Ancestral Airs: The Seedbearers and The Life Givers, is the catalyst from which all my work has evolved.

This passion has led to essays, appendixes and botanical cross-indexes that have always been a feature of my website. The Compendium for Spirit Handling is a companion to Ancestral Airs and its sequel, Letters to the Unborn, will both be published as blogs.
Before I begin either of those ventures I thought I would provide some background material for those of you who haven’t yet read Ancestral Airs. I will begin with an overview of the original story followed by a brief description of the clans and societies. They form the structure of the tribe and are discussed in great detail in Ancestral Airs.
Clan Greihound and its immediate associates create the heart of the story, told by Moondog in The Seedbearers and Gobetween in The Life Givers. Additional characters from Ancestral Airs include the Twilight Women, the Bards, and Darkling Light. Letters to Unborn both revisits and introduces many others.

(An excerpt from The Compendium for Spirit Handling)
I count myself among the lucky ones having spent years visiting among indigenous Americans. I made many friends, regarded them as family and was privileged to information that often led to my inclusion in rituals. I hold the details of their medicine in confidence as promised.
But one thing persisted, a deep and sometimes sad longing to know my own tribe, as I suspect many European Americans do. It didn’t take me long to realize that they weren’t Celts. I finally found that there existed a tribal people indigenous to the British Isles and I devoted thirty years of my life seeking them out.
I spent perhaps fifteen of those thirty years composing Ancestral Airs. It contains mythical stories about the legendary hunter-gatherers of Britain. Everything from food and shelter to transcendental journeys are included. Ancestral Airs is a rich collection of Creation stories, abundance, fertility and tantric practices. Readers will find many features of Earth science from geology and glaciers to habitats complete with the plants and animals that can be found in them. My work includes stories about migration, ecological hardship and Ancestors all in one breath.
Ancestral Airs is permeated with the holy trinity of birth, death and rebirth, and is saturated with the ancient European understanding that all things feminine are absolutely sacred. In antiquity it was believed that the universe was created from the elemental matter that composed the pristine state of nothingness by the prevailing feminine link to Creation. The stars impregnated the Earth, our Mother, and out of this conception was born all of life. Before women gave birth to human males they themselves were believed created from flowers. Concepts such as these naturally led to the assertions that the sacred feminine was the instrument of Creation. Archaeology went a long way to validate this. Only a small percentage of ritual artifacts from the Stone Age eras can be identified as having a strictly male orientation. The vast majority is decidedly female.
But this is not to suggest a diminishment of the power of maleness. In the natural world women inherently understood that pregnancy and lactation tied up their potential. On the other hand the genetic material of males was unavailable only for as long as it took for him to ejaculate. Consequently, men were understood as the keepers of diversity. Women had to be highly selective of mates to insure that being taken off the market, so to speak, resulted in the best possible offspring. Men on the other hand often planted their seed in as many gardens as found him acceptable and as frequently as was physically possible. Lineage was subsequently traced through women’s lines, as fathers could be transient, peripheral or even unknown. Societies were matristic. Monogamy and marriage held little relevance to a people who believed children belonged to their mothers’ clans. Role models for male children were not fathers but brothers, nephews and uncles who had a vested interest by blood in the mother and therefore the survival and happiness of male progeny.
Older men at times gravitated to younger women simply because youth afforded the best opportunity to deliver his genetic material successfully to a new generation. Some older women had appetites for younger men finding that their strong, athletic ability to perform sexually was highly desirable. The utter lack of male dominance afforded complex forms of love that extended to the needs of individuals, families and communities without judgement, leading ultimately to art, spirituality and enlightenment.
Fertility rituals pertained to the Earth and Her bounty. After all it was unlikely that women had much trouble getting pregnant. The real challenge presented itself once a child was successfully carried full term and was born. The abundance of the land was the critical key to survival.
An androgynous Immortal was featured as the first being in other Creation stories. This divine individual was believed to have bred with a snake and gave birth to twins, the first human male and female. Ancestral Airs is laced beautifully with this theme as well.
Hunter-gatherers had an encyclopedic knowledge of the environment in which they lived. They held a holistic understanding of their world and didn’t compartmentalize their thinking as we do now. Where we have organized this knowledge into fields of science, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a comprehensive understanding of the interconnectedness of all the components of life. In order to facilitate an understanding of my work I have included brief descriptions of some of the various fields of study I was required to take up. I had to engage the way of thinking that I was taught before I could abandon my own compartmentalizing of knowledge for good and embrace the interdependence of all things, the Infinite Present.
Ancestral Airs takes place at the apex of the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. It was an enviably spiritual world. The order of Nature was sacred and man, as only one of infinite and equal elements lived in harmony within it. He answered to its dictates and believed natural law was sacrosanct. Mesolithic people held that the manipulation of nature was bad medicine. The human condition was believed a manifestation of spirit and therefore Spirit Handling was the ritual exploration for solutions.
The division of the four sacred elements appeared to me as a universal concept assigned gender roles. Earth and Water were female. Therefore, women’s medicine embraced plants and things derived from them such as baskets and tanning. Gathering and gardening were regarded as exclusively women’s medicine. Everything pertaining to women’s cycles, the selection of sires, pregnancy, birth, children, lactation and so forth were highly guarded women’s secrets. Female Spirit Handlers wielded the vehicle of steam not smoke. Males, the ambassadors of Fire and Air managed coals, fires and smudge. Their instruments of expression were things like hunting and drums, exceedingly serious components to Spirit Handling. Lodges and groves were female. Sweat rocks and support poles in lodges were male. Items I found to be of a unisexual nature were things like medicine bags, prayer bundles, face paint, tattooing, strewing, staffs and wands.
Inordinate change triggered the eventual decline of Mesolithic people when confronted with a Neolithic or New Stone Age migration into the British Isles. With them came the introduction of new species of plants and animals, cultivation, the domestication of animals, pottery, weaving on looms, spinning, the mining of flint, clear cutting forests, in other words, technology.
Moving from one location to another at one time required as many as 20,000 years. Now we accomplish this easily in days, even hours. In antiquity migration was often cyclical following herds or moving into habitats when abundant then returning home. Other seasonal motion could be back and forth from mountains to the lower, more hospitable areas for winter or vice versa. But there were many migrations governed by natural phenomenon such as droughts or glaciers compelling tribes to move completely and finally to new locations.
At least four Ice Ages consumed the best part of the British Isles leaving only the southernmost regions passable. When all of the water in the channels was locked up in ice Ireland and its outer islands became the western promontory of continental Europe. Herds and the hunters that followed them moved easily from the mainland to the ocean. Intermittent thaws filled the channels with water, making them impractical or impossible to cross. Eventually a group of people settled, perhaps even found themselves stranded. Their isolation led to communities and finally unique cultural distinctions.
What we call geology was not an armchair feature in hunter-gatherer life. Soil was born out of volcanic or oceanic events. Tectonic plates created mountains, gorges, seismic eruptions and rogue waves. Wind and water sculpted ravines and breathtaking formations, moving both seed and soil. Trickles cut paths that led to rushing rivers carving out extraordinary canyons. Those that lived harmoniously in the natural world had an inherent understanding of the continual, cyclical forces of Creation and destruction. Ritual intent demonstrated love and respect for those forces. There was no attempt to change or control them only sacrificial appeasement and honor shown to the awesomeness. If the ocean grew fierce, for example, it was better to simply move away for awhile allowing it the freedom and privacy to have its own rituals or fulfill its own mystical purposes.
I certainly couldn’t leave out the fields of anthropology or ethnobotany. These are the studies of people and the plants they handle. Quantum physics was a must, the field of mathematics that allows for the possibility of time travel and overlapping universes. I drew from legends, mythology and accounts of “little people” now wholly understood by me as the spirits who inhabit our many-layered, mysterious Mother.
So in conclusion my simple need to know my tribe led to decades of study in a highly diverse number of fields. I hope the time required was needed in order to be thorough and not because I might be a slow learner. Regardless, I am satisfied and can say without reservation that I know my people intimately. As I grew in my understanding I realized that it was a time in our history when the stewardship of the Earth was the foundation for religion. Then we were spiritual warriors and called our planet Mother. Ancestral Airs created a forum in which to portray a people who could teach us how to again live within the delicate harmonic perfection of our home. Within that wonder we are required to do no harm, to put back more than we take, and to leave without a trace lest the beauty of the mystery be spoiled for the next ones. The shamanic, indigenous hunter-gatherers of the British Isles could have, in the end, been anyone’s people calling out from antiquity from anywhere in the world.

(An excerpt from Ancestral Airs: The Seedbearers)
I am Moondog, Clan Greihound and kin to the Twilight Women. I am a Prayer Runner and the Twin Dreamer for my clan. I have traveled the spiral, the Infinite Present and have seen the passing of our people. Born of the Ancient Ones and destroyed at the hands of strangers, I proclaim the rebirth of my kind somewhere along the whirling arm of Forever Now. I am your progenitor and this is the story of the Human Beings.
The people were a paronym of the Earth Mother and our day began at sunset. We lived our lives by two calendars, the women observing the moon and the men the sun. The Twilight Women every 37th moon and the Bards every 19th year put to rest the irreconcilable differences in the disparaging cycles when the moon returned to the beginning of its journey.
Each of the lunar and solar months was marked with wooden posts or stones on the great wheel in the meadowlands and named for a clan. The nineteen years were called by the epithets of the elemental societies.
I’m not permitted to speak of women’s secrets but I understood their position on the calendar. Eighteen women’s clans named for the species from which they had descended, honored their moon twice during each three-year cycle. The leagues of Clan Female were called Oak, Holly, Birch, Pine, Apple, Hawthorn, Willow, Dogwood, Bearberry, Ash, Poplar, Blackthorn, Currant, Linden, Elm, Maple, Alder and Hazelnut.
There were nine societies of women as well. Some took care of the forests in Old Granite Range and the Chalky Mountains. Others guarded the wisdom of the heaths and grasslands or handled the medicine from bogs and moors or the fens and marshy meadows. Included in their care were the springs, streams and rivers, the great salt marshes, and the vast ocean. All of these bands knew by heart the lotions, potions, teas and decoctions rendered from the species unique to each of those habitats. Many of their prayers were made in the steam of their sweathouses.
The women of the moon and stars read the signs needed for rituals. No journey to any world could commence until they had divined their consent.
The other women’s societies saturated every day things with magic. Baskets, tanning, weaving, pottery and gathering brought comfort to our lives daily with food, clothing, and vessels. Every woman in our tribe knew how to manage their skills beautifully and the societies handled the spirits of that medicine for ceremonies.
It was understood that earth and water and therefore the plant kingdom composed the world of women’s medicine. A woman had only loaned any plant handled by a man to him. Medicine men endured long apprenticeships with women for the privilege of that knowledge and it could be stripped from them if he neglected or misused it.
But most importantly was the appreciation that men and women were wholly interwoven. The women of the grasslands, the mountains and the marshy meadows studied with the men who took care of the sun or the clouds. The astronomers of Clan Male apprenticed with the moon and stars. As vitally divided as male and female medicine had become each was dependent on the wisdom taken care of by the other.
The solar annum was divided into twelve months and each was honored by a particular sect of men. They were recognized as the clans of Turtle, Moose, Antelope, Roebuck, Beaver, Sheep, Dog, Elk, Bison, Wildcat, Otter, and Salmon.
Twelve additional facets further divided the world of men’s medicine. The seedbearers who took care of the summer season emulated the Ram, Hare, Stag, Boar, Bear and Bull. They were eminent clans, great in number and impressively virile.
The Death Clans of Raven, Lynx, Owl, Badger, Eagle and Wolf were old clans. Once boasting many members they had dwindled to few in numbers. Their prayers protected the people during the Winter Wait with ceremonies that were as formidable as the elements to which they sacrificed.
Animal clans were not difficult to understand. They lived, ate, hunted, sired, prayed and died according to the dictates of their animal ancestors. Every part of an animal held a secret teaching. Skins, bones, organs, teeth, hooves and antlers had been given to our people for food, clothing, shelter and medicine. Rituals were born out of the intimate knowledge of these things. Spirit Handlers dressed in their relatives’ skins and antlers, and prophesied from their bones or made them into whistles. They wore their claws and teeth, and sang with hoof rattles. From the organs came medicine bags and divination. An animal’s hide was tanned with its own brain, kidney or liver. A creature could be watched and the observer could learn the workings of the world by how an animal moved or in what direction. The flick of an ear held inestimable wisdom or that of a tail might hold the privity of Creation.
When our Ancestors stepped out of the ice with their dogs they followed the herds back and forth across what was once a vast land. The creatures that they hunted and those great predators that hunted them as well taught men how to live with strength and confidence. Nine elemental societies of men remembered the ancient knowledge.
Spirit Fletchers took care of bows, arrows, spears, knives, and fishing gear. Each weapon could be enchanted with the magic needed for powerful hunts and safe returns. If the medicine became tired Spirit Fletchers knew how to re-empower it. They blessed the hunters, their arms, and doctored their dogs. Yew was given to them for their badge.
The Stone Society handled the spirits that would be reborn into points, axes and blades. They could doctor with crystals and powdered minerals, and carried the glowing, red rocks into the women’s sweathouses.
The Sun Society took care of the four seasons distinguished by the four directions. Every village, home and lodge was set to those markers. They understood all the signs and could predict and interpret everything from forthcoming weather to eclipses. They set the dates for the men’s ceremonies including the Showoff Dance.
The men of the sun worked their magic alongside the Society of Clouds. They divined from the events that took place between the sun and Earth Mother. Every cloud contained a message that could be delivered to the people by rain or snow, or the lack of it. Mist, wind, thunder and lightning were harbingers as well. The Society of Clouds could read each of these secrets and knew every possible response to them.
The Rainbow Society had the wisdom of changing ordinary things into rich, ceremonial expression. They knew the pigments and how to prepare them. This was powerful transformation medicine. Some were employed to color arrows for spirit hunts, others went to face and body-paint so men could step into the world of their ancestors and be recognized by them. Colorants imbued hides, drums, flutes and rattles with certain spirits that would help the practitioners achieve their purposes. But the most formidable Rainbow knowledge was that of the species whose charcoal was used for tattooing. Each had a unique application. All of the men’s clans displayed sacred signs, some extensively, as did some of the women’s clans. Tattoos were records of journeys, badges of affiliation and accomplishment, and the intimate histories of lives. This was true of scarifying as well.
No ceremony could succeed without the help of songs kept vigorous and strong by the instruments that accompanied them. The Drum Makers, whose badge was juniper, knew every suitable species, plant or animal, for any drum, drumstick or rattle appropriate to any possible ritual.
The Flutemakers brought us flutes and whistles from a pallet as impressive as that of the Drum. Their badge was the elder. They could make instruments for calling game or spirits, and knew the secrets of pitch. When placed in whistles of bone or wood it could modulate the sounds sweet to the Ancestors. Flutemakers would fashion wood chimes that were good medicine for new lovers. Astoundingly they had isolated hundreds of tones for doctoring and had a whistle for each of them. Different bundles could be combined and the practitioners could play a divination or a remedy.  Each note was further identified with a particular plant. Spirit Handlers from other groups used these tubes as prayer sticks and containers for their medicine. They were often painted up and dressed with plumes and other beautiful things.
I think there were as many varieties of fires as there were plants springing from the Earth and there existed a male society who knew them all. They understood the fires for cooking and warmth, and took care of the perpetual fires that burned in every village. The Fire Society kept the secrets needed to select the wood and manage its burn for every ceremony. They took care of all the smudging herbs that blessed and protected the people, their homes, and their weapons. This sect of Spirit Handlers knew all the varieties of sacred smoke that could purify or cure, and the invocations that went with them.
The last elemental society of the men was the Greihound Prayer Runners, my clan. We carried messages from one faction to another. Older runners became escorts for the shades of death, and elders shot the void to bring back answers for the people. Clan Greihound was the only elemental society regarded as a Death Clan as well.

(An excerpt from Ancestral Airs: The Seedbearers)
Nine men composed the asterism of my clan. Each of four elders had one apprentice. We had one stand-by and a dreaming woman.
Progeny indemnified survival but not for clans so limited in membership they could perish in an instant. This fragile order compelled the Greihound to scarify, each symbol preserving a piece of its tradition. Our raised flesh was a map of the mist and the image of blessings received from sacrifice.
The Spirit Handlers doctored spirit and flesh. They could set a bone, cure a cough, suture a gash and pack a wound. More profoundly they could set our souls to ceremony and cure the terror of anticipation, knowing that the wounds of the dreamtime were meaningless in light of the ecstasy. They flaked star-studded black glass until the edge was untouchably fine. When pressed against our skin, the flesh of our backs burst open like a boulder split by ice. Some of the blades were straight others shaped like the crescent moon. All were given back to the Mother after sacramental service, their lives spent on the expression of our rapture.
Sprung from a Birch Clan mother, Burnt Knife was the unchallenged Alpha Male of Clan Greihound.  He was quite a bit older than I was and closer to my mother’s age than to mine. He had given over his life to our clan when only a boy, and had run with many of the Ancient Ones I only knew as dust in our burial cave. Old Dog had been many years in the magic. And although I was considered an elder I had been reluctant to become one and he served as an uncomfortable reminder that I had a long way to go.
Burnt Knife had a chronic limp from some swollen agony in his knees. He had a creaky, slow way of standing up, and although he never made a sound, we held our breath in empathetic pain. One of his hands had become a twisted, immobile club with deformed and utterly useless fingers. But most assuredly we did not pity him. He was the one who cut the signs into our backs and before whom we always stood alone.
A Hawthorn mother called his understudy Blue Ice. He had given his life over to the Greihound early as well. Blue Ice had been a stand-by for many years, waiting out the death of Burnt Knife’s forebear, who had fought tenaciously to stay in this realm. He was finally awarded inculcation, now officially apprenticed to Burnt Knife. Blue Ice and I were the same age. The medicine men had stolen him into their way of life long ago, and influenced, perhaps even created, his propensity. Traditionally, young sentinels were indentured to any old grey whose predecessor had dropped off the top. But the medicine men had a special wisdom about the order of things. They knew precisely when the death of Burnt Knife’s forerunner would precede the rebirth of Blue Ice, guaranteeing his apprenticeship as a medicine man years before it was actually recognized. Blue Ice had lacked only the title and had been privilege to decades of training deep in the mystery with two teachers.
Sadly, there remained a separation between us. After only a brief apprenticeship I had become an elder, a position I had already enjoyed for five years. Blue Ice knew that I had been tricked, if not dragged screaming into the clan while he had given himself over with breathless willingness as a boy. Blue Ice suspected, as did I that the coincidence of my birth to a powerful clan, not the bent of the illimitable inherent in me, had provided the realization of my status at an early age. Old Dog had never let him cut the whispering ether into my back.
The Stargazers set our ceremonies according to the secret journeys of the stars.  Most returned with ritual precision but five were keenly watched. They were not fixed in the bowl but moved tenuously forward, retreated and finally plunged again into the night sky. Like all Death Clan members, they too stood apart from their tribe restricted to peering into the substance of existence only at celebrated homecomings.
Star Stalker was sprung from my mother’s sister and was numerous winters my elder. An outstanding astronomer, he bristled in his expansive enlightenment. He ran with the stars suspended in the air of chasms, and with those that filled the daylight sky. Star Stalker reveled in the warmth of many of our females. I secretly called him Overly-Fond-of-Women. He called me Doesn’t-Want-to-be-an-Elder.
His apprentice Shadow Glass had an Ash clan mother. I doubt that he was yet forty. He had been indentured to Star Stalker for years. I was never certain if Shadow Glass loved me because I was just like his teacher or in spite of it. More than once he had been caught in the middle of Oak clan rivalry, Star Stalker and I having been known to rise to intense flexing. In our youth it had been arrogance and virility, later experience and apperception. This left Shadow Glass torn between genuine love and embarrassment for us.
The Consummate Artists summoned the songs of our inexplicable wonder. Every conundrum of the Mother attracted us like a fly to a spider’s web. Rocks, sticks, skins, bladders and hollow reeds whispered, ejecting us into the boundless wide-eyed and hungry, trembling in the despair of knowing our effort to understand it was futile. Red and white ochre from the depths of our mountain, and the black soot from the trees which had given themselves over to our comfort were chewed up and spit out by the Consummate Artists onto the walls of our den. Our hearts leapt when our eyes could see the mystery that eluded the voice of our minds. They painted the memories of our struggle to sustain the Infinite Present in all that we did.
They were an incredible example of just how good our system could be. I never knew two men more at peace with the consequences of their lives, not jealous or competitive in any way. They epitomized the requisite essence of ebb and flow, new to old, old to new, like ripples on the surface of a pond. Each man was a visionary, neither man subordinate. The songs flowing from the void through their spirits and into our rituals conveyed the stirring perplexity trapped inside each of us. They left us with the cognition that no matter how feeble, our paths were filled with potent eloquence.
Spirit Chalk, our elder artist, had been sprung from a band of the Willow clan who camped near the salt marshes in the summer. He was born from the very tidal pool to which he would eventually return. He was one of the Old Ones, white-haired and shrinking.
His understudy, called Bird Chant, was about the same age as Shadow Glass. They had petitioned together as boys and were initiated into apprenticeships perhaps seven years ago. Born of an Apple woman, Bird Chant’s spirit was as ancient as his mother’s clan was. He and his old teacher seemed more like twin brothers born by accident on two different occasions. The Twilight Women, who dearly loved them, saw our Consummate Artists as a paradox of fixed and inextricable motion.
Custom allowed us one stand-by to close the inevitable gap caused by death. He and the apprentices managed our resources under the scrutiny of Burnt Knife. They hunted our meat, hauled our water, and stoked our fires day and night. But more importantly our stand-by guarded the den and the abandoned bodies of those who had disappeared into the vapor or emerged greihounds to join up with the wild pack. He bore silent witness to our continued struggle to remain suspended in the only world that embraced us.
Longbow was a catharsis for the clan. Bird Chant and Shadow Glass had beaten him to apprenticeships by only one year and no one had died since. He had none of the advantages of birth, predisposition or adoption enjoyed by the rest of us. As a stand-by he could only wait out someone’s death to become an apprentice. If Burnt Knife knew whom Longbow would eventually replace, he wasn’t telling. None of us had a clue. Blue Ice made well-meaning attempts at consolation, reminding Longbow that he had waited decades to become an understudy. Disguised in that truth was a bitter irony made apparent by the common knowledge that Blue Ice was discreetly adopted by the medicine men at an early age. Longbow’s sedentary manner, however, did not reflect our speculation. Free from the entrapment of blood or appointment he had the privilege of bearing witness to all that we did. Spared from the dangers of detachment he was a master of diversity. Longbow could sing from the depths of his being and read the stars day or night. He could doctor a wound or discharge propitiation from our flesh. His dreams were startling and profound.
Thorn Arrow was sprung from a Holly clan mother. Greihound elders recognized him as a twin dreamer at birth. He was given over to our clan when he was a boy and had been my apprentice for five years. If Longbow was cathartic I was certainly enigmatic, having given myself over last before Thorn Arrow.
Every Death Clan had a Twilight Woman, one of the rogues of Clan Female. Together these women formed their own clan as well. The Twilight Women were midwives to clan newborn and the twins of Death Clan dreamers. They alone had the inexplicable ability to teach us how to gain entry into the dreamtime.
Dreaming Twins, whose only proclivity was to dream, weren’t regarded in the same light as the artists, medicine men and astronomers. The protocol by which we had to live was strict, requiring monastic isolation, concealed under the auspices of sacred imperative. This predisposition could transform itself into a sickness that would eventually destroy the dreamer were he separated from his twin.  Mismatches were devastating.
Her Roebuck mother had given Snow Rose to the Twilight Women at her puberty rite.  For years they had molded and manipulated her into a dreaming jewel. There she waited out the death of Old Dog Dreaming Woman, my preceptor, and finally took her place as the Greihound Twilight Woman. She had been my partner for five winters as well. Similar in age as Thorn Arrow she was a good teacher for him and after my death, they would have become a well-balanced set of dreaming twins. Unfortunately she was twinned to me. We were a terrible match. I don’t know if it was her age or the blood of her people, but her fire didn’t burn hot enough to propel me into the dreamtime.  My hunger for such a twin was insatiable and my attention to Snow Rose hollow and divided; consequently she was taken from me.

(An excerpt from Ancestral Airs: The Life Givers)
Our hike down the mountain seized me with tremors of exhilaration. The trail and its pungent aroma of wet, fallen leaves were deeply familiar. I rejoiced in meeting up with trees, rock formations and elemental configurations, each proverbial and cognizant of my presence. They were old friends, the memory of whom was burned into my heart forever.  I touched them tenderly and pressed my ear to them, catching whispers of secrets and conscious affection. As my pace caught the rhythm of ecstasy Moondog spoke quietly. The Greihound were as anxious to be with me again as I was excited to be reunited to them. But many things had changed.
Spirit Chalk had left and Bird Chant moved naturally into position of artist elder. His new apprentice was a Dogwood boy. Burnt Knife’s apprentice, Blue Ice, had disappeared. Moondog had been sacrificed to the Bards who had stolen him into their sacred way.  He paused, allowing my mind to catch up to his words. The news held the sickness of terrible tragedy but I failed to grasp the scope.
It wasn’t unexpected that Thorn Arrow had taken Moondog’s place as elder dreamer or that he selected Longbow as his apprentice. A Bearberry boy had replaced Longbow as stand-by. But it was the loss of Blue Ice that triggered sweeping transilient change.
Instead of conscripting a new Greihound, Burnt Knife chose Thorn Arrow to be the apprentice that would move one day to position of Alpha Male. Longbow became elder dreamer and the Bearberry boy his apprentice. Then a Poplar boy had been discovered and became our stand-by. I suddenly realized that although Moondog had been appropriated into Bardic tradition I was still the Greihound Twilight Woman. Longbow was my dreaming twin and the Bearberry boy my understudy. He, not Thorn Arrow would be conjoined to Glowing Stone when she was of age.
My mind was reeling. I didn’t know what made me assume I would just tag along with Moondog into his new life without any further commitment to the Greihound. I was wholly alarmed with the idea of dreaming with Longbow, he being far more attractive than with which I really wanted to cope. If I ever thought that Moondog and I would live some quiet, spirited life together, I was hopelessly naive. In fact, I held enormous commitments to my clan, the Twilight Women, and Death Clan medicine in general. I was equally obligated as Moondog’s companion in the Bardic world and required to embrace the enormity of it. Moondog and I had to learn that magic and work it together as a single soul.
As a Bard Moondog’s attachment to the Twilight Women would become increasingly more enmeshed, as these two groups were traditionally inseparable. No longer would he enjoy the singular responsibility to one dreaming woman but would become intrinsically involved with all of them. Destiny had dressed him as the Sacred Clown, consociate to Death Clans and Bardic magician in secret women’s rituals. There was no imagining the designs Darkling Light or the Crones had on us.
In fact, our lives had become spiritual marathons. It didn’t matter if our obligations were individual or mutual, Moondog and I would endure them together. And in doing so we would walk hundreds and hundreds of miles crisscrossing the Holy Mother until we had cloaked Her beauty with the mantle of our journey.
We emerged from the woods and could see the Twilight Women’s lodge in the distance. Sun streamed into the compound and at its center a stout fire burned. Ringing its perimeter sat my clan awaiting our arrival. When we were in view they stood and faced us.
Burnt Knife smiled and I embraced him, a gesture maybe too personal, even inappropriate. Surprised and perhaps at first embarrassed his grin broadened and he laughed. I think he actually looked younger. A master of adaptation Burnt Knife no doubt thrived in the atmosphere of change.
Star Stalker took the cue and embraced me first. In spite of his passing years he had become increasingly more virile, his arms were incredibly strong and they held me tightly. I couldn’t reach around his barrel shaped stature and imagined that a bear was crushing me. By the time he released me I was startled and out of breath.
Next stood Bird Chant. He gently took both my hands and drew me to him. Bird Chant had the clearest spirit of any man I had ever known. Utterly at peace, I had no difficulty believing he was an Immortal. He knew more songs than anyone alive did and had undoubtedly brought most of them from other lives. The beauty of his voice was heart wrenching. It was deep and resonant while it carried the melodic chortle of water softly moving over rocks in a shallow stream. I found it captivating, confounding, a conduit into Eternity.
Thorn Arrow; his beauty was stunning but his vivid blue eyes were remarkably tired. I thought I detected a few silver streaks amidst the otherwise shocking blonde that crowned his head and hung passed his shoulders. Unlike Burnt Knife the challenges of rapid change made Thorn Arrow look much older. Nevertheless, his smile was openly affectionate and he put his arms around me.
Shadow Glass was Star Stalker’s apprentice. Like Bird Chant he exuded the peacefulness of an old soul. Change had not come to his life or Star Stalker’s, they as steady and unaffected as the Old Granite Range itself. He smiled shyly but his embrace was warm and genuine. His demeanor didn’t allow me to linger, placing me before Longbow.
He looked down at me. And as though fixated he probed the essence of my spirit. I had to look away. I was blushing! I simply couldn’t control the attraction, making Longbow smile and Moondog petulant. Longbow and I were now the Dreaming Twins of Clan Greihound. Passion alone would make us a good match.
Last I stood before the three new faces of Bearberry, Poplar and Dogwood. All of them were incredibly young, fifteen or sixteen at the very oldest. Burnt Knife had certainly exhibited the prowess borne from a long, spiritual life. His final investment for the Greihound would be in the vitality of youth. It was an astounding thing unto itself that he not only found them but persuaded them to join us as well. None had even petitioned to be runners and had remained shrouded by their mother’s clans regardless of their ritual conception.  The fact that the Greihound had provided for them was never a guarantee that they’d ever propitiate. There was little question that Burnt Knife had remained intimately involved with them since their birth, studying their propensities. His influence was visible in each of their faces.
I was surprised to see Poplar blood standing among the Greihound. Their gentle protectiveness was legendary but so was their singular preoccupation with creativity. Although genuinely generous with their knowledge of poplar medicine they otherwise remained utterly involved in their own world. Poplar women rarely expressed an interest in anything outside of that believing their devotion to their work was the single best effort they could make for the benefit of our people. A Poplar woman entering into ritual death spasm with the Greihound was greatly unexpected. Moondog whispered that the Poplar boy bore a startling resemblance to the Wild Women of the Forest. He was small, dark, and had inscrutable black eyes. The depth of his instantaneous awareness of everything and everyone around him was uncanny and complete. And yet he was exceedingly polite and genuinely respectful without a trace of suspicion, traits readily attributed to poplar. He was called Moon Shadow.
Burnt Knife had made a wonderful choice when he selected the Dogwood boy for the Greihound. His blood contained powerful medicine that would bind him to our clan for life. Dogwood loyalty was mythic and probably enchanted. They were inherently protective and fully invested in the hopes of others. Dogwood devotion to resolving desperate Greihound needs was vital and this boy would stand by them forever. He was called Sings-in-Trees.
When I looked at the Bearberry boy I couldn’t have been more shocked. He was Moondog decades earlier and his raw magnificence made it easy for me to understand Moondog’s outrageous youth. Although forbidden to make the allusion it was quite apparent that Moondog and the Bearberry boy knew each other like their own souls.
Foreknowledge of the events that would take so many Greihound so quickly had given Burnt Knife an edge. He had known all along of the Bearberry boy’s dreaming blood. Burnt Knife also knew that his tenure as sentinel would be brief and his apprenticeship with Longbow inevitable. Now the Bearberry boy was bound to me as well.
His Bearberry mother called him Sun Dog and had given him the ability to study another’s mind. He at once captured mine and Sun Dog spontaneously understood the complex interrelationships I would have to manage. Unlike Moondog, who was often dark and volatile, Sun Dog was endowed with an abundance of bright and enduring light. This was the epitome of his mother’s medicine. His only resemblance to the Greihound was his propensity for dreaming and I wondered how he’d fair among the predatory spirits of my clan.
The Twilight Women were there too, lined up to welcome Moondog and me home. As always they were beautifully dressed. Darkling Light stood among them, impatient, impetuous, and lovely.
The Badger woman, Tangle Root, had been sprung from a Blackthorn mother. Her voice was, however, pleasantly soft and husky. She had both the strength and confidence of her mother’s kin. I understood she was astute at affecting magic in her own clan’s favor, a talent highly complimentary to Badger medicine.
Currant blood coursed through the veins of the Owl clan woman, Little Mouse. It was an uncanny mix. She was from the Fens and Marshy Meadows, steeped in shifting realities and Bardic mania. Currant medicine belonged to the realm of women’s mysteries and was well guarded; best known was their gift at divining outcomes. Owl blood had to have made Little Mouse’s skill unprecedented. I had no doubt she had foreseen all of the events that preceded my standing before her now.
Raven-that-Sings-at-Night struggled to embrace me. She still suffered the loss of Snow Rose necessary for me to exist in her world. I silently acknowledged her pain and her triumphant ability to accept me. She had come from a Linden mother, a revered Spirit Handler who had wielded lightning medicine. She too was from the Fens and Marshy Meadows.
So was Sky Blue Fire, the Twilight Woman for the Wolf clan. She had been born to an Elm mother who was revered for handling the secrets of elm. She was a master at balancing strength and endurance with compassion. Sky Blue Fire was a magnificent Alpha Female for the dreamer of Clan Wolf.
The Lynx woman, called Splashing Star Rise, had come from Maple blood. Maple was handled equally by women as love medicine and by men as hunting magic. It had been given to every society of Clan Male for instruments, smoke, prayer bundles, and tattooing. Splashing Star Rise was in fact amazingly tattooed.
The Eagle woman was a hot blooded, fiery Hazelnut creature with streaming red hair and fierce green eyes. Every clan and society was dependent on the Hazelnut women and they held their secrets and their power close. I wondered how her mother had slipped from the passionate embrace of the Bear clan and into the talons of the Eagle. Whatever the circumstances I stood before the fruit. I was glad her dreaming blood bound her to me as tightly as she was bound to the Eagle. Hazelnut women were suspected of casting spells and peering uninvited into people’s lives. They were also venerated for their wisdom and love; no doubt attributes awarded them by the Salmon clan with which they were in cahoots. She was called Laughing Moon.
And then there was Darkling Light, perhaps my single, favorite character among the pantheon of giants, the most uniquely talented and wholly anomalous individual I had ever met. Neither young nor beautiful Darkling Light’s power was an all-consuming influence on each and every one of us.
Darkling Light had been sprung from that original spawn. Then dawned the one great age where ecstasy was eternal and infinite. Wisdom was inherent in sapient androgynous Immortals who scripted the theogony of our Earth with love, irony and humor. They created the duality in the universe, light and dark, summer and winter, male and female and a countless array of sacred twins.
Rare, cataclysmic events blessed us with an occasional earthly incarnation of just such beings reborn to teach us the deeper mysteries of harmony and bliss. As a mere mortal it was my privilege to know Darkling Light intimately with absolutely no hope of comprehending such spacious brilliance and shadow.

(An excerpt from Ancestral Airs: The Life Givers)
The Badger woman, Tangle Root was first to step forward with her mate. Even entirely out of form I recognized him immediately as Glow Berry’s tall, lanky cave dweller that had black skin and smoked a pipe. Hides-in-Holes had given us the predator-prey love medicine. His name in association with a Badger female became very funny.
Little Mouse, the Owl clan woman, re-introduced me to her consort Old Man Beard Lichen. The spirit revealed to us by Glitter Star was unrecognizable. Old Man Beard Lichen was unbelievably handsome.
Raven-that-Sings-at-Night was matched up with the graceful, effeminate creature Rosebay. Out of form Rosebay was exceedingly masculine and apparently lover enough for both Snow Rose and the Raven woman, epitomizing the eroticism shared by such a trio.
Moon Girl, Burnt Knife’s sister enjoyed the house spirit that sported the stout belly, short legs, and big head. He sat in front of the Wolf clan woman Sky Blue Fire. His name I remembered was Fire Fox. Although a small man when not performing, tight, well-defined muscles replaced the huge roundness. The abnormal size of his head had been completely conjured.
Leaps-in-Light stood arm in arm with the Lynx woman, Splashing Star Rise. His skin was no longer dyed red nor were his buckskins. He had been the author of the holly mistletoe sacrament Moondog and I made. The realization made me first gasp and then grimace. Leaps-in-Light laughed, as did some of the others, while he handed back several tokens he had stolen from me that day. I hadn’t missed them but knew immediately that they belonged to me.
Our last reunion was with Burning Grass, consort to the Eagle woman Laughing Moon. He had been the keeper of the basalt columns when first met in the other world. Even out of form he was a big man. Burning Grass mentioned to me that his lovely female companion back in the cave was actually quite male. I was shocked.

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Responses to “Ancestral Airs: The Seedbearers and The Life Givers, is the catalyst from which all my work has evolved.”

  1. Populations increase or decrease based on the availability of food. The bottom line is food, competition for space, sunlight, water, all default to food and food controls reproduction. I won’t list the hundreds of species indigenous to the UK grasslands alone. In general, all competition exhibited by both plants and animals is inspired by the need to secure food and insure reproduction.

    I see it as something of a dance, species lobbying for position in the food chain. No ecosystem is static, this jostling for position is on going and continuous. That is the definition of harmony and an assortment of things impact on that harmony. Climate change, either natural or man-made is a big one; encroachment is as well along with the human exploitation of resources available in any given system. Another enormous impact is the introduction of non-indigenous species which often assume control of resources driving indigenous species out and often into extinction.

    To ask, “What are some examples of competition in the grassland biome” is a flawed question. The entire system is in motion and no one species is the conductor.