© 2008 Mike Kimera All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without written permission from email@example.com
Magda tried to control her nervousness as she stood on the edge of the clearing waiting for the procession to begin. To calm herself she took a final sip at her cup of mead, relishing the warmth of the drink and the spicy tang of the herbs it contained.
At last, when the moon rose, full and round, above the trees, bathing the clearing in silver, Naeve, the high priestess, took hold of Magda’s hand and stepped forward with her into the circle of standing stones.
The night was cool and the moss beneath Magda’s bare feet should have chilled her but she was burning with so much energy that it surprised her that her own skin did not glow with heat.
Neave led Magda in a straight line towards the stubby slab of granite that stood proud of the moss in the centre of the circle. Magda had been taught that the Goddess had pushed this nipple of rock up out of the earth to give the tribe access to her power. Now she, Magda, was to stand on the sacred stone and become the vessel of the Goddess.
As Naeve helped her climb up onto the granite, Magda looked around the circle and saw the remaining women walking slowly around the edge so that each woman could take up her position in front of one of the nine standing stones. When the last woman took her place it seemed to Magda that all noise stopped, as though not even sound could now enter the circle.
Still holding Magda’s hand, Naeve spoke into the silence.
“Tonight,” Naeve said, “autumn turns to winter. Tonight we accept the dominion of death. Tonight we invoke the power of the Goddess to grant us the promise of renewal. Tonight we celebrate the Festival of Samhain.”
It seemed to Magda that the stone beneath her feet became warm at these words. She took this as sign from the Goddess that she would be granted to the strength to succeed.
“It is time, Magda,” Naeve said.
Turning to face the High Priestess, Magda pushed her robe off her shoulders and let if fall until she was standing naked in the moonlight.
Naeve looked at her and smiled. “You are ripe,” she said, cupping Magda’s breast, then sliding her hand over the soft plane of her belly to the thicket of rust-red curls that grew between Magda’s legs. “You will be blessed.”
Madga blushed under the older woman’s touch and smiled shyly. She could not bring herself to meet the gaze of the nine women who encircled her, yet her mind danced with joy at Naeve’s words. If she, the vessel of the Goddess at the feast of Samhain, bore fruit, the cycle of death and renewal would be ensured and the whole village would rejoice.
Naeve guided Magda to stand with her arms out, her legs parted and her face raised towards the moon. Naeve stood behind her and braided the wild comet-tail of red tresses that marked Magda as beloved of the Goddess. When this was done the first of the nine women walked forward and offered a thimble of mead and a circlet of holly. Magda drank the mead in one swallow and placed the circlet on her head. The surge of power was immediate and unmistakeable. Her spine straightened and she felt the first flicker of arousal. Magda understood that her dedication to the Goddess had begun.
Syr, the dryad could feel her strength waning as the world turned towards winter’s cold embrace. Without nourishment she would not survive. Sometimes that thought was attractive. The older she became, the stronger the attraction grew. She had often seen the oldest of her kind, when they found that all that had once bound them to the slow vibrant pulse of mother earth had decayed and rotted away, refuse to seek nourishment, preferring to slip unprotesting into the darkness.
The thought of those life-consuming shadows made her tremble and the boughs of the ancient oak in which she lived groaned as if wracked by a strong wind. Called back to her duty, the dryad put aside thoughts of death. Samhain was arrived. Already the villagers had gathered the hazelnuts and mistletoe that they would grind into the sacred mead. The dryad had worked her magic on the fruits of her tree. All who drank the mead would feel lust’s heat and offer it to the Goddess and her sacred oak. Then the dryad would feed and wrap herself in love’s warm mantel all winter long.
Aillen stared into the heart of the bonfire that dominated the centre of the village but the heat was so intense that he had to turn his face away from the light. It seemed to him that that was the natural order of things; a man can only do so much in the light, some things require shadow.
Tonight’s work was necessary. It was an honour to be given such a task and yet it would be a strange man who took pride in it.
Yesterday, Naeve had taken him to her bed, to strengthen him, to make him a better instrument of the Goddess, although Naeve of course said that she claimed him because he needed her love. She had ridden him slowly and skilfully, in shadows cast by the hearth. She had pulled from him such need and such pent up sorrow that he thought he would burst from the pressure of it. Then, at the point when he could no longer bear it, she had granted him release. His pain had flooded out of him, leaving behind, if not forgiveness then, at least peace.
Naeve had settled herself along the length of him, increasing his sense of ease by adding the comfort of her affection. With her head on his chest and her voice low and soft she had told him the things he needed to hear:
“There is no light without shadow. There is no life without death. There is no love…”
“without loss” he’d said, completing the trinity for her.
He held her, remembering the still-born children that were all he had ever been able to gift her. Neither of them had spoken. Sometimes truth can be answered only with silence.
Now Samhain was here and it was his job to bring death, hers to bring life.
The drumming had started. The beat gave voice to the pulsing heart of the Goddess. Men rose and started their slow, stomping dance around the fire, pounding out the wheel of birth, death and renewal. They tossed their shoulder-length hair vigorously and rhythmically from side to side as they danced, celebrating the ebb and flow of the love of the Goddess through the world.
Aillen bent and picked up the stag’s antlers that he had been working on. He checked that the thorns were firmly attached and then, with one last look into the light of the fire, he turned and ducked into the stable that held Fionn.
Fionn, wild, sometimes wicked, Fionn had been selected to be Cernunnos, the horned god, at the Samhain feast. The selection had been made a Beltane. At first nothing much more was required of Fionn than that he be himself. True he pulled more women down in the fields than before, but it was summer and it seemed appropriate.
As the seasons turned, Aillen had taken charge of Fionn, determining what he ate and drank, who he fought, and how often he bedded. Now the change in him was almost complete. Fionn was ripe for his role in tonight’s feast.
At the sound of Aillen’s approach, Fionn struggled insanely against his bonds and called out a wordless challenge packed with male rage.
Close up, Aillen could see the rapid pulse of Fionn’s heart in the swollen veins on his forehead. He was like a horse driven to run and run until its heart fails. There would be no stopping, no turning away. Cernunnos had arrived and Fionn was headed for the shadows.
Moving quickly, Aillen used the thorns to bind the stag’s horns to Cernunnos’ head. Blood ran down the god’s face but he seemed to feel joy rather than pain, for his mouth spread into a wide grin and he tossed his head wildly from side to side.
Aillen did not let himself turn away. He wanted to remember the details of what had been done here. “There is no love without loss,” he said, quietly. Then he turned towards the beat of the drum, to find the men who would help him tie their god to a tree.
Magda was more alive than she had ever been. She could taste life. Not just her own but those of the women around her. Life tasted… like you could never have enough of it, ever.
She looked down at herself and understood that her ability to sense life, no to call life to her, was a consequence of the sacred symbols painted on her body. There was one symbol for each of the women in the circle. And each woman had brought her more mead. So much mead that Magda felt her blood itself must now be amber.
Like all the women of the tribe, Magda had known since puberty the meaning of the symbols painted onto her. Now she could feel their truth burning into her, bringing the Goddess to her.
Her dedication to the Goddess was almost complete. Naeve had used her fingers to smooth blue dye in concentric circles around Magda’s nipples and navel. With each circle Magda felt the warmth of the Goddess flow through her.
Now, with a fine brush made from badger’s hair, Naeve was painting the runes of fertility on the insides of Magda’s thighs; making her open legs into a poem in praise of fecundity.
Taking another sip of mead, Magda allowed her mind to turn to Fionn. She had known Fionn all her life but she felt as if she had never really seen him until his selection at Beltane. All summer she had watched him, knowing that she could not yet have him. Now she summoned up the memory of his broad shoulders and narrow waist; of the way the muscles in his back rippled when he lifted things; of the perfect ripe roundness of his arse and the searing blue of his eyes. She was glad that he had been favoured by the Goddess in the stave fights and the apple bobbing at Beltane.
Now he would be the vessel for Cernunnos, horned consort to the Goddess. She wondered what it would be like to taste his flesh, to feel his large hands holding her, to be impaled upon him before the eyes of the village. A shudder, both dread and joyous, flowed though her.
Naeve stopped painting. The last symbol was set in place on Magda’s soft skin. Naeve passed her finger lightly between Magda’s swollen labia and brought it away glazed with dew.
“Your dedication is complete,” she said, bowing her head, “Welcome, Goddess.”
Fire so close to her was always alarmed the dryad, even when it was expected. The dryad held back her fear of the flames and focused on the fierce energy coming from the short-lived folks who circled the fire and inflamed the night. Their passion would be her survival.
She reached out into the fast moving thoughts of the men and drew them to her. In their centre was a strange beast, with the antlers of a stag and body of a human. His mind screamed aggression. He was consumed by the rut. That was how she knew him: Cernunnos
She made it seem right to the nine men holding the ropes that bound him that hers was the tree to which Cernunnos should be bound. She rejoiced in the heat of his back against the trunk of her oak and the passion that he spent in trying to break free from the ropes that held his strong arms to the boughs above his head. This one was young and full of sap. The dryad prepared herself to feed.
Magda’s eyes shimmered with darkness, so wide were her pupils. Night was as bright as day to her. She could see the spirits of the dead and the living as bright colours throbbing with desire.
The brightest colours of all came from the large oak tree. Cernunnos looked magnificent. His head was thrown back. His arms stretched up towards the branches above him. His antlers thrashed noisily against the trunk of the tree.
As she approached him Magda felt the symbols on her thighs grow tingle and her desire quicken. She knew that Naeve was saying the words that began the ceremony but their meaning was lost to her. Her eyes were locked on the chaotic energy before her. Cernunnos was magnificent but he was out of control. The ropes that tied him to the tree bound his body but not his rage. Unleashed he would rend and tear until nothing was left except his will and its consequences. Magda understood that the Goddess would take this maelstrom of energy and shape it into something that lived and breathed and had a will of its own.
Naeve knelt before Cernunnos, stroking his manhood until it curved cruelly towards his flat belly. The men started to chant as Naeve drew the first symbol of power on the engorged phallus.
Magda turned proudly to face her people. When she reached between her legs and started the slow circular movement that would invoke the Goddess for the first time that night, the woman added a breathy descant to the growling chant of the men. The song and the drums lifted her and drove to work upon herself. Suddenly warmth flooded her and the whole forest seemed to her to be filled with light. She was both inside and above her body now. The Goddess was had entered her vessel.
At a signal from Naeve, two of the priestesses guided the Goddess towards her consort. Magda saw that this was not Fionn before her but Cernunnos: his eyes were wide and veined with red, his chest heaved with effort and the tip of his swollen penis was almost purple. Truly he was now the horned god.
The women lifted Magda’s small body easily. Spreading her wide, they lowered her gently onto to the hard curved arrogance of Cernunnos’ aggression until she consumed it, engulfed it, made it hers.
A wave of orgasm hit Magda as she reached the base of his hardness. She relished how completely he filled her, as if they were two parts of a sculpture, now made whole. The priestesses placed her hands around his neck. Close up she the thorns used to braid the antlers to Fionn’s head[m3] . She felt some pity until she saw the lust in the eyes that burned beneath that bloodied brow.
Magda pressed her breasts into his broad chest, pulled herself upwards, arched her back and slammed down against him. Behind her, the chanting kept pace with the rhythm of her rut. Her consciousness narrowed to his flesh and hers and was then unable to make even that distinction. There was just flesh and lust and movement.
A second wave of orgasm took her when she bit deep into his neck and broke the dam that held back his seed. He flooded her, sweeping up into her womb and crashing down across her mind until all was heat and darkness.
Aillen watched the young woman, the vessel of the Goddess, was lifted unconscious from the horn that still jutted up from between Fionn’s legs and carried away to recover a little before rejoining the feast. Within seconds, another woman had impaled herself on Cernnunos. Aillen turned away and found himself facing Naeve.
“You look disgusted.” Naeve said.
He made no reply. She took his hand in hers.
“She wants to be blessed with a Samhain child” Naeve said, “that’s why she climbs on him so eagerly.”
“And his “charmed” flesh will stay hard all night.” Aillen said. “But by morning…”
“His heart will fail. There can be no life without…”
Aillen spat upon the ground.
“This is not new Aillen. Why does it trouble you so this year?”
“This is your last year, I think.”
“My last year…”
“To be blessed. So I’ll leave you to the horned one and your hope.”
Naeve moved in front of him, preventing him from walking away from her.
“Don’t you understand, Aillen,” she said, lifting his large hand to her mouth and kissing it. “I already am blessed, and you are my hope.”
The Dryad felt young and invigorated. In the soft moss that covered her roots humans in couples and threes and groups were flaring with passion as they invoked the Goddess.
Cernunnos still strived for release with each woman who came to try the power of his rut and offer her womb to his seed. Let winter howl as it may, the spirit of the goddess would carry all but the oldest of them through to spring. The dryad slowed her consciousness to match that of the tree whose life she shared and began the long wait for the Goddess to return.
Magda folded the man’s head to her breast and let him suckle. He had served her well. None could match the potency of her Consort but each man she had lain with had succeeded in invoking the Goddess. She knew that her womb had been quickened. By Beltane she would be round and filled with promise. By summer her daughter would be born. She stroked the head that was still paying homage at her breast and thanked to Goddess for her blessing.
© 2008 Mike Kimera All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without written permission from firstname.lastname@example.org