House of the Holy. Neudegg Alm, Abtenau. Summer Solstice 2024
House of the Holy. Neudegg Alm, Abtenau. Summer Solstice 2024

Tears of the Mountain

June 2024

Tears of the Mountain

I was not alone for Midsummer.

It had been a hard year for many. Some had lost those dear, and others still had lost part of themselves. The abrasion of existence scratching away at the best of us, compelling cruelty and distrust through uncertain times. A common burden, one often and needlessly borne alone.

Thoughts of the one who first brought me to the mountain haunted my mind, and in recent months another had passed. The kind landlady with whom I had lodged in prior years, and last summer delivered flowers to. Although I regret not finding time to attend her grave; I gain solace knowing fellow lodgers laid a stone heart upon it on behalf of all to commemorate the sense of family we once shared.

But this was a new family now. A gathering of separate ways, archetypes all their own. A Pilgrim of Death returning to the mountain; an Empathic soul who had performed at past gatherings; and a Priestess new to the Alm. Strangers to one another, each sworn to fire. My duty to braid together these disparate beings by way of friendship and camaraderie. Seeking communication and concordance, learning how each speak so all may hear. The centre around which madness must dance.

There would be no masks in our covenant. No biting of tongue for the sake of convenience. Any natural friction discussed openly, and resolved in kindness.

By this simple rule, strangers soon became friends.

As we fortified ourselves to ascend on the Solstice morning, a funeral procession solemnly passed through the town square. Different from the pomp of prior years’ Corpus Christi, a single soul was memorialised by what seemed the entire town. The clink of cup and cutlery grew silent as they filed into the church, and tears flowed in empathy.

Gaining comfort from our cohort’s closeness, we made our way upwards. To reconnect, refocus, and for most, return. As is the way of things, our group dispersed to meet others. Yet amid the joyful jubilation of reacquaintance, there was a fresh coldness in some we met. An insatiety of spirit staunched by quick-fix distraction.

It felt different this year. Some fellow veterans were noted by their absence, and others seemed too far lost. A mosaic of once-kind faces in abstract. Serpents on the mountain. Had the purpose of the gathering changed, or had I?

Such troubled thoughts sought solace by the stage. The music was violent, intense, and dramatic as it should be. With much Black Metal on the bill, there would be no half-measure at the apex of nature. At times the clouds spoke in response, a drenching certainty which took even this veteran by surprise.

Respite from righteous fury, Hexvessel were a needed counterpoint to chaos. Before their set, I burned incense with other old friends in the crowd. Sharing truth and Samhain herbs prepared by the Moon Temple and saved for this moment. It would be a night to speak to the spirits.

I returned to my empathic friend, to relax in good company even as others shuffled to-and-fro. A song was announced in tribute to those departed, and we wept for the one who introduced us all those years ago. The same who first brought me here. We held each other so tightly and dearly as anguish cried for comfort. A moment of sincerity in an often superficial world.

All turned to fire, and as the ritual began I daubed my eyes with ash. An embodiment of sorrows unspoken. With the hill thankfully dry underfoot, I swiftly scaled upwards to the pyre. Circling as I do once flame took hold, meeting with friends and wishing them well with gifts of love and liquor. Prior concerns of coldness melted away by the warmth of belonging.

I found my dear friend once more and we hugged joyfully in the fire’s glow, anointed in oils of rebirth. Smiling, laughing, we saluted the sky in libation as grief took flight to flame. The Sorceress, I feel, would be proud of the close, sincere friendship that has burgeoned in her wake.

The others made their own way to the fire, and it is not my place to speak of what they discovered. But as my heart raised and my burdens dispersed into the black, I considered what each of us brought to our crazy, dysfunctional family. For all the frustrations and misunderstandings found in our covenant resonated with my deeper concerns; and spoke of another tacit, yet ever-present, companion.

Death walks her path in parallel, and does not contrive to convenience. One cannot predict her swathe, nor can we escape her inevitable embrace. We can and should be angry and frustrated by all of this, to regret the words unspoken and love unrequited as in politeness we bide time ’til tomorrow. All we can do in the now is be reminded that we are together, to sustain such love in the echo of memory. And simply, especially, to just let go.

The tears of the mountain fall, and splash the earth in renewal. A ground salted by insincerity and the dust of dreams forlorn.

Sparks of divinity. Fragments of an ideal. We may strive to be superluminal beings, but are still nonetheless human. Caked in the dirt and ash endemic of our nature. Scrabbling through the debris of fearful obligation, suffocating virtue in the rote whims of expectation. Staunched by stimuli we find ourselves lost and yearning. White light simulacra supplanting our essential truth.

Yet the mountain is bigger than any of us, and impassively wise to the wickedness of man. It weeps for the profane and the lost potential of what was, yet churns in timeless tectonic cycle. Spirits of countless ceremonies ascend and descend through the centuries; each carving their own path yet ever sanctifying the land.

And under the mountain’s eternal auspice, this house may yet become holy.