Chapter Twelve ~ Pearlies and Beaches

Jun 17th, 2014 | By | Category: The Madness & The Magic

Minerva couldn’t wait for the Wobbly Women weekend to be over. From their rather wobbly arrival on the Friday night and onwards it was one thing after another – a slippery downward spiral of awkward and embarrassing moments – aided by brandy, numbed with more brandy… leaving nothing but brandy hangovers in their wake. Minerva and Isis had had enough. Sunday morning dawned and battling with brandy fuelled insomnia, the two friends took an early morning walk to the remains of the camp fire where they had gathered the night before with the group of wobbly women who’d insisted they join them for an evening of shamanic goings on. The two women stood with blank expressions, looking on at the tree stump seats around the dying embers of the fire.

“Even these are wobbly,” said Mineva, mounting a stump in precarious fashion.

“Yes I see what you mean,” said Isis, “I have a rather vague recollection of you wobbling off one and almost ending up in the fire… if it hadn’t of been for that rather large lady who came to your rescue…”

“Oh and which rather large lady would that have been I wonder?” sneered Minerva, “Bless them all Isis but really… we’re downright anorexic by comparison don’t you think? I thought I’d kissed goodbye to the skinniness of my youth, in my youth, if you know what I mean – until I came here that is. I suppose that’s a positiveto be taken from the weekend at least.”

“Minerva, you really can be cruel at times,” said Isis, “If it hadn’t of been for that lady pulling you back from the fire, you’d have been in it or on it and with all that brandy inside you, you would’ve gone up…”

“… Like a petrol bomb!” Laughed Minerva, “Now that would’ve sent out a few smoke signals hey Ice? Something to get those jungle drums going a little more shall we say… energetically?” She rolled her eyes, “Oh come on Ice, you must admit – it was all a bit downbeat wasn’t it? I thought we were supposed to be journeying somewhere… you know, going down with the drum to a dark and distant place – not a slow boat to China on some funeral march!”

“Minerva you’re being ridiculous,” snapped Isis, “I’m going in for breakfast,” she looked over towards the dining hall where lights were flashing on in the darkness. Minerva leaned across and pulled Isis back, “We’ve one more thing to do before lining up for our bean sprout cereal…” she produced a tea-light from her pocket and placed it on one of the stumps, “A candle for Bride at Imbolc… for good harvests and healthy babies, especially our dear little Morrigan… to initiate a new soul into the Old Ways under the power and protection of the Goddess… may she bright and blessed be.”

The two women watched the candle as it weaved and flickered in the cold morning air. Their thoughts turned to home and the year ahead, of babies and innocence and the return of the Goddess as she danced in the flame.

There was something else dancing and lingering in the dying remains of the fire although Minerva was too caught up in the magical moment to notice… but Isis did.

“Good Lord and Lady…” said Isis, peering into the still glowing embers, “Are those what I think they are? Minerva… do look will you?”

Minerva frowned as she returned from the floating ethers of the magical realms. How inconvenient… to be interrupted just as one communed with the Goddess, especially at such a poignant moment. At times like this, Isis had no sense of occasion.

“Where and what are you talking about Isis?” grumbled Minerva as she stifled a yawn between two billowing nostrils. “Right there…” Isis pointed at something pale and almost translucent on the ground in front of them.

“Well I never… surely it isn’t… it’s not is it?” Said Minerva as she leaned over towards the ground, “It damn well is too!”

Wobbling forwards and reaching out, Minerva picked up the gleaming object while Isis looked on in disbelief. Clutching it in a closed fist, Minerva seemed to take great delight in slowly delivering it right up to Isis’ face and opening her fingers, slower still, to reveal what was in her hand. Isis was not one for surprises – as Minerva well knew – but she couldn’t help herself. It was just too tempting.

“Oh my Goddess!” cried Isis, “What on earth are they doing here?!”

“Well,” said a very serious Minerva, “One can only assume – given the evidence…” she looked closely into her hand, “… the obvious.”

Isis stared wide eyed at Minerva, “And what is that?”

“Like I said… its obvious isn’t it?” She whispered, “Somebody’s died.”

“You mean somebody fell into the fire and… died?”

“Why else would these false teeth be there?” said Minerva, “Always the last thing to go you know… teeth. The final remains of the suit of clay.”

Isis gasped, “What about the bones? Wouldn’t they be here too?”

“Perhaps we ought to look…”

“Shouldn’t we call the police?”

“We need to tread very carefully Isis. I smell a rat don’t you?” She quickly looked over her shoulder, “I knew there was something odd about those wobbly women… bones make good carcass material… nice stews…”

“You don’t mean…. they’re cannibals?!”

It may have been a cold February morning but Isis was sweating profusely and her heart was pounding through her ear drums.

Minerva signalled for silence, “I knew all that shamanic stuff didn’t feel quite right…” she said, “They were doing the dance of the Psychopomp – transporter of souls, awaiting the arrival of this poor soul,” she thrust the teeth skywards, “… torn from this world and thrown prematurely into the next.. Despicable!”

“Minerva, we have to get away from here. What if we’re next?”

“Isis for Goddess sake calm down,” said Minerva, “And what’s with the hand wringing? You never used to do that! First, we must conduct our own burial protection spell for this dear soul,” she said getting up, “Round the circle three times three,” she began to walk sun-wise, holding her palms aloft, “Love and truth will set you free… Protect this sacred soul’s journey… Goddess bless, so mote it be!”

Isis joined her and they walked together in solemn procession three times around, chanting the spell over the top of the false teeth in Minerva’s outstretched hands. It was a touching sight as well as a peculiar one and certainly not the kind of ceremony either of them had in mind given the time and place but as every wise woman knows – one must be prepared to heed the call of Magic whenever the moment presents itself. Spontaneity is a Witch’s best friend.

No sooner had they finished the ritual and escorted the poor soul on its final journey, they realised that – apart from the teeth – they had company.

A somewhat sheepish figure circled the remains of the fire; head down with hands thrust deeply in pockets. Minerva recognised her as one of the wobbly women and stuffing the teeth quickly into her own pocket; bid her good morning. There was no response from the wobbly woman at all and not one to be ignored – Minerva repeated herself. This time, a low mumble emerged from the figure.

“Is it breakfast time yet?” said Minerva, “I’m feeling quite peckish… now that we’ve finished our morning walk!”

Isis thought the woman looked a bit lost; in fact she could almost be looking for something… “Can we help in any way?” she said.

The woman continued to shuffle around the fire and with a shrug of resignation, looked up to reveal a jolly sort of face and a very toothless smile. Minerva leapt into immediate action and with the most subtle sleight of hand, managed to retrieve from her pocket and deposit the teeth back from whence they came – on the fire – in no time. Isis was quick to follow suit and proceeded to surprise no-one more than herself with a grand early morning performance.

“Oh look!” she said picking up the dentures and handing them over, “Are these what you’re looking for?”

With a swift brush of her coat sleeve and a sharp blow across the Pearlies, the wobbly woman popped them straight into her mouth.

“Now that’s better!” she beamed, “Thanks very much me dears… breakfast’ll be a lot easier now. Must’ve been all that dancing about last night… what with the drums and bums and tums… I was wobbling all over and they fell out so they did!” Her Devonshire accent rang into the cold air, “Funny how you don’t really appreciate what you’ve got until its gone don’t you think?”

Before they had a chance to answer her, she’d disappeared with a sharp exit left to the dining hall.

“Did that really happen or did I dream it all?” said Minerva with glazed expression.

“Good question,” said an equally baffled Isis, “But not worth spending too much time over… we have better things to do.”

“Yes,” said Minerva, “Like going home for one and a good English fry up for another… one can only take so much of this healthy life Isis. Everything in moderation.”

~~***~~

The days leading up to the Spring Equinox were filled with the tingle of new life, of something that had been missing for way too long. It crept back in with the longer days and the warm air. It tip-toed in Crocus bright footsteps around Crafty Cottage and it chirruped in the bushes and trees. It nodded in the heads of Daffodils and pushed out in swollen buds and squeezed up slowly from the earth. Mother Nature was revving up… and so was Minerva. She could hardly contain her excitement. She was High Priestess at her own granddaughter’s Wiccaning. How marvellous. She could think of nothing better to highlight and celebrate this time of life for all of them. It was going to be a magical affair and the perfect location… on a beach! It was just how it should be. Honouring the Goddess and the Gods and the earth mother at the same time. One could not wish for a more idyllic setting on such an occasion.    Finalising the details with Isis was the last job before the big day…

“Where’s the list Minerva?”

“I thought you had it Isis,” said Minerva between sips of brandy – a celebratory mid-morning nip being just the thing, “You had it I’m sure… when we were going over things last week.”

Isis delved into her bag and out again, “It’s definitely not in here…”

“Are you sure? Where did you have it last?”

If there was one thing that irritated Isis (apart from the wrong assumptions… she was sure she didn’t have the list) – it was stupid questions. Maybe the brandy could have waited until later, “I’m sure you had it Minerva, you were writing it on the back of an envelope… why would I take it home?”

If there was one thing that irritated Minerva, it was being accused (wrongly of course) of losing something she didn’t have in the first place; followed by a stupid question. She pulled a face, “Oh look, if it was all on the back of an envelope, surely it can’t be too much to remember Isis can it? I distinctly wanted to keep it as simple as possible. As long as we have the altar tools, the readings, the paper cups and the alcohol of course…”

“And the baby?”

Minerva smiled, “Ah yes… dear little Morrigan… such a sweetie. I’m sure it’ll all be fine Ice.”

“Is David coming?”

“He wouldn’t miss it for the world… but obviously he’ll be taking a back seat in the readings department on the day. He is, however, bringing his guitar as I thought some musical accompaniment might be nice don’t you?”

“Isn’t Joe coming? Asked Isis.

“Yes I believe so. I’m so pleased for Ronnie.”

“I’m sure I heard Ronnie saying he was bringing his guitar.”

“Ah! That won’t be a problem will it? Surely they can do something together can’t they?”

“I have no idea,” said Isis, “I suppose it depends on what songs they know doesn’t it?”

“What do you mean what they know?” said Minerva, “Don’t most guitarists know most of the same songs? Isn’t that how it works?”

Isis didn’t bother to answer, “Are we all going together?” she said.

“I think that’ll be nice don’t you?” said Minerva.

“Yes, whatever you say…” said Isis reaching for the brandy, “I’m sure it’ll work out just fine.”

~ *** ~

Ronnie was feeling better. She felt a buoyancy which had been absent for longer than she could remember. It seemed to return when Joe did, and for that, she was grateful. Spring was in the air, in her step and according to her mother; in the Equinox. Everything was arranged. They were driving down in convoy to the beach which was just a couple of miles down the road. David was bringing Isis, Sophia and Joe were coming in her car, while Minerva, Ronnie and baby Morrigan were taking the Morris. Minerva had insisted that Morrigan must be escorted on such a momentous day in the Morris as its days were numbered and she’d bought a special leather bound photo album to mark the occasion and titled it Magical Morris Memories with sticky silver labels already. Nostalgia as far as Minerva was concerned, was in the preparation.

After the usual ‘Operation Load up Morris’ was over and the reluctant engine chanted at in the usual manner; they were off.

“Isn’t this just wonderful Ronnie? Morris, Maiden, Mother and Crone all off to a Wiccaning on our lovely beach!”

“Yes Mum, it’s great,” Ronnie was attempting to fit some mittens onto Morrigan’s tiny hands, “Thanks for organising it all.”

“Oh I’ve enjoyed every minute,” She said checking her headdress in the mirror. Sprigs of hawthorn and ivy jutted out at various angles, digging into the low ceiling. One couldn’t put a price on the real thing; she only hoped it would last until after the ceremony before it drooped miserably.

“While I think about it darling, is Joe bringing his guitar?”

“Yes, why?”

“Oh David’s bringing his and…”

“Mum!”

“What’s the problem?”

“Well they’re completely different people aren’t they? And isn’t that reflected in what they play?” Ronnie pondered for a moment, “Oh I suppose it’ll be alright… It might be quite good having a contrast, anyway I can’t see a battle of egos on the cards can you?”

“No I checked beforehand. Temperance followed by the three of cups. Harmonic celebrations all round… It doesn’t get better than that Ron!”

They arrived in the car park to find the others assembling themselves and David and Joe huddled over their instruments in deep discussion. Ronnie breathed a sigh of relief. By the time they had extracted themselves from the Morris, an air of growing excitement filled the air. Minerva bent down over the boot of the Morris, gathering her equipment and everyone was handed something to carry with the exception of Ronnie – who was carrying Morrigan – and they began the trek along the old Roman road to the beach.

“Has anyone got a lighter or matches?” said Minerva, suddenly thinking of candles and fires. A ceremony without either didn’t bear thinking about.

“Yes miss!” Joe put his hand up and caught Ronnie’s smile.

“Good,” said Minerva, “I knew I’d forget something.”

“What about the altar tools and the readings?” Isis called from the rear.

Minerva nodded.

“Brandy? Paper cups?”

“Brandy… yes,” said Minerva, “But damn I’ve forgotten the bloody cups!”

David shot her a look of mock disdain.

“Sorry!” she said, “Oh we’re just going to have to rough it folks!”

“Since it’s only you and I that drink the stuff I think we’ll manage,” said Isis flapping along in full costume and sandals, hair piece half on and half off. The late March wind was not being kind to her.

By the time they got to the beach the wind had whipped itself up into a frenzy making all civilised means of communication impossible. They resorted to shouting at each other, which caused a great deal of confusion and when the dark clouds appeared from the West, Minerva was fast giving up hope of any kind of ceremony let alone a decent one.

“Damn you elements!” she raged at the sky and signalled to Isis for the brandy.

“Is there no shelter at all?” screamed Sophia.

“We could go in the chapel,” David’s dulcet tones could just about be heard above the wind.

All eyes fell on him.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine… come on everyone.”

How very god-like, thought Minerva as she gave the brandy back to Isis and followed David’s lead to the 6th century chapel; he could actually be the new Messiah. The small, simple building had a deeply spiritual essence, a palpable energy which filtered out from the stone walls and touched the soul of anyone who entered.

“This is just perfect…” said Minerva as David shut the great wooden door behind them, “Are you sure it’s alright to carry on?”

“Please do,” said David taking his guitar out of its case. Joe followed suit and they sat together and tuned their instruments while the others organised themselves. Ronnie and Sophia fussed over Morrigan who was completely calm and unaffected by the whole ordeal.

“She’s being so good Ron, bless her,” Sophia touched her tiny head.

“I know she’s a little angel really…” said Ronnie, “Don’t know about a warrior witch though!”

“She’s got plenty of time yet,” laughed Sophia.

David and Joe found they had a number of tunes in common and were proceeding to work out a set for the ceremony.

“Nice guitar Joe, I have a soft spot for Yamahas’ myself,” said David as he settled onto one of the cold wooden benches and began to play.

“I bow to the infinite wisdom of the god Yamaha,” smiled Joe, “Written all my songs on this…” he patted the guitar’s slim neck,” it’s my old faithful.”

The harsh and bracing effects of the noisy elements dissipated into the peace and stillness of the small and humble building as it tranquilised them all, none more so than Minerva. However, appearance wise she was far from tranquil looking, but for all her windswept witchiness and wild woman ways it must be said she radiated something that did not look out of place in a house of god. Isis was pure and priceless, Egyptian. Glimmering and shimmering in rainbow chiffon and sparkling gold sandals… she emanated an air of the exotic. But the wind in its temper had done her no favours at all as her hair piece now hung at the usual perfect right angle to her head; her own personal trademark.

But none of it mattered. The ceremony was a glimpse of magic in the midst of an unalterable madness. It was a moment in time that remained still for long enough for all of them to savour the taste of that magic and realise that it was the flip side of the same sordid coin. Seldom is there one without the other.

Afterwards, as they fussed and clucked around baby Morrigan, Ronnie slipped outside to find Joe.

“Guitar sounded great Joe,” she said.

“Thanks. The acoustics in there are fantastic aren’t they?”

“Thank you for being there, it means a lot to me.”

“Really?” said Joe.

“Yes… really,” smiled Ronnie.

“I’m glad about that Ron.”

Joe had stooped to kiss her, she was sure of it. But the moment was punctuated by the creak of the chapel door and the appearance of the others. They poured out one by one and huddled together against the cold.

“Everyone back to Crafty Cottage for cakes and ale!” cried Minerva, “Or bread and brandy… music and merriment… whatever takes your fancy!”

“You mean whatever takes your fancy Minerva!” said David laughing.

“Well, what is life without a bit of what you fancy?” said Minerva slipping an arm through his and pulling him towards her, “Don’t you agree vicar?”

~~***~~

THE END

Sheena Cundy is a witch, wife, mother and emerging Crone. Singer and writer of songs and stories, reader and teacher of the tarot and horseriding. Lover of all things mundane and Magical – even the menopause. www.sheenacundy.weebly.com

 

 

One Comment to “Chapter Twelve ~ Pearlies and Beaches”

  1. Zoe says:

    Enjoyed very chapter, shame it came to an end – the characters are lovable and brought to life with a crafty pen and a crafty imagination! Awesome, let’s have some more please x

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