~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

By the Dark of the Moon

I wrote this fantasy piece quite a few years ago and recently unearthed it. I was struck by how well it would fit into another fictional manuscript that is stirring in my head at the moment (along with a multitude of others), so I decided to share it here while I'm in the process of copying it into a new Scrivener document.

The wet blanket was tossed over the small fire to smother the flame as quickly as possible. Someone was coming, I was sure I heard a footstep crunch toward me from the darkness, and we don't want to be seen.

We weren't supposed to be here, see, the land was off limits, private property, only those dying few who had lots of money were allowed in here. A good heart didn't count for squat among those kind. This land was held and used by The Moneybelts; I heard their ilk were called the something else a long time ago before the awakening, but it's not important anymore. There were still a few privately-held lands of lush forest and majestic mountains, like here, but no one was allowed to visit them except the last remaining strange ones called The Wealthy.

So we sneak in and commune; we are here to celebrate life within these private velds of green. Instead of hoarding Her energy, we honored and gave offering to Her, our Mother Eairth. Oh, these weren't the only green spaces, not by far. We've come a long way since the time of the Enlightenment when the scales tipped and then fell over to rust, the time of the Change when the majority simply refused to do any more work until all creatures and people were cared for and provided with enough. No, these green spaces still 'owned' and gated and isolated by The Moneybelts were few, but desperately in need of ritual cleansing to set free the spirits that lay within, remnants of an ignorant time when people thought bodies were the most important part of Life and so clung to them even in death, afraid to let them go, terrified of letting them return to the Mother as nourishment through transformation.

"I think whoever it was is gone." Cloud's whisper reaches my ears in the silence of the woods, carried upon the shadows of the dark moon night.

We pick up our shovels once more and began digging with reverence, casting prayers upon the elements, talking to the ones who were held confined to this space, afraid to leave because of the energies that bound them to their bodies within the vaults guaranteed to last centuries. Striking a hard surface, me and my friends brush the last bit of dirt away gently with our hands and open the lid of the casket. "Mrs. Miller, you're free," I whisper, and my sisters join me in an ancient chant. We take her bones and all that is left of her body, placing them within a hemp bag to take back to the funereal pyre built earlier in the night. I feel her sigh of relief caress my cheek upon the current of light cool breeze. Climbing out of the grave, I look across the dark expanse defined by tombstones and giant pine trees that rise tall and thick among the old stone markers barely legible, I see the bushes and ferns spreading themselves wild around the maze of once perfectly aligned burial sites where roots and quakes have shifted and lifted them out of their purchased complacency. Hundreds more to go, one at a time.

While we have the legal right to conduct these acts and rituals of liberation, rights provided by the Council of Elders, this compound and those like it remain heavily monitored by the Old Guard who cling to their archaic ways in spite of all that has been accomplished since the Great Shift, and it is said in hushed tones that they are still willing to kill just to maintain control and a semblance of power over others. They are so few now, they're no longer a threat to the greater good throughout most of the world. But here, we are careful not to be seen. No one could imagine killing another human these days, or any living creature for that matter, but these people might. So rather than risk it, one of the initiations into becoming a Priestess of Passing is to slip into the fenced compound and free souls from their prisons.

We know our duty and try to stay focused, but every so often one of us lets slip a nervous giggle. Which is what thirteen-year-old girls are prone to do, after all.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Road Trips and Ancestry

On a recent road trip to visit family in Virginia, traveling from St. Louis, Missouri, and heading east on I-64, I decided to research the counties we would be driving through to identify which of our ancestors might have lived in those locations. We had fun reading about our ancestors and the locales. I'm sharing the following because I thought it might give others some inspiration as well -- why not invite your ancestors along on your travels?

In Washington County, Illinois, our 2nd great-grandfather John William Frederick was listed with his parents and siblings in the 1860 census for Richview. John was age 11 at the time and had been born in Pennsylvania. His father Valentine Frederick had emigrated from Germany and was working as a saloonkeeper in Richview.

Perry County, Indiana, was the home of our 5th great-grandfather Henry Rhodes (who had been born in Kentucky, just across the Ohio River), his wife Elizabeth Barnes, and their seven children. Their son Thomas married Monica Alvey before moving to Missouri. Both Henry and Elizabeth died in 1863.

As we drove through Shelby County, Kentucky, we read about our 4th great-grandparents Mary Guthrie and Jacob Bilderback. Mary had been born about 1760 in County Cork, Ireland, immigrating with her parents, and married Jacob about 1786 in Kentucky. They had at least five children and it was their granddaughter Rebecca who, in 1854 in Indiana, married our 2nd great-grandfather Robert Tribble.

It was in Cabell County, West Virginia, that our 4th great-grandparents James Lemay and Nancy Hughart were married. Nancy's great-grandfather had emigrated from Ulster, Ireland (he was Scots-Irish) and one of Lemay's ancestors had emigrated from France early in the 18th Century (Pierre was likely a French Huguenot). In Greenbrier County, West Virginia, family tradition provides a wonderful tale about our 6th great-grandmother Ann Morris Maddy Parsons (our ancestors are from her first marriage to James Maddy). Seems she was a tough and independent woman, and, during one trip across the mountains and the Shenandoah Valley, Ann was accosted by a man intent upon stealing her money. However, she turned the tables on him and sent him over a cliff ... the same one he was going to toss her over after stealing her money. It is also said that, "in later years she went by the name of Granny Parsons. She was a midwife and a practical nurse, and was always perfectly fearless, riding a big black stallion, going on her errands of helpfulness at all hours. People in the scattered settlements of those days, hearing the thunder of flying hoofs in the dark hours of the night would say, 'there goes Granny Parsons to help someone in trouble.'" She is said to have lived to the age of 104.

Then, of course, there's Virginia. Like many Americans, we have a lot of ancestors who arrived first in Virginia before eventually migrating across the continent. For instance, in Augusta County, our 5th great-grandfather Captain Gilbert Christian (of Scots-Irish descent) had three sons who were prominent in the early community and the family received a 1,600 acre grand in 1739. In Albemarle County, we have our 6th great-grandfather John Small who emigrated from Scotland in 1724. Then, in Goochland County, we find our 6th great-grandparents John Salmons and Naomi DePriest, the descendants of early 17th Century immigrants (from England, Ireland, and France).

Our family imagined and talked about what the journeys for our various ancestors might have been like, too; after all, they were venturing into wilderness whereas we had a paved highway. We traveled in two days the distance that would have taken them weeks if not months. Can you imagine?!
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