Since early childhood, I have been a spinner of lore, working, oft-times, in tandem with my opposite, my all-but-twin, Sun to my Moon, Weaver of that which I spun from moonshine and memory, tale and tradition.
But it is a lonely existence in many respects. The spinning calls upon tides and times unseen by the melting-pot of mankind. My rhythms, slightly askew, jerk and judder when social meets and frenzied fraternising is called for. Hermit by nature, I do not venture out of the Cave of Seers with ease. I stand, in sun too bright, blinking and bleary from the soothing uterine darkness of the Mother Cavern, wordless and shy amongst the silver- tongued ones.
Oh! At necessary moments, and clad in convincing costume, the rules of society rote-learned and word-perfect, I emerge and walk amongst the Land-Dwellers, selling my stories for a monetary pittance or exchanging them for the sweet and heavy round of fresh orange, the feathered warmth of recently-laid egg, a hunk of spelt bread.
Lore-Keepers are Seers, for their psychic eyes rove back and forth at will and penetrate the secrets of timelessness, symbol, metaphor and mystery. They bring back the raw material of story, from times ancient even when cavemen strode the land, and spin or weave it into the language and beat of the century in which they exist, though the silk from which it comes is timeless and infinitely pliable.
And so it was that the great Fire Festival, Beltane, approached – and we, as Priests and Priestesses of Lore, were assigned tasks for the ritual-to-come. Since tradition and lore use many forms for communication, and travel along the track of talent, stopping where they will, the Bards, Drummers and Shamans had also been summoned, ready to tap into and then, releasing, share, the Songs of Land and People and Legend.
Kneeling before the High Priestess, and venturing a glance at her stern profile, I listened as she planted the seeds of words and ideas in the fertile soil of my imagination: Hulac, the Giant, and his love for Hedessa was to be one strand; the awful rape and massacre of women and children of Clan Raven another. Love, albeit tragic, and death were to be my coloured silks – and, from them, working in conjunction with Weaver, I was to spin life and fire and tears.
Weaver and I, separated for the most part in our very different traditions and cave systems, met on the Inner to sketch out the roughness of an idea. Visions blending, the process started. Cloaks we agreed on, his embroidered with sun colours and in vibrant gold, mine capturing the lunar shades and the deep purple of Cretan sunset over water. With the needle and thread of mind and will, I spun a dress of silver and lilac, ribbons of green, turquoise, silver, purple and white flowing free and catching the growing Moon’s light as darkness tumbled.
Both spinning and weaving require complete, almost trance-like, identification with the material for, at such times, the story begins to leak through the cotton or velvet and imprint itself, clear and vivid, upon the Inner Wall of Sight.
We met, Weaver and I, upon the high verdant meadows a league from the Cave of Seers – and, laughing in falls of light, icy water singing in spring sunshine nearby, we chased the tail of vision, caught it and, exultant, pinned it to the walls of intent. The how and where eluded us. But we sensed that this would come.
That Beltane night, fires dotting the hillsides, beacons of sharing and warmth welcoming the Summer to come, Summer King and Queen ready for their role, garlanded maidens all in green giggling shyly and casting covert glances at lounging youths, we stood, in fronds of damp grass, barefooted and listening to the heart of the Land, and, spinning wheel and loom at the ready, began to stitch and stretch the threads and patches of Story together, actions dictated by an inner sense of narrative and emotion.
Story demands much. It drains. The identification is so complete that deaths, births, wounds and woes are felt with all the intensity of the original acts. The forced consummation that is rape was felt with agonising keenness; the wrenching of bloody bone from resisting socket a pain so severe that I believe I blacked out momentarily; the jagged fall, fleeing from malformed giant, upon serrated rocks a mess of protruding limbs and pools of sticky hot blood. The ghastly meaty scent of humans roasting upon a pyre created by malice was so vivid that I vomited upon the sward.
Much I cannot now recall. Lore-telling creates filters in the mind, gates which block out the worst from memory, though all is stored somewhere. I know there was laughter, pathos, silence from the crowd, applause. I know that Weaver and I ensouled our characters and enacted our tales, wordlessly in touch and blessed by the full brightness of shared vision.
I know that there was the customary blankness and profound let down, a mini Winter in the midst of vernal loveliness, in the days following; that bruises and aches made their keening voices heard all over the physical body; that little pockets of sadness and fear emptied themselves as if discharging energy; that the spinning and weaving of tales means taking on some of their emotional freight.
But briefly we danced and shone, mayflies in our vibrant garments, knowing that our lives counted but a day in Story terms and that the sun would go down upon the rippling lakes of inspiration soon, leaving the weaving and spinning for others.
Such is life. Such is Lore. Such is Story.