We were almost to the gypsy camp.
Moonbeam and Augustus had been chatting incessantly about donkey shenanigans. They were a pair, those two, and delightful company.
We were suddenly confronted by a beautiful, fleet of foot, doe. She looked us over and invited us to her hut in the forest.
"No," both Moonbeam and Augustus said in unison. "Not a good idea," Augustus added.
"Oh, why not, I said, "what is the harm?"
I turned to the doe, "Show us the way."
I wondered why the donkeys lagged behind, but lag they did.
We arrived at the hut, a dark structure set in an even darker corner of the forest. But there, in front of the hut, was a beautiful, golden bone chair.
I turned to the doe who had disappeared and in her place stood a grotesquem old woman.
A shape changer I heard Augustus whisper to Moonbeam. "We're in trouble now."
"Baba Yaga," Moonbean said, her donkey tone trembling.
"May I sit in your chair?" I asked the old woman.
"Yes, you may." Her voice was like chalk on a blackboard.
"No," Augustus said emphatically.
Too late. I was already in the chair. A shiver like a stream of ice clold water ran down my spine.
"It'll cost you," the woman said. "It'll cost you plenty."
"I have only a story," I said, "but it's a good one."
"I'll be the judge of that. Proceed."
"Okay, here it is. I call it The Lesson of Halloween."I wandered out,
that dark and spooky night
so many years ago,
and dared the spirits show themselves.
So enlightened was I,
or so I thought,
that such things
were the stuff of fairy tales
and witch's words,
and I was out to prove it.
I walked the Devil's trail,
and came upon a cemetery
so old, the stones were sunken.
Some were tipped
like they'd been pushed up … from below.
I should have stopped right there,
and gone back to my home,
but I didn't … instead,
I dared the restless spirits
to show themselves.
mind you, not completely fearless,
beneath a aged and rugged oak.
It was silent, peaceful really,
as the fog wafted through the trees
and wrapped its arms around the gravestones.
But then, a breeze,
a cold and ghostly breeze,
tore the fog into shreds
that wrapped around me like
Then, came moans and screams as
spirits rose upward from the graves
and filled me with a fear
the like of which I'd never known before.
They grabbed my arms and pulled me
this way and that,
until I was dizzy
and saw nothing but the spinning all around me.
grotesque and frightening creatures,
tugged at my arms and legs.
The otherworldly howling hurt my ears
though I was too frightened at this point to care.
Then, she appeared …
a witch of many years, a crone
so old that time had surely forgotten she existed.
"Begone," she commanded, in a voice harsh and croaked.
The spirits, taking heed,
retreated to their vaults beneath the stones
and soon, all was quiet.
The witch turned to look at me,
"Have you learned," she asked,
"not to dare what you don't understand?"
"Then do what you must," she said.
She left before I could thank her,
followed by a cat so black,
it blended into the night.
I managed to stand on shaky legs
and walk fast as I could back to my home.
Now, on Halloween, I do what I'm supposed to …
I set out food and drink for any otherworldly travelers,
and place candles in my windows
to guide the spirits home.
Then, in Celtic fashion, I cook up an Irish stew,
enough to share with the any roving spirits …
Halloween is not a fairy tale,
a children's game.
It is none other than Soween: (Samhain)
Celtic Feast of the Dead,
Night of the Wild Hunt.
I know, too,
that from dusk to dawn on that restless night,
the veil is thinnest,
and the spirits can and do
pass from that otherworld
to this one,
and we must honor them…
or … accept the consequences.
"I offer this to you in payment for the honor of being your guest," I said, "and ask that you allow us safe passage to the Gypsy Camp."
"So that's where you be going. Well, begone with you and take those two miserable beasts with you."
"I will, and thank you for your hospitality."
"What does she mean by miserable--"
"Hush," I grabbed Augustus by his mane. "Hush and come along."
Moonbeam, already ahead of us, was making fast tracks.
I was relieved to be on the trail once more and hearing in the not too far distance the music from the gypsy camp.
©October 29, 2005