Aodhan breathed in the crisp mountain air, felt the chill of the evening on his bare skin, and smelled the acrid smoke from the embers of his smoldering campfire. His body was weak from fasting, and his mind felt light as a butterfly flitting on a breeze. The rhythmic chant he had been reciting silently over and over for hours had begun opening his awareness beyond the bounds of normal perception. He sought a better understanding of the mysteries of The Craft… knowledge forbidden by the Christian clergy and classified as a profane heresy punishable by death. A dense fog had begun to seep out of the loamy soil, and soon the night was clothed in a blanket of mist. He continued to chant… and his mind wandered closer to the hedge.
“By Horns and Hooves of the great Goat-Foot God,
Keeper of knowledge unflawed,
Bearer of the arcane flame of awakening,
I seek. I ask. I yearn. I’m craving.”
He continued to chant, oblivious to the passage of time… and his mind wandered ever closer to the hedge.
Aodhan heard some rustling in the brush to his right. He turned his head slowly, fearful that an interloper had found his camp and that he would be exposed. He saw no one and breathed a small sigh of relief, the gut wrenching feeling of dread quickly dissipating… but a perplexed look gradually crept across his face. He saw that his breath did not form a vapor when he exhaled into the chilly night air. In fact, he could not feel the cold on his skin at all. He quickly climbed to his feet and his jaw dropped in amazement. He saw himself sitting where he had just risen from, still chanting and deep in trance. He turned slowly in a circle, bewildered, and stopped when he heard a throaty chuckle from the shadows. The raspy voice following the chuckle did not instill any fear in him… it had a comforting quality about it. “
“Third Child of Danu, you come seeking Light in the Shadows… and there is no better place to seek it.
It is in the Darkness where Gnosis can be found. It is where you can cast your soul into the crucible and emerge pure and refined. A Witch’s Blood is drawn to it, is excited by it, and becomes hot like the fires of the forge.
Do you come to the Shadows to place yourself on the anvil?”
Aodhan nodded his head in the affirmative, unsure who was speaking to him. “Yes, I come to learn all you will teach me.”
Out from the gnarled trunks of some nearby trees a great shadow detached itself and approached the camp fire. As it came closer Aodhan could see it was a huge man with the massive head of a goat. Cloven hooves sank deep into the earth from his massive size and weight. He motioned for the young man to sit, his eyes reflecting the firelight like a nocturnal animal as he crouched next to the fire. Aodhan quickly bowed his head in reverence and sat as instructed. He knew he was in the presence of a God.
The Goat God of the Witches then began to speak, his low voice nearly a whisper.
“I will impart some wisdom to you child. What you do with it is entirely within your judgment.” He then uttered many secrets to the young man… a few of which follow.
“The pleasures of the flesh are a pathway to power. Embrace them. Be wary though, when they become the object of desire instead of the key to discovery, you will reside in a prison of your own making.
The serpent is a sacred creature. It will often seek you out to offer the fruit of knowledge. Eat of it, that you may know me and emerge into infinite and diverse possibilities.
Three is a powerful number.
The blackest magic can falter under the light of Lugh. Work them and conceal them where the Sun does not touch.
There is great power and great danger in True Names. Guard yours and diligently seek out others.
Value Knowledge and Wisdom above blind faith and servitude.
Separation from the Natural Order is a prerequisite for Godhood. Yet, the Natural Order is necessary to maintain Godhood.
There is great power in the feminine. It is a cornerstone of The Mysteries.”
There was much discussion in the darkness as the Goat God instructed. He wove his teachings into elaborate stories and allegories, presenting challenges for Aodhan to ponder and work through, giving him insights into mysteries he would most likely struggle with in the course of many lifetimes. As the Witching Hours drew nigh to their end though, Cernunnos, God of the Witches bade Aodhan farewell with a simple gesture of his hand and a low grunt. The young man bowed his head in reverence, uttered a short prayer of gratitude and thanks, and when he looked up again the towering presence of the Light Bringer was no longer there. He could still smell the Goat God’s musky odor though, as it hung about the camp. He also keenly felt the cold and could see his breath in the air. He was again in his body. The coals of the dying fire flared briefly and ignited of their own volition, and with the fog and mists now gone, Aodhan could see the twinkling of the Morning Star on the eastern horizon.