If one climbs the small, yet steep, hill besides the small town of Trenedd in the Welsh valleys one finds, near the top, a small, barely discernible, goat path leading away from the track usually trod by ramblers, hikers, and the like. Should the walker ignore this path, though it scarcely warrants the name, then in no short time they will broach the summit of the hill and be treated to a spectacular vista as, before them, the valleys open up like the hands of the Earth, cupped to catch waters of the heavens. Should they be able to tear themselves away from the sublime and verdant beauty to the north then a southward glance will reveal industry and cities clinging to the grey blue expanse of the Severn Estuary and, on a clear day, the Somerset and Devonian coasts. It is a wondrous sight and, for this reason, the spot is rather popular with the kind of tourist who doesn’t like to believe themselves a tourist.
If, however, the person climbing the hill is of a particular sort then they will forgo this glimpse at God’s green bounty and go in search of a rather different, and darkly numinous, experience. For should the adventurous hiker decide to follow the goat path then they will, after a short while, come across a most peculiar and, if the walker was not prepared, most perplexing sight.
For as they round the curve of the hill they shall find, nestled upon a small shelf where the mountain flattens out somewhat, a huddle of tents and miniature marquees. The drabness of the structures giving them the appearance of having grown directly from the side of the hill itself and who knows, maybe they did? The earthy hues and tattered appearance of the tents stands in stark contrast to the exquisite colourfulness and exoticness of the inhabitants. Upon hearing the approach of the hill walker they will emerge as one from their shelters and will immediately, and earnestly, begin to ply their trade to the explorer.
Children with three legs will offer to relieve one of their sins, dogs speaking in tongues will offer services of revenge and regret, a man will buttocks like boulders will offer to tell the traveller their future -discerned from patterns in his own ejaculate, a woman with a moon for a face and sharp blades fanning from her back in a bloodied parody of angel wings will beseech the walker to take her up on her offer of a flight through the scarlet skies of loss. All for coin, of course. The knowledgeable seeker of the numinous will ignore these fancies and small wonders however and will push through the desperate throng in order to reach Siân yr Ogof.
From the eponymous cave, even over the hawker’s hubbub, one will hear the sound of gentle weeping. The sound will become louder as the cave is approached and as one reaches the mouth of the cave and begins to feel the cold air within it becomes clear that the sound actually emanates from a small speaker attached to the inner wall of the cave which is, itself attached to a small cassette deck. Venturing deeper into the cave, the merchants of wonder will not follow within, one finds the reason for the gathering of marvels outside, one finds the only reason that matters.
Here, in a small cave, in a, mostly, unremarkable place one finds Siân. Siân, the Gift, has been known by many names, and blamed for many ills, and here she sits with the true gift. A gift which she guards jealously from the world outside and, for the price of a tear or a joke, will allow the seeker access to the pithoi she has protected for so many centuries. Then, as they place their hand into the darkness, into the cold, they shall -for the first time in their life- feel hope.