Thursday, December 23, 2010

15 Dancing for the Rough Hand Goddess
Quietly, the earth sleeps, surrendering to the long night, submitting to the stillness in rest and tranquility before her work begins again. The dark mother, older than the rough granite rocks, holds me in a capable embrace as I let go. Square, dry rough strong hands rub warmth into my chill limbs.
Wrapped in a soft wool blanket, I walk through the winter woods. Laced branches are stark against the dark night sky. Frozen clumps of snow, bend and bow the trees into distorted, aged beings. Ancient beyond centuries they hunch over the path. Carefully I stoop and squeeze lest I disturb their brittle gifts.
The path is long. I walk on. Hours pass. In time, the moon rises gleaming above the horizon. It spreads silver fingers through the woods, pattering the path with the weird silhouette of the bent trees.
A thick trunked yew tree stands before me, squat and rough. Impatiently, I search for the entrance amongst its shaggy roughness, and finding it, stoop and enter. In the pitch black I feel rather than know there are steps going down. Feeling with tentative toes, find the first step, touch the wall and carefully walk down.
Down in the belly of the earth, I thread my way through passages until the amber light dancing upon the walls warns me of a fire in the not too far distance. The passage opens out and I see a heavy browed mantle over a merrily dancing fire. Something moves from beside it. My old blind she wolf emerges into the light.
The darkness in the other corner shifts and I turn to see in the shadows an old, old woman.
I kneel at her feet. She lays a bony hand upon my head. I bow down in front of her. Her rough fingers touch my neck. Nothing is said.
She traces the line of my jaw and lifts my chin. I am aware of her acute scrutiny. I see nothing but the shadows. Behind me, the fire crackles and I remember my purpose this year is to be with the fire. I had forgotten this.
“Touch and be touched”, comes the thought unbidden into my mind. She releases me and, stiffly I rise and silently thank her for her wisdom.
“I have nothing for you,” I say contritely. She moves in her dark corner and I am suddenly seized by the desire to dance for her. I fling off the rough blanket. Slowly and shyly at first and then with more courage, I dance for her.
The fire warms my limbs as I turn. I move gracefully, slowly and then gathering speed until I am spinning dizzyingly in front of her. My dance brings me to pirouette, to leap and to bend and soon I am like the leaping fire, my limbs burnished by its heat. I know I am shining like a flame. I raise my hands to the ceiling and gradually slow down until I feel the stillness in my core as my hands are folded across my heart.

From the depth of the dark corner comes a sort of snort, or is it her gruff breathing? I think she’s laughing! She likes my dance! I feel a smile spread across my face and I execute a little caper, before bowing flamboyantly, swinging my blanket back onto my shoulders and turning to leave.

The corridor is dark and cold. I hurry along, wanting very much to be back out in the open, for I have things to do. I run up the stairs and push a way through the shaggy foliage at the entrance and emerge into the night.

The moon as sailed across the sky. On the east, the thinnest of golden threads begins to spread it’s warmth as the sun makes ready to rise.


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