Archive | June, 2015

Inspired by the summer solstice …

22 Jun

Ribbon Spell

LEVANA’S WISH © 2015 Susi Moore

It was late in the evening as I joined my sisters to gather round the gnarled yew tree at the rise of the meadow. On this eve of solstice, we were to lament over those loved and lost and seek exultation. I thought of my young husband, Auric, and remembered our first encounter, another solstice, long ago. We had fallen in love, taken our vows and nothing would part us. Except, he was gone and I was lost. My fingertips caressed the talisman around my neck which contained the cherished lock of his hair. I let out a deep sigh and caught the eye of the Elder Sister. Only one of our sect would be chosen tonight, and her gaze rested on me.

In preparation we had inscribed our desires onto many silk ribbons. They were pinned to the phosphorescent lanterns which were suspended from the canopy above. My hair, long and dark, was wreathed in crimson anemones and trailing broom purples. My robe, falling in layers to my bare feet, was woven through with horsetail and comfrey. Each adorning bud and herb had been selected for their powers of rejuvenation.

The skies darkened and the torches were lit. The pungency of the spirit energies stole through the night breeze as our lamentations in song and verse began. The ribbon lanterns burned brighter, casting oscillating shadows which swathed and unfurled around us. We remembered those loved and lost. Then it was time. The vessel was passed to each of us, and we took deep mouthfuls of its blood potent liquid.

‘Sisters of the Dark Solstice, you know why you are here.’

The Elder surveyed us all. I closed my eyes and thought of Auric. Another time, another place. We were on the copse by the embankment. I could feel the pounding of his heart as he wrapped his lean body around mine.

‘Levana …’ I opened my eyes to see the Elder in front of me. I stepped forward. I met her gaze. Her eyes scrutinised mine.

‘Have you any doubts?’ she asked.

‘None, Sister,’ I replied. I could only think of Auric.

‘You understand the price of the Forbiddens?

I looked around me. ‘My sisters do for me this day what I would do for them.’

‘All will share in your offering on this day,’ the Elder said. ‘None will share again.’

‘It is mine to carry. It is mine because I am asking for … what no one else would.’

‘I pray it will be worth raising the powers we do, I pray you will find what you desire.’

Tears suddenly welled up. ‘As I do,’ I managed to say. ‘As I do.’

In measured silence she smeared my brow with the warm, thick substance which covered her fingers. I was anointed. I was made ready. I would have my wish.

Shrill incantations filled my ears as I was blindfolded and spun. Seven times, for the seven moons of our marriage. The sisters chanted but I only heard my own thoughts. It is my wish … It is my desire … The spinning ceased, I swayed, but the sisters were all around me.

I reached upwards and my fingers slowly closed around one ribbon. It is my wish …. My eyes were uncovered and the Elder Sister took the silk from my hand. It is my wish …. She looked to each one of us in turn. Would the inscription be mine? After what seemed like minutes rather than seconds, she pronounced: ‘On this day, the lost … shall return.’

The players were roused and the low pulse of woodwinds and percussion commenced. We joined together and allowed the hypnotic rhythms to fill us. As the music swelled through incantation and ecstasy, we chanted and swayed, spirits alight, arms reaching skywards, consumed in one purpose. The skies flashed in preternatural hues of turquoise and crimson. The forbidden invocations were cast. I slowly unpinned my robe and allowed it to slip from my shoulders. I threw back my head and my hair swung down to my hips. I will be sky clad. I will be reborn. This is my offering to the spirits. Take me, I am yours.

My sisters keened as, one by one, their own robes fell.

We will be sky clad. We will be reborn. Take us. We call upon the energies of the Litha, the sun and the moon. We call upon those spirits who … We call upon …

Shards of lightning screeched through the writhing skies.

The spirit wraiths descended, took corporeal form and howled as they swiftly coiled themselves around our bodies. They were insatiable as they bore down on us, over and over. I shuddered and moaned in ecstasy as I fell to the ground to receive their bidding.

When it was finally over, I lay on the grass, gazing upwards. The toxic whispers of the wraiths lingered in the icy trails of their departure. I was bound to their unearthly appetites for as long as they would demand. Every new moon, a little part of me would be sucked away until I was one of them, undead yet unliving. I thought of Auric. What if he would be repulsed by me? I loved him more than my own life. I have done this for him, to bring him home to me.

I was roused from the darkness of my thoughts as, wide eyed, the Elder Sister pointed into the distance. No words left her lips. Slowly, I stood up and looked around and to the field beyond. Then I saw him. He was watching us, outlined against the damson entrails of the still quickening sky. Great drops of rain began to fall.

My sisters formed a circle around me and my robe was raised back over my shoulders. I barely heard the distant rumblings of thunder. I looked to the Elder Sister and she beckoned me to go. The gate was unlatched and I half ran, half stumbled towards him through the rain drenched grass.

All the while his eyes never left mine.

We were face to face. He was so pale. Slowly, deliberately, my lover pulled me towards him. He took my hand, deftly spread my fingers and caressed each one over the rough moistness of his lips.

‘Le … Vana …’ The sound from his lips was little more than a gargled whisper, but it filled me like a sweet cacophony.

‘You’re here, Auric, you came back to me.’ I was in his arms sobbing with joy.

He stroked my hair as I traced his face tenderly with the tips of my fingers. I wanted to savour every last detail. I have my wish. The price I pay doesn’t matter any more. He is back and I have my wish.

‘Auric,’ I began. ‘It was me, I called upon the …’ My voice faltered as my vision focused through the downpour. His eyes, violet, and piercing in life, were faded and dull; his fine-boned face, waxen and drawn; his ash blond hair, matted and coarse.

He opened his mouth to speak again, but struggled, as though he might choke.

‘Vana … what … what … have you done?’

The ground reverberated as the thunder drew closer.

I could barely contain my myself. ‘The solstice, the Litha … I invoked them, the forbiddens …’

‘You WHAT?’ His expression switched to dark dismay as his breathing became laboured.

‘We have to sustain the wraiths, or they will destroy us all. I found a way. Auric, you are here. We are here, reborn, together. Everything will be as it used to be … ‘

His eyes widened in horror. He let out a long sigh, then shuddering, he stumbled backwards, one hand raised to cover his rapidly contorting face.

‘This is your WISH? You would desire THIS?’

My husband’s eyes never left mine as his body began to wretch and convulse. His complexion paled and soured. Blood, dark and rank red, oozed from his gaping mouth.

‘Auric, NO…’ I pulled him towards me, surely the closeness of our bodies would keep him safe.

His speech was now slow and slurred. ‘You are deceived … they will only take from us. The forbidden … must never …’

The rain came down in torrents. I clung to him and kissed him through my tears but I could no longer hold on to him. He put his hands to his throat as he choked and coughed thick globules of red which sprayed onto my face and robe. He buckled to the ground, fractured bones piercing through rotting flesh, fluids draining through torn skin. His body disintegrated until all that was left was the broken, fetid corpse I had summoned from the grave.

I had wished for my husband’s return.

But I could only open my mouth and scream as I watched him die, all over again.

EPILOGUE

I don’t know how long I lay in the sodden grass next to his remains. I heard voices, the Elder giving orders, the shocked murmurings of the others. As I lapsed in and out of consciousness. I felt myself being carried. We were near the village. We passed the church. We passed the graveyard. I heard my voice cry out. I felt tears roll down my face. Then nothing. Later, I remember being lowered down, and, as the covers were drawn over me, the sinking sensation continued. The candlelight dimmed. Finally, oblivion.

 

LEVANA’S WISH Copyright © 2015 Susi Moore.  All Rights Reserved.
No part of this work or publication may be reproduced without the
prior written permission of the copyright holder.

In progress – Levana’s Dream © 2016