September 12

[The talking stick is handed to Longbow]

Those who fled west hugged the rich coast. They made tools of bone from deer, elk, auroch, and birds. The people fashioned barbed points from deer antler; they hunted beaver, roebuck, and boar. The surrounding forest brought them wolf and lynx, bear and fox, pine marten, badger and hedgehog. The people fished the salty places and the sweet water places. They hunted seal and picked the shellfish from the rocks; the people hunted seabirds and ate their eggs.

Finally the people drew a settlement out of the Earth on the shores of a great lake. There grew aspen, birch, and willow. Reeds thrust up through the water and water flowers floated gently on the surface. The people made beautiful things from amber and shale, from hematite and iron pyrite. They rolled the birch bark into whistles and made horns of wood. Flint points went to straight arrows with sinew and birch resin.

The lodges were just like ours, round and as wide as the height of two men. The frame was made of wooden posts that marked the quarter and cross-quarter dates, and the ceremonies. The lodges were enclosed with hide, thatch, turf grass and bark. The floors were covered with moss and reeds and other soft things.  The people built platforms in the bogs so they could hunt and fish. We still do this.

It is said that they lived around the lake for centuries and gave birth to the first clan, that of the great stag. Dancers worn deer skulls with the antlers still attached. They danced for the Great Rite, they danced for the Moon, and they danced for the women. We still do this.

But before memory the lake filled with peat and the people had to move on. They left the deer dancers’ headdresses so the Ancient Ones could continue making the prayers. The people traveled mountains and marshes, trekked through fens and bogs, and crossed heath and grasslands until they settled on a distant beach. They sat around fires at night and told the stories. We still do this.

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Responses to “September 12”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson September 18th, 2013 - 11:57 am

    Your repetition of ‘We still do this’ really made me think about how rituals are handed on.
    Recently my eldest son posted a photo of his white English daughter telling stories about him as she held the stick – she was clearly delighted to be the holder of the stick – an honour even to a seven year old British girl in 2013.

    • Your story exemplifies the undercurrent of my work. We know these ancient ways in our bones. We see our young ones doing old time things and for a moment we, as stuffy adults, remember something. I believe that all of it cannot only be remembered but find its way back into the contemporary world. Here you have shown us a little girl with a talking stick, we observe rituals in everything from our daily routines to annual visits with family, and in churches throughout the world. We cringe when wild places are destroyed in the name of progress, we weep when animals suffer from the cruelty of human hands. Our hearts break and we remember. There will come the day of the Ancient Future. It might not look exactly like the lives of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, but it will come just the same if we are to survive as a species.