September 15

[Darkling Light]

A medicamental smoke ascends from a lambent alder ingle. Each plume carries dreams of serenity purging us from the doubt of difficult decisions. The season has come when all adversity is to be put to rest and clarity reborn. Alder flutes and rattles commence, invoking the spirit of the northwest wind, conjured to sweep away and resurrect. His is the aery smudge of death and rebirth, laying down the foundation coals for the sanctifying fires to come. Whispered incantations rise with the ethereality of the blessing while a vessel of poolroot tea is brought forth.

I do not know if Dancing Grass speaks or prays as he dips his hands in the elixir and washes the only tools with which our Mother has endowed him. Basketmakers step into the light carrying woven wonders; they washed as tenderly as a newborn, releasing the spirits of the artists from their creations. Balance stands ready to be harmoniously reset to the new cycle, peace revived, and fortuitousness redeemed, broken hearts refreshed.

We wait for the Mother of the Night, the puffs and sparks of alder, a beacon to her return. The ground is covered lovingly with mats woven from the blades of oat so She can rest and repossess that which was given freely during Her arduous journey. She, a spiritual warrior, watchwords the darkness in our behalf. The moon has wandered the cosmos, touching, seeking, so that our people can endure in the beauty of another indiction. If worthy She will come home to us again, re-united with our fervent wonder. The simple mats of oat fuel our inherent inspiration to live and live well, happy and healthy, shrouded in the dazzling mystery of our Mother.

Throatwort is brought to the circle. Its gentle, formidable power placates the elements we have carelessly offended. Offerings of sorrowful spirits bless the people with acquittal, restoring our sense of holiness within cyclical secrets. The pain of offense, heart and soul, rises in the alder smoke and disappears. In its place we become invested again with the vitality of wellbeing, impassioned expression, and vivid vision of our many-layered, magical Mother. Our women are clothed in the endowment of Creation as men make final peace with elemental matter. Our intimate dance with our evocative Earth resumes again, re-infused with majesty and amazement.

Deer dancers rear their antlered grandeur. Men taken from this world are plunged into the rapture, standing at the threshold of a new yet infinite round within the splendor of rebirth. Buck move, striking hooves to our Mother’s breast renewing our joy, expressing unspeakable conviction to Her. Hoof rattles pick up the rhythm as dust rises in the firelight and delicious spirits of benevolence come to dance among us. Knotted nets of downy woundwort are brought in to catch the fever of good things, destroying the shades of terror that steal the peace of sleep and the glitter of visions. Doe emerge from the nightblack bringing with them the spirits of confidence and abundance, displacing any fear and disillusionment that might have crept secretly into our lives, rendering them ineffectual. Our knowledge of sacred places is revivified, our devotion to them rekindled and reborn as we commit to returning sacrosanct shrines to our Mother, recasting them afresh as we always have. So many lay hidden in far-flung wild landscapes, invisible markers, seats of wisdom, respite for weary hearts. The gateways to the Infinite Present can be found in them, free from the confines of logic, and the trickery of definitive knowing. Windows into other worlds open first here then there, and we, breathless with anticipation, leap through them all. Our dreams are as tangible as flesh, as transitory as the alder smoke that dissipates into a ceiling of stars; and that is enough.

I saunter up to the side of Dancing Grass, he dressed in the regalia of an Antelope virgin and I the virile, snorting male dighted in the finery of my father’s discipline. I bear branches of sweetbriar, they shredding my arms for any betrayal of confidence for which we might have been guilty. Tears streak my arrogant paint until I, warrior personified, dissolve into the clown of human failing. My blood drips and pools in the soil beneath my feet as the spellcraft of Clan Bear consumes my spirit along with the delectable hips of the rose I hold. And in that feast the immortality of my being is revitalized, I holy of holies manifest Sacred Twins. I and all else are washed over with renewed sanctity, our hearts and minds the instruments for which any practitioner would envy. The blood I offer so willingly, the blood of my people, brings impulse and fertility to our Earth, our women, their rich, ritualistic sexual bliss the source of Creation. Parasitic malevolence runs a stream as well, until we are emptied out of spiritual pain, provoked perhaps by family, repairing the breaks in our visionary self-expression. The disarray is gone, replaced by striking shields of protection against its return. No longer plunged in the vulnerability of travail we celebrate our rebirth into the new revolution, strong and purified, reveling in the facilitating vigilance of a sacred, feminine universe.

Clan Raven appears, it quick and wary, assessing our souls, bringing light to those dark places. One offers moss to our Mother as an amorous, enchantrix offers kisses to a lover. His prayer speaks to a primeval desperation when the spirits of comfort and security fail to thrive, and the gratitude we must never cease in sustaining. Those spirits, for which we once so deeply longed, sooth their own famine in our devotion.

The ancient trickster dumps a pouch of fluellen into the fire, a gift to the spirit of harmony. The smoke moves heavy hearts away from lingering anguish. And in that stroke, pervasive sadness is exchanged for endued motivity into new lives permeated with vigor and hope.

Impenetrable darkness that lay beyond the firelight that envelops us resolves into the sweet melody of an unknown bird. In moments that soft, searing spirit is joined by another and yet another until we are swept up by the voices of promise. Chaffweed puffs away, smoke in which a throng of spirit handlers purifies and recharges their tools anew. Women, men, children come forth to cleanse themselves with the same magic, out stretched open-palmed hands scooping up its vibrant, invisible power, bathing arms, legs, faces, before offering it to the air. Vision reforms itself into a current on which flows away the weight imposed by the spirits of melancholy and deception, they the thieves of sacred songs and safekeeping.

The drum starts up softly; the heartbeat of our Earth resonates with the penetrating warble. Feet are moving, slowly, hesitantly as each finds his place within the polyphonic impetus. The pungent aroma of garlic mustard bites at the air with its spirit of awareness, thwarting that which impedes the release of ancient occlusions, they replaced by a surge of expectant cynosure; feet colliding, dust rising in the vision of rebirth. Drops of piquant liquid life spatter like a gentle rain on the dancers, they bathed in an agent of change, the blessing released from dipped, fistfuls of feathers. Dilemmatic desolation fades away in the steam of mad dogweed, persuaded away by the spirit of crowfoot. Shattered souls reshape themselves with courage, daring to embark on the journey to that which is revealed before us. Magians fuel up their stamina, detecting and driving off the spirits that thieve away wellness and prosperity. A handful of men reach into the cauldron, enhancing their beauty and virility. Sacred songs, the whispered suggestions of birds have reached a driven diapason and festooned dancers meet the circuitous harmony, moving in steadfast assuredness of rebirth.

Mallow is added to the mix. Spirits soar in the visionary wonder as the dancing feet of women and men immix and reform into echoes of circles. They face each other, moving to the drum, to the woodnote whistles, bodies close enough to brush as they dance by. Hands touch, lips touch in the twinkle of perpetual, erotic motion.

The energy surges as the spirit within lovage assumes the power of ancestral oversight. Malevolence concealing itself behind the orchestrated veil of the purging pitch abandons its failing grip of perdition. Appetites quicken, as do knowing smiles with the propelling pop of pure actuation. Songs are reaching for the gate, pushing it open. As it swings wide dancers move through into the realm of transcendent bliss. Lungwort releases residual fragments of lingering despair as one by one, intrepid spirits thrust through the threshold of eternity. More and more step from the gallery, painted up with wintergreen, its spirit attending to the need of empty hearts, rallying regenesis, fixed and infused with redemptive renascence. Mischance dissolves in the cloud of dust, rising, rising, dispersing, disappearing, and easing the harried into hallowed regeneration. A green jewel of oceanic wonder seals in the ecstasy, revivifying wellness, and striking down the paralyzing spirit of hesitancy. Each dancer, consumed by the perfume of smoky perspiration, leaps out of the reach of accumulated inertia.

Layers of voices bolster the impelling heartbeat, resetting the balance, restoring vision, securing abundance, engulfed by the impenetrable shield of love. The malevolence in our lives, nurtured by our own missteps, slithers around our feet before slain by the simple blessings of waterweed and lettuce.

The medicine of moonwort strikes a haunting chord, the mage of conveyed theophany. Posterns of the Infinite Present spring open. Dancers, beyond breathless, inhale the incantations slow and deep, the crosspoint of the profound, the world of the Ancient Ones.

Singers bathe tongue and cheek, powering up the catalystic propulsion of ancestral songs, easing residual agitation that renders ineffectuality. We embrace the old way that comes forth, each note and bar reconciliatory in the momentous salience. No thief of prophetic voice can stand in the presence of the white mustard blessing that touches each of us.

Luminous power dynamizes attunement to the spirit world, it entombing hearts with prodigious aspiration. Boar step into the sacred ring moving their feet with the harmonic perfection of the others. They rhythmically rattle bundles of boar’s fennel as they whirl round and round, tilting head and tusk toward the unseen invidiousness of lethargy and loss of control. Clarity is reanimated amidst snorts wielded against the invisible all that compromises our reviviscence into the new beginning.

Vocal adepts switch places with weary voices; powerful new arms are exchanged for those on fire from evidential expense. Puissance displaces fatigue, unnoticed beyond the sonority of catapulting vim. Men momentarily step out, they too unnoticed as each is replaced by an infusion of Clan Female. Women shake bundles of moondaisy to the drumbeat as their delicate steps actuate, sensuously demonstrating their love for recurrence of mysticism. The icons of eros join them; Rams decked out with stout horns and elaborately carved members strapped to their middle. Undulating against Clan Ram women invoke solicitous incantatory visions of forgotten lovers, called forth to move into the collective new life. Tumultuous thunder rumbles, Ram dancers gesture toward the sky. Re-lighted by the magic our men return to the terpsichore, intensely aware of the eroticism dancing in the women’s eyes.

A wave of laughter rises from the gallery; it parts to make way for a troupe of clowns. They waddle and quack their way into the ring, striking gently those dancers too consumed by the spirit of passion. Faux ridicule draws good humored chastisement toward telltale arousal reminding everyone that such displays fail to refuel the spirit of reconciliation for our people. The plumed mummers gesture toward the black fringe of underbrush. Lovers laugh and run for the cover of darkness. A bloom of titillant self-expression has been provoked by the dance. The same waterfowl pummels the gallery with barley, restoring visionary attention to the sweeping esotery of the abundance and appetite for life on which our people thrive, where accordant peace is reborn.

Another group approaches the circle, tall, willowy men painted up like women. Their thinness is draped in translucent white buckskin, elaborately fringed. They don sprays of cheddar pink, the sumptuous, spicy scent coalescing with the smoky alder efflorescence. The stubborn spirit of angered pain flees in abject horror, loathing the delight. The crowd opens a path and a tornadic vortex is sucked into oblivion. Whitlowgrass rattles critically toward the spirits that steal wellbeing, the thief of belief in vision. Fragrant beauty bards point accusingly at those made vulnerable by their own disregard to commemorative imperatives. They in turn hang their heads feigning shame as all around laugh lovingly with pretend disdain.

As circle after circle of dancers whirl to the power voices driven by the drum six more jesters spring into the firelight, festooned in garlands twisted together with joy-of-the-ground and alder branches. Their buckskin dresses, so incongruously hanging from the frames of virility, sparkle like the iridescent scales of shimmering trout. They carry baskets overflowing with the rich green and purple joy and unfurl rolls of mats woven from crested dog’s tail. Each man reaches into the gallery for the Crone that gave him his medicine. Holding each withered hand he draws the Ancient One slowly, gently toward the fire. The old women stand on the weavings, hands outstretched, palms turned up obscuring the glitter, entreating the stars for the depth of wisdom needed to give their medicine to the prodigies of Clan Male. In gratitude the flickering shape-shifters drape their garlands over their failing teachers, accentuating the grace of attrition, prosperous in its reveling love of the death and rebirth of us all. Their medicine is the vernal equinox of prosperity where no predacious malevolence would dare hunt amidst the fearless, or the delicious respite of the strong and confident. Old women, the safekeepers of secrets, dispel and eradicate the barriers of debility built by the possessed against inviolate spirit. We feel the blessing of relief, smooth and sweet like a taste of sacred first food after a long famine, the restoration that leads to personal potentiality.

More singers join the chorus, painted up with secrets rendered by Rainbow men from another ocean treasure. Others offer up milkwort, reanimating in fragile ones the vitality to live, and displacing anxiety with a protective cloak of peacefulness. Broken hearts quicken. Shades that filch our sleep surrender to the magic, taking with them the interminable dreams of insolvable enigma.

A wave of dancers comes in; restharrow wreathes crown their heads, putting to rest the effects of harrowing experiences. Peace is restored to troubled spirits. The fervent step forward to be blessed with woodruff, the keeper of victory, and ritual expression returns to them. The supersensual subtlety of dreamy vision sharpens, obstacles to creativity dissolve, and the women are happy. Love is revitalized and sacred rebirth imminent.

Baskets filled with bittervetch move amidst the crowd and each tucks a sprig away, supporting good outcomes from the challenge of securing life. With the birth of new ideas comes the energy to sustain them, replete with hope, health, and abundance carried into the reanimation of an entire people.

Coralroot vessels follow insuring that tools and ritual attire can safely move into the new cycle free from anything that lurks concealed and determined to hitch a ride into any reborn life.  Many treasures are offered to the fire, they worn out from ritual service. The weary integers within these tokens are released and disappear into the night. Some make quiet prayers even as tears of grief speak eloquently of the love held for the entities dissipating in the smoke.

Agaric eaters and Greihound warriors materialize in the same smoke. The moment of final good bye has come for those gone to the Ancient Ones. Collective weeping, pain-stricken wailing supplants the drum and paean. The sadness is wretchedly palpable as each offers the memorabilia of a life given back to the Earth.  Mothers, brothers, clans empty out the emptiness of loss. Spirit handlers invoke visions of other grand worlds, transmuting grief into good things. Greihound gently whisk away the smoke of souls quietly, prayerfully. Soft incantations begin and singers join in. The drum starts up softly as we finally bid farewell to our loved ones. Vessels of willowherb move among the bereaved, it brewed up with the same agaric, reconciling the grief and infusing each with a taste of empowerment and the courage to continue. For some it is a supernatural epiphany of hope. Extraordinary, antlered Moose step into the ring, moving rhythmically to the slow mournful songs.

Drummers and singers take the invisible cue to trigger the tide of jubilance again. The Ram clan returns with its erotic antics and the people move their hearts toward joy again. An offering of fleabane brings more virile bucks and bulls, striking hooves to Earth, whirling with rapid, driving steps. Good fortune comes to us, protection too. With the salty taste of another ocean treasure we know in our heart of hearts our investment will bring us long lasting health and clarity of intention.

A final offering of sandwort binds the magic to our lives. Imprisoned spirits relinquish their grip, wounded souls are refreshed, shields are restored, and vision returns. The songs end, the drum is silent. The quiescent puffs of alder send our reverence aloft as our people feast on pinches of sacred first foods. Taciturnity prevails in the stillness of the forgiven. They drift silently into the dark night, gone by first light, replaced by another multitude of the faithful for the next round.

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Responses to “September 15”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson September 18th, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    What a long and intensely passionate ritual we see, we feel, here – joy, sex, clowning, mocking disdain but my overwhelming feeling is of a determined endeavour to bring peace to those who have gone before and hope and optimism to those who remain but must follow.
    It feels as if every possible tool is brought forth to ensure safe passage – the incantations, fires, herbs, animals, costumes, wild headdresses, music .. and it all mixes to create the most powerfully heady ritual.
    This, surely, is a ritual that leaves no-one unchanged.