The following story by Rayvyn Willowsong won joint 1st place in the second week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Sabbats.
Changing of the Ladies by Rayvyn Willowsong
From among leafless trees still wrapped in the folds of winter’s icy embrace, the Crone watches with joy and longing as a group of the Great Mother’s daughters and sons gather to celebrate the coming of spring. Gone is the soberness that winter brings with it as they laugh and talk among themselves, moving towards the center of a field that lays across from her woods. Though she cannot hear what they say, she knows they exchange stories of the happenings of the months before, some happy, some sad. She feels a pull from a time long ago that urges her to go and join them, a time when her hair was not the silver and white of snow but the color of tree bark and freshly turned soil. She resists the pull, knowing that her time has come to a close and it is another’s time to emerge. Though this thought fills her with joy, there is a hint of bitter-sweetness, for once, long ago, this was her time, her season, and her memories bring with them happiness, but also a yearning for days long gone.
The sound of music brings the Crone from the edge of her memories and she watches as the men and women, dressed in greens, yellows and other pastel colors, gather around a large altar, placing offerings of brightly painted eggs and baskets of flowers upon its surface. All the while a young girl uses wildflowers to trace a large circle around the altar and other celebrants. Once the circle is complete a man and woman approach the altar, each lifting a bowl in the four directions, starting with north, their voices calling out to each direction to bless the bowls contents. Once the blessings are obtained the bowls are placed in the center of the altar, surrounded by all the other offerings.
She watches as the High Priestess and Priest of the group, the man and woman who had previously held the bowls, start to chant, the others joining till the valley is filled with their voices, calling to the Great Mother to accept their offerings and bestow her blessings upon bowls. The Crone has no need to see what is in them. She knows they both contain seeds that will be sown in the coming days. Infused with energies they had received from the four directions and the Great Mother’s blessing, the Crone knows the seeds will grow and prosper, rewarding these sons and daughters for their faith and loyalty.
As the ritual reaches its peak, movement from deep within the forest draws the Crones attention away from the celebrations, her wise and gentle eyes knowing exactly where to look as a young woman emerges from behind a barren tree. Her long flowing hair is the color of morning sun, and falls nearly to her knees. Throughout her hair, small flower buds have been woven, and atop her head rests a crown of newly bloomed wild flowers. Her eyes are the bright green of new leaves and her lips are the pale pink of primrose. As the Maiden makes her way through the sleeping trees, the Crone notices the stirring of the once hibernating animals, some proving brave enough to follow in the beautiful woman’s wake, and smiles in open welcome as she comes to stand next to her elder. The Maiden returns the Crone’s smile, taking her hand before turning her attention to the people across the field.
They stand hand in hand as a power grows around them. It is the power of the Great Mother and it swirls through the air, bringing with it the scent of flowers, fresh rain and damp earth. It is time for spring. Both feel the pull of the ritual, urging, begging spring to come and take the place of winter, but only one can answer. With the passing of winter to spring, the Crones duties are done, and it is time for the Maiden to take her place in the Great Cycle. As the ritual draws to a close, the circle of flowers is broken, releasing all the energy that had been gathered inside, causing the pull to strengthen. It is time. The Maiden looks lovingly over at the Crone, knowing that someday it will be her turn to watch a new Maiden usher in spring. She bends down and places a gentle kiss on the Crones wrinkled cheek before turning towards the valley. She takes one step, then another, making her way from the skeletal forest, across the valley to where the ritual had just taken place, and in her wake life springs anew, green grass and flowers flowing from the ground where her feet have touched. Spring has come at last.
Rayvyn Willowsong currently lives in central Iowa with her fiance and two cats. She's been a practicing solitary pagan since she was thirteen, and openly bisexual since sixteen. She's always had a passion for reading, which has fostered her passion for writing. When not reading or writing, she can usually be found crocheting or doing bead work on her bead loom. You can find her on Facebook.