Sē Lang Winter

Ēastre was a goddess much loved in Middangeard. She sprang forth from the earth when it was still but young and unmolested. Her power was felt within the fruit which grew upon the trees, the eggs which the hen did lay and in the warmth of the morning sun. Her countenance was fair and warm and there was not a wight in any realm that would speak ill of her. In fact, her beauty and disposition was such, that Gods and men alike eagerly sought her hand in marriage. But Ēastre was dutiful and she repeatedly shunned these proposals as they came to her. Her mother, Folde, would make the earth cold and the wind howl when men would approach, thus driving them back from whence they came.

This continued for many a year until Ēastre caught the gaze of the God, Wada. Wada was a cunning God who lived deep in the darkest bowels of the sea. He had heard tell of Ēastre’s chastity and Folde’s wrath, but his love was such that he began to grow mad pining for her. The tides began to rise and fall and shoals of herring fled in the wake of his monstrous bellows. His bondsmen tried to calm him, but the mighty Sea-Lord could not be placated.

Then, one of Wada’s sons spoke.

“You know, father, as well as I , that if you try and woo that fair Goddess, the earth will freeze and the wind will howl. There be many a fair maid in the seven realms who covet you. Why do you not focus your attentions upon another? ”

And Wada spoke.

“She is fair in ways words cannot describe. All other maids pale when compared. I fear if  I do not have her hand, this madness will surely consume me.”

And so, by the cover of darkness , Wada boarded his boat and sailed toward Ēastre’s home in the great Sealhwudu. He did sail at such a frantic pace, his ship ran aground upon the bank of West-Seaxan lands and made a mighty tor out of stones from the sea bed. The tor remains there to this very day, and men call it Thyrel Duru.

Being a cunning God, Wada was not without strategy. He took the form of a dappled horse, lame of leg and approached Ēastre in the fledgling light of the morn.

Then he spoke.

“Fair Goddess, at last I’ve found you. Seven days and seven nights have I walked, lame of leg to find you in your home. I have heard many a tale that you care for the beasts of this fair land and see to their well-being. If this be true and you be the kind maid that all wights know and love, I beseech you, help me in my plight.”

Ēastre replied.

“I do indeed keep vigil over the beasts of this fair wood and I am humbled that you would travel so long, so afflicted, to find me in my home. I will help you, if it is indeed possible.”

And Wada Replied.

“Aye lady, you are known far and wide for your kindnesses and this is why I’ve come to thee. Lame of leg have I been for nearly a fortnight, and although I am quite loved by my master, if I am not cured of this which ails me,  surely will I be killed to end my pain. “

And Ēastre, so moved by the horse’s story, rubbed upon his leg a salve, and spoke she charms upon it, thus curing the beast.

And the horse did speak.

“You have cured me, as I knew you would. So true are the stories told of you and your benevolent nature. While I may be able to walk now, I fear I do not know how I shall fare with a rider upon my back. Would you saddle and ride me, to see if the weight causes me further pain and anguish?”

Ēastre agreed to his request and mounted the beast.  He strode forward with an ease in his step, and satisfied with the results, Ēastre began to dismount. Then, with a mighty whinny, the horse leapt skyward, over tree and over dale until it plunged deep into the roaring sea.  Deeper and deeper they sank, the darkness crushing them as they descended, past where living things did dwell and where the dead did linger.

They were greeted by Wada’s son, who had fear upon his face.

“Father, now indeed shall Middangeard shudder and wail, for you have stolen the dawn and with it, the warmth. “

But Wada was unshaken and did not heed his son’s warnings.

“Worry not my son, when Ēastre sees how splendid her life here could be, she will not care to leave it. I will shower upon her gifts unlike any she has ever beheld. All finery will be afforded her and she will want for nought.”

Ēastre, filled with rage at this trickery, responded in kind.

“Know you not this heart of mine, for if you did, you would see the folly in this act. I cannot live in such a dark and unyielding place, where dead men do rest their heads. I belong above, where the lark’s sweet song can be heard. My mother too will be in despair and her wrath shall be great. I am her favourite daughter and we are bound, she and me. “

Wada’s madness had now abated and seeing what trouble he had wrought, he cried in desperation.

“Long have I lived down here, lonely and without companionship. It is true that maidens have loved me and I them, but none have shone in the darkness as you have. You have brought light to an otherwise dismal place.”

Ēastre, moved by his words, embraced him.

“Long too have I been alone in the Sealhwudu, while suitors were driven away by my mother’s wrath. Oft have I felt pain such as yours, and yet alone I remained.”

And so with Middangeard forgotten, Ēastre and Wada did stay together and thus knew love. The ages passed, and there the Goddess did stay, forsaking the lark’s song and the world above. They had made a good life in the depths and for a time they were happy, away from all things. In her absence, the world became cold and desolate. The birds did not sing and the trees bore no fruit. Beasts starved and men knew great hardship during this age.

The Gods looked in all the realms for the Dawn-Bringer, and yet she could not be found. Wōden walked endlessly, but could not find her. Ingui conversed with every ælf and dweorg, but none knew where the Radiant-One had gone. Frīg alone knew where Ēastre dwelt, but say it she would not. Frīg saw the hearth Ēastre and Wada shared and was moved to silence. She knew well the outcome of all things and she knew that Ēastre was bound to the earth and would return to it given time.

Children wailed and mothers wept and the beasts of the land did cry in anguish. So loud was their sorrow that it penetrated to the very depths of the sea.

Ēastre, upon hearing their lamentation, cried out.

“Do you not hear the sounds from above? They lament because I have been absent so long. Beasts and men and Gods have suffered because of me.”

Wada held her and spoke softly.

“This past age has seen me happier than any before it, but I cannot live to see you with sadness in your heart. I knew that one day you would need to return, for even the most beauteous flower needs to bathe in the sun. Go we shall to the surface world and speak with your mother.  Perhaps, being gladdened to see you, she will stop this madness and return the earth to a place habitable. “

And so , Wada and Ēastre made their way to Middangeard, and upon arriving saw the devastation that their love had wrought.

Upon arriving they met Ingui, who had been searching the breadth of the worlds after her.

“Wes hāl, Goddess, I see now why you have been long absent from this place . For no matter if man or God, love and lust will always make us do that which is out of our character. “

And he laughed a hearty laugh.

“Your mother’s lamentations have been fierce and unceasing since your departure. I think it prudent you speak with her and bring an end to all of this.”

And Ēastre and Wada went to the Sealhwudu and there they met her mother, who in her grief had become wretched in appearance and snarled at them upon their entry into the wood.

“My favourite daughter returns, and yet where has she gone these long years? She has lied upon the sea bed with the very man who stole her away. In the throes of passion with that very same God whose trickery pulled you into the depths.”

And Ēastre answered.

“So you knew I did live below the waves?”

And Folde responded,

“Aye, my child. The birds and the beasts do speak to me and tell me of your misdeeds. I am crushed by the news of this and cannot bear the thought of you living in that place of darkness. “

And Ēastre spoke.

“Love have I found in the deepest reaches of the sea.  You have long refused me a husband, or any such companionship. Do I not have a right to happiness?”

At that very moment, Frīg appeared and she spoke with a surety of voice.

“I see all things, as you well know, Folde, and this I too did see. I saw two who had known great solitude find that which they had long been denied. And it is for that reason that I did not interfere in their affairs. These fields were sown by your own protectiveness and so it cannot be undone. This is the way of things.”

Folde’s appearance changed back to that of a radiant Goddess and a calmness seemed to wash over her.

“It is beyond me, you see. Without that radiance which Ēastre brings, I am made a hag and the world does turn cold and barren. It cannot be helped and Ēastre and I are bound in this way.”

Frīg then spoke, ever wise in her words.

” Perhaps then, Ēastre will need to divide her time and spend half the year in darkness and half upon Middangeard. It will mean hardship for man and beast both, but they will endure and they will know that lithe weather returns when she does make her return.”

And so it was agreed that Ēastre would live upon the earth for half the year and the other half she would live below the sea with Wada. This is how seasons began and why it is we experience the shortened days and frigid nights attributed to Winter.

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4 thoughts on “Sē Lang Winter

  1. I’ll admit ignorance, but this is the most outstanding version of the descent I’ve ever read.
    I really appreciate your sharing of this.

    Like

  2. My last comment didn’t leave. But I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. It’s the most beautiful version of the descent I’ve ever read and it resonates deeply with me.

    Like

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