The Tale of the Bear's Son - Part 3
Here is the third and almost final part of a truly magical tale. Because it's been a while since we started this journey let me share a bit of context.
When I started to research on the importance of the Myth in Ritual Magic I hadn't really considered old folk tales to become the centre of this work. First and foremost I had thought about the ritual myths of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Greeks. I guess this is what most ritual magicians of the West would have used as a starting poin? Yet, the wonderful thing if you work in service magically is that you do not control the journey, but your intent only.
And so after a couple of months of study I had bumped into the magical treasure chest of old European, mostly unknown folk tales. The Tale of the Bear's Son takes a prominent place in this half-forgotten collection of mythical stories. Not only because of its age and high difusion rate across our European nations. But also - and mainly so from a magical perspective - because of the wonderful wisdom contained in it. By piecing together the old story and translating it into English bit by bit, I learned so much about the forces of the European land. The way our ancestors used to experience it in the past and the ways we forgot to encounter it mostly today...
Below you can find the third and last but one part of the Tale of the Bear's Son. By following me on its trail we will encounter a hidden world inside the earth - a myth chased by Nazis just as much as by occult scholars such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his novel VRIL. We will encounter a boat made of swans, a sleeping giant and a seven-headed dragon. Most interestingly, however, we will also get to know a demon with black skin sleeping in a chamber of gold - magically summoned and commanded by our very own hero Bearson himself.
If we want to find a more direct access to the Myth of the Land we need to search for the stories that survived the centuries but always managed to maintain a low profile. (...) What I am referring to are the fairy tales of the common people, the stories of the land meandering on low tide through the collective memory of our ancestors for centuries. We are looking for the stories that until today are so low-profile and raw that they slept unnoticed through the successive storms of pious Christianity, passionate Secularization and mercantile Industrialization...
The Tale of The Bear's Son - Part 3
(...) Beneath the ground darkness stretched out without end. For a long time the companions continued to lower the rope into the shaft. The decent seemed endless. ‘What a vast realm ruled by such a tiny man.’ Bearson thought while the walls around him grew very hot and then very cold again.
After what seemed an eternity the rope stopped it’s decent. There was still no ground in sight. Bearson thought to himself:‘This must have been many days I hung onto this rope? Certainly this depth is deeper than there is space between heaven and earth.’ Then he pulled the three strips of skin from his pocket that he had cut from the back of the Earthman. He knotted them to the end of the rope and lowered himself further into the dark. From the end of the rope he jumped into darkness.
When Bearson landed he found himself on a heap of sand. At the end of a tunnel he saw a light. He followed the light and finally emerged from the dark. What Bearson saw was of no little surprise to him: deep underground there was a second land within the Earth. He saw a sun in the sky shining bright like the eye of a cat, and below it fields of green and meadows. He could not see any animals except for birds and there was no sight of the Earthman. A curved road led across the fields and Bearson followed it.
Behind the meadows and over the hills and under the sun that shone like a cat eye Bearson wandered for a long time. He passed through a dark forest and when he came out of it he found himself in front of a large lake. In the middle of the lake on a round island stood a round castle built from black stone. Bearson looked for passages over the water, bridges or fords but nothing was to be seen that allowed crossing the lake. He sat down on the damp ground and started to sing. After a short while three swans landed in the lake and approached Bearson. He continued to sing and with the words of his song he arranged the birds in a fashion that allowed him to stand on their backs. And so Bearson crossed the lake singing.
As they had come halfway across the water Bearson saw a shining spark on the ground. He made the swans stand still. Then he carefully knelt down on their backs and reached down into the waters and all the way to the ground. His hand grabbed something cold that was stuck in the ground. As hard as Bearson pulled the water wouldn’t release its treasure. Bearson was about to give up, when a small bird landed on his shoulder and said: “Your strength is strengthless here. Drink from the water and befriend.” Bearson looked at the tiny bird on his shoulder. He continued to sing his song so the swans would stay in place. Then he knelt down again and cupped some of the water in his hands and drank. He reached down to the ground again and the object released instantly from the sand. In his hands Bearson held the wet blade of a sword shimmering in the sunlight.
On the other side of the lake Bearson thanked the three swans. As his song ended the birds disappeared. Bearson found himself in front of a huge door made of black metal. He pressed his ear against the steel. Behind it he heard the clatter of crockery. He carefully pushed at the gate but it didn’t move a tiny bit. He pushed stronger and finally with all his weight, but the door remained in place. Then Bearson remembered what the bird had said, he stepped back and touched the gate with the blade...
The room behind the black gate was dark and half-lid by a shrunken fire. A maid was standing behind a cattle preparing food. As Bearson approached her he saw her bent over the cattle salivating into the broth. ‘What are you doing, woman?' he asked. She gazed up, wiped her mouth and answered: 'I am preparing food from my spittle to nourish the lord.' 'Who is your lord then?' Bearson asked. 'It is the earth demon who has lost his powers. He needs new might to regrow his beard.' Bearson asked where this lord was to be found and the maid explained behind the guarded rooms of tin, silver and gold. Bearson thanked her and walked on.
The next room was equally dark and damp. Bearson had to walk through many other hallways and rooms before he reached another locked door. He stepped back again and tipped the blade against it. The black doors swung open. Behind it Bearson found a huge hall whose walls were covered in tin. In the middle of the dark hall on a small bench sat a princess. She held the head of a sleeping giant in her lap and carefully loused his hair. The giant had slept since seven days and seven nights and his huge body moved slowly under long breathes of air.
Bearson approached the princess and without a word and they changed seats. The princess slipped out below the head of the giant while Bearson took her place. Chuntering the giant turned around and scratched his back. Bearson caressed his temples and loused his hair until the giant had fallen back into deep slumber again. Then Bearson pulled out the blade from behind his back and with a huge blow brought it down on the neck of the giant. The giant opened his eyes, pulled his hands on his neck and screamed. His voice was so loud that the princess had to cover her ears and a sound like lightning echoed back from the walls of tin. Bearson realized the strength of the giant’s neck and with two more blows he cut it off his shoulder. Blood gushed forth in red rivers and started to cover the floor of the tin-hall.
The princess and Bearson had almost reached the door on the opposite side of the hall when they heard another giant scream behind them. Bearson turned around and found the giant had put his head on his shoulder again and slowly started to rise on his knees to follow them. Swiftly Bearson returned, tiptoed around the rising body of the giant and with his bare hands ripped out the spine from his back. The colossus collapsed as even more blood gushed on the floor. With four quick strokes Bearson cut off his hands and feet and threw them into the four corners of the room. When they reached the gate on the western wall the blood already stood knee-high in the hall. They slipped through it like two mice, then Bearson shut the gate close behind them.
Bearson followed the princess whose dress seemed to shine in the dark until they reached another closed gate. On opening it Bearson saw a huge hall covered with walls of silver. A large part of the hall was take by a kitchen lid by several fires. The only servant in the kitchen was the second princess, busily rushing from doughs to ovens and from hearths to bowls of sugar, salt and cinnamon. The rest of the hall was taken by the white body of a seven headed dragon.
When Bearson entered the hall the dragon awoke and his seven heads started to laugh. 'I saw in my sleep' he said 'how you killed my stupid brother the giant. But I won’t allow you to louse any of my heads. Silver is different from tin, tiny man.''Very well. You seem an experienced dreamer.' Bearson replied. 'Yet you seem a much less experienced host? With such a kitchen in your hall I would expect a feast before we go into battle?'The seven heads of the dragon frowned. Then he called the princess and ordered: 'Bring food for my foe and myself. We will eat together. And as a desert I shall eat the tiny man stuffed with my own pastries.' While the dragon laughed again Bearson had an idea. 'I bet you won’t be able to do that, white dragon. Because I bet I can eat more with one mouth than you can with seven.' The dragon looked at him startled; then he laughed even harder. 'Very well, tiny man. That we shall see.'
While the dragon laughed Bearson slipped away to the second princess and whispered in her ear. Then Bearson and the dragon prepared for the feast. As the first round of pastries arrived the dragon swallowed all of it in a huge gulp of his seven heads. The second round arrived and he did the same. But on the third and fourth round the dragon frowned and chewed a little longer. At the six and seventh round his seven heads gnawed at the pastries while hot steam poured out of his nostrils. 'These pastries are heavy!' he mumbled while his eyes kept watching Bearson who initially had been much slower in eating his pastries. Yet, as more and more new pastries arrived on their plates, Bearson started to catch up and slowly overtook the dragon in eating up all the dishes. Soon four of the seven heads of the dragon had fallen asleep from exhaustion while Bearson was still finishing pastries. 'This tiny man is one of a kind...' murmured the last of the seven heads of the dragon before he felt asleep.
Bearson finished the last of his pastries, then he pulled out the sword. He walked over to the dragon and cut off the first head. A tremor winced through the body of the dragon. But it was too stuffed with pastries and heavy to move or awake. Thus Bearson killed the dragon, head by head, slowly but surely, one cut at a time before he turned around and took the princesses by the hand. When the dragon had been laughing about their bet, Bearson had whispered in hear ear to cook his own pastries from dough, but the dragon’s from silver and plumb and so she had done.
He followed the two shining princesses through many hallways and rooms until they came to a third locked door. He tipped his blade against it and sword burst into a thousand pieces. The third door had swallowed the power of the sword. Yet still the black doors swung open.
Behind it in a room with walls covered in gold sleeping with eyes wide open Bearson saw a black demon. The third princess was chained to the wall next to the demon. With white eyes he stared blindly into the room and didn’t seem to notice anything. Bearson approached him swiftly and punched him hard in the face. The demon did not move but his spirit seemed to awake behind his blind eyes. He blinked repeatedly and smiled. 'In my dream I saw how you killed my brothers, the dragon and the giant. But me I don’t eat anything but air and I don’t have hair on my black skin that needs caressing. I will eat the air in your lungs, tiny man, and bring my brothers back to life.' 'I see you are a man of honor.' Bearson replied. 'All demons are' the demon replied and stood up.
He walked over to the princess. Only now Bearson realized that two large swords were chained to the wall above the princess. A white one to her left and a black one to her right. The demon took the white sword from the wall and offered it to Bearson. He was just about to accept it, as from the corner of his eyes he saw the third princess lick at the stud of the black sword above her on the wall. 'As a man of honor' Bearson replied 'you will allow me to chose the weapon of my choice I assume. Let me fight with the black one instead.' The demon smiled, took the black sword from the wall and handed it to Bearson as requested.
It was a quick and heavy fight until Bearson suddenly stroke at the demons head and cut off his right ear. The demon screamed in pain and Bearson quickly picked up the ear. He put it between his teeth and blew it like a flute. A piercing sound filled the golden hall, the black demon grew stiff in his clamor and came to a halt kneeling before Bearson on the ground. 'You are a man of honor' Bearson proclaimed 'and I command thee each time I whistle on your ear.' The demon nodded silently. 'Unchain the third princess then.' The demon walked over, touched the wound on his head and covered the golden chains in his own blood. With a sigh they fell off the walls and released the third princess.
Bearson whistled on the ear of the demon again. Immediately he saw the black being kneeling before himself. 'Now bring us to the border of your world, back to the shaft through which I had come from' he demanded. The demon rose and dissolved in a cloud of black beetles. The beetles enclosed Bearson and the three princesses and lifted them up from the ground. Then the buzzing cloud carried them up the chimney shaft and out in the night.
:: last part coming soon ::