It wasn’t until the wedding, when they stood at the altar, face to face. Thick Louisiana hum, twilight filtering silver overtaken by gold from little fires here and there and torches carried by our family and friends, but mostly strangers here to witness and bask in the energy of this sacred Beltane Rite. We are witches, two days ago we met, and tonight we are wed.
Stars emerge paired with fireflies. Shed pieces of animal, plant, seed, bone, mother, flaking and gathering oil and smoke, deep scents on the large altar behind us, we stand under a canopy of palm leaves, a flashback to ancient Egypt and I know without question his eyes never left mine.
We were humanity, mortality, filtered to pure sexuality. We were chosen divinely for this role of the God and the Goddess embodied. As the May Queen, I was chosen by picking the drink of mead with a turquoise inside, while as he, as the Oak King, won my hand by catching me in the Great Hunt and correctly answering my riddle.
We stood, having led our tribe to welcome the springtime, to worship the deer and the wolf, on this sacred land of Gryphon’s Nest. They followed us across the expanse of the field, carrying sparklers, surrounded by the swamps, to a great altar and circle around which they watched eagerly.
Our family gathered around us, all of humanity and bleeding animal, breaking hearts of gods and goddesses, angels holding their breath so not to cry, so not to sing.
And sing, we did.
As the High Priestess and Priest closed the circle around us, and called the Elements, coaxed the corners of the earth to lounge as sacred voyeurs to human love and lust. Now silence falls, but the buzz of the land under our bare feet and radiating into our bodies. I feel the embrace of my friends, I feel the heat of the man across from me as he gazed into my eyes with overwhelming passion. Waves threatening to crest over my head, to pull me into the deep. I desire so much as to meet your gaze, but I am so afraid.
Your burrow into my soul, in the most literal sense. A refusal to look away.
You find nothing in me scary
I become aware of a face in the circle, in line of my sight is Vovin, and my fear is shaken away with a wink and shimmy from our Man of Honor. This is the courage I needed to move fully into my body. Growing taller, hot tea swamp water soaking up from my bare feet, bruised with ripeness.
Overcome with humming, she takes a dare, she glances up at him. Through fear, shyly steps out a quiet knowing. A deep but sweet confidence, pulling the curtain aside, step into the Goddess, she has been here waiting patiently the whole time. I lounge into myself like a warm bath. Held in the embrace of your terrifying eyes I jump into a roaring river, equal so to dipping bare feet into a crystal stream, freezing and laughing. And I did not look away, I burned right back into you, not a choice but an accepting an invisible invitation to dance from your playful eyes. Swelling and body cooling and heating, growing taller, skin illuminating. A goddess in all of us I stood for the girls, for Melody my niece, stood for my mother, for grandmothers of color, for queer sisters and for the sluts and for the women in Hijabs.
You were all present
And he saw that
Saw me jump in
Let go of my footing
His eyes grew gentle into mine
Float above the Earth and
Take a look down and see
Shining stones and gray moths. We all
Desire the same thing:
We all want to be loved
for precisely who we are and
in that moment I knew
You saw me. And I
Knew you met my eyes, I
Watched as tears formed in
Softly folded corners
Warmest blue in pain in clinging
to pieces of drift wood
Grasping at pieces of iceberg.
Clawing for a drip of water in
the desert I saw you also.
I jumped into the screaming
Truth and you were my soft landing
My gentle tether to earth
And I was yours too.
In your eyes a boy, a man, a warrior and a priest. You’ve lived hundreds of lives, you’ve taken thousands more and the blood of old men’s rage pools in the lines of your palms, the same hands you hold your lover with. Those hands you hold back tears with, now you feel safe to lie them down and cry. I witnessed in you each lifetime of all of humanity, I witnessed your subtle pain and shame, disguised and renamed, but now allowed to feel as he feels. I witnessed your craving, a violent movement towards healing. Countless screaming births, and endless peaceful deaths.
Love, in that moment you placed it all at our feet. You surrendered your desire to be a martyr, left it with the God you embody on this holy night. You released your white-knuckle grip on your sword, and we watched it fall silently to the floor. Years and painful years, heartache and movement and a running on and on, mountain to sea to valley, to the suffocating dust of Mars. Your home is here and now. You, now, accept your weight, your physical presence under the moon here with me. With your family.
Please tell me you are real
My love, in that moment we knew. Rushing together, divinely paired. You took my hands and in front of every living being on earth, with every spirit past and present, with the ancestors looking on with bated breath with each speck of dust and moons and earthworm’s soil.
I declared my love to you in our wedding vows
I spoke for all the women
Felt for us all
And when you spoke back, your voice shook,
You spoke as poetry
As you declared yourself bound to me
And nothing you said could be doubted as anything but the immortal truth
The High Priestess and Priest placed veils upon our heads and great headpieces of antler on you and flowers, moss, and insects upon me and we allowed ourselves to be guided to the ground, red and pink and white flowers arranged in a perfect pentagram, our wedding bed. I watched, through the eyes of divinity, as you laid down for me. As I placed myself upon you, legs over your body, weight on your lap, my hands gently steadied on your chest.
Sacred Rite: a Marriage, a Vow, Sex between Heaven and Hell. Creation of Pleasure, Celebration of Mortality, burning inside lust a sexual desire and all began to dance, all began to chant and with Mugwort wafting over us, we held out thin hands to welcome a Chalice for me and an Athame for him and slowly, gently, agonizingly, you placed yourself into me.
Crowd shouting, creatures weeping, the Rite is complete. We are guided to our feet, my Chalice is filled with mead and your Athame dipped in honey and each person passes by to sip and kiss and receive blessing, maybe a message as well. As they pass, and make their way back to earth, to the pool, the wild after party, we collapse together beside a small fire, as the ritual area is tidied. We did not speak at all, in the afterglow of deep ritual of possession of our bodies by celestial beings. You looked off into the distance, at nothing in particular, creating space to return. I snuggled between your angled knees, and there we held each other, and the Earth continued to turn as Spring quickened and romance blossomed and the insects resumed their day. Dark now, the agonizing angles of your face flitting about by light of the fire, lean muscles in your arms made sharp by shadow. We gazed and gazed in silence, basking in the glory of Beltane, of the God and Goddess’s lingering presence, of our scents and each other’s primal sexuality, basked in Mead and Honey we were blessed, but more so, we blessed each other, but most of all, we allowed ourselves to receive.
Two simple, holy, breathing creatures. Holding on, letting go. Return to our bodies, allow the deities to go back home. From that moment, we knew as our hearts beat with the turn of the Earth, we would never be the same again, and we would be bound in some way for all of eternity.
Please tell me this was real