Evocations of the Sabbats

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Oestara: In the Garden

by Melanie Fire Salamander

At the top of a low cliff, you sit, legs dangling over a vertical drop of rock broken by clumps of new grass, on a chilly morning just before dawn.  Below you, the ocean is calm, grey, serene, barely rippling silk.  The air around you is cold and feels liquid, as if it were thicker than usual, like water.  Behind you the sky is darker, shading to blue, but before you, to the east, it is a clear pale grey, a few shades lighter than the sea. 

Though it is cold, and you are wearing little a tunic belted with a sash, your feet bare the cold is outside of you; you don't feel it within.  You sit on an edge of crumbling flagstones; behind you lies a small terrace, sandstone pinkish grey, worn smooth, set on it two weathered benches, one standing, one fallen, ruined.  The terrace is old, built by some earlier civilization.  But this is not at the front of your mind.  You are waiting for dawn. 

The sky has gone pale yellow, a color a shade more orange than lemon, but pale, mixed with milk.  Along the horizon, the sea is on fire, vibrant, a line of orange flame.  As you watch, the sun, pure singing yellow, lifts his head above the horizon.  Seagulls cry, and in the still air is a movement of breeze, like a current in the ocean.  The sky shines almost white, and now the sun is fully up, a ball of fire on the world's rim: the sun on the morning of the equinox, when day has come to rule over night. 

You take within you this first light, and it fills you, pushing out shadow.  You fill up with calm and merry sunlight. 

You rise, refreshed, stand a moment bathing in the new sun, then turn and walk westward, into a meadow of grass.  The turf is overgrown, unmown, and clumps of new grass have risen uneven, shocks of emerald green.  Individual leaves cast long, sharp shadows forward.  The grass is cold on your bare feet, wet with dew.  The air smells clean, like spring, like flowers, occasionally with a breath of salt from the sea. 

As you walk, you see ahead of you a band of pale color on the green: yellow and white.  You continue forward and soon meet the first scattered ranks of a host of daffodils.  A sea of daffodils spreads, heads held high over the grass, nodding on their long necks: all yellows, lemon and butter and sun; orange, tangerine; cream, ivory, white.  You walk further in and fall to your knees, bring your face down to the flowers, drink in the smell of daffodils, sweet and pungent.  You stroke with your fingers a thick rubbery petal, then the horn, the face of a flower lifted to you.  Your fingers come away dusted with pollen. 

You stand again and walk forward, flower-heads brushing your shins.  The sea of daffodils seems endless.  You walk smiling to yourself: full of the joy of the sun, casting yellow light across the flowers; the joy of the springing flowers; the joy of the new spring.  The flowers feel alive to you, aware. 

Then ahead of you in the flowers you see something different, a disturbance in the pattern, though you are too far away to see what it is.  You walk forward and make out some kind of chair, with someone sitting in it. 

Part of you is disappointed; you enjoyed being alone, in the cool air, on this first morning of spring.  Part of you is a little scared.  But you feel also the touch of wonder. 

You walk forward.  In the chair sits a beautiful woman.  She is larger than life; her chair, her throne, must be six feet tall, and sitting her head reaches past its back.  Vines of gold, twisting, and real vines, twining wood, together form this throne, and the woman's dress is flowers, living flowers and vines and leaves, a tapestry green and gold upon her body.  Her face is calm, still, with a hint of smile.  Awe falls upon you.  You kneel before her. 

She lays her hands on the top of your head.  She does not speak, but knowledge pours into you that this is the lady Earth, the personification of the world, sitting before you in her dress of new spring.  From her hands into your head flows green energy, the energy of the Earth reborn to herself every year, greening again under the touch of the sun.  You feel flowing into you spring, the cool air that surrounds you, the fire of sun, the dew on the grass, the thick strength of living earth, soil and bones, rejuvenated.  It fills you up, and you close your eyes; you find that tears are flowing down your face. 

You open your eyes again, and She is gone, except She is here, in her new spring dress, the ocean of flowers poured out over her, the Earth reborn in spring. 


Copyright (c) 1995-2009 by Melanie Fire Salamander

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