Revolution is Messy
Dreamed 2006/4/26 by Emily Joy
I'm living in a Native American village during the European Invasion, when explorers from the over the sea claim our land. Never mind that we've been living here for centuries. It's a New World only to the latest crop of seasick white men. But oh, are they pushy. They've done their best to make our homeland into something truly new--and frightening.
Nothing looks the same anymore. Nothing feels the same. The whites took over everything, changed our customs, converted everyone--not just religiously, but culturally. They even rebuilt our houses to suit their Euro taste; where once were low, cozy domes made of logs and sticks, now are crude boxy log cabins. There was no mess, because, as our shaman put it, "The ancestral logs that have held up our homes for generations are still here, whether they are holding up the new houses or burning in the white man's stove." Sure enough, I can see the great logs in walls and woodpiles.
They haven't converted everyone. Our shaman simply cannot give up his life-burden-gift, of course. He went through too much to become what he is, and he can't go back. He's lost status, though, reduced to a crazy old man living in a domed (doomed) shack full of herbs and animal skins--a primitive fool--while the people who once revered his wisdom have been taken in by shiny guns and fancy clothes and promises of Heaven when they die.
The shaman has two allies remaining, and it's no coincidence they were outcasts even in the native community. They are two teenagers, a boy and a girl. I'm one of them; I never did figure out which one, though. We're inseparable. The shaman dotes on us, teaches us things he's never shared with anyone. He would have loved for us to follow his path and become shamans ourselves, but the community would never listen to us. His true successor would have been trained like this, but he hadn't chosen one yet before the invaders came, and now there isn't likely to be a new shaman ever again. Unless we do something.
Oh--why were we outcasts? It's so obvious to everyone else, I forgot outsiders might not realize. The tribe disavows its ties to us, even though our parents were part of it. We're not human, you see. But we're not animals, either--they're worthy of worship on their own, even if that worship usually follows a victorious hunt. The best word to describe us would be "crossbreed," but our bodies aren't the blends they would be if we were. We live in two forms, shifting at will.
Aorphe, the boy, is big and sturdy. As a human, he's all burnished brown skin, long powerful limbs, and shining crow's-wing hair. Inside, he's a black timber wolf, feral intuitive and strong. Since the invaders came, he's taken to running for hours in the forest alone; it's all he can do to stop himself smashing the cabins down. With them inside.
Meline, the girl, actually looks like a crossbreed; neither wolf nor coyote nor fox, she's small and wiry with orange-tan fur, black-tipped ears and white underside. Unlike Aorphe, she seems to have a domestic streak, always more playful and easily distracted. Even in human form, she's not all native—her skin is too pale and her long dark hair has red undertones.
One night while the two of us sleep, curled up together in the woods as usual, our ancestors come to us in a dream. They speak of the invaders, warning us about the dangers of white society, not the least of which comes from living in boxes. "Flat walls dull the spirit," one of them tells us.
When we wake, Aorphe, quick to reach a decision, wants to drive the white men out of our home immediately. We've put up with them for weeks; now even the long-dead ancestors are riled up! We can't ignore that. But he agrees with Meline that such a revolt must be nonviolent, and whatever we do shouldn't be inflammatory enough to get anyone hurt, especially our shaman friend.
We choose to rebuild our homes. Rather than knock the box-cabins down, though, we'll graft domes onto the foundations, adding to what's already there. The ancestors pledged to guide us, lighting spirit-candles over the rafters we'll need to build on.
We begin with the largest cabin in the village. First we dismantle the roof and throw it on the ground. CRASH! So satisfying. Stupid triangle roofs. Meline notes the position of the tiny, flickering white lights—spirit candles—over the rafters and dashes off to retrieve the ancestral logs, having engineered a new dome in her head. She's clever that way.
Aorphe goes straight to work on the cabin itself. With a stolen metal hatchet, he cuts wedges into the beams, which splinter wetly like pulp and shower wood scraps everywhere. The invaders made no mess; we, on the other hand, have to. Revolution is messy.
The people inside the cabin, mostly whites but some our own relatives, jeer and laugh at our efforts:
"Idiot cubs! What a mess you make!"
"You tryin' to wreck your own community?"
"That beam is going to snap right in two because of that clumsy chop!"
But not one of them raises a hand to stop us.
The shaman emerges from his hut to see what all the noise is about. At the sight of us, both shifting freely between our forms, hacking away at the establishment and trying to lift up logs the size of whole trees, and succeeding, he begins to laugh. The shaman laughs and laughs, dancing in the doorway of his hut as the chaos builds... and I wake.
I wonder about Aorphe's name... the female version of Orpheus would be Orphea. Nose to tail, shake and bake... voila! Aorphe. OK, I'm likely wrong. But echoes of Orpheus are right for this black wolf. Orpheus the primal musician took direct action too, and he was a spirit guide--for his wife, as he led her out of Hell. The hell, in this case, of white men's boxes.
Even the female ending/beginning makes sense as a reminder to Emily that he may appear male as her guide, but he's her own creative, initiative-taking wild side. You don't have to be male to sing with such power you can walk alive out of the land of the dead.
Or to take an axe to it.
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