There is the scent of lilies in the foggy air.
This is the place I used to come for silence, the place I used to come to shirk my shoes and run in the wet grass. This is the place the trees used to be close and smell sweet like dew and rain and damp moss.
Let me now tell you a secret … this is the place where an old god once lived.
He was long forgotten, living only in the memory of trees and stone, but if you happened to find yourself there, listening and feeling very carefully, you might find yourself remembering, too. He was not so sweet as the smell of lilies, but there was something about him that was utterly irresistible. There was something in the shadows he cast, which were so close that what sunlight made it through the thick leaves was like gold on the ground. There was something about his stride and the way he spoke in tones of wind and creaking branches. There was something about the way he demanded I tell him a story, because he knew that what I am above all is a teller of stories.
There was something about the way he smiled when he demanded that I speak – speak anything: tell tales, sing songs …. There was something about his wolf-like teeth when I began to ramble strings of words in my jolt of fear:
Let Autumn fall upon us
Let winter bring us snow
Freeze the water
And let us go.
He laughed. His laugh rang in the air, a flurry of black, feathered wings and singing birdcall, and he lifted his arms. There was something about him then, when every hair on the back of my neck stood on end, feeling like spider webs crawling across my skin.
But now the air smells like lilies, and white petals scatter across the earth. I stand on the edge of the road and I stare into this place where once I came for silence, to run barefoot in the dew.
The trees have been pulled down, and he is nowhere to be seen. He was an old god, the spirit of this wood. He could not be found anywhere else. I cannot hear him laughing now. I cannot see his shadow. In my mind’s eye I see him weak, withdrawn into the few scrubby, spindly trees which still remain standing, his side pierced, his brow gouged.
I want to go to him. I want to hold him, and though he frightened me, I want to give him everything that I have to offer. I want to make him strong. I want to steal the seed of the forest away and plant it in the fields on the other side of the hill. I want to bathe his body with my tears and bring him back to strength.
But he is gone, and now the air smells like lilies. I have laid them upon the ground, and I have walked away from the wood. I will never go back.
[Tahni is beginning to lose track of how long she has been a practicing pagan, but she believes that it’s been somewhere around eight years. She recently became a devotee of Loki, but continues to work with deities and spirits from many pantheons. She often honors the deities and spirits she works with by telling stories for and about them in her art and writing. Some of her work has been featured in Huginn and Lilith: Queen of the Desert with an upcoming credit in Unto Herself: A Devotional Anthology for Independent Goddesses. She often shares snippets of writing at tahnijnikitins.deviantart.com.]