Or a Past Life Revisited?
I have a recurring dream… It frightens me sometimes; at others it makes me incredibly sad. It hurts because I know true joy at the beginning of it. I can never remember the whole dream just bits and pieces. I will try to record it as best I can here.
I am a gypsy who leads her tribe. I seem never to age. I have great wisdom and abilities. My husband loves me deeply and leads with me. We are almost inseparable. But when we are apart, I carry the strength of his love with me and he carries mine with me. We are so connected that we each know what the other thinks without words often so our leadership is seamless. While the tribe looks to us for guidance and knows us to be their leaders, we do not set ourselves above anyone and all are equal. We refuse to be called King and Queen though that is what we are.
I serve as a type of doctor in whatever town we are camped near. The duties are usually those of midwifery and other medical issues. I use the herbs/potions I learned from my forbears. Other times, I cast horoscopes, spells, read the tarot for those who request it using my magickal skills that have been passed down through the ages from one mother to daughter after another. The other women would provide fancy sewing, perfumed skin oils, all wonderful things we used for beauty ourselves to sell to the townswomen.
My husband leads the men in doing whatever work is required of them where we settle at the time. In one town it may be harvesting, in another it may be helping to plow fields. In winter it could be repairing harnesses or other leather goods and farm equipment used by others. The seasons often dictated the type of work that would be needed by the experienced hands of our handsome men.
We are shunned by the townspeople unless they need our help. But as we know the secret to happiness their attitude has little effect on us. We celebrate our sabbats in accordance with our beliefs giving no church fealty. This too gives others cause to shun us with the full support of the church of course. To the church we are not a threat because we still practice the old ways, but because we know how much of our beliefs they have stolen to give credence to their words.
One night I am called from my sleep. The servant for one of the wealthy landowners needs me to come tend to his wife who is giving birth. It is a difficult one and no one who is attending her seem to know how to help. I grab my bag of herbs and oils and kiss my husband who asks if he should come with. I tell him no as I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. I follow the servant out and climb into the wagon with him.
Upon arriving at the manse, I am rushed up to the woman’s quarters by a maid. As soon as I walk in the room, the stale foul air assails my nostrils. I ask how long she has been in labor and am informed it has been 48 hours. I tell all unnecessary people to leave and keep only two maids with me. I send one down for clean hot water and ask the other to throw open the shutters as the stench of the room is revolting. She at first objects but when she sees I will brook no argument she throws them open. It’s a warm autumn night and soon the air is refreshing instead of stultifying.
I quickly examine the woman who is barely conscious at this point. She is lying in a sweat soaked bed, hair matted, eyes dull with pain. When the other maid returns with hot water, I instruct them to bathe her and change her clothes as well as the bedding. While they follow my instructions, I mix a potion from my herbs with a cup of the hot water. I monitor her breathing and heartbeat while I let it steep. Once the maids are done, I gently lift her head and slowly give her the warm drink. She relaxes and seems less troubled. I then tell the maids to lift up her gown so I may physically examine her. The baby is turned and trying to come feet first. I also suspect the cord is around it’s neck.
I instruct the maids to hold her, as I must turn the baby while getting it free of the cord. I have little hope of either mother or child surviving and know what price I will pay for the losses but continue anyway. The maids are shocked at my diagnosis and even more so at my method for correcting it as they had never heard of such a thing. Their ignorance and horror does not dissuade me from doing what I must. Seeing my resolve, they hold onto her. She screams feebly as I reach in to first unwrap the cord and louder as I turn the baby. I wait to see if her body will resume the birthing process.
No contractions appear, I must pull the child from the mother. She is too weak to assist in the delivery though I ask her gently to try to help. I tell the maids to hold her up hoping the movement will help push the child out. The mother again screams as I reach in and pull. Once the child is free I see it is not breathing. I tell the maids to take care of the mother while I administer to the child knowing time is of the essence. I’m successful and the child begins to breathe and whimper weakly. It’s a girl and the poor dear is holding onto life. I sigh with relief and give her to one of the maids to clean and bundle.
I turn to the mother and see she is not doing as well as her child but does appear to be holding her own. I help the other maid clean up and then give the mother another drink of the potion I made for her. She appears to be sleeping naturally. I give the maids instructions on the care of both. Telling them that the mother should not nurse and that goat’s milk will have to be given to the child. I leave other instructions and pack up my bag.
The servant who brought me gives me a ride back to our caravan. The sun is now shining and my bag a little heavier for the payment I received from the landowner. I am tired, but keep my back straight as I watch the servant drive away. I turn to enter our wagon and there my husband is waiting for me. He gives me my breakfast and then knowing how exhausted I am, holds me whispering soothing words to me until I fall asleep.
Three days after my tending to the landowner’s wife, he appears in our camp. He is in a rage and barely lets his horse stop before he dismounts. He flies at me and begins screaming that I killed his wife. I deny the accusation for she was very much alive when I left. I ask if all was done for her that I instructed and he informed me that they did not follow those heathen instructions I had left. Foolishly I state that it was not me that had killed his wife but his own folly in not doing what I said needed to be done. He grabs me by my arm and tells me that we will just see what the local constabulary thinks.
I struggle but he is stronger than I and hoists me onto the horse with him. I scream to one of the women in our camp to get my husband. He was with the other men harvesting the apples in an orchard nearby. I continue to fight as we ride into town. The landowner holds onto me too tightly for me to escape. Halfway to town, he stops, pulls me down off the horse and slaps me. He tells me that my struggles do not fool him and that a little gypsy tramp like me is just a rutting whore who needs to learn her place. I spit in his face. He hits me across my face I am stunned falling backwards. I land on my back knocking the wind out of me, my skirts flying up exposing my legs.
A lust shines in his eyes as I weakly try to get up. He falls on me and brutally rapes me. I fight him with all the strength I have but he has pinned me down, his weight too much for me to move against. The pain of his brutal assault sears through my body and I fight back the tears. I bite my lip to not cry out the look in his eyes tells me that this displeases him. He quickly finished then hits me again saying I made him do it. As I have lost my faculties I can only try to shake my head. He grabs me again and mounts his horse. Too sore to fight I decide to wait and tell the sheriff what he had done.
Once at the sheriff’s he drags me off the horse and into the building. The sheriff asks what seems to be the problem and the landowner tells him that I have killed his wife and bewitched him so that he would take me. I look the sheriff in the eyes and ask if I look like someone who has willing given herself to the man. The sheriff looks at my condition then at the landowner. I see the fear in his eyes and suddenly know I am not going to get justice at his hands. He asks what charges should be brought against me. The landowner says murder and witchcraft. He details my instructions that he ignored and said they killed his wife. He then went on to say how I chanted to him to make him lust for me and that the bruises I bore from his mistreatment was from him fighting me off.
I look pleadingly at the sheriff and tell him I did no such thing; that the landowner was not telling the truth. He did not follow my instructions and that the bruising was from him abusing me to get me senseless so he could rape me. But the landowner was too powerful in this town and the sheriff feared what would happen should he take my side. I found myself being led by the sheriff into a cell and heard the clang of the iron door shut.
Shortly after that my husband arrived. The sheriff explained to him why I was being incarcerated. My husband told the sheriff that was not the truth and begged to see me. The sheriff saw no harm and let him in the room where my cell was. Upon seeing me my husband flew into a rage. I cautioned him against rash actions but he did not hear me. He stormed out of the building.
I sat back down and knew my husband was on his way to the landowner’s manse. I worried and beseeched the Goddess to protect him and keep him from doing anything to get himself harmed. He did exactly what I feared and went to the landowner. He called him out as liar and a spoiler of women. The landowner merely laughed and told his men that the gypsy slut asked for it, in fact begged for a real man to take her. My husband roared at this insult and hurled himself at the landowner. But he was stopped by the men with the landowner and beaten into unconsciousness for his insolence. The landowner’s men then took my husband to our camp and dumped him there warning the rest of our tribe to not be as foolish as my husband and I were.
My husband had returned to town and took up camp outside the jail so while we could not embrace he could hold my hand through the window and we could talk about my defense. Though it didn’t look like I would be given much of a chance. It only took a week for my trial to come. I was charged with Witchcraft resulting in the death of two and the sin of making the landowner take me. The maids who assisted me claimed all kinds of sorcery in the delivering of the child and that they were spellbound to help me.
The servant who came to get me and then take me back claimed that a raven followed us and never left, as it was my familiar. It didn’t matter that this was a lie; it suited the charges against me. Then the landowner took the stand and told his succession of lies regarding his wife re-enforced by his people. When recounting his rape of me, it became a story of how I lured him and forced myself upon him.
I took the stand and told my story all the while watching everyone look at me with disbelief and scorn. Who was I to call such an upstanding man a liar and a rapist. The verdict of guilty came quickly. The sentence, to die burned at the stake immediately. The townspeople all gathered quickly as if it were a festival day. I was dragged out into the town square where a pile of wood was already prepared. They knew what the outcome would be. A group of men held my husband back as he fought to get to me. I was led up the pile and tied to the stake. I held my head high, for if knowing the ancient ways meant I was a witch then witch I be and I would not let them see me broken. I looked to my husband and sent him my message of love with my eyes. He stopped struggling but they didn’t let go of him. They did not trust him.
Before putting the torch to the pile of wood the sheriff read my crime and sentence for all to hear. The crowd began chanting to burn the witch. When he finished he put the torch to the wood and it began to burn. I could feel the flames licking at my feet and legs as my skirts caught fire. My husband leaped to me but the men restrained him. My eyes never left his. He knew I wanted him to stop struggling but still he fought his eyes on mine. The strong connection we had always had became stronger.
As the heat rose, I wouldn’t scream or cry out with the pain that was overtaking my body. The smell of burnt cloth and flesh filled the air around me. Head still held high, my eyes on my husband, he gave a final lurch to free himself. One of the men holding him then took out their knife and slashed his throat ending his life there and then. It was then I screamed. The flames finished consuming me the pain secondary to the pain of seeing him so brutally murdered. The witch was dead as well.
The crowd watched this and cheered but suddenly became silent as a two white lights seems to rise; one from the witch, the other from her husband. As the lights lifted up they became entwined swirling around each other and then lifted up to the sky.
This is the dream I have. When I awake from it, my body is flushed and is hot to the touch as if I really were burning up. The excruciating pain of loss overwhelms me and is greater than the physical discomfort I’m feeling. I don’t always have this dream. But there have been weeks where I dream it every single night. Then I can go for months without dreaming it. Is it really a dream, or a reliving of one of my past lives that made an indelible mark on my subconscious for eternity? I know what I believe, how about you?