The stars in the sky cry for the tale of Sol and Luna.
Sol was a bright individual who wished to make a brighter world, Luna was a woman whose beauty was unparalleled. Together, they were two halves of a whole. Using her beauty, Sol forged the plants, the trees and all that’s green. Luna using her husbands brilliance and radiance, created the creatures. They would live, dance, and play and find harmony in the world. The stars became envious of this new world and when Sol would leave, they would watch over it.
However there was something wrong. Despite the creatures who frolic peacefully, and the waves that slowly blend with themselves, there was no being of their own to call their own. And so, the two worked together and made the people of this earth.
For all the time available they began to argue. They would argue over the looks. They would argue over the principalities. They would even argue over the intelligence that these new creatures possessed. One wanted to be loved and idolized, the other wanted to watch this new creation achieve new heights even if it was to be bigger then their creators. And so, with all the morphings, with all the arguments, and different combinations that each side could not agree with, different countries and races were formed. These people spoke their own language and had customs of their own.
And thus the great schism of the world and all in balance began. The two of them began to bicker, one wanting more and more from their creations, the other just wanting to rest and bask in the creation. And then one day, Sol kicked Luna away from him. She cried so hard that all around her became black and only her true beauty could show in a bright light. Eventually Sol would wander off and thus the first day ended and the first night began as Luna rose, unloved, and alone. She could never look up to see the stars above her, she could only look down, praying that her creations whom she loved more then her self would give her some form of redemption. But alas, the world around her felt it necessary to sleep when she would rise and she felt alone.
Except, in a small village in a grand continent, there is one individual who stays up at night. An individual who too can return her love. And day and night, her and her people, pray that one day, Sol and Luna would be able to forgive each other, and all will be well in the world.
And so is the legend of her people. In North America, long before the settlers from the so called, “Old World” came, there was an ancient tribe whose future, and even past was uncertain. There are no documents whatsoever to ever acknowledge that they ever existed, but they were real. There is no doubt that they existed. Their presence, their teachings and philosophy flow throughout the world and that beyond. There is no means in current dialect or even in spelling to pronounce the tribal name however if it were to be translated, the name would amount to something like, “Speakers of Night.”
This is the story of a girl who is soon to be a woman. And so this story starts with the ending of one phase and the beginning of a new journey that is to last till the end of that persons life.
Among the speakers, there has always been “She who speaks.” In the modern world it would likely be translated as “He” or “One whom” but as the tribe has been known even through longuage, the feminine form is considered the default rather then the masculine. However this grand speaker is not judged on his position by being either male or female, rather it is a position he or she is born to.
We would call these people medicine men, or shamans. The Speaker or Shaman is the spiritual leader who is seen as a wise being who is well connected with all of nature. They claim to know the intentions of the stars, the history of their people, and the place of the animals whose spirits they call to protect them.
Being Shaman is no easy feat. From an early age, this child, born under the right house hold, under the right day of a certain year would be trained all their life. They would have to sit back and lead a life different from those they grow up with. In the end, they can do nothing of their own will until they are finally called to claim their position.
What happens is the current Shaman, takes the pupil under their wing. The baby or child still lives with their family and goes to the proper teachings of the local wisemen. They learn to hunt or do what is required. But all the while they never get to be themselves, always under the watchful eye of the Shaman.
As years pass this person is taught the ways of the Shaman and yet because their time has not come, they can never practice it nor tell others what they have learned. It leads to a life of secrecy, abandonment, and solitude.
The final note, and destiny of all who live in this tribe who live long enough is the moment when they shed their youth and enter adult hood. This event happens on their “last birthday.” From the day the child is born, they mark what time of what season that person is born, and every day that day passes they are given a celebration. Each celebration is merely a tally counting down till their youth status is gone.
Each year there are certain gifts given to individual depending on what rank in age they are. These gifts help them find means to live, and understand what the next year means for them. This is done in hope that the next year of their life prepares them for what’s ahead.
Finally they reach the age of their last birthday. The child is to be taken to a tent, their family and friends wave good bye as the child enters the tent alone with the Shaman. No one recalls what happens next, however when the person walks out the next morning, they are considered an adult and they are to move out and support themselves. This is commonly referred to most civilizations as “the rights of passage.”
“Kalli, get up!” A voice echoed well through her small room. For some reason, Kalli hoped this day, of all days, she would be able to sleep in like a normal person. Oh how she wished she was a normal person.
Kalli rose from her quilted sack and looked to see the face of her mother. She sighed, knowing whatever comment she could think of to say to her mom, would be pointless. She dreaded this day more then any, and in hopes of clinging on to her youth, she tried to reflect upon the dream she had last night…no success.
“The thing begins when Sol touches the sky” (Translation, when the sun appears at it’s peak or commonly known as “noon”)
A shiver went down Kalli’s back. Then the mother looked really excited, and too friendly at this point even for a mother to a daughter. “And I made this just for you!” It was here that Kalli realized the severity of the situation.
Her mom, pulled in front of her, an odd dress, the likes she had never seen before. It resembled the regular ceremonial outfit, yet something about it was different, it was more elaborate and in comparison made the others she had seen during the other tribesman‘s last birthdays look plain and unimpressive.
She groaned. Her mother gave her a sharp look, less that of “how could you…my heart is broken” and more of a “you are going to wear this even if I have to sow it on to your body” type look.
Outside she could hear the children gathering and some of the others. She knew what it meant. All the times she had felt alone and forced to not play with them and now they come running to her. She actually wished at this one point no one was around. Kalli yearned for her own isolation-like lifestyle that had been thrusted upon her.
With a final sigh, she hid in her separate tarp that made her room and when she came out, she felt that she looked stupid.
“It’s brilliant on you.” Her own mother began doing a victory dance and Kalli put her hand on her own face asking the Divine Ones when it will end. Kalli’s mother then gestured to her daughter to show everyone in the tribe how it looked. Kalli shook her head pleading not to.
“You have to wear that thing until you come out. You look beautiful. That outfit was designed by the Speaker himself. I’m sure your people…”
“My people?” Kalli quickly interjected in a vain hope of clinging on to what she currently had.
“You are going to be our Speaker and all of us during that time will be, your people.”
Kalli still didn’t like the thought of being above the clan. And she knew she wasn’t but the way that it was worded, the way she had been treated and the way her mentor, the current Speaker had been treated, she didn’t like it. She felt it was nigh close to flat out worship. For some reason the Speaker disagreed whenever she brought it up.
He once told her in a heart to heart moment when she watched him fail to revive a sick one something that shook her life. As the mother of the dead child looked at him she simply nodded her head and said “thank you.” Kalli objected saying that it was wrong for the mother of the child to simply accept the death of her own like that. He replied, “She isn’t and I am sure she blames me for not bringing him back.”
“Then why did she…?”
“Because, that woman has to know that no matter what, I did everything I could. Sure I failed to save him, but I am not known for being all powerful. We are the same as them, we make mistakes and we fail many trials. But when it comes to it, it is how we face the failures of ourselves and others that define us. That is the way of our people. You might not know it, but she just tried her best to forgive me.”
Kalli always wondered after that if the forgiveness and acceptance was merely due to his position in the tribe and would it be different if he was just an average neighbor. She never got vocal on that issue. She half believed that she was really chosen by the Divine Ones as the new Speaker.
The audience “oo”ed and “awe”d as Kalli stepped from her living area into the open surroundings of “her people.” At once the began to chatter amongst themselves even asking questions to Kalli. A part of her just wanted to run back into her home and never come out until she was just one of them.
Then the Chief of the tribe walked out from the crowd, he like the others simply came to wait on the gossip it felt. In fact Kalli didn’t recognize it was the chief until she saw his headdress. For the first time in her life she saw the man bow to someone and felt awkward that the one person would be her.
“Um…” Kalli felt the need to say something. She began probing her mind for possible things to say but nothing was coming out. Finally, she found it! Though it was a cop out but her brain didn’t realize this until the words left her mouth, “Do you know where the Speaker is?”
The Chief walked over and said, “He has been detained, he will see you at noon though.
This was a first to her, there was no activities going on and the Speaker was not there to pick her up for her studies. She didn’t know what to do.
“Um, so what now?” She weakly asked.
The chief smiled and whispered, “go have some fun, this is your only chance.” He then spoke up to the crowd, “The ceremonies for our future She Who Speaks will be when sol hits the sky.” The crowd was then motioned to disperse.
For the first time it seemed like she was allowed to play with the other children, but then she realized she had been too old to “play” for a long time now. What then? She finally was allowed to be casual with the people and now she didn’t know how.
She saw a girl she once talked with some time ago. And apparently with this one girl was a group of people the same age hanging together. She recognized many of the faces, but never really “knew” them other then what they would do when they were being taught by the wise men.
“Um, pardon me, but can I pl…hang out with you for awhile?” Immediately she felt they would reject her. She pictured all the different scenarios that would happen and she clinched knowing her fate. They wouldn’t want to hang out with her, they were normal, they were supposed to look up to her and be unworthy of her company, right?
“Sure.” The reply was so simple and affirming her hopes that Kalli was certain she was doing a victory dance. So she abruptly stopped doing anything and everything to make sure she wasn’t being a complete idiot. But then notice everyone was looking at her weirdly.
In her hopes to act normal, she stiffened herself so much and wouldn’t move or breathe that naturally any observer would be completely curious as to what was going on. “Sorry, it’s this terrible outfit. It makes me itchy, I figured if I tried hard enough the feeling would go away.” They laughed, the good kind.
The day went on and she felt forced against her will to merely observe everyone have fun. The group she was hanging out with was talking, laughing, spreading gossip and talking about the tribes religion direction and such.
All the while she was focused on the cute one. There was a guy she never really talked to, but he was her age as was everyone else in the group and she had seen him plenty when the wisemen where giving lectures. She once heard rumors that as a hunter, which he was being trained to be, he was really bad at it, and for some reason, that tickled her. And he was cute, again that was a big factor.
She couldn’t find words to say, nothing to grab his attention and she cursed her lifestyle that was forced on her from the get go of her birth. It deprived her against her own will the skills to interact with others and she felt a wave of shame and regret.
Then the conversation changed to about the rights of passage. She saw others around her had the same outfits as her, but the more bland versions. And instead of the ones who weren’t going to “grow up” asking the ones who were questions like which was the norm, all the attention went back to Kalli.
And she felt their envy. It was an odd feeling, and she couldn’t understand why. Why would they be envious of her? She had done nothing to warrant it and yet felt their curiosity grow. They asked her so many questions, and began to welcome the attention. As long as she responded truthfully or exaggerated to get laughs, which worked, she felt good.
They asked her about the real personality behind the current Speaker. She was surprised they were curios about that. They then asked her what it was like to have feasts with the Chief and his family and visit other sections of the tribal lands. They even asked about her being forced to participate in debates with the Wisemen. Kalli merely remarked on the last one that she was an idiot compared to them.
Which was a lie. Many times, since the Wisemen or women, always conversed with each other over and over about old traditions, it sparked new insights when a youth was allowed to speak. And Kalli always had a lot on her mind when she felt the need to address them during their private forums.
Then one of them looked up and sighed. Needless to say Kalli saw the motion the person did and trembled knowing what it meant. Now of all times? And just when the cute guy was starting to pay attention to her. She huffed to herself.
As long as no one mentions the time, she didn’t have to leave, or so she told herself. “Looks like Sol hit the sky.”
NO! Kalli bitterly bit her lip without thinking trying to hold in this moment.
“My young children, it is time for your passage into adulthood.” The Speaker had spoke. That was the call made every season to prep those who were about to pass. Kalli was always kept inside during these moments. As were the people of the village. She did not know what awaited her, and when she looked to her left, she saw fear rise in some of the others as well. So it wasn’t just herself who was scared?
No one knew what happened in the tents. Whenever she asked her mother of father, they claimed they forgot. The Speaker said, “You will find out in time.” What a sucky answer.
She watched as the cute boy said goodbye to her and the others and walked away. She wished for some reason, possibly the devoid of contact from her own kind for so long, wished he would stay with her.
As she turned around and began her final walk as a youth, her mother and father were watching as was the chief. They looked so proud of her and saw tears in there eyes. Like as if they were sacrificing her to the Divine Ones and she would never come back. She felt like apart of her was going to die herself…wait, do they sacrifice us? She began to get scared. It was all really nervousness.
As she was about to enter the tent with the others, the Speaker walked in front of her and told her to follow him. She never wanted to scream more. This was her one chance to do something memorable with these people and he would deprive her of this. Tears ran down Kalli’s eyes. It wasn’t fair!
She followed him though her eyes were streaming uncontrollably. They walked in together to a connected tent and there he motioned for her to continue to follow him. She didn’t believe what she saw next.
The Speaker walked through the tarp that separated the two tents and told all of them to kneel down. They did, Kalli still watching. The Speaker sat down and told them to close their eyes. They did. Kalli could see some of them shaking nervously. It was common knowledge that during the final birthday, once the person walked into the tent, they were not seen for the rest of the day or night. Something was about to happen.
The Speaker told her to look at what he was doing and she complied. He took out three fruits, and some items she had never seen before. He then spoke out each items name. Instantly from her days with the Speaker understood what the names meant and found out it was a code longuage. He was telling her how to mix a composition with certain things found in the land. He was telling her through the words that only she and him knew where they were from and their effects. The people in the room other then her both had their eyes closed and did not understand a word.
Then he mixed it together. At once to her surprise the concoction was mixed with milk and became a liquid. Steam began to rise and he began his instructions out loud. “To be a true member of this tribe, you must learn how to survive on your own in an unfamiliar environment. In one day’s time, if you survive, you shall awaken as a true “Speaker of the Night (member of the tribe).”
She saw the bowl that was producing the gas get moved in front of the people, its vapors began to circulate around them. “Take a deep breath and…sleep.” She saw them breath in and breath out. One by one they slumped and seemed to no longer have their souls in their body.
Kalli felt like screaming bloody murder. Was this lethal to them? What has he done to them? As Kalli was contemplating what to do, the Speaker escorted her to a different tent, in the far back, one that she never knew was there. He opened the tarp and began his final instructions to her.
“A person is to test the trials of what he shall be, a tribesman is to learn survival, in doing so, they need to learn that they can live on their own. With this knowledge, it becomes clear how to test others in their ascension into adulthood. Wisemen must be instructed to learn the ways of the world. And a Speaker…must be able to commune with their guardian spirits and understand the truth of the world around them, when you have found this truth, reflected and mastered, you shall take my position. I wish you luck.”
He simply pointed his head toward the floor and walked out.
She was aLane, behind her in the other smaller tent, the lifeless bodies of her fellow people and perhaps friends were not going to be keeping her company. The place was big, in front of her was the picture of the spirit said to commune with the current Speaker. Next to it was a blank page.
There was a fire in the tent as well which completely lit the room up, it felt like a tent for the Chief and not for her. Then below the picture, on a pedestal was the same type of bowl. Where the Speaker pointed his head toward, there was the ingredients.
She knew what it meant. She was to be her own first practice. The Speakers job isn’t easy, it is their job to make be present at everyone’s birth, make the spiritual connections with each baby and give each of them, the “first gift” give everyone the ceremony, funerals and so forth. What had she stumbled into?
And now she had to mix the concoction herself and inhale. Next to the bowl was the ceremonial headdress for the Speaker. She understood at once.
Kalli grabbed the headdress and slowly put it on. She felt a chill. Then she sat on her knees as was the custom and began to mix the concoction. Kalli wished she forgot how to make it but when he went over the instructions she realized he had her memorize it without her knowing it her whole life.
The smoke was made, she took a deep breath. She didn’t know who to pray to so for some reason she prayed to a deer she met once, she had saved its life and perhaps it would return the favor. She felt stupid but hoped it worked. She put the bowl to her head and deeply inhaled.
And then her spirit left this plane.
The stars in the sky cry for the tale of Sol and Luna.