We arrived at the sacred gathering place at twilight, all the men of my village, with the Sun just setting behind the western hills and the Moon yet to rise. All the clans had sent their men. I had never seen so many of us together in one place. The wise men and women amongst our people had read the signs in the stars, winds, fire, water and trees and had declared that this Hunter’s moon would rise tonight.
So as is our custom all the men of hunter age came to this place here, our most scared meeting place, by the mountain, the sacred stream and the hunting groves.
Not all the men would join the chase. For this moon was an initiatory moon. It would make those amongst us, I included, who have just come of age, men of our people. Not all those that would join this night would survive. Such is the way of the Gods and of our ways.
I was big for my age. I tower over my brethren, my muscles defined along my legs arms and across my chest. My manhood blunt and thick. It is said amongst my people that a god must have sired me though, which one is unknown. Yet despite my size and physical maturity I am scared. My father is a great warrior and hunter. To him I must bring honour.
And so on this auspice day when I take my place as one of the men of my people under the guidance of the Hunter’s moon, my clan sisters painted my face with the signs of the god to help me guide my spear. They painted the symbols of the goddess on my bear chest so that she may protect my heart. And as I left with my father and clan brothers they sang the songs of protection and guidance, invoking our most ancient of gods.
As we arrived to the sacred place the fires were already lit and the drums beating. Some men stood speaking loudly with one another with their chosen weapons. Mine, the spear. Other men danced to the beat of the drums, their athletic naked bodies moving rhythmically to the music, crowned with antlers, calling forth the essence of the god, to better the hunt. To better us. We all look powerful and imposing in our hunting gear and our bodies painted with our sacred art.
I feel the men get restless as the energy at the space began to stir. The Sun had set and soon…soon the Hunter’s Moon would rise and my brothers and I would join the chase in the sacred hunt.
The drum beat grew louder as it weaved its way through the men. I feel the beat within me as find myself moving with it, as do my brothers around me. Soon we men move and howl together intoxicated by the music or by our ancient gods? I do not know which.
Finally the horn blows atop the eastern mountains signalling the rising of the moon. We stop. Looked up, and see the moon rise into the sky.
Suddenly my wits returned to my body as I picked up my spear and run towards the sacred grove. I run as fast as I can, charging through the grove, with wave upon wave of my initiation brothers, making our way to the hunting grounds.
It feels as if we move effortlessly through the forest obstacles before us, though I know that some had been already taken by the Grove.
May the Gods be with them.
The Horned Lord is with me though. I can feel his power course through my veins as I make it to the hunting grounds. By this point the howling and screams of my brothers dies down as now the game began. Stealth is key.
The mighty white Stag, seen in the minds eye of the wise men resides here. To bring him back is our mission, to come back as men. So we follow the choreography of the hunt, moving as small groups. As the Moon rises higher in the dark sky, we catch glimpses of the majestic animal. Graceful, strong, crowned with large antlers. A powerful beast aware of its power, it will not come easily.
And so we followed and watch for what seems hours.
At a clearing though the beast stops, to eat. This is our chance, I feel the energy shift, as if the gods were delivering the beast to us. We surround him, with slow deliberate steps.
Suddenly the Stage make an angry sound as one of my brother’s let an arrow loose, landing on the rump of the animal, barely make a mark, but for a small trickle of blood released from the tough hide, staining the beast’s white coat.
The Stag speeds off, and we began the chase. A rain of arrows follows the best, many missing it, a few hitting our target, though barely making an impact.
He will not make it easy for us, he will make us work for his hide.
The Chase continues until we reach the eastern edge of the forest. The Moon shines highly in the sky, make the Stag’s coat a brilliant silver. By this point the beast has a half a dozen arrows sticking into it, its hooves now covered in blood. Now is our chance, now is our time.
We are bolder now, coming closer to the Beast, tormenting it with our spears, and other weapons. Yet it still will not yield.
It was time though to end the animals suffering. I approached it head on. I looked directly into its dark brown eyes, as he looked directly back into mine. I run towards him, yet he would still not yield. For the animal also has honour. He charges directly at me, mustering what seems to be the final ounce of its energy.
I release my spear as the Boar charges forward, and in an instant the beast is stopped dead in its tracks, my spear landing directly in between the eyes that had pierced my very being moments before.
Eyes that now were lifeless.
At that moment, the magick of the Hunt is released. I become aware of my thumping heart, high in my chest, almost in my throat, the dull throbbing of my tired legs, the worn faces of my brothers, the blood on our hands.
We had made it.
We stand around the beast and pay homage to its spirit that gave its life for ours, speaking the sacred words we were taught.
We gather the Beast’s body and head back to the sacred meeting place.