Listening to the young man's wracking sobs, the crone nearly wept herself. Yet she dared to hear hope. Why; how? Because the paroxysms of his weeping, in all their anguish, mimicked laughter. And were not these tears a wry assessment of the absurdity of humanity's existence?
Though it was the first time they had heard each other's voices, they had knowledge of each other's souls and anticipated a future of close connection.
Word Witch had attained "elder" status in both age and achievement. The bloom of maidenhood no longer graced her plump cheeks, yet there was a youthful aura about the softly jowled countenance 'neath the brown and silver strands of her thinning mane. She wore her age well and embraced the memories of nearly seven decades. She did not bear the decrepitude one associates with the word "crone:" that is because the language of the Sisterhood has been distorted. Misogynistic old men, who feared strong powerful women, corrupted the words "crone (crowned one)," "hag (holy one)," and "witch (wise one)," making them ugly and demeaning. Thankfully, they are beginning to be reclaimed and restored to signify their original meanings.
As with any empath who has acquired great stature, Word Witch had cherished rituals she relied on to refresh, renew, and replenish her spirit. Once restored, she could again nurture others, without depleting her reserves.
So often this kindly soul wished she had known the Old Ways from her earliest years, though being raised in Roman Catholicism had not been without certain advantages. She had been afforded a good education which had always served her well. Her upbringing had also given her a glimmer of understanding for the theological mindset. She now communed with her sister witches, celebrating the mysteries of the natural world; and she could also converse with members of ecclesiastic circles.
Within the crone's coven, was a lovely russet-haired hag, who was much loved by Word Witch. As many goddesses are known to do, these two cherished the company of canine creatures. Some of their sisters were more inclined to the ways of Bast and kept felines. Within the secluded glen where these women sheltered there also resided a few men, most were wizened with age.
It was mid-autumn, a time when some believe the veil between worlds becomes thinner. Metaphysics is a strange and wonderful field whereby one is free to explore the world beyond one's physical self. Harvest time is particularly ripe for otherworldly reflections, observances, and celebrations. It is not by chance this is the season of Samhain and Day of the Dead. In later years, Word Witch often found she preferred the company of wraiths to the noisy chatter of most humans. In the time of pandemic, it was good to have companions who were not potential spreaders of disease.
On the evening she spoke to the young man, he told her about the dog who had taken up residence within the walls of his domicile. The bitch was a rescue, whom he and his partner had perceived to be a mutt. One day, a companion told him, "Buddy, what you've got there is a Carolina dog; a genuine American dingo." A shiver of excitement came over the crone upon hearing this. Next morning she told Red, "I believe Tink has been reincarnated." Astonishment animated the features of the flame-haired recipient of this pronouncement. Having recently espied a canine resembling her departed companion, Red had wondered if Tinker may have returned to dwell once more among humans. She really hoped so: Tinker was an extraordinary dog who would grace any life she touched. For a brief moment, the sun shone a mite brighter; though sadly, no warmer. Having imparted the tidings she had come to deliver, Word Witch hastened to the coziness of her tiny cottage. After a warming cuppa, she would bake bread and write a few letters: she'd never known a recipient of either to spurn the gift.
Ensuing days were grayer, glummer, and damper; scarcely broken by either warmth or bright sun. Two months remained until the coming solstice, when a change of season would start to bring incrementally more daylight to Northern Hemisphere and longer nights, south of Earth's equator. Much had transpired during the previous twelvemonth: most notably, a pandemic. But in addition to a disease of the body, there was a virulence which ate at the spirit. This latter is the evil of systemic racism and increasing numbers of people are bringing awareness to this blight.
Too long has toxic masculinity been poisoning Mother, greedily destroying Earth. Having dominion does not give leave to dominate. Rather, as an allegedly intelligent life form, humans should seek to effect stewardship; taking only what is needed for sustenance and benevolently nurturing the planet which is our domicile, our home. As it stands at present, War, Famine, and Pestilence are resulting in hideous Death. These "Four Horsemen" [of the Apocalypse] are generated by testosterone-driven greed. If humans accept this travesty as "the way things are," then this species is truly doomed. If there is to be any hope for survival of the human species, it will come from nurturing women: it has been demonstrated repeatedly; when women and girls prosper, everyone is better off. We must cherish and encourage our daughters, just as we do our sons; value girls and boys equally; lovingly accept our queer and trans citizens, as we do our cis-gendered population. Systemic racism must be dismantled and wealth redistributed. Balance must be restored: otherwise, we become extinct.
It matters not to the planet; it does not require humans. Indeed, Earth will be better off without us.