Mari Lwyd’s Weird Cousin

“Mari Lwyd, Lwyd Mari
A sacred thing through the night they carry.
Betrayed are the living, betrayed the dead
All are confused by a horse’s head.”

— Vernon Watkins, excerpt from Ballad of the Mari Lwyd

In late December I wandered into my living room, heading for the kitchen to get a drink of water. It was late evening on a random day and I wanted to satisfy my thirst before going to bed. On the quick trip from my bedroom to the kitchen I shifted my gaze down to my feet and pondered my cold toes. When I looked up again, I saw a black robed figure topped with the bony skull of a horse. He was standing at my front door, on the inside of my apartment  starting at me. At first my brain did not register his skull head as a horse. Then he bared his clearly equine teeth. The being looked like the Mari Lwyd, the Grey Mare, but minus the warm fuzzies. There was no white robe, flower crown, or seasonal bliss. The spirit at my door was quite disconcerting. Along with his large, strange teeth he had unnatural eyes and moved like a horror movie character.

I asked why he was in my living room. He said nothing. I saw the door open into the starry night. I looked out the door and then back at him. He gestured like the Ghost of Christmas Future from every A Christmas Carol television adaptation ever. Still he said nothing. In a few moments he was gone. Days later I received a message, clear as a bell in my mind’s ear: “Go now.” I immediately remembered him and his gesture toward the starry spirit road. The two moments were connected. The dark robed horse spirit had been my guide, or at least my heads up.

The message he made way for could not be ignored. As soon as I received the message to go now, I knew exactly which journey to begin. I’ve been preparing for it for quite a while. The door is open and the time is now. As soon as the message settled into my bones, I gathered what I needed and I set out.

The series of journeys at hand will be long and hard, but necessary.

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