Friday, 10 February 2012
Candlemass brings upon its winds the teeth of winter, Jack does stalk the land in shades of white and muted green, his bite drawing that core warmth from within our bodies and moving our souls far closer to the other realms as we shiver at his touch.
Not so white yet hard ground crunches underfoot down here on this far southwestern peninsula, the threat of snow upon the air but it is as rain that falls upon the frozen soil today.
A far cry from the bright sun and still air that did mark yesterday's passing, as this hunter took to the woodland and fields of his home in search of sustenance for the tribe, by need and never desire to stalk the wild within the footsteps of winter ever hopeful to place beast upon the hearth and food within the bellies of his dearest kin.
Silently across the field, the ground as fragile glass beneath his feet he moves, delicate, deliberate steps toward the standing wood of alder and willow, the favoured food of his prey at this time of year, the trees are stripped of the mosses, lichens and barks and some will fall within the passing of thirteen moons, with far too few predators the forest would be gone, would that it be if not for those children that find the spirit of Herne himself within their souls abide.
The grey brown towers of the woodland obscure the view, it is not with eyes alone that this hunter finds his way, the cloven hoof leaves its mark twixt the fallen twigs as does the bare strips left where once the armour of trees was wrapped. He moves between the frozen stalks and lying branches which would alert his quarry to his presence should careless haste take hold, aware that he is not alone here yet it is the eye that sees the eye that will give him away, all senses finely tuned, the sounds of the startled bird, the feather that falls from overhead to land softly upon the loam, the taste of the trees and the air that gives up its secrets as it passes though the mouth and into the lungs, yet there is more, the connection between hunter and hunted grows, it is felt, sensed, almost beyond description, it is a knowing, a certainty that the years of walking this path has taught him. All that we might strive for in our esoteric world is here, in this moment, you are closer to the source than possibly at any other time, within the trees one is almost blind so it comes to pass that eyes cannot deceive the mind, relying of that which would lie dormant within this modern world.
There is no time here, the clock may still turn but the turning is not felt or heard, you become -out of time, the bridge between the worlds, the walker in the void.
Under and over the fallen wood he moves, as silent as is humanly possible he dances through the trees, tuned to the world around him until, it is there, the beat of another's heart, again felt and not heard, the life of his quarry sensed somewhere ahead, something that is not of the flora yet the fauna, through the forest he gazes, looking for that sign of something that alike to his own kind does not quite fit within the surroundings, animal and plant have very different spirit and it is this that gives the position of the deer away.
In the distance there is a movement as she weaves quietly through the wood, head down to fill the belly with moss then up to nibble at the much beloved bark, it is a waiting game, the opportunities are rare to gather the harvest and to take a clear shot through the trees, closer he moves until with those same senses she catches his own spirit, he averts his eyes from her gaze, to connect on that level would give the chase away, this act alone gives her the strength and somewhat misplaced confidence to continue in her own hunt for nutrition and brings her calmly within the hunters sight.
It is here the game ends, the battle for survival is over, for one of the participants anyway, cradled within the hunters arms she is given food for her journey and the words of lament are spoken to her in her last breath, "I am sorry to take your life, my sister, you bring much to my family and you are greatly valued", there is no celebration, no trophy for the great hall, only sadness and relief, as her spirit soars toward the source she will be remembered by all that partake of her bounty, we are Herne's children after all.
And there ends this hunters tale, it is not desire that should steady the aim, it is as I said- need, the times are lean at the moment so the Cunning man has to use his cunning Arte, whether that be fair of foul, in this world or the others, it becomes necessary. The rites of the hunter are fairer than many would imagine, those who would rather stalk the chiller cabinets in the local supermarket are far less responsible and show far less respect to the flesh they consume, than those who walk with mud, blood and bone, the hunter and the vegan are two sides of the same coin and have far less splinters in the arse than those who would sit atop the fence and those who would allow others to hold the burden, to take responsibility for what we do is a means to send hypocrisy packing, I eat the flesh of animals and I try to be responsible when doing so, if any would like to question my ethic then please look upon your selves before doing so, then and only then I will embrace your opinion through and from the point of truth.
Spring I feel will be hot upon the heels of Mr Frost, the serpent has shaken his coils and awaits his journey, my own journey continues to take me far from the Cornish moors, moments shared between brothers and sisters of Arte serve to strengthen the bonds, although time and distance on the surface seem far, it will always feel that it was only yesterday that we were gathered as one. When leaving upon the blessings of Imbolg, we received an unseasonal gift from the divine, as on that day the sun brought news of the coming Spring tide, melting snow upon my coat and the shadow of Angels within the compass leave fond impressions within the heart and soul.
For now I return to the "real" world, always with one foot within the others as there is no separation after all, the many make up the whole and we are a part of all.
May the spirit of candlemass wash away that which is unnecessary and may you face the world anew.
Flags, Flax and Fodder. Tony.