Monday, February 25, 2008

Book of Five Rings.

The castle spread out from an ancient center in a series of concentric circles decreasing in age. Each circle was separated from the others by stone walls--more labrynthine than fortress, clasping and overlapping like petals. Each wall was carved in fantastic bas relief showing scenes of the hunt. None was ever still.

The outermost ring depicted the FoxHunt. Costumed men and women armed with tiny bugles. Terriers made dainty attempts at capturing a thinking, reasoning prey. Within these walls was the library, the greenhouse, and a handful of tea-rooms overlooking a lawn. Here she read and studied and was left to herself.

The second ring was the StagHunt. King and retinue, faithful dogs and hawks. Bows and arrows, long-legged steeds, and a quarry that would rather run than hide. The killing blow was always left to the King--possession of land and beast unquestioned, even in stone. Within these walls were the kitchens, the gardens, the aviary. Here she walked the grounds with him and ate with him every night.

The third ring was the BoarHunt. Warlord and men at arms. Long lances, hounds like horses, horses like harts. Success was no certainty and more often than not the warrior king went abidingly to death--staked to the ground by a tusk and snout that demanded sacrifice. Within these walls was a wood and a hall. Here she danced with him, at first unwillingly, but he would always escort her back.

In the fourth ring, the Hunt was reversed. Men of stone, armed with stone, backs to a fire and eyes fixed on the descending pack. Here she did not go, but she could see the tops of oak and black pine over the wall and a host of invisible gardeners was always set to pruning the barriers.

The fifth ring was seen by only one and depicted no Hunt at all. Only a mass of creatures running, running. Some ran on four legs, some ran on more, and there were those that ran on two, but they were no less animal than the rest. Who is to know what this wall contained? It is only left to say that the roads that led inward were many and the road that led out was one. And when The Change came about he could not find any of them and he did not try.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Into the blue.

From Werke, kritische Gesamtausgabe: Tischreden:
Eight years ago [in the year 1532] at Dessau, I, Dr. Martin Luther, saw and touched a changeling. It was twelve years old, and from its eyes and the fact that it had all of its senses, one could have thought that it was a real child. It did nothing but eat; in fact, it ate enough for any four peasants or threshers. It ate, shit, and pissed, and whenever someone touched it, it cried. When bad things happened in the house, it laughed and was happy; but when things went well, it cried. It had these two virtues. I said to the Princes of Anhalt: "If I were the prince or the ruler here, I would throw this child into the water--into the Molda that flows by Dessau. I would dare commit homicidium on him!" But the Elector of Saxony, who was with me at Dessau, and the Princes of Anhalt did not want to follow my advice. Therefore, I said: "Then you should have all Christians repeat the Lord's Prayer in church that God may exorcise the devil." They did this daily at Dessau, and the changeling child died in the following year.... Such a changeling child is only a piece of flesh, a massa carnis, because it has no soul.
--Martin Luther

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Come Again?

Why don't you just crawl in there and see if the oven is hot enough?
One of the more suspensful moments in folklore and all I can think is "Her hair is hanging all over that food." Quick thinking, bravery, and a good set of forearms ignored at the prospect of a ruined batch of hot crossed buns. Little girls who forget to don their hairnets deserve Purification by Flame.
A tale dominated by the bellies of evil women. At the first pang of hunger, a frau drives her children out of the home. Into, of course, the waiting hands of a Butcher and Baker who fattens her captives up--probably on gingerbread men--with the intent of baking them down--potentially into gingerbread men (you've gotta search for the cannibalism--there're savory nibblets where you might not think to look). Ultimately the witch can't ignore the demands of her own stomach and a couple of inconvenient grumbles send her tumbling into the fire. Craft and cunning forfeited for the sake of a few extra pounds. Even poor, chubbed up Hansel seems to have lost all reason ("Both of us on the duck? Are you mad, man?"). So things are left to the famished Gretel, who blows on her fingers, cinches her belt, and keeps her wits about her.
Makes you want to throw out those heart-shaped cookies.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

As lucky can be.

The confounding chimney sweep.

Is it insensitve to suggest what seems so reasonable--that these are the bastard sons of witches and St. Nick? Where else would Santa take his indiscretions but aloft? Witches are a tempting lot--or at least a welcome change from the Pillsbury softness to which he would be accustomed--thorny and wild, legs wrapped around straw and stars and not much else, and not exactly discriminating when it comes to love. An oddly appropriate, if ill-fitting pair. And the mythologies (if not quite equinanimous) share similar leylines.

Of course, the offspring of these blasphemous unions would always be out of step. Stout believers of Kris Kringle could never bear the implications, and the chambers of a witch's heart are tenanted only by her cats, her owls, her faithful toads. So, orphaned and forgotten, their children would be relegated to the the frilled outer edges of each world--the rooftops.

And so become the sweeps.

In grace and appearance they well resemble their mothers, but their temperaments are much more cheery. They are on friendly terms with the sky but are content with small plots of brick and tile, and they travel the chimneyways with inherited ease. Prim, fastidious, and the perfect caretakers of the supernatural highways, they sweep the hearth, clear the stacks, scuttle the vapor trails, and buff that raw coppery line where city meets sky--smoothing all roads for their absentee parents.

And of course, close the days with a bit of mending:

hemming the skirts of Great Auntie Horizon where they peep up around her red stockinged ankles.

In essence, they are the interworldly janitors, but it's a lofty custodianship.