And they call her the Bonekeeper ~
She drums, the soft leather beater tapping out a steady rhythm that sounds out from the frame drum in her other hand. Her eyes close, her head tilts back and she begins to sway. Grass pricks at her bare feet and smoke of anise, mugwort, damiana, wormwood and mullein rises up in the low-hanging oakleaf canopy above her. Before her lies the feathered body of a great bird, her lover knelt beside it, knife in hand. The rhythm changes from a slow three-beat to a quickened four-beat. Dum dumdumdum dum dumdumdum… this is the burial rite. Wings are cleaved from torso, feet carefully detached, toes spread around a maple seed ball to hold them in place. Feathers are salvaged. These are all placed in layers of rock salt and covered with a tight-fitting lid to keep out moisture and those who would devour all. The rest is wrapped in burlap, and placed gently in a hole nearby, gaping wide from the dark earth where roots lie stirring with the new spring. More herbs are burnt upon the coal and poured into the hole with the Dead. In a few months time what remains when feather and flesh has been eaten away will be exhumed, he will bring out his herbs and smokes, and she will again bring out the drum, and this time, they will sing the bones back to life ~
Original work first posted at Isáine’s other blog, Witch of the Wyldwood April 27, 2013
Smoke billows up in swirling wafting rivulets. I breath deeply the smell of sandalwood and dragon’s blood. Night is falling over the land as the last light of the sun dies in the western sky. Just before darkness completely overcomes everything, I carry the hand-dipped sticks of incense outside. It is time to check the old bones, and to start processing the new. The old bones had tipped out of the bucket but they were undamaged. I gingerly picked up each, allowing the smoke to curl around them, all the while a song is spilling forth from my lips. Each bone is passed through the smoke then added to the bowl. Once they are all done, I gather the new bones. This set is tainted with the essence of murder and dishonor. These bones will need some work, and I feel that at least some of them if not all of them will find their final resting place in the earth. These bones belonged to animals wrongfully killed, animals whose flesh was wasted, whose bodies were left to rot at the end of a dirt road. But they called to me. Called to me to take what I could, to pass them through the smoking incense and sing them back to life. And so that is what I shall do. For that is who I am— the Bonekeeper. These bones I pass through the smoke, singing all the while, until they are all in the bucket. Cool water is added, filling almost all the way. This will sit for some time. And then the next step will be taken. The first set of bones I take inside and begin to scrub gently in fresh water, checking for any remaining flesh and scrubbing away the green algae that formed here and there. These bones are almost ready. Cleaning them with the small brush was rhythmic, hypnotic, meditative. And the white smoke curls and swirls through the air as I work, and sing to the bones.