Grey Heron Nights 4: Gathering the Steps

Old Crane Woman is dancing. She is dancing a labyrinth. Yes, you read it correctly: she is dancing a labyrinth, for the labyrinth holds the secret of the Crane Dance. She is dancing a spiral labyrinth. Look at her there, if enough light remains from the slow, cold waning of this midwinter moon. Look at her there, in that dark emerald clearing down by the river. Look at her there, under pine and oak. Circling, circling … she’s dancing her way to the heart of the labyrinth, dancing to the soft, dark centre. Spiralling inwards, winding, winding. Listen. Stop for a while, and listen. If you listen carefully you’ll hear the music. Stop and listen, and hear the harp. Watch now, watch closely, and do not forget the steps. Do not forget the steps. This is a dance that can only be danced at night.

Look at her. Old Crane Woman! How could something so strange be so beautiful? Look at her there, head high, neck extended, elbows wide and waving, as if they are wings. They are wings! See the long grey straggles of her hair. See the grey, sagging skin, see the angular, jutting bones. Does she care? Who cares about appearances here? Do you? Old Crane Mother cares only for truth. Old Crane Mother cares only for beauty. Can you see her beauty? See her strutting, look at her there. Swinging her arms, beating her wings. Leg up, leg down. Step in, step out. Head back, head down. In she goes, spiralling in; out she goes, out again. Twisting, untwisting. Teasing, and testing. Who is she testing now?

A courtship dance? Courting who? Old Crane Woman dances alone. What is she courting? What will she find, there in the cold, dark centre of the cave? What will she find there, in the deep, dark heart?


Do you see it there? There on the winding path of the darkling spiral dance.

There, the winding one.

There, the spiralling one.

A serpent? …

… a serpent, or its skin …

Dance with her. Dance with Old Crane Woman. Dance with her, and know.


8 thoughts on “Grey Heron Nights 4: Gathering the Steps

  1. just exquisite words, thank you!! a story of real power and attention is being woven here, beneath the eyes of an astonished world, that one, could, see..with such clarity.


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