their eyes open wide
in recognition of truth
lives changed forever
their eyes open wide
in recognition of truth
lives changed forever
The hero never
seeks to condemn the coward
equals before God
in the cool dark earth
hero and coward await
the final journey
Earduk looked into the mist. It was fourteen sunrises since his father Shardan had ceased his part in the tribe.
It was time for the final ritual. This was Earduk’s personal ceremony.
Hanging from his shoulder the jute bag felt heavy as it bounced on his right thigh with each step.
He stopped in a kind of reverie, wondering how far his father was on his journey. Today would be a great help to him, Earduk was sure.
He tapped the bag at his side and with a smile remembered how hard it had been to prepare the heavy sword within. He and two of his brother’s had strained for many fire-burnings to bend the blade exactly as required. It’s spirit was now released and it was ready to work for it’s owner.
His father would be waiting to feel it in his hand once more. Only then could he continue his journey with his wife Lucine, Earduk’s beloved mother.
The mist was starting to clear. He could hear the rush of wings as the flock of geese that resided on the lake in safety overnight started to lift off from the lake to fly over to the grassy plain to start the day’s feeding.
He could see the causeway ahead and he slowly reached into his bag. Reverently withdrawing the blade he turned it over and over in his hands. The blade flashing in the rising sun casting shafts of light onto the dark waters lapping gently at the reed-covered banks.
Taking three paces onto the causeway he raised the u-shaped blade above his head and with a loud cry cast the offering far into the pool.
The splash caused a stir among the remaining geese and hastened them in their decision to take off. The ripples dislowly diminished and with the ritual complete Earduk turned back to the shore.
Earduk would be able to tell the elders that Shardan could now be placed in the niche near to the door of the family roundhouse. Once more armed Shardan would continue to protect his family as before.
The old chorister
spends his days in song and faith
knows death holds no fear
bathed in despair,
our hopes and wishes arid,
the desert of ignorance
in the search for forgiveness
The collection plate
passed quietly hand to hand
along the faithful.
Pockets and purses opened,
coins and notes gently placed
Joannus Rodriguez took one last look to right and left then quickly ran across the sand. They had gone. For two days he had been hiding in the small cave at the base of the cliff. Nobody had thought to climb over the rocks and search the shingle beach to the West. They had all been concerned with the few items that he had left in his small, upturned skiff. These paeons were so predictable, a bundle of gaudy blousons, some cheap stockings and a small cask of cheap brandy had kept them arguing amongst themselves for hours. Now it was time to make his way to the house of the Throckmortons. Then after a good meal they could commence their spreading of the true faith. They had all the ecclesiastical vestments safely hidden, ready for him to begin his tour of the houses of the faithful. His flock who still supported the old religion before the upstart Elizabeth the frigid cat had driven them underground. Those steadfast men and women who were forced to keep their services hidden. Proud in their defiance of those heretics who threatened them with imprisonment, painful tortures and violence, even death. All for their belief in the true God through his representative on Earth, His Holiness Pope Benedict.
Since the dawn of man
he has worshipped the Goddess
under many names
At four o’clock that morning the stags on the hillside had commenced their belling. The eerie bellowing echoing all around the valley. This morning however Abel was more interested in the loud gasps and cries from behind the skins hanging from the line, forming a curtain which divided the single room in his hovel. Pacing up and down the room he was anxious to know what progress, if any, was taking place with the birth of his second child. Continuously stroking his beard he strained to hear what was happening. At last there was a loud gasp from the assisting nurse followed by the sound of a slap and a loud shriek accompanied the sound of crying. Abel turned then stopped and watched as the nurse raised the skin and silently with sad eyes, looking at the floor, held up a white bundle. Abel knew what this meant and with tears in his eyes grabbed the bundle and turned to the doorway. Outside stood three elders, ready to perform the customary baptism. Taking the rudely wrapped child from Abel’s hands the three started the solemn procession up to the ceremonial site at the head of the Tor. Amidst the granite blocks there was one which formed a natural basin, it’s waters continually replenished by the frequent, heavy Exmoor rains. For long centuries this had been used as the villager’s font where all baptisms had taken place. Abel watched them depart then returning inside, retired to a stool in the corner, where he sat with his head in his hands, the grief he felt for the abomination he had witnessed so great that he had no heart to go in and try to comfort the mother of the newborn. Meanwhile on the hillside the elders arrived at the site and gathering around the stone they held the child up to the rising sun before placing the white mewing parcel into the water. This was to be no ordinary baptism for instead of a brief immersion in the icy waters the child was held under the water till there were seen to be no more bubbles rising. The body was then laid on a bed of grass on the large flat boulder adjacent to the basin stone. The child had been chosen to atone for the tribal perceived sins. The raven and the buzzard would help to consign the child’s spirit to the all-seeing God, where forgiveness may be obtained. Though the only sin this child had committed in it’s brief life was to have been born a girl. A crime worthy of death in the patriarchal society in which she had had the misfortune to enter this life.
Raksha could not believe how cold it had become. Wearing only the white robe of the initiate, he had willingly descended the steps into the stone-slabbed tomb. Like his father before him and all the other young men of his village this was to be the most important of his so far, young life. His body would outwardly be the same but braving the perils of this night he would emerge in the morning imperceptibly and subtly, be changed. In his mind, and in the eyes of his village, he would be a man. Illuminated by the torch of his companion who had accompanied him into the cell but who had quickly and silently departed, he was aware that his bed for the night, a cold stone bench without even a layer of straw or a pillow was the only item that could be considered furniture. The stone-flagged floor had glistened with the pools of water that he could hear slowly dripping, monotonous, irregular from the rough-hewn rock ceiling, just a few feet above his head. Luckily there appeared to be no water dropping onto his bed space. He walked slowly around the bench and contemplated how long it would take for his eyes to grow accustomed to the darkness. He knew that the door was to his left but could not judge the distance to it. There was only one thing to do. Adopting his favourite position he sat cross-legged on the hard floor and pulling his robe tightly around him and over his head he clasped his hands, shut his eyes and with eyes closed, started his meditation. This way he would not feel the pangs of hunger or the cold that would surely envelop him throughout his night-long ordeal. His breathing became shallow and he started to feel the sense of serenity that came with his faith in the Gods of his fathers and the teachings of his Holy brothers. By attaining this semi-comatose state he knew that he would be protected from all the unseen demons of the night whom the evil underground dwellers would surely send to torment him in his vigil. All he could do was rely on his inner strength and self-discipline. It would be a long night and he expected many spiritual and mental battles before the morning.
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