Curled on a low bench seat beneath a fig tree on a warm afternoon I knew immediately that it was going to be a lovely day. We gathered to celebrate the second day of Anthesteria. Libations and wine flowed freely, food and words passed around between old friends and new.
Lovely was not the definition. It was superb. I’ve never left a gathering of magical types so very happy. Arms had been thrown open, we had been allowed to be as vulnerable as one can be with strangers (and no doubt the wine helped), we had danced and sung, cast and divined.*
At the end this little group felt more like community than any I’d dealt with before. Of course, hours after we talked of potential future rites and gatherings, they handed me a tarot deck. And how easily it flowed there under the fig, in Dionysus’ grove.
I see good things ahead. Many good things.
It’s funny how sometimes you find what you’ve been seeking where you least expect it.
I pretty much lived with my Wolf for two weeks straight. We’re currently living in two different houses due to rental agreements, housemates, children and general shenanigans. It was a nice change. We’re horrifically domestic when we’re together and there’s certainly something to be said for waking up next to them every morning.
My dreams, for the last couple of weeks, have been quiet and pleasant. Generally of hopes for the future and big kitchens. Really big kitchens. We both love food so…
Of home in different ways. Of painted skulls and hanging pots and herb, of orchards and greenhouses, of dinner parties and storms lashing trees. Of a fox beneath the gum, and paintings over a mantel piece.
Of my Wolf, The Wild One, as fierce and beautiful silver as he is now and more lined with laughter. We dance for no reason at all. Sometimes wild. Sometimes slow. Happy. There’s a key tattoo, sometimes on his ribs, sometimes on his forearm.
I am there. No taller, somewhat stronger sometimes, thinner others, as I am now but older mostly, but always with long hair. The tattoos are more prolific. My fingers ink dipped and lined, the right arm done, the ribs, the geometric designs on the left arm… up onto my neck and face. I don’t know that it’ll ever happen but I dream it with such clear clarity.
Sometimes I dream I paint him, and he paints me. Fingers tracing patterns without hesitation. It feels like we’ve done it before a few thousand times.
I always wake content from these dreams, but they do make me wonder. What happens to my altar when we’re under one roof. As it is now I have no one to answer to and no children with curious hands so it is large and always up. Is it odd that of all the things this is the one I worry about as we move towards arranging a home for us together?
I have the occasional moment where I just drift off and my brain shows me things – visions if you will – and this was tonights. It was too intense to put in the day dream category, but what I can/will do with it is anyone’s guess.
The circle is cast by two, well clear of the light of the fire though containing it too. The crowd gathers round the fire, sitting in a circle and partaking of it’s warmth, as another ritualist steps forward and speaks. His voice rich and impassioned as he calls to the spirits.
Outside the circle of light they wait with blankets around their shoulders for warmth from the winters air. Faces painted, drums at the ready. He speaks on, louder, faster, louder faster. A final shout of ‘come’ and she moves.
A bone beater strikes the drum sharply thrice then a staccato beat is taken up. Blanket slips away, the Red Fox enters the circle. Furs at her waist, bells round her ankles. She dances twirling and yipping close the fire then close to the audience. Meeting their eyes. Engaging them in her play. The spirits come.
Then stops. Drum suddenly silent, body close to the ground, eyes intently staring into the shadows beyond the fire.
He moves forward, blanket slides away. Leather and bone. Larger and stronger than she. The Wolf steps forth. Drum beat slow and steady. She watches him intently as he sets a new rhythm, heavier and more powerful – a hunters song to her playful dance. He dances. Close to the fire, then to the audience. He howls low and growls deep. Engages them, meets their eyes. Brings them to the hunt. The spirits come.
Then stops, drum silent, staring down at the Red Fox, and she stares back unafraid. Slowly she sidles back on her knees and gets her feet beneath her. He smiles, teeth bared to her. She grins back, half feral, and suddenly they are dancing. Drum beats mixing as they stalk each other, dance each other, round the fire. Separating suddenly, encouraging the watchers to yip and howl, bark and snarl. Their drum beats faster, their feet move faster.
They stop. Face to face. Silence falls. The spirits have come.
As one they strike their drums.
Twice. A new drum is struck.
Thrice. All drums are struck.
The drummers in the circle strike the rhythm. The Fox and Wolf laugh and return to the dance, bringing the others to their feet.
The spirits are here, dance with us, dance with them, is the wordless cry.
Little red foxes have become a thing. A really persistent pay attention I will brush against your leg then stare at you calmly for a bit before prancing off because you laughed at my prize kind of thing. Then everywhere, and I mean everywhere, I look I see images of foxes.
Red urban foxes are the go. The kind you rarely see around Australian streets, but are definitely here and thriving.
Then there was this awesomely intense little bit of a vision:
We circle. Me with the fox mask/me the red fox. He with the big black wolf/he the big black wolf. I can’t tell if we’re wearing headdresses or we are the creatures whose fur we wear. There’s no aggression, but also no joy, it’s pure intense don’t look away and FOCUS.
It’s far more intense, though incredibly brief, than anything that has hit me in a long while… and I’m powerless to interpret it right now. My brain just can’t hold onto it amongst uni stress and this goddamned cold.