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Red Garnet: a tale inspired by the Bohemian Legend of Libuše

by M.J. Heinrich

Libuše’s mother was a true Mother, with a generous heart, natural piety and gentle ways. Libuše’s father was a powerful Magician who became a fair and respected Judge for his tribe. After their mother died, the three sisters grew up with their father, Krok. He continued nurturing them to be powerful women who followed their inner guidance. Kazi the eldest, became a Healer; Teta, a Priestess, and Libuše, the youngest, developed into a Seer. She would become the next Judge after her father’s 30-year reign. 

Though their story has been distorted by some to suggest that Libuše was the “wisest and most beautiful” sister, this is not truth. The sisters were beyond character comparisons or superlatives; they could not even think in this way: all three were educated and skilled in ancient arts and knowledge; all three were wise and beautiful, uniquely and beyond measure; and all three were supportive of each other and interdependent. In other words, they were healthy women. Those who try to separate Libuše in any way from her sisters are either missing truth, or perhaps with dark intent: trying to perpetuate competition and rifts between women. 

Libuše accepted the responsibility of being the next ruler when her father suggested she could handle the duties, while her sisters’ work took most of their time; Kazi also worked as a physician and Teta the Priestess also guided people through rituals. Libuše received visions which came in dreams and flashes of insight. She had time to counsel people and adjudicate disputes. The decision was a collective one, of Krok and his daughters, and all agreed wholeheartedly. When Krok passed away, Libuše continued in the wise and fair tradition. 

Then came a difficult trial in which Libuše’s gentle rule was challenged by dark forces. On that afternoon, Libuše quietly adjourned the assembly, rose from her seat, called for her sisters Kazi and Teta, and retreated into the sacred grove.  

The dark forces had entered an older man who had been harboring anger and resentment in a conflict with his young neighbor. On the surface of things, it was about land rights but it really was a power grab from someone who felt his relevance fading. While Libuše had fairly judged the surface matter, and found in favor of the young man, she had missed the other layers of conflict. She had also forgotten that the older man was a skilled spellcaster. (How she missed her father and his magic! Krok would have directed his staff at the old man: arresting the destructive force, asserting truth and protecting his daughter.) But Libuše had had to face the dark force alone. 

After hearing her announce the resolution against his interests, the older man had turned his wrath on Libuše at the public trial. He had hurled insults at her, and revived a dormant fear in the people: that leaders and warriors in other lands might see them as vulnerable and seek to attack them, because they were ruled by a gentle woman. Hence the Council of Twelve  -- who had always shown deference to Libuše and had approved all her resolutions -- felt doubt stirring and they remained silent. Not a one defended her honor. 

Libuše had been able to catch herself from reacting and she had responded to the attack with dignity, but something had shifted. Defying the impulse to shut down, Libuše had amplified her awareness and scanned the whole scene. She noted: the silence of the Council of Twelve Wise Men. And something else – something significant she could not yet register in symbols. She had called for all the people to assemble the following day, so that they all could directly hear her response. 

“That was the moment things shifted.” Libuše confided to her sisters in private when they joined her in the grove. “The Council members were listening and heard his words. By their silence and inaction, they condoned the attack.” Teta looked deeply into her eyes, with unwavering belief. “Yes, that changes things. Your feeling is, as always, to be trusted, Libuše. Yet there is more to consider.” Libuše listened solemnly. The Priestess continued, “many of them have grown fearful as they have forgotten to pray correctly; they only pray for themselves and for what they want – if they pray at all.”  Kazi added, “Yes. And there is more. The older man: he is ill; he does not seek to be well because darkness is giving him a sense of strength that he had thought was lost. It feels good to him to gain strength at the expense of another. And that practice can spread to others...” 

Libuše finished the thought, “because of spell-casting. Yes, sisters. There is more. The desire to have a strong man judge and lead our people has taken root in some women as well as men.” This was the element that Libuše had recalled in the hours of reflection after she had left the trial: the manner of some women watching the proceedings. Those women who had silently been against her prominence for years had suddenly straightened their backs, glad to see her humiliated in public – as if it had removed a burden from their shoulders. “Misogyny is not only the domain of ignorant men,” Teta said, “ignorant women settle in there as well, and feel belittled and threatened when a courageous and capable woman is heard and seen and respected.” 

Libuše continued. “Our people – yes, men and women – want men to rule them even if this might hurt them, or their sons and daughters. If we fight it, it will only grow.”  

Teta asked, “And if we yield?”  

Libuše paused and then explained, “There will be intense challenges. Feminine power will be overlooked and unnoticeable to most. Balance will be weakened or lost for ages. I cannot say more - only that when true feminine wisdom and powers rise again, all will benefit."  

Libuše did not add that she had seen another vision: that some women in the land would revolt after their status in society fell: that there would be a war between these maidens and men. Her sisters saw the images from Libuše’s mindscreen, as they sometimes could when they were all together. They grew close to comfort each other so that the grief could be felt and learned from, and released. Finally, Kazi murmured, “women and men must not make each other the enemy; our energies are interdependent. We must take care of each other.” At once, she knew. “You are going to marry, sister?” 

Libuše replied, “Yes: I saw him in a vision. I shall marry and the people will have a man to rule them. For centuries thereafter there will be only men ruling them, sometimes with iron fists. When men and women are ready for gentle rule again, she will rise to the call." Her sisters did not ask "who" because it was clearly too far in the future to see.

The next morning, Kazi gave Libuše a necklace made of bright red stones, to soothe and strengthen her. Kazi and Teta sat on either side of Libuše, as she delivered her announcements to the people in a soft, powerful voice – of a gentle woman leader, once upon a time.


⇒   Continue to Karlovy Vary Part 4: 
Spa Experience



Introduction | Wellness Weekend | The Thermal Springs | Walking, Dining, Shopping | Spa Experience
Legend of the Foundation of Karlovy Vary | Legend of Libuše | Further Information and Links