Albion, Art, Magic, Photography, Trickster

Hunters Moon

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It was time to go north, being a month since my last foray and while Friday evening passed quietly celebrating… The weekend began with a desperate hunt across the city.

What were we seeking, high and low? What were we stalking? Why the desperation, you may ask…

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We were playing hunt the postman… he had the first copies of our books and we had missed him… Many streets and a handful of postmen later Stuart returned to the car triumphant, brandishing the two small boxes… and we retired to an ancient inn amid the hills for a late lunch and further celebratory libations. There was a roaring fire in the hearth… and both hunt and flame were appropriate. It was Hunter’s Moon on Saturday and I went north, to see a very special dance.

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We watched the sun go down in a blaze of colour over Langsett reservoir with its castellated turrets outlined against the sky then walked back to the inn to wait until moonrise. The tang of paraffin in the air held exciting memories of childhood as darkness fell. The crowds gathered and excitement grew as dark, masked figures moved like shadows across the darkness.

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Then Crow appeared, taunted by Fox. The impossibly tall figure spreading wide his wings of tattered midnight while the wily Fox prowled… then a rocket breaks the silence and the blackness and a procession of torches wends its way from the water. Glimpses of strange and magical shapes… then the night is lit in red, drums play the heartbeat of the dance, the ramparts of a castle… the mask of a Fox…..

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The procession winds its way closer, pipes and drums, torches in the darkness. There is something primal about the scene that speaks to levels deeper than the mundane world of entertainment. The dancing lawn fills with Foxes, black silhouettes against the smoke, masked and moving with inhuman grace. It is a scene of magic and mystery that takes you out of time to an anywhere and anywhen lost in dream. Then the Silver Fox appears, robed mage, staff in hand, lighting the quarter fires in their braziers…then the staff is raised, aimed, pointed and with a flash the final fire lights as if by magic…

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…and the dance begins. Stories are woven in fire and footstep, silently prowling Foxes tend the flames that flash intermittently with bursts of colour and smoke…each dance telling a story…..

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Drums are lit, played with flaming sticks… chains of fire whirl in circles, a huge drum is beaten with brands, sparks flying wild in the night… intricate patterns are woven with light beneath the full of the Hunter’s Moon in the clear sky… Dances of Five and Three… Seven and Nine… and the drums mark their steps…

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…..then The Fox, the Old Fox appears, leaping in vigour across the dancing field…all energy and power…and another, mirroring his movements, shadow and light….the Young Fox…

As the Old One wearies, the Young One gains strength as they battle for supremacy and you are caught, breathless in the moment… waiting the outcome of a battle as old as time and as new as the night…

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Then only the Young One remains, surrounded by the Vixens…

…And then it is over… only the blazing mask remains….they are gone, slinking away,  while the fireworks mark the end of the dance….fading into darkness and memory…and it was a night to remember.

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