August 7

[Darkling Light]

It is said that centuries, even millennia ago all of our people lived on the Great Circle, banding together, facing the challenge of survival as a single breathing entity. Our long sought accomplishment was well rewarded with many healthy babies. Eventually group after group drifted away, founding the villages and pioneering new lives. Clans and societies came into being, and ceremonies were born. We learned the plants and animals, and from sun to sun, each of us perfected that with which we had been endowed. The Great Circle was abandoned, left to spin its own sagas, and safeguard the myths of our own. As I look around at the vast sea of people enclosing the Great Circle again I am reminded of our journey out the ice, preserved in the words of our old storytellers. Today I don’t want to hear the prophecies about our inevitable demise. They are concealed by the immediacy of a joyous people, preparing to relinquish all that troubles them to that which we perceive as our finest achievement, the cognition of the moon’s own epic journey through the ether. For eighteen and a half years She has traveled the stars and yet sees fit to return to us again.

Moondog and I move from camp to camp watching the magic makers, listening to the stories, eating good food, and missing Gobetween. We send the blessings on to her and feel the blessings she sends us from the coast. We smell of smoke and laughter, embrace our friends, and cry with the Crones holding newborns. Surely this will never end.

We listen to the Old Ones speak of spirits that dance in moonbeams, creatures that spire in dust, and those scary ones that hide their prying eyes in the smoke of our cooking fires. Others tell of those that hide in hunters’ haunts waiting to spoil the kill or dance in delight at a hunter’s misfortune. The children’s eyes are big and unblinking. Some cover their mouths, trying to keep little gasps from escaping. With the desired effect achieved the Old Ones teach them the plants and prayers that protect us from those things that prey on our good intent. When all is said and done every child here will take up the mantle of wisdom ensconced by his or her clan. Surely this will never end.

Moondog and I move on to the Moon and Stars to watch stargazers teach little ones the wonders of the cosmos. Then we go to the camps of the Basket and Tanning Societies where elders teach children how to saturate everyday things with magic. Old women reveal in hushed tones the secret lotions, potions, teas, and concoctions that seal in the secrets. They tell the stories of the plants and animals that have given our people good things, transformed into baskets and buckskins that guard their medicine. Moondog and I find ourselves sitting elbow to elbow with the children, as spellstruck as they by the revelation.

Every day, the clans and societies will teach until this great ritual is upon us. The knowledge is incalculable. Over the millennia we have created eighteen societies, eighteen tree clans, and twenty-five animal clans. Each is further divided into factions that foster facets. There are more factions that can be reliably counted, many secret, infinitely changing, always evolving. And then there are the Clowns who live hidden lives in worlds unknown to most of us. The depth and breadth of who we are takes my breath away, holds me in awe. Surely this will not end.

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