Why Mirrors Lie

Mrs Widds seemed in a pensive mood last night.

As couples who have been together for a while tend to do, we both, for no particular reason, turned to each other at the same time. I, from my computer and she, from her book.

Perhaps something had been triggered by what she had been reading, for she looked at me and asked, probably rhetorically, “Why do mirrors never show us as we see ourselves?”

“Because they lie,” I answered without thinking.

It’s not their fault, of course, they were cursed, a long, long time ago: And this is how it happened …

When they were first invented, by a cronemage who chose the name Skögul after one of the Valkyries of legend, mirrors reflected all aspects of the viewer back to themselves.

First there was the Physical image, but it was a weak, thinly defined, image, because, of course, the physical is only the first stage of one’s Self. Layered on the Physical, was the Mental image, where one could, if one looked closely enough, discern all the thoughts one had ever created. The third layer was the Emotional, thick and full of drama and beauty, it was the layer that created a three dimensional aspect to the other two. Finally came the Spirit layer that bound the other three to it and thereby giving the viewer what was known as a True Reflection.

Skögul made them, freely available to all who asked.

When she felt her life drawing to a close she made a special mirror that enabled her Spirit, at the moment of her Death, to brush lightly across the surface of all the mirrors she’d created, in a kind of a Blessing. Then she was no more.

Eventually one of Skögul’s mirrors crossed paths with a wizard. The sort of wizard who had long white hair and a long white beard, both longer, in his estimation than all the other wizards he knew. In fact the wizards gathered together once a year for a beard & hair measuring competition, as is the way with wizards who are concerned more with the length of their, beards, than being wizards.

This particular wizard looked at his reflection in the Skögul Mirror, and to his horror and disgust, saw the true nature of his Spirit.

He was also bald and cleanshaven, which wouldn’t do at all.

He gathered his dignity around him like a shroud and, ignoring the twitching eye in his reflection, cast a mighty spell that broke the enchantment on every one of the Skögul Mirrors, so they would show him only what he wanted to see.

Skögul, of course, had the last laugh. The wizards curse didn’t quite work out for him. From that moment on, all the mirrors ever made, in all the world, would only ever reflect back the thinnest, meanest, layer of what a person truly was.

Every now and then though, in dusty corners of second-hand stores, or mouse-nibbled boxes in attics and basements, and wrapped in cloth that smelled of mists on lakes, and sunsets on ancient stones, and if one is very lucky, a true Skögul Mirror will appear, and a True Reflection will be shown.

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