September 22

[Darkling Light]

In moments the Moon will return. We stand poised, spellstruck by the halo cresting the ridge. We see a sparkling edge, and then a true glimmer before a full blown orb ascends. She glows like a lover’s kiss.

For many years we hauled the burden of who we are. We are tired, nearly crushed beneath the weight, and have finally put the charge to rest. Tonight we dance our joy with Moondog.

Women are quietly gathering up comfort things for children and elders who will be tucked in at the containing edge for the long night ahead. Others will spend it making a feast fit for a Mother Moon, moving quietly in firelit camps, creating delectable delights for one and all.

The Great Circle is as lustrous as a lake. Firemen gently coax the flames now rising through a pyre stacked like a willowwork weir. Soon spires dance from one log to the next as though climbing a mountain to touch the mantle of the Moon. It is a thing of beauty.

Moondog steps into the ring as would a warrior wearied by the attrition of his life. He sports neither fancy clothes nor paint; behind either the depth of his devotion and the legacy of his life could have easily hidden. Moondog wears nothing more than a softgrass loincloth and the expression of a man who has spent his life in the realm of the spirit. The crowd is spellbound and quiet. No one moves; no child tugs at his mother’s clothing with inquiring eyes, no infant stirs. Moments stretch into protracted soundless soliloquies until the Butterfly people flutter in.

In their hands are small bowls of black paint and each takes a turn illuminating Moondog’s scarified story. And as though every eye has been tricked, the profound secret symbols begin to move until each of us knows with certainty they together form a map. But we don’t follow the map. The map follows us through our years of missteps. Captivated we miss the drama unfolding. Moondog’s entire body has been painted. Greihound pelts and fox furs have been added. And when the Greihound mask slips over his head the world as we know it drops away. He leads us into the realm of absolute, impenetrable freedom. In that world there exists no pain, no sorrow, no hunger; and it is not illusionary. It is the place of unspeakable wisdom and we can choose to remain there throughout all of Eternity. It is the dawning day of sacred ceremony, where every thought, every utterance are the ritual tools of a resplendent life. We are the cup moss caper of song and dance, the watercress of assuredness. Our hearts are the tree moss tinder that lights the path of intent. Strife has been transformed into magical opportunity, the sacred first food of a new cycle. The world of dreams has opened to us again. Elder flutes are singing and old women are smoking elder pipes. Sacred clowns scurry up to Moondog and touch his flesh with vivid red paint. We are cloaked and moving through the shadows, standing as stout trees with our ancestors. They are safe and we are set in the sanctity of the wise.

Eagles and Ravens shuffle their feet and ruffle their feathers, handing off prayer bundles of hazelnut into Moondog’s capable hands. Inspiration explodes while our grasp of passion holds like a tightfast tendril, wound but not too tight that it strangles the delicate dance of balance. Someone gives Moondog a prayer stick tied up with orache and plumes. He plants it in the heart of the Great Circle, the trail marker of our holy canter; encircling it with linden. Each of us knows that the knowledge of outcomes is founded in ancient wisdom. Children pass baskets of currant, illuminating our vision of the wondrous world that stands with open arms to embrace us. Some step into the ring to dance the sacred with Moondog. Beneficent spirits abound; fire and water move to a harmonic chord again. We have traveled through dark passages to a pristine beginning; strong, prayerful and happy, potent and empowered.

More join in the dance. Bear and Salmon shake hazelnut bundles to the driving beat of the big drum. The Oak moves in with lady fern. Plumed, painted birds clutch hawthorn branches, striking claw to Earth with the joy of reborn rhythm. Rock break mends the broken and a great hunt is launched with a bittercress blessing. Moondog is, in the end, the bearberry bright light for his people, holding them in the ancestral embrace of the spirit. He illuminates the wisdom concealed beneath the surface of human frailty. Moondog, as he dances, shows the selfheal empowerment of ritual rebirth, free of grief, tranquil and strong. He is the stuff of stirring songs, the dreamer who gives away his visions to a people, to a way of life he loves above all else. They finally know his heart as I have always known it. He built them a village. He dances the spirit of joy for them, to and fro along energetic lines that converge on this magnificent center. Singing mountain ash songs of sustenance, he guides us through convoluted minds to the heart of simple, cataclysmic love. His feet move to the bobbing beauty of the marsh’s mallow, remembering the demeanor of departed friends. How we loved them; how we love them still. He turns the chicory key and the gate to a perfect world opens. We dance through it like mummers on a mission, arm in arm with our ancestral memory, vigorous like the Ram, rattling the rhythm of life to an alder flute. We who have dreamed ourselves into existence rejoice in the vernal equinox of taintless lives; direct, restored, and clarified. Again we are the wild madder of an energetic, cyclical flow; abundant, advantaged, humility honed; creating power in the moment. We are the wisdom keepers and the patient teachers of those not yet born but stand in our midst, longing for the secrets that balance action with sound judgment. We are the magi of the medicine bundle, the bearskin of the blowing tube, the shave grass whistle that calls the shades of shimmering sanctity. We safekeep the solitude you seek. We are here. Can you see us dancing for you? You hold our intent like a fuzzy fledgling, warm, fragile, and alive, and yet determined to thrive. We persist because of you; we strike the drum and sing the songs of hope because of you. Moondog dances a looping dream because of you. We light a divinatory spark and chant our letters to the unborn. We pray for you. Moondog dances until sunrise sets the Moon.

The fire falls to ash and like wisps of curling smoke the people drift off to their camps. Cooking fires are going and everyone smiles through sleepy eyes. A great throng visits, laughs, eats wonderful food, while not quite believing they have made it through such an ordeal. Countless treasures exchange hands with hearty, warm embraces. It is the colossal giveaway of the spirit. Children, somehow entirely unaffected, run about, stirring up dust, giggling, and playing games. Seasoned Old Ones behave as though they haven’t missed a wink of sleep, reveling in the quiet chatter that only elders seem to understand. Young women fuss over them, tucking deer robes around stooped shoulders and bent backs, vulnerable to the early morning chill. Delicacy after delicacy is offered to our oldest to be sampled and savored. Smoke drifts across the Great Circle and permeates the surrounding forest. All is blessed with the perfume of juniper, elm, and pine. It smells delicious and makes me swoon. The bouquet is nothing less than transcendental beauty, the discernment between vision and illusion, the fine fabric of nature’s signs, and the vitality of a nurturing people. We deflect, we reflect, and attract only the beneficence of a Mother Moon, an abundant Earth, infinitely alive forever now.

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Responses to “September 22”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson October 1st, 2013 - 1:20 pm

    I feel a great sense of pleasurable smoke-filled peace enveloping an optimistic people as I feel the ceremonies drawing to a close.
    The painting and adorning of the almost naked Moondog – this was a moving episode for me and I’m certain it was for him as he gave no direction but became the image that others created. A moment of openness and trust that is emblematic of the future that these people now feel they might have ..