At The Edges of Firelight
There were several bonfires already brightly lighting the Gypsy Encampment when I arrived. I was wearing my favourite green figured silk skirt and matching lightweight sweater, I had many bracelets on each wrist, and my 9 sets of ear piercings were all filled with musically clinking earrings. My Cat-panions had chosen to remain in our warm bed at the Abbey, preferring to not meet playing children, dancing adults and dogs running freely through the camp.
My tent was ready for me, the floor was full of pads and patched quilts, and pillows in embroidered cases. My feet were bare, the toes wriggling joyously in the grass, I had jingling ankle bracelets and a belt of glinting chains wrapped loosely around my waist. My medicine bag was around my neck, I could feel the shapes beneath the green velvet when it bumped on my collarbone.
I settled happily in my tent and began to smudge myself and my acourterments with White GrandMother Sage, I also lit sandalwood incense to drive away the musties in my tent's fabric. I heard the violins, guitars, drums, and zithers awakening around the central fire; I finished the purification ritual, and took a few quick puffs from my peace pipe before Marya poked her smiling face in the tent's doorway.
"Come, we wish you to join the dance earlier this time. Yes, yes, I know you don't like to be seen dancing. Gyorgy thinks you are beautiful when you free yourself to the dance." Marya chattered non-stop as she dragged me to the crowd gathering around the main fire.
Already the instruments were in tune and in harmony, and I could hear the familiar, unforgettable music of Romany spoken by true Rom. Marya pulled me into a thicket of laughing, joking Rom ladies. It was perfect timing, for the first song cried into the night, graceful and languid as an Old-World Vampyr haunting the foggy streets of London.
It wasn't long until the movements began to coalesce into one sway around the campfire, for every dancer was still moving slowly. The wild twirls and leaps, and fearless acrobatics would come after the smaller children were tucked into their beds.
For now the dances were such that the young ones could run through the groups of dancers, without disturbing the dance or hurting themselves. One of the younger girls begged to be a part of the dance, she was twirled to the center and the headman shared a gentle gavotte with his great-great grandaughter.
Gyorgy danced into view and grinned down at me. "So!! At last you return to us!! Did you think we would not miss you?" His scolding was accompanied by a gentle kiss on my cheek.
"I am sure you missed me as badly as I missed all of you. You know as well as I that GrandMother claims I am a Lone Wolf cub, hunting in solitary ways. Where the pack would go right, I would choose the left."
"I know there are other reasons for you staying away too long, am I to blame?" Gyorgy's eyes were solemn, and his voice low.
"Please, Gyorgy, I don't belong here, as you well know. Were I to stay I would cause such sorrow and frustration for all of us. Let us be friends, and share a dance and a drink together when a party is afoot."
"All right, but only because you make your sad kitten eyes when you say things like that." Gyorgy winked and spun me back into the most animated group of dancers, where he coached me through the dance's steps.
It wasn't long at all and the young ones were settled into their beds, falling asleep in the midst of protests. The fires had burned lower, and several empty bottles of liquors and liquers in their snug little bin clinked soft comment about the dancers.
The musicians had taken a breather while the children were bedded down for the night. In the shifting light and motion I slipped away from the throng and claimed my Shaman Walking Stick. I walked over by the stream and described my Circle in the sand, room enough for me to dance freely.
I had cleared my mind, and calmed my spirit before the music started. There in the near darkness, ringed about by groaning and creaking trees I danced in my Circle. No longer a part of the pack, I followed the voice of my spirit where it led me.
By the time the third song was begun I had relaxed and begun dancing as if I were in my rooom, in the dark, the headphones blotting the world out. I whirled and stomped, clapped and shimmied my hips; the pattern of it growing closer, faster and more complex.
I was dancing with my all, feeling the power growing and seeming to choke me. When I could feel myself shaking helplessly yet exultant I focussed my entire being on directing the energy. I willed the power of the Seasons and The Four Natural Elements to my wishes.
All I could hear by now was howls of a winter wind, the hiss of the sea as it crawls up the sand, rough crunchings of gravel underfoot, and the snapping voice of the fire. My breath stopped for a moment and still I didn't slow. I could feel the energy built to frightening proportions, and yet I did not let go.
At last I stopped, slamming the butt of my staff hard on the ground. Trembling, breathless, voiceless, I throw my head back in a silent howl to the Heavens.
The released energy spread out from me, like ripples from a stone dropped in a still pond. It obscured sight of the material world, and all I could see were the stars, tethered in their complex, three dimensional web of gravity bonds. I felt all of the energy drain from me, sent to give my families of blood and spirit what they needed most.
I barely remember collapsing to the sand, doubled over and struggling to breathe, the stars began to swirl together and fade away. Light returned to me as Gyorgy was settling me in my tent.
"You!! You blithely perform a magic that Great-Grandmother is afraid to try and still you say you do not belong. How can you live in the Gadje world??"
"The Gadje world is my world. I am where I need to be. The Rom don't need to learn what I am here to teach, the Gadje do."
As often happens to me, I am accepted by both groups and respected, a part of both and neither. I am of the same wildish spirit as the Rom, yet I am born of the Gadje. Like the Penguin I am nicknamed after, I am neither fish nor fowl.
"You should rest now. No more dancing!! I will have Marya bring you a drink, and something to eat. You!! Do nothing other than rest there." Gyorgy glowered at me, and I summoned the energy to blow him a faint raspberry. He grinned and moved to one side of the tent when Marya arrived with a mug of tea, I could taste chamomile, honey, mint, and lemon peel.
I sipped on the drink, and misbehaved the whole time Gyorgy and Marya fussed over me. I was yawning and sinking deeply into the cushions and quilts as Marya, and then Gyorgy exited my tent. The flaps were gently lowered, and then I heard the sound of someone large (Gyorgy) settling in to guard all night.