How the Seasons Came to be

In the beginning of the green World, the Lady Night did dance upon the Earth's breast. She delighted in all the Earth — the growing herbs, the animals, the insects, the birds of the air, the creatures of the waters, and all that made up this pleasant abode.

She exulted in the warmth of the sunny days and cool nights. She ruled this world with Her companion and counterpart, the Bright King, whom She had fashioned out of Her longing for love. His name was Day; the brightness of the Sun shone from His visage. Great was their joy in one another, and in the green fertile World about Them.

The Earth became more and more full of Her creations — crowding happily in on one another, until there was little room to Dance or move about, and the Earth groaned under Life's weight.

Mother Earth complained to Father sun, the They consulted with each other on how they might best serve the Great Goddess, and at the same time relieve the burden that rested so heavily on Earth's weary body.

After much talking, they could not decide what they must do, and Father Sun told Mother Earth that since Her's was the pain, so must Her's be the solution. And He turned away His Face and shrouded Himself in robes of seething clouds.

Coldness fell upon the Earth, and many things cried out in loss and pain. For was not the Sun needful to them for Life? Many things began to wilt and shrivel close to the Little Mother's bosom, looking for solace. Many things burrowed deep, sleeping until a more favorable time.

Then Mother Earth devised a plan — let there be two halves to the year — the bright and warm, and the dark and cold. Thus would the burden lighten somewhat, when the things shriveled for a while.

Father Sun once again looked upon Mother Earth, and agreed that Her plan might work well. "But who would rule the dark time?" He asked.

"Let the Lord be the Master of the cold season," She replied. "Then can the Lady renew and replenish all things after His Reign."

Father Sun felt it would not be wise to leave the Lady companionless. Why could there not be two — one to rule the bright and one to rule the dark. He wished that the Bright Lord should remain in the warm time; for He was straight of limb, bright of visage, and merry of heart. Too, Father Sun thought the Lady would wish a companion to compliment Her beauty, be light-hearted in all ways, thus making the task of renewing all the more joyous.

Mother Earth thought long on this, and at last sent a choice of her own. The man was strong and dark of countenance. He had not the great beauty of Father Sun's choice, nor were His ways light-hearted and merry. He was much given to thinking, planning and building. He was much given to practicalities, and could be counted upon to the clearing away of the extra weight that so burdened Mother Earth.

On a day designated by Sun and Earth, the two Lords met in a glade where the Lady sat twining ropes of flowers in her tresses, and draping them about Her body. As She surveyed the two Lords, She felt chill from the Dark One. He seemed so stern and forbidding! The Bright One caused Her heart to dance. She ran gaily off, holding the hand of the Bright Lord, singing and laughing.

The Dark One said nothing. He went far to the North, where the sun's rays were weaker, and the vegetation sparser. He built Himself a fortress, and hunted for foods, preparing them in strange ways so that they would last a long while. These, He stored, and then set about making furniture and pots of fired clay in which to cook. After a time, He had made a snug and comfortable home for Himself, with room enough for guests.

The Lady and Bright Lord paid Him no mind, gaily Dancing and playing and loving. They planted seeds, tended them lovingly, and then at the fruits of Their Harvest.

On the day the Sun stood still in His journey, the frolicking Lady and Lord felt a sudden chill. There, in the meadow, where first the Three had met, stood the Dark One. He held out His hand to invite the Maiden Lady to come with Him.

The Bright Lord sheltered the Maiden in His arms, refusing to let her go, clinging with all the love of Life that was His nature. The Lady held close to the Bright King, refusing to look upon the Other.

"Then," said that Dark Other. "We fight!" They took up arms against One Another, and it seemed as if the Bright King was winning for a time. The Maiden Lady clapped Her hands in glee.

The Sun and Earth watched this battle passively; it seemed to go on forever. But the sun must not stay His course in the Sky, and as sunset approached, the strength of the Bright King waned. The Dark Lord, He of the Earth's devising, seemed neither to lose or gain strength, but remained constant. He struck a great blow against the Bright King, who fell down, dying. The golden grain drooped heavy heads, and the fruits of the trees fell to the ground in sorrow. The flowers began to wither, though new ones sprang up, blood red from the Life fluids of the dying God.

The Lady gave out a sorrowful cry, and the tree leaves changed their colors — some golden in honor of the Bright King's hair, some as red as His blood, and others the color of the Earth that was to receive Him into Her bosom.

The Lady heaped flowers upon the still form of the Bright King, and mourned Him in a sorrowful song; a song that raced through the branches of the trees, who added their own mournful tones.

Though the blood of the Bright King cried out for revenge, the Dark Lord ignored it, and grasping the Lady firmly by the hand, took Her off to His home in the North.

The fallen fruits and flowers dissolved in sorrow, into the Earth Mother's breast. The seeds of their yearning for Life lay dreaming of the long summer they had known; remembering the shining love that the Lady and Her Consort had shared with all that was.

Now Father sun was angry that Mother Earth's choice should win over His Bright King in battle, and took Himself off a ways from Her. The World became colder. Without the love of the Maiden, the Brightness of the youth, and the warmth of Father Sun, Earth began to sleep under a blanket of white. So, too, slept all but the most hardy of plants, trees, and animals.

Though the Maiden resisted Him at first, She soon came to love the Dark One for His differences, and She learned much from Him, and He from Her.

Then one day, the Sun stood quite still, viewing the Earth, thinking how still and pale She looked — and how it was not Her fault that her Champion had won. He sent a pale ray of light down into the Caven Fortress where the Dark One ruled as Lord, the Lady by His side. And lo, a son was born to Them. His visage was bright and shining, as He laughed and played in His cradle.

For a time, the Dark One was jealous of the Child, for He knew it was the Bright One, returned. Then, as the Child grew to manhood, the Dark King sent Him away.

The Lady, refreshed from Her confinement, followed the Youth. Again, Spring came to the World.

Now, this story is many times repeated. Neither the Bright King or the Dark One ever own the Maiden-Lady for all time, but must share Her. This must be, so the World be a true World, that the Four Seasons go apace to turn the wheel of the Year, and that all may learn that Life and Death and Life are but a cycle, and that Hope is always near.

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