Dark mist rising,
Drum beneath a keening sky –
This scent of loam, of leaf, of yearning,
Of memory’s wail
And piacular’s cry…
This fragment of verse sprang from a rainy summer evening full of smells, sounds and dark, misty half-glimpses into the surrounding forest. Peering out through shadowy trees, I could have been sitting around a campfire with my Neolithic kin so many thousands of years ago.
The mood became a pensive, quiet centering that gradually gave rise to what I can only think of as one stream of those ancient, primal feelings that seem to lie hidden beneath daytime’s logical, civilized veneer.
The wonderfully descriptive and rarely used word, piacular, captured the sense of need for expiation that seemed to swirl with the dark and broody rain. The feeling wasn’t what I would consider religious in any organized sense, but was rather a nebulous sense of diminishment-of not meeting expectations or, perhaps, potential. Neither overwhelming nor possessive, it was more a gentle sorrow.
It suggested, for me, a bit of insight into the feelings of sacrificial desire for atonement that might have prompted the efforts of those early kin to find release to these emotions through ritual. Together with my clan, I might have wailed to unseen spirits so many thousands of years ago, but that night, alone in the dark, a simple fragment of verse served to capture a moment which ultimately proved as evanescent as the passing rain.
But for one brief instant, I felt an unexpected kinship with – and numinous understanding of – my ancient kin that went beyond words…and that feeling and realization has stayed with me ever since.