|Twilight over the Cook Inlet.|
This was very much like a clown show or an early (or late) Trick or Treat: one behemoth of a Norseman "Pirate," one black hooded "Witch" & what might best be characterized as Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series.
Carrying three bottles of mead, a shillelagh, a very large Oath Ring (from a tug boat line) & a drinking horn, I confess that I felt a bit sheepish in the daylight as hikers & tourists looked upon us with complete confusion. As they should.
This was not the time for Herne-hunting. I knew this well enough, but sometimes people are so desperate for connection that you just hold their hand & do your best at the art of damage control.
Along the arduously disorganized & delayed trek, many trees were loved & libated. Many words exchanged that would soon be forgotten. Don Quixote himself may have been channeled.
This was a messy excursion by anyone's standards.
As I squatted along the edge of the trail & listened to the one-eyed bear of a man extracting my slender, aching friend from the disappointingly vacant darkness of the forest, I could only say to myself, "This is not the Way..."
But what isn't one person's Best Night might be another's. Later, I found myself alone in the still silence, facing Twilight, admiring the expanse of Sea & Sky divided by the horizon, unsure which side was the real side. Really, it didn't matter.
And when I crept back through the dimming light to rejoin my party, I found them seated at the edge of the bluff, framed by sinewy trees & silhouetted against the golden horizon. From their deepest hearts & bellies they sang "Helvegen" in bittersweet harmony. I was enchanted -- it was just... breathtakingly beautiful. (Had it not been completely inappropriate, I would have secreted out my phone & filmed it.)
I sat witness to this poignant scene until my legs cramped & my nose ran from the cold. I was finally relieved to see the Heathen's bulky shape rise & turn to me. Now would be the time to complete my own Work.
Down to the water we went, leaving the saddest member to wait on the bluff. He could never have managed the descent. The large man who followed me down the familiar trail was nothing graceful himself, sliding on the ice & crashing through the naked undergrowth. I could have managed very well alone, but we are trained as women in this society to distrust the condition of alone-in-the-dark (even when realistically, it might be the safer -- for everyone).
The tide was high & the Ice ran right up to the water, dropping off abruptly. It made for awkward gyrations, but I did my cleansing & offerings as though atop an ice float at the edge of the smoothest Ocean surface imaginable. My dips made arcs which replicated across the water ad infinitum, playing the shadow against the last of the light. Nyx's starry cloak was surprisingly clear, in spite of the yellowing Anchorage glow. Perfect.
I was expedient, but not unceremonious. In general, I Work from the hip & this instance was no different.
In short time we returned to the bench on the bluff, only to find that our companion had disappeared, leaving the horn crushed, a bottle shattered & the Oath Ring cast aside. He was to have his own adventures, or misadventures, to which we (mercifully) would not be witness.
There is a very fine line between opening up & forcing the doors. Most of us have managed to err on the side of boorish & unproductive from time to time. Yet I find that the gods will still give us chances.
The trick is to learn from, not repeat, these mistakes & never to presume that we can force a "mystical experience."
Today, idling in the chill winds of an incoming storm, I stood alone with my brooding friend in a different forest. In the aftermath, I recalled to him the events of the evening which had been hopelessly lost to him. As I mentioned his entreaty to Herne -- how he stopped at precisely the right place, poured his mead & entered his own lonely chaos -- he nudged me & said, "Do you see the moose?" Looking up, I spotted a long legged beauty, making her way around the Alder only a short distance from us. She watched us calmly, intently & we remained silent as she unhurriedly wandered around & away.
I looked up at him & said, "See, you just mention Herne & there you go."
|The (sometimes desperate) path |
of so many secrets.