September 19

[Darkling Light]

Across the way I can see Sky Blue Fire tucked inside of her Wolf Clan and I know Fire Fox is sheltered from our eyes by that same impenetrable pack. As the spirit of dusk-down awakens, fire keepers, speaking in inaudible whispers to each other, quietly assemble a night-burn of juniper. Old men stand to the side watching, scrutinizing their apprentices’ every move.

A hard hush is unfolding before us, knowing that we meet to face the tragic truth of our lives; the melancholic missteps, the self-saturated instances of infliction, our own malevolent moments. We are utterly, irreparably flawed and now stand to acknowledge all that we deny about ourselves.

As the sun vanishes into his secret ritual, firemen light the fire and watch with focused attention to be certain it climbs into the timber as proscribed. Satisfied they move to the periphery, vigilant to the appetites of the power they have touched off. Fire Fox emerges.

No longer the lanky, likely paragon we recognize when the sun reigns, he lumbers into the nidus of night. He, like all of us, awaits the glow of the moon as She moves with the measured burden of final pregnancy. With each round She has greeted us ever earlier, anxious to end Her journey and repose with Her newborn. Fire Fox sports a great, inexplicable orb of a head, both confounding and comic. Like the flint keepers, he is as stout as he is tall, but unlike them, Fire Fox is grossly twisted, leaning the burden of his body heavily on an ancient birch cane. We are nothing less that completely bound to his spell.

Fire Fox is carrying a basket woven from rannoch rush filled with smudging herbs. Through that spirit we can see the end of days, disappearing as surely as she does back to the breast of the Infinite Present. She leaves us bit by bit, leaf by leaf because of our flagrant disregard, failing to take frugally, prayerfully of her world for our own comfort. She follows in the steps of the bison, the gargantuan red deer, and the great flesh-eaters that followed them. We hang our heads in shame, knowing in our bones, we are the cause.

The clans of Deer, Bull, and Ram come in and assemble. Their dance steps are painfully slow as though their feet weigh more than can be lifted. It is excruciating while we watch them rattle bundles of holly revealing our failure to balance our actions with sound judgement. We reflect on the moments where we rejected evident truth and in doing so stripped away our clarity and sense of direction, collapsing in the loss of wasted power. Once the keepers of wisdom, the attrition of the care we cultivate opens a path for the aberrant spirits that consume the precepts of freedom and equality, supplanting them with intimidation and authority. Courage is gone and with it leaves our sense of vision.

The dancers have brought us to the precipice of despair where we are left teetering for a protracted moment. But with the moonrise Fire Fox makes a prayer in our behalf with bittersweet. We feel the blessing of forgiveness, our sadness dispersing into the chilly night, the moon cloaking us in a transparent layer of sanctity. He too holds a sprig of nightshade. As his prayer moves into our midst we sense that not all is lost. And even as we must face incalculable traumatic waves of the tragic truth that we are, we know that in doing so, that which leaks in to feed on our holy hope will in the end be gone with the old cycle.

We focus again on the business at hand, our spirits enhanced in the forgiveness we have been granted. Once the bittersweet and nightshade are returned to our Mother, Fire Fox continues his prayer with wood sorrel. We feel the malevolence we have invited into our lives dissipate in the smoke. Quarrels are reconciled with meadow rue; love and endurance are reborn, hearts are mended, expression restored. These dark spirits are our doing; the sacrifice we make, the undoing. Our end is inevitable but we embrace it with peace. We are empowered by the green slick of wet and watery places that Fire Fox smears on his arms. Even amidst the vision of sure demise we feel assured that our fertile yet futile objectives can be achieved so long as our hearts are good and our lives lived in good ways.

Clan Otter makes a showing, darting about with the smoky perfume of bladderpod. Their delight is illusionary, they as predacious as the snarling wild pack. The dablets of love medicine with which they shower us are peaceful reminders that we must always attend the prerequisite of our ancestors. The joyful dance of the Otter Clan is a catharsis for the spirit of apprehension that lurks within us; it displaced by the bewitchment of love to which we are bound just as surely as we cling to each other. There comes greater revelation of the darkness to which we grant safe haven.

Fire Fox steps again into the light revealing a fistful of moss. Our discomfort returns as we remember moments when we each dismissed our Mother’s abundance, forgetting the spirits of frugality, gratitude, and awe for Her. We are charged with the crime of arrogance and found guilty of assuming She would answer merely because we call. Even though the elusive Wolf Clan stands in the shadows, their overbearing gaze pricks our congregate conscience. We had crushed a band of deer to fill our bellies. The herd perished in our avarice, a spirit denied by the exemplary and ancient Wolf, he older, more complete than our fledging race.

Clan Wildcat makes its move and a quiet “ah” leaves the lips of those many who have never before witnessed them. Their fancy clothes are flocked in tree lichen setting into motion the mystical world of panacea. We are reminded of the consuming power that the least likely wields, the simple lichen that streams the light of life into the devastation of famine. It can cure anything; it can reset the pace of our stumbling, fumbling foibles. The Wildcat retreat to the nightblack while Deer and Wolf retrace their steps back into the arena of our disjunction, dressed out with sweet clover. Its dreadful as we watch the Deer tremble in paralyzed terror while hunters spring from the crowd to commit an atrocity. Wolves wait, vacillating between complete contempt and the temptation to massacre the perpetrators of bowelless cruelty. To what have we succumbed? Out of nowhere singers start up with soft chords of piteous woe as we confront the worthless state to which we have conceded. Tonight is a wretched night, running head long into who we are and what we have become. Some weep, others wail as each in his own way takes the psychic flogging for the senseless slaughter offered to the spirit of convenience. As we lounged in the glow of full bellies we forgot to honor the sacred and elusive spirit of abundance. Our illusion collapses the world on which we depend, we alone leaving our own lives in shambles.

More broken hearts and issues of abundance come into view and fade with the blessing of skullcap. Infused in divinatory water from secret, sacred places the spell is cast for love and protection, releasing troubled thoughts to the promise of peace. Swiftly, with opportunistic posture, Fire Fox with flowering rush, expels the malevolent root that ambushes our sense of humility. Clan Bull cycles around again shaking bundles of rushes to the rhythm sustained by the palpitant drum. Their fancy clothes are embroidered with the split fibers of the same spirit promising strength, protection from the spirit of injury, and the luxury of delicious sleep as we transition through the trying rebirth.

The drum stops and voices trail off into the night, a repast for our souls. Practitioners and musicians alike step into the ring,  blessing off their hands and instruments in a brew of vervain, mint, and meadowsweet. As they do so some step from the containing edge for momentary relief. It remains my place to heed the goings on, an objective eye that insures that the medicine is good. An old holy woman consults with me. A thief of the spirit stands to be confronted. Other spirit handlers bring assurance to each other casting remedial spells for exorcism, protection and purity. Some seek the specifics of happy dispositions, solace for those who mourn, tranquility for haunting dreams. We work the medicine together, an army of enchanters, busy dispelling unrequited love, debility, replacing those spirits with the love of learning and the strength to put to rest all contention. We see folded reality. Prosperity is ours, the restitution met in our compassion for each other. An old spirit handler signals with a wave of his hand. The drummers strike one thump calling everyone back to the circle.

A great troupe of clowns dance into the ring, spinning like spires dust. Each manages the spell of chaos cast by a pinch of ergot. I am dazzled by their ability to resolve the magic into an acute focus of attention. I can see them sustaining the harmony within the discipline of the cyclical mystery that governs our lives. They breach the veil, plunging into the void, bringing back the tools we need to empower our will. Before vanishing they reveal the beauty of floating heart, she eradicating the spirit of fear and the thief of our expression.

Clans of Deer and Bear replace the dancing hierophant, holding bundles of meadowsweet, softly bringing ancestral wisdom back to the forefront of our lives. The bridal bouquet weds our spirit to that of peace, delighting our soul, recasting our love for each other. It is savory medicine. They offer up the intrepid spirit of goosefoot that bolsters our strength, a resolution to chase away that which thwarts our ability to take action during the challenge of resurrection. More penitentiaries emerged painted in the same spirit, dancing in delight of the abundance revealed to us of our visionary determination to step back into the harmony of our Mother’s world.

The contrarious Hare Clan plucks desiccated fritillary blooms from their fancy clothes and crumbles them in their hands. They pepper us with the medicine that reconciles wounds and restores our clarity. Fire Fox returns. He blesses us with sea lavender, purging all that impacts our sense of spiritual sanctity. As he does the troupe sweeps around him with brooms of june grass, then on into the crowd, circling around and weaving through the throng. In this firelit duskingtide the malevolence that seeks to interfere with benevolent intentions is swept away, our dint and lucidity bolstered against clandestine return.

Spirit handlers step forward wielding the stench of black horehound. Lurking, predatory spirits flee in abject repulsion. A window opens to ease the unsettlement of the clans required to strike camp and move into the uncanny mystery of virgin turf. The medicine men gently reset the balance with foxtail millet, restoring ineffable vigor and material harmony.

I see them working the hawkweed. We transcend with the handlers like a great flock of birds to reclaim the knowledge of assured direction. In this moment we shed disagreement as purposefully as the stag sheds his antlers in beds of deer fern. Gracious shades look on. As we face all that impedes the flow of our life, the spirit world deliberates. When we have fully conceded to that which we cannot sustain alone the benevolists of the ether will empower our new lives. A window has opened.

As I watch I detect Fire Fox making a prayer at the edge of the fire. I discern the perfume of smoldering clary springing the gate to ancient wisdom. Will our ancestors leave the comfort of Creation again to stand with us in our most marrowless moments? Or have we squandered the wealth of remembrance in exchange for fleeting treats? Without their retrospection we will blow away like so much dust on a windy day, irksome but forgotten. The people pool away their insolence until their deepest recesses glisten like an appalling wound. Bulls dispense burnet to every repentant perpetrator and singers flush away the imbrue with detergious chants.

Someone brings spearwort to Fire Fox; maybe Salmon, maybe Ram. Our misty objectivity condenses to something truly sanctified. Awareness of each other. We begin to recognize the attrition of spirit that over many, many moons has left us standing in the realm of fools. Cudweed smoke forges the fiery brand of compassion once again. Renewal sparks in the distance with the luminosity of our river on a moonlit night. A blessing of lichwort reveals the continuum of benevolence portioned out by the self-same spirit when offered.

I look around and notice an intimidating count of consecrated antagonists hidden in the crowd, shrouded in the demeanor of beautiful women. They hold a keen eye on those that conceal their disdain for the indigent and sad; too impertinent to vomit out their self-importance. Holy mayhem is about to ensue. Like a ruptured weir the prelates grab them, dragging them into the circle. The bristling bravado is swiftly checked as the spell-crafters tease them with displays of overt sexual prowess, clinging and climbing like heartsick sires to the objects of their desires. Desperately the victims slap away their ardent pursuers, to no avail, as the clowns embrace them in death grips, passionately kissing their lips and humping against their legs or pulling them to the ground. Some are now straddled, being rubbed down with anemone in a licentious orgy. The entire scene, at first appalling, is reduced to a hilarious portrayal of complete chaos. Everyone laughs, sneering and ridiculing those now fallen from the pinnacle of conceit. We understand the fortuitous choice of the players, the recognition of self-sickness and the determined exorcismal display. There were no victims, only the sacred ambitions of those who longed for greater depth of spirit, deeper dreams, and startling visions. The aftermath is washed away as attention to others glistens in the shadows of the benevolent spirit we struggle to maintain. Haircap moss is offered and we are conscripted to the worship of sacred places. Cliff fern draws the harmony within the cyclical imperative of rebirth to the surface and we are blessed with a taste.

Fire Fox offers up the symbiotic spirits of moor grass and ofbit, we sense the freedom to move between light and shadow again. The shackles of our impudence are beginning to drift back to the Earth. Our magical Mother will reinvent them into the spirit of goodness where no parasitic or predacious opportunist can play, at least for a while. We are wasted but somehow buoyant as the weight of our worst is lifted in the atonement.

The blue haze of first light crests the horizon as the ember bed deepens in the dawn. It has been a night of divinatory dream, making our way back to harmony on the darkest trails of our hearts. Spells of reconciliation and love are cast with bear’s foot; self-conquest has transmuted into a regnant of collective, cognitive affability with a blessing of boxwood.

The sun now races for dawn. Fire Fox makes one last prayer with lungwort as the purging pitch of sacred songs sweeps away the night. We are reminded by the offering Fire Fox makes that each of us embodies the spirits of twins, the polarity between who we are and what we strive to be. The first ray of morning bursts into the circle, searing the ember bed with a spike of light. The drum sounds once and the truth of our tragedy resolves into day.

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Responses to “September 19”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson September 21st, 2013 - 9:40 am

    Well …
    My breath has emitted gasping from my beating chest ..
    I’ve insisted on reading passages to another, careless of interrupting his activity ..
    From the very opening I was grasped by the heart and spoken to in a language all my own yet unused by me ..
    I shall not comment on individual, characters, moments or events as is my usual way ..
    Everything of the spirit; environment; human heart, emotions, behaviour or psychology; reverence for a single greatest greatness – there is nothing here that, although my great spirit is called differently, my tribe and rituals are smaller, isn’t mine.
    This is mine.
    This time I am going to say something exquisite to the writer, for the writer, which I expect never to repeat ..
    “Now I am changed forever because my heart has found shelter for your gift.”