Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
"Dad, Is That Really Him?"
Last July at the Summerland Spirit Festival, we enacted the Rite of the Bride of the Forest.
The village maidens dance before the elders. The elders select the Chosen Maiden; they veil and crown her with flowers. We lead her down to the ford and the elders call the god. The god comes from the forest and the bride crosses the ford to him; they go together into the trees. We dance to honor the God and the Bride and lo! she returns, already great with child, bearing the blessing. The drums come up and we dance indeed. Party.
It's a good ritual, and always deeply moving: a community entering into a story together, giving of its own.
We're standing at the head of the path that leads down to Turtle Creek. Across the ford, the god comes out of the trees and down to the water's edge. He looks at us, and we look at him. He is naked and tall: his head is the head of a ten-point buck. It is a dangerous, wild beauty, like something from a dream.
I'm standing next to a little boy. I hear the indrawn breath.
“Wow,” he says. “Dad, is that really Him?"
The smallest of pauses. Then the father says, as much to himself as to the boy:
“Yes, son, yes, it is.”
My eyes fill up with tears. In that small exchange, profound, a world of mystery.
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