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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

 The night was quiet and peaceful, with only the occasional call of
 a whippoorwill to break the tranquil silence.  The Moon was an
 iridescent ball of silver perched high in the heavens, illuminating
 the Earth below.  The sky, a lovely shade of midnight blue, was
 sparsely speckled with the twinkle of stars.  I peered out my
 window, enchanted by the beauty of the night.  As my eyes wandered,
 they came to rest upon the corn field - the corn field that had
 broken my very heart.
 In the beginning, I had worked patiently and diligently tending the
 soil.  I tilled it - turning it over and over, so that the new
 could surface and the old could rest.  I carefully pulled away the
 weeds and the remnants of the old crop to make the field ready for
 new planting.  I fertilized and nurtured it, smoothed and moistened
 it.  Day after day, I toiled to make it ready.  Finally, I plowed
 it into even rows and lovingly planted it.
 Every day, I tended the seed and watched for new sprouts.
 Tenaciously, I ripped the weeds from Earth that would rob the seeds
 of the nutrients necessary for their growth.  And then one day, I
 saw it - a single, solitary sprout that had pushed its way through
 the soil!  Within the week, the entire field was covered with a
 very thin mesh of green, and I felt a joy in my heart that words
 cannot describe!  The hard work, the aching muscles, and the tender
 care with which I had nurtured the field was not in vain - the
 Earth which I loved had given birth, and was alive in the greening
 of the seed I had sown.
 Daily, I worked in the field, delighting in the growth of the corn
 - revelling in its freshness - exulting in the part I had played in
 its birth.  The rains came down, drenching the earth and the roots
 grew deep.  The sun shone brightly on the young plants and they
 grew tall, reaching for the sky.  Ears began to form on the stalks,
 and all was well with the crop.
 But then the drought arrived, and the rains came no more.  The sun
 still beamed brightly, and the roots moved deeper and deeper into
 the Earth in their desperate quest to find water.  Alas, there was
 not a single drop left with which they could quench their thirst.
 The once luxuriant green leaves began to yellow and wither.  The
 stalks which had stood so proudly against the sky began to shrivel
 and crack, and the tender ears, so newly born, dried up in death.
 Yes, the corn which I had helped to birth - that which I had loved
 so dearly - was gone.  Dried up.  Dead.
 A tear fell from my eye as I stood looking at the field that night,
 remembering.  A gentle breeze rustled through the old and withered
 stalks as I wiped away the tear.  And then...I saw something!  Or
 was it someone?  Slowly and silently I crept toward the corn field
 to take a better look.  I felt my heart beating faster and faster,
 as panic began to consume me.  After all, it was nearly midnight
 and too late for visitors!  Whomever was in the field was obviously
 up to no good, and I wanted them to leave immediately!  My legs
 moved faster and faster - more quickly than I had dreamed they were
 capable - until I was, indeed, on a dead run!  When I reached the
 old oak tree that shaded the northern edge of the field, I opened
 my mouth to shout my displeasure at the trespasser; however, I fell
 silent as my eyes focused on the sight, and my mouth gaped wide.
 For there, in the center of the corn field, was a young woman in
 white - her hair as gold as the maize - glowing in the shimmering
 iridescence of the moonlight!
 Questions ravaged my tired brain, as I tried to assess the
 situation and size up the intruder.  Who was She?  What was She
 doing there?  Surely She knew She was trespassing - and most
 certainly She knew that it was illegal!  As much as I wished to
 call out to Her, I was mesmerized by Her very presence and found
 that I could say nothing.  Helplessly, I watched as She moved
 through the rows of death.  She stopped to caress a dry and
 withered leaf, and then smiling, held it to her cheek.  Gently, She
 reached out and wrapped Her arms about the cracked, brown stalk,
 hugging it closely to Her breast.  She released the stalk and bent
 down to look at one of the ears - perfectly formed, but shriveled
 in its deathly demise.  Quickly, She snapped the ear from its
 stalk, tugged away its husk and swiftly moved toward the outside
 perimeter of the field.
 Holding the ear of corn high above Her golden head, She began to
 dance upon the barren Earth.  As if in slow motion, She twirled
 about the outside edges of the field, as she softly hummed an
 unfamiliar tune.  Round and round the field She danced, picking up
 momentum as She worked Her way toward the center.  Louder and
 louder She sang, the volume increasing as Her feet flew faster and
 continued to spiral toward the center.  Within the matter of a few
 seconds, She had become a whirling dervish - dancing with such wild
 abandon that the kernels of corn were loosed from their cob, flying
 helter-skelter across the field!  She glistened in the moonlight as
 droplets of perspiration formed upon Her body, and in the frenzy of
 Her dance, they too, were flung upon the Earth.  Her feet and voice
 reached the ultimate crescendo at the center of the corn field, and
 She fell upon the ground in total exhaustion.
 All was silent.  The sounds of the nocturnal creatures had been
 stilled.  All was enveloped in an unnatural hush - as if time
 itself, had stopped.  She lay on the Earth, unbreathing, unmoving,
 immobile - as still as Death, itself!  I stared at Her in horror,
 the panic which I had forgotten, rushing back into my brain with
 full force.  Was She alright?  Good Heavens!  Was She dead??
 Finally, I gathered my wits about me, found my feet and rushed
 toward the center of the corn field, where She had fallen in
 collapse.  My heart beating wildly, I reached out to Her - but She
 was gone!  She had disappeared into the very ether!  All that was
 left in Her place was a single corn cob, void of its kernels - the
 kernels which had flung from their resting place in the midst of
 the Lady's spiral dance.
 The sun was shining hotly on my face as I rubbed my sleepy eyes
 into total alertness.  Where was I?  This didn't feel like my bed!
 What was causing this blinding light?  I was soaked to the bone!
 Just what the hell was happening here?  Cautiously, I opened my
 eyes and surveyed my surroundings.  To my dismay, I was lying
 smack-dab in the middle of the corn field and my head was resting
 in a rather large mud puddle.  Clenched tightly in my fist, like
 some precious jewel in need of protection, was a solitary corn cob.
 I scrambled to my feet and tried in desperation to collect my
 thoughts.  What was I doing here?  Had I lost my mind?
 And then...I remembered!  I remembered the cornfield in the
 moonlight - the Lady and the dance.  I also remembered how Her
 drops of perspiration had dropped to the ground in the frenzy of
 Her movements.  I looked at my feet and the Earth beneath them.
 Joy and wonder rose in my heart.  It had rained!  Merciful Heavens!
 It had rained - the Earth was soaked with moisture - the drought
 was over!
 Gleefully, I ran through the cornfield, feeling my bare toes dig
 into the wet Earth - the same Earth which had been so cracked and
 dry and barren just yesterday.  I ran in joy.  I ran in ecstasy.  I
 ran in sheer celebration of the soil's return to richness - and
 then, I stopped dead in my tracks.  Something was amiss.  Something
 had changed.  Something was quite unlike it had been before.
 Scanning the field, I realized that it was once again covered with
 delicate green mesh of newly sprouting corn!  In awe, I reached
 down to cradle a newly-formed sprout and as my fingers touched the
 verdant green leaf, a feminine voice began to speak:
     "You were born of me!  You are my child and at death you shall
     return to me.  Fear not of death, dear one, for within its
     realm I shall bring you new life!  Just as the corn lives again
     - so shall it be with you!  For all that falls shall rise
     again, and that which dies shall be blessed with the gift of
     rebirth - the gift of My love!"

Next: Keeper of Wisdom, The (Kalioppe)