∴ A Sacred Awakening ∴
The steel is cold in your hands as you climb. Though it is dark you do not stumble, for you know this way by heart.
Behind you the village processes in pregnant silence. The able helping the old, children lagging at their heels. Last year you walked with the maidens, wide-eyed children in white. But this year you were chosen. This year you carry the sword of the saint.
The sword is the island’s truest treasure, broad-bladed and smoky-grey with age. The leather that folds around the guard bears half of a cross. The sign of the goddess. The sign of the saint. It’s all the same to the island folk.
As you reach the barrow’s crest, the chant begins. “Tha i beò. Tha i beò. She is alive.” For a moment the whole island opens around you in dusky lilac hue. You can see from the twinkling lights of the village, across the fields and the moors to the harbour. For a moment, it is yours.
Then the onlookers file in around you, a circle of white-clad watchers, keeping vigil over this rite. Uncertain, you look to the horizon, and then to your father. He gives a barely perceptible nod. As the voices rise to a clamor, you lift the sword to the sky, and with a cry, plunge it into the earth.
Then there is silence.
Over the sea the sun is rising, with springtime in its wake.