Forever Never/The Dawn of Illusion
by Cheryl Pennington
copyright words, photos and art
Naofa drifts into fitful sleep as events in the villages of Espera and Jinetes unfold to fulfill the Prophecy. Souls find solace in recognition and devotion. The will of the Realm is coming to fruition on Domhan, much to the delight of the world’s inhabitants….
Eolas and Guia sat next to one another at the long table set for the evening meal. Guia explained that when it was not raining as it was this night, they preferred to eat beneath the stars and share with their horses. He told the Hunter that although the animals lived on grasses and drank from the river, the horsemen and hunters sometimes shared their fruits and root foods with them, for no greater friends had they known among the animals on Domhan. He urged Eolas to take his fill of food. “Eat well, my friend, for on the morrow we fast before the ceremony which begins when the sun falls behind the mountain. The moon will be full and all things will be revealed in the light of its watchful eye. In fasting we will be assured of the clarity of Spirit which will guide us in choosing our soul’s companion.”
Eolas looked at his new friend curiously and asked in all sincerity, “And how exactly will you make such an important choice in just one night? Have you known one another at all? It is my understanding that your tribe has seen the females of Espera merely at a distance before now.”
Eolas chose his next words carefully, not wanting to offend or confuse the situation. “My friend, Guia, is it prophesied...how you will choose your companion…if there has been no communion, no meeting? I saw nothing of the way in which the choice is to be made written in the scrolls or upon the cavern walls. What will prevent confusion over partnering should more than one male or female be interested in the same companion? What would happen then?” He raised another bite of the delicious meat to his mouth as he waited for Guia’s response. The latter was thoughtful for a moment, then he laid his own food aside and looked knowingly at Eolas.
“Tonight, as the blood moon reaches the peak of its rise to the darkness, we shall make a call to the village of females. As our songs rise above the forest, the open hearts in Espera will hear them and each will know from within their souls which among our tribe is meant for them.” He stuffed a large piece of meat into his mouth and chewed it thoughtfully. Eolas waited patiently, his mind not quite satisfied. He stared at Guia expectantly, waiting as he swallowed his food and continued. “When the song of Jinetes has been heard, each female in Espera will answer with her own voice, that voice which speaks in answer to every male’s heart. For this gift of knowing we will offer prayers of thanks to Spirit before we lie down to sleep. When the sun rises again, we hold ceremony together where we will again make our call to union, only this time as each female answers the call, she will join her soul’s desire as they raise their song of unity to Eternity.”
They sat in silence for a few moments while Eolas considered all that Guia shared. Of course it was not too incredible for him to fathom. He had seen and known miracle upon miracle since his own birth. But this miracle would surely be a sight to behold. He nodded his understanding, showing he needed no further explanation. He would trust in the Wisdom of the Realm and the understanding of these gentle humans. The other Riders were eating heartily and speaking of the new cycle, excited and nervous about this joining. Laoch sat among the group of males that bore his tattoo. They remained close to his side since the visitors arrived, and he seemed very at ease among them. Eolas heard his friend laugh heartily several times during the meal and wondered if Laoch had also been told of the unfolding of events that was coming.
As soon as they finished eating, he grabbed the chance to catch up to the Warrior. Seeing him emerge across the clearing, finally without his followers, the Hunter sprinted over to him to ask how things had been going. Eolas had been aware of a real change in his friend since they arrived in Jinetes. He saw the way Laoch seemed to stand taller and to smile more as he displayed a confidence that had been missing before they came to be among the Riders. Seeing this transformation in the Warrior warmed the Hunter’s heart; and when Laoch spoke there was a new kind of strength in his voice.
“These are generous, worthy humans,” he began. “At first I was ill at ease, knowing they wanted to join with me and fearful that they looked to me for guidance somehow…” He paused, searching for the right words to continue. “I did not want them to believe that I am any more gifted than they are-or anyone else who walks this crooked path of life. But when we spoke of their hunts, of their strong desire for companionship and the increase of Life and Light here on Domhan, I came to understand that they truly are acting under guidance from our Creators. They are here to help us, my friend.” Laoch gently pushed his clenched fist against Eolas’ chest. “It is good to no longer be alone in our world, is it not?” He smiled and his eyes betrayed the gentle spirit that was his true nature.
Eolas had to agree that it did indeed feel good to have friends by their side should the need arise to protect the heart of Domhan. “Tell me, Laoch, have you seen any signs of the empty space within their souls? Do any seem to feel threatened by our presence?”
They turned back to the clearing together, where already the dusky shadows had given way to shades of darkness as clubs were lighted and placed around the fire pit. The Riders put their animals into to the field for the night, and returned to the clearing, each bearing their own instrument of music for the Call of Union. Guia went to the Dwelling of the Sacred Word and returned with the box of herbs, choosing those which he knew would be beneficial and began carefully adding them to the fire. It crackled as if in protest and spat out colorful embers that drifted up over the treetops. Eolas thought to himself that it seemed a beacon to the neighboring tribe of Espera, signifying that the beginning of ceremony was at hand.
Indeed the embers glowing against the dark night were clearly visible; and the females of Espera were busily making their own preparations. Beneath the red curtain of the full moon, all in the village bathed in the cool, dark water of the creek, helping one another to cleanse their skin and hair with fragrant oils chosen and blessed by La Palabra. In sacred silence they dipped their soft bodies beneath the gentle flow, allowing the glistening water to caress their hot skin and rejuvenate their feminine essence. If the Jinetes had been watching, as the eyes of Darkness had been, they might have gone mad from the sight of so much beauty, the moon’s light glowing pink on their dark skin, the smell of sweet flowers filling the damp, heavy air around them. Then the females of Espera emerged, reborn, and climbed up the grassy banks to make their way to the center of the village. On this night they gathered in their nakedness, just as they had been born, to listen for the call of their beloved, unencumbered by the heaviness of their tunics and decorations.
So it happened that, at exactly the same moment, each inhabitant of Espera and Jinetes took their respective seats around a blazing fire, smoldering with acrid vapors that filled their nostrils, soothing their senses and allowing them to find the source of Original Thought. Each prayed that Spirit would help them to recognize the soul of their intended so that their choice would be true and their lives blessed upon Domhan.
Mother Palabra stood at the center of the circle, near the fire. She alone was dressed in her ceremonial tunic, wearing her feathered headpiece, clutching the medicine stick over her chest. Her medicine stick was made from the shell of the slow one, that creature which crawled upon the ground methodically, patiently and with purpose. Inside the hard shell were tiny pebbles taken from the creek bed, half of pure white and the other half black as night; for it took both of these to create the healing chant of the human soul. She stood with her arms outstretched, her face lit by the orange glow of the fire. She swayed slowly and began to hum, her voice winding itself into a long, low chant as she gently shook the stick so that the pebbles within made a rattling sound. It mimicked the sound of the ground serpent whose tale emitted such a sound; and each female felt the inner surge of awakening as the medicine serpent slithered from the base of her spine upward and into her heart. It was a euphoric, almost painful sensation, but they all remained perfectly still in acceptance of this gift of awakening.
The males of Jinetes heard the rattling sound as it snaked across the woodland floor and into their village, winding its way around their souls, its presence heralded by the call of Eternity.
Guia took his place before the fire pit with his tribe of Riders and Hunters surrounding it. The scene was much the same as in the village of Espera except the males wore ceremonial leathers. Eolas wore his tunic and headdress since he was not really a part of the joining; but he encouraged Laoch to participate at will, knowing he was a worthy companion and that his friend had a particular interest in the female village. The Hunter joined Guia where he stood before the others.
Soon Laoch was the only male who remained to play; but he put aside the wooden instrument which had been loaned to him. He knew for this his song to ring true, the sound must come from within himself, from his own hand and soul. He withdrew his own instrument, that which he made himself, and lifted it to his lips. He did not even notice the small, colored stones that tumbled out with it, falling to the dirt by his feet-cold and ignored before the fire of the moment.
All souls within the two villages bowed their heads in meditation and contemplation, wanting to commit to memory the sound of their own call as well as that of their companions. None would sleep easily that night; for the anticipation of the new day was too great…..