Maeve’s Winter Solstice

by Elizabeth Cunningham

Below is a brief excerpt from Red-Robed Priestess. Maeve is back on Mona inside Bryn Celli Ddu with the druids. Copyright 2010 by Elizabeth Cunningham. All rights Reserved.

It was pitch dark inside. I moved carefully to avoid stepping on anyone, and found a place to sit nestled between warm bodies on all sides. If the chamber had been lit, I might have felt claustrophobic. Jesus’s tomb had been palatial compared to this. But as it was, all of us pressed together, it seemed like children playing a game in the dark. I am not the only one who felt that, for among that august body, with no one much under forty, there were quite a few giggles and even now and then a guffaw as we all got settled.

Then the archdruid’s voice rang out, calling the quarters and proclaiming at last:

“Here now is the center of world.”

Instead of his planted staff, the center was a stone standing in the middle of the chamber, a stone I sensed rather than saw. I felt us all quieting, deepening, taking on the qualities of the stone. The only sound was our breath, almost inaudible as we caught each other’s rhythm, so that soon we were breathing as if we were one body.

“We know the danger that is almost certainly coming to our shores,” the archdruid said at length. “There is no need to debate it. The question before us is how shall we face it? Let us listen for answers in the silence. In the holy darkness, let our inward sight be clear. When words come, let them be words of wisdom and power.”

The silence spread over us again: fallen leaves over the earth, snow over leaves, stars over stone. Time got lost in the darkness; the confines of space that held us close together dissolved. We were sitting inside the vast womb of night, waiting for words to be born.

(A debate follows, which Maeve resolves. I won’t include it here as I don’t want to give away the plot. Below is the conclusion of the scene at sunrise on Solstice.)

Eventually the sobs subsided and the silence settled again. We moved even closer to each other, arms wrapped around whoever sat in front of us, head resting against the breast of the one behind. The pounding in my head eased. It would be over soon. I had no doubt of my task. I knew exactly where I would stand. I think I dozed off then. We all did, till the sun, reborn, shot its first ray down the passage grave and we rubbed our eyes and rose, stiffly, again.

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Elizabeth Cunningham December 21, 2010 - 7:45 pm

Joyous Yuletide. Party on!


TemperedLass December 22, 2010 - 4:29 am

What a wonderful Solstice gift. Thank you for sharing! The archdruid's words are words for all of us at this time. Many Blessings to you and yours. ~Sarah Benton, Springdale, WA

Unknown December 22, 2010 - 2:28 pm

It reads so well. And it's such a powerful moment, and yet so human.

And, yes, it does speak to us now.

faerian December 22, 2010 - 6:10 pm

even though we have just had summer solstice under the same magical moon, Maeve takes me straight to the darkness with her… you are both so precious to me

Brooke December 24, 2010 - 7:20 am

Oh, I can't wait! Thank Goddess for things like this that give adults the same feeling as that long wait for Santa! Thank you for sharing a spoonful, can't wait to partake of the entire feast!

Hey lady December 31, 2010 - 9:13 am

Wonderful words, but well then Elizabeth, now you're just teasing us! Can't wait to read the new book, and I agree with Brooke that the wait is like children and Santa only for adults. lol


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