World Myth: Yule 1995

The mid-December day broke crystal clear. Marissa opened her eyes as the sun played on the snow, each flake shining like a diamond. Over her morning coffee, she planned the foods she would take with her for her Yule vigil. Some folks might fast, but up here fasting outdoors in the winter wasn't exactly the smartest thing.

Throughout the day, she kept watching the sky for any signs of impending storm, but it stayed brilliant blue. As afternoon stretched into evening, Marissa filled her basket with a thermos of hot chocolate, another one of soup, and a heavy peasant bread. Around these, she packed some herbs for tea, candles she'd made especially for this trip, and a second pair of gloves and socks. Climbing into her warmest winter clothes (the sweater she donned was a gift from her Gran, who had died last year), she laced her boots tight, wrapped a scarf around her neck, and buttoned her rawhide coat against the cold.

As she stepped outside, she took her walking stick — the one she had found at Samhain — and slowly began to make her way toward the grove of trees where she held her rituals. When she topped the final small hill, she turned to watch the sun go down. It filled the sky with brilliant pinks and deepest purples, as only the winter sun can do. As the last diamond sparkle left the snow, she turned, collected the wood she had stored, and entered her grove.

Stepping through the trees, Marissa's breath left her. The ring was clear of snow. Gran had said it would be, but she had never known when to believe her. She wouldn't even have to dig for the markers she'd left for the candles. They hadn't faded at all. Marissa lit her candles, and turned her attention to building her fire. As she lay the kindling, she used the pattern she formed of twigs to begin her trance breathing. Just as she was about to light the fire, she was startled by the cracking sound of wood breaking behind her.

Turning around, she saw a man stumble into the clearing. Marissa started back in fright. He was at least 6 feet tall, with fiery red hair that grew in a wild curl. He had a corkscrew scar across his cheek, and his eyes were as gray as twilight. In the candlelight, he cast no shadow. When he caught sight of her, he smiled, and his dark, frightening face became a sight of beauty. But his eyes stayed grim. "Miss", he said. "Miss, you must help me. My wife, she's in labor, and I can't get to town through the storm."

Marissa stared at him in confusion, then her eyes grew wide with terror. While she had been building her fire, the storm had started again. But this was no gentle snowfall. This was a Midwestern blizzard, of the worst kind. As she sat there, lost in fear, the man pulled her to her feet. "Miss!" he yelled above the wind. "You must help me. Please!"

Shaking her head to clear it, Marissa stood up. Looking up at the tall stranger, she said, "My name is Marissa. I'm a midwife. Can you get me to your house safely through the storm?"

The man stooped down, picked up Marissa's basket with one hand, tucked her hand into his arm with the other, and said quietly, "My name is Lew. And I can find my way home through any storm."

As they left the ring, the storm hit them full force. Without Lew's arm to steady her, Marissa would have been knocked down into the drifts within moments. She could barely see where they were going as the wild wind blew the snow into her eyes. Those shining diamonds on the ground had now become sharp diamond chips flying in the air. When they finally came to Lew's house, the temperature had dropped so low that it hurt Marissa to breathe.

As Lew opened the door, Marissa was already unbuttoning her coat and struggling to kick off her boots. "How long has she been in labor?", she asked. Then without giving him time to answer, "Where is she? Is this your first? What is her name?"

Surprisingly, Lew began to laugh. "She answers to Brigette" he said, "and we have many other children. She went into labor about two hours ago." He propelled Marissa into the kitchen. "Sit!" he said. Marissa tried to protest, but he just shook his head and pointed at a chair by the stove. "You need to get warm first."

When she could move her fingers easily, Lew led her through a number of rooms to the bedroom. Knocking on the door lightly, he opened it. "Love," he said softly, "I found a midwife. She is called Marissa." As the storm grew, and the night lengthened, Marissa did little more than sit at Brigette's side, holding her hand, wiping her brow, and telling her stories. Just before dawn, Brigette gave birth to three daughters.

The first, a child with blond hair as bright as the morning sun, Marissa wrapped in a cloth of brightest green. The second, with hair as fiery red as her father's, was lain in a blanket as golden as daffodils. The third, with hair as black as night, was swaddled in a cloth of deepest brown.

As Marissa brought Lew in to see his newborn daughters, the storm seemed to reach a fever pitch. He looked upon his tiny daughters as Brigette named them for him. "Your daughters: Dana, Brigid and Morgan". As she spoke the last name, the storm suddenly cleared and brilliant sun shone outside the window.

Brigette turned and spoke to Marissa, "For the service you have done for me, I have a gift for you. I give you your true name. Henceforth, you shall be called Marissa SpiritWalker." With that, Lew took something out of his pocket. Pressing it into her hand, he said, "This is my gift to you. Do not look at it until you have returned to your homelands". Then without another word, he took her arm, led her back through the house, and stepped outside.

The brilliant sun blinded her, and when she could see again, Marissa SpiritWalker found herself alone in the ring of trees. There was no new snow on the ground. "What a dream", she thought. As she stood to stretch, something fell from her hand to the ground. She bent down to pick it up and gasped. Lying at her feet was a pouch of softest and deepest brown leather. Inside, she found a silken scarf as green as grass, and on a thin leather thong, a yellow stone as radiant as the sun.

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