Before They Made Monsters

 

Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking.
– Brene Brown

The laws of the past follow a distant norm.
– Lessons of Time Travel for Children, Book I

Oranges are one of the few fruits that will not overripen if left on the tree.
Fun fact

I believe in the magic of coffee and oranges.
– Paul Hodgson

blog images orange and blossom


There was another fruit tree other than the pear that now grew wild.  There were less of these but they grew nearer and chose to intersperse with the lady’s pear trees that had once been part of Father’s orchards, rather than mingle with the giant oak and pine that lived near the stream.  Orange and pear now had to reach for water and they did so with intermingling roots.  Oracion noticed that none of the fruit trees that had been planted so long ago grew on flat land.  They grew into the foothills of mountains as if someone had been experimenting with elevation.

But the fruit Oracion had on her mind this evening was the orange.

She recalled when Father had first had the gardeners plant the trees which bore these delicious treats.  It was before Priest had begun experimenting with darker things. Since the climate did not naturally host the tropical, Father had induced the hybrid makers to regraft a wondrous, older variety of orange tree that would constantly and simultaneously fruit oranges and flower, while remaining impervious to the elements.

Father had loved his gardens.

When the weather was kind now (in the present) Oracion would make the trek just to hunt for and gather these special oranges,  while her godmothers sat nearby, contenting themselves with spinning necklaces out of blossom and vine.  Oranges were one of Oracion’s favorite fruits and reminded her of childhood. This evening however, Oracion was time traveling and it was only by chance she found herself headed towards the old groves, because she had chosen the longer, more circuitous route through the forest, embracing the arduous incline.  She had wanted to come up upon the old castle from behind, and avoid emerging from the woods into village streets altogether.

The hunters would be on the lookout for stag and the priests were doing the testings, but since Oracion had cloaked herself in invisibility she was not certain why she intuited such a strong need to be cautious. She sought to avoid the scouts and dichobots as well, who inevitably would be out and about looking for her, despite the fact they were as unlikely to see her as they were to become suddenly aware of what they themselves had become.

Oracion did plan to show herself if necessary, but only once she had shifted safely into the past, and only when she had found Father. Though she could communicate with people in the past that she loved that had gone on in the present to other realms, she could not yet effect the past directly, nor could it effect or harm her.  Nonetheless, the weight of this evening’s importance lay on Oracion’s shoulders as heavily as the fog that blanketed the trees all around her.

It was getting colder as well, which was strange for late spring.

blog image orange and birds


Usually in the evening, the dark black, lacy limbs of upper tree branches stood out in sharp contrast against a setting sun, and its violet-purple sky.  Now the moon, full but obscured, was the only language by which Oracion could find her way through the younger trees towards what had once been orchards. The godmothers had cloaked themselves into invisibility as well, though Oracion of course could see them, and they occasionally appeared to her as nuthatches or robins. This was intended to amuse her she was sure, but as birds they appeared to have no place to
land. Upper portions of oak and pine now disappeared altogether into the heavy mist.  It was as if branches had been lopped off by a crazy gardener, who rudely defrocked trees of their budding leaves.

This was extremely disorienting, and Oracion felt like the forest she knew like the back of her hand had turned malevolent against her, and was playing tricks on her mind with its own newly found wit.  Or, perhaps Mother Nature could also shift, wanted to tell her something,  warn her away from this route and the knowledge she intuitively sought. Nevertheless something in the present, even other than logistical strategy, was drawing Oracion toward what had once been the orange grove where she had first seen the boy, as if she sensed in the boy’s absence invaders had overtaken the land.

She had seen the boy with the knowing eyes (that reminded her in the present of the pear tree madonna’s) many years ago, when she, as a child, had induced Father to let her accompany him on journey.

Father had been meeting secretly with someone on this farther side of the forest, a mysterious stranger she now recalled in the present as a messenger, or a scout perhaps, from a distant land.  Father had safely secured little Oracion into his stagecoach, then for an hour or so she slept with her head leaning against his big, broad shoulder, as Father drove the horses further and further into the woods. Simply content to be at his side, the ride had lulled Oracion to sleep.   But before she drifted off Father told her, when she asked on what business the special messenger or courier came, he could not tell her for her own protection.

If she squealed, he had said, the tree monkeys would get her.  They could fly and had sharp teeth. He wasn’t going to take that chance. Oracion started to suspect Father was making things up now, for purposes of their own amusement.  It had been a long journey, and he liked to see her smile.

She awoke when the stagecoach came to a bumpy stop beneath a canopy of orange blossoms, and in that sweet spring day of many years past the flowers and fruits blossomed in such heavenly abundance they emitted a memorable, heady and potent, but at the same time delicate fragrance.  This scent was better than any perfume the ointment makers made, even better than the lilac butter Mother had dabbed on her wrists, or the honeysuckle milk that Mother bathed in.   Father often brought back sweet oranges to Oracion when he traveled alone this way, but this was the first time Oracion had been to the magical grove that produced them.

He got out of the coach then, and disappeared into a thicket of trees, but not before he had solicted from Oracion another promise.

Whatever she did, she was not to get out of the carriage and follow him, and no matter whom she might happen to see here, she must speak to no one.

Sleepily, little Oracion had agreed.

Sweet, silly, dear Father, she thought.

blog images science and flowers


The day was so bright, and so warm.

Oracion couldn’t imagine then she might chance to meet anyone here,  for the child found herself quite alone with the birds that thrilled harmoniously amongst fair fruit and blossom.   One branch held many ripe clusters of sun-kissed oranges which peeked out at intervals between petals, and one single, very perfect orange, dappled with sunlight, dangled within her reach as if to tempt her.  Oracion was hungry and overheated, and surmised if she could just take one bite of its cool, rosy flesh it would cure all remaining laments, and she could just get on with enjoyment of this beautiful day.

So, cautiously, she had stood up in the coach and leaned her small body outside of the window as far as she could reach, without falling out.

But this nearest orange was just out of reach.

And that’s when she saw him.

The boy had not been standing on the ground at all but was sitting way up high in the tree branches, looking down at her. He was quite tall and well built but definitely still young looking, surely not much older than herself.  Oracion had never seen an angel before, but she had seen drawings of them on the castle ceilings, and they suddenly came into her mind much as the boy had suddenly seemed to appear above her.  His face was like porcelain, and in his fine blue eyes as deep and sad as the sea he spoke a thousand stories, but didn’t seem inclined to tell any of them. At that moment he just stared at Oracion silently, the juice of an orange dripping silently off his chin, as if he was as shocked to see her there as she was to see him.

Though Oracion recognized him (hadn’t they known each other, once upon a time?) she marveled then, that if he was the gardener’s son, he could now possess wings and the fine countenance of nobility, beneath long, wavy locks of fiery, cinnamon hair.

“Christmas” she remarked, simply observing, before she could realize why she had spoken that particular word, and the magnitude of what she had done –  spoken to a stranger –  which was exactly what Father had forbidden.

“Why don’t you use your wings?”  he responded, with a voice like a chime, or a dulcimer chord.

“My wings?”  she asked, noticing that she spoke again.

“To reach an orange,” he explained.   Why don’t you just use your wings?”

blog image oranges with bees


The boy had asked the question so sincerely and innocently it frustrated Oracion to no end. She was unable to understand why a boy with the face of an angel and wings would ask her such a question about wings, as if she possessed her own pair with which she, like him, could use to fly upward to secure the choicest fruit.

But just then what must have been his given name was called out by someone she could not see.

“Cosmos!”

This word was shouted by what seemed to be a very cruel man’s voice, and it echoed heavily throughout the woods like it bore the threat of impending brutality.

And in that instance her new found friend had disappeared, but not before he tossed Oracion the rest of the orange which he had been holding in his hand.

Christmas (as Oracion often thought of the boy ever since, not Cosmos ) vanished instantaneously, into the warm, spring air.

When Father returned to the carriage, Oracion had been savoring the sweet, refreshing fruit flesh that had been mysteriously given to her.

But thinking of the hard, cruel voice and fearing for the angel boy (but hesitating to mention to her father that she had spoken to someone) she simply asked “Was the man you met Father –  was he bad?”

 

blog image oranges cut apart


He looked at her not suspiciously but with surprise, as if Oracion had asked a question to which she should already know the answer.  “Oracion, you know the Maker does not make bad men, but people do.  And this man that I met wants to delay what is rightfully yours.”

She had turned to look up at Father when he made this cryptic remark, once again expecting him to look disapproving, but he did not.  Instead Father looked solemn , his eyes as knowing, if not moreso, than the boy’s had been.

She had never seen Christmas again, and even now Oracion wondered if that day had all been a dream, especially in the contrast of this strange spring evening present,  with its heavy, dream like qualities and mist so different from sun dappled oranges.

Occasionally (in the present) adult Oracion noticed that some animal or beast imitated her pace and direction in the trees adjacent, but this was not so unusual.

Animals could sense Oracion’s presence and often drew near her, as if they felt there a safety they could not otherwise easily obtain. Through the thick fog Oracion could tell that one of these gentle creatures followed her now, but if it was a stag it was large for a stag, like Noble Beast had been.  For a moment Oracion felt that this beast was less real than her own memories, which, when she was not literally revisting them, were continuously revisiting her.  Were those really majestic antlers she saw cutting up through the mist, like steely knives cutting into gray cloud, or just the sharp curve of tree limbs?

The thought of Noble Beast had brought to her in the present circumstance a bittersweet combination of excitement, hope, comfort and joy, intermingled with sorrow and feelings of loss.

And since for Oracion, emotions were as wild, strong and dangerous as she was, she made a conscious effort to harness and focus them now, so that they would not lead her astray, and instead work to her own advantage.

Not so far off she had heard a strange noise, as if large walls of metal creaked and scraped, one against the other.

But when an orange tree emerged in front of her, she knew she was in the right place, for she had found the remains of orange trees near the old pear grove.

Suddenly, there was an enormous, dark shadow overhead,  a flurry of wings and horrible talons pulling painfully at her hair.

A giant bird screeched its horrific cry as it passed over Oracion, a cry much louder now for the sound was in her ear this time, like metal against metal, or a glacier of ice seizing, then crashing into the sea.  As Oracion put her hands over her head protectively, she wondered if this apparently blind creature could actually see her despite her cloak of invisibility, or if it just sensed her presence through scent as animals were wont to do.

 

blog image dinosaur bird


The velociraptor, being unable to fly very high or far, settled awkwardly and noisily into the branches of an ancient orange tree, his tail curled in serpentine formation down and around the crook of its trunk.  The weight of his body cast too heavy a load on the fruit bearer, and Oracion feared the tree (though much thicker and sturdier now than she had seen these trees in the past) would break in the bending.

Oracion stood at a distance of about fifteen feet away from him, unable to move, staring in fascination.  As she watched the dinosaur-like bird pull at the oranges on the branches with huge jaws, she guessed that he was frustrated that he could not use his too huge teeth and disproportionately small, stunted wings to separate and loose the treats.  Then beneath the sound of snapping twigs and frustrated screeches, Oracion suddenly heard the Madonna’s voice whisper something silently into her ear.

“She was with child when she was taken”

…like a fragment, of knowing.

It was then that Oracion noticed the creature’s eyes, blind apparently and glazed over, as if with filmy white cataracts.  They reminded her of the eyes of a dichobot.  Oracion couldn’t help noticing that the creature’s eyes appeared in some way inexplicable, unhealthily human, but perhaps even more troubling was that she sensed she somehow knew or recognized the beast.

As an animal much in appearance as well as behavior, the creature resembled a hybrid mix between a proud, preening peacock, and an angry, small-brained dinosaur.  In her sciences Oracion had learned velociraptors did exist – and wondered if it was now possible that the priests could have returned them to the woods, much as Father had reintroduced cold climate oranges.

But his eyes, oh his eyes! – how Oracion pitied the creature for his eyes.  With what had they mixed the poor creature?

“And wanted her son to carry the gene”  said the lady gently, but firmer this time.

Then with horror Oracion remembered what Father had taught her one night when they were standing on the turret rooftop, under the light of a magnificent moon.

Even though lineage played a factor, he had explained to his young daughter that the ability to shape shift was rare. Shape shifting women of nobility who had turned to the dark side, wanting to assure the gene was passed to their first born sons, were going to priests who meddled with hybrid emulsions and vapors.  These pregnant women consumed such potions in great draughts for the price of their soul, a trikerion lamp, or traded agreement, each morning for nine months.  For some, there was biological success, but other offspring were caught in a void-shift, part human and part beast.

The creature Oracion saw before her was a Blender.

And though the Blender seemed to sense or smell Oracion’s existence at least to a certain degree, it did not seem to realize her godmothers, who now were hanging back in trepidation.  For though Oracion was still invisible (and she had checked, glancing down at her feet, which still weighted the grass) the creature seemed to get more and more irate, even in proportion to the degree to which she pitied him.  Oracion had slowly been getting closer even as he spat at her, shaking his head violently back and forth, leaves and debris spewing out of his mouth in every direction, in an angry shower of fury.

Then, to her right, there was a movement where the gentler, antlered, pacing animal had been. Suddenly Oracion feared that the Noble-Beast-like creature that had followed her had actually been tracking her purposely,  for he emerged out of the woods not as a beast at all, but as a man.

A very huge and strong looking man.

Oracion had never seen a dichobot so tall and formidable, even greater a force than Trock had been, with steel plated shoulders spanning an expanse wider than the velociraptor’s chest.

But this dichobot, unlike the mad, screeching dinosaur creature, could see Oracion quite clearly.

This didn’t make any sense.

No dichobot could see Oracion when she cloaked into invisibility, and though his plated visor was down, obscuring his face, he seemed to stare directly at her, one arm extended towards her in urgent supplication.  He was either commanding her to stop or was indicating for her to come towards him.  Could it be that one of Father’s soldiers remained, having survived the scourge?  She thought about that possibility. No, that couldn’t be. Hadn’t all those that had not transformed into dichobots been executed?

But the soldier was real and saw her nonetheless, for in that moment several things happened at once.

He rushed Oracion just as flames shot from her brother’s mouth in a deadly, fiery conflagration.  She noted the harsh, acidic,  pungentness of burnt oranges and instantaneously disintegrated twigs in her brother, the Blender’s, ashy breath.  The heat wave alone would have killed Oracion had not the large soldier-man covered her with his steel plated body.  She then found herself on the ground staring up at an emblem of a lily on a chest plate, as flames radiated and reflected in the metal –  red, orange, blue then white.

There was a flash of memory in her mind like the echo of a little boy’s voice.

“Why don’t you just use your wings?”

Oracion was so disoriented and shocked she felt herself suddenly shifting, beginning to jolt helplessly and violently far back into the distant past.  The current scene – with its heat, trees and everything around her – disappeared, but not before she heard the angel boy’s voice, deeper and all grown up now,  but still like a dulcimer chord or a chime.

“Christmas,” he said in transfixed amazement, as if that was her name now.

Then once again, they were apart.  Yet in that instance Oracion realized that Father had intended them, all along, to meet.

blog image Oracion in orange

 

The Tower Bedroom

Beware then of useless murmuring,
and keep your tongue from slander;
because no secret word is without result,
and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

Wisdom of Solomon

blog image gothic washer woman

Do not fear the Opposite
The dark that steals the dream
Man cannot reverse the flow
Of river, gorge or stream

Song of the Washer Woman

blog gothic washer woman grown up 4

 

When the Presence allowed it, Oracion could travel into the past.

On these nights she often found herself in the upper chamber of the castle turret, looking for Mother and something else she had lost there, a long time ago.

This room had served as Oracion’s bedchamber when she was just a little girl, in the days before Mother was taken.  Oracion had begged Father to let her sleep in the attic, for the moonlight shining through the small window there was beguiling.  Because Oracion was closer to the moon in a turret bedroom, it would cast enchanted lunar reflections and shadows within – all throughout the night – of which Oracion had learned many things. She learned things of which most children were not privy, things of which even most shape shifting children had not been privy.

At least that’s how it had been in those days of old. In modern times the moon drew closer to earth to educate all of the young, as if in compensation for the stars which had been lost, burnt out in their orbits or cast to the ground.

But in days of old, on certain summer evenings, Father would allow Oracion to accompany him through the small trap door and winding turn of stairs that led from her bedroom to the open roof top above, and she relived all of this now. He and daughter would spend long hours in contemplation studying the landscape below from the advantage of height, moonlight and crenellation.

She remembered she hadn’t asked him for much in those days, but whenever she did, Father had not denied her.

And though Mother had not resisted the idea of a tower bedroom, she balked whenever Father took Oracion to the roof. Oracion saw again her face, tinged with a delicate pink, demanding “Whose idea was this?!” It was as if Oracion was a fragile possession not safe in her father’s presence, and would somehow plummet from the castle rooftop to the ground below, in some unforeseen accident or unexplainable turn of events, that Mother would inevitably blame on him.  Mother also suspected that Father was up there teaching Oracion the Art of War.

blog image Oracion in turret

Which he was.

But he was just giving her the Early Lessons, which consisted of maps, animals and flowers, and in particular the types of birds.  He would tell Oracion how the shifters would shape themselves into the humbler varieties – shore bird, sparrow, and turtle dove – to go unnoticed among the enemy.

“I would  want to be a sparrow, or a dove” Oracion had announced, for these creatures had several times landed in her hand for a crumble of scone, and she thought them the most gentle and intelligent of all birds, especially compared to the brutish Jays.

Father had smiled at her then, then would mention, casually, how shape shifters could even shape themselves into bats, and get up into a turret tower, to frighten little girls.  He had teased Oracion relentlessly.

Mother was correct in many things of which she suspected Father, but wrong in so many others, and she grieved for he who had loved Mother from the beginning and therefore had to willingly subject himself to her more worrisome imaginings.

For Mother was one of the Beautiful Ones, an Etherate, who would not become tame in any fashion or sense of the word, whose noble northern heritage would beguile any man, or make anyone love her, just as the moon had inevitably enchanted Oracion in the attic room.

She remembered Mother’s cloud of dark hair (which some said was much like her own) and eyes as blue and twinkling as the clearest spring water, laughing and flowing through a river gorge. She smelled of honeysuckle, baking flour and sometimes a sweet smoky scent that reminded Oracion of fire from an evening hearth.  She graciously swept through the castle in velvet slippers and flowing patterns of rose, gold brocade and lace.  Oracion remembered now that Mother had always been conscious of the dust Oracion’s skirts collected, as Oracion ran laughing and tumbling through heath and heather, but laughed off the dust that collected on her own as if it was just added embroidery, casting a delicate hue.

blog image hem of mother's dress

And although Mother did not laugh all the time, her moods being most delicate, her laugh was one of the things Oracion now missed the most. It had rung out like a transparent chime up, up through the castle’s chambers, and sometimes when accompanied with lullaby or tale, had lured Oracion warmly to sleep in that bedroom, in which Oracion had dreamt dreams that only protected princesses dream.

Yes, in time travel Oracion missed Mother’s laugh and those days as deeply as that turret bedroom had been high above all river gorges and blistering mountain heights.

The room had been sparsely furnished. 

During her night travels when she returned there invisibly she would find the same small bed beside a rarely lit hearth, fur rugs, rolls of parchment and scattered orange peel, a single crucifix being one of the few adornments against vast stone wall. This was because of Father’s penchant for giving things away.  Oracion had shared the compulsion, and their secret charities were another thing that Oracion feared would drive a wedge between Father and his Etherate Bride, when she was just a little girl.

blog image queen bride

Father himself then would laugh –  at such concerns –  the adult ones young Oracion had voiced to him in those days, throwing his head back in amusement at the ancientness of such a tiny soul. She was his verbal dueling and parsing protégée before she reached five, and was only too eager to trade in her words for a sword, so she could become a brave warrior like him.  His dark brown eyes would study her and twinkle at her with a lucidity that surpassed even mother’s blue ones. This suggested to her he possessed secrets so deep and elusive they were like that of the moon’s, and she hoped he would share all of them with her in time, because he could refuse her not.

What Oracion did not realize then was how much of the light that had burned in Father’s eyes was simply the manifestation of the love he felt for her, his daughter. She was truly his Little Ancient Soul, and he often called her this. How bittersweet this made Oracion feel now, recalling what she had taken for granted, or not even noticed, even though she had been ever vigilant, loving both of them with all of her heart, mind and strength, and all of her tiny soul.

blog image young Oracion as soldier

 

“Do not trouble yourself with growing up too quickly, Oracion” he had advised.  “Just think instead of the merriment of the washer woman at the light cast by our candlesticks set upon her table on Feast of Fat Pheasant”.

Oracion would giggle at this, thinking of Fat Pheasant and hopefully, soon to be fat Gilda, the one little boy Gilda had borne who had died,  and all the children whom she had since wet nursed, which could constitute the whole, entire village guard. Father would toss Oracion up upon his shoulders in this moment, still laughing, and Oracion would be laughing too, feeling lighter and safer there than even when they stood on the turret landing, surveying the landscape below.

But perhaps Gilda’s new fortune was why Mother had accused Father of stealing the trikerion lamps from the chapel priest in the first place, the prelate with the dark brown hooding and intelligent but brooding eyes that Oracion respected, but somehow still feared.

blog washer woman 8

It had been a moonless night, with rain coming down in torrential drifts, when Oracion first heard her parents arguing about trikerion candles. She remembered that night well because Noble Beast had not shown up like he usually did.  Noble Beast showed up whenever it was raining or the moon was obscured by shadow or snow.

Oracion had awakened because of the pounding of rain against glass and her parent’s angry voices from the chambers below, but this did not disturb her as much as the absence of The Creature. She had glanced about the room, half expecting to see Noble come padding silently towards her on his huge, hairy Beast Feet, beseeching her with sad eyes until she allowed him the pleasure of sleeping at her own.

But he had not.

Oracion had not known or cared until now from whence Noble Beast came, because he was yet another one of those things she simply did not question, and took for granted in those days of sweet cherries, moonlit lessons and the smells of sage and dripping candle wax.

Invisible Oracion moved with emotion into the past now and watched as a younger Oracion arose from the bed, not bothering to slipper her feet, seeking instead the creature she loved like a childhood pet to warm them. But he was not really a dog. Noble Beast (which is just what Oracion called him) was very much like an oversized German Shepherd, yet not quite canine, because he had two antlers that emerged from his head in such a fashion that one bent across the other, then twisted down once again to end in a sharp point.  This unique antler formation had reminded Oracion of the small crucifix that graced her wall, but even more it reminded her of the cross banners the brave warriors carried, with the family crest with gold lettering hanging down from one side.

It disturbed her, the drawings she had seen of those crosses and banners broken, littering the ground, golden calligraphy now stained red.

blog image washer woman with son

So child Oracion hurried down stairs of drafty white stone passage, until she reached the rooms below. There she momentarily forgot her quest to find Nobel, because Father’s voice from behind Mother’s bedchamber was filled with something Oracion identified as pain. She was not used to hearing Father like this, and little Oracion crept even closer to the closed door, to listen without being observed.

“Desirous, how can you say this, of what do you speak?” Father was asking Mother.  “Why would I take the special candles from my own chapel passed down to me from my father before me, and his father before him, that which has been consecrated to my Lord?  Of what dark deeds do you accuse?”

“If it was not you than it was Priest” Mother stated with a voice that still sounded angry,  but now determined, and colored with urgency.

“Why worry yourself, even if the old man did?” Father queried. “Do we not feed him enough? Do we not pay him enough, to perform the rites?  If the priest has taken trikerions for dark purpose, the candles will not light, and if he has taken them for good, to bring light to others, then we cannot condemn.”

“We should not tolerate a thief in our house for any reason” Mother insisted, and Father must have come to her then, consolingly, for after a moment of silence his voice grew softer still.  Oracion had to press her ear against the door to hear it.

But what Father said then frightened Oracion to the quick.

“There now, there now, you know the truth, Desirous. The only thieves that can wrongly take things of value are the Dream Snatchers.  And these I will never allow in my house, I promise you.”

Upon hearing this declaration from her father’s lips, a chill had gone down the spine of young Oracion, a chill accompanied by the realization of an evil present, although not yet quite understood.

Though Oracion had not known what these creatures were called before, when she heard “Dream Snatchers” she knew of whom Father spoke.  But Oracion had thought up to this point in time that these evil things, these dream stealing creatures,  were just imaginary, and not a real threat to anyone’s well-being.

And she had been calling them Opposites.

blog image Oracion learning from book

She called them Opposites because when she woke to find them silently prowling about the side of her bed, which she often did –  sinewy, dark, smoky creatures – which were part smoke, part human and part beast,  drooling and smacking their lips grotesquely as if to devour her, they reminded her in an opposite way of her Noble Beast.  She had screamed of course when they first appeared and called out for Mother, who would come to her doorway almost immediately in rescue. When Mother appeared the monsters would disappear quite instantaneously, leaving only a swirling, smoky residue behind, as if they had never been there. Could it be that Dream Snatchers were so frightened by something as pure and beautiful as an Etherate, they could not exist in the same space at the same time?

“Where did they go?” Oracion had asked.

“Where did what go?” Mother would ask.

“Opposites” Oracion would say, her voice still trembling.  She did not really even want to say the word out loud, as if to speak it would hasten their return.

“Silly child,” Mother would say “Opposites are just your imagination.  You don’t see them here now with us, do you?”

No wonder Mother worried about her well-being, child Oracion thought to herself, frozen at her parent’s bedchamber door.

Mother knew the truth of what lurked in Oracion’s bedroom, but perhaps had not wanted to acknowledge their existence so as not to frighten the little girl.  In seconds Oracion’s mind was spinning, grasping at what could really constitute and motivate such vile creatures, and it didn’t take long for the little girl to theorize that they were some form of shape shifter, but with darkness of soul.

If this was true, than Oracion knew what she must do, but it would take the courage of a brave warrior, not just a princess, so the time for her to evolve was now.  She had to see where the monstrous creatures went when they disappeared at Mother’s entrance, next time they invaded her room.  For as long as smoky exhaust still lingered and swirled it suggested Dream Snatchers could not leave castle grounds quickly.  Oracion wondered what they cloaked themselves into next, perhaps a malformed grape vine to climb down and out her window, or a deformed animal –  part pig and part goat – howling in agony at a turret moon, which would be way too bright for their weak and watery eyes to tolerate for long.

But what were they really, and what was their natural form?

 

blog image castle wall ruin

 

 

Time travel to the past can be such a fascinating but frustrating thing.

For as the Oracion in the present sees the Oracion in the past,  forming this plan to catch Dream Snatchers in action, it is as if suddenly, time starts to speed up. Stone walls start decaying, first solid then crumbling, loose stones tumbling out in random fashion from their sockets, archways fading in and out, then dissolving altogether into translucent, arched tree branches, which in turn are becoming more and more solid over her head, until Oracion can see the morning light of present filtering through.

No, she must stay here in the castle and watch.  She has long since earned her own sword.

The sound of rushing in the ears again and she is back in the past. But as usual, she has lost a segment of time, skipped over it like a section of ink on parchment too wet and blurry to read, and now little Oracion is in her bed being woken by something wet upon her arm. 

Is the window open, and rain coming in?

No, it is Father, holding her in his arms, and the raindrops were not raindrops nor moistened, faded parchment but his tears, which the child had never seen before. The sight of him crying moves child Oracion to such love she calls him “Daddy” this time, instead of the usual Father.  Looking up at him, she also notices what looks like horrible wounds about his neck, as if rows of sharp blades had been pressed into the weather-tanned skin, and at intervals pierced it.

So she lays her small, child hand upon the bruises gently,  as if the touch of it could heal, and asks “Daddy, what’s wrong? What happened?”

Oracion has seen this scene too many times.

It hurts and she does not want to see it again. But she knows she must go even further back into the past to find what she missed, what she has lost, and realize again what she needs to realize.  (Rushing, rushing, the sound of rushing in her ears like a pressure, a frightening wind, driving rain against turret glass, Divine Presence be with me!) and then she is still in the tower bedroom but back to the deleted time frame, when it is not raining at all.  Father is not there either, and instead a hideous Dream Snatcher half crouched, encircles her bed.

“Mother,  come help me, quick!”

The Etherate appears moments later, disheveled in such radiant beauty that perhaps –  if Oracion had been a bit older – she would have suspected her cries interrupted Mother in act of her brother’s conception.

When the beast disappears Oracion waits only until her mother leaves her room as well.

Then she gets out of bed and peeks out from below the open archway that constitutes her bedroom door, just in time to catch a glimpse of the tale end of Mother’s evening cloak, crimson red, sweeping dust as it disappears down the stairs.

Back in her room,  the Dream Snatcher’s residue is still visible, like dusty entrails which one would not wish to inhale.

So over to the window young Oracion rapidly scurries, hoping to watch as the Dream Snatcher flees. This time the moon is quite full, illuminating everything below it, the extended drawbridge and finally the figure that emerges upon it to meet Priest, who has strangely been waiting there all along.

But it is still only Mother, in her crimson red cloak, the figure that emerges from the castle.  Mother’s hood is drawn up around her face like Priest’s brown one, and despite the moon and the brilliancies of color, Oracion marvels at how similar in this night the two hooded figures appear. However, when the priest removes his hood, and Mother in like fashion removes her own, there is no trouble making distinctions between them.

Mother’s face is hideous now, perhaps not even human.  Her face is that of the Dream Snatcher.

She opens her jaws wide as if to devour the wiry little man with long, fierce teeth, but instead slowly leans her gaping mouth close to breathe Oracion’s dreams into the greedy priest’s ear.  After receiving the vapor, he removes what he has brought hidden from beneath his garments, a trikerion lamp, and hands it to Mother, who enfolds it into her own.

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Oracion is so stunned she cannot move or speak, and it is only when she sees Noble Beast come charging swiftly out through the castle gates to attack the Dream Snatcher, and watches horrifying movements of flying fur and teeth too rapid to mentally contemplate, then Noble’s neck being pinioned and tightly clenched in her own mother’s jaws, that Oracion can scream at all.

“No!”

The child’s cry alert the beasts. They pause in one, simultaneous motion to look up at her, and in another instance, are gone.  Both beasts have vanished, and now Priest alone stares up at Oracion with eyes still quite human, but as cold and dead as the stones in her tower bedroom wall.

All that remains of Mother is the swirling, dark smoky residue at his feet.

It takes another moment for Oracion to realize that her hands are clutching the window ledge so tightly that they hurt painfully, until she realizes they are not hands at all anymore, but the tiny feet of a small sandpiper bird. For through the intensity of her emotions she has awoken her first transformation, but has not yet achieved sparrow or dove.

In this moment Oracion is just a ground bird, trapped way up high on a ledge.

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Song of the Washer Woman, Verse II

Do not fear the Opposite
Who dies not out through blood
Though blood is red as roses are
Life forms but through its bud

 

 

Lenten Grievances

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Oracion, upon hearing her neighbor was sick, dared to venture into the village one evening by light of the remaining stars. She donned a simple black cloak which was roomy enough to hide herself, and her offering for the poor – which in this instance consisted of waxed candles, fruit pastries and clover wine, a bundle of hearth pumpernickel, a bundle of rye, and a pound of soft, sweet cheeses and herb butters.

Oracion had packaged the gifts in pale papers and wrapping twine, placing them carefully into a small, moss-lined basket, adding as if in after thought, a clutch of gypsy blue violets, gathered before dawn on the previous day.

As she drew nearer the house she was marveling at how her flowers  (those that grew in Oracion’s hidden part of the wood) were different,  and she hoped they might bring her friends a secret kind of joy and health.  Indeed, flowers that grew freely seemed to benefit from a wild sturdiness not intrinsic to most.

Oracion recalled in comparison, the stunning genetically cultivated flowers she had marveled at in the priest’s chambers, so long ago when she had been imprisoned there, which were all perfect, identical and grew artfully arranged in rows – but which were somehow strange, and without heady fragrance or longevity.

They grew in even numbers as well, not odd, and they bloomed for just one day, then curled up to rot like obedient expendables.

Oracion was aroused from such botanical contemplation when the house which she sought loomed suddenly before her, modest in size and well shuttered.  How ironic that a row of the priest’s day roses had perished recently in a tidy window box attached to the dwelling, and as per usual, there remained just a neat pile of thorns, for it was night.

Ascending the porch steps, Oracion thought she saw for one moment – behind the shutters, though closed – curtains fluttering slightly in a cool evening breeze, then realized the windows were not open at all to welcome her, such a night, or any heady, woodland breeze borne fragrances in anticipation of spring.  And the windows not only were shuttered and curtained, but had also been sealed.  There it was.  She saw it plainly now;  a pane of thick, sealing glass.

The cleansing had begun.

And what Oracion really had seen behind the glass –  someone drawing the curtain aside to peek out from within  – which would once have been welcoming  (it’s our beloved friend, so come let us open the door) had turned furtive and cold.

The Dichobots had already been here, and Oracion was to be shunned.

She had drawn in such a sudden, startled breath, that she almost dropped the carefully laid basket at her own feet, as if the added weight of realization, loss and sorrow in her heart had also caused the small basket gravitational pull, and her own rare wild violets to tremble, wither and collapse.  Then Oracion caught hold of herself, considering.

She would not disturb her friends in the night.

She would leave the gift basket however on their steps without gift card or note, and in that manner, and in only that manner, could the small offering still be used.  This way in the morning her beloved could still take part in it, and be nourished without excuse, blame or shame, nor threat of scourging or punitive dispatch.  They could not be punished for any reason at all.

For though Oracion’s guilt was imaginary, as long as it was still imagined by some or by one, she would not share it with another, especially not with those that she loved.

And although the scentless gasses emitting from the wicked priest’s genetically designed flowers were sure to have already altered her friends’ minds to some strange and curious degree, plucking and destroying memories and understandings from their brains as efficiently as dying day roses (leaving just their thorns) she prayed that in their hearts they would still know she had been present, and remember her name.

For they had been sisters once.

Shape Shifters, Part II

“It’s really about the trans fight.”  ~ Anonymous

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In that moment many things happened at once, because Oracion sometimes saw and heard many things, all at the same time.

Though she could not yet understand them as simultaneously as her brilliant companions could, Oracion hoped in time (when she had grown just a little bit younger) her mind would be as clear as Alacrity’s –  and her thoughts as fast as Velocity’s –  but that time was not now.

She was well aware of the priest’s snake, that she knew he fondly called Onion, as it hissed and slithered out of the open bedside drawer. The snake was raised up in an instant, as if suddenly balanced on the tip of tiny feet, that were somewhere hidden but now emerging at the base of a still undulating tail.  In that instant Oration also observed Onion’s fangs, the tongue, and two small fetus size bulges packaged within the snake’s body – one in mortal stillness, but the other still slightly moving (Oracion realized in horror) and trying to get out.

Oracion also noticed a flash of light about the fat snake’s neck, which registered meaningfully as her own diamond bracelet, constricting the poor snake’s breathing, but preventing Onion’s expulsion of dinner.  She drew back and screamed an inaudible scream – as the snake tried to strike at her face, even though Oracion did not really scream in fright. She screamed more in anger for that which the old priest was using the snake.

For since night was like day to Oracion, and although she knew what she saw during her travels was real and had real meaning, she also knew her guides and her Father would always protect her, even from snake venom.  The danger was never real. Therefore her scream was more a horrified outcry against evil and the horror of everything she saw and now knew to be true, rather than one of sudden fright – or personal defense.  The castle chanters were singing “decoy” anyway –  to inform her there was something else she must look at (though the word sounded more like a silent chime, as their words always did in this venue) even as Oracion was also made aware her scream, however silent as she was invisible,  had been heard in the chambers below.

She was made aware of this because in that same instant she heard men in heavy boots pounding ominously, as they ran up the stairs.

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The fact that the wicked priest seemed to hear what was silent was more significant to her in this moment than the fact that his guards now ran up the stairs with murderous intent, and it was this fact that did mystify – and somewhat frighten her.  For hearing what was silent was reserved to the shape shifters and to her Father’s people, not to those whose business was soul murder.

But nonetheless, even as Oracion struggled with her desire to help the second baby out of the snake’s body, and knew that second baby was also her (in some mysterious way), Velocity laid an invisible hand on Oracion’s own invisible hand. In the next instant she was transported to the evil priest’s closet, as if in hiding from the angry men with the monstrously loud boots.

If the old priest had stolen the secret to hear silent things, had he also obtained secrets to see secrets as well? Could he find Oracion here?

Could that be even possible?

Though the enemies had seen shape shifters in various formula and format, the shape shifters were the only ones left that Oracion knew of,  to see reality for what it actually was.

To the pathetic wicked priest, when he could see her, at least as far as Oracion could tell, she would always just be the deeply disturbing garden nymph, with wild eyes, too pale skin and a cloud of black hair, the one he had cast off into the forest for being too intelligent.  He probably had fantasized that the girl would be taken in by the other commoners he had banished from his kingdom, and somehow, as if through what he viewed as a lower, less than pristine class contamination, forget everything she had seen within the castle walls.

How could the old priest actually see or understand who Oracion really was, when he did not even deem her human, or understand how she could be present when his tap dripped, babies cried, or even when he had flash backs to his own mother, hundreds of years ago, screaming at him for some imagined offense?

But while in the closet Oracion sensed, if not smelled, the unmistakable odor of long decayed flesh, it was so dark that Oracion could no longer see anything either.  The priest’s closet engulfed her like a sickening tomb.

She could feel around with her hands, however, and though what she felt disturbed her much, it suddenly made her see clearer than she had been ever been able to before.

Alacrity was whispering something silently into her ear that sounded like “Fuhrer” then “bioethics” even as Oracion was hearing the voices of booted men, perhaps a woman, and some other visitors (good or bad she could not tell) right on the other side of the door.

“ok, Miss Spider…” a voice began.

Oracion felt skeletons hanging from hangers, their little bony feet knocking and clicking against her back, as Oracion found a place to crouch, making her own body very little by kneeling on the floor.

“they found her…has a business now…probably should have stayed away”

The bodies must have been stacked together and compacted quite tightly in this closet, pressed together to get in as many hanging skeletons as possible. Surely they could not have been all of this one priest’s kill Oracion thought, as her small movements disengaged a sprinkling of loose toes from several dry, ancient feet, but this clink, clink, clink of the bones, apparently, the outsiders could not hear at all. The men continued their chatter, as if they were women gossiping about the next door neighbor, not soldiers with guns in front of a closet containing ancient bones.

“very sincerely misguided.  It’s like getting a tongue lashing from a snake…all of her comments are crazy…starving children can’t talk…standing up”

But at Oracion’s own feet, another type of body lay… lifeless, but still warm.

A little girl, around seven or eight.

Oracion felt the small, still, familiar hands of the child, and her familiar, round cherubic face, the cloud of tangled hair as soft as she could imagine the silk threads of the blouse of a madonna, and impossible ever to comb… while the most brutal pain of all and heavy understanding suddenly settled on Oracion’s heart.

Would she die an eighteenth death at this moment, in an evil priest’s closet, just so she would understand, with dangling skeletons above her, and her third beloved fairy godmother,  dead at her feet?

“I don’t know what to tell ya…her father called the judge. The North Door ceremony, over expenses, music… accomplished. I realize depression –  but the only possibility is a mixed seed”

Oracion wept bitterly, holding the poor, lifeless body of Chagrin in her arms.

“the only thing to do…threats, sticks, making stars…hey, what are we waiting for…you know in theory his father’s outbursts pre determine dream obsessions, an isolated bath…maybe the tin man did what he did because she wouldn’t even get a book – a false prophet, to deceive the elect…”

“Father, be with me!” Oracion shouted, no longer able to bear this moment, but fearing the next –  her rightful anger and love for Chagrin suddenly igniting into a desperate urgency, and so of course,  Oracion’s surroundings changed once again, instantaneously.

She was back in her forest home with Alacrity and Velocity, and Oracion was running through the leaves and sticks and underbrush to find where she had put her most innocent Chagrin down to sleep earlier in the evening,  on a blanket of warm winter edelweiss.

There was another moment of excruciating grief and understanding in The Seeing.

For all daughters who see, also grieve.  And all mothers who see, also grieve.

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It was seeing the child motionless, the child that was at the same time Oracion’s child, and at the same time her fairy godmother, as still as that first motionless baby within the snake’s body, that ripped another bloody sword into the center of Oracion’s heart. For she had to look to see if she could ascertain the gentle rising up and down of the child’s chest, to see if there was any life left, but Oracion knew the moment of death had just arrived, when she had arrived on the scene.

For in that same instance, the moment Chagrin’s chest ceased all movement, the child was already shifting into her new form, and breathing life’s breath once again.

Chagrin was an even younger child now, her hair a prettier and paler shade than the paleness of that winter moon, and her eyes brighter than the sparkling diamonds in a once treasured wristlet band. For what these eyes had seen while asleep and would always see now, was what Oracion could sometimes see as well, or at least intuit –  the Constant Presence, the Father Made Known, Who lived where He Would – to be with them always.

“I never left your side” she finally heard His Voice say in a voice that rang out though silent, like a loud crashing waterfall, in answer to the helpless cry she had shouted out to Him in the priest’s bedroom closet.

Chagrin’s laughter rang out as well and echoed merrily,  like a sweet musical note ringing loud and clear and finally free throughout the forest. And as the child sat up and reached her arms out to Oracion, Oracion beheld in them the gift of a small bouquet of edelweiss, clutched in a hand.

But Oracion knew she was no longer Chagrin anymore.

“Mother,” Chagrin called her, for the first time ever.

“I am finally Joy.”

Shape Shifting


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Oracion had been warned not to go near the new castle that was already old, that stood in danger of crumbling at the end of the wood.  It was there the wicked priest had taken the sun a long time ago, on a night so dark it lasted the length of three nights, and if not for the light of the moon, her kind would have died of grief.

Happy to be released, Oracion had made her new home in wood and flower, to trod upon moss and fragrant violet, ponder the graceful movement of heliotrope, and listen to chimes in the wind.

The three fairy godmothers that Father had given her were with her still.

Athough Oracion appreciated their companionship, she had to take care of them like little children, because all fairy godmothers will be, in some ways, little children. Subsequently, they often got tired and clung about Oracion’s neck heavily during the day, or pulled at her hair. Chagrin was the oldest, and was often found wandering off into the dangerous parts of the wood where the fog was deep, and had to be fetched before the child fell into the moat, or worse – got mistaken for Oracion.

If anyone found Oracion, the old priest would have her murdered instantaneously. If any of his servants dared to speak to her first, they would be executed as well.  And she felt it would have been her fault, although she didn’t think it was.

But she missed her friends.

The thought of burning at the stake didn’t frighten Oracion, but stoning did.  For her kind would be found guilty of knowing whatever sins the old priest had committed, and she would have been stoned for each one of his sins, as well as each one of her gifts, and each one of her fairy godmothers, the priest pocketing these things like plucked pansies into his robe.

And the moat into which she feared Chagrin would fall, was not like regular moats that Oracion had read about in story books when she was little (many lifetimes ago) or the one that had surrounded her own home in the Other World, but one that ran deceptively through pine and leaf throughout the forest floor like a giant, tangled snake set out to catch its prey.

Now that Oracion was even younger, she was very wary of this slippery inlet’s particular danger, and the fog that rose up from it in cloudy mists. It was the type of poisonous fog that had blinded some.

But the nights in the forest were beautiful because the fog never reached the sky, or obscured the moon.  And although the stars were falling now at regular intervals, the nights were getting brighter than ever before.

Some said these bright nights were day, and of course they had always been, to Oracion.

For it was in the night that Oracion could shape shift like the other children into invisibility and fly.

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Sometimes, after securing Chagrin, she would gather Alacrity and Velocity to her, and together they would slip into mysterious places forbidden, all walls dissolving in an instant at the touch of her hand. She saw books lining shelves that contained the hidden things, and passage ways that were really there, but hidden from plain sight, invisible to earth.  Once she found a bracelet of baguettes of exquisite clarity the old priest had stolen from her when she was just little. Then, as if he found it useless, he had tucked it into his bedside table drawer.

Yes, it was as if the priest just stole out of jealousy, yet when obtaining what he wanted, could not understand the things he had stolen,  in spite of their brilliance. Or perhaps, jealous of the shape shifters  (who could turn matter into other forms good) he had stolen the power to turn, but could not turn them good.

She hoped it was not that.  For for the first she had pity, but not for the latter.

And sometimes, during the night, Oracion found her real Father here and there in the woods like Aslan the Narnian beast, from a tale told in other demensions, and he drew her to him with more tenderness than ever expressed this side of heaven.

It was those nights Oracion liked the best.

But on one night, when the moon’s fullness made the castle more ominous and dark by comparison, Oracion found herself suddenly standing within its transparent walls in a place she did not wish to be, to view something she did not wish to see.  For Oracion was standing beside the dresser drawer that contained the stolen diamond baguettes she had once worn around her own tiny wrist, laughing, once upon that time.

Only the priest’s drawer had been pulled roughly open and the bracelet was missing – or changed. And, as if in desperate attempt so her kind would never find or want to look for such a priceless bracelet again, a monstrous black snake slithered out, raising its ugly head at Oracion to strike.

Jack and the Beanstalk & Other Tall Tales

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This morning when I woke up and went out to tend my plants, I noticed that autumn had already taken over my little garden.  The basil which had provided me with so much summer caprese was now forgotten and yellow.  I had to trim it down in hopes it would provide me a sequel.  A cucumber plant had wasted cucumbers languishing in wet earth while engaging a tomato plant with its tendrils to take over my back porch. I realized with a start that it would invade my home, if I didn’t cut it down soon.

Images of Jack and the Beanstalk had been vaguely passing through my mind each time I glanced out the back door, and I felt personally responsible for the tomato plant which the unfruitful cucumber had compromised.

As a child, I never liked the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.  I mean, what kind of child takes his mother’s poor cow and sells her for some “magic beans” from a wandering magic bean selling guru?  As well, there is so much death and destruction and chopping down of beanstalks towards the end of that tale, I think I figured as a child, the tale was best avoided in its entirely.  If it meant something, it meant something very dark and foreboding.

Now I think not.  I mean, it does mean something very dark and foreboding, but it is better not avoided, because if you don’t tend to it, it could slip into your house via the back door with the tiniest of tendrils.  It is like a thief in the night that one time you forgot to lock up, an unpaid debt, smoking or drinking just a little bit too much, Trump’s untended taxes, or my own untended health concerns, because I worry too much about “helping others”.

I think the tale (like most fairy tales) is a classic parable of good verses evil, and it has a rather unpleasant but necessary Catholic flavor to it.

The  Mystery of our Redemption is disturbing, especially to good men. It crucifies good men. As a woman, even just referring to this Mystery  or defending it has rendered me “disturbing”.  I “disturb” others with what I have to say in its defense,  and men assume I must be “disturbed” to so boldly and bluntly honor the Mystery (and so like a disobedient woman) refuse to apologize for doing so,  when the exact opposite is true.

You see, it’s easier for mankind that way.  No vines to chop down.

Jack’s mother is a prototype for Mary, the mother of God.  Jack is made innocent, in the Image of her Son.  She warns him to trust no man, only her Son.  But Jack is just like every man who means well, but doesn’t listen to a good mother.  He thinks he knows better.  After all, he’s a man.

The bean salesman is quite charismatic and charming, and there is truth to what he says.  He is symbolic of every new age visionary, every yoga or meditation instructor, every anonymous man named David selling an eight  point plan to find one’s true vocation, or that trip to Medjugorje people take, even though just authority refuses to approve, because it points to preternatural phenomena.

The beans do not represent timeless Catholic truths as in the three stages of the spiritual life, or the writings of Saint Francis de Sales on vocations. In fact they contradict these things.  But the beans do have some life in them and will really grow. The devil is not an idiot. There are some duds in there to be sure, with a virus that will poison the entire plant, but the beans will grow and astonish others with their wonders. There will be some authentic fruit on this tree.  As if beanstalks and wandering gurus could take us to high heaven, or to our castles in the sky.

When Jack returns home after visiting the giant’s house, his mother scolds him for not taking her warning against putting trust in man seriously.

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However, she does give him credit for the good he has brought out of climbing the beanstalk, those goods which the giant had confiscated, which had really belonged to her husband in the first place.

See, I did good, Mom.

But who is the giant, this sleeping giant, that Jack has not yet awoken?

It used to bother me as a child, how Jack was so careless, playing around near a big sleeping giant, as if this huge elephant in the room posed no real danger to him. It reminds me of how people, impressed by the benevolence and authority of a cult leader, feel they own him loyalty and love.   It dawns on me the giant does not represent an obvious threat to our well being, and that is why Jack isn’t really afraid of him.

The giant represents a worse threat, because it is a  hidden one. The giant represents those that we dearly love, yet those who threaten our physical, mental or spiritual life. We do not notice they are a threat, because they say so many truths, do so much good, and they point to many truths hidden in their kingdom.  They actually do give us some of these truths. We will not realize who they really are, or what demons possess them, until we wake them up, confront them with the reality that they have stolen God’s goods, and twisted a hideous vine growing nowhere into their own image.

They wake up only when you are charitable enough to them to tell them the truth (our moral obligation)  to put God before them.

Fee-fi-fo-fum,   I smell the blood of an Englishman,   Be he alive, or be he dead   I’ll have his bones to grind my bread  represents betrayal by those we love the most, because we have defended God’s truth. It is one of the most painful sorrows there is, this side of Heaven.  Does not Peter deny Christ three times? Does not the giant say the fee fi fo fum thing to Jack three times in the tale, like Peter to Jesus?

The giant is what lives inside my own mother that I love so dearly, my loving mother’s pathology, that caused her to bludgeon me in the face as a little girl.

The giant is the abusive parent, spouse or narcissistic best friend who you find out not only betrayed you, but is jealous (of your looks, intelligence, empathy, heart, innocence, whatever it is) and lusts after your blood.

The giant is when you find out the one balanced traditional priest whom you trusted has not only broken the seal of your confession and  lied about what you confessed in front of your daughter, but is the very one who spread  your delusional mother’s scandal against you and has disbarred you from socializing with your remaining friends at the Church for the “common good”.

The giant is when you take the time to help a man  whom you think has potential to be a real man,  by both discreetly slipping him the key to expose David Clayton’s evil intent and the key to stop dancing in Beyonce’s shadow, and he instead ignores both key and you, like you’re the ones without potential.  He treats the vine that threatens his spiritual well being like just another obnoxious GIF on his Facebook timeline.

By this point, you are devastated by all those whom you thought meant well, that you found out did not.  But you are even devastated by those who would still give their very lives for you,  and all of your friends, family, acquaintances and the very authorities and powers that be, because you finally realize not only can’t these people and systems  save you, but that they were not designed to save you.

Only God can.

I think of my own dating life, and how, even though the view-o-meter on Match.com flipped over at 15,000 views, I could still not find a man among them who could tolerate me loving God more than him.

The worst part of all is the ones you love the most have hurt you the most.

This is why Christ wept in the garden. And even as you embrace this cross, the very Mystery of your personal Redemption, you feel  that if the very people you love would turn on you, betray you, even prove of hostile intent, and if your sins of omission have betrayed them, than surely God has abandoned you as well.

But God has not.

He has been in your little home all along, your little house, or oratory if you will,  with your mother Mary.  She is standing on your front porch.  She does not try to sneak in through the back.  She is shouting out to you, out in the open, just waiting for you to come home.  If you are a man like Jack,  God might even use an infinitely much lesser woman, simply to remind you of the maternal.  I think of simple minded little Saint Bernadette, who dug in the mud until she got it all over herself, and people felt sorry and were embarrassed, for her. It’s like Bernadette had no sense of self worth, but the opposite is true.  It is those of us who are afraid to stop being “polite” and get dirty for a greater good that have too much pride.  God allows us to make even a public spectacle of ourselves until more important people will start paying attention. Mary does not creep in through the back door by deception like a noxious vine, and she will never fail to provide the water of Grace. Because Christ is her Son, in whose very Image you were made.

Suddenly, the painful paradoxical truth is exposed, like a pruned, scrawny little sapling that looks dead, but will fruit nonetheless true freedom, peace and joy. You see it all now, after hearing it so many times.  What you need is to totally let go and place your trust only in God.

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This means not only having faith that God is there, but much harder, believing that God is good, because only He alone sees you and loves you exactly as you are.  He does not accuse you of anything or show you false empathy. He will give you everything good you ask of Him, and even more. He was just waiting for you to acknowledge His generosity.

It is as if Mary has been pushing away tendrils attached to your hideous strength of love of man over God all along. But when you return to her, when you behold her standing bravely right there on your front porch, waiting next to Him in Whose Heart you were kept safe all along, it is you who must chop the hideous beanstalk down, or the giant will get into your home and devour your very heart.

For if you do not chop down the vine, if you do not embrace the Mystery, your heart will harden, and you will become the giant monster. You see it all in a flash, what would happen; the unacknowledged and suppressed grief turned into anger, the anger into hatred for all of mankind, but especially intolerance for the small and vulnerable, the weak or feminine, like the sound of a crying baby, just making a disturbance.  It is you who will become jealous of those that can still express sorrow, or feel any human empathy.

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The chopping down of the beanstalk is most terrifying right before it sets you free.

It will be painful, like a crucifixion, often accompanied with a feeling of toxic shame for having been so gullible in the first place.   Don’t fall for this.  Toxic shame is just a trick of the devil. Every man is deceivable, except one without the effects of original sin.  Imagine that, that the one undeceivable, unbrainwashable mere man was not a man after all, but a mere woman. Are men ashamed that God chose a woman, to become Man? Are men ashamed that God ordered them to behold His Mother? Though we all bear the effects of sin and are not God, we were all (man and woman alike) made equally innocent, because we were made in His very Image.

For those who prey on people of good will, prey on this very innocence and empathy.  They prey on you because you still have compassion for others. They are jealous of this.  It is this they seek to devour and destroy with sterile rubrics and lies like “If you sorrow over loss or show emotion it really means you are resentful.” It will feel like the severing of your own blood line when you cut down this vine,  because often it is. True Godly courage is a blind faith and trust that you are really a child of God first and foremost, and that this more real relationship will support you.

It is the no contact policy I have with my own sociopath mother that I still love.

It is the restraining order a woman with Stockholm Syndrome finally places against an abusive spouse that she thought she was madly in love with.

It is the giving up of a man I deeply loved to whom I was engaged, because he would compromise my faith.

It is the giving back of the engagement ring.

It is the moment you stop pretending your best friendship with someone is “brotherly” love when he feigns “empathy” for you in a private email to another man,  because his works were critiqued by a mere woman and yours were not,  or worse,  when he makes you complicit in his evil.

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It is the moment you face down an abusive priest, stop allowing you and your daughter to be falsely scandalized, and instead shout truth from the mountain tops.

People who are deluded by the devil, whether do to sickness or culpability, need hard lessons to learn truth, as do we,  and to be placed in God’s hands, not our own which have become soiled with earth.  Until they consent to being unraveled by God through Mary, they are a danger not only to us, but to themselves.

For none of us are God, and none of us can play God to save another’s soul.  We can only contribute to another’s salvation by offering something up, and sometimes it is our very connection to those that we continue to love, that we must offer up to God to help save them. Because we love them like ourselves.  But we love God more.

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Dare we think cast not your pearls before swine does not apply to us, because we are special, and our own magic beans will do the trick?  Or do we twist the meaning of this command into a loophole to neglect publicly defending God’s Truth, neglect cauterizing a leak?

That Jack is a boy, and not a girl, is significant.

Women reflect God’s mercy, are more empathetic, and are therefore called to forgive, but set boundaries against the men who have broken their hearts.  Men have a greater obligation to reflect God’s justice, in serving women.   The masculine has an obligation to sacrifice to protect his good mother, from the evil giant who has confiscated her goods.

That is how a boy becomes a man.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

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“Mother! mother! bring me an axe, bring me an axe.” And his mother came rushing out with the axe in her hand, but when she came to the beanstalk she stood stock still with fright for there she saw the ogre just coming down below the clouds.

I remember the day I left my ex husband. I had no car, and was trapped in the house with my young son and baby daughter.  I called my father, who showed up in his car to get me almost instantaneously, as if he had been waiting there all along.  I paused for a moment, turned around, and went back in the house to get the diaper bag.

When we were safely in the car my father scolded me.  “Next time you are in a situation like that Baby,  be ready.  Never, ever turn around for anything.  A diaper bag is not as important as your life and the lives of your children. Your husband could be keeping a gun. “

I asked my father, but you don’t think he really has a gun, or would shoot someone if he did, do you?

“That’s not the point.  I’m your father.  I love you.  I’ve been in situations like this before.  I do not trust that man with my daughter’s life.”

We drove off.

But Jack jumped down and got hold of the axe and gave a chop at the beanstalk which cut it half in two. The ogre felt the beanstalk shake and quiver so he stopped to see what was the matter. Then Jack gave another chop with the axe, and the beanstalk was cut in two and began to topple over. Then the ogre fell down and broke his crown, and the beanstalk came toppling after.

Imagine that. The beanstalk is down, but what a mess it is.  At first glance it looks like it has destroyed everything, the giant creature lying dead in your very back yard, like a hideously enormous chrysanthemum.

And Jack finally gives up.

Jack is finally grounded, just like a tiny pebble of sand who finally realizes who he is, and Who God Is.

His soul had always been properly intimate only with God.

Jack finally realizes he cannot trust man, over God.

Because there are no men left.

He is all alone.

So Jack starts weeping.

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Jack finally lets go entirely and lets God, because he has no other choice.

Jack cannot pull himself up by his own bootstraps.

He is finally safe at home, whether this symbolizes Heaven…

or Heaven on earth.

In all versions of the story, the mother and Jack get rich off the goods that really belonged to them in the first place.  In one, Jack remains with his mother.  In another, he marries a princess.  We do not know the end of our story, but we do know God will repay in abundance, with our heart’s most intimate, and fondest desire.

And they all lived happily ever after.

I include the following music video in this piece because my father loved country music. The words remind me of what my father said to me, and what God the Father would say to each and every one of us, without exception.