Encounter with an Air Elemental

I’d been home alone for several days when one of the guys from the cave expedition called.  “Hey, we are heading out tomorrow to find the next elemental.  You in?”

“Of course,” I reply, not sure if I wanted to be in or not, but I was not going to miss a weird thing happening.

We started out before daylight and we drove.  We drove east and hurried the sun’s daily birth along at 70 miles per hour.  Then, the clouds came.  They were ominous, completely blacking out the horizon and the morning sun.

We turned down a dirt road and got out of the vehicle.  The clouds were thick and rolling but didn’t seem to hold any water.  There was only wind.  Dust kicked up from the road.  Debris was dancing across the ground.  Our vehicle rocked gently.

Then, a funnel dipped toward us.

Before we could react, we were pulled off of our feet and into the air.  The being that met us looked so alien.  Its head and tail swirled like the funnel and its arms, with its exaggerated hands and fingers, looked like lengths of twisted rope.

We all hung in mid-air, not really still, but not being violently thrown around, either.  “You have no fear.  Why?” It asked.

Its voice was like the whisper of butterfly wings.  It was there, but gentle.  We all looked at each other, confounded until I spoke.  “We seek to know your mysteries.”

The being’s laugh was that gentle breeze that catches your hair and makes it tickle your face. “You can not hope to know all of my mysteries,” it replied, “however, since I have already introduced you to flight, I will also introduce you to whimsy.”

With that, we began tumbling within the whirlwind.  We went up.  We went down. We circled each other in an ecstatic dance none of us were in control of.  Only when we were all laughing hysterically with joy did the being put us down.

We landed on the grass of the ditch bank on our rumps.  Our sides hurt.  Our cheeks hurt.  We were all out of breath.  I was the first to look up.  The sky was no longer black.  There were no clouds.  That show, I think, was just for us.

Then, a brightly colored butterfly fluttered toward me and landed on my forehead.

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The Earth Element

This piece began as the preface of a Wicca 101 blog about the element of Earth.  This elemental story has, kind of, taken over my brain.  There will be 5 parts to this, and the first 4 are already written. 🙂  Enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

And we walked for hours, finally arriving at the mouth of a cave.  Rivulets of sweat race down my brow from both exertion and fear.  The darkened maw beckons us into the unknown.  We arrive.  There is an electricity in the air, something prodding us all forward.  With a collective breath fortifying us, we face our fears of darkness and closed spaces; crossing the threshold. Into the womb of the Mother.  Into the place of our ancestors.

Someone flicks on their flashlight.  The cave gobbles up both the click of the on-switch and the feeble beam of light.  For a moment we stop, gazing in awe at this cavern, its dimensions so massive our LED ‘s look like penlights in a closet.  Then, I notice the cold.  I notice it seeping in nearly unnoticed, wrapping its heavy tendrils around my legs, waist, arms.  Its caress like a familiar lover, whispering in my ear, lulling me.  That is when we hear the voice beckoning us into the darkness.

“Come to me, Children,” it says.  “Come, sit at my feet and on my lap.  Come, let me tell you a tale.”

Our lights drift toward the sound and we walk, as a group, closer.  It is like hearing the trees speak or the robin’s song, the promise of spring.  We don’t know the words, but some part of us understands them.  That part of us feels the pull of the Mother.  After several steps, she appears at the edge of our light beams.  She is round and soft-looking, like the Willendorf statue and sits upon a throne of worn stalagmites.  We stand in shock, disbelieving what we are seeing.  “You come to this place seeking me and you are surprised to find me?”  Her black jewel eyes glitter with mirth.  “Come.  Sit.  Be.  I shall tell you a story.”

 

And Then, She Stepped Off of the Edge

It was high summer, last year, when my life took a ninety degree turn and I, not expecting it, stepped gleefully over the edge of the sheer cliff face and into free fall. His easy manner and kind eyes tripped me up in the most beautiful manner and I found myself having to trust my all too broken wings.

We had been friends for some time, years.  We enjoyed each other’s company tremendously, but life never allowed us to have time alone, until that point. He believes in being a gentleman. He believes life is to be explored.  He believes the unknown should become the known. He believes to be fully human is to live fully. He believes that he is not human, but other.

The two of us, coming together, two halves of a whole, yet complete unto ourselves created ripples in the aether.  Without a word spoken, we know what the other needs. Without a painful word, we know what the other thinks.  We came together last summer, two children of the night, recognizing in the other that kindred spirit.

Our hearts had been shattered by others.  Our souls splintered and afraid of what was to come.  Our bad days outnumbered our good days. Our lives were full of people, yet we stood on the periphery, watching, listening. Individually, we stood and looked at those we loved and admired and we looked at those who loved and admired us.  We couldn’t understand why.  We couldn’t understand why they loved us, why they insisted upon being in our company. As individuals, we could see and feel just how different we were from them, but we wanted to belong. We wanted the friendship. We wanted the camaraderie. We wanted to be seen and appreciated for who and what we were.

It wasn’t until our coming together did we understand that what makes us different also makes us a beacon for others.  It wasn’t until our coming together did we understand that we do not, necessarily, need those around us, at least no in the same way that they seem to need us.

Our romance was whirlwind.  In two months, we spent nearly every spare moment together.  We gave to each other the things we knew, instinctively, the other needed. He brought me gifts unlike any I’d ever received: incense, robes, a sword. I gifted him body jewelry and (my pride as a southern woman) hearty, home cooked meals. We shared knowledge we had gained on our individual spiritual paths. We opened up latent gifts within each other.

As children of the night, we peered curiously into each others abyss. We gazed into that darkness, always the same, yet different, and embraced it. We looked into each others oft tortured souls and acknowledged the pain and hurt there, soothed it with the balm we each so terribly needed. Without judgment, we opened ourselves to each other.

In another month, we began planning a wedding. A month after that, we wed.  In less than six months time we realized that each other was what our life had been missing.

Becoming the Sacred Fool, stepping over the edge of the cliff, has opened a great many doors. The only trouble now has become deciding which door to walk through.  No matter the shadows, no matter the light, no matter the obstacle, we work as a team. Life is not easy by any means, but it is easier because we work together.

I let my demons out to play with his and they began a dark and macabre dance. He and I reveled in their joy. We reveled in their happiness. We reveled in their bloodletting. We still do. We stand in awe of each other, flanked by our demons, accepting each other for who we are. Oh, we still butt heads. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Yet, when our demons decide to not play nicely together, we manage to find a way to tame them.

The last year of my life, 2016, did not even begin until June. My own eyes were closed to life and living until that moment. It was only when my darkness touched a kindred dark did I begin to see.  When I began to see became the moment I began to live again. It took another child of the night to remind me that sometimes we must waltz with the shadows to be fully awake.

 

 

Being

I am a being of the light and dark
Walking
Weaving
Wand’ring
Sometimes it is the morning
Happy
Hopeful
High
Sometimes it is the twilight
Lucky
Liminal
Low
Always it is the midnight
Dark
Dangerous
Damned
I creep and slither
I rush and waiver
Ever wand’ring
Ever searching
Ever seeing
I am a being of the light and dark

Walking the Dark Road: Part V

I walk down the path in the woods.  Already, I miss the old man at the house, but walking in the dappled sunlight of the forest is one of my favorite things.  The cool dampness and song of the birds divert my attention.  My feet are sure, so I simply walk.  I take in the wholeness of the scene.  Everything is doing what it should, when it should and as it should.  Nothing could be more perfect.

Ahead, I hear a bird calling, warning of danger.  There’s no mistaking it.  There seems to be a predator ahead, so I slow my pace.  I step off of the path and hide behind a large Alder tree.  After listening to the bird for a few more moments, I realize that I am ready to run in the other direction.  Then, I realize just how dumb that is.  I’m already dead.  I’m pretty sure that there isn’t anything that can make me deader than I already am.  So, I forge ahead carefully.

The bird is not longer sounding a warning.  However, I am still hyper-aware of every sound in the forest.  Successful predators are silent.  I keep watching all around me and above me.  Still there’s nothing, so I let my guard down just a fraction and pick up my pace.  I don’t really know where I’m going, but I figure that I might, at least, do my best to try and get there quickly.

Suddenly, the normal forest sounds stop.  The only sounds are my muted steps on the grass pathway.  I hear the giggle of a little girl echo around me.  I didn’t know, until that point, that dead people could get chill bumps.  I freeze.  Maybe it’s fear.  Maybe I’m trying to figure out where this little girl is.  I’m not sure.  The sound echoes again.  It’s chilling.

Slowly, I press forward.  “Come play with me,” echoes through the forest.

Again, I freeze.  Even dead, I’m creeped completely out by this.  Laughter.  “Come play with me.” More laughter.

I hear a dress rustling.  As I hear another round of laughter, I see the tail of a dress and blonde curls disappear behind a tree.  I follow.  “Little girl?” I ask hesitantly.

It seems sacrilege to speak even at a normal volume.  There’s nothing behind the tree when I get there.  “Little girl?  Are you lost?”

“Come play with me,” is the response.  More laughter.

I shudder.  “Little girl!” I say with a little more urgency. “Can you come where I can see you?  Are you lost?”

At this point, I notice the mist.  It has surrounded me and I can not find my way back to the path.  I sit on the moss covered ground at the base of a tree.  I’m trying not to panic.  I hear the little girl laughing and running, her dress rustling against the trunks of trees, her laughter echoing off of the trees and all of the unseen forces in the forest.  I’m panicking.

Drawing my knees up to my chest, I rest my forehead on them and take a deep breath.  The laughter and rustling stop.  I strain to hear anything.  Then, a tap on my shoulder and a “BOO!” just about give me heart failure. (Well, if I weren’t dead it would have…)

In my fright, I jump away from the tree trunk and end up supine on the moss covered soil.  A laughing little girl walks up and looks at me.  “Did I scare you?” she asks very innocently.

I sit up and look at her.  “Yes, you did,” I reply.

She laughs again.  I’m irritated.  “Don’t be mad.  I was just playing,” she says.

Silently, I take in this child of, maybe 6 years old.  Her golden pigtails hang in ringlets on either side of her head and are tied back with pink ribbons.  Her little black pinafore is accented by a pale pink shirt underneath.  She’s also wearing black patent Mary Jane shoes with lacy socks.  She looks like she is going to church.  “Like my dress?  Mama made it,” she says, watching me, watching her.

I stand.  “Your mama is very talented,” I respond.  “Why are you playing in the forest?”

She giggles. “I live here, silly.  Where else would I play?”

Great, I think.  I have encountered a little forest kid who, do doubt, is the reason I had to come this way. “You have a point, my little friend.  What is your name?”

“I am called Tia,” she responds.  “I know who you are.  Will you play with me?”

“Tia, I am on my way to see someone.  I can not play right now.  Can you help me get through the forest since you live here?”

Little Tia looked up at me.  There was something strange about her eyes.  They were too close or maybe too far apart, maybe they were too blue or too large.  When she spoke her voice had changed.  All innocence was gone and there was an edge to it.  “You didn’t even ask how I know you.  Come. Play.”

“If you could just help me get back on the path, Tia.  I need to be going,” I responded as I took her hand.

As I turned and tugged her hand to leave, she planted her feet.  “Now, I am become death, the destroyer of worlds,” said a voice that was not at all child-like.

Once again, I get chill bumps and I freeze.  I turn and look down at the hand I am holding. It isn’t the hand of a child, but the withered claw of my greatest fear.  I am staring into the hooded face of Death.

The clawed hand grasps my wrist and pulls me close.  Cold trickles down the side of my face and neck as it speaks, “Will you hear me now?” it asks.

I can not make the words come.  I am the dead idiot who still fears death.  Yeah, that makes total sense.  I stare into the abyss under the hood.  I am silent.  I am scared.  Death lets me go with a sardonic chuckle.  “I thought you might.”  It seems to brush me off of itself and then straighten its robe before becoming Tia again.

“See?  This is much better, isn’t it?” the little girl says with a laugh.

I am still shocked mute, so Tia takes my hand and guides me back to the forest path.  It is at this point, I realize that the mist has cleared.  It is at this point that I realize that Death is, quite literally, my guide.

“Tia, I wasn’t expecting to see you today.  I know, now, that you are who I have been searching for.  Since I am already dead, what is it that you could possibly have to show or tell me?”

Tia laughed.  It wasn’t a child’s giggle, but a full-on, serious adult laugh.  “Death is not just the degradation of the physical body.  It is not just the spirit letting go of the physical realm.  Death comes in many forms.  You have seen this today.”

I nodded.  We have not stopped walking the path.  Tia leads me on as I listen to what she says.  “Death is but one part of a cycle.  It is birth, life, death, and rest before being reborn again.  Death is the literal and metaphorical shedding of the unneeded.  Whether one no longer needs a person, a habit, a thought process, or breath, the process is the same.  The connection withers and, ultimately, is no more.  It is a change, an evolution.  I am neither bad nor am I good.  I am simply a stage in a lifecycle.

“The mind must assign a binary to everything: good/bad, male/female, up/down.  Sometimes, things simply are.  Sometimes the progression from one stage to the other has to seem traumatic.  Sometimes the progression from one stage to the next is seamless and accepted.  These things are all decided within the mind of the one who is having the experience.”

We haven’t stopped walking.  I am enthralled by this child’s wisdom.  I am enthralled by her dichotomy.  She is the very essence of what she is saying.  She is young in body, yet older than time.  She is smoothed skin and playful, yet wiser than even the oldest person alive.  The forest is thinning out.  I am almost certain that we are coming to the end of this part of the journey.  “Tia, if I am truly dead and in the world of the spirit, then why was I so afraid of your cloaked form?”

The little girl looks at me.  Her eyes are no longer blue.  They are a hazy gray-green.  We walk up a rise that is leading to a clearing ahead.  She doesn’t speak, yet we keep walking.

The trees cease at the top of the rise.  I look down at her and she smiles.  “You fear me because you have yet to let go of your life and accept that it is time for you to rest.”

I nod at her, accepting her answer.  She kisses my knuckles, giggles and says, “Let’s play!” As she throws me off of the cliff we have just walked out to.

As I am falling, she leans over the edge and waves at me.  That is the last thing I remember before succumbing to the darkness.

 

Walking the Dark Road: Part IV

The old house became a comfortable place for me since the old man left.  I explored the rooms and found many books, art, and antiques.  Since this is death, I have to assume what I saw will be different for everyone else.  This being alone has been needed.  I didn’t realize just how much I needed it.  Because death, apparently, isn’t the great void of loneliness and non-existence.

For this moment, I sit on the porch.  This seems to be my favorite place.  I watch the shadows dance and twirl beyond me.  It is easy for me to contemplate them.

I see a figure in the darkness, almost prancing toward the house.  It appears to be… It is!  “You thought I was gone forever, didn’t you?” the old man calls out.

We meet at the bottom of the porch steps and embrace.  “I didn’t think I would see you again,” I said.

He smiles and leads me up the steps.  We sit in the rockers.  “My acceptance allows me to come and go as I please.  This place just happens to be my favorite one so far, so I thought I would come back and see if you were still here.”

“I can see why you love it,” I respond.  “I have come to a place where I could stay here forever, but then I don’t have to, either.”

Looking out into the shadows, they seem to brighten or dissipate.  I look at him and back to the darkness.  “Dawn?”

He smiles.  “Depends.  Definitely twilight.  I need to tell you the story of how I came to be here.  Of how I died.”

I’m taken aback.  “Okay.  Is it relevant?  I mean, is it something that I need to know?”

His crystalline blue eyes turn watery.  “Yes.”

I settle more fully into my chair.  “Okay, then.  Enlighten me.  This whole journey has been about enlightening stories told to help me move on.”

Again, he smiled.  “I don’t know if this will help you, but I think it will help me.

“There was a time when I was much beloved.  People who didn’t even know me loved me.  All of the love in the world couldn’t save me.  You see, I was gravely ill.  I kept it from everyone.  I simply could not allow their love to turn to pity.  We all know that feeling, that look we give those who do not have a chance.

“For months I struggled with my diagnosis, my fate.  My family did everything they could to encourage me to keep living.  This illness became me.  The end of the illness became me.  I surrendered.  I surrendered to the illness.  I surrendered to my fate.  I surrendered to my own fragile mortality.”

I look into the old man’s eyes.  They are sad, but resolved.  “Did you stop living?” I ask.

He smiles at me.  “No.  My last few months, I lived more and lived better than I had in years.  I loved my family with a fierceness.  I loved my friends with abandon.  I chose to live, even as I accepted my mortality, illness, and ultimate fate.

“When my symptoms began to worsen, I chose my own end.  My strength and will to live came directly from my ability to choose my own end or let my disease take its course.”

“You committed suicide?”

He nods. “I did.  I hanged myself.”

I blink.  Confused.  “How was that a better choice?  You left your family and friends confused and hurting.  I’m sure they could have given you comfort and hope.”

He shakes his head.  “No, there was no hope for me.  There was no stopping the progression of the disease.  They would have watched me turn into a vegetable with zero control over myself.  I could not be a burden on them.  Instead, I accepted my fate, my vulnerability, my. . . Ending.”

“Why?” I ask.  “Why not fight?”

“I could not waste my energy on fighting a war I could not win,” he says.  “Sometimes it is better to live to fight another day.  In my case, it is better to die by my own hand with dignity than to let time take everything away from me.”

I shake my head.  “What’s the lesson in all of this?  Sometimes acceptance is the only answer?  Sometimes the Fates deal us such a terrible hand that we need just surrender to the experience?”

He smiles, his eyes still sad.  “Yes.  Have you not accepted that this house may be where you stay for ever?”

“I have,” I respond.  “Yet, I know that I will leave when the time is right.  I’m at peace with it.”

His sad eyes begin to sparkle.  “So, you are at peace with whatever future the Fates weave for you?”

As we have this conversation, the sky is turning from black to purple to the pink and orange of sunrise.  “Yes, I am at peace with however long I need to be in this place.”

That is the lesson in all of this,” he says triumphantly.  “In finding inner peace, one does not need to be attached to a particular outcome to a situation, but can see the virtue in all of the outcomes.”

The words click.  The sun rises. It all makes sense.  The old man smiles.  “You have your sunrise.  You have made it through your longest night.  Now, you may leave this house if you so choose.”

I stand with a crooked smile on my face.  The old man and I embrace.  “Thank you,” I say.  “Thank you for leaving me here and thank you for coming back.”

He laughs.  “You’re welcome,” he whispers. “Now, you need to go while there is light.  So much of this journey is taken in darkness.”

I walk down the stairs of the porch and down the path to the edge of the woods.  I turn around and wave to my new friend.  He waves back with a hearty laugh.

Walking the Dark Road: Part III

The door closes on me and I am, again, floating in the darkness.  I think about the orgy that, apparently, I am too evolved to get have gotten to participate in.  So far in death I have nearly been devoured in Egypt and gotten to witness sex magic with Mr. Crowley himself.  I’m not sure if death is awesome or scary.  So, I’m still just floating along.  Ahead, I see a light, just a tiny flicker in a sea of darkness.  I focus on it and move toward it.

It grows bright and larger