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Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. Maewyn Succat was the real name of St. Patrick, who died this day back in a time where myth and history eerily blend. It is said he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, the Three who are One. He was either Scottish or Welsh, or some even say French. Being a Lakota, Irish, British blend myself, I can relate.

Some legends state that he drove the snakes out of Ireland and contested with the very Sidhe themselves, but readers of my THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS know the truth :

{Hibbs, the bear with two shadows, and the first hawk of all creation, Little Brother, are wandering the always dangerous dreamscape of the mystic bear's slumber.}



As a young cub, Hibbs had often sat under the Twisted Oak, staring up into the endless depths of night. Long, long hours he had eagerly listened to GrandMother’s voice on the breeze which had so tickled his ears. She called him her little Wakan Witkotkoka then and had ruffled the hair atop his small head as she spun tales of the reality that darted out from behind the rocks and trees which he so foolishly called the world.

“See how you sit, arms hugged about your knees? The grass is soft is it not? Like the lap of one who loves you. For, indeed, it is the lap of one who loves you -- as it is my lap. From me, you -- and all living things come -- you are my children. But you are my most beloved, for you love me back.”

Hibbs remembered how the cool, yet strangely loving, breeze had ruffled through the soft hair of his cheek as GrandMother had kept on, “But be not blind to your brothers and sisters. No, learn from them. Read them as now you read from those scrolls I have brought you. Each brook, each stone, the very sky above you, is there for you to learn from.”

Hibbs had felt his furry nose tweaked then. “Bright days, dark nights, both are but reflections of me. Nowhere will you walk that your foot will not be touching me.”
GrandMother’s voice had grown hushed, “Except the path through Dreams. There the ground is what you make it. But even there, my love will be at your side. And the Great Mystery, of course.”

More GrandMother would not say, for the Great Mystery had come by his name honestly. But rather than be frightened by her silence, Hibbs had been bolstered somehow. How powerful and endless must the Great Mystery be if he could not be contained by mere words. But GrandMother had hinted that she had come from him. And if he had created her so terrible in her power, yet so endless in her love, how wonderful he must be.

And now as Hibbs walked slowly through the utter darkness, he whispered, “How wonderful he must be.”

Little Brother snorted, “Wonderful would be to give us a torch.”

Hibbs smiled dry. Death might just be within arm’s reach, yet the lessons he had learned on GrandMother’s lap made this moment rich and deep, and in a very strange sense -- healing. Thanks to Estanatlehi, Hibbs truly lived each beat of his heart. His grin soured. That heart might not have many more beats left to it, if the smell on the air was any indication. Jasmine, wrapped in fresh-shed blood.

“Begin I do to think that there is no way to win in this dream of yours.”

Hibbs smiled sad. “Perhaps there is a way to lose more slowly.”

Little Brother pecked the top of his friend’s massive head. “Like a winter chill do your words warm.”

The hawk pecked again at Hibb’s head. “So many scrolls you read and still you cannot light our way!”

Hibbs frowned. What had Plato said in that other scroll? That the eye was the prison of the mind. Two-Leggeds saw what they expected to see. The young bear sucked in a deep breath. What was he expecting to see?

Light, of course. But if you thought about it, you didn’t actually see light. It was too fast. You only saw slower things by it. So for Two-Leggeds, light was on the edge, so to speak, the last thing you almost saw before things got too fast for you. He nodded his great head. Like Plato often said in his other scrolls : for the mind to stumble was to fall into darkness.

Little Brother humphed, “It is said the body of the Sidhe is made of movement swift as light. For them, like water is light, something to be touched, bathed in --”
The hawk stiffened, “ -- to drown intruders in.”

Hibbs smiled grim. “Thank you, Little Brother. Now, though blind, I begin to see. And like I said before : my vision, my rules.”

The Sidhe’s reality was a two-edged sword. Now, the legends of fallen angels began to make some sense. If light was to them something slower to reach out and use, then what Two-Leggeds called solid -- flesh and earth -- must of a necessity be seen to them as thinner, harder to make out. Two-Leggeds must seem as clouds. And for Two-Leggeds, the Sidhe seemed misty, half-real. No wonder that the Sidhe seemed to be able to walk through walls and rocks, for to them, they were as clouds. Hibbs grinned like a wolf. Like he had breathed the wood into being earlier, he would breathe Little Brother and himself into the swifter realm of the Sidhe.

And since this was the kingdom of dream, with the thought came the reality.
Little Brother dug his talons deep into the young bear’s wide shoulder. “Is anyone ever happy you to see?”

The world had blinked into view as if the Great Mystery himself had drawn back the black curtains in a sudden sweep of his invisible arm. Hibbs stiffened. He and Little Brother found themselves surrounded.

By Sidhe.

Angry, outraged muttering buzzed through the milling Sidhe. Hibbs shivered. Not at the sight of so many otherworld beings, but at the sight of the strange chamber he and Little Brother found themselves in.

The very air was black fire, swirling in eye-aching patterns in the living twilight of the ballroom. Electric white mists slowly snaked up from the black and scarlet marble floor. And the elaborately dressed Sidhe seemed to float upon the surface of those mists. The Sidhe were so elegant, so regal, so beautiful -- and oh, so deadly.
They were easily as tall, if not taller, than Leandra, dressed in intricate patterns of colors that seemed to burst from the silken fabrics that flowed from their slender bodies. All the colors Hibbs had ever seen, and some he had never before seen, burned in silent fire along their flowing clothing.

Long gowns of sparkling silk cascaded in the wake of these nightfall creatures with the ethereal bodies and the predator eyes. They had been dancing some complex, intricate dance when Hibbs and Little Brother had suddenly appeared in their midst as if from nowhere.

From the looks in those flat eyes, Hibbs dryly noted that it would seem that he and his brother were as welcome as a muscle cramp. The males, much fewer in number than the females, began going for the hilts of their swords. Their spring-loaded bodies made Hibbs feel clumsy and without an ounce of grace. Until he looked at the females, who put their male counterparts to shame.

The doe-eyed faes, in their sheer satin gowns, flowed effortlessly across the sea of mists. As they neared, Hibbs caught their perfume. They smelled of jasmine and fresh-shed blood. Some of that blood still glistened on their wet lips.

Movement snared Hibbs’ eyes. Up high from the dance floor sat three diamond thrones. Two on one level. The third, in the middle and on the next level higher. Three faerie queens stared at him as if at a bug scuttling from their soup bowls. The Queen of raven hair, whose movement had caught Hibbs’ attention, took a delicate sip from her goblet of -- Hibbs sniffed to confirm the sad tale told by his eyes -- blood. Sidhe blood. The young bear snorted. It would seem that the Sidhe ate their own. They must be very civilized indeed.

She looked as if she disapproved of the world in general and Hibbs in particular. She raised an eyebrow at the male Sidhe. As one, they drew their swords.

Little Brother snorted in contempt, “Bold are they against an unarmed guest.”

The second Faerie Queen, whose hair was a hot sunset, sneered, “Guest? We sent out no invitations to savages.”

Hibbs ignored the males, whose eyes were only a little less sharp than their swords, and instead looked at the highest Queen, whose hair was living lightning and whose piercing eyes were of winter frost. There was something odd about that hair -- as if it were but an illusion somehow. No matter. Let her keep her secrets. He had enough of his own. He smiled sad. Savages? Perhaps. But he was young enough to wish to tweak up-turned noses and so decided to quote one of his favorite tale-spinners, Aeschylus.

“And even in our sleep, pain, that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon our hearts. And in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of The Great Mystery.”

The High Queen, of Caesar jaw and Cleopatra eyes, jerked as if stung, and in words, like a rippling brook given life, said, “Why are you here?”

Of course, as usual, Hibbs hadn’t a sure answer. Now, his guess might have been excellent, or it might have been full of worms. But Estanatlehi hadn’t raised a grandson idiot enough to make guesses in front of a roomful of enemies. So he decided to be as vague as Estanatlehi herself. And in trying to be wise and mysterious, he, of course, hit the truth dead-on. So much for the wisdom of young bears.

“I find myself where I am needed.”

The High Queen again jerked as if bee stung. “There are layers of truth to what you say, bearling. Were you wise just now or were you most foolish?”

Little Brother snorted, “If guess I had, mine would be foolish.”

The High Queen gave a smile of pain. “More true than you meant, First One.”

The hawk shook its head. “That would be of the bear you speak.”

The Raven Queen sneered, “You wish.”

“Wish I do that your roosters put down their toothpicks.”

The High Queen gestured, and a long sword of sharp diamond rose from the mists. “Bearling, take this if you would and disarm them yourself.”

The male Sidhe bristled like thorns. Hibbs sighed. He breathed upon the sparkling sword. It blurred and broke apart in a cloud of flying butterflies. Now, it was the High Queen’s turn to bristle.

Hibbs bowed his massive head slightly. “No offense meant, your Majesty. But I do not like swords. The moment you pick one up, you become like it, an instrument of death. And I am a healer.”

The Queen of Fire leaned forward and hushed, “Then, who are you here to heal, bearling?”

Hibbs smiled, “Say that fast three times.”

Hair of living flame whipped over her forehead as the Queen sat back stiff. “I find you not amusing at all.”

Hibbs sighed, “You are not the first to make that discovery."

The Raven Queen pulled herself up tall and deadly. "Why are you here?"

Hibbs was beginning to wonder that himself. And that fact made him irritable. He fought it. And he lost. Then, it suddenly occurred to him who the High Queen was. And suddenly he knew why he was there. Promises to keep.

He sighed, "If I did not tell The Morrigan's mother, why do you think I would tell you?"

Hibbs turned to the High Queen. "By the way, Queen Ogygia, the Morrigan says she remembers ... everything."

The queen's eyes of winter frost became slits as they first stabbed into the young bear, then flicked over to the males. "You have swords. Kill him."

The hawk slapped the bear aside the head with one wing. "Once. Just once, think before you speak!"

From the floor, out of the slowly weaving mists, thrust a long, rune-carved staff. The male Sidhe flinched as they read the ancient language, long forgotten except by those who fell. And drifting upon a strangely warm breeze, from a fresh-hewn crypt, came the voice of a heart that refused to surrender.

"Brave and true bear, you kept your word, gave my message. Now, I give you a weapon within a weapon that even one such as you may wield."

Hibbs took it within his great paws. It trembled in his fingers as if alive and happy to be held once again. By the Great Mystery, what a staff. It felt sturdy, yet light, but also mystical. There was more to this weapon than met the eye. The sudden fear in the male Sidhes alone told him that.

He spun it in a fluid figure eight pattern as GrandMother had taught him long ago. He smiled. Yes, even a healer like he might defend himself with a weapon like this.
But not unless he had to. Hibbs looked this way and that, hoping to find some path of escape that didn't involve the breaking of heads. Perhaps it was this seeking of his that opened his ears. Or perhaps the power of Surt was such that it could penetrate the young bear's dream when Leandra's could not. Whatever the reason, Hibbs heard the not-so-gentle rumble of Surt, the Father of All Fires, high above him in the darkness.

"Hibbs, you dolt of a bear! Sleep on your own time. We have a situation here."

Eyeing grimly the steadily approaching Sidhe, Hibbs snorted, "Oh, really? And you think I'm having fun?"

"I do not care if you are having cake and tea with the High Queen herself. You are needed here!"

Hibbs began twirling the staff faster as the Sidhe motioned to one another for a flanking advance. "So, Surt, it seems like years since I was awake. How have you been?"

"Like dung. Now, that we have caught up, would you get your sorry pelt to the Waking World?"

"Spit on my foot."


"Give me an anchor to hold onto, brother."

"Oh, gladly."

And with a stab of hot agony, Hibbs was awake. All but one of the howls belonged to the three Faerie Queens. But Hibbs' was louder.
In keeping with the Celtic motif of this blog, here's a video that hopefully will appeal to all of you :

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