Category Archives: Magic

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff -Part I – Chapter 18

 I was going to reblog a couple of worthy posts I have read the last couple of days but, like rush hour traffic, it seems that blogs can only accommodate so much. So I’m being selfish and posting my own stuff today. I know there are some people reading this developing tale with interest and I don’t want to make them wait any longer than necessary. Enjoy this chapter. More to come!

The gold rings; Deanna spies on the Betrayers some more

A dark cloud soon rose again over Giles’ innocent hopes. Ian MacGruder called a general meeting after their noonday meal to discuss Nal and Lo’s upcoming wedding in Glowmere kirk. Then with a twinkle in his eye, he brought out two small blue linen pouches and gave them to Lo.

“Well open ‘em mon, open ‘em!”

The assembly cheered when they saw two smooth, plain, gleaming gold rings, a man’s and another so small it would fit a small girl’s finger. The rings fit perfectly and Nal wondered how they’d managed to get her size without her knowledge. She looked at Lo and he winked.

“Old trick Nal. I twisted a grass stem around your finger to size it while you were sleeping and gave the grass ring to Ian. We did the same for my finger, then in the following adventures I forgot all about the rings. Now Ian, what do we owe ye for such beautiful rings?”

“I fear the cost is quite high Lo. I demand the right to walk this lass down the aisle in exchange for the rings.”

“Oh Ian, you wonderful, wonderful man,” exclaimed Nal throwing her arms as far as they could reach around the large man’s midriff, “ye do me such an honour… such an honour…” and once again she found herself crying freely, unashamed, tears flowing from her eyes and running down her face. “Such friends, such good friends I have met here; I will be so loathe to leave.”

“Come lass, we won’t speak o’ leavin’ yet, one day havin’ enough trouble of its own. Now lydies o’ the house, this girl is in need of some sort of weddin’ accoutrements as I heard such called by an English gentleman when I was tradin’ in the south. No girl is so pretty that she can’t be made even prettier an’ a weddin’s the time for that. Jen ‘n I are agreed to  take care o’ the costs, so have at it lydies, have at it.”

Poor Giles was devastated on hearing about the wedding. Though he knew it had been mentioned before there was always the hope that Nal would choose him over Lo, him a property man and all. What did Lo have to offer her? But then, thinking of himself as of the truly noble sort, he squared his boyish shoulders and entered a realm of lofty thoughts befitting a true knight.

‘I shall become a knight and I shall go with her as her champion, though never mine yet always in my sight. I shall give myself to the worship of her and save her from her enemies, that I shall and my eternally broken heart shall be the token of my love for her.’

He went about his chores imagining scenes of mortal combat where he charged into the fray on a big white war horse, slashed through the enemy as blow after blow fell upon his helmet, his armour, his shield. He saw himself fighting and holding off the evil knight who had unhorsed her and would have taken her, and giving him the mortal blow. Bending down, he grabbed her and swung her across the war horse in front of his saddle, once more slashing his way through the press of men at arms and screaming wounded horses, his sword awash with the blood of the enemy…

The chores were completed in record time but his daydream, that was just beginning.

The next day, Nal having been measured for her wedding ‘accoutrements’ and having had quite enough of the fussing and comments on her diminutive size, her unusual tone and satiny smoothness of skin, her straight black hair and almond eyes, it was decided by MacGruder that he, his woman Jen, their grown daughter Genti, Nal, and Lo would walk down to Glowmere, visit with the priest and arrange for the time of the wedding ceremony and settle the costs.

“I thought o’ invitin’ the priest to the cottage to perform the ceremony but then I thought better of it. We’ll have the proper ceremony the Church demands, aye, but we’ll return here to our own an’ then we’ll have our ceremony as performed by our ancestors. We are goin’ t’ have a full pagan weddin’ ceremony right here with our own daughter priestess o’ the clans presidin’ an we don’t want any meddlin’ crow from the Church in it. The walk back from the Glowmere ceremony ‘ll do us all good, put some appetite in us by t’gods! What do ye all say to that?”

Lo spoke first,

“I like the idea immensely.”

Nal added,

“Yes that is a famous idea. Let us be pagan; let us experience the wild abandon of the old traditions!”

They set out from the cottage with a proper retinue of
“arms-men.” These consisted of the shepherds, Giles whom wild horses could not have kept out of this, Lil’ Cos and the the head man Cedric – all of whom were readily available as the sheep were safely in their pens and the two pit bulls on duty.

Guy was chosen to remain at the cottage to finish some needed chores, help the women in whatever they needed done in preparations for the coming ceremony and to pacify the nervous pit bulls who had been smelling the presence of both wolf and werewolf.

As they were crossing the lower field taking the usual shortcut to the village road, Deanna emerged from the woods, properly dressed though flushed with excitement and her hair in a toss of wild disarray.

She and Nal threw themselves in each others’ arms, kissed shamelessly under the intrigued but approving gaze of MacGruder and his male armed retinue and Deanna said,

“If I may join in? Wolf and I got your message Lo. Wolf will escort us as well, just in case, but we’re quite certain there is no danger. We tracked a couple of poachers yesterday but took care of putting the fear of Satan in them. We left them alive, they were not the murderous or raping kind, just beggar thieves, but they won’t be seen in these parts ever again, and the stories they tell will ensure none should venture this way at least for the duration of winter. In case anyone wonders, we did hunt down some hares to give them so they wouldn’t starve in the woods.”

“Well done Deanna,” replied MacGruder with a raised fist for emphasis. “On we go then.” With Giles close by and nurturing a pain-filled jealousy, Ian took Nal’s hand and led her over the ladder built into the fence and down the path to the village. Holding back, Lo and Deanna engaged a long and serious talk using strictly the inner language.

‘I taught wolf to speak the human tongue Lo. At first he could only do it in his werewolf form but now he can manage it any time. Very difficult for him but a very effective tool for deception. He can also project severe abdominal pain to an enemy without being seen so when the enemy is doubled over, he can pounce on him. We tried it on the poachers and yes, it works. My own power of projection has grown too. With one hand in Wolf’s mane I can project a force that can topple over a cliff if I so desired. We tested that effect far from here in a wilderness where the collapse would not cause hardship to those we stand guard for. I can collapse defences, walls, buildings and also set fires from at least a quarter mile distance. I could demonstrate when we reach the village if you want to see.’

‘Oh, no thank you Deanna, that won’t be necessary, I believe you.’

He wondered how far she’d gone from human now that she saw nothing amiss about setting some house on fire or destroying fortifications “as a demonstration” just when their group was entering the village.

‘Cause and effect, Deanna: can you see how such activities would turn the whole village against us? That we would be immediately blamed for the events and labelled sorcerers?’

‘It would? Ah, yes, of course I suppose it would. What about Nal? Has she demonstrated new powers to use against our enemies?’

‘Nal has been busy in many ways. She has taught some swordsmanship to our armed guard here and I’ve done some sparring with the staffs with her myself. She is greatly improving but remembering her full Alaya self is taking its toll. She still gets tired easily, requiring almost five or six hours of sleep every night. She is still much too human but growing and remembering. How long can you remain shape-shifted into the she-wolf before you can no longer change back, or is there a limit?’

‘I think there might be a limit unless I develop some other method of shape-shifting. It was very difficult to leave this time and putting clothes on, why I could hardly remember how to do it. All I remembered was Nal insisting I do it, so I did. At first I was almost blind and when I tried to stand, I fell against wolf to gain my balance. Walking on two legs is so irritatingly clumsy and energy consuming! Good thing I did not know about any of what I do now when I was growing up in Torglynn or I would have gone insane with longing and frustration.’

‘Critical point, can you use your combined Human, Elven, Alaya powers when you are shape-shifted into the she-wolf? Can you be the powerful wizard in any shape, or state of mind, Deanna?’

‘I know I can project the tear-up and fire energy, using my nose and ears to focus and I can sense unusual forces from great distances. I have been guardedly following the movements of our enemies to the south in, what did you call that land?’

‘I figured you meant the land of France.’

‘Yes, that land beyond a narrow sea? They’ve been involved in wars and there has been problems between the sorcerers, they ended up on opposite sides and there’s a stalemate in a main battle involving a large castle. There were canons brought to bear but your Tel’Madan wizard knows how to muzzle them and cause them to explode when fired. If we could be there now, we would take them individually and destroy them!’

‘Beware, Deanna. It’s a trick. They know someone’s been tracking them and this is a very complex but obvious trap. They want whomever to fall for their apparent disunity. That would never happen, particularly knowing of the rise of one or more Alaya in the world. They’re baiting while recouping their energies and planning.

‘Good that you tracked them in your she-wolf form rather than your human one. If they can sense that, they will be confused and wary. Any confusion will weaken them, not knowing what to expect. They must be aware now that their long years of unopposed evil are ending and they are going to have to fight to hold on to their power. They don’t have any problem sending hundreds of thousands to their death in their endlessly manufactured power wars but it’s been a long time since they had to personally fight against an enemy.

‘Long ago they killed nine of us, including their own wives because these refused to join in their evil deeds and plans for this world. After that, except for my rather pathetic ventures and overtures to them they’ve had no one of consequence to worry about. That is all about to change.’

Deanna continued with the inner language conversation,

‘But since you and Nal are mates from before, why go through this human wedding ceremony? I don’t see a point to it.’

‘There are good reasons. One is to defuse some of the suspicions that may arise from the local representatives of the Church. They are sure to sense that not everything is as it seems with us. We do this also for the people, to let them know that we are with them, though we be different. The other is to demonstrate to Nal’s previous close male friends and hopefuls that she is indeed in a marriage relationship, thus preventing at least some heartbreaks and possible hotheaded challenges.

‘But the greatest reason is, I sense an alignment taking place, an ordained shuffling of forces, a great alliance never before seen to bring men, women, Elves, Alaya, Alay and the wolf clans together to destroy a great evil. We have more, much more to organize and bring about before we engage the final part of our mutual quest, but the pieces are coming together. Soon the board will be set and the game will begin in earnest.’

‘Will we have to cross that sea to challenge the sorcerers, or will they come to us on this land?’

‘We must find a way to bring them here and ensnare them. They have built too much of a force on the mainland; too many blinded and willing to die for them. We neither can take so many on, nor do we want this to turn into a long drawn-out bloodbath. We don’t want a war so we must endeavour to keep the numbers small on both sides and settle it quickly, ideally in a day or two. We will guardedly thought-touch them and dare them to meet us in the wilds to the south of here.’

Thus they exchanged information and finally reached the outskirts of Glowmere. They were challenged by a rag-tag but suspicious retinue of a dozen guards. Ian and his lady greeted them loudly and being recognized as neighbours and allies, they and their following were allowed to enter the fortified town.


The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I – The Calling

(Continuing with the saga in which many thoughts are expressed and many things are learned. This is chapter 16. There are 25 chapters in Part I and 25 more following in Part II. I’m writing this because some of you may want to know how much longer you have to suffer through this, others how much more to expect of a journey and adventure through the unlikely possible, or should I say, the possible unlikely.)

Chapter 16
Return to the Cottage – Introducing Genti

Nothing much had changed at the cottage when the travellers returned after their days on the trail. The barn was partially re-thatched but the rest of the long roof would have to wait another season for grass to be harvested for the thatching. Sheep wandered about or slept in the lower field. Pigs squealed and grunted in their pens. Chicken and geese wandering everywhere presented more of a cacophony. Apart from the noise of the animals reinforcing the fact that things had more or less returned to some normalcy, more logs and branches had been dragged in and stacked in ingenious ways to shed rain and provide dry firewood.

They saw men, women and children about, intent on their various duties or their games.

“Why aren’t they acknowledging our approach?” Asked Deanna.

“I’ve cloaked us in a semi invisible veil. I want to test how close the three of us can get to them before they notice us. Advance silently and quietly.”

They were almost among the people and still no one noticed, not even the dogs. A young boy lobbed a rough-sewn pig skin ball and Lo reached for it and held it in the air. The children stopped running and stared at their ball stationary in the air. One girl screamed and the adults turned to see what was the matter. Lo dropped the ball and gradually made the three of them visible.

Children, women, men, all stared at the three travellers mouth agape. Lo addressed them and explained.

“As you probably already suspected, and talked about among yourselves, we are more than we at first appeared. I used this little trick to prove the point, beyond our fighting abilities and speed which you have observed and wondered about. All three of us are in fact wizards or sorcerers as you will. We are of those who fight for what is right, good and just whereas there be some of us who work on the opposite side of it. Now let me reintroduce ourselves to all of you if you would call out anyone near enough to join.”

They waited while the people of the cottage were assembled to hear what Lo had to say. He could tell they were eager for this revelation, very eager, but perhaps not as much as the priest in Glowmere would be if ever appraised of this. Would there still be a wedding or would that change to a public execution by burning?

The people being assembled and Ian MacGruder having nodded his assent, Lo explained.

“Some of you remember the old tales about certain wizards called the Alas, do you not?”

There were nods and “Aye, there be stories still told of such!” from some of the older people.

“Two of us here are of these. I am the ancient Alay Lotharic, hence my nickname, Lo. This woman is the ancient Alaya called Nah’La and is my bound and eternal wife, as I am her bound and eternal husband. Together now after a very long time apart, we seek out two evil wizards we have dubbed  the Betrayers that we may destroy them before they do more damage here, or cause more wars and plagues.

“This third member of our group, this young woman, calls herself Deanna. She is of the Elven race and possesses powers similar to ours and some that are quite, how shall I say it, unique. She met with us and joined us when we went down to that fortified village that is called Torglynn. She has voluntarily chosen to join our quest and to fight for the defeat of the Betrayers.

“That is basically the long and short of it. We intend, if it pleases you, to stay with you for a few more days during which we will discuss our strategy and learn more about each other and our combined powers. There is another powerful member of this group but he prefers to remain anonymous and unseen. You will however hear him howling in the night when he turns himself into a werewolf. I say this because should any of you encounter him you need have no fear and he will be able to speak to you. As long as he is nearby, allowed to roam freely and no attempt made to molest him, you and your animals are fully protected from either man or beast.

“If for reasons of your own you wish to meet with this person, Deanna will lead you to him. Be aware that if your intent is treacherous, all of us including the werewolf can read your thoughts. If the wolf senses betrayal he will kill instantly, without qualms or remorse. The same is true of the woman, Deanna, for she and the Wolf have a bond that only the Elven people and the Wolf Clans can understand.

“I leave you to think upon these revelations. Realize that I have just taken you back into your old memories, traditions and ways. Remember what you once were before you were enslaved by these new ways, by the new Roman God and his violent religion of conquest and enslavement. Remember and perhaps you may regain some of the pride in what you once were.

“If you wish, you may appraise your village priest of our presence. If he is wise, he’ll do nothing about it. If he is as ignorant as most are, and I suspect he is, he will seek to do us great harm in which case the harm will go to him and those who side with him and try to harm us. If our lives are threatened, know that we will fight and kill those who attack us, however many there be. Would you mind giving a little demonstration, Deanna?”

The young woman looked over the rag-tag group with her flashing green eyes, tossed her hair back, raised her arm and pointed at a large stone near a line of trees that defined the edge of the common yard. The stone measures in the neighbourhood of eight feet in diameter, and partially rose from the ground to the  height of a man. She opened her hand palm out. Two heartbeats and the stone violently shattered, it’s debris scattered over an area of several hundred feet, leaving a hole waist deep to a man in the ground.

A collective gasp escaped from many open mouths accompanied by silence. Looks of confusion, of fear and of certain admiration if not actual worship were turned to the three wizards. It was Nal who broke the spell.

“All right, all right! Look folks, I’m still Beanna here. I’m your friend, not a stranger. These things that have come to pass, I knew nothing of them when I lived with you some months past. I thought myself an ordinary lass then and except for my skin tone, my dark almond eyes, black hair and small size compared to you, I would have been the same as you. That hasn’t changed. My powers are not meant for any of you, though I do have a new ability to heal, as does Deanna. This we will do while we are with you. Bring us your sick, your lame, those who have chronic pain and I will heal them, I mean we will heal them. Now, we be starving after so long on the trail, is there food available?”

There was cheering at that. MacGruder came over to Nal and grabbing her, hugged her in his powerful embrace. After releasing her he said,

“Aye lassie, ye and yo’re companions air welcome among us. No one will tell the priest anything I swear, we hold our secrets well in these parts, o’ necessity. Ye were not braggin’ about the healin’ then? ‘Tis true you can do this?”

“Aye sir, we can, and we will.”

“Please call me Ian. An’ I forgive ye fer the meddlin’ in my affairs afore ye left. What ye said needed sayin’. There be new weapons being forged from those we took from our attackers an’ I understand the need for ‘em. I thank ye, lass.”

Nal could not reply. She was choking and tears gushed from her eyes. Apart from her mother, Lo and Deanna, she had known so little kindness or respect through her short years that any amount overwhelmed her. MacGruder noticed and added,

“Ye be a fine girl, Beanna. If ye be half as much a wizard as ye are a good woman, this world owes ye a great debt o’ gratitude already and will owe ye much more. Come, let’s find ye some food.”

He took her small hand in his huge one and led her into the dining area where many had already gathered and were standing and sitting, or busy serving. Lo was on a long bench with several men discussing who knows what and Deanna was engaged in what certainly seemed to be a very serious talk with two tall strangers. A tall young blonde woman was sitting quietly and primly next to the lady of the house. The food came her way and she decided her hunger took priority. She waited for a perfunctory grace to be said then fell to.

The meal was boisterous as such things go but most of the conversation was of the common sort. People’s health, the animals, the weather and in that respect much about the powerful storm that had passed so violently and quickly to the south, bringing lighting and thunder, a thing seldom seen in winter. Several looks were cast at the travellers at the mention of the storm but these said nothing more than acquiesce to the general consensus, that it was unusual.

When the meal was over, Ian MacGruder asked the travellers to join him in a separate and private part of the house.

“First then, I wish to acquaint ye with me own daughter just returned to us from the north where she attended a special kind o’ training place for some chosen young women o’ the clans.”

The tall, slim and quite blonde young woman entered the room accompanied by her mother, Jen and solemnly bowed to Lo and Nal but said nothing, just straightening up and standing as still as if she’d been a guardsman on parade duty.

“This here is Genti, our daughter of whom we are beyond proud. She has been training in secret to become a priestess against the edicts of the Church. Despite the dangers, she chose to enter into this vocation, stating that she did not want to see our old ways die while she could do something about it. Genti is a strong and very disciplined woman who has twice refused a very good match in order to pursue her vocation. I’ll not say more but leave the rest of her story for her and her mother to tell.

“Now I wish to discuss the matter of the healin’ ye said ye could perform on our people and that ye would. We be in serious need of this gift. Is there some particular procedure ye need done for this?”

Nal answered, “No Ian, just take us where we are needed and we will do what we do. I will go with someone you choose. Deanna, will you go along with someone else that we may double up on our efforts for our time may be short?”

“Certainly I will do that. Someone lead me on.”

It was Genti who spoke, in a low but penetrating voice,

“If I may an’ it please ye, I would accompany ye to t’ sick, m’lady.” She said to Deanna.

Though the words spoke of a deep humility they could not hide the power and authority in them.

That is the “healing time” that would be talked about for long years thereafter when a greater, more eventful thing took place at the MacGruders and surroundings of the cottage than had been the cowardly attack that had killed three of their people. The story would also speak of how a daughter of the clans became a great healer in that time.

Sick, lame, those hurt or maimed in accidents, all were cured, including one young man of eighteen summers who had never been quite right in his head and a blind child of three summers who received her sight.

We often speak of how joyful people are when they are delivered from an enemy, when a war is won and the fighters return home in victory. But nothing can surpass the joy of those who receive their people cured from terrible diseases for which they thought there would never be a cure.

Imagine the joy of that mother of the three year old blind child, to realize her child could see after the Glowmere village priest had accused her and her child of having sin in their lives and pronounced the child’s blindness as a just punishment from God.

Imagine if you can the relief also from the many who were dirt poor, when they discovered that the wizards would take no payment, either in gold or in kind, for their healing services. Yes, it was a time of great rejoicing at the cottage that led to three days of feasting, music and dancing.

When the celebrations began and it looked as if they would go on for some time, Deanna confessed to Nal that she longed to join up with Wolf whose lonely calls she had been faithfully following.

“I need to go to him and run with him. I want to find out what he has learned and done about his own powers and how he can help us since he insists on coming along with us. Of course, he would never leave me.”

“Go then Deanna. You’ve done a great service to all now and it’s time for you to enjoy your own life. Talk to me when you are ready to rejoin us. Now listen, you can’t just shuck your clothes here for me to look after and walk away. You’ll need to find a dry place to hide them and you’ll need to wear them when you return. You will remember the human taboos on nakedness, will you not?”

“I will try. It’s silly but it is their law. Warn me when the festivities are coming to an end and I will return.”

Hidden from any prying eye, Nal and Deanna hugged each other and kissed passionately, chests heaving with desire for each other.

“Go, go before we do more. I know you cannot regret but I might and I don’t want to. I love you and you know that. All of us are caught in our own love triangles with you as the fulcrum and it is a terrible burden but I feel it has its purpose and that will be revealed to us soon. Go, find your mate and play. I return to Lo and the things of men and women and wizards while you deal with those of wolves and elves and wizards. Ah, what a motley bunch we are.”

Reluctantly she turned and walked away, back towards the cottage. When she turned, Deanna had disappeared. She scanned the sloping land and saw the large black werewolf and his huge light grey mate running across an open area then plunging into the woods. Then came the distinct calls as both went about performing their territory claiming rituals. Nal felt her heart grow heavy and began to doubt that Deanna would ever return to her as a human being, if at all.

‘I am being a foolish girl, letting love confuse my thoughts. I must be to the things that now concern us most, to the great confrontation that awaits us.

‘O, Lo, I fear for us. Perhaps it’s because of what happened to me before that I harbour this fear, but it is in me. The fear of unavoidable pain and of death. I feel it coming, Lo.’

Did he hear her thoughts? Did he sense her loneliness and emptiness? There was no response from him as she walked slowly and deliberately back to the feast. She heard the music, then the laughter. Night once again began to claim his rightful share of time and Nal stopped to watch as the huge fire lit as a welcome beacon threw its baleful glare up the walls of the great stone building, drawing portentous shapes upon them.

‘Fire’ she thought. ‘Fire, I have seen so many fires already, too many and their colour drains me of life.’


The Garbage Man – PART II

(Continuing then, with the story of the Garbage Man.)

CONTENTS DELETED.  If you need this section for reference, contact me via email:

A half mile and two rolling hills later Beanna and Edgar sighted the town. It wasn’t terribly fortified, having a combination of a low rock wall with an opening for the road, some part of the outer perimeter protected by a sluggish river and the rest a simple wooden palisade. At the gate stood two watchmen awaiting the arrival of this unknown pair.

I don’t have any healing skills!”

You do now, and you will soon realize how powerful those are at disrupting disease and death.”

{end of part II}



I Am your Instrument, Play on!

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

Deep in the cold, silent snow-dropping night
when reason gives way to a dreamy wonder;
when it has no reason to be, to exist,
I hear your angelic music. I don’t know
where it comes from. I don’t need to know.
I just need to listen and to feel the feelings it stirs,
feelings I have never felt and how strange is that?

If I listen with my heart, surely it will tell me
what the music is all about. Will it not?
What it has to say?  If indeed it is for me;
played for me?  Such a selfish, unworthy thought:
for me?  Why?  Since when is such ethereal music
played for fools awake in the middle of the night?
Fools who will not let themselves slip into sleep
for fear of dreams and portents of doom?

Yet your music plays on, sadly, wistfully seductive
and I have to listen with my heart; to feel, to feel
what the music interprets; what it is saying
to the night; into the night.  Into my mind and brain.
I want to kneel down and pray though we both know
I never pray.  I find no solace or gain in it.
Perhaps there is a good reason, perhaps it’s but pride:
I don’t even know. Not while your music is playing.

I want to stand and dance a wild dance, someplace,
where a full moon shines upon a glistening sandy shore
and I can hear small waves wash and die upon that shore
and smell their sea-grown treasures as they’re spilled
upon the sands, a free-will offering to the morning sun.
But I don’t dance either.  I just don’t. Too flaunty
I told myself long ago.  Call it reverse pride, or:
there was a lot of religion back there, self-denial.

But I listen to your music. There’s mystery in it.
Like me, and I am your instrument, aren’t I?  You,
you play me so well, and who else makes me smile
like this, foolishly? You are an accomplished harpist!
You give me such tantalizing vibrations, I could
collapse at your feet now, and die so happily… If
I wasn’t your instrument; if I did not belong to you.
If I were free.  But you know I don’t want to be free,
not from you, not from this ecstasy you give me.




[a short story   by Sha’Tara]

A restless wind whispers softly in the spruce on the edge of a small lake. Brightly shining stars and distant, paling northern lights cast eerie shadows in the late summer night. A great horned owl calls, answered by the howl of a timber wolf echoed over the waters. A startled killdeer gives its plaintive cry, repeated several times, then silence again. Glowing softly, a small campfire throws its own little stars into the night, their flickering, sinewy path changing to the mood of the breeze. A young woman sits near the fire, staring, unmoving, her dark eyes reflecting its dancing light. The minutes pass slowly as the stars trace their endless circle around the tail of little bear.

At a  chosen moment the woman stands and throws some broken branches upon the fire, watching intently as the flames leap up, crackling, hungry. She begins a slow dance around the edge of the fire, her bare feet moving through the drying grass, her footsteps blending with the lapping of wavelets on the shore and the sighing of the wind in the branches. She hums in a low monotone, unintelligible words passing her lips. Gradually, the song becomes more forceful. Proudly throwing back her head, her black hair cascading down her back, she lifts her hands up and starts chanting. The song rises and falls, hauntingly moving, echoes of ancient voices seeking words to an as yet unformed hope.

Her dance takes on a rhythmic pattern, her knee-length dress swaying as she approaches the fire then steps back lightly into the darkness of the trees, to reappear from another direction. Her voice rises above the trees, flowing through the rolling hills…

From the midst of the flame, a form takes shape, graying head bowed, hands held in blessing. The form addresses the dancer: “Daughter, what are you doing? Why dance with danger tonight? Why seek death? You are the hope of the people. Would you tempt the white man again and be accused of witchcraft? Would you die in his fire too? You summoned me… now answer me!”

Swaying gently, without looking at the flame, the song dying on her lips, she answers the vision: “I am your daughter. I cannot be otherwise and I have your heart also. You died to save me, mother, though I never asked it of you. Now, you are Fire Spirit. You live in the heart of the volcano at the centre of creation and possess the gifts of life and healing in full measure: would you deny me my own birthright and refuse me my homecoming?

There is nothing left here, mother. The people are ashes, spirits without homes. Those who remain are slaves eating crumbs from the hand of their conqueror. Should I fear a moment of pain and I too become a slave?

No, mother! Do not try to dissuade me. Tonight, I dance with the spirits under the stars. Tomorrow, I will dance in the fire. Then I’ll come to you and together we will prepare the medicine for the wandering spirits. We will rise with the breath of the sun in our mouths, awakening the land, shaking the ashes of the people in the winds until all becomes one and life pulses freely in the land again. I’ll see you tomorrow, mother…”

The flames died down and the vision vanished. She took up her chant and her dance, delighting in a myriad of physical sensations heightened by the knowledge that this was her last night on earth. In the morning, her relentless pursuers would find her. The angry new god would have his victim and enjoy a short-lived victory over the past. From his fire she would rise to become Fire Spirit and wrest the future from his bloody hands.


The Incompatible, Impossible Couple

A short story, by Sha’Tara

Introduction:  I was watching “Last Love” that amazing movie with Michael Caine and Clémence Poésy for the third time tonight.  I had my netbook on my lap to record passages in the movie when the following story simply jumped at me.  I don’t see that is has much to do with the movie, except perhaps the ages of the couple, and the fact that “Mr. Morgan” was a college professor, but anyway, here goes. 

“Hello, Matthew, I’m glad you decided to meet after all.”

“Hi, Giselle, what made you think I wasn’t going to show up?”

“Oh, maybe your way of showing a complete lack of interest in my doings?”

“I’m sorry,  my face is a complete traitor, plus I’m essentially an asocial person, I thought you knew, understood and accepted that about me?”

“I forgot, Matthew.  Should we order?”  I tried to make my voice hard and cold but I was trembling with fear inside, to the point of feeling sick.

“Yes, certainly.  Garçon?”  I moved to sit next to him; the meal was beyond excellent.  He talked then, and I listened.  Had there been company I would have had to do all the talking.  

That’s how it was with us.  Matthew and his French girl, the incompatible, impossible couple, they called us.  His friends from the college where he teaches English and Philosophy all speak English.  When they see my name written down, they call me Giselle with a hard “g” as in guide.  They make it sound like gazelle.  It’s their little joke, they know how to say my name.  I like the feeling the name gazelle gives me, it suits me somehow.  

We make a strange pair, there’s no denying that.  He’s a twice-divorced college professor who’s also over twice my age.  I’m a tall, somewhat skinny brunette who’s a landscape artist and arborist.  I spend most of my time outdoors, he spends his days teaching and interacting with people and he’s the one who’s asocial.  I love people as much as I love plants. 

We met on the bus a couple of months ago when I was having my truck serviced and forced to take the day off.  I was on my way to my Yoga class and he dropped a couple of books at my feet.  Before he could retrieve them I’d picked them up and as I handed them back to him our eyes met.  He has piercing blue eyes and very expressive hands. Call me a slut, but suddenly I wanted those hands on my skin.  And I wanted his lips on mine.  Just like that.  I was taken. 

“How would you like to come to Yoga class with me?”  I asked him.  Why?  Some things just have no explanation.  I wanted, no, needed, him near me.

“You don’t even know my name, I don’t know yours… did you say Yoga class?  I’ve never done Yoga; don’t know much about it except what I’ve read.  I don’t see the point of it, actually.”  He had a pleasant bass voice that filled my heart with instant and deep longing.  I wanted to swim in it, naked. 

“I’m Giselle.  You?”

“Matthew,  Matthew Hislop.   What’s your last name?”

“Oh, it’s Laliberté.  That’s my maiden name, never married.”  Then it struck me, why did I volunteer that information?  I know, I wanted him, and my woman’s intuition told me to make myself vulnerable, the best way to attract him in case my physical attributes weren’t enough.  Did I ask myself if he was married?  No.  It’s as if I knew he was free, available and could be mine. 

It worked.  I came to my stop, got off and he followed me. 

“Yoga class, Matthew?”

“Yes.  Why not?  I’m intrigued now.” 

We did Yoga together.  Two days and I was in his apartment making love with him. I was a twenty two year old virgin.  It was as wonderful as it was frightening.  I felt so terribly alone and vulnerable and sure of only one thing: I was lost in his maleness.  My lust turned to love and in his own way, he began to love me.  How could any woman leave such a man?

I learned how.  He did not engage.  It was as if he was always in two worlds, one that included me, an exciting convenience, a fun thing, a trophy girl, and another that no one would ever be allowed in.  I would have left him after that first week but my body would not let me.  I could not imagine ever encountering him when he wasn’t mine.  I was addicted to him, to his body, to his hands, to his voice and breath.  He exuded a kind of brutal magic I was powerless to break. 

Which brings me back to our dinner date at Michael’s where I had intended to confront his coldness.  It wasn’t going to happen, I already knew before I got there.  I was still taken, and I would remain taken unless his coldness became misogynistic.  I would never tolerate that, not ever.  Somehow, again that intuition, I knew he would never turn on me.

I would live my life with him and take care of him as he got older. 

I can imagine cutting his graying hair, trimming his eyebrows and ear hairs.  I can imagine even more personal caring.  Though he is a much better cook than I, I can also imagine the time when I’ll have to do it for him.  By then of course I will have learned to make his favourite dishes.  I can imagine my love for him growing in his cold soil.  I am that kind of seed that does best in a winter soil.  And I have a heart that needs to give.  He would fulfill that need for me.  With him I can imagine the unimaginable and thrill at the thoughts.  

I got lucky, there is no denying that, but perhaps he got even luckier. 



Is Technology just a Local Phenomenon in the Realm of Magic?


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

Despite the proliferation of fantasy writing and in movies, magic it would appear is long gone from the realm of mainstream teaching and belief.  People still go through some of the motions of ancient rituals based on magic (or call it mythology) but those rituals have been rendered quite mindless, being but tools in the hands of money grabbers to fool and despoil the public.  We (well, some) celebrate “special” days like Christmas, Valentine’s Day,  St Patrick’s Day, Easter, just to name a very few, the names changing from language to language but all based on myths whose sources go back into an unremembered prehistory.  These modern celebrations aren’t about magic; they’re about feel good and pleasure.  They’re about getting stuff, eating stuff, partying, families getting together to fight, get drunk or get stoned, and generally have a rip-roaring good time. 

These celebrations’ sources and power has been excised; that having been done deliberately and “with malice aforethought.”

Which brings me to the theme point: technology in the realm of magic.  Earthians may have been stripped of their sense of the magical; it may have been crushed under the jack-booted “Crusaders” of male-dominated Religions; it may have been denigrated by the new official religion called Science, but it wasn’t destroyed.  “Magic is the lifeblood of the universe” as quoted from the movie “Willow” and it doesn’t go away just because a group of pathetic priests and madmen in white robes armed with crosses, scimitars, test tubes and hypodermic needles decide to do away with it so they can wield all the power and render billions of people powerless within their blood-soaked hands.  Magic morphs into any number of forms, either to survive on a world, or to exercise some control without being unmasked and its purveyors being seen as “witches” of the past and in today’s parlance, “conspiracy theorists” or worse, traitors or “terrorists.” 

Magic is alive and well on planet earth, only it has become black magic, and its magicians and mages are students and workers of the blackest of arts.  Magic has morphed and ensconced itself in man’s Powers of Religion, the totalitarian State, Money and their frightfully obedient servant, technology. 

Like magic, technology isn’t evil (or necessarily a black art) in itself.  That is entirely dependent upon the wielders of the magic cum technology.  Greedy, sociopathic, narcissist, hate-filled people designing and using technology will spread mayhem and destruction in its wake.  Of that there can be no doubt. 

Here’s a question: can well-meaning magicians wield this magic to do good?  I suppose it depends on individual power and motive.  Medical science has gone to the dark side: can a doctor do good when working within that reality or established  order (or should I say disorder)?  Can he prescribe poisonous or addictive drugs, or give profit-motivated advice to  grind more “patients” through his clinic in one day, and still claim to be a healer?  Some will say yes, some no.  And that’s the problem: where’s the needed assurance?  

So, if technology is a form of morphed magic, what can we deduce from that knowledge?

We know, or certainly we should know, that magic requires balance.  When magic is thrown out of balance, as we’ve seen time and again through history, we’ve reaped plagues, wars, famines, revolutions, bloody religious intolerance, pogroms, genocides and even natural catastrophes.  Put simply, magic has consequences.   

Therefore, since our technology is completely out of sync with the natural order of things, and man (the species) itself gone off the rails in choosing to live an artificial lifestyle totally dependent upon this out-of-balance technology, what else can we expect but consequences to follow?  Life magic will go as far as nature or the environment allows and it will suddenly and inexorably sweep back its arm and nothing that man does (or doesn’t do) will matter an iota.

I think we are now seeing the beginning of that sweep-back through climate change.  It’s interesting how two forces have synced to create this condition.  At first it was called global warming and it was unilaterally blamed on man’s use of fossil fuels.  As it was analyzed by scientists and observers globally, the consensus swung and it was believed then that the phenomenon had two causes: natural, as in a cyclical planetary climate change combined with anthropocentric pollution.  No longer just global warming but global climate upset.  Whatever it’s called, what is experienced world-wide is an upset in climate patterns we had become used to.  We have entered the crucible of a pull-back state of change: black magic on its way to changing back into white magic. 

Man’s use of black magic though technology (and in that let’s be sure we include all the black arts of war from the days of the sword, spear, bow and arrow to nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction, as we must include the black arts of soil control technology, from ox-drawn plows to pesticides, herbicides and GMO crops) has had countless effects on the environment.  Some of that black magic, beyond extraction and burning of fuels includes radiation from nuclear power plants, nuclear powered ships, submarines and dirty nukes in war, and from their ubiquitous wastes.  Some take the form of destruction of forests as they are stripped for lumber to expose thin soils that can only grow crops with liberal doses of chemicals: fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.  Coal mining.  Crude and tar sands oil; fracking.  Deadly side effects of these are poisonous run offs into open and underground water systems which eventually poison all the waters of the planet, not just some: all of them.  No one is immune from this systematic poisoning of the world’s waters.  One disaster alone, Fukushima, may result in the death of the Pacific ocean, and check this out:

Then there’s the hardly-ever mentioned toll of pollution from endless warring. That’s a level of pollution that carries such a high level of moral and spiritual destruction the obdurate homo sapiens species may well terminate itself upon its altar.  

Black magic, all of that.  Black magic brings entropy and chaos.  As the pressure of chaos from change is increasingly felt, will the black magicians stop and allow nature to balance itself?  Not a chance.  Black mages never “come back” once they’re trapped by their own evil powers.  They can only push that much harder to maintain their own version of balance of terror, which is no balance at all. 

We think we understand “balance of terror.”   We’ve felt it during the so-called Cold War between the two empires: the USA versus the USSR or if you prefer, Fascist Capitalism versus Communist Capitalism.  When the USSR magicians lowered their shields it wasn’t to end the terror but to confuse; to blind the black mages of America into believing they were the last remaining ones on the planet; that they had all the magic; that they could roam the planet, oppress, extort, kill at will with no one left to oppose them.  But that USSR black magic only morphed from a mighty single empire or head into many lesser bodies, many lesser heads like the legendary Hydra.  By now USA black mages know they were outfoxed because of their blind greed but they can no longer back out of their relentlessly expanding wars. They’ve gone to the mattresses in a last-ditch effort to hold on to a power they can no longer either control or pay for.   

Thanks to modern thinking: the denial of magic and denigration of mythology as having any “real” significance in history, there is no Hercules to slay the Hydra.  That modern day Hydra will defeat the last black magic empire, and only after the necessary destruction has taken place will a hero arise to finally crush the Hydra’s power and cleanse the world with her passing.  Only then, after billions have died in horrible conditions; after all this modern black arts technology is destroyed, will Magic re-awaken on earth and balance the scales, as it is meant to be. 

Then… “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6 – the Hebrew scriptures)

You might be tempted to ask: who will be that hero?  And to that there can only be one answer: you, of course.