Story: Wolf Queen

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

A princess is a creature of grace, poise, decorum. They are soft, gentle, patient. I, however, was none of those things, much to my parents’ despair.

  They only brought that upon themselves, of course. A firstborn daughter, a royal invitation to greet the new monarch not sent, and therefore an insult perceived by a powerful magical being. You know how the story goes. I was cursed and, in my story, there were no blessings to gentle it. No other wishes for my future, or what little she left of it. Just a creature of shadow and talon which appeared, damned the bright vision my parents had of my life, and vanished.

   My childhood was a moderately happy one, even with the dark cloud of the curse hanging forever in my periphery. My parents loved me. My sisters, when they were born, did the same. And I of course love them with all that I am. My parents hired tutors, made sure I learned what it meant to be a monarch, made sure I was prepared for a future of rule. They simply made sure my sister learned as well.

   “Just in case.” My father would say, his gaze flitting across the empty hallways as if something unseen was always listening, always watching.

   And when I got too restless, when the green of the forest and the blue of the lake called to me and I couldn’t help but give in to the need to run, to chase, they took me riding. We’d make trips, have picnics, run around on the heather-filled fields and watch the sky change her colour with the setting sun. For the longest time, we were as happy as we could be.

   My eighteenth birthday was a beautiful and clear full moon night. The air rife with the scents of fresh bread and roasted meats of the feast held in honour of my coming of age. Gentle and joyful music filled the ballroom as people danced and laughed all night.

In an empty hallway, as far away from people as I could get, I screamed and cried as my body tore itself apart. As the wildness that had always lived inside of me wanted out. The howl that tore from my newly changed throat was loud enough to wake the entire city.

   I should have been terrified. I should be lamenting the turn my life had taken, all the things I now no longer could do. I should have felt all of those things. But when I made my way out of the castle and into the forest, the ground soft underneath my paws, the silver moonlight a gentle caress on my fur, I couldn’t help but think that his curse tasted a lot like freedom.

   The wildness that had always lived inside of me, the parts that longed to shed the tight clothing and even tighter responsibilities of nobility, were torn from the inner shadow where I had hidden them and shoved into the light. The parts of me that wished to run, to hunt, to feast, finally had a chance to be free.

   Things changed after that.

   Now, people are wary, afraid. My parents try, they really do. To teach me to act normal, ladylike, human. It’s of no use. The wolf lurks under my skin, peering out of my eyes.

People whisper about how much of a waste it is, such a shame, that a curse has changed me so. They don’t see, they don’t understand. The wolf, the wildness, the hunger, has always been there. It is me, the deepest parts of my soul given physical form.

   Life goes on. My sister, perfect, composed, kind, steps into the limelight. Or is pushed, I should say. To placate those who question my place at Court. Meanwhile I am forced into the background. An animal in the shadows meant to be forgotten.

   My wolf balks at the idea of corsets, of rules, of restriction. Doesn’t understand the need for playing nice with nobles it doesn’t like. She’s a creature of instinct, simplicity, and therefore, so am I.

   I spend my days roaming the grounds, protecting what is mine. The people of the city avert their eyes as I go past. Whisper about curses and how they spread, about what it means for the Kingdom that their princess is now a different creature altogether.

My wolf claims the entirety kingdom as her territory and as I get older, I travel further. Checking in daily with the people on the far edges of the lands. The misfits and the outcasts. The ones with wisdom and magic who have been pushed towards the edges of the kingdom long before I was born. Hatred and fear pushed us all here, to the lands where the briar grows three men tall. Where the trees and the shadows move on their own and where the water of the lake is always smooth, no matter how fierce the storm.

I help where I can, chasing off the foxes for the farmers, climbing trees to hang fetches and talismans for protection, bringing food to those who need it most. Most time is spent drinking tea and discussing life with the old lady whom everyone calls ‘witch’. She teaches me all she knows. Things the tutors at the castle never knew to teach me. About the plants and trees that grow, the animals that roam deep within the forest. About life here, on the outskirts of society, and all the peoples and creatures that are part of it. Here, the people look me in the eye. They bow their heads in respect but never in fear. The bravest of the children ask to card their hands through my fur. The old woman laughingly gifts me a crown of twigs and burrs and rowanberries the colour of blood. Every time I’m in my human skin I wear that crown with pride.

   One day, deep within the forest at the edge of my territory, I meet her. The being who has brought all that was hidden within me to the front and then illuminated it. I shift back to human, standing before her, naked and open, but never vulnerable, thanks to her. I thank her for the gifts she has given me. For the freedom and power and strength. The look on her face when I name her fairy godmother is priceless.

   She smiles at me then, a flash of razor-sharp teeth. I bare my own fangs back at her. She asks me then, if I understand. How they are being treated. Those who do not fit in, those who are made of wildness and shadow and blood. How they are shunned because of what they are.

   She tells me this will change, once I am queen. When I tell her that I never will be, that my parents will never find a match for me, she simply laughs and tells me not to worry. After all, I have a fairy godmother now.

   She keeps close after that. Always watching, always near, but never interfering. Not unless I ask her to. So when war, inevitably, finds itself at our borders, I ask for her aid. I stand in the middle of the bloodied battlefield, staring at the incoming forces. The wolf in me is itching underneath my skin. She wishes to hunt, to kill, to feel flesh rip underneath her claws, blood filling her mouth as she tears them apart. So I call out to my fairy godmother, asking if she would join me for a hunt, before I shed my skin along with my humanity and charge forward.

   The battle is brutal and short. The enemy army is better trained, but not against the army of outcasts led by myself and my fairy godmother. Their swords and shields quickly fall against our teeth, claws and magic.

Afterwards, I greet my father on the battlefield. Bare and covered in blood. There is fear in his eyes, yes, but also respect. And, for the first time, trust.

   Things change once again. I am brought back into the castle, but nothing is the same. I spend most of my time in the forests, still, but I also find myself fighting. Training with weapons other than tooth and claw. Weathered old men, tutors, hired by my father to teach me all they know. I learn how much I don’t know, how much there is still to learn. I earn my scars, even if they never stay for long. I earn their respect, even if it is hard won. I am no longer alone, some of my people from the outskirts join me and never leave their princess’ side.

   It doesn’t take long before suitors come from all over the world, wishing to marry one of my sisters. Singing praises about the small kingdom that could so quickly put an end to war. That could tame monsters and wild things. Silly men, none of us were tamed, we simply chose to fight.

   My parents and sisters work hard to get the most advantageous matches. To make sure that both the kingdom and my sisters will continue to grow and prosper. Bargains are struck, feasts are had. One by one my sisters move away, happy with their chosen husbands. All of them are visited by a giant wolf at least once. They know to treat my sisters well, or one night feel the sharp tips of my fangs against their throat.

   Years later I am gifted another crown. It is a beautiful thing. Delicate golden flowers and bright shining gems. It feels uncomfortable to me the way all pretty things do. “It might not suit you,” my father tells me, “but you have earned it.”

“As you have earned your rest.” I tell him.

“You will be wonderful, my Queen.”

   Rumors start spreading, about the Wolfqueen, the Wild One, sitting upon a blood-red throne. About the Kingdom of monsters where beasts, fae and man live free. About the Queen with the Iron Heart, who turns away all who wish to court her, and kills all who dare more.

   It’s not that I do not want someone at my side. I do. I wish for the love that my parents share. That my sisters eventually found with their husbands. But all those who come for my hand, those who finally dare when I have no more free sisters left, come for just that. My hand but not my heart. They are all poised and polished. Perfect little princes who look towards the wealth of the castle but away from the wildness within me. They are afraid to meet my wolf’s cold, assessing gaze.

   Some even try to change me, to find the human underneath the wolf. They only try once.

   For years, I rule alone. Through another war, through a plague born of magic, through prosperity and abundance. My people always by my side but no one to claim my heart.

   But then, a commotion. A man, dressed in furs. No scars on his body, but plenty on his soul. His eyes glowing the same gold as mine in the gentle torchlight. A wildness in them that my wolf recognizes. A challenge that my wolf is eager to take, to rise up to.

   “Your Oracle told me to come here.” He tells me, “I asked for guidance, to find what my heart truly desires, and she sent me to you.”

   My fairy godmother steps up behind me, laying a hand on my shoulder. I can’t see her, but I know she is smiling a smile of sharp pointed teeth. No doubt the oracle he speaks of.

   “My Queen,” he continues, bowing deep, his eyes never leaving mine, “I came looking for connection, for freedom. I believe I will find it with your time and your company. Will you grant me it?”

   “And what, my prince,” for if my fairy godmother sent him, he can only be that, “will you grant me in return?” I lean forward, eager, hungry.

   “Loyalty,” he steps forward, onto the dais, “companionship and understanding.” He leans over me for a single, challenging moment, before kneeling before me, baring his throat. “Perhaps in time even love. But for now, the thrill of a hunt. Of a chase.” He grins, baring sharp fangs. A breath, and a beautiful black-furred wolf sits in front of me.

Oh – the hunt is on. A thrill goes through me as I shift, ready to run, to chase him down and claim him for my own. For if one thing is certain, it is that I am a wild thing, a Queen, a hunter, but never, ever, prey.

Poetry: Moon Phases

Magic flows
Power grows
As the moon so brightly glows

Vices cease
Old release
As the moonlight does decrease

Darkness guide
Look inside
As the moon Her face does hide

Goals refine
Create divine
As the moonlight grows in shine

Background photo: Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash
Poem: Marjolijn Ashara

Poetry: Find me, sister

A poem inspired by the Goddess Baduhenna.

Find me, sister
In marsh-filled forest
In sacred grove
The places which are wild and raw and free
Filled with magic and power

Find me, sister
Through ties of blood
Through bonds of spirit
See me in the faces of your kindred,
Connected and rooted to all life

Find me, sister
In spring’s green delight
In summer’s bright splendour
For, like you, nature grows and blooms
It perseveres through all adversity

Find me, sister
In the call of the crow
In the howl of the wolf
Join the frenzied roar of thousands,
And fight for those who are oppressed

Find me, sister
With fangs bared
With claws curled
Head held high and strength in your spine
Never giving in nor giving ground

Find me, sister
Crowned in iron
Crowned in madness
With shadows twisting behind my rooted throne
Whispering of all your deepest fears

Find me, sister
In darkened forest
In the depth of night
When you are wounded and bleeding
Open and vulnerable for all to see

Find me, sister
Through your tears
Through your rage
Bruised but never weak nor defeated
Bending but never, ever broken

Find me, sister
Within your heart
Within yourself
You, who are mettle-tested and battle-worn
Wear your scars with dignity

Find me, sister
Within your eyes
Within your bearing
Stand in your power without reservation
With pride in all that you are

Poetry: Wings

Photo by Evie Shaffer (free stock image)
Poem by Marjolijn Ashara (me!)

When they granted me wings
they wished for white feathers
But I painted them black
with the ash of bridges burned
Dyed them blood red
with the embers of my rising

They thought me an angel
pure in careful gentleness
They are wrong
I am a Valkyrie
choosing the slain
on the battlefield
of all that I once was.

Art Journal: Elen of the Ways

Sometimes the divine speak to – and through – you in unexpected ways. This was supposed to be a practice of painting fantasy faces. But when the redhead was done it felt like something missing. I painted the branches/antlers and there she was, Elen of the Ways.

I was still missing something so I grabbed my golden paintmarker and simply started writing, the words flowing with such ease. They aren’t my words, they are Hers.

Come join me, oh wild one
running free through the woods
I will guide you on your path
show you the way to go
follow my Way; the sound of pounding drums
the sound of your own heartbeat
hear the song of your soul
and happily find out where it takes you
know that wherever you are
no matter what path you are on
you are not alone, oh wild one
for I am in the ground under your feet
the birds soaring above you in the sky
the stars lighting your way
I am right here besides you
walking next to you

Elen of the Ways

Writing fiction as shadow work

Amanda Ylva, a writer who is also on Tumblr posted a reply earlier about how writing fiction helped her through some pretty tough times and deal with some pretty intense emotions. Because it is so personal and contained some triggering subjects I didn’t want to reblog it directly, but it did get me thinking.

She speaks about how she wrote with her depression as the antagonist in the form shadowy creatures. And that is just so amazing to me. It’s a tool that lets you confront your feelings in a direct way without being overwhelmed. You have a degree of separation between you and your depression, namely a character, or at the very least, a pen and paper. And like she says, you can have conversations with your shadowy antagonists, which will probably give you a lot of answers that you didn’t even knew you had.

She also says that she will give dialogue that has been painful for her in the past to her characters. Things said to her that were painful, or thoughts that she’s had about herself. Then other characters react to that in a very healing way. (”I am not worthy, do I even deserve to have desires”) (”your life is your own, you are worthy simply for being alive”). And that is such a good way to deal with that. I have had therapy (and am on the waiting-list to go back) where these techniques were used, but then as a visualisation, where you see yourself as you are now, saying these things to the self you were when this dialogue was born. But with writing it as a different character, you will get different, but no less meaningful, things that will be said.

I’ve had some realizations about my own fiction writing and trauma recently, but that had to do more with certain recurring themes. Certain plotpoints that I keep injecting into my writing in various ways. Some subtle, some less so, but all of them have some themes the same. Using the writing of fiction in this way would be a more direct approach to working through certain thoughts and emotions and yes, shadows as well. I could see this as a technique to “speak” to your shadows, to get them to show themselves and to integrate them.

Thank you, Amanda for giving me something to think deeply on.

(First posted to Tumblr, revised for the blog)

Ode to Nehalennia

Nehalennia statue, Nehalennia festival 2019

A poem or prayer that I’ve written to my Goddess, Nehalennia. She is the Goddess of the North Sea, of seafaring, commerce, the harvest and the dead. I’ve originally written it in Dutch, but I’ve translated it in English as well. Find both versions below.

In de kolkende golven hoor ik Haar stem.
Nehalennia.
Haar wind speelt door mijn lokken,
Haar zilte zegening raakt mijn lippen.

Deae Nehalennia.
Zij die de storm trotseert, en sterker er uit voortvloeit
Zij die de weg laat zien en onze reis bewaakt
Zij wiens woede schepen ten onder doet gaan
Zij wiens tedere omhelzing rust en vreugde brengt

Vrouwe Nehalennia,
Kracht van de Noordzee
Hoor mij aan!
Want ik ben Uw dochter,
Uw gezouten water stroomt door mijn aderen
Uw storm raast door mijn lijf
Uw kracht en diepte heb ik geërfd

Moeder Nehalennia
Hart van de Noordzee
Wees met mij!

Noordzee by Marjolijn Ashara

English version

In the churning waves I hear Her voice.
Nehalennia.
Her wind plays with my locks,
Her silten blessing touches my lips.

Daea Nehalennia.
She who faces the storm and flows from it, stronger
She who shows us the way and guards our journey
She whose rage causes ships to perish
She whose tender embrace brings us peace and joy

Lady Nehalennia,
Power of the North Sea
Hear me!
For I am your daughter
Your salted water flows through my veins
Your storm rages through my body
Your strength and dept I inherited

Mother Nehalennia
Heart of the North Sea
Be with me!

(First published on my witchy Tumblr)

Epiphany

X-Men- Dark Phoenix
X-men Dark Phoenix promo picture

I’m back with a new story! This short little thing was written for a writing contest with the theme “heroes”.

   The thing no one understands is that everybody can be a hero. We all are, for a tiny moment each day, a hero. We are heroes when we stand up for what we believe in, when we are our true selves – fearlessly, when we show courage, even though we are afraid. Small moments perhaps, but important ones.

   As soon as Superheroes enter the scene, you forget about the existence of those common heroes. Perhaps that is because we are surrounded with these acts of small heroism each and every day. We lose sight of them in the mundane, and then, when a shiny new Hero appears who can create fire out of nothing, like me, you forget about all others.

   You point a camera at me while ignoring the real heroes; the first responders, the parents protecting their children, the survivors. Even beyond this busy aftermath, you have no more love left for the nurse caring for your grandparent, or the people cloaked with rainbow flags, walking hand in hand. And yet –

   And yet.

   And yet they have it easier, not being in the spotlight. Not being “Super”. They are not under a microscope every second of every day. Their every move judged, weighed, picked apart for meaning that isn’t there. Sometimes getting a scoop of peppermint ice cream really is just that.

   You know, I saved your lives last week. Saved the entire city, to be exact. And afterwards you flocked around me with your cameras and lights, and you shoved dozens of microphones in my face and asked me questions.

   Do you realise you never ask me the right ones? You never ask how it feels to save people, or if I was afraid when I had a gun pointed right at my heart. Instead, you ask about property damage and if I am afraid I will get sued this time, again. Instead, you talk about the loss of life as if I am the one responsible. You ask me about my opinion on unrelated things, like your entertainment or politics, knowing that I can never give you a real answer, my answer. Because whenever I do, whenever I show you that the fact that I am fire in human form is not the only thing about me that may be different, you scorn me. Your cheers turn to ridicule. Your love turns so easily to hate. Those that don’t despise me give well-meant warnings about “public opinion” and “playing the audience”.

   You see, the thing is, when I first discovered that the flame within my soul became too much to keep in, I was happy. I was overcome with joy at the thought of being something. Something more. I raced to show my parents and they were so proud. Not afraid at all. I went to a school filled with children, both with powers and without, and I was happy. Then you posed me a question, did I want to be a hero? Well, of course I wanted to be a hero! I wanted to save people, help people become better than they were, and I still do.

   I’ve only recently come to realise that I remember that question through rose-tinted glasses. Looking back, I now hear that it wasn’t a question at all, but a choice. Did I want to be a hero and stick to your rules, fit in your neat little boxes, or did I want to be medicated? Because I was too much, too loud, too dangerous to let go unchecked. But back then I only heard the word hero and I was sold. You see, the thing is –

   The thing is.

   I used to be happy. I used to be proud of who I was and what I can do. Proud of the red and gold suit that you gave me when I graduated. When I had learned to push that roaring wildfire in me down until nothing but a spark remained. Before I heard the whispers behind my back and the vitriol spewed right in my face because you only see me as a Hero, not as a person. Before I realised that although I fight for your freedom, you have put me in a gilded cage.

   You want me to burn like a candle – small and controlled, giving off just enough light. But that is not who and what I am. Fire consumes and grows bigger with everything it touches. That is what I want to be. Not the flame, but the Phoenix, ever rising from the ashes and spreading my wings to soar. Flying high above you all and your judgements, and pettiness, and hatred. Looking down and seeing your truths and the evil that rests in your hearts. And then burning that evil out until only the righteous and good shall remain. And oh –

   Oh.

   An epiphany is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It rushes through you, leaving adrenaline and happiness in its wake. Just like the flames that flow under my skin, trying to find a way out and spread like wings, this enlightenment also cannot be contained. It clears the head of all distractions, making me see the bigger picture for the first time in my life, and let me tell you, darling, it is beautiful. I’ve finally figured it out, you see, figured me out. I was never meant for this life. I was meant for something more, much more, than mundane, yes, but never this life of containment and masks. Of rules and restraints. Now I see that even though you have pushed me, shaped and moulded me into your hero –

   I was meant to be your villain all along.

Fiction Friday: Six word stories

arp299
Chandra galaxy, from the NASA website

I know, I know, I promised you another part of Of Wolf and Man. I swear it’s coming, just not this week. See, I took a little tumble down the stairs {actually, one step, but that sounds so lame} and busted up my ankle pretty good. This means that I couldn’t sit up for too long and my focus is shot to hell. I tried writing, but I didn’t get any further than 4 sentences. So, better luck next week!

For now though, have some six word stories! I love this concept and am usually thinking up a few of these. I want to make a page in my writers journal for them and just jot down a few as I think of them. I wrote a few this week {today… shh} but these three I liked best. Enjoy and tell me your six word story!

Her fall finally felt like freedom

 

“Fairytales don’t exist,” said the werewolf

 

The stars slowly faded to black

 

And a bonus one that is not mine, but a Critical Role quote that makes the best six word story:

I broke the world for us…

I just love that one!