Monday, July 7, 2014

INITIATION



"You must not stop," they told him as they took his clothes, except for his breeches. "Not longer than to catch your breath."

Barefoot and all but naked he walked into the deep darkness beneath the earth. The stone floor cut his feet. Half-felt tendrils brushed at his bare flesh. Things skittered before his steps.

“I won’t fear. I am a Butterfly Warrior,” the boy whispered.

The darkness closed around him and with it the walls. Slowly he was forced to stoop, then to shuffle bent double. He had entered a place where sound and light were invaders doomed to defeat by the infinite patience of the ageless earth. The passage narrowed further. He dropped to his knees, sinking into the slick muck on the cavern’s floor. He could feel the weight of the earth around him, straining to crush him.

The earth was strong. Strong as his master the Sun. They were not always friends.

“I will have faith. I am a Butterfly Warrior,” the boy said softly, and his voice skittered from stone to wall echoing and reechoing in the darkness. He slithered into the passage on his belly.

He crawled for a nightmare eternity, stone scraping his narrow shoulders. His knees and toes, elbows and fingertips were grated raw. The filth of the passage oozed burning into his wounds. His breath echoed around him, mocking him, muttering of boys lost and dead beneath the earth.

He stopped exhausted. Tears stung his eyes.

“I will not despair. I am a Butterfly Warrior!” the boy gasped and forced his toes and fingers to drag him another few feet. The air began to move and far ahead his light-starved eyes faintly detected a patch of darkness lighter than the rest. His struggles took on a frantic energy, until with a strangled cry, like a newborn’s scream, he flopped out of the tunnel and into the open air beneath the stars.

He lay a still a long time. He found himself on a wide landing jutting from the side of the mountain. Far below the jungle's dark canopy rippled. The sounds of bats and bugs and monkeys drifted up to him. A panther's scream sent a shiver through him. 

With nothing else to do the boy staggered to his aching feet. Compared to the filthy hole he'd crawled through, the night was icy. His knees trembled. His muscles protested their new position. His feet screamed. His sweat dug furrows through the cavern much covering him. His rebelling body made him sit again. There was no where to go, no way to continue. The sky was lightening. Dawn was minutes away. He had to keep moving, but the mountain side was sheer, nearly smooth.

“I will continue where others cannot!” he growled through clenched teeth. “I am a Butterfly Warrior.”

He forced himself to stand, to creep to the very edge of the balcony. Still he could see no way to continue. The sky turned silver, then blood red. He was going to fail.

The searing crescent of the sun sprang over the horizon. 
 

"I will continue where others cannot." He said the words softly this time, finally understanding.


He jumped.

The Power exploded within him. Wisdom and strength filled him. His flesh was scorched black as jet and his eyes white, featureless as pearl. From his back burst his new gorgeous wings of black and white and purple. He landed, a new creature, and folded his wings like a glorious cloak at his back.

He lifted his fists and screamed to the sky. “I AM A BUTTERFLY WARRIOR!”

~SJA

Image © | Dreamstime.com

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