Meadow Cave Camp
When we woke in the morning Grigori was gone already. We gathered the few things we had not packed and went outside our tepee. We just stood by by while looking for Pythia. It was not long before Pythia, Tess and Ira arrived. Ahi Adra was also there as well as some warriors delivering our saddled horses.
I was looking at Pythia. She was beautiful and her green eyes glistened in the light of the rising sun. She was dressed in a cloak similar to ours and a long shirt that went to her knees. Her pants were also dark made from a fabric I was unfamiliar with. She had a belt outside her shirt that held a scabbard and blade. The handle was showing and it looked like the handle of our alter athame in the temple, white as a pearl.
We took the reins of our horses when Grigori rode up. He arrived with Skinfaxi already saddled and his packs full. Today he looked very different. Skinfaxi, his horse, is a powerful animal but this day he looked more so than ever before. Grigori was dressed different also and he too was displaying a large knife on his belt with an elk antler handle.
Pythia said there were a couple of tasks before we left. She was anxious to be on our way and said we would wait to have our morning meal until later. We all mounted our horses and followed her. She first found Mani who was with a group of people whom Pythia introducrd of to, four men and two women. Gawonii, who we had met, was to be the leader of this group who are part of the warrior class called the Chindi. They were going to accompany us for a while but Pythia told them that she wished them to wait a day, track us and join us tomorrow late morning. Pythia, Grigori and Mani spoke together for a few minutes while we waited.
After this we left main camp and went back to the area where we had first met Pythia and Nahdi, which was on the way to where were headed into the woods just ten to fifteen miles north east. Pythia's goodbye to Nahdi was brief and once done we set out. Just before so, Ahi Adra gave Tess a basket of eggs for our breakfast, tying it to her pack. Ahi Adra was going to stay and travel with her people and their warriors. We wished her well and left left, following Pythia and Grigori with Grigori in the lead.
We rode in silence for about two hours, lost in our own thoughts. It was a wonderful fall morning, a little cool but pleasant. And of course we were still in the lush forest of this new land. Grigori said that this was a good place to stop and have our morning meal.
We dismounted our horses. Tess took of almost immediately saying she was going in search of herbs and mushrooms to add to our morning meal. Grigori and Ira spoke for a moment and said they would be back soon, leaving the Badb alone with Pythia. The conversation was minimal and we mostly walked around to exercise our legs and enjoy the landscape.
As we were talking they all were stopped in our thoughts. Much like the mediation we had together we began to see through different eyes. But it was not through each others eyes but through the eyes of different animals each with a different view. Our eyes shifted to many animals. One moment from the eyes of a pine squirrel and then from a bird, a mouse, a fox and even some insects. They were observing a small contingent of Alexander's warriors. There were five of them spread out with thirty yards between them. They were walking slowly and quietly holding the reins of their horses bringing them along. It lasted just a few minutes and we returned to the middle world. We looked at one another but said nothing about it at this time. Moments later Pythia got that netherworld look in here eyes again and excused herself leaving us alone.
Grigori and Ira came fro the direction of a nearby creek after a while, with Pythia and Tess reappearing almost simultaneously. Ira holding up a bag exclaimed with an almost boy like voice and manner, “Chi and I were successful and today for breakfast we shall have fish!”
Grigori said we should continue so we mounted our horses once again following him. After about another two and a half hours of pleasant riding and Grigori stopped.
“I suggests this is a good place to camp for now. Away from the trail, away from the river perhaps five-hundred yards east. We will be about ten miles north west of Post Falls and Alexander's army will most likely be traveling on the main old roads south of us. From here we can easily drop down and engage with them yet easily return here when needed. A very good home base for our operations”
We left the trail and headed through the woods following Grigori. Once there we immediately began to set up camp. Knowing they would not need the horses further this day Grigori instructed us to unsaddled them and allowed them to wander and graze. Until now they had never set up and used the small tents or sleeping bags the Guild had given us that Pythia, Ira and Tess had always carried in their packs They were much better than the ones we had been using. Grigori had a different sleeping assortment.
It only took a few minutes and Grigori began to make a fire, asking us others to gather dry firewood that had been sheltered from the rain by the trees. We also gathered some cooking utensils, the mushrooms Tess had found, the fish that Grigori and Ira had caught and a few other things from our packs. We all had been given a small portable kitchen which fit in a zippered pouch and a cookware set. We were told the Guild did possess small stoves for packing but because of the difficulty with fuels to work them they were used only on very rare occasions.
Grigori pulled out his beautiful knife and began to clean the fish. Before he did so he closed his eyes and said, “As I eat you I eat myself. I am pleromma, nothing and everything. Atzmus and Ein Sof.” Without thinking, knowing this was a blessing and prayer, we responded with, “And so it is.”
Grigori sparked the fire with a quartz crystal and a piece of steel he kept in a pouch. He told us it is called a chuckmuck which was from a land called Tibet. The fire starters that the Guild had given Pythia, Ira and Tess were modern made with a stick made from what is called a ferrocerium rod with a metal striker. Both worked better than the stones we used.
The fire ignited, Grigori began to cook the fish, tossing in Tess's mushrooms, herbs and finally her eggs. He told us we should keep their fires few and small. always using dry wood as to decrease any smoke that could reveal our location. He further said we should eat meals that needed not to be cooked from the dried fruit and other packaged foods the Guild had supplied us with. Water was a resource fortunately they had in abundant supply here in the mountains.
My favorite food was a small bar made in Genesis that was full of vitamins and proteins. It was sweet and chewy. Tess told us later that one of the first things their Tillers did was collect and farm bees and the sweetness of the bars came from their honey. It was here we learned also that Pythia had never eaten fish before a short time ago.
When finished eating Pythia asked Grigori, “So please tell us about what you were saying when you cleaned the fish Chi. Was that a prayer?”
My sisters and I were surprised that what he said was new information to her.
“I do not talk about it but I too have a spiritual core. It may differ from yours but it is there. I also write poetry and song to fill my hours at times. I will talk with you more about that some time but for now I will tell you about the prayer I said. It is a prayer of thankfulness for the life we took by removing the fish from the water, quickening their deaths. It is an acknowledgment that we are are one energy that flows together and goes on forever as far as we know. One day the divine essence will choose to take me from this world, perhaps via human hands, a falling rock or a hungry beast into whatever is next and I will not be angry or sad because this is life. The Sisters responded because I have shared this blessing with the Daughters of Agamede before for decades. They have added it to their book of prayers and blessings and share it between the Desert Daughters, the Mountain Daughters and the Sea Daughters. I have been to all their temples and they are all my friends.”
I could see a look of amazement in Pythia's eyes. Then she changes the subject.
“Does this place remind you of anything Ira and Tess?” Looking around for a moment they did not seemed to know what she may be referring to.
“Remember the the meadow that my father and I went to in our shared dream and you both were there too? Wouldn't it be a wonder if we saw the Woman in White or the shape-shifting Moura sitting at the entrance to a cave on the far side of this meadow? When we have cleared things away I want to explore the perimeter just to satisfy my wondering.”
And so it was that Pythia, Ira and Tess di just that leaving us with Grigori. After the left Grigori asked me to go with him for a little adventure of our own. Riding the horses bareback Grigori told me he felt that near they could find an oil seep and he had taken a collapsible leather water bag with us. We indeed found this oil and returned to the camp. My sisters had spent some time gathering more wood and creating a good sized pile of it. They had been musing about everything we had been through the last weeks since we left or temple.
We, Pythia, Tess and Ira all returned about the same time. Chi asked, “Did you find a cave?”
Sadie told him they indeed had and she wished to explore it more with him and us if we all had the time. She described what they had seen and the cave itself. She sad it was just like the other meadow she had seen in the dream. We understood what she was saying because it was much like the caves we live in. The entrance to the cave was obscured by bushes. They had entered and it was dark at first until their eyes adjusted. In its ceiling rays of sunlight filtered through. They could see the cave went on past the distance their eyes could see. Inside it was tall enough to stand upright and comfortably walk in. She said it did not have pillars of stone like the caves of Yellowstone but they could hear a steady drip, drip, drip of water nearby. They felt very safe and secure inside like a baby in the womb. She felt excited they had found it and the coincidence of the similarities of it to the other cave. Pythia said she did not believe in coincidence. They explored a little but mostly sat and talked about their memories of their meeting each other and their days in Genesis.She said it made her feel a little homesick.
Grigori replied, “Well what Aja and I have here may help with that. I was hoping to find some tar or oil which we did. I am thinking it would be helpful to have some torches for light around the camp like the Apsaalooke do. And torches would be good for cave exploring. Let's gather some sticks for this purpose, some long and some short. Also we will need some tree bark. I am unsure if you learned about torch making from the Guild at Ground Zero or not but if so a refresher could will still be helpful. I use them in my home extensively.”
Ground Zero? We learned later what that meant when we asked about this. We were told this is what the Guild in Genesis call a training area for its members. Pythia, Ira and Tess had trained there for the winter in preparation for this journey, leaning everything they could about survival in wilderness and self protection. We also learned later that the Guild had secrets from most who live in Genesis and even some of its own Guild members. After they began their journey the Guild introduced them to these secrets they learned even more skills and tools.
Soon they were working together making those torches and sticking a number in the ground around their camp. Tess took this time to tell us about our last stop where she had been searching for herbs. She encountered one of her teachers there. His name is Ptah. She said that Pythia had seen her and that is when they returned to the others together. She told us he just wanted to say he was pleased we were traveling with the Sisters. He also said that many of the gods and goddesses they worship are some of those we have met on our journey. He said if they speak of them they may know them by different names but to use my feelings to see the connections.”
We were fascinated with this and we queried her about everything to do with him. We had never been exposed to such a being and Ira and Grigori said they heard more about Ptah than ever before also.
No one was especially hungry and decided to carry some snacks and take a couple of torches and explore the cave. It was only late afternoon and it would be a few hours before it got dark so the we lit the torches and anxiously ventured into the cave. Once inside we could see the dried feces of bears, foxes, cougars and other larger animals covering the floor. It all looked quite old as if none had used this cave for sleeping or birthing for a very long time. Pythia took the lead followed by Ira, Grigori. Then Tess and lastly the my sisters and I. About fifty yards in the cave began to widened until we were in an area about fifty feet across that looked as if it continued that size for quit a way. There were large boulders jetting out from its floor and sides. These boulders looked like perfect natural sets and then we all found a spot and sat to talk.
Pythia told Grigori and us a quick synopsis of the tale about her shared dream with her father Kether in the meadow, the cave and the shape-shifting Moura and her enchantments. She told us of the cave in Yellowstone where they met the Woman in White. She told it very well hitting all the major occurrences of their shared journey. We listened intently like children at bedtime. Ira and Tess said nothing because they had been there.
I felt compelled to speak and again it was a mixture of my voice and thoughts and others from netherworld.
“I too would like to share a little about us. Grigori knows this but it may help you understand us now that we are also your Sisters. Our long history began thousands of years ago according to our sacred books. But in the days when our world change in the Great Turning was those days that change for us all. At that time our founders survived the wars and the rebellion of Gaia at the disrespect we gave to our planet, her body, and its living beings that ride her. Our teachers tell us that Death traveled all parts of the world in many guises. At times as a God and at time as a Goddess. Death could be seen riding a black horse or in other places Freyja could be seen riding her chariot across the sky. Or even Hades with his three headed dog Cerberus. It was said that the boatman Charon's bags were overflowing with the coins of the dead waiting to cross the river Styx. Our seers say they saw the Moirai and actually watched Atropos cut the thread of many lives with their own eyes. But Gaia chose to save many who became our founders just as she chose your Tillers and Grigori, many saved in caves such as this.
“Grigori tells us that your people are fine explorers but still there are many peoples they know nothing about, such as the many covens of the Daughters of Agamede or the Order of the Redeemers. We know beyond our reach there are even more souls living. Recovering from the devastation and death of the Sacred Purification has been a long process. But our seers tell us that now is the time when great strides forward will be made and in this part of the world you and Genesis will be a central annulus that turns the Rota Fortunae. The Goddess Tyche throws fruit from her basket to help this wheel turn freely. But we have also been warned that the Goddess Nemesis still wanders close and we must keep ourselves pure of spirit and intent as not to anger her or our blood and bones may be ground up in the turning.”
Grigori had been listening carefully and took this moment to address me, chuckling a bit as he did.
“My love Aja. Do not spoon feed us hope and salvation and then hand us a cup of fear for desert! I am not a seer like Magu or Pythia but I do know people. I have traveled further than the Daughters, the Redeemers or the Guild of Genesis. One thing I love about Genesis is their fundamental optimism. You have this in your souls when not giving way to temporary despair. Even the Redeemers with their focus on death have hope as their primary guiding purpose. I will say that it is even the guiding reality of Alexander. The sacred purification changed the hearts and minds of everyone but to different degrees. But I see that none wish to repeat the attitudes that brought on the anger of the Gods and Goddesses. Remember, I knew your great grandmother. I know how she and her friends thought when they created the Daughters of the Wyrd. The systems and practices they set up were based on the old ways but those ways had to change to accommodate the new reality the Mother left us. And Pythia is a force for a new change. The Redeemers are looking to you, their Desert Owls. your gramarye and Sibylline, to help them with their spiritual involution. Mugu and the other Sibylline are gravitating toward Pythia for yours. I, as you know have also learned much from you and the Daughters and your ancestors. From my vantage point all is happening as it should. All I can hope is you hear my words and trust them as your ancestors have.”
Again Pythia spoke.
“If you would Chi there is one question of many I would like to you reply to. Earlier you said 'My Home'. Where is your home?”
Chi smiled and said, “I knew the day would come when you asked me this. I have thought about it before but now is not the time for a full accounting. For now I leave you with a small revelation that will no doubt give you great pause. You spoke earlier of your journey into the Yellowstone and the cave where you spoke with the Woman in White. Well in the time I call The Before and you call Waterfall, I fell into a crevasse while hiking there and I awoke after the Sacred Purification, as the Daughters call it, had occurred. It is the same cave beneath the obsidian wall that my teachers helped me heal and taught me what was needed before I left wandering far and wide. I call that home but in truth I have many places I go to rest, study and write. Someday I will take you there to these places and I know one day we will return together to the obsidian cave. I am known there as He That Was Absorbed by my teachers, They That Shimmer. I do not know if you have met them but I do know from what you've said they at least share this place with those you do know.”
Grigori abruptly said he thought it was time to head back to the camp to ready for the night which they did. I and my sisters I'm sure all had thoughts about the cave conversation. No one talked about it that evening. The camp felt very relaxed and pleasant. We sat in silence around the fire after eating a small dinner of dried fish, dried fruit and some nuts. The torches scattered around the camp flickering and lighting us.
Tess was doing some beading on a leather bag and broke the silence. “I think we should call this place Meadow Cave Camp. I like it here and think it will be a place I will return to.”
Everyone said that sounded like a fine idea. My sisters and I were the first to go to sleep.