Cedric's Pagan Thoughts

The spiritual meanderings of a NeoPagan shaman, an eclectic Wiccan, a Celtic musician, a world traveler, a bard, and an uncompromising cat-loving Bast-worshipper

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Solstice Tale

Many ages ago, after the first spring that any remember and the first summer that any could recall, the people of the first tribe stood in wonder at a strange sight.

“What is it?” one whispered, awe in his voice.

“I’ve never seen such a thing,” a second replied in hushed tones.

“Leaves should not be this color,” commented the third. “Something is wrong in the world.”

Soon they saw that a great deal was indeed wrong in the world. Not only were the trees losing their leaves, but the beasts of the forest began to hide themselves under the ground. The birds in the air flew to far away lands, and they took the warm breath of the wind with them; the earth grew colder with each passing day.

“It is true,” said one member of the tribe. “The golden eye of the gods does not watch over us as once it did. Each day it gazes less, and each night is longer. Soon, the gods will not look after us at all.”

Then a great terror overcame the people, for how could they live in the displeasure of the gods? Some ran to where food was stored and carried away all they could, fearing that there might be no more to eat; others, in dread of the cold, snatched up all the furs; those who had fire were loath to share it with others, lest they lose all warmth and light; and those with caves turned all others from their homes.

And each day, the eye of the gods diminished.

But there were two among the tribe, the youngest woman and the youngest man, a brother and sister, who had rushed to snatch neither food nor fire, cave nor cover—and in the world where wolf-howl had replaced bird-song and even water waxed as hard as stone, they walked, alone save one another.

“What will we do, now that the world dies?” one asked. “It is not within our power to save it.”

“Our brothers and sisters will not help us, for they have turned us from their homes. To our Grandparents we must go,” answered the other.

And so the youngest man went to seek the wisdom of the Grandmother. After a long journey, he reached her and explained that the world was dying. The wizened crone looked up from her cauldron and said to the youngest man, “I cannot solve this problem alone. You must seek the Grandfather as well.” To which the youngest man replied, “My sister has gone to find him.”

Of course, when the youngest woman sought the words of the Grandfather, the ancient one raised his antlered head to say, “I cannot solve this problem alone. You must seek the Grandmother as well.” To which the youngest woman replied, “My brother has gone to find him.”

Three days hence, the Grandmother and the Grandfather embraced one another under the moon-cast shadows of bare branches. The Grandfather, dressed in the color of holly berries, drew forth his drum, and the Grandmother, clad in the color of holly leaves, brought forth her rattle; the two drummed and chanted, cried and danced, until at last they fell to the ground. The young ones knew that the ancients had left their bodies to seek the starry realm of the gods. For many hours, the Grandparents lay as dead, filling the brother and sister with fear that even their wise elders had deserted them—until at last the Grandmother rasied up her gray head, and the Grandfather stirred his arms, and the two spoke as one: “Yes,” they said, “the world is dying, but even we two together cannot revive it. Bring to us all the people of the tribe.”

And so the brother and sister went through field and forest to each cave and fire, summoning kith and kin in the name of the old ones. When at last all were gathered, the Grandparents addressed them:

“Each night, the golden eye of the gods looks away from you, and each morning, it has found less and less which pleases it to look upon. For the laws of the gods are simple: harm none, and live in love. Yet when the gods look upon you, they see that some hoard food and will not feed their brother; they see that some hoard fur and will not clothe their sister; they see that some hoard fire and will not warm their cousin; they see that some hoard shelter and will not welcome their friend. So long as you live these deeds of fear, forgetting love, you will not survive the longest night.”

A silent hush fell over the gathered tribe as each remembered the laws that they had kept so gladly in summer.

At last, one took from her back a robe, placing it about the shoulders of another, who brought forth what food he had to feed the hungry. Those who had hoarded fire offered to light the cold hearths in the caves, and those with shelter called all to join them. With smiles and hugs, they did these things not because they feared the cold wrath of the gods, but because they had remembered the warm love of their companions. Each one became a shining sun to another.

So, gathered in their shelter about a warm fire, sharing food and drink and gifts, the people of the first tribe took up their drums and rattles; they danced and sang and made such a noise that even the starry home of the heavens shook, and the gods looked through their golden eye to behold the kindness of the people. And with each day, the eye shone warmer and brighter and longer—and thus began the second spring that any can remember.

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