Gypsies mIght Understand
Branch of Orlas
No one told the gathered youths that the time of choosing was nigh. Even the Norok, the Elder Shaman, could not foresee such blending of life and spirit elements that churned within the fiber of the selected few. The youngest was but three unfilled in age (9), and the eldest but a couple of winters add. An equal number more, still at chores or study were, by grace of Her hand, unawares of the Gathering Song. They would become the millers, and wheelwrights, and farmers and fathers sure that would hold the village together. In their silent peace they would give thanks for the gift of not choosing.
Wonder's birds sang in unison for a change and tossing clouds took on edges of brass and vermillion. The Testing Ring was not ordained by tradition or cast upon by chance or adult order. Swirling wind-devils drew leaves from hidden clefts and heaped marking drifts of concentric piles. One for each boy. They knew their spot, yet also knew the beginning order meant nothing. Gusts of troubled wind howled through unmoving branches to deafen any men who hastened near. The lads heard naught inside the rings save tinkling chimes from some hidden brook. She was near!
A staff threw down to be impaled into the center, unclaimed mound. From its three pronged crest hung a gnarled, shiny branch of unknown tree, its true nature disguised by past clasp and caress of countless young hands. In length it might have been the leg bone of a mighty harte. In girth a man's thumb might serve to standard. In rightly spaced span hung five braids of auroch mane, each of different measure. From each suspended a different token; a bell, a stone, a ring, a coin, a blade. Simple, earthly things from the Spirit Pouch of the warrior/priest named Orlas, dead now 700 years. His name is never spoke aloud, but he would surly speak this day!
A gentle breeze stroked their pulsing throats and swept clean juvenile fears and loneliness. One by one the dangling tokens stirred and trembled. A deep voice, unheard except in heart and mind, called off the secret names.
Bier is the stone, see it spin free.
Find here your link with Mother Earth,
Touching with pulsing life of tree
And bird and furry small and death.
Ikie is the bell, feel its soul touch.
The spirit guides your knowledge find
Through Given grasp to ever search
Of fear and awe and will to bind.
Euch is this ring, honor entwining.
Balance such gifts within your heart
Twixt compassion and fine timing
To dream amiss or action start.
Dort is the coin, to guide fine trade
Of hand's toiled art and life task.
Friendly exchange must greed avoid,
of honest charity ever ask.
Besh is the blade, pierce your pride.
Valor is by discipline bound
to warrior quest or family bride,
answer in community found.
Clutch now this Branch of Orlas,
With arm strength and tender love.
Your future needs this test to pass
That She may share your life to prove.
Each dauntless youth approached the stand and in an ancient rite that bound their clan, raised the rod and held at full reach, to test the blending of will and fate. Each token moved in a spirit dance, some to swing and some to spin and some to shiver not at all. To sway so to and fro told of internal strength to sustain the selected element of life. The spinning circle glide foretold a life where the elements did command by fate. To remain at rest within trembling grasp told of peace and balance of attribute most rare. She did not direct or interfere, but watched in patience borne of eternal bond of moon and earth, and dreams and pain of birth, and laughter's wink in distant stars. By this test observed they would be instructed in turn as warriors, or merchants and teachers.
They would leave the nature circle with resounding faith in self and spirit and ready friends. They came as children and left as men. Save one -- one saved alone. He would sit in silence on the now barren fateful mound where his tokens sang mostly still. Only Stone and Ring did swing and spin to become entwined and anoint the one so chosen.
Then Norok held out his hand and together these two watched the Silver Moon appear in splendor full while Father Sun drifted to mountain rest. A life to grow and one to pass. Yet by Orlas' hand the Shaman bond would never die.