It is dark. The Moon, but a silver sliver, hangs suspended in the night sky. Silent. Luminous. The ground is hard underfoot. The day has been cold, but the night is chilling to the bone. The Land is now cloaked in ebony silk. Enfolding. Embracing. The Bone White Tree stands majestic, at the centre of the meadow. It seems to be made of moon-stuff. Glowing. Shimmering. Beckoning those who would be willing to spend a night ‘neath Her haunted boughs. Whispering. Enchanting. Promising entrance, and clear guidance upon the inner roads that lead back to the source of all things.
The two who dare draw close. The two who are one. One with each other, and one with the tree. The tree, one of the three. The three trees of resurrection. The Guardian at the gate of life and death.
The fire is built, by way of old custom. They pace around the tree. Around the fire, against the Sun, grinding force and form with woven will, again and again. Once to lay the flour. Once to pour the water. The fire rages. Over and over. And they find their way back to the tree. Beneath the shelter of alabaster branches, reaching to the sky littered with stars, it begins.
She knocks hard upon the ancient trunk, announcing their presence and intentions. Tonight they need no riding pole. The Bone Mother will take them both where they need to go.
“O Bone Mother, Guardian at the Gate,
Grant us safe passage through,
Across the dark raging waters, to beneath.
Whisper now your secrets.”
They circle the tree slowly, purposefully; Soul to soul, Hand clasped in hand, the Witches’ grip which means all to some and nothing to most. Their rhythmic footfalls echo the silent beat, an unceasing and deafening rhythm that has arisen from the Deep Earth since the dawn of time. Fast rising through the tree now, surging and searing through them both. The world trembles, heads alight, shivers run down the spine. A deep sigh escapes her lips, and she clutches more tightly his firm hand, her anchor for the storm rocked vessel, her trembling body, mind and soul.
One foot in, one foot out, a relentless and merciless pace. The true path of the Witch, beyond all shallow literature and idle speculation, as old as time and twice as cruel. She knows he feels it too, she can see it in his gaze, and his obsidian dark eyes that are now filled with intense vision, as are her own.
The secrets of The Bone Mother come in vision. Secrets that She is willing to share, to those who are willing and able to listen with open hearts and minds.
Images flicker and flit before them, like the tongues of the Spirits within the wildfire. Maddening. Entrancing. Informing.
Soon enough they will pass, and the price will be paid. A sacrifice is offered, something of immense value and deep meaning. Wholesome Bread is shared, the loving cup held aloft and drained to the bitter dregs.
And silently, in the darkness beneath a fading moon, they commune, and give thanks, and are one.
They always have been, and always will be.
Text – Sarah-Jayne Farrer & Matt Baldwin-Ives
Image © Matt Baldwin-Ives (www.milescross.co.uk)