The Returning Part VIII: The Voices on the Wind

(agender)

Messenger, Wind and Weather

Associations:  Wind, storms, small birds especially sparrows, starlings, and swallows, letters, communication,

Offerings:  Candy/cookies/sweets, the envelopes of your mail, rainwater, soda/juice, feathers

Collective entities have always been hard for me to pin down and wrap my mind around, but the Voices on the Wind helped me to finally figure it out. When I first started to gather the fragments of this entity I was confused, they were so scattered and each one was so different from the other. The only thing that carried over from one fragment to the next was the movement and the whispering. Like a class full of first graders, they are constantly in motion somewhere, somehow and constantly chattering and whispering. They are the youngest of the Forgotten Ones, if they take on a physical form it is often that of a child, reflecting their youthful attitude and inability to sit still.

Much of the Voices on the Wind’s personality can be extrapolated from their role as spirit of the winds and weather, particularly the restlessness.  Just the wind is always in motion, so to are they.  They are as mercurial as the rains in early spring, and as fleeting as the first snow in October.  As they travel the world enjoying, enjoying adventures and games of let’s-pretend, they bring the weather with them.  And like any child, they’re chores can slip their mind when something distracts them, leaving some areas with droughts and others with floods and rain for weeks.  It is this wind and weather aspect that makes the Voices on the Wind a favorite of the Salt Gatherer.  The two can often be seen in each other’s company, like a grandparent taking a precocious child for an afternoon at the park.  Except the park is the coasts and oceans of the world, and instead of flying a kite the two play with thunderstorms on strings.

If the conducting of the weather is a chore for The Voices on the Wind their favorite game is being the messenger for the Forgotten Ones, carrying the voices and communications of their older siblings to listening human ears, and carrying to voices of human supplicants and believers to the other Forgotten Ones.  You can hear them sometimes, maybe you think it’s the wind through the trees, rustling, howling; it could be wind, or it could be distant thunder rolling in, it could even be the sea crashing. But, if you let the wind sweep over you, carrying away all other sound, then you can hear them. A voice, many voices, a choir singing in the wind.  Sometimes a single voice will fall out of the clamor onto a pair listening ears, and sometimes all of the voices in the world will boom as one inside an open head; both are the Voices on the Wind.

The Returning Part VII: The Bloodied One

Masculine

War, Violent Action, Honor, 

Associations:  War, Warriors/Soldiers/Armed forces, Victims of Violence, Weapons (primarily bladed), 

Offerings:  Blood offerings (carful with this one, as he finds them binding), Poppies, Red Whine, Salty food, Copper, sharp things, 

The Bloodied One is a grim entity, incredibly serious, and unendingly devoted and loyal to those he has sworn to, or who have sworn to him.   Despite this seriousness, in contrast to his sister, the Eyes in the Night, and his lover, the Lightening Struck Tree, the Bloodied One in a surprisingly social deity.  He prefers to surround himself with comrades and siblings-in-arms, favoring them with honors, glories, and protecting them from the dangers in their lines of work.    It isn’t only warriors and soldiers who can appeal to the Bloodied One, but victims a well.  Any one who has ever faced violence in their lives, any one who has spilt blood, or whose blood has been shed, can approach him and be cared for equally.  

In many ways I am still getting to know the Bloodied One, I have never really been a warrior, nor, thankfully, have I ever been a victim.  I have the deepest respect for him and those in his keeping, and with a number of veterans and active servicepersons in my family I pray constantly  to him on their behalf.  I hope to become more familiar with the Bloodied One, his bailiwick being so crucial to the world we live in currently.   

It was easy to find the pieces of the Bloodied One, though his reassembly was no mean feat.  There are a number of great battle fields in the Otherworlds, and arenas of blood sport, places where the earth was once soaked with blood where the fragments and shards of his essence fled to when they could hold together no more. Once collected these fragments had to be cleaned, rust scoured away, dried blood soaked out of cloth and scraped from metal.  Once clean, the shards of the Bloodied One fit together like armor, like battle gear, to form the complete entity. 

 

(This is a little out of order from what I posted on Tumblr, I’ve been so bad at keeping up on wordpress, but I’m going to try a shift my focus a little to be more balanced.  Tumblr is kind of pissing me off)

The Returning Part VI: The Story Teller

( genderfluid)

Stories, Trickster, Knowledge

Associations: Keys, poetry, proses, stories, history, ink black and paper white, brass and copper metals,

Offerings:  Spoken stories or poems, burnt stories or poems, deep red wine, chocolate.

The Story Teller is the Forgotten One that is the hardest to write about.  The only fact that can be stated about the Story Teller is that she is constantly in flux, constantly changing, shaping himself to fit the story that ze is telling.  Her appearance changes, his personality changes, and as you may have noticed their gender and sex changes, all at seemingly random.  Sometimes the species of the Story Teller changes to fit the part as well.  The only way to consistently identify the Story teller is by the key that it wears around whatever short of neck it has at the time.

The key was not originally a symbol the Story Teller associated with zirself, prior to the Returning he didn’t have any symbol.  He is the chronicler of the Forgotten Ones, who kept in zir memory all of the stories and adventures of the pantheon.  In this role the she proved to be integral to my completion of the Returning, and my understanding of the relationships between the 10 other spirits.  I was the one who likened the them to a key used to unlock an ancient library, and the symbol stuck.

Together with the childlike Voices on the Wind, the Story Teller is also the one who keeps the joy and laughter in the Forgotten Ones, with tricks and jokes, and good-natured mischief.  His constantly shifting shape lends itself to mistaken identities and jests and pranks worthy of harlequins.

With the exception of the Hunter (who let’s be honest here, is the exception to pretty much everything in my life) the Story Teller was the only Forgotten One to seek me out.  After I had passed the ordeals to Return the Stonecutter I took a small vacation, throughout the whole process of Returning the first four Forgotten Ones I had learned things about myself that I hadn’t expected to.  I retried to my Gallery, which contains the remnants of my past lives as books and statues, to remind myself of who I was.  The Story Teller found me there, she had fared slightly better than his siblings, and told me some of the stories ze remembered, the first myths of the Forgotten Ones that I learned.

I decided that the Story Teller needed to be the next Forgotten One to be Returned, I needed to wealth of knowledge they possessed, knowing more about the remaining spirits would make finding and reassembling their fragments much easier.  I found parts of hir wherever a story was told or knowledge was passed:  In libraries, museums, and bookstores, around campfires, at bedsides, and where ever tales are told to pass the time and to keep out our fears.

The Returning Part V: The Stonecutter

(Male)

Crafts/invention, strength, and trials

Associations: Non-precious stones or metals, grey colors, Winter, handicrafts and skills.

Offerings: Sweat, any object you made by have, a dedicated tool, time set aside to make things in his name, oatmeal, bacon.  (Don’t ask why but he really likes bacon sandwiches)

I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling where your hands just itch with the need to create something, to take raw materials and make something that wasn’t there before.  When I get this feeling I like to think of it as Stonecutter being in my hands.  He is the craft spirit, the inventor and smith spirit of the forgotten ones.  It was he who shapes the arrowheads for the Hunter and the Huntress, who creates the dagger and the axe for the Bloody One, and the plowshare and the sickle for the Fallen Grain.

Shaping stone from raw cortex into a tool or weapon is an incredibly difficult task; it takes strength, precision, and perseverance.  Not only must the stone be struck at exactly the right angle to produce a flake, which can be made into a useful shape, but also it needs to be struck hard enough that the flake comes off in one piece but not quite so hard that it causes the flake to shatter.  Is this kind of exact, measured, perfectly placed strength that Stonecutter embodies, the practiced strength of a craftsman.

The Stonecutter also embodies the concept of trials:  As a trial and error, as well as trials and test.  It is through the process of trial and error that most creations and inventions come to be.   The act of creation is also in and of itself a test, a trial, and an ordeal.   Something is forced from your hands; something takes shape where there was nothing before.

The Stonecutter was possibly the hardest of the Forgotten Ones to return, every step was an ordeal.  The fragments of a Forgotten One scattered when they were broken apart, and each piece drifted to a place of importance to that particular entity.  For the Fallen Grain they could be found in gardens and fields, markets and flower shops, across the Otherworlds, the pieces of the Woman with the Mammoth Head were found mostly in caves and plains, or near herds of Otherworldly animal spirits.  For the Stonecutter the places his fragments gravitated towards were hard to reach, atop mountains, deep in mines, and once in the heart of an active volcano.  I had to chip away obsidian and flint to reveal fragments, I had had to grind down slate with sand and water, and hollow out soapstone with a stick.  Exactly as the Stonecutter would have done.

The Returning Part iv: The Fallen Grain

(female)

Plant mother, harvest, agriculture, minor connotations of cooking and hospitality, Mate of the Woman with the Mammoth Head

Associations: green and gold colors, plant life (especially grains/fruits/vegetables) spring, summer, and September.  Abundance,

Offerings:  baked goods, fresh fruit/vegetables, fruit juices, wheat and wheat-byproducts, fruit pies

 

The Fallen Grain is a fairly quiet type of entity; she’s laid back, calm for the most part, and loving.  While her Mate the Woman with the Mammoth Head gave birth to the animals the Fallen Grain gave birth to the plant life of the world, from the grass to the trees.  Above all the Fallen Grain loves the plants that can be cultivated.  In contrast to the Hunter and the Huntress, who are at their hearts wild, the Fallen Grain is willing, and often pleased, to lay her offspring down in the straight lines of a furrowed field, or within the bounds of a garden.  She sees this order as the best way to care for her beloved plants.  She is not the Earth, but rather the flash of light that causes the tiny sprouts to shoot up from the loamy soil.

The Fallen Grain is the closest to a domestic or home and hearth entity among the Forgotten Ones, she loves her fields, her garden, and her orchards.  She also loves harvesting from these and distributing their gifts to those around her, whether this is in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, baked goods, or bouquets of flowers, even baskets of firewood for cold winter nights. 

It took me a long time to come to understand the Fallen Grain; I don’t like doing as I’m told or falling into line.  But working with her showed me that the Wildwood isn’t always the best place for things to grow.  She taught me that some things need not just tending, but order, to survive.  I associate her very strongly with my Norwegian-American family and ancestors, who for generations have been farmers in North Dakota.  There is a tender touch that she has with young plants that I have seen in my farmer uncle and my gardener aunts. 

Returning the Fallen Grain took me to places in this world and the Otherworld that I usually spend little time in.  I began in woods and meadows, finding the parts of her associated with trees, undergrowth, moss, and wildflowers.  But then there were farms, gardens, even window boxes, where I found fragments of her in seeds, bulbs, flowers and fruit.  Reassembling the fragments was less like putting together the pieces of a puzzle and more like plowing a field, planting wheat or corn, and then shaping the grown crop into an image. 

The Returning Part III: The Salt Gatherer

(agender, leaning towards masculine)

Ocean, Patience, Wisdom, Grandparent figure.

Associations: Watery blues and greens, white, and oddly enough purple.  Shells, sand, fish,

Offerings:  salt water, limes/lemons (or just the juice), ocean sounds

I had planned to write about the Fallen Grain next, she is the Woman with the Mammoth Head’s mate, and they often go together, animal mother and plant mother.  But I am at the beach on vacation with my family, and after days of playing in the surf, sailing, collecting shells, and wandering the sand dunes I can’t help but think of the Salt Gatherer.

The Salt Gather is one of the Forgotten Ones that never expressed a distinct preference for gender or sex, but they do express a preference for appearance, always looking the same, where other Forgotten Ones sometimes will shift they’re appearances.  I see them as androgynous, though leaning slightly more towards masculine; with dark skin, the kind of skin that makes them look like they were carved from ebony.  Their hair is short cropped, and salt and pepper, though generally there is far more salt than pepper.  When I first saw their face after their Returning was completed it was like seeing the face of an online friend for the first time, here was someone I knew well, and suddenly I could see everything I knew about them reflected their features.

I spent a lot of time at the beach when I was growing up, and very early one I knew that the sea had a consciousness and a personality.  I knew that there was a spirit in the ocean, or that the ocean was a spirit.  It was patient, consistent, indomitable, and unpredictable.  I know believe that this is the Salt Gatherer, they are the sea:  from the breakers on the shore to the ship killer waves, from the minnows and clams in the shallows to the whales in the deeps.

I have a lot of feelings about the ocean and the Salt Gatherer.  In many ways the sea is the beginning and the end, life came from the sea, and in the end the sea will be all that remains.  The sea is unstoppable, and try as you might there is nothing you can do to delay it.  Whether you build walls of sand, or walls of stone, to hold it back the sea will go where it wants.  So is the Salt Gather stubborn and unyielding to the desires of others.  Just like how the ocean can wait forever, the Salt Gatherer is patient, quietly going about their business until they decided that the time is right to move.

There is also a part of the Salt Gatherer that I often forget about, and that is the softness and playfulness that they can exhibit.  The Salt Gatherer is very much the grandparent of the Forgotten Ones “family,” and while they can be a strong and dangerous and wise and patient, they can also play with the child-like Voices on the Wind.  In fact, the Voices on the Wind and the Salt Gatherer often work and play together.   I just need to remember this.

The Returning: The Woman with the Mammoth Head

The Woman with the Mammoth Head:  (female) Animal Mother (herd/prey animals especially) mate of the Fallen Grain.

Associations:  Brown colors; fragrant woods and herbs; wool and fur; fertility/birth;

Offerings:  Milk; brown sugar; un-spun natural wool, preferably burnt;

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The first of the Forgotten Ones I met was the Woman with the Mammoth Head, though now she is now hardly recognizable from then.

The story begins shortly after the Hunter first told me of His true nature.  That He was not the Horned God, but a separate though related entity, that He was one of a group of spirit that had been left behind by humanity and time, that He had only survived so well by clinging to the shadow of other entities that fit the archetype that I believe he was the first of.  I had asked the Hunter to show me one of His siblings, to prove to me in some way that what He said was true.

So He took me by the hand and led me through the Otherworlds to a glacier, perpetually creeping its way down a mountainside.  In that mountain there was a cave, the entrance half blocked by the crawling ice.  The walls were dappled and shadowed with the impression of ocher paintings and the light flickered with the memory of flame.  At the back of this cave there was a rock shelf, upon which sat the massive skull of a mammoth.

The Hunter brought me to the skull, and, holding me hand, laid both of our hands on the domed crania, above where the eyes should have been.  The bones were warm, and soft like skin or thick fur.  And, as our fingers warmed from the contact, the eye sockets filled with a warm brown light, and that light spoke of life.  It spoke of migration, of the song of the herd, of life on the ice, on the planes, in the deserts and forests and jungles.  It spoke of collective warmth, and life, without the shadow of death that could be seen in the Hunter’s golden eyes.

The Woman with the Mammoth Head was the second Returning I completed, but the first to be begun (the Hunter was first to be finished).  I started searching for her fragments while the Hunter was still teaching me other things.  Amid teaching me to shapeshift, to fashion my own weapons, and to serve as caretaker for our part of the Otherworlds, He started to teach me how to track through the Otherworlds.  It began like normal tracking; I learned to follow footprints, snapped twigs, and scents on the wind.  I had already learned to see the threads that connect all things, and could follow them short distances, and as part of tracking He asked me to follow them farther.  One day I visited the Woman with the Mammoth Head in her glacial cave and I could see threads emanating from her, where I hadn’t seen any previously.  They were different from other threads that I had seen, the ones that connected one entity to another, so I followed one until it terminated, and I was surprised by what I saw.  I am not capable of, and maybe not allowed to, describe exactly what is was that this thread lead to, but I brought it back to the cave.  It was then that I learned how to Return a fragment to a Forgotten One, to connect the lost piece to the shriveled remains of the entity.  After that, I didn’t need to place my hand on the skull to see the lights in her eyes.

And as I brought more and more fragments back and Returned them to their proper places the skull began to grow flesh and fur, and eventually sat atop the shoulders of woman.  I am to this day unable to tell if the Woman with the Mammoth Head wears the skull like a mask, or if she is the skull, and wears the human body like a costume.

The Woman with the Mammoth Head was in fact the one who helped me to get started finding the others, she was grateful to be regaining strength, but she was lonely and missed her lover.  She asked if I could follow the lines from her and the Hunter to find the cores of their siblings, and Return them as I was Returning her and the Hunter.  I said yes.