Back in May I wrote a post asking about radical and deliberate connections with deity – the wild and wondrous gods of protest and resistance. What would they look like? Who would they be? What would their sacraments be? Then followed a really lovely series of conversations on social media and in person, and a lot of people’s personal stories were shared.
I don’t feel able to speak for others on this very intimate topic, so I won’t be including a lot of other people’s gods here. But this is something I continue to consider and work upon, alone and with others. Indeed, I have felt so much grief, so much fury at national, global, personal and historical events these past few weeks, all of a sudden this work has returned as a rare and familiar comfort to me.
And so I hesitate a little to share the following with you – this fragment from my own path that comes to me through dream and story and the sideways worlds I have travelled in for as long as I can remember. It is new born, and fragile, but bright and strong, as these things sometimes are. Its sights and tastes and scents and sounds are still with me – my skin still shivers to the touch. I have no justification, no lineage, no mythology from which it is drawn. Its authenticity lies in the place from which it came. YCMV*
If it speaks to you, may you be blessed, siblings all.
This morning, I walked in different worlds…
Deep aching grief lying bone-full; heart-full. This old wound. This ancient friend. This crystal-clear inheritance that squats around my right hip and seeps and flows like ice into the blood. It chills and freezes; silences me.
So I travel in, the old way, in search of healing out of my cold and bleeding, tetanised hands. By nine drops of mugwort burning on the tongue. By the breath in three times three times three. By the breath, in – one, two, three. I feel myself clothed as if in ritual, unseen hands to every side. By the breath, in – four, five, six – my left hand strikes to join the earth and the echo is so much more than sound; is heard in all my little worlds and great ones. By the breath, in – seven, eight, nine, and I emerge, as if from baptism, in the bottomless pool. By lilies framed and Hare moving from her place beside my belly to sit by my side. World Tree above. A profusion of guides and watchers around the circle of the pool stand, not entirely welcoming.
Paths to North, East, South and West aligned already, waiting. A robe of indistinct kind and form is drawn around my shoulders by First Mother – first of my line born to this island earth.
I kneel and kindle hearth-fire. She is old here, now – ancient and silver-haired where often she is young and herb-smoke-cookfire-scented. She leads as if in procession. No greeting, no time, no time. No time to spare here.
North we go, down the Green Lanes; the green lane that is a dank, man-built tunnel; the tunnel that is an open, starlit sky. Frost is sharp underfoot and in the air. We climb, breath sounding in the clear air, up a rise to breaking dawn fast approaching. A figure huge in skins ahead somehow is an arrow of grief in my heart, and then a turning. Long hair, full beard and skin all dark-nut-brown and streaked with silver.
“The time is coming. No time to spare. And I will birth here in this harsh frost, but not to fear. I believe I have belly and warmth and milk enough for us to survive.”
Bear bids me kneel on the slate-covered ground and smudges silver then green upon my brow; places a wafer of sacrament with the faint taste of hazelnut upon my tongue. Bids me go East. There are no names, no greetings, no farewells.
East we run, Hare and I, into the sun rising fierce and warm across the plain. She rides towards us, black hair flying, dark-almond-eyed, on a horse of dappled brown, with sword in one open hand. With the other, I am lifted, thrown in front of her bare-back seat with no slowing, no stopping. No time to spare as the sun is rising.
“Well met, little sister” she says. “Today we hunt.”
I am dismayed and unprepared, but no escape is forthcoming as sword becomes spear, and the wild boar grunts and squeals its flight before us. The kill is swift. My heart grieves for another life lost and un-mourned, unheeded by the world.
“All must eat” she shrugs, dismounting.
My Wild Sister, she who knows nothing but fierce passion and wild needs.
She draws me down, hands around my waist, with easy strength and glinting, teasing, flirting eyes. She smears gold and amber-spice upon my brow. She places blood-hot hand to my belly, my heart, my throat in turn. She shares a silver flask of silver-throated mead. She bids me fly.
And fly I do, wings aching from ill-use, Crow amused as ever by my side. South we go, and land before an empty heap of red-hot pebbles as large as a fist and miles high. I clamber up to meet the heat of full sun and the Wyrm upon a litter of gold and pale white eggs. Reptile instincts and self-contained, self-perpetuating, prideful, driven essence radiating heat into my face and belly.
No time to waste and the change is coming faster now as a red-hot tongue licks out across my brow with a searing scarlet and royal purple bruise. A single tear shed; washing away a single scale of pearly blue to be pressed into the skin of my arm. No time for words. No pleasantries needed. Only a nodding bow exchanged between the hauteur of equals.
I run with Horse now, side by side, all weapons gone. Wild self – expressed in herd and pack and tribe – running-with. Running West. Into the cool damp, misty woodland, as evening light shafts through the trees; makes moss sparkle and mushrooms glow. With joy I come into a clearing and fall upon Himself.
A warm and familiar welcome, in this place of prey and preyed; lovers and loved, where all is His to hold.
As is his way, he stands too close for ease. His sweet intimacy is a demand I choose to believe I accede to. He kisses my brow with lingering trace of silver; with gentle touch of lilac. Slim-hipped and easy smiles. Supple and fey. He slips dancing round me, laughing. I breathe his scent, brush his skin and the tips of horns in passing. He slips a hand in mine and with it a single shell – no, a sea-worn pebble – no, an iridescent wing-case – and he is gone.
“Love me” the breeze says “and love all”.
In a sudden shower of rain, Hare meets my eyes, puts back her ears and back we run, to the pool and the hearth and the spreading oak.
Arms outspread to the air, alone with Hare, under the watchful eye of First Mother, I call and announce:
“No gods of grandeur. No masters with rule and rod. Only thee. To the Wild Ones I pledge. I bind and bond to thee. To the world within and without and beyond. To all its creatures, seen and unseen. I love, and am loved, by thee.”
Arms and tears fall, at last. In the distance, the Wild Ones birth and hunt; hoard and love on. Hare raises her nose. I stroke her upraised ears. Kneel down. She whispers:
*Your cosmology may vary.