The Gate into The Enchanted Meadow
Stag Lord Brightday, tall, broad and powerful, with steel gray in his hair, moved to the center of the circle and instructed the men. “We have customs that would seem odd and foreign to these Wiccans, as their customs are odd to us, but our tenants tell us that we are one with nature and so do the tenants of Wicca. We are brothers and sisters and we move over the earth and worship nature in harmony with them. As the High Priestess of Coven Moon Goddess passes the sage smudge, I ask you, men of the Order, how do you come?”
The men chanted in unison, “We come with strength, love, and purity of heart!”
Astarte turned from the altar table having doused the sage in sand. She was short and plump, long gray and black hair. “Witches,” High Priestess Astarte said, “How do you come?”
All the witches chanted, “We come with perfect love and perfect trust!”
Brightday spoke, “Now the witches will call their quarters for their protection, the men of the Order will conjoin for theirs.”
Astarte stepped forward. “We are beginning a new tradition in the Coven Moon Goddess. This night will mark the second circle where one lone witch will call all four quarters. Priestess Hannah, if you will.”
Her deep voice bellowed in the room. “I am Hannah of the Storm,” she said. The powerful witch Hannah stepped forward and everyone in the hall tensed. The wild men smelled fear on the women. They watched this tall witch with combative alertness. They themselves reeked of fear remembering the power of the lightning she wrought and the force of the winds. If she had used more of her power, the building they were in would have blown out from all four sides. The men looked from one to the other. They tensed, readied themselves.
“I am honored, High Priestess, but tonight Priestess Marigold has asked for that honor if it pleases you. We will be well served by her,” Hannah said.
“Is she not Witch Marigold? Why is she raised to Priestess, Hannah?” Astarte swallowed. She did not want to question Hannah, no one did.
“You will see, High Priestess,” Hannah said calming her, smiling. “You will surely see.” The beauty, Hannah, tall with flowing chestnut brown hair and a face that could grace a glamour magazine, had a twinkle in her eye and a sly grin. But, behind that beauty was a vast knowledge of the arts and power, much power.
“Very well, Hannah, if you speak for her then by all means, Priestess Marigold, if you will.”
There were sighs of relief. The two leaders noticed the sighs and that everyone feared Hannah. Astarte and Lord Brightday glanced at one another. They feared Hannah.
When Wiccans cast their magic circles, the first act is to call the quarters. The Quarters are the cardinal directions of the compass where each Watchtower sets. Watchtowers are the abodes of Guardian spirits. Each spirit’s nature is one of the four elements, air, fire, water, and earth. The coven sets candles at the cardinal points standing for those elements. The circle of witches evokes the Guardians of the Watchtowers during the ritual of casting a magic circle to guard the rite and prevent outside magical interference.
Young Priestess Marigold lowered the hood of her robe to her shoulders revealing her long, golden blonde hair that flowed past her shoulders. She lifted her empty wicker basket. She held out her left arm daintily and put it through the handle of the empty basket and let the basket rest on the crook of her left arm. Marigold tilted her head and smiled.
To the amazement of all, as soon as she smiled, she transformed. A band of jewels appeared around her head and a brilliant diamond hung on her forehead. Her dull off-white witches’ robe from the closet stock, became a beautiful glistening white robe with gold embroidery. Her facial make-up changed, became exquisite and bright. Her lips turned cherry red, her cheeks blushed, her eyelashes lengthened and her eyebrows shaped perfectly to match the shape of her now beautiful blue eyes.
The other witches gasped. The still shook and trembled from Hannah. They had seen much magic tonight, much power displayed, more than they had ever seen in their lives.
Priestess Marigold went to the East candle in a glide. No one saw her feet move. She just seemed to go there.
She looked up to the heavens and chanted.
“Great Mother Goddess hear my plea, reveal my secrets that we may serve thee!”
Marigold raised her face to the heavens, “I am Marigold of the Wild!” she shouted.
She reached into her empty wicker basket and suddenly the basket was not empty. It filled itself with wild things. When she withdrew her right hand, she gripped wildflowers, hanging moss, brown leaves, a humming bird, a fairy, frogs, and some dirt. She raised her hands, and the offering, to the heavens.
“Hail ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, ye powers of Air, we call upon ye to come! Come and watch over our rite and guard our circle!” She lifted her right knee, skipped, and tossed the contents of her right hand at the same time. The candle signifying the East watchtower popped into flame. Witches yelped and jumped. What they saw next caused them to back away from the East candle.
The area around the East candle became a forest with trees, beds of moss, birds and deer. Soft breezes blew the trees and pine needles fell at the witches and Pagan men’s feet that stood nearby, men more wild animals than men. The scene had depth of hundreds of yards. Everyone smelled the fresh scent and the wild men longed to leave this building and run in those woods.
But reality was just inches away on the rug that covered the concrete floor. Or was the forest scene the reality? It seemed like a very real scene, but out of time and place. Everyone wiped at their eyes and shook their heads.
Marigold glided toward the South.
“Ladies! Remember your training!” Astarte, the High Priestess shouted.
“East then South,” they all said in unison. Their chant was hardly audible from fear and awe.
“Men, conjoin!” Brightday commanded. The men stepped forward and closed ranks, close enough to lock arms. Once they joined arms at the elbows, they knelt on one knee. The women stood and raised their arms to the heavens.
As Marigold approached the South candle small curled horns began to sprout from the sides of her head. She moved to the South candle with the same grace as she had moved before. She dug into the basket, raised her palms to the heavens and her voice rang out.
“Hail ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, ye powers of Fire, we call upon ye to come. Come and watch over our rite and guard our circle!” She lifted her right knee, skipped, and tossed the contents of her right hand at the same time. The South candle popped into flame.
Suddenly, the area around the South candle joined, merged with the East candle’s woodland scene. Giant pines appeared. The sun’s rays streaked in great swatches from the setting sun in the west through the pines. Marigold stood in the warm ray of the sun, bluebirds, butterflies, and things that flew, fairy-like things, fluttered around her. Her curved horns grew more. She turned to the west. Was it an optical illusion or was she far away? She glided across the pines to the west. The Coven with the Pagan Order turned also. The witches reached to the heavens.
“South then West,” they all said in unison.
Marigold reached into her basket once more.
“Hail ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, ye powers of Water, we call upon ye to come. Come and watch over our rite and guard our circle!” She shouted and lifted her right knee, skipped, and tossed the contents of her right hand at the same time. The West candle flamed.
There came a scene to the West so magnificent that it made the men weep for home and the women laugh. A babbling brook appeared. It ran through the circle and fed the other three scenes with fresh water. Both banks of the brook lined itself with flowers and a large meadow formed on the southern bank.
“Our meadow,” Cathy, Tommy’s mother, whispered to Marianne, her lover. The two women stared at one another in disbelief.
“From our dreams,” Marianne said to her. They clutched hands.
In the southern edge of the meadow, far in the back, far away from the stream nestled in a grove of oak, was a small green and brown cottage with a brown wooden door. It was very difficult to see because it was the exact same color as the foliage around and behind it. As the light of day changed the color of the foliage, it also changed the color of the cottage. It took a preternatural eye to spot it right away, which most everyone had.
As if cued, everyone turned and looked at Marigold’s face. It had taken on a more creature-like appearance with a small split nose and big beautiful round blue eyes. She had changed into a blue-eyed Pan. Her feet became cloven hooves and she sported white fur from her waist to her ankles.
Astarte, the High Priestess, whispered to Brightday, “We’re witnessing ascension!”
Marigold’s snout grew longer.
He turned his head to her slowly. His mouth was agape and his eyes wide. He whispered back, “I know this place she has created!”
Marigold turned to Brightday, “There is another quarter!” He silenced himself and bowed his head. Marigold’s ears became pointed.
Marigold floated to the North candle and everyone pivoted toward that direction.
“West then North,” they all said in unison.
The witches raised their hands. Marigold reached into her strange basket once again.
“Hail ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, ye powers of Earth, we call upon ye to come. Come and watch over our rite and guard our circle!” She shouted and lifted her right knee, skipped, and tossed the contents of her right hand at the same time. The North candle flamed.
There was a small tremor. The floor of the building shook and the small bells on the altar table tinkled. When everyone looked up from their feet, hills had raised behind the altar table to the North and in the distance, there were taller hills still. The ground sloped away gently on two sides to the east and west forming a cozy valley where the brook ran through the center.
“We know this place, Father!” a Pagan man shouted.
“Silence!” Brightday demanded.
Now they were in the valley. The walls and ceiling of the building disappeared and both groups stood alongside the stream under a starry sky. Cathy spread her arms in the last of the sun’s rays and breathed in the fresh air of the wild. Wildflowers lined the bank of the stream, bugs flew around them as twilight approached. Lightning bugs flashed and died and flashed again. They had entered the enchanted meadow by Marigold’s magic. Hannah gripped Astarte’s arm and pointed to Cathy and Marianne. They were shrinking, getting smaller.