Archive for mythology

How The All-Mother Got Her Cloaks

Posted in Call Me The Seeker, Critter Tails, Hestia's Hearth, It's In The Cards, Soul Food Cafe Fun, Tarot Journey, You can do these! with tags , , , , , on 05/05/2010 by gwenguin1

How the All-Mother got Her Cloaks

 

All-Mother was always her happiest when she was with all of the lovely animals She and All-Father had created for our blue-and-green jewel in a far-flung arm of the Galaxy and Universe.  She would walk through the wilds and Her animals would put aside their daily lives and follow her in growing parade; where wolf and deer, bear, Cougar and sheep walked peaceably with small furry things, lizards, snakes, birds and frogs chatting as they scurried in the leaf-mould.

The larger birds all wished to perch on her shoulder in a friendly manner, but she had to remind them frequently to take care with their talons on her bare skin.  All of the animals knew that they could wound All-Mother without meaning to, despite being as careful as they could.

At night, All-Father and All-Mother rested beneath a blanket All-Mother had woven from bits of the animals’ shed fur that was caught on thorns.  She spun it in the evening, singing a wordless lullaby in time to her foot on the pedal of her spinning wheel.

One such night, while All-Father and Mother slumbered, the animals met deep in the forest.

 “All-Mother needs some protection, not just from our claws, but from the weather as well.  In deepest Winter I have watched Her shiver as She scattered food on the snow so we would not starve.”  Bear spoke in his slow, deep-thinking way.

 “What can we do?  Any of us would gladly give Her our skin, but She would not allow us to harm ourselves so.”  Wolf’s yellow eyes were sombre. 

“Some of our hides would do less than nothing for our Dear All-Mother!!”  Chipmunk’s busy little voice was barely audible.

“My hide would not protect our All-Mother from the cold.”  Snake’s words were sibilant and hypnotic. 

“Agreed, my skin will only repel water.”  Salamander ‘s words were mournful.  “That would not keep her warm at all.”

“No it would not work for warmth, but she would appreciate shelter from the rain.”  Owl spoke from his perch on a hollowed oak.  “Perhaps what we should do is this…” He laid out a plan all creatures thought was brilliant, and all agreed joyously to participate in.

Night after night, every animal in the wilds passed by Owl’s tree to contribute to the gifts for their All-Mother.  Every animal gave a piece of hide; each allowed their own choice of where the hide came from.  Almost unanimously the animals chose a place closest to their hearts to show how much they loved All-Mother and Father.

 Pride after pride of Lions strode to the secluded glade; those noble kings donated two kinds of hide.  The males shared their glorious manes, and the females shared their bellies, warm and golden. That is why to this day Mother Animals will have bare places on their bellies.

The Zebras all offered either white or black stripes, so that their stripes could be reproduced.  On the soft ground their hooves made no sound as the herds deposited their gifts

Bears all shared their shaggy hide, whether it be black, white or any colour in between, they took the hide from nearest their hearts, to show their love for All-Mother.

 The wee rodents also offered their hides; tiny bits could be added together to make a section of squirrel, or chipmunk.  There were also small pieces that fit a place too small for a large animals’ hide.

Other great cats, the leopard and cheetah, jaguar and tiger also gave of themselves happily for All-Mother’s comfort. 

 The wee housecats also gifted their fur, and stayed to encourage others when they came, as well as guard the glade from All-Mother during the day.  Their defence consisted of racing through the trees until they met up with All-Mother, and then they tripped her up ecstatic snugglings, silken head-butts and purred cries for attention.

Wolves, by the pack, or the Lone Wolves who forsook their solitary ways to give their coats to All-Mother, even the cubs added their baby fluff to the Wolves’ donation.

 Dogs trotted in with their tails wagging and tongues lolling, as happy as could be to be serving the All-Mother.  The ones with the greatest hearts remained to soothe the tender places left after the bit of hide was gifted.  They also set themselves to lead All-Mother astray from the glade; they would easily inveigle Her into a game of tug-of war or chase-the-stick

The horses trotted through, gifting from their long, graceful manes to trim the fronts of the cloaks, they studied the growing pile of gifts and nodded their heads approvingly.  They also offered to carry the hide from animals that could not travel on land.

 The seals, sea lions and Walruses gave their waterproof hides to go around the face of All-Mother to keep ice from forming.  Their barks of happiness could be heard in the faraway glade.

When the parts for the gifts were all together the insects took every little piece and cleaned off any mess on the skin, and then combed them with their legs.  When everything was perfect spiders took their turn, as did the silkworms.

 Slowly, four magnificent cloaks began to take shape; all of them held a small piece of every animals’ hides.  The spiders and silkworms sewed them together, with all of their eyes focussed on how prettily the pieces were fitted, and how the patterns and colours complemented one another.

Often the spiders and silkworms would stop to exclaim in delight at how well certain pieces of fur would match.  ‘Look here, how the mane of the lions looks with the coat of the panthers next to it’, or, ‘Doesn’t the red of Foxes’ coat look even more striking next to Zebras’ stripes.’

Two cloaks were all of fur, warm and comfortable; and would fit All-Father and All-Mother perfectly.  The second pair was of the skins of snakes and reptiles, and rubbed to a soft gloss with the oils donated by otters, beavers, and other water mammals.

The birds were unhappy about being unable to contribute to the cloaks, until Owl told them what they could do for All-Mother’s comfort and pleasure.  Bird after bird perched next to Owl and pulled soft down from nearest their hearts. 

The Spiders and Silkworms wove soft grasses, and then they were stuffed with the down to form a soft bed for All-Mother and All-Father.  There was enough of the soft grasses and down to make small cushions for them to rest their heads on as they slept.

Finally all of the gifts were ready.  The animals were all in a swivet awaiting All-Mother’s response to their generosity.  The next day as All Mother visited Her creations the animals began to slowly lead her in the direction of the cloaks.

 The flowers scattered petals on All-Mother’s path, as they always did, as the leaves on the trees danced for joy when All-Mother came their way.  She would pause to smell a flower here, and embrace a stout tree as She was led by the parade of animals closer to the Glade of Gifts as it became known.

The All-Mother entered the Glade and stopped with Her mouth open; from sturdy branches hung two cloaks in a patchwork of all of Her animals’ fur, more branches held the cloaks of reptile skins; before this was the soft cushions full of down.

“Oh!  My dear Creations, such love is in these gifts!”  She turned to the animals with tears in Her eyes, now She could see the small patches where they had donated their hides for Her comfort. Overflowing with love and reverence All-Mother healed all of the small patches, leaving them bare.

 And that my loves, is why all of the animals will have a bare patch somewhere on their body.  So now, when you see your animal’s bare spot you will know that the All-Father and All-Mother do exist and that they love us very much indeed.

 What has this to do with our Tarot Journey?  The High Priestess is the one that teaches us how to honour the All-Father and All-Mother in everything that we do.

Mysteries are not communicable

Save to those who know.

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The Portal In My Front Yard- Pt. II

Posted in Soul Food Cafe Fun, The 3rd Enchanteur Journey with tags , , , , , , , on 31/07/2008 by gwenguin1

The Portal In My Front Yard- Pt. II

 

As we sat over dinner, the conversation fell to everyday things; when to hunt, was the stream drying up, would the harvest hold them through the winter.  It was after this that the Shaman rose and motioned me to follow him along a rough, dim passageway deeper into the mountain.

 

We passed lovely cave paintings, deer rendered with consummate grace, the wolfdogs were chasing a herd of shaggy buffalo closer to hunters, whose every line was taut with waiting.

 

A group of women bent to the harvest with love and gratitude to the Great Mother.  A startlingly real lion snarled from a shadow, so alive I had to pause and admire it further.

 

“Oh this is beautifully rendered!!”  I couldn’t help but follow the lines with a wondering fingertip.

 

There were small bowls, painstakingly chipped and rubbed smooth from stone, each with a different earth-toned paint in them.  I dipped a fingertip in one and drew the eyes of an owl, and then I added the beak, the sleek form of a perched owl, and a sturdy branch for him to perch on.

 

“Yes, your ancestress painted some of these, and her mothers before her.  I see you know of your Spirit Guides.”

 

“Yes, Owl came to me when I was born.”

 

“Come with me, I have much to show you before morning.  Your familiars have caught up with us, and now they will not get lost.”

 

I followed him to a small room carved into the stone, just large enough for the two of us to sit cross-legged on the floor with a tiny fire between us.  Pye and Skye each claimed a portion of my lap and settled for a snooze.

 

He began to hum, forcing the air to resonate on his sinuses, I joined in; when my cats felt my humming they began to purr to the rhythm of the Shaman.

 

I could feel myself slipping into a light trance and I let it happen; the Shaman spoke without words: “For you to continue, you must know how your kind came to be.”

 

I began to see images, slowly focussing and growing closer.  I was on a lovely, large tropical island, and there were two distinct forms of humanoids, there were the cavemen-type, standing straight and proud.

 

 I was closer to the second kind, tall, smooth skinned, and clothed in flowers, grey-blue tattoos and a woven skirt in the shades of a tropical sunset.  I wore necklaces, bracelets and anklets made of shells and coral, with pearls scattered amongst them.  As I moved through the throngs of people the shells clinked together making a quiet tune to my movements.  

 

We were on the shore, where enormous canoes of tree trunks, woven lashings and tar rode the waves with comfortable grace.  They were decorated with garlands of flowers, woven so closely together that the petals of one blossom crowded the next.  Their sails were painted with sigils of protection and signs of peace large enough to be seen from a great distance.

 

I was handed into the largest canoe, with a mixed crew of the cavemen types sitting on either side of me.  A great portion of the canoe was taken up by foodstuffs, both for the coming journey and as gifts for the people where we going to. There were living animals tethered in another canoe, and a third was heavy with the handiwork of the people.

 

Carvings, painted wooden plaques, shell and stone jewellery were neatly stacked along with woven platters, bowls and colourful screens.  Piles of brightly dyed, soft, woven cloth painted rainbows in the belly of another canoe.  There were some bowls, cups and mortars with pestles smoothed from stone in yet another canoe. 

 

The journey was begun; the crew and I sang songs to the stars as we rowed across an ocean of impossibly blue depths, and lazy swells were pushing us toward our goal.  More often than not, the wind was in our favour and we could hoist sail and tend the canoes themselves.

 

Gradually the weather became rougher, and the water coldly green; we passed a headland and breathed a sigh of relief for we knew the most dangerous part of our journey had been passed.  The skies cleared and the water changed again, now a lovely deep green, warm and beckoning.

 

Soon a smudge appeared on the horizon, after three days of rowing we could see the island, surrounded by an almost impenetrable brackish marsh.  We were met by one of the tall, smooth-skinned humanoids, a handsome, passionate man commanding a seemingly gigantic craft of his own.  The sturdy wooden sides were carved and painted with complex symbols and the Matrons of the ship were carved, painted and set onto the prow of every ship.

 

He and I spoke at some length, about the time being short and this would be the last chance for ‘them’ to stay.  Those that had come to love the cavemen and their world as I had, didn’t want to leave this world and travel to one we did not know, not even though we had been assured that we would be welcomed.

 

He agreed, and said that he would gather those that did not want to leave, and they would follow us to the island I called ‘home’.  Within two days there was a fleet of some dozen boats, all dwarfing my beloved flotilla of canoes.  At last the man that I had spoken with reappeared, with the final two craft.

 

We spoke again in length, and at last agreed that if the commanders and crew of the other vessels took some of the natives of ‘my’ island to wife or husband, their acceptance would come more easily to his people, by my people.

 

I agreed, and the men of his people asked how they would need to take my people to wife; I explained that they would need to pay a bride-price to her family and then ‘steal’ her in a ritual that culminated with their wedding feast.

 

The women asked how they could tell a man of my people that they desired to be taken as his bride.  I explained about how a bride’s value was determined by what she could bring into the marriage.  A woman showed a man the many things she could bring to the marriage, all of them made by her hand.  She showed these to the man she desired, and then, if he desired her, he would speak to her family about the bride-price.

 

Most women’s’ bride-prices were in goods, servants, and property; a very, very few were valuable enough to merit not only the usual price, but an additional price to be paid to the bride herself in precious stones, metals, and such.

 

I watched happily through the return journey as my men took the other women to wife, and the women of my people promised to show their goods to one man or another of the shining ones.  Soon, the crews were no longer separate peoples, but one crew spanning many vessels.

 

Through all of this I desired the commander of the fleet I led to my home, the first man that had met us at his island.  I did not offer to show him my goods, for I was sure he desired another woman, one both lovelier and younger than I.

 

Each day I expected to be asked to arbitrate their marriage, which I would do gladly for the love of them and of our people.  We were counting the days until we would see my home shining in the sweet seas; the shining ones had nearly ceased to think of themselves as different, and were gradually becoming native in their lifestyle and values.

 

The first time a shining one was swimming and was greeted joyously by a dolphin was perhaps my happiest day.  It was the first time I had seen wonder on an shining one’s face, and the joy on all of their faces as an enormous pod, almost 200 strong, of dolphins led our fleet across the blue waters, were like a heady drug for me and I stood in my canoe, singing to the dolphins in the natives’ language.  The dolphins’ easy acceptance of the shining ones augured well for the success of this journey.

 

My home was a cloud on the horizon when we saw the flames of the shining ones’ people that were returning home, their airships rose impossibly high and then joined the stars in the heavens.  Everyone sang a song of farewell as the airships disappeared.

 

After this we were impatient to reach our home and feel solid ground beneath our feet again.    The crew was impatient, and redoubled their efforts to gain the shore soon.  As I sat in my canoe, and read the skies for direction the commander of the fleet sidled his personal vessel close to mine and bade me join him in his quarters.

 

After I had boarded his vessel, and greeted many of the crew, we wthdrew to his quarters; he bade me sit upon his hammock and he sat beside me.  He started speaking slowly, with a few false starts;  “I hope this will not offend you…” He ran shaking fingers through his hair.

 

“I have been watching you through this voyage, and now I must ask this of you.  Would you tell me your bride-price, that I may win you as my own.”

 

He opened a small, ornate chest and held a handful of shimmering golden chains, bracelets and suchlike out to me.  “This I will pay to you, and everything I have I will offer to your family when we have arrived home.”

 

My heart sang so that I could not speak for a moment, and I had to swallow many times before I could force any words out.  “I am shocked, I had long ago expected you to ask for someone else.”

 

“Am I not offering enough?”  He sounded genuinely hurt.

 

“It is not that.  I have no bride-price, for I have no family to ask it of.  I have been an orphan since I was born, and was raised by everyone.”  I covered my face to hide my shame.

 

“I knew your sire, he was the first of us to take a native to wife.  He was driven out of the shining ones’ for this, and sought shelter among the natives.”  He lifted my face and smiled.  “Among shining ones, your bride-price would be one of the highest, for your father was founder of both the shining ones’ island and your island.  I only dared ask your bride price because my father also founded the shining ones’ island.”

 

“I will be honoured to show you my goods when we reach Lemuria.”  I kissed both of his cheeks and smiled back at him.  We returned to the deck and as soon as the crew saw the chain around my neck they began shouting and cheering.

 

The next evening we arrived at Lemuria, and everyone poured onto the beach to welcome us.  Fathers greeted new sons-in-law and mothers clasped new daughters-in-law to their chest, all of this done with noisy laughter, a great deal of embracing, and more than a few tears of happiness.

 

I stood on the beach of home and watched my ‘family’ grow larger by the second and I felt I should glow with happiness.  When everyone was beckoned towards a feast that was cooking in giant pits of glowing coals and in kettles on the edges of the fire I joined them, laughing, dancing and singing along the path to the village.

 

The feast lasted until almost dawn, with stories of the Journey being shared and performed around the fire-pit.  As many of the people retired to their homes I approached the Matron of our people.

 

I asked her permission to show my beloved my many goods.  I also showed her the golden chain I wore around my neck and told her of the chest full of such things he had offered to me.

 

“Tell your young man that your bride price will be this:  I ask him to send his ships around the world to seed oour people everywhere, but.”  She held up a hand to silence me.

 

“He must remain here, with you, to become the leaders of our people.  Together, man and woman as it is meant to be.  With you as the next Matron I can go easily to the stars, knowing that my family will be cared for with love and honour.  Now. Show your mate your goods, as I saw you come from his quarters on his ship, I could tell that he has already taken you to wife.”

 

In the years that followed my mate and I watched the population of our island grow great enough for seeding many times.  Each time we sent another boat filled with those to seed our world with the children of the shining ones we did so with joyous songs and days long celebrations.

 

Although I never brought a child to our union my mate and I were happy in the knowledge that we were doing the best for our combined peoples, and our adopted world.  We would never know if our ‘seeding’ flourished or no, we could only pray that it was so.

 

After many years my mate returned to the stars and as I sang his body to the deeps my spirit knew that he and I would meet again one day, and that we would know the joy of our bond once again.

 

I came back to the little stone room, and felt the tears soaking my face, yet I did not feel sad, but blessed to know my beginnings on our world.

 

“I need not ask if you saw what you needed to, I can see that you did.”  The Shaman reached out, caught one teardrop on a fingertip and kissed it reverently.

To be continued: