How’s it hanging on your tree or pole? Off we go—at speeds that give some vertigo—singing songs that rhyme, exchanging toasts, offloading gifts on gracious hosts. Or are we feeling like 2/3’s of a Rice Krispy treat—snapped and crackled, about to drop? Pour a wee one, sit a spell, let your hustle bustle quell. Enjoy Part II of Dea’s meet and greet ghostly winter tale with daemons three, an excerpt from Remains to be Seen, a book in progress…Part 1 was published on this blog in July 2022
END PART I…..The small hole I’d punched in the wall revealed a cobwebbed hideaway. It must be the old root cellar. Abusing mum’s tool, I managed to loosen several more stones, and could now make out a space about 5×8 feet in size. Thick curls of dust made my nose itch. I vaguely recalled mum telling me workers cemented the outside entrance to the root cellar in the late 50’s during renovations.
The tiny room appeared to be empty except for a small, dark object on the floor, cobwebs, and lots of dust. I attempted to reach through the hole and grab it. Pain shot up my arm as pieces of jagged stone cut into my flesh. Blood dripped on the dirt floor from a three-inch gash on my arm. A drop might have splashed on the object I’d tried to snag. The candle fell from its holder and sputtered out next to the object I could now see was red ochre in color and marked with symbols.
The room plunged into darkness again while I fumbled for another candle and matches. That’s when dimly outlined, sort of translucent blobs of air came hurtling out of the hidden space. Like I said earlier, I accused whatever they were of being sent by Grandee and her goons. The next thing I knew, the candle in my hand seemed to ignite on its own, and the object I’d been trying to grab also flew out of the old root cellar space and hovered in the air. I grabbed it. That’s when I must have fainted. End Part 1
A Tangled Tale of a Yule of Yore, Dea’s Ghost Story, Part 2 *****
The past, a remnant of what stayed & died, boarded up and forgotten; the future, but a sigh…
“I know ghosts have wandered earth. Be with me—take any form—drive me mad. Only do not leave me…” Heathcliff (E Bronte)
A bunch of things happened while I (and apparently Tuatha) were in a state neither asleep nor awake. We’d been somehow transported to my old day bed. Several candles in wall sconces had been lit. The gash on my arm was cleaned and bandaged with a remnant of mum’s good damask fabric, and I experienced a series of visions of bizarre and outrageous things. Mum was floating in a watery glass coffin-like box, neither dead nor alive. Clear tubes, some filled with an opaque, some with an emerald green liquid, ran from her body to a vibrating machine. A veiled woman stood behind the machine, whispering to someone wearing a white lab coat. The scene switched and I saw a grand giant of a warrior (I felt strangely close to) wave to me from a hillside teaming with perfectly formed tiny people. They ranged from matchstick to 12 inch ruler size, and they too waved. I knew his name was Aonghus but not how I knew. I would later stumble upon the right word to describe this peculiar state: lucid dreaming.
Next, I saw a younger version of mum making entries in a fat, oversized book that looked strangely familiar. There was a faint odor of spice and musk. She hid the book in the false bottom of the ornate, silk covered box that held 100s of needlepoint skeins, needles of various sizes pushed into the felt and silk padded lid of the box, several pairs of sheers, and an assortment of fabric swatches. That box sat on an open shelf in my bedroom.
Then I sat up and swung my legs around. I saw two vague shapes materialize into jolly round faces. They spoke to me telepathically, I think that’s the right word, because their mouths didn’t move. “Welcome Perdura, daughter of Aubra, descendent of the divine Deianara, daughter of Dionysus. Your gracious donation of life blood enable us to verify your bloodline. We have been waiting for you.”
I should have been scared out of my skull. Were these ghosts of people that died in the previous century? This house, according to Grand Sebastian, had been built in the late 1850s, pre-civil war. Tuatha remained asleep and unaware. “Are you like Casper, Jacob Marley, or the spooks ghostbusted in that movie? Call me Dea. How is it I’m able to see and hear you? Who are you? What are you?”
The blobs chattered amongst themselves, then the one with a bluish aura spoke. “Once in the long ago, we were part of another realm of being. Now, rather for many 1000s of your years, we have been consigned to your earth realm. You can see us unaided for reasons we will explain. We have been called by many names. To ancient Romans, we are genii; to Zoroaster, we are Fravashis; to the ancestors of your lineage, we are the daimone. Let us show you those who once dwelt here.”
If I remember correctly I somehow floated through the air and through the thick walls into the root cellar. I had a soft landing. My feet plunged into the sandy ash floor and my arms grabbed a gnarled beam above to steady myself. Not ghosts, not wingless angels or frightening, horned devils with pointed teeth and horns; daemons, how curious.
On a screen inside my head, or was it before my eyes, native Indians on horseback rode past. Only part of the horses were visible, from the chest and tail up. They trotted mostly single file through a densely wooded area. The Indian at the front of the procession had painted his face in bands of black and yellow. He raised something that seemed to be half axe, half rounded cudgel and uttered a loud, piercing sound, then they all disappeared from sight. It was every bit as weird as the visions I’d had a few minutes earlier. Not only was I seeing ghostly images, I was talking without speaking to these pulsating blobs. I asked them who these Indians were, and remarked it made sense ghosts of past generations became demons and monsters in our time. I wondered if the beasts and behemoths in stories by writers like Lovecraft and Poe might be the ghosts of real creatures that existed when dinosaurs roamed.
Then I stopped myself. “Get out of my head.”
“No, you must let us reside within you, accept us as indwellers.”
“You must let us be present in you.”
“Like become possessed; you want to inhabit my body? Sounds bogus. Why?”
The undulating, opaque forms spoke in unison. “No, not possession; the possessed are unaware of their possessor. Our link is shared; our link is of mutual benefit. More like your word symbiosis.
“When you wish our link to abate, or if you seek a space of privacy, return us to the vessel. Do you agree?”
“Before I agree to anything, prove yourselves daemons or whoever you are, including a weird dream. If you knew my mum, then tell me something no one else knows but me.”
The golden blob shimmered and spoke, “No Eudaemonos, you’ll confuse or frighten her further. Let us assume forms more identifiable and pleasing.” The blue blob morphed into a 3D image of an owl. The golden blob became a laughing, scantily clad Buddha with a fat belly and strings of red and golden flowers round its neck. From a corner of the root cellar, a third, reddish-pink blob came screaming towards me. It grew in size and assumed the shape of a large, glowing snake, a python perhaps.
They identified themselves as Eudaemonos the Wise; Agathos the Mirthful; and Agon the Conqueror. “No Agon, you mean Challenger,” said the owl. “Our vocabulary is limited and time is of the essence. We are your daemons.”
In unison, they invaded my head with their words. “You will come to understand. Passed down into your line are her memories, transported in your DNA—and microorganisms that predispose you to robust health, heightened awareness of the signature of objects and beings. These parasites alert you to danger, when not compromised, and enable you perceive what others cannot. It is why you must fast until solstice and follow our instructions without fail.”
“We shall tell you many things about your mother, about how she came to suffer from the very gift she used to heal so many. When she put your newly born canine in the holiday box under the tree of evergreen, she attached a tag with his name Tuatha. Later, when you asked, she told you the Tuatha was a divine tribe in old Erin who possessed magical powers. They were your ancestors, about whom you have much to learn before solstice.”
“Okay, I’m impressed. But that’s nearly three days from now. I’ll starve. Do you want me dead you creepy old specters? What did you mean parasites?”
There was collective sigh. “You may eat the grain made into bread and drink water pure. You must heed us and do this or your grandmother will gain control—of your will. Do you understand Perdea, daughter of Aubra? We weren’t in time to save your mother. She beseeches us to save you.”
“Save me or starve me? What do you mean my mum wants you to save me? Do you know what happened to her? Did you put that image in my brain of mum trapped in some glass box with tubes running everywhere? That’s not what death looks like.”
“Let us link into you and share our knowledge. We will show you. Trust the visions we deliver. Follow every instruction. We must haste, our power abates.”
From a crevice between flat, exposed stones, a package bound in waxed calico cloth wrapped with a crumbling length of leather edged forward, then plopped into the sandy ashes near my feet. Before I could bend and retrieve it, the package rose up and hovered in front of me. Inside the wrappings were three slim books. One book had a black cover. The second book had a red cover. The third book was cream colored and filled with gold and silver symbols.
“What our words cannot convey or that which you must learn by heart, you will find in these books. Read the black book first, in entirety, then the red. Leave the adorned book with us for now.”
The two books thumped against my budding C cup breasts, and gave me a strange electric shock. No, it was more of a lightning bolt jolt that reached from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. It made me giddy.
“You have asked many questions, daughter of Aubra. Some answers you will find in the black book. Do exactly as the pages ask. Tell no mortal. Show no mortal. Hide the books in the compartment where your mother’s notebook is stored; the notebook in your vision. Learn and practice the binding spell to ensure your study is undisturbed. Return here in three days, before the moon rises. Now leave us. Our strength wanes. There is much to learn. One last entreaty, you must lie about your catamenia when your grandmother asks, and she will ask and ask again.”
“Your monthly flux, your courses, your…”
“Ah, my period, a rather personal thing. But why?”
“Your grandmother wants to perform her own binding ceremony, to force you to become a Briganta…do her bidding. She’s assumed, correctly, your monthly fluxes have begun. You must tell her it has not. You must hide all traces in a glamour until you complete your training and initiation. We must go. Heed our words Dea, daughter of …”
I was back outside the root cellar, clutching two musty smelling books. I watched in awe as the stones I’d gouged out of the wall flew back into place, except for some telltale bits of mortar that remained on the floor. I guessed the red ocher lidded bowl was back in the root cellar as well. Great, would I have to carve up the wall again in three days?
So these ghostly, gossamer creatures were my personal daemons, not guardian angels. Which was good, considering how Joan of Arc’s supposed angelic encounters resulted in her death. I’d read a few things about daemons when we studied Greek history. The philosopher Socrates claimed to have his very own daemon, or guardian spirit. How was it possible mum and I had three daemons? Some scholars credited a Sumerian god named Enlil with the creation of an underworld in which both daemons and ghosts resided. Enlil taught a few mortals how to compel these underworld entities to do a mortal’s bidding. Daemon’s were tricksters, healers, protectors, teachers…allegedly. I’d have to do visit the public library to learn more.
In Grand Sebastian’s library in Eire Indigo, there were several books on the history of Nelline County, PA and the tribes that had once lived there. I guessed the Indians on horseback in my vision were Lenape. The Iroquois, part of the Algonquin Nation, inhabited large stretches of eastern land—from the Chesapeake to NY’s Finger Lakes. The Lenape (Delaware) occupied the head waters of the Susquehanna and areas extending to the Choptank River. They interacted with Hurons, Cherokees (Kittuwa), Shawnees, and were a peace seeking tribe of warriors and strong women. I did a school report on Storm Cloud Woman, a descendent of first mother. She was a great Lenape healer and visionary, imbued with orenda, a powerful, invisible energy. It was she who prophesized the coming danger of greedy white men and the destruction of the confederated Eastlander tribes of the Americas.
Calling the Lenape peacemakers was both an honor and an affront. Warriors were given a womanly nickname; a few of their women could sit in council meetings and voice opinions regarding the making of war or its cessation. These women wore wampum belts and feathered bands in their hair, but were not allowed to make treaties or hold any weapon other than a staff.
Most of Storm Cloud’s prophecies were of a dark nature and had sadly come to pass. My prophecies so far have also been dark. She accurately predicted when a distant band of invading Creeks would attack their village, firing guns they’d stolen from the white man. They were therefore prepared and staged an attack on the marauding tribe before they reached their village. After killing nearly ½ their warriors, they gave the remaining men the choice to either join their tribe or die. The Creek warriors joined the Lenapes and exchanged stories, knowledge of good hunting grounds, and which sacred totem animals were best to employ to ensure bountiful crops, healthy children, and a good death.
In the early 1700s, in her 70th year, Storm Cloud had a vision more terrifying than previous revelations. The White Man would spread new diseases and push the Iroquois from their lands, despite having signed treaties and made promises otherwise. Near solstice, leaders and chieftains from many tribes: the Axions, Eriwonecks, Asomoches and Kechemeches; the Mohegans, Montauk, and Wolf clans; and the Mandes and Blackfoot gathered for a powwow. They came to hear Storm Cloud’s new prophecy and discuss potential solutions to ensure survival of future generations of Iroquois. She warned her people in advance—the solution would require great change, and sacrifices beyond offerings of tobacco and corn. They sensed the presence of Great Spirit, the deities of the four winds, and Old Hare, the keeper of the shapes their spirits assumed.
A lodge was erected; some say it was a Medicine and Machtoga (sweat) Lodge; others insisted it was a version of a Ghost Lodge. At this great gathering, red clay and copper pipes (appooke) of peaceful communion and talking sticks were passed. Game was roasted and harvested food was shared. A daring, perilous plan was formulated based on Storm Cloud’s vision. After much discussion, every tribe represented agreed to support this long term plan.
However, the story passed down in US history books was that after the French and Indian Wars and the white man’s war of independence, the Lenape were greatly diminished by war, famine, and disease. Some migrated southwardly, to the territory of Louisiana or northwards to Canada. Those remaining retreated into the mountains and avoided all contact with the white man. By the 1830s, the Lenapes, essentially, were no more.
That wasn’t what happened according to mum, though she wouldn’t reveal how she knew it wasn’t true. My report was marked down because I left questions unanswered. Any intelligent person should have known the story in history texts didn’t feel true. Even at 8 years old, I could sense what was written about the mighty Lenapes was wrong. Where had they gone? What was the connection, if any, between the Lenape and the daemons?
I brushed myself off and roused Tuatha. Before I committed to reading these curious books and doing what the pages instructed, I needed to get outside, let Tuatha run a bit, and ponder what had happened. To think, all this time, mum’s workbook, in her very own words, was resting in a box on a shelf in my closet.
The cold air slapped my face, reassuring me this had been no dream. Although, the line of pine trees and the darkening woods beyond kind of reminded me of Clara’s Act II dream from the Nutcracker. Taking ballet was another of Grandee’s ideas. She assured mum it would make me less gawky, more balanced. I wasn’t meant to be a ballerina—to assume all those weird positions, though I had longs legs and what the ballet master said were graceful arms and a swanlike neck. Before I managed to get kicked out of class I danced in Peter and the Wolf and Nutcracker.
My experience in mum’s workroom had a few elements in common with scenes from Balanchine’s staging of the holiday favorite, though I was no Clara, and there’d been no wooden Nutcracker turned Prince to rescue me. The daemons could be compared to the toymaker/magician that handed out toys to the children on Christmas Eve. Since I wasn’t supposed to eat for the next three days, I was sure I’d be dreaming about sugarplums, Spanish chocolate, and all the gingerbread soldiers I wouldn’t be eating this year.
Oddly enough, I wasn’t the least bit hungry. Perhaps I could fast for three days. My period was due in about a week, when the moon was waning. Mum had shown me how to use tampons, which I always flushed down the toilet, and I’d never complained about cramps. There was no one to tell how it felt when it happened. Step-munster didn’t care. Dad would have been embarrassed. I’d need to buy a new box of lady plugs and leave it unopened in the medicine cabinet in case Mrs.Leigh spied for Grandee. I can do this. Grandee and her crones won’t ever make me one of them. There will be no solstice initiation.
Dea’s Diary, December 21st, Solstice. Grandee’s demanded my presence at her formal dinner tonight at 8pm; luckily I’ve been excluded from the grownup’s cocktail hour at 7’ish. That means I’ll have to wear the stiff brocade dress she or Caresse laid out for me and the squeaky, toe pinching patent leather pumps. I’ll have to sneak into the cellar before dinner and hope at least one of the daemons appear. Eudaemonos was kinda neat, the other two I’m not so sure about. I have a gazillion questions for them. I trust they’ll be impressed I haven’t broken the fast and performed all the rituals, even the stupid ones. So this is what magic is all about. Too bad I can’t share what I’ve learned with anyone.
I’ve never seen Grandee so mad as when she asked me how I was enjoying being a young woman. The daemons had warned me and I was ready. “What do you mean?” I asked her. She grabbed my arm and pulled me into the butler’s pantry, then proceeded to lecture me about being impertinent and warn me about being deceitful. I looked right at her. “I’m in no hurry for Uncle Charlie to visit. Or is that Auntie Flo? Some of the girls at school have had their periods and don’t like it a bit—cramps, stained panties, feeling bloated and teary eyed. Why ever would you think I’d enjoy bleeding every month Grandee?
That was one of the rare times she was at a loss for words, so I continued. “I mean, it must be awful to experience, being on the rag, having the CURSE, a monthly jam sandwich down there. But you haven’t had to worry about periods for a long, long time, have you Grandee?”
Perhaps I should have left well enough alone. She marched me upstairs and went straight to my medicine cabinet and grabbed the unopened box of tampons I’d bought the previous day. Then she peered into my nearly empty trash can. Once again, she was speechless—and quite livid. I think she wanted to throttle me. As she left my bedroom, she barked that I was to tell her the very day my period started. She intimated that if it didn’t happen soon, she’d take me to see a specialist.
I might as well keep pushing it. I’ve decided I’m not wearing the awful dress they selected. I’m wearing mum’s black velvet dress—and her silver moon necklace and crescent shaped earrings. Instead of the pumps, I’ve polished my black English riding boots. Wish me luck or go n-eiri leat as Grand Sebastian would say. ###
NOTE: you’ll find entries from Dea’s diaries and more about her encounters with daemons and the supernatural in future chapters of Remains to be Seen. Stay tuned….
And my magic hour ends with miles to go before I sleep, will be back to find my bookmark later….
Frost would understand, as do I. I forget who said this…’the great thing about a ghost story is your willingness to accept the unproveable.’
I do like those three translucent blobs Jo. And their evolution. So well described by you that the reader skips along without so much as a blink. Suspect that a great deal of this chapter is semi-autobiographical? Really enjoyed it.
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Glad you find these ancient apparitions interesting, 3 distinct personalities… chap 2 dropping later this week, intro to other characters. RE the semi-autobio, I’m not telling…yet! Look forward to your next take on life across the pond. Cheers