Friday, August 01, 2008

The Holly Queen - Queen’s Wood

Sunday July 27, 2008:

It was cooler under the trees, yet the dampness of the thick air still clung to our sticky limbs. On the edge of a grove of young hollies, we sat down to make our circle for our early Lamas celebration.

My companion read from The Spiral Dance, By Star hawk:

This is the wake of Lugh, the Sun King who dies with the waning year, and the Corn King who dies when the grain is reaped. We stand now between hope and fear, in the time of waiting. In the fields, the grain is ripe but not yet harvested. We have worked hard to bring many things to fruition, but the rewards are not yet certain. Now the Mother becomes the Reaper, the Implacable One who feeds on life that new life may grow. Light diminishes, the days shorten, and summer passes. We gather to turn the Wheel, knowing that to harvest we must sacrifice, and warmth and light must pass into winter."

We cast the circle and sat quietly under the prickly bough of the holly tree. From another grove, the sound of a flute moved in and out of a steadily beating drum. Leaves shifted in the breeze and childrens voices echoed amongst the trees.

Sunlight and shadows fell across the tangle of scattered leaves and twigs beneath the tree. At its base, a darker pool seemed to suck the sunlight in. I watched in fascination, noting with a sense of detachment the different greens, browns and greys that made up the forest floor. Leaves rolled over with each gust of wind as others scratched at each other in the boughs above.

It wasn’t a big tree. My fingers would touch if I encircled it. The darkness at the base moved. Something was slowly curling around the tree. I stared closer.

A dark head began to rise. Two shining yellow points like dappled sunlight faced me then were gone as it turned. Slowly the darkness began to encircle the trunk and I saw against the green grey of the bark, a shinier long smooth green body of a snake, as thick as the trunk, spiralling carefully up the tree.

I held my breath as the elegant head disappeared amongst the holly leaves. The trunk was completely entwined, embraced and held. It was beautiful. The snake and the tree fitted. The dark green against the mossy grey green, the shiny body against the rough bark . Just perfect.

And as I gazed, the two became one, the dark lightened and before me the tree, became a soft ivory green-tinged curving body of a beautiful woman with sharp jagged green hair. I gazed deeply into her dark eyes and was lost.

”Be angry when you have cause and not before you need to be. Be angry and let your anger burn like the hottest fire and then let it die. And when it is dead, let it go, for if you don’t, it will consume you.”

I bowed to her in acknowledgement. The breeze shook the leaves and in the space left by a swaying bough, I caught the glimpse of a dark horned head silhouetted against the light sky before a branch swung two obscure it again.

Carefully I picked up a fallen holly leaf. I stroked its sharp prickles, allowing it to puncture my skin, feeling it draw blood.

“I stand between hope and fear, in the time of waiting. There’s nothing to do but to be here now then is there?” I said to my companion, opening the container of cherries and offering them to her. I picked up two, tied them together by their stems and hung them on a holly branch which bowed with their weight. They swung heavily on their twig. I imagined them, read against the dark green, curved against the angular leaves. An early harvest for the holly tree, a summer whimsy heralding the winter bounty to come. Tenderly, I stroked a swinging globe and turned to feast upon our small shop bought harvest.

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