SEEKING THE SPIRIT
BY IRID  AL'MENIE



Did you ever wonder what actually happens during the mysterious Eyelian ritual that is called 'Seeking the Spirit'? Didn't you, but do you since reading the question? Whichever of the two, the ritual is described in this letter from Naya More'ek to Irid al'Menie, kindly donated to the Library by the latter.


ear friend,

In your last letter, you have asked me to describe my passage into womanhood. Although we rarely tell this to outsiders, we do not make a secret out of it either. Therefore, I will tell you what you have asked.

It happened when I had seen twelve summers. The children of my tribe are always given a sign that it is time for them to enter the Lodge of Purification. The sign almost always comes in the form of a dream, although there have been cases where it was something else. It was a dream for me.

I had bled for the first time the month before the dream, and it had just been over the second time when I dreamed. It started out just like any other dream. I was just outside of my own house, and I could see my mother in the garden, singing a lullaby that she had sung to me every night since my earliest childhood. My father was there too. He was practicing with his shortsword, a common sight as well.

Then, very suddenly, the scene changed, as happens so often in a dream. Mother and father were still there in the garden, doing the same things. It was rather my perspective that had changed. I seemed to be looking at them from high up in the air, as if I were a bird. Yet at the same time I felt strong, very much stronger than a bird should. And there was through it all a sense of others, of never being alone, of always running in a group. I knew then that it was time, for that was what the dream seemed to be telling me.
 

I was very nervous when I awoke, nervous but excited. I knew that the ritual would start on the following morning. I told my mother about the dream as soon as I saw her. She was very glad, but I think a little sad at the same time.

As I have already told you, the Seeking of the Spirit is one of the three great spiritual times among us Eyelians. With the other two being the Naming at birth and the Returning of the Spirit at death, this is the one spiritual time that we experience consciously in this body. The day that one knows it is about to start is therefore momentous.

On the morning of the following day, I awoke with the same sense of nervousness and excitement. I washed and dressed ritually with the help of my mother and aunts. This part of the ritual is known only to Eyelians, and I will not tell it to you. I can say, however, that I was dressed in a white shirt and skirt. I then walked barefoot toward the Lodge of Purification, escorted by my mother and one of my aunts. All who saw us stepped aside, for they knew what was about to happen.

At the door of the Lodge my mother and aunt both took my hand and led me inside, symbolising that I was at that moment still a child that needed her family to guide her. I would come out a woman who could make her own decisions.

Inside the Lodge was one other person, once mother and aunt had stepped outside and closed the door. It was the spiritual leader of our village, Rafigan. He was there to keep the stones in the fire pit hot and pour water over them so that they steamed. He also provided the water that I could drink. I was not allowed to eat anything while I was there, but I could drink as much as I wanted.

For five days, I stayed in the Lodge. I fasted, prayed and meditated, lost in thought. Sometimes hours went by without me saying a word. At other times, Rafigan and I talked and talked, about my hopes and dreams for the future, but also my fears, or my past life. In the evening of the fifth day I was allowed to go out again.

Outside, I saw my mother and father, as I had known I would. They provided fresh clothes for me to change into. Apart from that, they also gave me a nice blanket and some bread to eat. After five days of not eating, that was more than welcome, but I knew enough to eat it slowly. I was hungry, but my body still needed to adjust again to the intake of food.

I was glad my parents were there, mostly because I knew that if I wanted to, I could go back to them right now. That alone was enough to give me the strength to go on, and so they didnít speak to me. Not yet, for the Seeking was but halfway done. Rafigan gave me a knife, and I left my home. I looked back once at my parents. They were both smiling proudly.

Gradually I travelled north into the wilderness. I had many dreams during the week that followed. I still remember all of them, as I remember everything from those two weeks. But I wonít bore you with the description. Only one is important.

On the third day I heard the howling of a wolf. Then I saw the shape of the same wolf coming closer. I noticed immediately that he was bigger than other wolves I had seen, but apart from that he was quite as any other. When he was close enough, he sat down on his haunches, looking at me. Than he got up again and bounded away. I felt an urge to follow him, so sudden that I started running before I realised that I wanted to. For a while, he ran on in front of me, than he disappeared between some trees. When I got to the place where I had last seen him, I looked around, but didnít find him anymore.

Then I heard some rustling in the bushes ahead. I saw the same wolf again when I went over, but this time there was something strange about him. I could not exactly lay my finger on it, but something had changed. Again, he bounded away and I ran after him. I didnít know where he was guiding me. I also didnít know, and to this day donít know, how long I followed him. I lost him a few times, but I knew he was there somewhere. Every time that I didnít know where to go, he gave me a sign and I started running again.

Then I lost him for quite a long time at some point in the late afternoon. He had led me out of the forest a while back, and now I found myself in a plain with some rocks spread over it. I searched for Ďmyí wolf, as I secretly called him by now, but I couldnít see him anywhere. I sat down on one of the larger rocks to rest a little, as I had run almost incessantly for quite a while.

Then I saw him again. This time, however, he was not running away to lead me somewhere, but he was bounding in my direction. I could by now see clearly what had bothered me about him the second time. He had become translucent.

Close by, he sat down and watched me for a long time. It was than that I first began to understand the language of the wolf. Then, he began to fade. Soon I could no longer discern him from the surroundings. Yet I knew he was still present, if unseen. Even now, when I need advice or guidance, I can talk to him and he will help me. When I am not sure which way to go, he gives me a sign, as he had done so many times that day. At times his voice is but a whisper on the wind, or he comes to me in a dream. And sometimes, if the matter at hand is grave enough, he appears to me again. He is always transparent, and I know that I am the only one who can see him.

When I returned to the village, a feast awaited me. My mother and father gave me a present, as is custom when a child has become a woman or a man. It was the golden bracelet that you have seen on my arm. I also received the image of the White Wolf of my tribe on that day. Even to this day, I am proud of it.

I hope, dear friend, that I have answered your question adequately. I look forward to your next letter, and to your incessant questions about Eyelian life. I remain,

Yours truly
Naya

 

Letter written by Irid al'Menie View Profile