A Witch's Eve

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The young maiden slipped through the cracks of the town walls. Her long dark hair whipped around her face in the cool autumn nigh air as the rising harvest moon gave the sky an amber glow. Her long, black satin cape waved behind her as she ran to the woods quickly, yet quietly. She could not be followed. As she passed the first tree, a raven squawked. The young women lifted her arm for the bird and it flew to her.

“Hello pet.” She whispered caressing the bird’s shiny black feathers. The raven lifted its wings, shuddering, at her cold hand’s stroke.

Once past the first trees, she slowed her pace to a walk, making sure to take count of every single tree. She acknowledged every living creature that scuttled away at her gentle footsteps and every creature of the night that stood frozen as she passed. Many had grown accustomed to her being there. But not one detail could be missed by her careful eye.

The girl ran her hand against the tree trunk, slowly counting her steps until she had reached the river where the old willow stood. She smiled broadly at her pet that perched on her upheld arm, and approached the tree with an open heart. The tree was her partner in the craft-her teacher, student, and mother. The tree was everything and nothing. She greeted the willow kindly then knelt at its roots, pulling out a bag of blessed herbs. She sprinkled them all around as an offering to the tree.

The tree in return pulled up a root exposing a large carved wooden box with a pentacle carved into the top. The young women pried the box from beneath the tree and thanked it once more for keeping her belongings safe. The tree returned its root to the ground and remained still.

The young woman walked out of the falling canopy of the willow into the orange moonlight as the raven flew to a bush near by. Slowly, she knelt before a large flat rock that rested in the earth. Gently, she opened the wooden box displaying all of her magical treasures covered in a silk cloth. She wrapped the cloth around the rock and made that flat surface her sacred place once again.

The breeze blew hard and colorful autumn leaves fell upon the flat surface, but that did not bother her. The objects within the box glittered and sparkled, catching her sharp green eyes. She cautiously pulled out five red candles encased in red glass. The candles were well used but would still burn. Next, she pulled out the old bronze candle holder her maid had thrown away. The long black candles were also more then half melted, again, that did not bother her. With thrill, she pulled out three crystal balls that stood on polished wood holders. She placed them carefully close to the edge.

First she placed the largest ball; second, she placed the smallest. Finally she set down the medium-sized crystal ball and pondered at them for quite a while. The golden lighting bubbled within them almost imitating flames. She smiled widely at the next object the lay in the box. It was her Book of Dreams where she wrote her lovely wishes and her enchanting riddles, all of which she needed dearly. She opened the leather dream book to the appropriate page, displaying the wheel of the year. It was Samhain after all; what better to worship on Hallows Eve then the coming dark time on the wheel of the year.

Without having to look, she reached into the box and pulled three bronze sculpted stones from the box, placing them in a semi circle. These were the most marvelous of her possessions, but she knew that once the stones were exposed to the cool night air and the smooth moonlight she would have little time to finish her display before they arrived.

The girl took a deep breath. She could feel the last object wanting to be exposed to the moon, could feel it drawing her near. She knew the dangers and responsibilities that were within that object, but the time had come. It would finally meet the moon once again. For it was hollows eve. Bringing herself up from the slump in which she sat, she gently pressed her fingers into the box. Her thumbs coolly touched the glass and the rest of her fingertips pried the metallic board from the box. The small metal game piece shuddered, barely able to keep still.

Placing the spirit board on the stone, she realized that the moon’s reflection hit the center of the board, shining at the circle to the alloy pentagram that was kindly protected by a thick, unbreakable glass. Metallic, old numbers and letters formed inner and outer circles to the pentagram that seemed to lay on the metal design of a tree. The sight gave the young woman a feel of nature’s pure power. Never had she been alive for a Samhain on which a full moon was present! She was transfixed on the sight of the smaller game pentacle that jittered on the glass. All it needed was a question to answer. A chance to show its power, the power it only possessed once every thirty years.

It was finished. Her altar had been set for the night of magic that lay ahead of her. The young woman picked up her Book of Dreams and slowly put it in her lap, reading the etched-in riddle.

“Merry meet with three birds. Three birds of soul of which shall grant me power. The perfect number. The perfect birds. First shall come love, for all love at least once, and then shall come hate, for we all know when hate burns in our hearts that nothing seems to be at ease. Finally shall come tranquility. Not all feel its presence and live to tell the tale, for it only comes when you have finished your truly told tale.”

A moment of silence echoed through the forest. Not a living thing moved. Not a tree swayed. Not a bug crawled. All was tranquil. But the young maiden was tense with anticipation. Will they come? She wondered. She exhaled heavily as she heard the loud cries of ravens. They were coming.

Three ravens flew to another neighboring branch. Acknowledging the young woman with loud flaps of their wings, they sat on the branch, waiting for her next move. Closing her eyes, she ran her fingers across her Book of Dreams, the words glowing beneath her finger tips. She turned page after page. Each page’s scribbled words lit to a calming orange. Finally reaching the last page, she paused, almost hesitating.

The woman could not determine if the time was right. Her pet squawked from the bush and she could not help but put her hand down onto the page, sending the words aglow. This page was different. The words went bright red, as if they were being burned into the paper itself. Her eyes were still closed yet her lips began to move, reciting the bright red words, word by word.

“First in all hearts is love, for we all long for it. We all wish for it. It is treasured above all and so it shall fall,” she said quietly almost whispering. As she finished the phrase one raven from the neighboring branch came, landing on the bronze stone to her left, but as its small clawed feet hit to stone the brown shine spread to the bird. Slowly adjusting itself, the bird lowered its, now bronze, wings and its head turned to look away from the altar before the bird its self turned completely to stone. As if on cue, the woman began to recite the second phrase.

“Second comes hate. Another soul’s condition, yet instead of healing it destroys. Unavoidable it is. It is what we all have faced and have all tried to avoid it. Yet, what all should do is embrace it. Understand it and maybe one day it may turn to love and then so shall hate fall.”

And so as she spoke the last word of the second phrase another Raven came from the branch, landing on the stone to her right. That bird too turned to stone looking away from the Altar, but this time, the young woman hesitated. One bird was left to call, yet it was the most difficult, the most intense, and the most important. Taking a breath she gathered her thoughts before she began to speak once again.

“Love and hate are two of a kind. For both, men have died. Yet death itself is not a condition of the soul. It is the condition of the body. Tranquility is felt by many but not fully. Only in the hour of death shall true tranquility bless you. It is the world’s blessing as you pass on. So, as you fall so shall tranquility.”

As the last word escaped her lips the third Raven came down peacefully and he too turned to stone, but he did not face any other direction. His cold stone eyes stared to her closed ones.

She opened her eyes to find all three birds successfully turned to stone, and that too relieved her. She exhaled, as if making sure her heart was still beating. For she had once again successfully faced the tree conditions and lived to tell the tale. She was the blessed one.

There was one last thing that had to be done. She turned to face to wood box yet again, and for the final time reached in. Out she pulled a satin bag that held a single stack of cards portraying different meanings of life.

“As a gift to the three soul conditions I pull one card for each. May each card further your power,” the woman said and reached into the satin bag pulling away one card for the condition love. Load and behold, the card had the picture of two humans wrapped in endless green twines running into the distance holding hands. This she placed next to the bird of love. Next, for the bird of hate she pulled the witch’s card. A witch, with crazed hair, stood stirring a pot of poison. That card she placed beside the bird of hate.

With trembling fingers she reached into the bag of oracle cards and once again pulled one card. On the card was a woman much like herself holding a sword. The image was full, almost hidden with leaves, and the look of green eyes looking back at her own made her heart skip a beat. Knowing that there was no coincidence in the game she played she put the card to her rose red lips and kissed in thanks to the tranquility bird.

And with that she was ready to continue with what she had set out to do. Flipping through the illuminated pages of her book she came across the spell.
For those who seek the past

It said. She smiled at the thick letters and began to light her candles by just saying “illuminate”. Dragging her fingers across the glowing words, she memorized each phrase until she was ready to begin her magical adventure. Slowly she recited the ancient spell.
“Hallows Eve, Day of Dead, Sahmain, all are one night. The time of light has come to an ancient right. I am human solid through and through, but tonight it is the dead I wish to speak to. Spirits come to my circle. Talk to me through my oracle. Tonight you are free to roam, but on condition you tell me of impending doom.”

As the young woman recited the first part of the spell, a strong wind blew. Leaves whirled around her, but her concentration was not broken. A distant drumming sound came from within the trees. As if they had hearts that was finally able to beat.

The young women did not worry about the sounds from the trees or the whirling wind. She continued to read what needed to be said.

“Hearts will beat. While yours is no longer. Follow the wind and let it make you stronger. Come to me, you wandering souls. Come and tell me what the future holds. With these words I lock you here. As I will it so it shall be, for in me resides the power of three.”

The words spilled out of her lips like a song, but as it was finished the wind stopped, and the distant drumming of the trees could barely be heard. She closed her eyes for a moment. The girl listened for the silent whispers of those who had passed. This time she had no doubt whether or not they would come. They had no choice.

It took a few seconds for the ever so quiet whispers to be recognized by her human ears, but slowly they grew louder. They too had joined the circle. She was content with the outcome of her rhythmic words that she had rewritten for such a night. The faces of the dead reflected through the colorful crystal balls that sat on the altar. Some were content, others mournful, and thankfully non showed signs of violence.

Jittery with anticipation, she jumped head first into her endless questions of the future. Most were for the sake of her community, but she could not deny the uncontrollable spark of curiosity that was in all humans. She asked a select few questions remarking her own personal life.

Time after time the piece on the spirit board would twitch and hurry to the next letter, pausing only slightly on each, and answer her question. Letter by letter. The face of the contributing spirit would appear in the large crystal ball, allowing her to see into the eyes of her teller. She made note of the important information in the blank pages of her Book of Dreams. Everything said would have a role in what was to happen in the coming year, for the dark time is the time of cautiousness. It was the time that all must be alert of their surroundings. It was a time of mischief, but it also served as the time adventure and mystery for those who knew how to understand it.

“And who shall I marry?” She asked joyously for there was an air of laughter and happiness between her and the spirits. At first they teased her beauty and her life. It was truly a joyous night. It was the answer to her question that made her smile of promising future fade. It was the look on the spirit’s face, which confirmed the truth that was in the words, which the spirit board related.
“You will not marry. It is the craft that keeps your heart. It is the craft that will forever kill all your lovers. It is the craft that shall keep your finger bare, for a married woman can never be the witch of Salem. You were born a witch. Your mother was born a witch. Your daughter will be born a witch. A seed of love shall be placed in you. You shall receive it, then the sender shall die, but fear not young one. Do not fear that you will forever be alone, for you are never alone. The spirits are always with you. The animals shall always give you comfort, and a gift that none possess will make your thoughts calm.”
There was nothing that the young woman wanted more than that of a father for her future child. There was nothing she wanted more than a love. To know it could not be took great toll on her. The spirits mourned for her lost happiness. The moon was still high in the sky, but her questions had come to a dead end. She could no longer bear speaking, knowing that her wishes for normality would no longer be hers. Though she mourned the loss of her dreams she knew there was a reason. There could only be one witch in Salem at a time.
When she was made a witch on her thirteenth birthday her mother died that day, just like her grandmother died on her mother’s thirteenth birthday. It was the way things had to be. It pained her that her loved ones died before reaching a timely age, but it was the way her family had been for generations. It was her bed time story, and her nursery rhyme. It was the air she breathed and the food she ate. She had known this since the first time she opened her eyes. There could never be a conflict of powers.
The thought of the young Woman’s mother stung the girl’s heart, and so she reached for her Book of Dreams once again. The words were still illuminated and the young woman recited the finishing of the spell.
“Spirits you are wise. You are strong. I send you my thankfulness through the wind. You were sealed here, but now you are free to enjoy this Hallows Eve.”
With that the spirits were released and the forest once again grew cold and quiet. She tapped each bird on the head with her finger and each flew away carrying with them her gift of the card.
The girl came to accept the prediction of the spirits and gently placed her belongings back into the wooden box. The full moon seemed big and appalling in the sky. Her pet flew and perched upon her shoulder as she lifted the heavy box, and returned under the canopy of the willow. Touching the willow’s bark with her right hand she knelt before its roots once again. The willow, in response, lifted it root from the ground exposing a small cavern in the ground where the box could be safely placed. She placed it there and gave the tree thanks as it hid the cavern and box once again with its imposing root.
The young woman once again stepped out of the weeping vines of the willow into the moonlit forest. Pulling the hood of her cape over her long black hair that fell over her shoulders, she began to walk past the pond silently. That was when her pet squawked loudly, shocking the girl and causing her to trip.
She fell into the grass beside the pond where a few remaining cat tails swayed. Rubbing her head, she sat up and checked herself for any scrapes. The bird stood on the ground looking at her with a cocked head.
“What was that for?” she asked him, but of course there was no answer. Softening her face to a smile again she said, “Your right. I don’t need a love. Come on, let’s go home.” She extended her hand to the bird and instead a wooden broom dropped from the sky into her open palm. She caught it instinctively.
“We give you the gift of flight. You have made me proud.” The voice of her mother echoed through the forest. At first she was shocked, it had been three years since she had heard her mother’s voice. Smiling she mounted the broom. Its wood curved in a natural seat, and the stubby top made the perfect handle. She had never flown before but she had seen her mother once.
Into the night she flew. Past the moon and into the stars. Her raven always at her side.





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