In the black furror of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled of the green;
And I whispered “Whsst! witch-hare,”
Away like a ghostie o’er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.
~Walter de la Mare
Time ticked in her head, moving towards the midnight. As it did so the glimmering light that presaged the full moon slithered over the brow of the hill.
She sat there in the shadow of the old stones, uncovered now since longtime by the men who had hunted in the Earth for treasures and the bones of their ancestors. The moon’s light grew.
She knew before she saw. The first hump of the full-bellied moon rose over the brow of the eastern hill, a curve of darkness below a curve of light. Her long ears pricked up, she sat up, one paw held aloft, waiting.
The moon rose. Yesterday became today, new time following past time, the chain of days strung together like daisy-heads. She sat still, waiting.
Now there was a space between the Earth and the moon, it almost seemed to her huge, dark eyes that the moon joggled a dance as she freed herself from the Earth. The Earth horizon too seemed to shiver as the one became two.
A stream of lacy blackness swam towards the moon on the breath of the southerly wind. The clouds swarmed around the moon, hiding her full gold nakedness for several minutes until the moon shrugged again and stood, sky-clad, alone above in the heavens.
Not alone. A star climbed up beneath the full moon, following, chasing, a lover rising up to claim her.
Ears a-twitch, eyes staring at the beauty before her, she didn’t see the coming of the one beside her. And then she did. The bright white track crackled across the sky, across the grass, delicate naked feet stepping and dropping white petals as they did so, then the soft white hand reached down to caress the long ears.
Tension drained out of the hare as joy pulsed through her body at the touch. Olwen had come. The Lady of the White Track had come again, as she always did at the full of the moon.
The hare sat up, paws reaching to touch the silken skirts and the soft skin. As she did so she felt the Lady enter into her, goddess spirit joining hare-spirit, the two becoming one.
Hare-Goddess leapt. Joy pulsed through her, through them. The wide fields were soft with spring grass. Nervous sheep woke suddenly, lambs bleated, confused, their mothers comforted them as they saw it was the goddess again on her monthly walk through the land, dancing the white petals among the creatures, blessings.
Foxes came, sat, watched. Badgers stayed a moment in the hunt for worms to watch. The owl swooped round the goddess, white ghost of Gwenhwyfar, calling up the souls in the night. And the hares came. They came from all sides, from all directions, leaping, walking, running, to form a circle around the goddess as she danced.
The moon climbed higher and higher, shining down on the dancing field, filling it with silver.
And the goddess danced.
The trees bowed and shook their new leaves on the branches, adding sound and rhythm to the wind. The nightjar came, calling hoarsely, an ancient figure out of time. The bats came, dancing the air itself around the goddess’ head, casting flickering shadows.
And the moon sank down.
She hung a while above the western sky as the light of the sun presaged the dawn opposite her. Slowly she fell back towards the Earth as the sun rose out of the hill where she had come herself hours earlier.
The two lights hung together in the sky, the moon now deep orange-gold and traced again with lacy clouds; the sun deep crimson in a sea of turquoise and blue and purple.
The goddess stopped still. She shivered once and slid out of the hare. The hare shivered too, ruffling her fur, twitching her ears. The one had become two again.
Olwen reached down and stroked the long silky ears. The hare quivered with joy. She sat again in the shadow of the old stones as she watched the Lady step her white track back across the grass and across the sky into the westering moon. As she reached the hilltop goddess and moon merged into one and slid down behind the hill.
The red, red sun rose, burning up the white track of petals … until the next time.
behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …