Hers was the religion of flower and tree, beetle, bird and dew. In every raindrop she saw the smile of the Goddess, in the curve of every branch, the arms of the Mother.
Barefoot, she wandered through the forest, rejoicing in the feel of moss and twig underfoot. Hers were the old ways, lessons learned when the world was young and still learning itself.
The earth sang and thrummed beneath her feet, the wet and the glory filled with a buzzing life, an energy that could be found in the curl of every leaf, a wholeness in every pebble, every rock; the sometimes wildness and cruelty tempered by the knowledge of a never-ending cycle of life and renewal.
She saw the birds hatch their young and the wild cats nurse their kits, hidden away in dens. She witnessed death, brought by swift fang and slashing claw and accepted it as part of the Mother’s ever-turning wheel; watching as remains turned to bones and scraps, carried away by worms, to be returned to the warm wet earth.
She lived in harmony, balance, showing them how to take no more than they needed, always giving thanks and gratitude and love to the Mother.
Then others came.
From far away, they came with crushing foot and rending hand, ripping and tearing the very heart from the land she loved, the trees she cared for. They came, bringing strange bright gods from hot dusty lands, gods that conquered and devoured.
She watched and wept as they cut down the trees, chained her land in stone and iron. People fled, animals died, and there was no renewal, no honour.
Exhausted, depleted, afraid and angry, she fled, deeper into the wild places where the savage side still dwelt. Finally she found what she was looking for, a rent, a natural cleft in the wet red earth.
She crawled inside, deeper and deeper, till the blood pounded in her ears, her head sang and the arms of the Mother enfolded her in the warm red earth. She closed her eyes and waited.
Waited to be reborn.