It was the eve of the full moon, in a land distant to her home; she had taken her usual evening walk, around the village, and tonight she has wandered down a path to the river, as the sun set, as if lead by an invisible force.
Now found she had been lost in thought for far too long!
The night had fallen all around her, as she sat besides the swirling waters, in which now, brokenly, the shinning orb of the gibbous moon was reflected.
She had left the flat roofed, white walled house earlier, with only a shawl around her shoulders, which, considering the chill in the air, had not been wise!
As she stood from the rock, which had served as her seat for the last hour or so, it crossed her mind that she might not know the way back in the dark, so lost in deep thought had she been, her path home might be difficult to retrace!
Turning to walk back along the river path in the moon light seemed a romantic thing to do, but the reality of it was, this land held more fears for her than her home-land; at least back there the spirits were know to her (and she to them) but here in this Catholic land, none would come to her, no matter how hard she tried! Offerings had not been accepted and the land remained hostile in continued silence… until now.
Fleeting shadows showed themselves at the edge of her vision.
Not knowing exactly what to make of this she ignore it – her need to find her way home more important.
Glancing around her to find the path back to the village, she took in the dark sweep of many roof tops, silhouetted against the sky.
Beautiful, she thought, standing still to gaze and listen to the night sounds. The river, a little behind her now had drowned out the noise of the sleepy village until now. A dog barked; a car drove off and a woman shouted something angrily in Spanish, after it, not far from where she stood.
Encouraged she took a step towards the sounds and found the path she sought. Walking along it to find it widened out into a rough track, which lead into the area of the village she knew.
They’ve gone! The fleeting shadows no longer bothered her, and with regret she wished she’d communicated with them by the river. Making a mental note to do so next time, she strode on up the track, past the house the car had left, and wondering if it had been a lovers tiff she’d heard… she lifted her head and the roof tops where nearer, higher, looming up now as she entered the village and left the dirt track, to turn right along the road to home.
What’s that? Her eye was caught by something strange; something she’d not seen before here. At the junction of the dirt track and the tarmac of the road was a little shrine, and by it the stub of a candle burned.
(In the distance a door slammed shut and she clearly heard the key turn in the lock…)
How strange! She thought, bending down for a closer look for the shrine was on the ground, this wasn’t here earlier!
A single figure stood enclosed by the roof of the shrine, the usual Madonna, she assumed, but no! This figure had no veil! The single candle lit not one but three forms, dressed in a Grecian style, of a woman holding items she couldn’t quite make out. She caught her breath… to the other side a second candle had burned out, and close to was a small bowl of food; an offering?
A tri-form Goddess!?!
She slowly stood, both confused and amazed her mind reeling!
Looking around, she realised she had stumbled upon something akin to her own. But, excited as she was, she was also afraid and that fear seemed to come from a deep knowing, a memory…
The shrine is for a particular Goddess and I should not be here!
For the first time in many, many years, she lifted her skirts, and ran like the wind-the terror she felt rising in her throat as the awful realisation swept over her in horrific waves and the desire to stop and look back threatening to overwhelm her – she could feel dark eyes burning into her back compelling her to turn and look at them, but on she ran, knowing what would happen if she did…
Her lungs were bursting as she reached her gate, and thankfully she was safe, behind it, home at last; home to darkness, the only light the moon shining in through the unfettered windows. She opened the door and flicked the light switch. Another power cut! The village was plagued with them this winter. Cursing silently under her breath she scrabbled for the matches in the draw of the kitchen dresser, finally finding them, she struck one and used it to locate the nearest candle, relaxing as the room became illuminated by the flame.
Did that really just happen? She could still feel those unseen eyes burning into her soul; still see those shadows, teasing her to look at them… her heart still beat like a train in her chest and it was with shaking hands that she automatically filled the kettle and lit the gas under it, knowing a nice sweet cup of tea would settle her down, gather her nerves, and allow her to think straight at least!
The questions started to fly through her mind; what were those shadows; had she really seen a tri-form Goddess in that shrine; was that fish as an offering; had she imagined the whole thing?
The tea was strong and sweet, and she grimaced against the taste; still it calmed her and she went outside to lock the back gate and then the back door, and went on to the evening round of checking windows and doors before retiring to bed, later than normal to her surprise, to write her diary and to try and make some sense of the evening events!
She woke with a start – the candle on the beside table had burned low, and she had fallen asleep sitting up, shawl around her shoulders still, book on lap, pencil still between her fingers, words half written in her book, half formed in her mind… she listened for a moment for any sounds, but the house was still, no wind outside, no noise of cars or locals walking home… silence…
With a sigh she began to clear her lap, folding her diary closed and returning every thing to the table beside the bed, ready for sleep; she slipped the shawl from around her and snuggled down under the covers into the softness of the pillows and sleep.
In the distance a dog let out a low long lonesome howl…
Sleep had only, just over taken her again but with that plaintive howl, she was awake, wide eyed and alert! To her, somehow that howl felt significant… how, she did not know, but she instinctively knew it was the black bitch who was always tethered just down the road… the one who had just had a littler of black puppies… the one who never growled at her as she walked by but wagged her tail instead… who only this morning had let her touch one of the puppies…
Her breath, held for a moment to listen, came to her in a lung full of air and as she exhaled so the bitch howled for a second time, louder, longer… (silence) then from the other side of the village a dog howled in reply, and then another and another, and the bitch kicked in with a howl so chilling she gasped at the sound!
In an instant the whole village seemed to echo with the howls of every dog that lived there – the cacophony lead by the black bitch on the corner – the chill night air magnifying each howl!
She rose, gathering her shawl up and sending it spinning across her shoulders as she padded bare foot to the window. Opening it she leaned out, amazed that no-one was telling the dogs to be quiet… the air was full of an atmosphere of dread, and she felt like something, she did not know what, was taking place at that very moment.
As suddenly as it started, the bitch let out one last futile howl and the rest fell silent.
Perplexed she closed the window with a sigh, and as she lifted her hand to close the curtain, she caught sight of a dark figure walking down the street away from her – she wondered who would be out on such a night as she closed the curtain; probably someone to do with the dogs, she mused and climbed back into bed.
When the day broke and she made her way into it the first thing she did was to ask about to see who had heard the dogs howling in the night. To her surprise not one person had heard them, and while this troubled her for a while, she eventually forgot all about it and life, as it does moved on.
If she had realised the significance of the eve of the full moon, she would have understood.
If she had known who the shrine at the cross roads was dedicated to, she would have understood.
If she had seen what that figure was carrying, before the dogs began to howl, she would have understood.
But she never put two and two together – she never knew, even though the clues where there for her to follow.
She never understood… until now.
The above is a fictionalised account of a real event that did happen in Spain one year when the Blog Mistress was there. She can still hear the howls when the night is still and the moon almost full.