The Drummer sits in the topmost branches of the great Tree, his hair blowing in the wind created by the whirling of the galaxies turning around his head. The Tree itself stretches through the center of a brightly glowing spiral of stars, with roots firmly grounded in the earth of many planets. He cocks his head to listen in the silence for the music of the dancing giants, and his hands keep time on one of the many drums hanging from the Tree’s branches. Slowly a smile lights his eyes until they gleam with the fires of heaven. Standing, he stretches his arms above his head as he begins to sing. He sings his name, the power that moves the dancers, for he is the Lord of Time, and it is a moment in the dance when he is called to mark a turning, to shape a Balance.
With the grace of a dancer, he leaps and swings down the branches of that wondrous Tree. Now this Tree is known by many names on many worlds, for it is the Cosmic Tree, the Tree of Life whose branches hold the blazing stars and whose roots descend to the waters which give birth to the dreams of the soul. Yet to the Drummer, it is truly and simply the Mother, who shelters life within Her many layers and who gives form to the dreams of all Her children. Now one of Her oldest children is being called to his task: to turn the Wheel of Life and witness the result of that movement.
As the Drummer descends to the lower branches, he sings his song which is his name and the power of Time draws near. The rhythm of his singing grows slower as the great Change approaches, for the uprush of life which he called forth in the Spring is now turning within and approaching a new Balance. As he descends and draws near to one blue-green world, he gathers in the Light and he gathers in the Darkness, for these are the tools of the power of Time.
He sits in the lowest branches of that great and mysterious Tree, his leg swinging to the beat of his drum, his eyes searching the horizon. With his descent, his song has taken on a depth and a longing that belongs to the heart of this world, and his name becomes a beseeching whisper carried on the back of the winds. The power of his song and the power of his drumming become the power of his loving as a figure appears. As He is Lord of Time, so She is the Lady of Life, alive and glowing with both Darkness and Light. She comes to him now—Dark as night, Dark as Earth, moving like the cat-creature that paces at her side.
She stops at the foot of the Tree, swaying to the rhythm of his music, and then, lifting her arms to him, the Lady begins her own song, a song of fullness and depths, of mystery and emptiness. She sings her name—Mara—rich with the textures, tastes, smells, sights and sounds of nature. And when she sings her beloved’s name – Mabon — he leaps to the ground with a shout of gladness.
Now Mabon plays a new rhythm, one that binds them together in love. In that moment, as Lady Mara and her Lord, Mabon, hold the Balance between them, sinking into a deep silence, the Tree shakes itself from its crown to its roots, and the Balance of Time is achieved once again.
Within that infinite moment of looking and loving, the Change blows through them. And then the Lord of Time and Lady of Life send out their song, and call their children to gather around the Tree. And the children come with the fruits of their labor, for the Balance being struck between the Light and the Darkness is the moment of Harvest for this beloved Earth. To the rhythm of Time, they come to offer the fruits of the year; and stand in the silence as the moment of balance flows away, the Light receding before the Darkness.
Lady Mara looks upon her children with love and sorrow, for the ways of the world are secret and holy, and not all of her children have believed the senses which tell them of the ways of Spirit. For her world is now entering into the dark times, the season when death and decay need to be faced so that new life can be born in the future. Of all her children gathered there, she can only hope that a few have gathered in a harvest worthy of the gifts she and Mabon bestowed upon them in the springtime of the year. For although the Balance has been struck, the Dark is rising and the hope of the New Year lay in the harvest gathered in now.
One by one, their children dance before their eyes to the rhythm of their names and the sounding of the drum. The first to come by is an older man, dignified and self-important, with empty eyes and babbling mouth. Around his neck hang the skulls of women and children, and the skulls cry out against him. His is a harvest of death and there are no seeds to be gotten from him. Mabon’s hands fly over the drumhead and the dancer is forced to twirl and gyrate until the cries of the skulls are silenced as the figure explodes into dust.
Twisting from side to side in frantic haste, a woman scurries around the circle, with wide-opened mouth and a hole where her heart should be. She grabs at the air and THINGS appear—clothes, food, jewels—which she immediately stuffs down her throat. Unfortunately, they fly right out of the hole in her chest. The more she eats, the more frantically she grabs. There will never be enough. Sorrowfully, Mabon plays deeply and widely as the THINGS she desires overwhelm her and she is eaten by their nothingness. No seeds there.
One after another, their children dance their harvests, and they are too often harvests of greed and destruction, unconsciousness and small-heartedness, and soon the Tree is surrounded by corpses and bones dancing themselves to dust.
But just as sorrow has achieved its full measure, a woman appears with a small child at her side. As they dance, Mabon and Mara hear the young mother tell her little girl a story about a great Tree whose branches stretch to the very heavens and whose roots are nourished by the dreams of the world, and the child laughs for pure pleasure. And the hearts of the Lady and Lord lighten with laughter, for here at last is a bountiful harvest, with seeds for the future. As the woman and child dance before their parents, the abundance of their harvest is made clear to them, and they accept their blessings with grateful hearts.
Next comes an older woman, weighed down with years, who bares the fruits of the earth in her hands, and it is good. With her are many others, bringing the healing herbs and food they nurture by their daylong toil, and all are accepted with great gladness as seeds for the future.
Soon a man appears, broad of shoulder, with strong hands that are good at making and building. He carries the things which his heart has imagined and his hands have crafted—he brings with him the beauty he has created. And the Lord and Lady smile with delight, for here is a true son, bearing the harvest of his soul. The man lays the work of his hands at their feet, seeds of the future.
With him are others, whose harvests are of the heart and the mind as well as of their hands, and their daylong labors are blessed. And these children dance on the bones and the dust of their brothers and sisters, and their seeds rest in the decay of the dead, to sleep their winter sleep.
And Mabon and Mara look out over the harvest and see that it is bountiful, and their hearts rejoice, for in the silence of the Balance of Light and Dark, the seeds of the future are singing their names.
This story is from my book, Stories of the Earth: 8 Tales of the Wheel of the Year. It's an eBook and you can buy it here: