Going With the Wind by Barbara Ardinger


The wind changed during the night. Even as they slept, the Witch and the Ladies of the Magic Mirror felt it and stirred in their beds. Kahlil the raven, who was sitting on the roof, felt it, too, and as he looked down the highway, he spotted the travelers. “What’re those folks doing on the road?”

The travelers were walking along the highway built only a few years ago by the people of the country towns who had fled from El Presidente’s capital city. They were coming toward the Witch’s house, too many for the raven to easily count: women, men, and children dressed in dark clothing that was stylish a hundred years ago.

The sun began to rise. The travelers came closer. The Witch and the Ladies got up, got dressed, and stood on the porch to wait for them. At the direction of the stout woman who was leading them, smaller groups broke off and turned toward other houses in the small town. The stout woman led her people to the Witch’s front porch. The wind changed again—and look! The travelers were no longer wearing dignified attire. Cloth caps instead of bowler hats on the men’s heads, headscarves on the women, scraps wrapped around the children. “They’re laborers,” said one of the Ladies. “Migrants.” Another Lady nodded. “And they obviously need our help. They need to be fed.” “They need jobs,” said the Witch. “How can we help them?”

The stout woman, now wearing a headscarf patterned with rosemary and a shabby coat over an equally shabby dress and a red apron, stepped forward and addressed the Witch. “Madam,” she said, “I am the Matriarch of my people, whom you have seen on the road. We have heard about the good works you do, and, yes, we are seeking your hospitality and your kindness. We were bullied and attacked at home.”

“You mean you were chased away,” the raven muttered. “They threw rocks at you.” And the travelers nodded.

Mrs. Worthington stepped forward. “Matriarch,” she said, “we recognize you as a True Sister.” “Yes, come in,” said Mrs. Bezukhov. “Come in and we’ll talk.” As Mrs. Janedoe made welcoming gestures, the travelers entered the Witch’s kitchen, where other Ladies were already preparing vegetable soup and other healthful foods. Mrs. Fairy handed cookies and glasses of milk to the children.

The raven was standing in the middle of the kitchen table as the food was served. “Soup’s on,” he croaked, “though I’d rather have a good, fresh eyeball or two.” The children laughed, and a little boy fished a pea out of the vegetable soup and tossed it at him. “Tiny eye,” the boy said. The raven ate it.

“Now,” said the Witch when appetites seemed to have been satisfied, “where are you going and what are your plans?”

“We’re going to the capital city,” the Matriarch told her. “We hope to meet with El Presidente and convince him that we are worthy of safety and acceptance in this nation, that we are deserving of employment and homes to live in and…and…” She didn’t need to finish the sentence. Everyone knew El Presidente’s reputation for bad behavior. Everyone knew that even young children were now copying his bullying and open cruelty.

“I hate to say this,” said Mrs. Worthington as she buttered another slice of bread for the little girl sitting next to her, “but things just aren’t going to get better for people like us. Not for anyone who doesn’t share El Presidente’s prejudices. Not going to get better—”

“—till the wind shifts again,” the raven said, eating another pea given to him by the little boy. “Not till the people wake up.” He looked around at the Ladies. “Girls,” he said, “maybe ya gotta do some scryin’ in yer magic mirror. Sorta get a hint of what’s to come? Speak to the wind? Maybe start some kinda little change that’ll grow into a big change?”

The Witch stood up. “Kahlil, that’s an excellent idea. Ladies, friends, let us adjourn to the dining room. I’ll fetch the mirror. Kahlil, you go find your friends to stand in the corners of our magic circle and gaze into the mirror with us.”

And so, after the travelers had swallowed and wiped their faces and hands with real cloth napkins, they walked into the dining room, where the Ladies had set their scrying mirror in the center of the table. A minute or two later, Kahlil and three more ravens flew in through the open window and settled around the mirror. As Mrs. Worthington, Mrs. Janedoe, Mrs. Bezukhov, and Mrs. Fairy invoked the elemental powers of the four directions, the surface of the mirror went cloudy. It looked like clouds were blowing across it. There seemed to be blue under the clouds, and maybe some green. Suddenly the wind shifted. The clouds turned around, the colors disappeared. “Uh oh,” said one of the ravens, “I don’t like that.” “Not a good sign,” another raven said, and all the human beings around the table nodded. “Well,” said Mrs. Worthington, “let’s scry and see what we can see.”

“Mirror, mirror on the table,
“Show us all that you are able.”

Nothing at first, then some stirring under the dark clouds, as if the citizens of the capital were restless. Then, suddenly, large letters: JOURNEY ON.

Well, to shorten this story, the travelers spend the night in the Witch’s house listening to the restless wind, and in the morning they all regroup and set out along the highway, on which there is almost no motorized traffic. The Witch, the Ladies, and the ravens watch them in the mirror.

And, of course, the wind changes again. But look! They’re not human beings anymore. The mirror shows golems, jinni, dragons, chimeras, aragogs, the shelob, manticores, grootslangs, Mongolian death worms, gorgons and ghouls, banshees and harpies, zombies and gargoyles, vampires and werewolves, the Jersey devil, and the Minotaur. Hundreds of them, all marching on El Presidente’s palace. “El Presidente, come out!”

And who comes out of the palace? A huge, orange Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The Matriarch is striding beside the Jabberwock. She throws off her coat. It’s the Red Queen! “OFF WITH HIS HEAD.”

What will the wind blow when next it changes?

 

Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every DayFinding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.



Categories: Fiction, General, Humor, In the News, Politics

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17 replies

  1. Oh my goddess – what a fantastic story! I loved it – You took me out of my sorrowful/angry self – “Everyone knew that even young children were now copying his bullying and open cruelty. ” I can’t stand it – the selfishness, indifference cruelty all of it – I can barely stand to interact with the world – after listening to a woman I worked with as a client a number of years ago and learning that she recently tried to kill herself – she’s an artist – so gifted, so sensitive I told her that learning how to ‘endure’ was underrated – (Remember Celie in “The Color Purple”? She taught me the value, the dignity of endurance) – you state the same thing “JOURNEY ON” and we must, somehow. Thank you Barbara for this wonderful post. I am going to copy and send this to her…Bright and Multifloraled Blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Sara. I quit watching the news so much because now we’re hearing about the far-right extremists trying to start a war for the orange Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose behavior is getting worse and worse. Yes, I remember Celie and all she endured. Thanks for reminding me. Yes, let’s all journey on, even while we’re still locked down. Well, while many of us are still paying attention to science and not rabble-rousing. Bright blessings back to you and the artist.

      Like

  2. So good to be in the company of the witch and the women and their wise, hilarious raven. Looking forward to the next installment. After reading I found myself singing, “the answer my friend is blowin in the wind, the answer is blowin in the wind.” Yes, let’s journey on together.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. I think Dylan was (is) right that the answer is blowin’ in the wind. We need some good, possibly metaphorical (so people’s houses don’t get blown down), strong winds. Should we journey on with the migrants or the monsters or both? Or all of them?

      Liked by 1 person

      • BTW, “Journey on” is a song in the musical Ragtime, which is one of my all-time favorite shows. Everyone in the movie (and the novel) is journeying on.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Shall we say: So mote it be?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed! Blessings to all, and hang in there. Turn off (or throw out) the t.v.. Don’t participate in FB any more than need be… or at all.

      And spit in the patriarchy’s collective beverage(s) as often as possible.

      So mote it DEFINITELY be.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Fabulous, Barbara! I can hardly wait for the next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. thank you thank you thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks, Barbara. I took a break in my giving this Giving Tuesday to read your post, and I’m very happy to have done so. Keep us chortling, hoping, and hopping (if we’re the ravens).

    Like

  7. Now I’m trying to figure out what kind of mischief that Raven can get into next. I’m thinking about giving him a new friend, a pigeon named Poppins. But what are they going to do? That’s what I’m thinking about.

    Like

  8. Thank you thank you
    thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love your creativity and wit. I am too emotionally raw to engage fully with this story. But the messages filter in all the same. And “Journey On” is the name of the song I wrote for my father as he was passing through the veil. I love your vast, playful, sharp mind. Looking forward to more. <3 <3

    Liked by 2 people

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