It was many miles to the valley below, but it was easier to walk down the mountainside that it was to come up it. His feet were a little sore but that was because his shoes were old and actually, they were not all that comfortable. The soles had worn very thin, so the small stones on the pathway dug through and pinched his feet and toes as he walked. Eventually, he reached the main pathway towards the forest which was some two or three miles from the village where the Princess lived.

Entering the forest he thought he could hear the howl of a wolf. He stopped and dropped on to his haunches. Leaning down towards his left, he used his right arm to support his tired frame against an old oak tree. Again he heard the howl only this time it seemed closer than the last time. There was a crashing through the under growth off to his right side and suddenly a huge dog-wolf stood in front of him.

The dog-wolf was enormous with great big blue eyes sunk into a deep-set stare. They looked at each other. Their eyes met and the Hermit showed no fear and he did not move one centimetre of muscle. He stared into the wolf’s eyes and thought of how frightened this beast of the forest was but how beautiful he was in his fear.

His huge sleek body hunched forward into a defensive stance. The massive paws of his front legs dug several inches into the forest floor which, allowed for some idea of how heavy he must have been. His huge mouth snarled and the great white fangs opened. His slobbering tongue spat spittle on the forest floor, as the wolf shook his head from side to side.

The Hermit kept perfectly still. He did not even allow the sound of breath to rise from his chest. The arm that supported him was feeling a little strained, from holding the body still. Muscles twitched in spasm.

The dog-wolf stood his ground digging the huge paws even deeper into the ground. Around his great thick neck, the black and golden ruff was imprisoned in a heavy leather collar. Attached to the collar was a heavy linked chain. The dog-wolf must have dragged the chains of bondage for miles through the forest.

From wherever he had come and no matter how many miles he may have travelled, these bonds of death had travelled with him. The free end of the heavy chain lay on the ground and the Hermit saw that half of a dead tree stump had caught in the link.  Clearly, this had added to the weight that this beautiful animal had dragged on his escape.

The dog-wolf was tired and very frightened and his beautiful coat was covered in blood from old scars that had opened and new wounds that had ripped at his strong body, as he had charged through the forest. His chest was heaving with breathlessness and his empty lean stomach stuck to the bony rib cage which, protruded through his flesh.

The Hermit kneeled forward until his head was below the level of the dog-wolf’s snarling and slobbering jowl. Drops of spittle splashed onto the Hermits face and dripped of his chin. He slowly changed his position and leaned on his hands. The dog-wolf stepped back quickly a few feet and again dug his strong front paws into the soil under the forest undergrowth. He crouched down further, but his snarl was less aggressive and the light in his eyes seemed somewhat different.

The Hermit again crouched down even more until he practically lay on the ground in front of the dog-wolf. He thought that this would either result in the frightened animal attacking him or maybe, he might begin to trust the Hermit. He may realise that the truth in the forest at this moment in time is that, the Hermit only wanted to give him love and free him from his bondage.

Slowly without hardly any movement at all, the Hermit manipulated his left arm around the back of his thigh and dug deep into his shoulder bag. He fumbled around with blind fingers, never once taking his eyes off the dog-wolf’s eyes. There! A piece of cheese, he felt its shape through the wrapping. Carefully he removed the paper that protected the cheese again with blind fingers. He broke off a small piece and carefully withdrew his hand from the bag.

The dog-wolf saw every single move even though he too kept his eyes fixed on the Hermits every twitch, looking deeply into the heart of the Hermit, looking for fear. But if there was any fear there at all, the dog-wolf could not see it. He could see a man, a man who was different from the men he had encountered in the past. The men who had beaten him! Monsters with two legs had starved him almost to the point of death and chained him so tightly, that he had nearly choked on many occasions.

This man was different; this man was not attacking him or shouting evil words that were always followed by missiles of hate. Many times he had been to slow to get out of the way of the things which had been thrown at him. His beautiful body still carried the scars.

The Hermit placed the cheese down in front of him-self, making sure that every move he made was slow and calculated. He never took his eyes from those of the dog-wolf. But the frightened animal had stopped snarling and moved slowly, crouching nearer to the ground all of the time. Closer and closer, he moved inch by inch, with his nose nearly touching the piece of cheese, which lay on the ground waiting for his starving stomach.

The hungry dog-wolf had no sooner scented the cheese, than it was gone! It vanished in the fraction of a second that it took for him to lunge forward and retire with as much speed, back into his position of defence. Again he started to snarl but this time his voice had changed. His snarl appeared to be more of a, “I am still not sure about you I hate all two-legged creatures!”

The Hermit slowly produced another piece of cheese, again laying it down in front of the hungry animal. The dog-wolf lunged and the cheese was gone! This time the snarling stopped and the animal stood up and straightened his fear-contorted body. He licked his chops and again retired a few paces before he stopped and looked at the hermit with his big eyes. The Hermit thought that he looked a little less fierce and felt that perhaps he could stand up. His legs and arms and the back of his neck, ached from the position that he had held for almost an hour. Something told him deep inside, not to move!

The game with the cheese was played over and over again. Dog-wolf made no attempt to run away. He was waiting for what seemed to be a never-ending supply of food. Food that was not thrown down at him and that was not crawling with the maggots of decay. Food which was not accompanied by curses and words of hate!

The Hermit again felt deep inside his bag and found his drinking cup. As he fumbled around he took hold of his water bottle and together with the cup, he gently laid them on the ground. Dog-Wolf watched every move and when he saw the water his nose twitched with the thirst that was felt deep inside his every pore.

He moved forward a little and sniffed the air. He scented the water and then when the hermit moved his hands, he stepped back again and gave a little warning snarl. The Hermit looked deep into the eyes of the Dog-Wolf and at the same time confidently poured some of the water into the waiting cup. The animal moved quickly and had his nose inside the cup whilst the water still flowed. He began to lap at the water and slurped as quickly as his tongue would perform its duty.

The cup empty, he stepped back again, wagging the big bushy tail, which was no longer stiff and trapped between his legs. His eyes were brighter and shone with a new calmness and trust. The Hermit produced another piece of cheese and for a moment, held it in his hand between calm unflustered fingers. Dog-Wolf watched.

As the Hermit put the piece of cheese between his teeth, Dog-Wolf looked surprised and thought that perhaps this mouthful was not for him! The Hermit leaned forward and put his head below the panting mouth in front of him. The Dog-Wolf watched. As the Hermit tried to stay as still as he possibly could, he made comforting whining noises through the cheese, which sat between his teeth. The beautiful creature turned his head on one side and listened as the Hermit continued.

Dog-Wolf moved slowly forward and sniffed at the cheese and then he backed off again and stared. He stood still for a few moments still listening to the sounds coming from this strange two-legged creature. He moved forward again and this time took the cheese quickly with the front teeth. The whole action and movement was so quick and so gentle that the Hermit did not feel a thing. He was aware of moisture from the animal’s mouth, which stained his lips. The Hermit did it again and so, did the Dog-Wolf!

By now the Hermit and the Dog-Wolf felt comfortable with each other. They still looked into each other’s eyes all of the time and watched every move that each made, but somehow, there was a serenity between them. The Hermit gave his new friend some more water and drained a little from the bottle for himself. The last piece of cheese allowed them both to play their new game again. The game of trust!

The Hermit stood up and moved slowly backwards and the Dog-Wolf followed him. Though he was still very shy his confidence with the Hermit had increased considerably and his tail was wagging from side to side. His panting was now much more relaxed and he started to sniff the bracken and moss on the ground. He sniffed a tree and left his mark for all that might come after him.

The Hermit gently bent down and picked up a small stone. As he kneeled in front of his friend, he gestured a chase with the stone. The Dog-Wolf watched closely. The stone left the Hermits hand with directed intention and rolled rather quickly off to his left. It broke through the undergrowth, chased by Dog-Wolf. Dog-Wolf picked up the stone and returned to the feet of the Hermit, dropping the projectile on top of his toes. The Hermit winced with slight pain, but laughed at the joy of their new game. Dog-Wolf wagged his tail and panted with joy! It was certainly a game that was mutually acceptable to them both.

They played the game for about ten minutes and then both sat down under a tree. They were breathing heavily and felt so close to each other. If any onlooker had seen them together at this moment, they would have thought that they had been in each other’s lives for years. The Hermit noticed this feeling too.

As they sat under the tree, the Hermit placed his hand under the animal’s mouth and gently stroked the jowl with his fingers. Dog-Wolf licked his fingers, the tongue was rough and yet gentle and then, he licked the back of Hermit’s hand.

Hermit was so pleased and happy and he felt so much love for this animal. The animal felt the same for him, but at this moment, the Hermit had not realised it because he was so overcome by the contact that they had made with each other.

He gently moved his hand around the jowl and worked towards the large pointed and alert ears of Dog-Wolf. Rubbing and stroking gently all of the time, he took care not to frighten dog-wolf in any way. He liked this and moved closer towards the Hermit. As he came closer the Hermit examined the collar around the strong neck. It was bound together by a simple clasp, but it had bitten deeply into the flesh. Carefully, stroking with one hand he manipulated the clasp open and the collar and chain dropped to the ground.

Dog-Wolf leapt backwards and jumped in the air. He turned around and disappeared into the trees. Hermit watched him go and he thought, that he would not return. It was starting to get dark and the evening brought with it, a cold chill in the air. The Hermit pulled his robes closer around his neck and covered his head with the hood.

Nearly ten minutes had passed before suddenly, the undergrowth became alive as Dog-Wolf suddenly crashed through the bracken and leapt in front of the Hermit. He bounced around and around the Hermit in ever-increasing circles, whining and barking making fun.

It was getting dark and the light of the moon could be seen shining through the canopy of the forest, casting strange shadows onto the bracken carpet below. The Hermit decided that he should make camp for the night and began to make himself a small lean-to from the bracken and branches which lay all around. As he built the frame from branches, Dog-Wolf leapt forward and stole a branch calling to Hermit for a new game of catch. In between lacing the branches into a lattice to support the bracken, which would keep him warm through the chill of the night, Hermit played with his friend.

When the shelter was completed Hermit crawled inside. His new friend followed him with confidence. Dog-Wolf lay down next to Hermit and looked up at him with his huge eyes.

Hermit had not had such a vivid dream for so many months. The journey deep in his slumbers took his astral body far into the dimensions of other worlds. He found himself in a large room with white walls; large purple drapes decorated the walls around the windows. Outside, through the windows he could see a lush garden of flowers and plants and he could hear the sounds of many different animals and birds.

In front of him stood a tall man wearing a long dark blue robe, the cowl covered his head but the Hermit could see his face. It was a long narrow face, with a pointed chin; the cheekbones were high and sat below light blue eyes that pierced the very soul of our Hermit. The Hermit had seen this Spirit before, but not for a long time. It was Rardin, his teacher and guide from the Soul Dimension.

“It has been a long time my Son.” The voice of the teacher echoed softly around the room. “You have had a hard journey and it is time for you to take a breath, take a break, listen to and ponder your situation.”

The hermit stood transfixed in awe and yet with a new humility, that was full of light. He had no presumed conditions in his mind, only freedom.

“An angel has visited you from the animal world. A four-legged creature has come to share its wisdom with you. Have you heard the teachings that he has for you? Do you know what they are?”

The Hermit paused for a moment before speaking and pondered the questions posed by his teacher.

“I was alone and lost.” said the Hermit.

“And so was the Dog-Wolf!” said the guide.

“I was frightened and hungry and did not know which way to turn.” He continued as the tears started to fill his eyes.

“And so was the Dog-Wolf!” came the reply! His guide, teacher and friend moved closer and placed his large warm hand on the Hermits shoulder. “Do not upset yourself my Son, there is no sadness in learning, there is only joy!”

The Hermit stammered, “I was aggressive and unpredictable and other creatures were frightened of me!” Again the tears were filling his eyes.  His teacher closed his grip on the shoulder and gave him a feeling of warmth and security.

“And the Dog-Wolf felt the same!” He said.

“I did not know what love was anymore because my fears were so great, I had no trust and faith, everything I wanted to believe was being challenged by me!” The Hermit held Rardin’s hand and felt the warmth that it gave.

“You see!” said his teacher. “There is no difference between the Dog-Wolf and yourself, you are one and the same!”

The Hermit thought for a moment, but he knew what his teacher meant and he had no problem in seeing the similarity. He knew that Rardin was right.

“You gave this creature unconditional love.” Rardin continued. “You acted with intent and without concentration, you acted in the now!” He turned to face the Hermit and looked directly into his eyes. “What did the Dog-Wolf give to you my Son?”

“The same things father!” the Hermit said “exactly the same things!”

“Exactly!” said his teacher. “This is the lesson. When you act in the now with unconditional love, and you respond to your intuition without concentration, you are truly in harmony with All That Is, within all things and at all times.”

The Hermit bowed his head. “Learn well my Son, it is important to try to live in this way at all times and it is not easy. There is no place for ego and ego has no place in this scheme of things.” His teacher turned to leave. “You must return to your body and life in the world on earth my Son. Go now and learn well! Remember all these things at all times and no longer carry the fear of not being loved. You are loved by all things when you love all things!”

The Hermit watched as his Teacher left the room. For a moment he stood looking into the garden, perplexed by the beauty and colour shining from every quarter.

The Hermit opened his eyes and caught the first light of dawn seeping through the canopy of the forest high over his head. He looked around for Dog-Wolf but he was gone! Remembering the dreams and his meeting with Rardin, he scrambled out of his lean-to and on to the grass, which was still wet from the early morning dew. The sun was starting to creep up into the sky as the moon started to slip down.

He looked around for the Dog-Wolf; he whistled and called but no response. The Hermit stood up and began to walk around the forest to see if he could see Dog-Wolf. There was no sign of him at all. A sense of sadness and loss overcame him as he stared through the trees into the shadows. He turned around and started to walk back to collect the bag and break down his camp.

“It is always important to leave nature as you find her whenever she has cared for you through the night.” He remembered the words of his teacher.

As he approached the camp he stopped in his tracks by the big oak tree. He was there! Dog-Wolf sat next to the collar and chain, which lay on the ground in exactly the same spot where it was when it had been taken off last night. He looked different, taller, and more muscular. There was no dried blood on his body and where were all the scars and wounds? He was absolutely spotless and had not one mark on his magnificent body.

Dog-Wolf sat erect, his ears alert, with eyes wide open, blue and golden shining like two sun’s. He panted and the Hermit thought that he looked as if he may have been smiling. The Hermit dropped on to his haunches and beckoned to Dog-Wolf with his hands. Not a word was needed!

He set of with a bound and leapt two metres into the air. He almost turned a somersault and nearly lost balance, as he skidded into the bracken. How pleased they were to see each other. This meeting was so different from last night. Dog-Wolf had no fear and in fact seemed like a totally different animal. They kissed and played with each other, rolled on the ground, over and over again. After ten minutes or so the Hermit picked himself up off the ground and dusted down his robes. The sun was now getting brighter, dawn was truly here, and the day had begun!

It was time for the Hermit to continue with his journey. He wondered if Dog-Wolf could come with him and actually, he took it for granted that he would. He picked up his bag and threw it over his shoulder. He started to walk away from Dog-Wolf, who sat looking at him watching every move, with an alertness superior to any tail wagging from side to side, forcing its way through the bracken which covered his haunches. But as the Hermit walked slowly away, Dog-Wolf did not move a muscle. He sat and watched.

Hermit stopped again and this time he turned to face Dog-Wolf. “Are you going to come with me?” He still sat and did not respond looking straight into Hermits eyes.

“Listen!” Hermit dropped onto his knees and looked straight into Dog-Wolf’s eyes from where he sat. “If you want to come with me you can you know?” He ran his hand through his beard and suddenly, deep inside his mind he heard a voice, a name, ‘Dibuk’.

“So that’s your name, ‘Dibuk’. Dibuk!” he called to Dog-Wolf. His tail wagged with more force and his eyes seemed to light up and he barked three short happy little barks! “Dibuk well I never!” the Hermit muttered under his breath. This was one of the most powerful experiences that he had ever had with an animal. He remembered the words of his teacher from the previous night.

“He is an angel!” The Hermit exclaimed out loud and Dibuk wagged his tail and barked again.

“Well are you coming then, Dibuk come on let’s go!” But he did not move. Hermit pondered for a moment. “Okay!” he said “If you are going to come with me great. If you cannot for some reason or you do not want to, then I understand.”

Dibuk was still sat watching hermit as he walked slowly away into the forest. Hermit turned around slowly with tears in his eyes as he saw Dibuk the Dog-Wolf for the last time. Dibuk stood up wagging his tail and he barked once, as if to say goodbye. He turned and leapt off into the forest in the opposite direction.

The sun was well into the morning sky and the heat of the new day started to warm the forest. Hermit felt so humble. He had rescued an Angel and an Angel had rescued him. He would never forget Dibuk the Dog-Wolf. Nor would he forget the lessons that Dibuk had given to him.

He could see light and a patch of green in the distance through the trees. The edge of the forest was near.