I. Preparation

Walk into the wood with me. The road will leave
the sunlight and the sky, will wind beneath the canopy
that changes as it breathes. This is the way to be.

This is a threshold. It’s neither here nor there, not in
nor out, but passage, barrier, place of change. Accept.
Believe. Pass over and beneath with little fear.

II. Separation

The drum will beat.

Do not be afraid. The sun
will set and night will bring
the skinfolk and the changeling.

The drum will beat and dark
will fall, but do not be afraid.

III. Isolation

You’ll paint yourself with mud. You’ll sleep within a cave.
Be thankful; other rites employ meat hooks, burning brands,
blunt knives around your foreskin, hunted pigs, virgins
bearing green shoots from the river, the spilling of fresh blood.

You’ll sleep within a cave, but understand
enlightenment comes only after fear or pain.
The cave will digest you, spit you out. If you resist,
you die.

IV. Reclamation

Here is the pool of reclamation. That face you see
ashimmer in the surface? Yes, it’s yours. But not for long.
Walk into the pool, break the surface, sink your head
beneath the water, let it rinse you clean. When you emerge
you will be you, anew.

V. Reincorporation

Hear the drums! You’re not afraid. This sunrise
brings the smell of feasts, the sound of dancing.
Come, follow me. They’re waiting.


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