: it wouldn't be pushing the western framework too far since at the time of the Courts of Love there was considerable cultural interchange between Castille and what is now Morrocco. It would allow the use of more exotic scents and sounds, which could be useful if you're already working with the Graal imagery in a different context but for this narrative I decided to stick with the Paimpont area. If you try the caravanserai, I'd be interested to know how you get on.
Sun gives way to moon. The couple loose their hands and gradually, within the candle flame, begin to become deeply aware of their surroundings, individual plants, the texture of their clothing against comfortably cool skin. They are aware too of each other, the body-memory of the touch, consciousness contracting as the gradually become aware of the Lord and Lady within each other, within everything.
A gentle glow surrounds them, and not just from the candle-flame that is now a bright core. There is an added brightness and contrast. Colours, which are normally washed out by the approach of night, are more saturated, more keenly felt. Between the couple, and within each of them, the Lord and Lady join fully.
The normal instructions for meditation, as, for example, in the Hallows, are to concentrate on the candle, your breathing or the seed thought. This exercise is more difficult (nothing comes for free). Be aware of your partner's breathing, of the candle, but concentrate on the physical. If you sit motionless, the sensation of robe against skin will gradually disappear, although you are aware that you're still wearing it. Conversely, your hands are no longer touching, but there should be a lingering body-memory of touch.
Build on that memory and imagine an edge of contact. Use this edge to sense the presence of the Lord and Lady within yourself and your partner, very close and easily within reach. Now merge the masculine and feminine, becoming one as the candlelight is reflected in the bowl. It takes practice, so don't worry if the sense of welcoming, comforting presence doesn't fully materialise the first time you try.
The well reflects the flame, within which the couple are now fully engaged, empowered by the divine within each of them. Now, they are no longer in the world, indeed, the world is within them. Whatever they seek, they will find within the well: whatever they ask, the Lord and Lady will grant. But, the couple know to seek only for what they truly wish to find, to ask only for what they truly need. Around them, the flame contracts to a bright point, and then is gone.
Gently, around them, the land has lost its colour and once more there is the comforting, beautiful deep azure sky. The harp is silent now: only the sound of a nightingale breaks the easy silence enfolding this place. Again, now, the couple gently hold hands, before departing.