Category Archives: Darkness

The Warrior’s Fire

[an allegory by    ~burning woman~   ]

After the dark night of the soul, when the battle is won, morning comes. But the sun does not shine that day.

You’ve won the battle, you know this, but all around you are the bodies of friend and foe alike and in this twilight you can no longer tell the difference, nor care who the dead are, except that they are dead and so are you.

In your own eyes; in your feelings, you’re not the great winner; the hero; the one who took the day. You’re the survivor while the best things of your life lie dead at your feet.

You don’t know what to do. You feel blood on your hands; on your body. Though most of it isn’t yours, yet you well know it is an indelible mark that will never wash away. You remember. You’ve been here before.

Do you blame others for putting you in this place because you were known to be a warrior and they expected it of you? They are all dead, what good would blame do? Would it ease your broken heart that continues to beat though your broken sword lies at your feet, it too washed in the blood of strangers?

You ask, though tired beyond the cure of sleep, did I not choose this path? This action?

Then you look within to the time before the battle, for is it not of supreme importance now to know what feelings; what moods; what emotions; pushed you to lead your small troop over that hill and confront the invader?

What was your motivation, you ask? Was it fear? Anger? Rage? Lust for revenge? Was it purely the sense of duty and did you move under the banner of simple courage? Was it just habit?

Does it matter now? Step after bloody step I made it from the top to the bottom of that Hill. Yes, from the top to the bottom. Perhaps that is what would qualify me as a hero, were there any left to do the qualifying. History will keep no record of this day and if it did, I would not be reading it.

Now, though I sincerely wish I were one of those blessed and cursed dead lying on the hillside, there remains but the fire burning within, unquenchable. I don’t know what I am in this moment of deadly quiet before the scavengers of the night and the tombs claims the bodies that mark my passage, but whatever I am, my fire within made me.

That fire, it will re-forge both sword and heart and continue to drive me relentlessly against every foe to the ends of the universe and of time; a wild fire that burns under sun and moon, burrows under the peat bogs below the snows until the sun draws it out again come the raging passion of spring and mad lusts of summer.

“There is no rest for the wicked” saith the Lord. If I cannot rest, what then, does that make me?

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Whatever is Needed of Me

a short story,  by Sha’Tara

[Private time is in short supply these days, so much going on in the “service” world! Tonight particularly, though not to wax melodramatic, my thoughts are cloudy, dark; senses dulled by certain terrible news. This is Earth, said the Teachers, and you will experience these dark times. Accept them, feel them, drink them to the dregs. There are priceless lessons in them. I know this is true from previous experience but with each new “attack” the bearing of the darkness grows heavier, not lighter, nor easier. This world has not evolved enough for any empath to find comfort here. And so the reason for the following story.  Not much of a story perhaps but an expression of a kind of hope through accepting change one would certainly rather avoid if at all possible.]

She knows the end has come.  Abandoning her crude, water-logged dugout canoe to float away with other logs down the muddy stream, she runs up a sandy and wet grass-covered bank to the willow line.  There she stands quietly, looking in the stagnant waters of a woodland pond, the rusty grasses now barely standing and at the raspy curling leaves from dying trees all around.  The breeze carries the smell of death, the stench of a dying god somewhere beyond the hills where lie the remains of a city.
 
Taking a deep breath she casts off the rest of her ragged clothing and raising her arms to the rust-colored skies she cries out, “Whatever is needed of me I am willing to give.”
 
At the sound of her voice, or at the power of her words, the waters of the pond stir and rise in a dirty waterspout.  Several of the dying trees twist and turn to each other and morph into a dark form.  The spout and the dark entity merge and there, in front of the naked young human stands an enormous man, or rather a nature-being morphed to resemble a human male.  He changes his size until he stands only some two feet taller than the trembling girl.  The ground shakes as he walks to her.
 
In a voice that echoes far away across the river and into the hills he says, “Who awakens the Woda entering the great sleep of the world?” 
 
The silence following his words is even more deafening to the girl.  Yet she replies boldly, “It is I who calls.  I wish to continue. I do not choose for this to be the end.”
 
The nature giant moves closer to her and he pierces her with his eyes.  She does not flinch but waits, lowering her arms but raising her head, bringing her firm breasts up for him to look upon.  He reaches for her and embraces her.  She gasps as he takes her and feels herself being filled with new life.  Instantly she knows she is carrying his child, their child.  She offered, she accepts, she waits for him to explain.
 
“You now possess the redeemer body and within you are two beings: a man and a woman.  To these twins you will give birth and you shall care for them until they are of age to look after themselves, after which you shall be free again.  During this time of gestation and rearing you belong to us, to this world and to them.  You must remember this.”
 
He touches her nipples and again she feels that current of new life coursing through her. 
 
He speaks again: “I have given you the power to bring forth the sacred milk of the goddess.  Your breasts will never run dry as long as you feed the twins.  To the boy-man you must give your left breast and to the girl-woman your right.  Know now and always remember that these beings are not as you would think, brother and sister, but the parents of a new species of Earth humans.  Now go.  Do not return to your kind for they will sense this new life in you and in fear they will kill you and your unborn.  Go into the mountains, into the west.  There you will find caves to live in.  Find water flowing from within the stones and it will be pure for you.  Food you will gather from the green things that grow around you.  Fear not.  You offered freely and without conditions.  This means you are a powerful woman of Earth.  We would not have listened to anyone else.  Now go.”
 
Though she senses it is hopeless to ask, she does anyway: “Will you not come with me and help me?  Shall I live alone in the mountains and among the rocks and give birth without help?  How can I possibly do this?  I am on the wrong side of the river.  How do I escape to the mountains?  And why can I not remember my name?”
 
“We are leaving; you chose to remain.  So we gave you the gift of continuing life in response to your offer.  Be thankful.  In your many lives here you learned how to do all the things now required of you.  Just remember.  The river you must swim as you have watched deer and coyote swim it for many years.  You know this.  Rocks you know how to climb.  Green things you understand.  Giving birth alone you have done.  You have no name because in accepting our gift to you, you became “Other.”  You are Mother and Redeemer.  Only when they give you a new name will you have a name.  Or when you are free of them you can return to your own names.
 
“Banish your fear as you cast off your ragged clothes, it is an old, useless shadow.  During this time do not seek company of anyone for any company that joins with you will die in your arms, adding to your burden and your sorrow.  You cannot help any of them except by completing this journey.
 
Remember this: at the end of this journey you shall find bliss.”

Looking for, Searching, Seeking, Questing

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

When we go looking for something, either it’s something we want, need, or it could be something we misplaced, or lost. Either we find it, or we find a replacement and life goes on. Soon enough we forget we ever even went looking.

When we engage a search, whatever it is we may be searching for, there is the certainty that we will find something. Sometimes, that something will so surprise us it will eclipse whatever caused us to begin our search in the first place. Such a serendipitous happening we will tend to remember as some kind of magical intervention in our life.

Seeking is a deeper engagement, with the staunch and upholding hope, and faith, that whatever we are seeking for, we will find if we are diligent and do not get sidetracked to the point where we lose interest in the dream, for seeking must involve dreaming.

Questing is entirely different. Unlike looking for, searching, or seeking, questing does not entail fulfilment. A quest, by its very nature, can never be attained for it is a path; a way of life, not a goal to be reached. If it is completed; if the object of the quest is found, or reached, it wasn’t a quest but a seeking.

Deep down inside me, no matter where I’ve stood in my long years of turmoil trying to put “closed” to determining whether life is terminal or eternal, I worked out a philosophy that allowed me to know the answer to that vexing problem. It was quite simple, actually. All I had to do was find a life purpose that required eternity in order to make sense of it. To engage this purpose I had to completely switch my thinking regarding life. I needed to find that elusive “something” that even death could not put an end to. I didn’t want to cheat death, or conquer it, or end it, as in the John Donne’s cry, “Death, thou shalt die!”

I stopped asking “What is life?” and began asking, “What is my purpose within that which I call life?” I knew the first question could not be answered honestly though any number of guesses would fit the bill yet remain non-answers. But the second question brought it home to me. I made myself “life” and from that awareness I could but ask, “What is my purpose here?” I didn’t have to ask “Who am I” anymore because from here on I would be a different person moment after moment. What I believed today I might very well laugh at tomorrow. It no longer mattered “who” I was; it mattered what I was and what I would become as I travelled the omniverse and the cosmos.

I had passed the religious stage where some saviour divinity would determine my worth, or check my credentials at death’s door and give me a fail or pass. Childish and definitely superstitious. I had also passed the stage I describe as “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” – a common enough belief in today’s post-Christian world that would never keep my questing mind satisfied.

If I could find and define a purpose for myself that required an eternity to make sense of then I would have found the key to eternal life through self empowerment. That, however, had to remain securely beyond any fit accusation of hubris. Thus I had to reject the New Agey belief that “I am God” or that we are all gods. This is so obviously false, it’s laughable. Can I produce a miracle on demand? By miracle, I mean something that clearly defies all the laws and rules of nature as we understand them. Could I give an amputee a new arm, or leg? Could I bring someone who’d been in a coma for years back into the land of the normal living? Could I raise the dead? Make a blind person see? No. But neither can those who believe in Christ, for example, even though they have a scriptural promise that they would be able to do such things. I had to know that it was not a matter of being divine, or having faith in some divinity. It would have to be more!

This quest, or purpose as I call it, had to be totally reasonable, totally doable by absolutely anyone. It would have to be seen as relatively normal in an everyday kind of world. It would be a way of life that could be observed, even experienced by those “others” it touched yet would never call for hero worship, desire to be followed (as a guru or teacher for example) or freak anybody out by outlandish words or performance. It would remain non-threatening; it’s effectiveness hidden in simple self-effacing outworking. It wouldn’t ask, wouldn’t preach, wouldn’t proselytize and if some impressionable person became attracted to the one living this purpose, they would be told to seek their own way.

This purpose would not be the making of a path for others to follow upon. If, for some it had a way-shower quality, they would be reminded that it was based on self empowerment, never on believing or following. ‘If it seems good to you, emulate certainly, but do it of your own desires; of your own power; for your own reasons.’

No one could ever follow, buy or believe their way here. There is no path given to anyone that requires abdicating one’s own selfhood. Anything that makes such a claim is a deadly error, hence, in conclusion, all organized religions and their imitators, are deadly impositions upon this mind-darkened world.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!
(John Donne)

If Only this Damned Rain would Stop

[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]

If only, she sighed heavily
it was raining harsh and hard
on the shelter’s tin roof
spring flowers taking a pounding
across the street in a stranger’s yard
I wish it didn’t remind me of the bombings
the screams, the shouts and the blood
the running away scared in the dark
the fires lighting lurid shadows
when death lurked everywhere

If only I didn’t feel
this anger, this terror, this hopelessness
when my little sister was killed
my older brother carried her
until his strength failed and he could not
we buried her under rubble
so she would not be found
her body desecrated

If only I could remember
something else, something
that did not hurt so much
if I could hear her voice singing
just once more, oh, just once more remembering
how her beautiful slender fingers
made our piano keys dance
and we all smiled with tears in our eyes

If only I could still be sure
I believed in heaven once
God was good to us when we were at peace
we prayed, we worshiped dutifully
as was expected. It seemed right
but now it makes no sense anymore
after they stole everything
and destroyed our home

If only this could be home again
but it will never be home, never
the people here hate us and fear us
if only they knew what their hate does
how it killed my beautiful little sister
how it killed me
I am dead now
their hate can no longer kill me, just hurt

If only, she thought
this damned rain would stop, just
stop.

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I, The Calling: Chapter 19

 

Finally, I think I’m caught up on the blogging scene. I’ve read how to write better; how to improve my health; what to do in case of Armageddon; how to win a cricket match; that Russia isn’t to blame for anything; that we’re in deeper s**t than I even thought possible; how to make free electricity; how to awaken; that Sandy Hook mass shooting never happened (again) and that I’ve got to give peace a chance. That said, let’s get on with this story before it becomes “The Perils of Pauline” and Phil manifests himself on the blog waving a massive eraser and I lose all my subordinate clauses and loose conjunctions…


Chapter 19: Meeting the priest; all is set for the wedding

To Lo and Nal, it wasn’t much of a ‘town’ but to the others it was impressive as towns go. Not only the large church that sat imposingly in the centre of the main town but the shops, so many shops, and people everywhere. There were people on horseback and horse-drawn carts clattered on cobble-stone sections of the main street hauling various merchandise. At an open air butcher shop women were haggling with a portly butcher over the cut meat and the hanging geese and chicken. After each left with a purchase, she was replaced by another just as eager to haggle over the prices.

Children ran wildly through the filthy streets, yelled at by the adults whom they splattered when their bare feet slapped into puddles of stagnant, stinking water.

As Ian and his group walked deeper into the town, most people stopped doing whatever they were doing and stared. The men were particularly attracted to the three young women, the two tall imposing light-haired ones and the short, small dark one. But the main question on their faces was, who are these armed people and what do they want here?

Then some recognized MacGruder and greetings were exchanged. Women came forth to greet lady Jen MacGruder and their daughter whom they had not recognized so grown up she was. They were introduced to Lo whom they openly admired, and the two other young women, Genti and Deanna. Ian ventured the news that they intended to have a wedding here in Glowmere between the two travellers who were trading friends of the MacGruders, from the south. He announced that Nal and Lo, whom he singled out, were to be united in holy matrimony at the kirk if the priest was in agreement.

The news was greeted with a loud cheer that spread up and down the main street and brought the curious street urchins forth. Soon items went missing here and there from the shops and stalls as the cries of “Thief, stop him!” or “That miserable scoundrel, stop her!” followed by some useless chase that only left a shop or stall open to more pilfering.

“An where does one find the priest?” Ian asked politely and diplomatically for he realized such a location would be in proximity to the church. An urchin offered to lead them to the priest, for a price. Contrary to his usual parsimonious nature, Ian good-naturally accepted and paid the rascal. They intercepted the priest as he was stepping out of the kirk and getting ready to bar, bolt and lock the door.

“Wouldn’t want yer God er his saints t’ run off come night eh Father? Keep ‘em locked up, that’s the sure way.” said Ian with a large smile.

The priest, a tall, stringy sort of creature in a fading black cassock failed to acknowledge the joke. He eyed MacGruder with a frown and asked, “An what do ye be wantin’ fro’ me, mon?”

“Well Father, ‘tis not what I want, ‘tis what these young un’s here be needin’ – an’ that’d be a proper weddin’ t’would be, if ye be amenable to it?”

The priest cast a haughty look over the group trying to figure out which of them were to be the victims. Unable to decide, he turned to MacGruder and said, “They be proper Church people then? Baptized and knowing their catechism?”

“Aye of that I’m sure Father. Might not hurt ‘em just the same to have a confession afore the ceremony?”

“That is mandatory mon, and may I know whom I be addressin’ and whom the intended’s be?”

“I be Ian MacGruder, perhaps ye’ve heard of us from up t’ cottage? An’ here are the two ‘intendeds’ as ye put it: Lo ‘n Nal. Don’t know if there be any family names attached to ‘em, I reckon not.”

“Well, I’ll need such particulars for the book ye understand. We keep decent records here, not like the old pagan days thankfully gone from here, praise God.”

“We’ll get ye the names Father.” MacGruder’s voice had grown somewhat harsher and definitely colder as he prepared to haggle prices with the priest.

Having heard their names mentioned, Nal and Lo came forward and introduced themselves to the priest. Again he gave his haughty look, equally met and brought down forcefully by both Nal and Lo who would not tolerate such from a pawn of the Church. For a moment the priest sensed something that scared him and was of a mind to refuse the ceremony, then thought of the money and held his tongue. On top of the incentive of good gold, there were those deadly looking swords, bows and staffs to reckon with. It might not do to upset these and seemed more prudent to let the moment have its way.

‘I can deal with any sorcery and paganism afterwards and I certainly will.’

All three, Nal, Deanna and Lo, had been mind-focusing on the priest and heard his thoughts. Here was another dangerous enemy, certainly for Genti and the MacGruders. This priest would have to be dealt with after they settled with the Betrayers and before they carried on to further adventures, such certain to come about as a result of Nal’s vows and Deanna’s need to return to Torglynn.

As there was overt thoughts of violence and murder in the priest’s heart, Lo felt no qualm about disposing of the creature come the right time. This work might well fall to wolf and his mate he reckoned. Both Nal and Deanna agreed though Nal who had some personal scores to settle with the Church insisted she’d be involved in the priest’s demise. They left it at the stage where the priest would be killed but not who would have the honours.

Meanwhile, they agreed to let the hypocrisy of the moment reign supreme.

“Any o’ these others gettin’ married also, Ian?” Asked the priest, trying hard to sound innocent, caring, and friendly but inwardly licking his greedy lips thinking of the gold a double or triple wedding would bring, winter being financially remarkable only from the increase in burials.

“Hasn’t been mentioned Father. Must be waitin’ for spring, t’other ones eh? So then to business, time and cost? Ye’d be needin’ gold yea?”

“Gold, yea. Six ounces, weighed on the scale at the kirk. As to time, does next Saturday suit ye, Ian?”

Ian called his group together and after consulting with Jen asked them, “Does next Saturday suit ye all for the weddin’ t’ take place or ye havin’ second thoughts now? Last chance ‘fore I put down the money.”

Nal and Lo smiled broadly at one another then burst out laughing while a spark of hope flashed through young Giles’ heart only to be extinguished in the same moment when Nal said, “Saturday is perfect for us ‘n the sooner t’ better to get it done. Can’t wait! An’ Father if ye be wantin’ our clan names, I be a McBanish, n’ m’intended here, he be a MacDunit.”

“Interestin’ names. Can’t say I ever heard o’ those clans, interestin’ indeed. Saturday then, ten o’ the mornin’?”

“Aye that’ll suit us fine, that will, Father,” quickly answered Ian.

They left the skeletal priest standing there like a patiently expectant vulture on his favourite dead tree perch and Ian declared they all deserved a drink at the Wild Horse Inn, a good, friendly place, he added.

Once out of the priest’s hearing they all burst out laughing until the tears were running down their faces. Ian had to lean on a hitching post to keep himself upright.

Only Deanna failed to join, finally asking what the sudden hilarity was all about.

“Dinae hear girl? McBanish, MacDunit? Who ever heard o’ such nonsense? That was good that, truly magnificent, gal, and he slapped Nal on the back, making her jump.

Ian didn’t give his charges too much time to develop introspective moroseness that would demand another round and declared it was getting late and they had a fair walk ahead of ‘em yet.

As they were crossing the small drawbridge, Lo stayed behind to speak to the guard detail. He gave them each enough coin for a couple of rounds at the inn and was rewarded with some slaps on the back and cheers. Then in a vibrant voice he wished them a wonderful end of the day and a safe, healthy, prosperous and long life. They received his words as if they had been gifts, realizing that there was more than words in the blessing. They waved sheepishly then, thinking this was no ordinary man. They all sensed that their entire lives ahead of them had been magically blessed and the words would prove true.

Entering his speed lope he soon caught up to the group and immediately noticed that Deanna was gone and Nal was carrying her clothes.

“So she’s gone back to her wolf then? How did she manage to take off her clothes without upsetting the group?”

“We slipped into the ‘by woods to do that. She’ll inner nudge me when she needs ‘em again.”

“Let me strap those to my pack then, Nal, so you keep your hands free. It may seem silly here but remember that ultimately we are always alone, working singly, and must always think thus. Never rely on anyone else to take the point, or protect. Let them if they want to but don’t ask it nor expect it and I repeat, never rely on it.

“Keep your hands, arms and legs free at all times and your weapons handy.”

“Truly sorry, I temporarily forgot. Too much on m’mind an’ don’t push me, MacDunit.”

“Indeed I’ll endeavour not to, Miss McBanish.”

They laughed, hugged fiercely and kissed again.

Don’t look at me like that and I heard that snort. Look, I’m just writing it the way I see it. And remember, they’ve been apart for thousands of years, how do you think you would act if you suddenly found yourself back in the arms and love of a lover you knew was dead and you hadn’t seen for, say, twenty thousand years? Would you say,

“What? You again?” or

“I really wasn’t expecting you back this soon.” or

“I hadn’t planned on this; I have a life now.” or

“Things getting too boring for you, decided to come back?”

Right, I didn’t think so. More likely there would be sparks, maybe a flame, and hugging and kissing would just be the breeze that sets everything on fire. So put up with the hugging and kissing and let me go on with the story, which by the way is turning out pretty good, in my opinion, if I’m allowed to have one.

 

That Feeling, it will not Leave

Where do you hail from,
you shattering feeling
flying on wings of doom,
harbinger of sapping horror?

It all seems so perfect right now,
the sky is pure, clear and blue
and high noonday sun sparkles,
distant snow-capped hills.

Spring arrives,  a bit unsure,
Winter birds actively seek
elusive bugs and sluggish worms
among pink buds and greenings.

Surely senses don’t lie so,
all must be well with the world
bathed, exploding, in delight
of so much beauty and peace.

But that feeling, it is not leaving.
There’s pain in my heart,
my food tastes of sawdust;
childhood nightmares are back.

Thoughts on Change

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

“We cannot fight change because we are a part of it.”

Doesn’t that read like a great thought? It reads as if change will happen without fighting for it, just because.

But what if the change spoken of is retrograde, what then?

If we cannot fight such change precisely because we are a part of it, then does it not behoove us, as intelligent, sentient, self-aware beings, spiritually and mentally aware, to separate ourselves from such retrograde change?

Must we ever remain victims of forces we believe are beyond our control?

The price we must be willing to pay if we would renounce our collusion with destructive, if not murderous beliefs, forces and powers, is to become self-empowered.

Did I just conclude that last sentence with a swear word?

Every religious; every political, every financial; every belief system, by nature of being a system, has stood viciously opposed to Earthians ever daring to become self empowered. Every teaching; every public education system has one refrain: study the accepted, recognized authority figures. You, as an individual, have no voice.

Self-empowerment equals the end of every controlling system on earth. No system can exist without our willingness to offer ourselves, in chains, upon the slave auction block. We’ve done this since we became what we proudly think of as homo sapiens sapiens. So long have we dutifully followed this path from conception to death that we’ve come to believe it is a sign of superiority, of power and great intelligence.

We love to be enslaved. We want to be led, no matter where, just as long as we don’t have to make that decision.

The opening quote comes from the movie, “Belle” based on a true story. It addresses the problem and horror of the slave trade in England circa 1750. A bit of a slow start – I almost turned it off – but it finally picks up to a mighty grand finale.

An intelligent movie. A great story.