Has there ever really been civilization?
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Suddenly, I was startled back from the meandering thoughts which filled my mind.
“Eat your stew before it gets cold!” Áine admonished. “What’s on ya anyway?”
Áine is a sturdily built woman with a heart-shaped face and high cheekbones. Her curly red locks frame a face that is capable of exuding both mischievous playfulness and murderous fury in the blink of an eye. She’s been my companion for nearly two decades and we chose one another as hearth primes shortly after reaching our ages of majority within the tribe’s reckoning. In our tradition adulthood is not achieved at some fixed number of years at which some may be mature and others not. Instead, tribal elders and achievements make the decision when a person’s rite of majority shall take place and the person is considered an adult with full rights within’ the community. More on that later, on to the question at hand. Do I tell her or do I brush it off as my mind playing tricks on me?
“I saw something near the creek above the big black walnut tree. I think it might have been a stalker!” I blurt out before even realizing I had said it.
“WHAT?!” Áine gasped, eyes wide with shock at the news and it’s potential implication.
“Are you SURE mo chuid den tsaol and if you are, WHY did ya FECKING lead it HERE?!” her shock beginning to turn to anger.
“No, I’m not sure. I heard a strange buzz and saw a shadow through the tree branches that didn’t look right but it was already dark out and I had been drinking some mead. I thought it might be my imagination. I stopped by the stone circle and looked and listened but there was nothing. It might have been nothing or it would have followed me I imagine.” I stammered.
“Well, let’s hope it was just a trick of the mind then. Did you feel any sting or notice anything else? Off with yer clothes, let me look you over!” she ordered.
I did as I was told and Áine looked me over for marks, blemishes, anything that might have indicated that I could have been tagged or darted by the thing if it were a stalker. Finally, satisfied that there was nothing out of the ordinary she turns to me, pats my chest and looks into my eyes.
“Now, listen to me Ciaran” she says in her most serious tone. “Not a word of this around the tribe. If it had been something we surely would have known it by now and if nothing else out of sorts comes up there is no sense getting people worked up over nothing. However, it might do to have Griogair pass the word among the perimeter guard to be on extra alert just to be sure. The veil is thin right now and what you saw and heard could be absolutely anything but until we know for sure it was a stalker there’s no point in claiming it so.”
“I agree mo thaisce. We don’t know that it was anything other than the usual denizens of the forest at this point and it’s best to go about things calmly until we know otherwise.” I sigh.
We sit down to finish our meal with no more words as we watch the fire and listen to the distant pounding of the tribal drums, people hooping, dancing and feasting in celebration of Samhain and in honor of our ancestors. Everything sounds so, normal. Surely it was nothing I saw and not worthy of worry. I don’t mean to give the impression that our people live in constant fear of the outside world, what some might call civilization, and that we are completely cut off from what happens beyond the safety of our home “safe zone”. In fact, we have provisions brought in by traders and other contacts. We barter regularly with trusted people with whom we’ve had long established relationships. We receive news of what is happening out there and get access to needed medical and survival needs so that we can go on living free. Not like the poor folks who don’t belong to the privileged classes in the city. Although the air and water quality is improved from the time that grandfather and the others broke away, life is still very heavily controlled and difficult for common folks there if you aren’t born into the right family with the right connections. Civilization isn’t very civil for far too many people out there and we prefer the life we’ve made for ourselves here.
Civilization And Us
We enjoy more freedom and we’ve made some interesting discoveries which give us a bit of an edge. There are things the mundane world doesn’t see because they have never learned to see them or they choose not to. There are energies at work in the world that, if you learn their ways, can benefit you. Magick is real and some of our most gifted sisters and brothers can do surprising things when the conditions are right. There are others who know this too, even a tribe of descendants of the Tuatha de Danann living in the mountains to the east in the old state of Tennessee. We sometimes trade with them in goods which we can acquire for them and services they are able to bestow upon us through intermediaries both of our tribes are familiar with.
There are others living outside the cities, as we do. Mostly one god people, monotheists as they are called. Folks who believe in a single divine entity who is in charge of everything and has no counterparts or family. ‘People of the book’, Grandfather Caol often called them. Most of them are good folks but some of them are violently opposed to us and our way of living so we tread carefully when dealing with people of that persuasion until we have a better idea of what their leanings might be when encountering ‘the other people’ (us).
Áine and I embrace by the fire, pull our blankets over us and let the soothing rhythm of the distant drums lull us off to sleep.