Editor’s note: Today’s post comes to us from Tudorbeth, who sent us this devotional essay after we put out a call for submissions on Twitter last week. It’s a little different from our usual fare, but I’m attracted to the sense of mystery that permeates this account of the author’s quest for connection with the divine, so I decided to share it with our readers as well.
The Wild Hunt always welcomes guest posts! If you have an idea you would like to pitch to us, send me an email (email@example.com) with a brief description of your article idea and a short biography. We normally publish pieces between 1000 and 2000 words in length, and welcome all kinds of writing about the Pagan experience. Thanks, and enjoy Tudorbeth’s column!
-Eric Scott, weekend editor
I sought you out, my lord.
I searched for you among city streets. I had seen your image many times before; I had seen you in cathedrals and grand houses. I had to hunt for you then. I searched for you among the stone faces of saints and apostles.
I seek you now.
I know you are here within the city, hidden high above doorways of buildings not known for their worship of the soul. They call to your other nature, to the wealth you represent. The god of commerce and money calls to his followers in these buildings. Their hearts as cold and hard as the gold they worship.
You guard doorways with your image, entrances protected by you, my ancient father, now lost to time and the battles of belief fought so many millennia ago. They rage on today. But your image remains, and its power is the same.
It begins to rain. The grey pavement fills with tears of the goddess. This city was once a forest with green arms that protected us from the rain. Now the trees have all gone, and what remains are stone buildings and cold grey streets. The goddess cries. I follow her, a daughter of Melusine, Hecate, Endor, Hypatia, Petronella, Joan of Arc. A witch.
I have dedicated myself to the goddess, the mother of all. I had celebrated Imbolc and performed our quickening ceremony, and yet your name echoed through the snowdrops as candles flickered.
The rain splatters against the workers as they rush back to their offices. They hide away underground on trains that never see the light of day. I used to look for you in those tunnels as well. I found you once in a museum. I saw your face embossed on a silver cauldron, but that was all. Now I need to see you free.
I know you are here among these city streets, the bricks and mortar we have built upon Celtic and Roman settlements. Londinium, the strangers called it, but we know it as something else. Like our gods we must search deep for our voices.
At last I cannot stand the frustration of not seeing you again. It is not the rain or the cold February weather that drives me indoors. As a child of nature, I love all the gifts the mother goddess brings, the rain, the storm, the mists, the rainbows. They are all pieces of magic, just as you are.
People run and crash into me to avoid the onslaught, but I stand drenched, staring up at the façade of buildings, searching for your image, my lord.
I seek solace in this place were the goddess once stepped. Her sacred springs and fountains of magic were built over by bricks, columns, and stained-glass windows. The churches and cathedrals drew us in, as this is where our goddess resides.
The echoing, steeped darkness is illuminated by flickering candles and shimmering paintings of unknown saints. I walk quietly up to the front. Am I meant to bow and pray? I’m not sure, but I sit down, breathing in the ancient divinity of angelic choirs.
I stare at the columns and follow them up as they reach the roof. Carved faces and hideous animals shout back at me. Dancing lions, bears, shadows, smoke dreams, phantoms, memories of a distant past: these all lay before me. I follow the twisting ivy round a column.
Then suddenly there you are, my lord. I find your face peering out to me. My lord of nature, of trees and creatures of the forest. I see the deer with antlers strong and true. I see your face brushed against hair of ivy and twine.
I stand and follow your image. You are there all around me now, and I can see you clearly. You rise like the morning sun and stand strong in your stag carving on marble slabs. I walk toward your images and bump into cold empty pews. I think of nothing but you. I do not care where I am walking. I do not care where you are leading me to, oh lord; I only know that I will follow.
There, on a column by the side of a statue of my goddess in blue and white, your face peers outward. The ancestors knew you would remain forever. They carved your image, my lord, but just as the Goddess changed her shape for the new religion, so too has your image remained. For some, your presence and power changed into the enemy, and our gods of the old became the devils for the new. But here you remain, in plain sight among the crosses and symbols of the new religion. The stonemasons of our past silently respected their ancestors and hid you among the trees and nature, the places of your domain, where you will rest for eternity.
I want to tell you that I am sorry. My lord, Cernunnos, we need you now more than ever before. We have destroyed the forest. Some will pray for you to return, but I know you have never left us. Your image and your strength is all around; all we have to do is search for you, channeling your energy and strength into change.
I lower my head and walk away. As I do, a candle flickers, and another blows out. I know you heard me. I turn to see your stone face staring back at me. Long after I am gone your image will remain, silently waiting for another to find you again.