of the Winds
The world is a predator, yet
some places prove friendlier than others. Ireland, for instance, with all of
its bloodshed and sorrows, brings a comfort in its woesome gales that I have
found the American West to never afford. The lords of the two lands do not know
one another, both rising from the places they serve, and remaining constant in
their arenas. The kings of Ireland (a green place of wet terror) are made
cordial through humble service to the land and its people. The mesa lords of
northern New Mexico rage fierce, and dry, and require an affronting ferocity to
appease them —if such strength is available. I was in no way prepared for that
which would unfold as these arid rulers took fresh lie of their mesas,
discovered me, and set forth to challenge my white-man presence.
had temporarily relocated from my home in the Hollywood Hills to Mora, New
Mexico, in an effort to escape a vampiric relationship where I had become the
selfish aggressor —and to study the spiritual practices of the ‘Greasy Eye
Cavities of the Skull’ clan of Hopi; the extinct Wikurswungwa. I arrived
at my rented log house the day after Halloween. Snow had already come
—intermittently, but heavy and wet when it fell.
is not particularly known better than any other place for Hopi shamanism. It
is, however, one of the more silent places of the North American continent,
where bloodshed cries out in its meek way still, but the whir and stir of
humanity is altogether absent. This is the land of the ‘mesas verde’ —the
great, green tables of land once mountains in times not remembered. An
unparalleled climate for sustained academic research, and potential healing of
the heart and mind.
today, gone to Mora,’ I said to no one as I popped the lock on the heavy front
door of the house and entered the main room that smelled of cinnamon and pine.
I laughed at myself, then said the phrase again as I rolled the ‘r,’ and
adopted it as my motto. I soon had the hearth roaring and inviting, a cast iron
pot of curried lentils bubbling away on the woodburning stove, a pan of
biscuits in the oven, and a pot of coffee percolating away.
an adventurous couple of days exploring the surrounds and a restful third
night’s sleep, I arose at dawn, dressed in warm clothing, and hiked the five
miles to the abandoned monastery where the bravest of the Spanish monks had
crucified themselves in the attempt to make the Hopi and other local natives
understand their message of salvation via the ‘pouring out’ of Jesus on the
Cross. During this épouvante, if you will, hundreds of Indians were
baptized into the Faith. Because of such a response, it was thought that the
monks were being effective in the sharing of their religion —until it was
discovered, some years later, that the long-awaited Hopi savior, Bahana,
comparable to the Aztec Ehécatl, was a crucified sun-god who had
required no human sacrifice to him —and that many of the Indians believed the
monks to be emissaries of their beloved god. Nevertheless, the Catholic
authorities had the monks continue with their missionary work, heathen
salvation not the actual goal of the Church by and large, but power through
land and populace ownership —and of course the discovery and taking of gold.
The natives made good, humble slaves in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But
who wins in the long run: humility or arrogance? Ask the turtle and the hare.
began with the chimney swifts. I noticed them flocking in unusual numbers to
the ranch. At the same time, blustery currents of air, warmer than the usual
November temperatures of this area, commenced. I knew, though, that these chinooks
were animated with something more than air currents.
the winds began in earnest, at night I would recline on a couch near the
fireplace, done with my studies for the day, and listen to them howling down
from the nearest mesa like feral creatures on the hunt. Too often I allowed
myself to fall beneath their enchantment, and became so unnerved that warm
sweet milk infused with valerian extract was all that would calm me.
began to find glassy-eyed bodies of the swifts, untouched by hawks and
unmolested by beetles and other scavengers, their wings fully outstretched.
There were dead swifts by the river, and scattered around the barn garret,
behind the house near the generator, inside the outhouse, and, yes, in the
chimney (when suddenly the flue wasn’t working properly). Each bird died in the
shape of a cross, with a worm in its mouth —the international icon of the
sun-god —the eagle with the serpent in its beak.
crisp morning, just after a new snow, I fueled up on ‘cowboy coffee’ and
rock-hopped across the greenish-clear river to get a better look at an ancient
juniper that clawed the sky like a severed hand. There is something about the
way the piñon-juniper landscape smells after is has been moistened. It awakens
—all the conifers and red earth brought to life by water. ‘Zesty’ might best
describe it, like sea spray or sitting by a waterfall —a secret of the high
desert only unlocked by a rain or wet snow.
I stepped from the river into the fresh snowfall, with no warning my legs
turned to rubber, and breathing became difficult, as if the wind had been
knocked out of me. The brisk, sunny day quickly became overcast as if
gargantuan fingers covered the sky, and the Mesa Kings, who had previously come
with their most forcible antics after dusk, began to roar down from the heights
with such velocity that I was forced to lean into them to stay upright.
I fought for balance with my newborn legs, fallow earth that surrounded the
ancient juniper began to rupture and push upward, shifting and swirling in little
tornadoes that formed a maelstrom of stinging sand, snow, and natural debris.
Then, from the loosened, flying dirt emerged carrion talons, and human digits,
and undersea feelers, and waving insect antennae. Breaking the surface of the
land, around and around the juniper as if swimming, or drowning, moved
creatures dead and dying, and things of bone —all howling like starving felines
as they swam. The lacerated heads of those that still wore flesh oozed, open
and raw —and as they moved in a rapidly increasing diameter, they reached for
my feet with their appendages.
gruesome humanoid, who smelled of rotten meat and trailed a matted, black mane
behind him, leered at me with yellow lemur eyes as he passed. I was struck by
his evil gaze as if by a heavy fist, crumbled, and went down. I was then yanked
into the hideous multitude by a corvusian deathling that swam behind my
and ice tore into my right kidney, and then my left, soon filling my flanks
with molten agony. Feeling as if I were being torn asunder by the monsters that
were now punctured children, now quivering hags in their death throes, now
snapping giant reptiles, now humongous eels of some prehistoric swamp, I
writhed and screamed and kicked, but my aggression only caused more of them to
swarm toward me, grab me with claws and hands and mouths and pull me down into
the cold, disturbed earth. My mouth filled up with sand, and with gore from
some unknown source. I choked, then purged. The lemur-eyed thing mounted me then,
gyrating like a Yahoo as we bathed in the whirling charnel. The undulating
ground then opened utterly, and I plummeted with those odious ministers of
horror into a dank pitch blackness.
awoke dazed. As I held my throbbing head, I saw that I lay alone in a room of
indiscernible size, as the place was illuminated by one candle set in an
earthenware dish three paces away. Panicking, I checked myself over to see how
badly I had been clawed and bitten. My fingers pushed into a thick
death-smelling seepage that I knew was not my own. I gagged. Relieved that my
unwanted companions had deserted me, I pulled myself to my feet, stumbled, took
up the candle, and began a slow exploration.
had not crept far into the gloom when I knew that I was, indeed, underground.
Twisted tree roots pushing down from above decorated the walls like heathen
serpentine icons. Water dripping from them formed intricate webbing designs as
it trailed to the floor and away into the blackness. Was I in a kiva of
some sort? Though not as cleanly designed as those I had witnessed before, soon
enough I saw that the place was something akin to the kiva—the underground
ceremonial room of the Hopi—for to my right I discovered a wooden table
whereupon three kachina dolls had been displayed: a Wiharu, a
Soyoko, and a Nata-aska.
Oddly enough, this display disturbed me as deeply as had my convulsions beneath
the juniper, for these are the dreaded evil spirits of the Hopi.
a deep male voice barked.
jumped backward, inadvertently dropping my candle. My spine iced over. I could
see nothing —not even my hand which I brought up only centimeters from my eyes.
voice was addressing me in Hopi, as ‘man.’
—I don’t speak —I—’
don’t speak fluent Hopi —I maybe should, but I—’
you speak something, you filthy dog!’
clamored sideways, searching for where the root-covered wall to my left had
been. It was not where I remembered. I fell, cracking my wrist on the solid
clay floor. The pain was excruciating. I knew I had fractured my arm.
Welcome to Flesh-House.’
froze, not knowing how to answer the voice. I patted the immediate area for my
candle, but it was gone. I then felt something warm, and wet, and reached
around me to see what I had fallen into. I didn’t know until I lifted my
fingers to my face. The metallic scent of menstrual blood.
rolled away, only to thump against something solid, yet soft. Knowing
intuitively what I had hit, I screamed, and as I did so, as if my voice were
some kind of light switch, a yellow glow interrupted the darkness, and I saw my
verbal assailant: a powerful man with the head of a coyote.
screeched like a child on a playground. Survival instinct alive and electric, I
threw myself behind the dead body. No. Could it be? At first I saw it to
be Maria, the woman I had left in Hollywood, her large violet eyes
unmistakable. She was bloodless and dying, and beckoning to me with her full
lips, yet no sound came from them. Then I saw the corpse to be a beautiful
Indian girl who had been tortured by having her hands cut off. Or had they been
gnawed away? I could not tell. I wretched my breakfast over her shoulder and
long raven hair, wiped it away from her face, told her I was sorry, and
collapsed, hanging over her waist, spent and laughing. I laughed so hard. I
laughed, and then I wept, and then I laughed again. A voice from inside me said
I was losing my mind, but I didn’t care. The scene was horribly hilarious;
my thoughts turned even further downward. Should I strip the girl and gloat
upon her obvious loveliness? Should I penetrate her (with my abrupt, throbbing
erection) and so give my soul fully to all that is debased in the world? Should
I then eat her after our thanatophilia? Bite off her nipples? Chew at her
pudendum filled with my salty gift? I didn’t know. It all seemed so wonderfully
perverse —as if evil had always been a position of revelry and fun, but only
for a select few, those chosen to be initiated into its delightful secrets. I
climbed upon the girl and pushed on her solar plexus. She expectorated
blood, which I kissed away from her before I roared horrified, a madman now. A
lunatic. I lay there thrilled, and revolted, terrified and blissful. I felt my
core temperature cooling, my body shaking. I was freezing to death. I was
dying. In Hell.
the girl, taaqa,’ the coyote-man said as he blinked sightless grey eyes.
‘Leave her, or do your desires, you foul thing. This is Flesh-House. Your will
is your command.’
will is my command? What did he mean?
the girl, flay the girl, or flee the girl.’ The monstrosity ambled over, took
one of her stumps in his hands, pushed it between his lips, and sucked. ‘This
is Flesh-House. Your will is your command. Get up. Stop being so indulgent, or
you’ll die where you lay, taaqa.’
a sudden I was sane again, or so I thought. I knew that I felt warm again. I
stood, the coyote-man turned, and we walked together toward the source of the
awoke in my bed crying out for Maria, wet with sweat though the night outside
had grown frigid.
what a nightmare!’
day long I was disturbed by the infernal vision that remained fresh in my
memory. As before, valerian root in sweetened milk was the only thing I found
to sufficiently calm me for sleep again that night.
returned, my fiend,’ greeted the coyote monster. ‘This is good. Let us continue
our walk, will we?’
screamed, thrashed about in my bed, and clawed at my eyes, trying to gouge them
silly little taaqa. Believing sightlessness to be a deterrent to your
horror. Keep your eyesight. You are already damned. This is Flesh-House. Follow
followed the beast, who moved as if sighted. As we walked, he somehow became
the dead girl. I felt ashamed, and held back. She sought to gather me to her, to
help me along, but her bleeding stumps could only grab me like kitchen tongs. I
pulled away from her, mewing like a kitten, which only further shamed me. She
held me tighter, yanking me toward her. She then kissed the corner of my mouth,
her pretty upturned nose brushing mine, her black eyes wet and shining.
are mortified by your base thoughts toward me?’
Maria,’ I replied, but I knew she wasn’t Maria.
power over your own mind. You are its chief. Ready yourself now. We enter the
Hall of Pleasures.’
squeezed through a slimy stone passage allowing us only to turn sideways as we
went, the girl ahead of me. I found that I had hold of the long braid she now
wore —like Maria had worn. As I tugged, she moaned as if in great pleasure. Though
I fought it, I again became aroused, and imagined her doing things to me with
have an iniquitous soul,’ she said as we pushed through the tight corridor.
‘You would sleep with your own mother and beg her to call you Daddy.’
said nothing in reply, but flushed with shame and went rigid with disgust and
anger. I shut my eyes against the fresh knowledge of my deviant lechery. When I
opened them again, we were in a room which reminded me of a hospital ward, but
the beds were stone slabs carved with deep blood-catches and serpentine drains,
like those found at Peruvian Wari sacrificial sites.
is this place?’ I heard myself ask. The Indian girl pushed a bleeding limb to
my lips and held it there until I vomited. As I wiped my mouth on my
shirtsleeve, before us, on the dozen tables, there appeared apparitions of
sacrifice victims. I turned to the girl, questioning this scene. I wish I had
not, for behind her loomed a coven of translucent, hollow-eyed things.
was all I could say. She turned.
Those are the Old Seers. Or, what your Irish ancestors called druids.
They are the most potent humans on Earth. Or at least they were. Their
abode is the Hall of Pleasures, and from here they move outward, to usurp
energy from those unaware. Their time of gleaning is dusk. Only the
grace-covered warrior can defeat them.’
not caring—that my guide was hideous with her hands torn off, or even that she
was dead, I pulled close to her. Hot tears streamed down my face.
Old Seers will not harm you while I am here,’ she soothed. ‘Look.’ She pointed
a ragged wrist toward the row of slabs.
turned away from the looming druids or seers or whatever they were, and as I
watched on, the vague shapes of sacrifice victims took on bone, and then flesh,
and soon lay whole and shuddering in the cold of the evil hall, as it were.
from plant roots that crawled down the walls slithered black vipers that, as
they dropped to the floor, morphed into nude male priests who wielded obsidian
knives. Nodding to me as if I were somehow part of their ceremony, each of them
then climbed upon the slab and penetrated his prey with his engorged
equine-sized phallus. I stood aghast, unable to turn away from the debauchery
as the orgy reached a heightened frenzy. The moment each pair climaxed
together, the priest plunged his knife into the abdomen of his prone partner,
twisted it, and laid his mouth upon that of his victim —I assume in order to
catch all of the escaping life essence.
your face, you whore!’ the girl barked at me.
did as I was told. When I looked again, we were in a new place.
is the Room of Idiots, taaqa. You should feel welcome here.’
face must have revealed my fury at her words.
I see.’ She walked to a low wooden bench and with her mouth lifted from it a
cat-o’-nine-tails made of black leather and pieces of jagged stone. She then
slid out of her bloody buckskin dress, spread her legs in a wide horse-stance,
and pushed the long leather handle deep into her dewy genitals.
you want to pleasure me? Come here, big white man what studies our culture like
a big hero but speaks no Hopi. Don’t you want to make me scream, big man? Don’t
you want to eat me? You thought you wanted to eat me. You sucked my
blood. Didn’t you like my taste? You disappoint me, big boy. I bet your tuber
spurts good, yellow milk. Am I right? Why don’t you come over here and show me.
Push your big tuber up inside my hot oven, hero-man. I bake it good for you.’
was on my knees, hiding my face in pure humiliation, every inch of me flaccid
and trembling. The first sting of her whip was like ice, followed by fire. I
bellowed, but could not move. I wondered how she was holding the lash whose
fiery tails came down again, and again, and again. She had soon flayed my back
to rags, and I knew that if I did not escape her, she would kill me. The scent
of my visceral fluids wafted around the room.
wùuti,’ I heard a familiar voice say, and peering up through my own
blood I saw the coyote-man enter the room. Removing his red phrygian cap and
tossing it aside with an air of carelessness, he retrieved the whip from the
girl, who had somehow tied it to her wrist. She dressed again in her gruesome
clothes, walked over to me and, sliding her gory arms beneath mine, lifted me
to my feet. I felt no more pain, and realized that I had not been hurt in the
least. My torture had been some kind of cruel psychosomatic illusion.
arduous trek of a quarter mile or more through the blackness of yet another
narrow passageway (with the terrible, coyote-thing following close behind me)
led us to a gargantuan door that opened onto an ancient sports arena. As we
stepped out into the night air, the winds with which I was now so familiar
roared all around us, and seemingly through us.
de los Vientos,’ the blind creature explained. I quaked. ‘God of the
has come for you, taaqa,’ the wùuti said, wùuti meaning woman.
‘He does not like your spirit, and he has come to kill you. Es la Casa del
Aire y tu no eres bienvenido.’
—God of the Winds? I —am not welcome in his House of Air?’ I asked, my voice
feeble, shaking. For an answer, I received from the coyote a cutting blow
across my face.
you!’ I screamed as blood and saliva filled my mouth.
me? Oh, taaqa. You are so full of pride I fear you are lost
forever. Damn me, he says, wùuti.’ He laughed. And the girl
laughed with him, and coughed, and spat phlegm at me, and laughed again, her
eyes widening in an insane glee, her tongue rolling and undulating in her
Christ!’ I cried.
think the Christ can save you now, taaqa? Yes, he could save you,
if you knew him as you claim to. But you have no god save yourself, though your
mind spins with delicious religious head knowledge. You are a lazy academic
much —how many more of your insults do you think I will take?’ I asked, finding
strength to step away from the sadistic duo, preparing to run.
will you run to, little man?’ the Indian girl asked me. ‘You cannot run from
Bahana. Your first ancestors Adam and Eve tried to run from him; your Simon
Peter tried to run from him; many have tried to run from Bahana. None is ever
swept down into the outdoor arena where we stood with a ferocity causing his
antics at the ranch to seem as if they had been light breezes. The skies above
us revealed themselves to be a deep indigo each time lightning flashed and
crackled. The coyote-man was gone. I was left with the handless girl, and for
some reason, this frightened me to the core of my being. I fell where I stood,
and was blown over to my side, my broken wrist pinned beneath me, making my arm
explode with electric agony.
girl walked forward a pace, turned, and faced me. Blood dribbled from her lips.
‘I will always love you,’ she said. Maria’s last words to me.
God of the Winds then manifested himself in human form, and what little sanity
I had left escaped me for a season.
Scáth Beorh is a writer and
editor who helms the publishing endeavor Twelve House Books. He avoids the
all-too-common venom of nihilism while telling stories permeated with themes of
violence, brutality, anguish, punishment, fabulism, and blurred lines between
this and the afterlife. Sometimes veiled and at times more overt sarcasm about
Christian values and moral inconsistencies underline a calculated design behind
his entertaining tales. More can be found via twelvehousebooks.wordpress.com