A fictionalised account of the hillside rite from the Land of the Exiles workshop 2014, extract taken from Doomsday: Dark Sage.
The seeing stone is chill against my spine as I wait for the dawn.
Their shades are close this night.
They are Wakeful.
I hear their whispers on the wind as the shift comes and I find them across the ages.
…She paints his eyes, smearing shimmering colour across the lids with gilded fingers. They work in silence in the yellow false-light. Garbed in black, they are not themselves. I feel them, yet something else overlays them, shadowing forth into the world; latent, coming, but not yet…not yet.
He leaves the place where she did not sleep; she looks into the cold surface that hangs like ice upon the wall, seeing other souls not her own. She is many, she is Three. I look through her eyes, as she looks through mine… seer and priestess… and the ‘Other’.
We are the Three that are ‘One’.
Painted eyes stare back, black rimmed. About her neck a heavy collar, she is crowned and winged with gold and power, girdled with stars. She steps back into the shadow of herself, opens her heart and I feel the shift once more, this
time through her. It is time.
…Their world seems strange to me… all sharp angles and smooth walls reflecting light, yet I read it through her, know its ways somehow. It is stranger still on this dawning when they have brought the ancient into the new… She knocks on the wood that hangs in a portal, three times. It is opened by the Green Man, robed in white and veiled, hooded perhaps, I do not know. His eyes show fear and his breath is sharp, ragged as she summons him to his death. Down they walk, he behind she. He is strange to me, this other one. Yet I know him, he too is of the three and power flows between. They enter a closed space, dimly lit with flames in the circle. The other one is there, yet he too is ‘Other’, robed in midnight, tall as the trees and masked… a black beast with golden eyes. They stand silent in the circle… three, six and nine I see, all the levels of their being that wait in abeyance while others come in. Black remains to call them to the rite, one by one. Gold and Green face the morning, walking silent through stone to the hillside starred with swallow-flowers and wet with dew. Higher they climb to the mound that looks out across the valley. Shaped like a tomb, a place of death in life and life in death. Beside them is a tree… and on it a crown of thorns.
She binds him; the black cords of death that tie him to life, the cords of life that tie him to the Mother. In his hands a crystal like the moon and at his feet the crown and the waiting earth. Power flows, around and between, cloaking them in its mists from the eyes of the profane. Eyes lock and she raises her wings, golden in the morning, taking him into her silence.
The Black Jackal, cloaked in night leads them to the rite, a dark snake of figures huddled against the chill of a spring dawn. Their garb is strange, the colours of summer flowers, stark against the green. They walk in silence as the Black One opens the way for them to pass. Higher still until they reach the mound and there they wait, looking up.
He circles, prowling the bounds of the sacred space, marking the circle with his footsteps in the dew, once around, bowing as she turns, revealing the Green Man to the Companions. The Jackal climbs the mound and Black and Gold salute each other, sparking lines of power crackle silently between them, bright white and gold, seen only through a seer’s eyes. They bow to the immobile, verdant form, locked in the lightless stasis of death until his heart is opened. The Black One speaks out “Let the star rise, let the flame leap!” His voice shatters the silence, opening the way on yet another level. The Golden One takes the crystal from the heart of the Green Man, raising it to the Sun, “Ours if the heart is wise, to take… and to keep!” As she speaks the sphere is returned, earth to earth accepted, while the Green Man stands empty.
On each side of him they stand as pillars of light and darkness. Deeper I look and see them night and day, the birthing of the golden sun held in the heart of darkness, the shadow of its death cased in gold. Three that are ‘One’, inextricable, interdependent for their being, and purpose, while overhead the Hawk flies free. One by one they come, called by the staff of the Jackal, close in his shadowed Light, held in his cloak. Softly he whispers to each of their destiny, of the Hawk that waits in their hearts, anointing them with fragrant oil that fills the morning with perfume. The Golden One takes them into her wings and as they pass before the Green Man they are held, poised between Light and Dark as they bow and gaze at the earth-held crystal, into the Heart of the Rose. The Golden Mother blesses them with the warmth of touch on each heart and the promise of life on her lips. From the heart of the Green One she takes a heart, entrusting it to their keeping, a symbol of awakening to Light and Life. Eyes meet eyes, heart meets heart, and life touches Life. Clasping the symbol they move beyond, standing on the other side of death… a true initiation for those who can encompass it. But one remains; the silent sacrifice, bound and immobile in the frozen morning. Black and Gold they turn to him. The Walker between the Worlds anoints his brow and, holding his eyes whispers his journey to the stars, the Mother warms his heart and with her touch come the words of life. He cries out, the Father who is the Son, like a babe’s first breath, wakened from death to the life of the heart.It is done. Golden wings enfold him, shrouding him in Light and one by one they leave the hillside silent, the rite accomplished.
Three remain, silent still, feet wet with dew. Three are quiescent, watching their Selves. The Three remain Other and holding the power for what is to come. Nine that are Three that are One.
… And I, shivering in the rain-damp morning against the Telling Stone, miles and ages apart, I am their witness.