Evocations of the Sabbats

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Beltaine: Well Met on May Eve

by Melanie Fire Salamander

Walpurgis Night.  Something has drawn you out into the garden, and now you stand at the mouth of a thicket, about to enter. 

The leaves fringing the thicket's entrance are green-smelling, fully unfurled, thick and fresh, pale in grey moonlight.  The path under your feet, moist packed earth, leads to where the thick foliage shuts out light, a green-black darkness.  You feel a little fear; it's as if the night, the earth were waiting, breath bated, to see what you'll do: anticipating, curious, a little hostile.  You feel someone's gaze pressing into your back so strongly you spin around, but there is nothing, no one.  The nearly full moon pours ghost-light on the garden, birch and cherry fresh-leaved, banked iris, daisies sparkling, chips of brightness.  The moonlight is serene, and nothing menaces you.  You turn back, and immediately feel eyes on your back again. 

Your feet are bare, and the moist earth cools them.  You begin to go forward, step by step, catlike.  Branches brush you, pluck at your hair.  A stray wand of blackberry catches your bare ankle; carefully you unwind it.  The smell of earth, the smell of flowers floats on the air, with the smell of crushed green leaves.  You walk forward, the leaves around you so thick it's nearly pitch-black. 

A shaft of moonlight breaks into the thicket.  Green heart-shaped leaves touch your face softly, and you smell lilac.  You've come into a bower of lilac, six tall bushes pressed together; lavender and deep purple bell-flowers drench the air with scent.  You press your face into bunched flowers, breathe in piquant, teasing flower-smell.  Wistful, the smell retreats before you; you draw away, hold back a moment, then dip your face in again.  Your arms twist into the branches; the bush embraces you.  You drink in fey, sweet lilac scent. 

You move on.  The thicket opens out; the path winds through a stand of red alder.  You come to the crest of a hill, which falls off steeply to a meadow of long grass.  In the meadow, you see a ring where the grass is pressed down, broken, silver, as if dancing feet have crushed it.  In the center of this ring lies something dark. 

You walk down the hill quickly, running a little where it's steepest, stop just outside the ring.  The feeling of being watched comes back strongly; a thrill rises in you, an energy that makes you wriggle, want to laugh.  You hear whispering, giggling around you, just at the edge of sound, but when you look you see nothing.  Or perhaps you see the edge of something, at the corner of your eye, a flash like the flap of cloth when someone jumps into a hiding-place.  But looking here and there you see only moonlight raining down, a shining glaze of light across the grass. 

You step into the ring.  The crushed grass of the ring itself is warm, as if feet recently pressed warmth into it.  Again the thrill comes up; it's as if you felt people all around you, a crowd, almost entirely silent, but for a breath, a whisper.  But there's no one there. 

You walk to the center of the ring, squat down; there at the very center, tossed casually, lies a woven headband of woody vine, stuck with bright-green salal leaves, daisies, wilting lilacs.  You pick it up.  It's heavier than you thought it would be.  Around you it's as if the unseen crowd has taken a breath inward and stands waiting.  Slowly, uncertainly, not sure what commitment you're making, you settle the wreath on your head, pull it down on your hair.  Again you'd swear you heard a giggle. 

Feeling a little annoyed, you walk out the circle's far side.  As you pass the air is thick around you, as if figures jostled you. 

As you step out, a cloud goes over the moon, and the landscape falls into darkness.  A cold wind soughs.  Suddenly a wave of fear swoops into you, and you have to run.  Your legs of themselves stumble forward, as if you're pulled; you fall into running. 

You don't dare look behind you.  Fear shoves you forward, your heart pounding.  You run over a hill, going flat-out, using all the strength of your legs.  A blast of cold wind knocks you in the back, and you sprint even faster, across a valley, deep grass tugging at your feet; you nearly fall.  But you can't fall, you have to get away

Ahead on a shallow hill stands a spinney of copper birch, their branches shaking dark against the sky.  You run to their shelter.  At the very edge of the grove, you stop abruptly, stand panting.  Your pulse beats in your ears.  You feel wary, full of adrenaline, like a deer pausing between dangers. 

The cloud, bright-edged, sails off the moon.  Among the birches you see a silhouette; it feels denser than what you sensed at the ring.  But it could be tree shadows.  The spinney still feels safer than outside.  You enter among the trees; copper glances where moonlight burnishes a trunk.  You pace step by step, feeling your way, to the grove's center, where darkness is deepest, shot with coins of silver. 

Turn, something tells you.  Your breath sounds loudly in your head.  You turn, and there before you is the Horned God, almost totally in darkness.  He's tall, seven feet tall below his horns, which rise another foot, upright, half-twisting like an oryx's.  The horns are black.  He appears a beast, a goat, with a goat's golden, horizontal-pupiled eyes, alien.  He's almost totally covered in long dark hair, with shaggy long- haired goat's legs, cloven hooves; his balls and penis are dark, like very dark leather, his member erect.  He smiles at you.  You're horribly afraid. 

He smiles again, just for a moment prolonging your fear; then he seems to say, You've got nothing to be afraid of.  Then he's a man to the waist, but still with the same golden eyes, the erect horns, pointing toward you his erect penis. 

Put your hand on me. 

He laughs at you, knowing your reaction, a compound of inadequacy, fright, strangeness; are you really expected to do this? 

Go ahead. 

You do, and in your hand his penis is hot and like oiled leather, and it's like nothing you've ever experienced, from it into you flows incredible energy, like a bolt of lightning, golden-green, strong, arcing, sexual and beyond sexual, the phallic fire of the cosmos.  You have no senses for anything but this, you could be dancing on the end of a live cable, you explode with golden light

Then you're lying on your back, on the mossy ground below the birches.  It's still night. 

The wind touches your face lightly, and bits of moonlight skim your torso.  Around you are the prints of cloven hooves. 


Copyright (c) 1995-2009 by Melanie Fire Salamander

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