September 14


It is impossible to describe, but the stillness is complete. There are five thousand people gathered around the Great Circle; the noise should be deafening, it had been. But the day breaks in silence. If anyone is talking they are speaking in whispers. The children are so quiet one would think they were planning a forbidden excursion. Infants are hushed. I can hear only leaves stirring between my own audible heartbeats. For nearly five months we have prepared for this day; the day when a multitude steps into ritual together. It is down to hours now. At sunset Darkling Light and Dancing Grass will advance to the circle to set us on the journey that will end with a new life. In eight days the Moon will come home and we will celebrate with Her. She has stories to tell.

It is a chilly morning. Deep in the woods crisp ferns are flocked in tiny ice crystals that are melting to sparkling drops of dew. I make my way to the bachelor camp; even the boys are quiet. They have done such a job. I look at them and want to weep. They are so beautiful, so changed. Each now sees the beauty of the old way, the world of spirit hunts, ancestral broodings, and fantastical creatures that live in the shifting realms of our many-layered mystical Mother. Not one of them will forsake the memory of the Ancient Ones. They will never put away their plumes for a plow.

I sit amidst fifteen boys who face the end of a way of life, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of years old.  They feel the weight of inevitability, the next great flood. It wells up in my chest, the tsunami of technology and conflict. These wonderful, spectacular boys are already history, destined to be the improbable heroes of myth and then forgotten; their bones plowed under with the Great Circle. Long into the world of the Unborn maybe one of their hands will be turned up by a farmer’s shovel, or one of their splendid, perfect skulls. It makes me sick to know the truth of this. Perhaps the farmer will call in a soothsayer and they will rejoice and boast of the marvelous find rather than mourn the loss of a world they will never understand or want to. They will never know the men who carried foxes under their arms or the men who wore the antlers of a great stag and danced long into a fall night. They will never know the women who cast spells with woven grass baskets, or the women who made the capes for the shifters of shapes. They will never know a people who filled quivers with magic arrows and wore halos of willow, oak, and agaric. They will never know a people plumed up, tattooed, and scarified with sacred symbols, making one prayer that takes the winter and one prayer that takes the summer,  and one prayer that is danced to the Moon.

But I know them; I know them better than my own soul. They have left me behind so that you can know them too. But I am not waiting because they are waiting for me.  I will mark the trail and leave you signs, but I will not wait for you. I am already gone.

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Responses to “September 14”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson September 18th, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    A eulogy.
    An obituary.
    A mourning.
    A cry from the writer’s soul.