The grassy mound rose lush over the hole. Long ago before Ireland gave itself over to the highways spreading over ancient rock walls, touching the hill of Tara, to McDonald’s and Subway glaring neon in between villages, long ago before the spirits of the land in sadness and rage watched as the children destroyed all that was preserved, severed the lines of energy that ran along the land, connecting the old sacred sites of worship, long ago there was a group of seven Pilgrims on a journey.
The grassy mound lush over the hole. Oweynagat. The cave of the cats. The seat of The Morrighan. Long ago being this moment for Kala who kneels before the entrance, entranced by how the hole opens so seductively, edges hairy with witch grass, earth pinky brown like woman lips, dew sprinkles welcoming her into the darkness leading down, down, down.
She crawls on her knees toward the hole. Amazed that she convinces herself to enter the three foot by two foot opening. Her sudden willingness to go back from where she came. She steps into wet, soft, slippery mud, slides down the shute onto stone and enters the Mother. To the sound of water droplets falling she makes her way, follows a faint flashlight beam ahead. The stone passageway is narrow, covered in the soft wet mud. In places the mud sucks her in past her ankles. While she knows the others are with her, seeing here an eye, there a profile caught in terrified amazement, essentially she feels utterly alone.
Her breathing deepens, and tiny moans let loose from her core. Fear of being crushed under stone, of being buried deep beneath the earth. Fear of getting sucked in by the mud and drowning in the thick lake of it. Fear of losing her way in a darkness she only knew once and only now dimly remembers. Fear of under the bed monsters rising up from the netherworld and restless spirits with gaping maws ever hungry for her scent. Fear of having incurred the dark Queen’s disfavor. Every fear she’s ever known coming up to be noticed, heard, witnessed in the dark, quiet tunnel.
She notices how the others breathe heavily, as one by one they approach and kneel before Her throne. The Fear threatens to send her away screaming, but she takes her trembling turn and in the utter darkness, kneels in the dark embrace.
Lucretia comes. Her sister, friend, lover, comes then. In spirit form, for in reality she is in that other underworld, Australia. She comes behind her and places her arms around her, whispering,
“don’t be afraid; it’s only you.”
Like a river then, the fear pours out of her. From out of her pores, through the soles of her feet, she exhales deeply and releases it all and lying on her side, curls up in a ball, relaxing in the knowing of how deeply, how completely the dark Mother loves her. How she will always keep her safe. How she will always protect her. She has never felt so loved before, so accepted. She understands suddenly that the darkness within is there to love her, help her, guide her toward growth. She wants to stay there forever, live there. She cannot imagine a place more comfortable to sleep and dream. She lets herself be held in the womb of the cave until something within her stirs toward movement, a potential desiring to be unleashed takes hold.
The grassy mound lush over the hole as seven mud drenched babes squirm their way to the grass and hold tightly to the earth with wrinkled fists, drinking in sun and earth and air—Mother feeding them, loving them, holding them, giving them everything she has to offer—life and death and rebirth. Life and Death and Rebirth.