January 25, 2011

The Cavalcade

Themes explored herein:

1. White-hot nightmares birth a sorcerous cosmology
2. Poetic meditation
3. Automatic writing and inspiration
4. Key Concept: the world of balladry encodes lost maps of worldview and wisdom
5. Key: Prophecy as a recounting of the past
6. Key: Power songs for the Fetch
7. Key: The Devil and the Iron Queen’s Litany
8. Key: The souls of the departed as leaves in a book of Man
9. The essence of traditional witchcraft

* * *

The Cavalcade
These Thoughts Are Not Your Own

I. The warp and weft of shapely dark force

Choking darkness, alluring vision- old beams frame it; flesh weighs it down, the cold burns it, the sun warms it, the laughter of children at last gives it a joy. The world, vast and ancient, is all of it; it is a stone, a lonely wood, a dense fog. Man is a lot of a thousand lots, countless unseen lots, a power among many. Man is pursued by loss, fallen by obscurity, blind with eyes open, due to fearful doubt. Man is a home of happiness in flesh, invisible made visible, vitality collected, a swirl in endless watercourse. Man is not alone. The Cavalcade has no origin or reason. The Cavalcade excludes none.

Man is one that has walked on the loam and moss, the grit and dirt, bled on it, laughed on it, clutched at it, wept on it, dropped sweat upon it, lifted wood, stone and metal upon it, delved within it. Man was in deep darkness; man was in mist, man was in the invisible; man was in the dusk world, man was near to truth. Man has wandered to himself. Man has reached for glory and forbidden things. Man has leapt the boundaries that should not be leapt. He has dared and died. Man is another knot in the fateful threadwork of the unfathomed.

Man is not alone; man cannot see what he ought to see. Man's eyes are few among many. The world is full of eyes. Man's world is not empty; man is sibling to rock, to trunk, to grassy clump, to scouring wind, to hissing brook, to bubble and foam, to deep wells, to ancient hills, to soaking rain, to light above clouds, to the people of the grave country's dim bottom.

Man's pride is his undoing. Man sees so little, but is seen by so much. He sees halls and abbeys of wood and stone, but halls a hundred times great built of sorcerous dark and undying light spread out unfathomed. Man's kings and queens tromp in the mud and cut at flesh, but Lords and Ladies of fearful majesty tower above the greatest of them.

For each form seen by damp eye orbs, a delirious and eldritch cavalcade of forms are conjoined; man believes rightly in haunts and fiends; rightly fearful of waste and wood is man if wisdom is wise. Life is in no place a narrow trickle in a narrow gorge; it fills all spaces and wears innumerable masks, more than blades of grass or grains of silt. Every portion of every beast is a magic charm, a magic in the soul; under the flesh and hair, scale and hide, is one flesh and luminosity. Beast and man, in the grave-pit, you will see that boundaries fall away there.

As one is given egress to the cavalcade, one shrinks away, declining in size, one among infinitude. Infinitely smaller, then larger, then smaller again, then naught. One learns of truth by losing the vastness of mountains, the lumbering flesh- the lowly ant is gigantic to the speckling weird, and so very tiny to man, who is a fragment of a germ in the vast apron of the Iron Queen of ice and mountain and night. She is scarcely knowable, and yet she is there. Better to feel like a man feels than to try too much, and better you celebrate her as world and cold sky than seek her bone-circled seat.

In the paving of the elfin roads through the hollow, in the houses of the Indwellers, Man is but a stone or a weed; in their cups of intoxicating brew he is a bubble or foam. In their ballads he is a dim, needful shadow and a helper at the birthing bed, though in his legends they are godly and immortal, deceptive and cruel, helpful and hurtful. They drink blood on the side of burial hills; they take bowls of cream, and take they the newborn unwarded and unguarded.

The Cavalcade goes on, led by the Elf-Knight; know that he is the porter between the hard world and a soft and beautiful place: golden-lit, greenly treed; from that place a road extends to every point and everywhere. There are others in his train; more others than can be named. They have a place in the warp and weft of shapely dark force that comprises the world; their allotments are as right as the mountains that break the world and the trees that drink water from the soil.

Where each droplet of rain falls is its allotted place, and so the Cavalcade's knaves and lords, beasts and fair maids, ladies and shadows, turf-dwellers and indwellers, hungry monsters and sleeping ones all live out their allotted place, as time wends to strange time and then, naught. And then, the shrieking Cavalcade. Under your feet, what chief wears the goat-crown? Who peers through the dark of your home when all sleep, seeing to its neatness and preservation from weird forces?

It is beyond the gallows; it is full, that Unseen; as full as the world of clouds and shadow and dark brown earth; it allows for no truth in emptiness, nor truth in nothingness- it breaks in a man's mind like light in mist; It makes a halo that recounts songs and describes legends. Man lives despite his will to perish, or his bile or sorrow; alone, he only breathes sorrow. But he lives because life is legend. Life is allotment, it is story, it is sorcery. Denial and dullness make it duration, but still it weaves a spell unawares, a dweomer that carves graves out of the ground and opens another door to life. Come what may, graves are carved and life whispers needle-like from the waters of the depths to seek sunlight.

They seek wooded lands, they seek caves and gorges, they seek river-sides, they seek marshes, they seek clouds and drizzle. They find themselves amid thundering herds of horned creatures, amid ragged antlers, near the darting fertile hare and the lurking barking fox, amid the shrieking frenzy of the twisted and goatish people that haunt distant hills; they find themselves killing and living, bleeding and growing, smoothing stones, chipping stones, crushing stones, piling wood, binding wood, splitting wood, heating rocks, heating metal, binding grasses, slicing at grasses, swaddling children, drinking water, burying the stiffened dead, and gazing at the sky amid the smells of forestland.

There is sorcery there, too; they never fail to know it. They will submit to no conqueror; they will live their lives amid thick scented fields and golden pastures. The bodaich goats will lurk in the shadows beyond their fence-lines; the ghosts of ancients and ancestors will trod their roads and hear their shots. They will have memory in song.

II. The company of white deer and white hares

The Elf-queen rides her great white horse. She is in the company of white deer and white hares, of serving maids and men; She is the royal indweller of the hungry and generous land, and enormous spaces into which dirt and dust may fall and vanish forever are her true mantle and body. Elfin mistress green and white, green and dark, white and white, red and white, she is young and very ancient. Her language is memory, madness so old, but completion without a sound or a symbol. She dissolves the dead in a water that turns to life-giving breast milk.

Her people were once dead, yet they live; they have sloped heads like stones, eyes like berries, breath like breezes, laughter like crows, skin like stream-wet sand, bodies like ghosts, worlds like visions in the night, and yearnings that mortals sometimes share. Their Lordly king is so broad and handsome, so full of strength; the King and Queen's tables are always full of generous portions of fruit and meat, of honey and finest breads. Great and hairy cows cry out and make their frightful noises in the Elf-king’s mighty herd. Look into the hollow places of the earth for their pleasant and darksome land. Look to the bloodstained stone-side and hillside for their old feasting tables. Look to your own hide and innards for their portal and resounding gulf.

The Elf-Queen's charnel house has the tooth of fire and tooth of ice inside; it has the scale and measure of justice within, boiling in the soul that spread blood and broken blades on guarded boundaries and sacred ground. To live straining greedily at the edges of life’s allotments is wickedness; to walk unbidden across is wickedness; to trample forbidden roots, runners, and blooms is wickedness; to take and take again is wickedness; to have not cleverness nor poem to repay transgression is wickedness; the heart speaks with the voice of vengeance; it knows the lots; vengeance comes furious from the deep to restore the heart and the air to silence. Vengeance comes as the women of the invisible.

They are furious, and terrible, long-haired and silent, tearful and hidden, swift and fierce; they will strike the flesh, whip the flesh, send the blows of woeful fate onto a man or woman's hide, into their minds, and into the soul that fades. They are fate's women, keepers of our lives and fortunes, and the same to all in the Cavalcade. Gigantic were their ancestresses, gigantic are they in generosity and wrath. They have the allotment-sticks, carved with necessity, carved with what will, what ought, what should and what shall. They charge a fine in blood or breath for that precious knowledge. They fill every air, break every peace lotted to fail, and fill every house lotted to full.

They move stone to stone, stream course to stream course, star track to star track, fire-flown spark to night above, the screams of bairns they urge on, and the moans of the violently slain. They have no origin but origin itself; they have pale white skin and coal dark eyes, seeing beyond seeing, cruel beyond cruel, sheltering beyond sheltering, giving beyond giving. The elfin knight-lord leads them; cavalier, twirling wand, taming his gray horse, making visions, deceiving eyes, calling away, working baleness, working peace, striking at will, striking at all in unguessable order. He leads hunters; he leads the wild rout, he leads the winds and the storms. It is he the winds all fear; his magic has made men and women to love one another and hate one another.

He bruises the flesh, he bites the flesh, he ravishes and comforts, he shrinks the eyes in laughter. He takes wine with the devil in the mirror. His great art was known to you when last you sat overlooking the beauty of the land and felt a brief moment of peace, and when you last wove or cut, dited or pressed, recited or sang, built or plowed, worked sorcery or planned a cunning strategy. When you have boiled worts and simples, pulled the wild onion, whittled the twig and root, or made the circle of pale flour, you have done his art, which is Man’s art, too.

Don't you see them there, the majesty and the mighty of the mighty and ancient? What sun ever moved through the sky not the eye-bright gem of the fiery one? What moon ever waxed or waned without imparting the salty secrets of mineral and blood and of birth in caves? The dead that way go. Above and below, the dead that way go. She is the phantom sun. Can love tie a few together, such that death will not sever them? Yes, the bond of souls can remain so good, for as many ages as the wish may be good. The divisions of hate can remain just the same.

A fire glows on the open land under a dark sky, and for miles it is seen- what it fails to illuminate lights it instead: great dark, the entity night, the entity sun with its ancient cross, which every evil hates; the entity moon and sea, the old woman, the young woman, the elfin people, the devil's hoof-prints, the layers of devouring things, the wolf headed people, the splendorous people with light in their brows, the jester dead in the dusk-world, sliding below waters, sliding into mirrors or caves into the sky of stars, the circles of huts and dwellings that sank down under the ground, the cities of shining gems and living beams, the wildness of raw, red things and sheltering dead trees, the long line of each family's deceased, moving into the distance, ever living. All of these are the lights of the ember nights.

They all see the lonely flame under the night sky. Ages come and go. Many walk the earth, many walk below. Many walk above. Ages and ages blow away like fluttering seeds. Fire is the fullness, it is the gateway of all gone before and forgotten charms. It is the eye of the unseen. It cooks food, and devours flesh and straw, too.

Hear the anger of those who will not slip away into the unknown, the punished and goblin dead who rage at the breath of life, the transformed dead who were ensnared by sorcery, the curses of the unjust, the groaning and roaring of giants in the ground, the triumphs of the virtuous that make a road of fame, rising up, until that light is extinguished by inexorable time; the greatness of the breath and emotion that fills the bellows of man’s history entire- all just one breath among numberless winds and words and irruptions that sail in gusts of thousands and thousands through the darkness of not knowing, through the gap of unlit being. Incomprehensible is that darkness- the truth that may cease.

III. Days and ages fell by

It is too big for you, as small as you are. Be that immensity, that expanse, but doing so will kill you. The Cavalcade will rush you to death. It is a kindly death that makes two lives where once was one, and those two describe a greater One.

Tangled up, tangled foot, tangled hand, tangled heart, you might fight to escape, but only love that endures the blows of fate without care can embrace the beloved. And that love is hard, cold, joyful, deadly, fecund, and alien to men. But it is theirs too, once they stir to wake from their long dream of nets and boats, of fish and bread, of honors and yellow gold. Sometimes a curse awakens them; sometimes a blessing. Sometimes the savage hunt stalks them; sometimes the killer comes on cold wind. They are queens of maleficia, ladies of benediction, who love and kill and go out to see what they shall see. They are master-men, journey-men, who notch the lots on wood and triangle and watch the red and blue birds prance on ground and branch. None may choose how they feel nor love.

The only power you ever had, once the long wandering to yourself began, was the breast of a mother, the warmth of kin, the satisfaction of a meal from the kettle, the laughter of those close, a story well-recounted, the joy of children, the dark scented land and rainy sky, the warming sun, the goodness of restful sleep, the fleshful fire of carnal congress. This was allotted and good. The world knew it good; it was good. Days and ages fell by, and the hungry entity burrowed into your skull, and the fearful one, and the indolent one, and the terrible one, and one land's grain and beasts and leafy blooms was no longer enough. Good was no longer enough.

Strangers came from east and west, from south more and more- old seasons failed. Things were forgotten that were precious to memory. The distant horizon hummed with strange voices, and malevolent spirits came among you, given leave to wander by your doubts and forgetfulness. The adamantine tower fell dark. Fate scourged you. Wisdom failed you. Summer was not enough. Spring was not enough. Autumn was not enough. Winter did not make you cease, but weep for green fields. You can be a friend to nothing as you are, nor will the Cavalcade's fairest and greatest be kindly to you. Would that they even notice you, but for some vagrant urge of fate! For it is you that must rise up now, from beneath notice. Let good be enough for the corpse and the Cavalcade home to the fetch.

Look at your poor hands! Look at your poor soul, the food you eat in all its sameness, the weak words you speak so often to those you see- is this where your contentment lies? Those who course in your fear and frustrations will circle you like a bird of red prey, and you will eat one another's flesh; you will feed yourself your own flesh and grow mad. You will try to accomplish what only the mad undertake- to steal, unthinking, the crowns of a thousand unseen rulers, fairer than you, wiser than you, and you will receive only their arrows. Your kingdom may be vast in your fantasies, built on ash and wind, but you will be its only subject. Unless you do penance, you will perish.

You do not feel it, but the Cavalcade is the world's great soul, the world's great spell, full of every glory. To not know your place within it, to not hear it, to not see it, to not believe it, to live in fear of it, to call it unknown, to hate it, to think it nonsense, is to be who you are, a man and hopeless. To know and accept your place in the endless cast of lots, to hear it, to see it, to believe it, to live in fear and wonder of it, to know it nearby, to refuse to love it or hate it, to think it the supreme reason, to give corpse and fetch to it, to fall into it, to emerge from it, is to be both man and rider in the Cavalcade unseen. It is beautiful where you are, it is terrifying where you are, no matter the way you sleep or ride.

When will you stride up to the secret that only the wind can teach your flesh? When will you open the portals in your head and eyes, in the palms of your hands and in the soft flesh of your breasts, and take the mark pressed by the cruel hook and blade? When will you push the burning coal down into your chest, into the center of your belly, and down further, to the limits of desire? When will you be a firefly glowing in the deepest cavern? When will you ungrasp the cold and hot iron you hold so fiercely, and know the unfettering? When will you surrender to the Cavalcade? Until Twelfth Night, they will rule you.

No man nor inscribed page can deliver you this promise of sudden and blinding flight, of blasting power, of spinning in the winds and clouds, of knowing death’s course, of knowing fate, of intimacy with the dead, only that book called the Book of the World contains this, and the Elf-knight and the elfin court holds the great key to the opening of that gramarye. Their mighty jester the Devil will seize you by the hair and turn your head to face the way. Suffering shows the way. When will you know the promise and goodness of the world of grasses and grey skies?

Pale wandering hag, Old Woman, Cavalcade’s undying mother, even your form is indistinct; a lit bonfire, distant songs, teeth of ice, horrid blue skin, ancient ice-wall, torn land, water and ice-furrowed land, falling stones, screaming geese, naked bodies, boiling fat, warm, running blood, substances of the world, vital breath, deep satisfaction, sinking down, the ache in the body, the long night, long darkness, loss, newness, forgetting, memory, passion and the spark in the innards that urges to distant lands- but that is just man's story; your story is not told in such ways, but can't fail to be the secret language of languages.

The animals speak it; the owl before your dwelling-door in the deep speaks it; even the rocks in the ground speak it. The bones of the dead are its letters. The cold spaces of night are the leaves upon which the women write the letters of lives. That is your gown, your apron, your body, your spirit, Old Woman. You mutter in dawn before the light softens the sky. You keep the wild beasts in the soul and in the valleys and on mountain-sides. Deer are your sheep and cattle. Man is not alone.

The eagle rises up to see the light that warms all people. The hateful are defeated. The hopeful learn to abandon hope and enjoy truth instead. The sun moves on, silent and bright. The moon glares pale. The white triangle is illumined and familiars move through the thread that passes through the middle of the chest. Human land, human forest, human sky, human Cavalcade, fiendish non-human world, great world, your great force, this great force, now open, open, open, and be full, then let burst the skin-hide straining at the fullness and be fetched away to naught but one and all.

The brothers and sisters of the Cavalcade, the shimmering ones, half living and half not living, partners to the fateful hosts of women, slayers of innocence, avengers of foulness, driven mad by wisdom, they meet in dreams. You will not go to those dreams; they will come to you, but you must go to them as well.