Maybe it’s too early to call this a “deleted scene” but I started writing part two and ended up writing a ritual that didn’t quite mesh with part one in terms of plot. My feeling is that I might keep it and stick it in soon after I finish explaining what it is I need to explain.
Anyways, writing this was intense (to the point of actually being physically draining, like I had actually been performing the ritual myself), so I was in the odd position of having to dig up my old Wicca 1o1 books so I could recall how to ground properly. A little excessive, maybe, but better safe than sorry.
A few notes, before I post this:
The following contains references to sex, ritual nudity, a description of a (modified) Five-Fold Kiss, and talk of erections, but no graphic sexual activity. Still, if any of this bothers you, consider this your warning. It’s likely NSFW.
Regarding the actual text of the ritual, I made it up from a variety of different sources, all horrible poetry is my own. Scott and Dave practice an eclectic Wiccan tradition focused almost entirely on the struggle between the Oak and Holly Kings (the “Ancient Foe” in the invocation is the Holly King) which I made up, although I believe there are groups for gay men that also focus on this story.
The Oak King is so powerful He can cut his own door into the Circle, ‘natch, and He has shown up before, He’s just very random about it.
In short: I made stuff up.
Sooo, yeah, here’s the scene. Enjoy!
When Dave came home from work, the two of us shared a light meal, and then it was off to the Grove for our monthly ritual. The Grove is a Pan-Pagan retreat center, run by individuals from a variety of different traditions. If you’re a Pagan in St. Cyprian who is short on space and privacy, chances are good that you come here for most of your spiritual needs—or you have a very large circle of like-minded folks.
This evening, Ash was on duty at the main office. Ash always rocked the punk look. His hair colour varied, but today it was platinum blond and spiky. The last time I had seen him, he had dyed it an eye-popping shade of pink. He had on the same worn leather jacket that I’d seen him in for the last five years, and I kind of wondered if he ever took the time to wash it. As always, his dodecagram was prominently displayed against his off-white shirt, and the serpent ring he wore flashed its garnet eyes at me as I approached the desk.”Evening, Ash,” I said.
He glanced up, grinning broadly when he saw us. “Evening, will it be the usual tonight, guys?”
I nodded. “As long as it’s not occupied already, of course.”
Ash turned to the computer in front of him, pressing a few buttons. “It’s unoccupied,” he confirmed. “But….I’m going to have to ask you to sign a waiver….”
Well, my life kept getting that much more interesting. “What for?”I asked.
“Got a lot of X-ers out this week,” he replied. “You know how they get, this close to Midsummer.”
Shit. X-ers, also known as X-Class species, likely Fae, given the time of year. Fantastic, Faeries were only a step below demons on the “things to run away from really fast” scale which basically meant you had one nanosecond more to get away before your insides were decorating a wall somewhere.
I turned to Dave. “Do you want to risk it?” I asked. Demons, at least, were somewhat predictable, but the Fae, as a general rule, were anything but, and that’s if you knew which type you were dealing with, few species were as diverse as the Fae, so much so that some types were actually classed as less-powerful entities. A good rule of thumb was always to assume that you were dealing with an X-Class, though, and act accordingly.
Dave shrugged. “It’s nothing we haven’t handled before, Scott.”
“I know, I just wanted to make sure.” I turned to Ash. “Do you have anything we can give any….guests?” I asked. I had brought the tools we would be using: sword, wand, chalice, disk, and some cranberry juice and biscuits, but I wasn’t sure if it would be enough. Sometimes, if you were particularly unlucky, you’d run into a particularly demanding Faerie who would want more than you had to give.
“Got some bread and sweet milk on hand, a little honey,” came the reply. He shook his head as I went digging in my pocket for some cash, though.
“Don’t worry about it, Mr. Raine-Harte,” he said. “I can part with a little honey for regulars.”
“Thanks, Ash,” I said, grinning as Dave crossed the room to swipe a small jar of honey and a bit of milk from the fridge happily humming away in the corner. “You’re a life saver.”
“Tell me that when you’re back in one piece, Mr. Raine-Harte,” he said, giving us a mock salute before handing us each the usual key. “Be safe out there.”
“We’ll try our best,” I assured him, and then we were on our way.
The place that Dave and I use for most of our rituals is a spot just inside the wooded area, a nice circular clearing surrounded by trees, private, but accessible in case of an emergency. There was a washroom not too far away, and there we separated to prepare for the rite.
I stripped off my clothes, stashing them in my favourite locker–yes, I come here so often that I actually have a favourite locker; number sixty-seven hasn’t let me down yet—and ran through my breathing exercises that would bring me into a light trance state, just enough to open my awareness without completely shutting the world out. I didn’t think Dave’s insurance covered trance-related accidents, although, it did cover injuries sustained through encounters with were-creatures, so maybe the company had updated their policy.
I walked out of the washroom and felt Dave off to my right. I don’t have the kind of skill at sensing others while in trance like he does, but there was no mistaking the warmth he emanated–though I turned just to verify that it actually was him, and not, say, Rofocale, who could easily imitate that sensation, as I had discovered last summer.
Rofocale had sworn that he would never try that trick again, but I didn’t believe him.
Before the circle was cast, I placed the milk and honey outside the circle of trees, and then went to join my husband in the centre of the clearing.
I began in the East, for it was the light half of the year, when the Oak King held sway. After Mabon, we would begin casting the circle in the North instead, in honour of the Holly King, who rules the dark half of the year.
“Hail to the Powers of Air!” I cried. “The Breath of Life that invigorates us! Come, join us in this Circle, and guard our Rite this night!”
I could see Dave out of the corner of my eye as he raised his arms to invoke Fire.”Hail to the Powers of Fire! The Spark of Life that brings courage and passion! Come, join us in this Circle, and guard our Rite this night!” I turned to watch sparks dance between his fingers as he invoked the element. Dave always invoked Fire during our circle castings, it just seemed like the right thing to do, and since it didn’t make sense for him to invoke an opposing element, it was my job to invoke Water in the West, though we switched it up with Earth and Air.
I moved to the West, then, invoking the element of Water. “Hail to the Powers of Water! The Waters of Life that heal and cleanse us! Come, join us in this Circle, and guard our Rite this night!”
Finally, Dave moved to the North. “Hail to the Powers of Earth! The Ground of Being that nourishes and shelters us! Come, join us in this Circle, and guard our Rite this night!”
Together, we moved to the centre of the Circle. “The Circle is cast. We are between the worlds,” we chanted in unison. I felt it then, as if the entire world had suddenly moved slightly to the right, a sign that our Circle was indeed up and running.
“Did you feel it?” I asked.
Dave nodded. “It’s closed tight.” Dave had once tried to describe what it felt like at the moment the circle closed. It felt as if something had definitely snapped shut, and nothing was going to come through unless we invited it in. It was a small comfort, now that I knew the forest would be crawling with Fae, not that it was any less dangerous at any other time of the year. Fae were drawn to natural settings, and this retreat centre was practically a beacon to them.
I turned to face my husband. He took a step forward and wrapped his arms around me. His skin was cool to the touch, because of all the heat they generated, a Pyromancer’s body compensated by keeping itself at a slightly lower temperature than normal, kind of like how a computer is kept cool to prevent overheating when the user decides to run their entire library of games at once.
I felt safe in his arms in a way I never felt anywhere else, but, all the same, it would take more than Dave’s arms to protect me from something like Rofocale, like maybe Dave’s gun. He was off duty now, and he wouldn’t have dared bring it with him anyways. It was locked safely away in the cabinet near our holo-TV. Dave was meticulous when it came to making sure that it was locked up tight when we weren’t around.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Dave asked, smiling a little.
I sighed. “Just thinking about what happened earlier this week.”
Dave shook his head, still smiling. “We just had this conversation, remember? Don’t worry about it, Scott, if Rofocale tries anything I’ll have Dominic nail his ass.”
“As a lawyer or as a Dom?” I asked, grinning.
“Both,” he replied, his smile showing his pearly whites.
“I don’t know about that,” I cautioned. “He might enjoy it too much.”
Dave gave me a bit of a shake. “In any case, don’t worry about it, Scott. We’ll work something out, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah I know,” I replied, trying to sound confident despite the direction my thoughts were going.
Oh, for Gods’ sakes, Scott! You’re stark naked in the middle of the woods! Focus on the ritual!
I took a deep breath, then another, bringing my focus back to the task at hand. “I guess it’s past the time that we should have issued the God an invite,” I remarked.
Dave shrugged. “Better late than never….”
I reached out and took his hand, and together, we began to chant:
O King of the Oaks!
Blazing Sun, Who brings light to Your people!
Come and join us in our Rite!
Your Ancient Foe shall rest tonight.
Lord of ancient forests’ might
Bring us Your courage, love, and Light!
“You know, that invocation could use a little polish,” I remarked.
“Shh,” Dave squeezed my hand, his head jerking in the direction where I had placed the milk and honey earlier.
The thing currently gazing in our direction was a short, ugly thing with a face like a dried prune, but his appearance wasn’t what drew my attention, but the red cap sitting upon its head, looking as if someone had haphazardly poured red paint over it and left it to dry like that.
Only it wasn’t paint, it was blood, and fresh blood, by the look of it.
The Redcap smiled at us, showing a mouth full of needle-like teeth, and, despite the fact that I was safely contained within the Circle, I felt a stab of fear.
Fortunately, Dave seemed to be keeping his cool, which was a relief. “Scott, you know as well as I do that he can’t get in,” he said.
“Yeah, but he can wait,” I replied.
“So can we.”
I wasn’t so sure about that.
I was so intent on keeping the Redcap in my line of sight that I didn’t notice when the wind picked up at first. Something slapped the back of my head, and I fought down a momentary surge of panic when I realized that the thing had been a leaf.
An oak leaf, to be precise.
I turned to the north as the wind grew stronger, oak leaves dancing around us like excited children. I didn’t know where the Redcap was, and, to be honest, I didn’t care.
And then the wind died down, leaving as quickly as it had come, but as the leaves settled to the ground, my attention was drawn to the single, solitary figure emerging from the darkness.
He wore a crown of oak leaves, antlers perched atop His head—part of the crown or otherwise, I wasn’t certain—other than that, He was as naked as we were. His hair was a dark brown, like the soil in the area.
He stopped right at the edge of the Circle. Call me crazy, but I didn’t think it was because He couldn’t enter whenever He wished to do so.
“Blessed be,” He murmured, His voice was deep and musical; a voice as deep as the Mariana Trench and as smooth as butter; the kind of voice you could listen to all day long and never tire of hearing it for a second.
“Blessed be,” we murmured in response. I was never too fond of using the phrase in general. It always seemed so corny, a half-assed attempt at being poetic, but you didn’t argue with a God regarding His word choice, ever.
“May I enter?” He asked; voice like the deep earth.
I nodded mutely, but Dave strode forward, sword in hand to challenge our visitor, and I mentally cussed myself out. Scott, you fucking idiot! You just saw a Redcap. Who’s to say He’s really the God?
“How would you enter?” He asked, holding the sword up so the tip of it was pointed at his throat, but not crossing the boundary of the Circle. In that moment, he seemed taller, dignified, a silent sentinel, warding me from harm.
“In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, Harming none within its Sacred Bounds,” that last part was important, as it was when dealing with Rofocale, though I doubted that Gods were truly bound to such things.
Dave took a step back as the God took a step forward, holding His palms together in front of Him, parting them as one would part a curtain.
I felt the energy of the Circle shift then, as if someone had let a blast of warm air into a cold room. Dave, more affected by it then I was, actually stumbled, and I ran to support him, grasping his shoulder. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“Fine,” he said. “You never get used to it, you know?”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
Together, we faced the God.
He was not smiling, but His expression was not stern, either, solemn, I suppose would be the right word for it, and expectant, in fact, it felt like the entire woods was holding its breath.
I had done this before, of course, but even though Dave was present, it always felt like I was cheating somehow. Still, it was only the Five-Fold Kiss, not the Great Rite, so I guess it wasn’t that terrible in the end.
I knelt before Him, hearing the crunch of dried grass under my knees. “Blessed be Thy feet that have brought Thee in these ways….” I murmured, quickly kissing His (human, not cloven-hoofed) feet. I moved past His knees (the Oak King has no need to kneel before an altar, ancient or otherwise) to His phallus. It required some precision to kiss the right spot, for he was comfortably erect, and I didn’t want Dave to think I was even entertaining doing anything questionable (which, of course, I wasn’t, boy scout that I am).
“Blessed be Thy phallus, without which we would not live.”
He held out His hands to me next, and, as with His feet, I kissed each one. “Blessed be thine hands, Shapers of Worlds,” and then I rose shakily to my feet, and kissed His breasts, formed in strength.
And then came the other awkward part: His lips, as red as the blood in my veins.
I turned my head to glance at Dave, who managed to roll his eyes before the God placed His hands on either side of my head and pulled me to Him.
It was like being kissed by a lightning bolt. Raw force coursed through my body. It should have hurt, it felt like my first orgasm, maybe I was having an orgasm.
And then, as quickly as it had begun, it ended, and the God now held me at arm’s length, smiling.
“Blessed be Thy…lips….” I managed to stammer out.
“…that utter Words of Power,” the God finished, still smiling. He helped me into a sitting position, my hands finding the ground instinctively, feeling the excess energy drain from my body like a torrent of water. Something still didn’t feel quite right, though, but a quick glance downward pinpointed the source of the problem.
Just my luck to get a boner when the Oak King’s around, I thought as I watched Dave repeat the Kiss, only he didn’t seem to become as “inconvenienced” as I had. I always blame his ability to keep his cool on the fact that he’s a cop, it makes me feel better about myself.
In the end, Dave ended up completing the ritual, offering the Lord of Oaks some of our “cakes” and the juice that we had brought, since He had asked for it the last time. He seemed pleased with both, which was good, all things considered.
I finally managed to rise to bid Him farewell, still conscious of my traitorous genitals, but He only smiled and clasped my hands warmly.
“When the Child of Hell approaches you again,” he said. “Pay heed to his words.”
I nearly groaned aloud. Even He wants me to attend this crazy demon shindig… but I managed to nod my understanding. You didn’t disregard that sort of advice from a deity without a very good reason.
“Good,” said He, “and child?”
He smiled. “The way the body responds to desire is not a shameful thing, but you already know this, yes? You need not hide it, especially not from Me, the very Essence of Life, Desire, Pleasure, do you understand?”
Well, I couldn’t pretend I hadn’t seen that coming, but I nodded. “Perfectly, Lord.”
“Then, all is well,” said the God, raising His hand in blessing and parting. “Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry Meet again, My children….”
Another corny turn of phrase I hated, but Dave and I echoed His words, watching as He faded into the woods. I felt as if I could breathe again. The Redcap we had seen earlier was nowhere in sight, which was fine, as far as we were concerned.
The rest of the night went as follows: we opened the Circle, rushed back to our lockers to retrieve our things, went home, and had wild monkey sex for the rest of the night. The way the neighbours talked about it, we were very, very loud.