How To Hold a Beltane Bonfire Rite (Group Ceremony)

How To Hold a Beltane Bonfire Rite (Group Ceremony)

The tradition of the Beltane bonfire goes back hundreds of years ago, and is still celebrated today in many places.

The Beltane bonfire is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. The fire was more than a big pile of logs and some flame. It was a place where the entire community gathered around — a place of music and magic and dancing and lovemaking. It was customary to light the fire on May Eve (the last night of April) and allow it to burn until the sun went down on May 1. The bonfire was lit with a bundle made from nine different types of wood and wrapped with colorful ribbons. Once the fire was blazing, a piece of smoldering wood was taken to each home in the village, to ensure fertility throughout the summer months.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. This was typically the time of year when fairs and markets were held, and as most country villages had a common or a green of some sort, there was always room for merriment. Depending on where you live, you might not have enough space for a big bonfire or dancing — and that’s okay. Just make do with what you have. An alternative to a large bonfire might be a small fire bowl (they’re usually available at discount stores and home improvement chains) or even a tabletop brazier. If you’re in an apartment and space is at a premium, consider building your fire in a small cauldron or other heat resistant bowl.
  2. Beltane is the spring counterpart to Samhain. While in the autumn, everything is dying, in spring it comes alive, glorious and bursting free from the earth. Beltane is about fertility and sex and passion and life. This ceremony is designed for a group, and includes a symbolic union of the May Queen and the King of the Forest. Depending on the relationship between the people playing these roles, you can get as lusty as you like. If you’re doing a family-oriented Beltane celebration, you may choose instead to keep things fairly tame.
  3. For this ritual you’ll need the following:
    • A bonfire — set it up ahead of time, and designate someone to be in charge of lighting and tending it
    • A May Queen — if possible, select a woman to play this part who is still within her childbearing years
    • A King of the Forest — any adult man can play this role, but it’s even better if he’s someone who is actually partnered with the woman playing the May Queen
    • Drums and other noisemakers
    • Optional: a crown of flowers for each of the females present
    • Optional: a headdress of antlers for each of the males present

     

  4. First, have the group circle around the fire, with the May Queen and the King of the Forest on opposite sides. The High Priest (HP) or High Priestess (HPs) should welcome everyone with something like this:Beltane is here! It is a time when the earth is fertile and full.
    Long ago, our ancestors planted their fields at Beltane.
    The fields that lay fallow for months are now warm and waiting.
    The soil that was dormant for the winter now begs us to plant our seeds.
    The earth is awakening and ripe, and this is a season of love and passion.
    It is a season of fire.
     
  5. At this point, the fire starter should begin lighting the bonfire. The HP or HPS continues:As our fires grow, lighting up the night sky, the fire within us grows stronger.
    It is the fire of lust and passion, knowing that like the earth, we too are fertile.
    Tonight, the God emerges from the forest. He is known by many names —
    he is Pan, Herne, Cernunnos, the Green Man. He is the God of the Forest.
    Tonight is the night he will chase and capture the maiden.
    She is the Queen of the May, Aphrodite, Venus, Cerridwen.
    She is the Goddess of fields and flowers, she is Mother Earth herself.
     
  6. As the HP introduces the God of the Forest and the May Queen, they should each step forward into the circle. The HP says: Bring fertility to the land! Let the hunt begin! 
  7. At this point, the May Queen and the God of the Forest begin the chase, traveling sunwise around the circle, weaving in and out of the other participants. Remember, the May Queen wants to make love to the God of the Forest. This is a fun chase, a joyful courtship, not a mock rape; make sure both parties understand this and prepare accordingly. She can even allow him to get close to her, pretending she’s ready to join him… and then slipping away at the last second. They should travel the circle three times in the chase, and finally stop at a point in front of the bonfire — hopefully, it will be burning well by now.
  8. While the God of the Forest is pursuing his lady love, everyone else in the circle starts drumming. Start of slowly — after all, a courtship can take some time to get started. As the couple begins to speed up, increase the tempo of the music. If you’d like to chant instead of or in addition to drumming, go ahead. There are many popular traditional chants in Wicca and Paganism, and nearly all sound good when you sing them with a group. When the May Queen and the God of the Forest finally complete their three-times journey of the circle, the drums should stop abruptly.
  9. The HP says:Fire and passion, love and life, brought together as one. 

    At this point, the May Queen says to the God of the Forest:

    I am the earth, the womb of all creation.
    Within me, new life grows each year.
    Water is my blood, air my breath, and fire is my spirit.
    I give you honor, and shall create new life with you.
     

    The God of the Forest replies to her, saying:

    I am the rutting stag, the seed, the energy of life.
    I am the mighty oak that grows in the forest.
    I give you honor, and shall create new life with you.
     

  10. The couple kisses, long and passionate. If they’re feeling really lusty, they can fall to the ground and roll around for a while — feel free to cover them with a blanket if you like. This kiss (or more) is the symbolic union of the male and female spirit, the great rite between man and woman. Once the embrace is broken, the HP calls out:The earth is once more growing new life within! We shall be blessed with abundance this year! 
  11. Everyone else in the circle claps and cheers — after all, you’ve just guaranteed that your village will have hearty crops and strong livestock this year! Celebrate by dancing around the bonfire, drumming and singing. When you are ready, end the ritual.

Tips:

  1. * Note: if you have a woman in your group who is trying to conceive, she is absolutely the best choice for the role of May Queen. Her partner or lover may act the part of the God of the Forest, or another man may stand in as a symbolic consort.

What You Need

  • A bonfire
  • A couple willing to play the parts of May Queen and God of the Forest
  • Drums and noisemakers

Beltane Prayers

 

Am Beannachadh Bealltain (The Beltane Blessing)

 

In the Carmina Gadelica, folklorist Alexander Carmichael shared with readers hundreds of poems and prayers that he had collected from residents in various areas of Scotland. There is a lovely prayer in the Gaelic entitled simply Am Beannachadh Bealltain (The Beltane Blessing), which pays tribute to the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This is a much shorter version, and has been adapted for a Pagan-friendly format.

Bless, O threefold true and bountiful,
Myself, my spouse, my children.
Bless everything within my dwelling and in my possession,
Bless the kine and crops, the flocks and corn,
From Samhain Eve to Beltane Eve,
With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
From sea to sea, and every river mouth,
From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.

Be the Maiden, Mother, and Crone,
Taking possession of all to me belonging.
Be the Horned God, the Wild Spirit of the Forest,
Protecting me in truth and honor.
Satisfy my soul and shield my loved ones,
Blessing every thing and every one,
All my land and my surroundings.
Great gods who create and bring life to all, I ask for your blessings on this day of fire.

 

 

A Prayer to Cernunnos:

God of the green,
Lord of the forest,
I offer you my sacrifice.
I ask you for your blessing.

You are the man in the trees,
the green man of the woods,
who brings life to the dawning spring.
You are the deer in rut,
mighty Horned One,
who roams the autumn woods,
the hunter circling round the oak,
the antlers of the wild stag,
and the lifeblood that spills upon
the ground each season.

God of the green,
Lord of the forest,
I offer you my sacrifice.
I ask you for your blessing.

A Thanks to the Earth Mother

Great earth mother!
We give you praise today
and ask for your blessing upon us.
As seeds spring forth
and grass grows green
and winds blow gently
and the rivers flow
and the sun shines down
upon our land,
we offer thanks to you for your blessings
and your gifts of life each spring.

 

Honoring the May Queen

Make an offering of a floral crown, or a libation of honey and milk, to the Queen of the May during your Beltane prayers.

The leaves are budding across the land
on the ash and oak and hawthorn trees.
Magic rises around us in the forest
and the hedges are filled with laughter and love.
Dear lady, we offer you a gift,
a gathering of flowers picked by our hands,
woven into the circle of endless life.
The bright colors of nature herself
blend together to honor you,
Queen of spring,
as we give you honor this day.
Spring is here and the land is fertile,
ready to offer up gifts in your name.
we pay you tribute, our lady,
daughter of the Fae,
and ask your blessing this Beltane.

Calendar of the Sun for Tuesday, May 1

Calendar of the Sun
1 Thrimilchimonath

BELTANE

Color: Green
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a green cloth lay flowers, leafy branches, a great bowl of May wine, the figure of the Green Man and the May Queen, green candles, incense of flowers, and pots of herbs.
Offerings: If possible, ritual sex, alone or with others, should be offered up after the ritual. Otherwise, work in the garden among the green things.
Daily Meal: A great feast of fine food.

Ritual Note: Like all the eight high holidays, this day should ideally be spent not enclosed and isolated, but in common with the larger pagan community. This can be done a number of ways, including spending the day elsewhere, at the Beltane ritual of another group or tradition, or by inviting in those pagans who would otherwise not be able to attend a ritual. Either way, the eight holidays should be a time of remembering the place of the house in the greater community. If the choice is made to go elsewhere, then no liturgy is needed for the day. If the choice is made to bring the greater community into the lesser one, the following ritual can be used:

(First four who have been chosen to do the work of the ritual cast the quarters with ribbons or fan, candle, chalice, and salt. They should be dressed as dragons in the four colors of the quarters, masked and winged.)

East Dragon:
Spirits of the East, Powers of Air!
Laughing sylphs that ride the winds,
Faery dancers laughing on the breeze,
Pixies in the morning’s meadow,
Sprites that fly on gossamer wings!
Devas of the Realms of Air,
Be with us!
We come before you with open eyes,
Glorying in the rising sun of spring!
Let this day be a new beginning for all of us!

South Dragon:
Spirits of the South, Powers of Fire!
Flaming phoenix of rebirth,
Salamander walking unharmed through flames,
Dragon sleeping on riches and breathing fire,
Faery horses striking sparks from your hooves!
Devas of the Realms of Fire,
Be with us!
We come before you with open spirits,
Glorying in our freedom from the winter!
Let this day create our future anew!

West Dragon:
Spirits of the West, Powers of Water!
Naiads of the flowing rivers,
Undines of the oceans deep,
Mermaids singing siren’s songs,
Tritons swimming with the dolphins!
Devas of the Realms of Water,
Be with us!
We come before you with open hearts,
Glorying in the circle of community that heals us!
Let this day teach us that we are never alone!

North Dragon:
Spirits of the North, Powers of Earth!
Dryads who safeguard the great trees,
Gnomes who mine the depths underground,
Elves of the forests walking silent trails,
Deep faeries of the hidden caves!
Devas of the Realms of Earth,
Be with us!
We come before you to be at home in our bodies
And glory in the solid truth of our flesh!
Let this day teach us that we are Earth,
And Earth is sacred,
And we are sacred.

All Chant:
Blessed be the Guardians of the world.
Blessed be the Guardians of the world.
Blessed be the East at dawn.
Blessed be the South in fire.
Blessed be the West waters.
Blessed be the Northern earth,
Homeland of our Lady and Lord.
Blessed be the Guardians of the world
For they stand on a barren plain,
Watching, watching all that goes round.
Blessed be the Guardians of the world.

East Dragon:
I am the wisdom of the wind that whispers in your ears.
I am all that knows the secrets of the universe.
I am awakening the earth with my touch.
Now ice and snow have faded away
And we greet the oncoming summer.
Yet we must remember,
Even as we lift our arms to the sky,
That the future is uncertain.
So let this moment stand in our minds
As one perfect memory to be cherished.

South Dragon:
I am the wisdom of the fire that burns in your souls!
I am all that wills manifestation into existence!
I ama awakening the earth with my warmth!
Hear me, O people gathered here today!
Your ancestors burned in fires
Because they would not forswear us!
Your ancestors hid in the dark
And worshiped us in secret.
Your ancestors turned to other faiths
To save their lives and their children
And forgot us, but we never left them!
Will you take up what they lay down?
Will you bring into the open what they hid?
Will you celebrate what they died for?
(All shout, “We will!”)

West Dragon:
I am the wisdom of your blood that flows in your veins.
I am all that dares to love.
I am awakening the silent earth with my gentle rains.
We water you with our joy
We water you with our tears
We nourish you with the hope
Of more than three thousand years.
May we all remember the fountain of ancient wisdom,
May we all come to drink at its waters.
(Pours May wine as libation.)

Earth Dragon:
I am the wisdom of the Earth, which lies hidden.
I am all that knows when to be silent.
I have awakened, and I give thanks for this day.
Receive this sign, this perfect flower,
Token given of this hour,
Though its petals fade and wither,
What we worship lasts forever.
(Lays flowers on altar.)
Officiant:
As withies are yellow the willow shall bring
Gold for the Earth-maiden and for her green king:
A sheaf and a crown and a pledge-bearing ring,
For this is the song that the willow doth sing:
O golden the sun that shall turn him to green,
And golden his fires that burn for his queen,
Green are his branches that wave o’er the twain
Till we weave them a cradle of green leaves and rain.
All chant:
This is the circle of the sun,
This is the circle of the earth,
This is the circle of his flame,
This is the circle of her love,
This is the circle of our faith,
This is the circle that welcomes them in.
Officiant (call and response):
By seeds of all beginnings, may our magic spring skyward.
By roots of all depths, may we stand strong in our convictions.
By stem and trunk that reaches for the sky, may our spirits soar.
By bud that grows, may our dreams never be crushed.
By leaf that kisses the Sun and rain, may we share our joys and sorrows.
By flower that opens to the dawn, may we learn to trust in each other and in the Gods.
By fruit that gives forth sweetness, may we nourish each other.
By seed within the fruit that grows the tree anew,
We shall live, and live again each Spring,
By life and death, by Lord and Lady, by hand and eye, by heart and spirit,
As all green things grow, so shall our faith,
And its memory be carried forever beneath the feet
Of a thousand generations to come.
For the Green Man in all his glory, blessings and praise!
For the May Queen in all her beauty, blessings and praise!
For the new grass beneath our feet, blessings and praise!
For new baby animals, blessings and praise!
For the birds returned from the south, blessings and praise!
For the heat of the Sun, blessings and praise!
For the Lady’s hawthorn, blessings and praise!
For the wisdom of the ancients, blessings and praise!
For fertility of the fields, blessings and praise!

(All may join in with other calls, to which all reply, “Blessings and praise!” Then the rite is ended, the quarters dismissed, and all retire.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Beltane – Celebrating the Goddess Flora of Springtime and the May Queen

Beltane – Celebrating the Goddess Flora of Springtime and the May Queen
In the month of May, Spring is in full bloom and at its height. The flowers are a beautiful palette of vivid colors blossoming everywhere and the trees are abundant in their greenery. The Earth feels fully alive and vibrantly awake after the deep, long, grey slumber of Winter. Birds sing messages of joy and hope as the sun rises each morning and a new day begins to unfold. Life is flowering and lush.
The Roman Springtime Goddess Flora, the Goddess of Spring and Flowers, puts on her floral rainbow dress and her crown of flowers. She dances under the blue skies and greets the sun as the May Queen.

May 1 begins with the pagan sabbat Beltane. This day celebrates love, fertility, sensuality, sexuality, abundance, beauty, growth, awakening, and all the signs that summer is coming as the days grow lighter and warmer. To honor and celebrate the Goddess of Springtime Flora, the Queen of May and her within your self there are many simple ways to do this during Beltane and the beautiful month of May.

Some ideas are:
*Create a crown of flowers from wild flowers outdoors or from your garden and crown yourself the May Queen. Celebrate yourself as the Queen of Spring.

*Spend time walking in nature connecting to the beauty of Springs full abundance. Go to your local park, garden, or take a hike.

*If you have a garden this is a great time to spend connecting with your plants and flowers as well as blessing you garden on Beltane.

*Pick some flowers and make a May Basket from paper in the shape of a cone to place them in. Give this as a gift to someone you love or decorate your home with it bringing Springtime indoors with the lovely scent of flowers.

*Decorate your home with flowers and greens inside and out.

*If you are an artist take your sketchbook or paint outdoors and draw and paint the flowers and trees blossoming around you. Capture the beauty of the Goddess on paper.

*If you like to write take your journal outdoors and write about your experience in the beautiful Spring weather or write a poem that honors the season and the Goddess Flora and May Queen.

*Dress up in many bright Spring colors as Flora the Spring Goddess and May Queen. Feel your own beauty within manifested in your dress. Celebrate the beauty and sensuality of yourself.

*Think of ways to connect to the sensuality of the Spring season through all your senses-smell, taste, sight, touch, and sound.

*Enjoy your own sensuality and sexuality with yourself or a lover. Honor your body as the Goddess and Queen.

*Have a Spring picnic outdoors. Bring a blanket, picnic basket, and sit on the grass. Make it a May Feast to celebrate the Goddess and Queen within yourself. Invite others and have a Beltane celebration. Buy local Spring foods to share such as berries and honey.

*Contemplate what ways you would like to blossom full this Spring from now until the Summer Solstice and the sabbat Litha. What would you like to grow and bloom more?

*Think of ways to nurture and be self loving everyday in the month of May. Allow new habits to grow and flourish as you treat yourself like the May Queen and Goddess Flora of Springtime.

*Create a ritual to honor the Goddess Flora and connect to beauty, love, sensuality, growth and the abundance of Spring.

Beltane Rituals

 

Beltane Rituals
by Freya
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The name Beltane implies “fire of bel” and is also known as May Eve, and May Day. It signifies the height of Spring and the sensuality of life. This date has been considered one of the power points of the Zodiac, and is symbolized by the “Tetramorph” figures featured on Tarot cards (Tetramorph means Four Elements) Astrologers know these figures as the symbols of the four signs of the Zodiac – Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius – which align with the four Great Sabbats of the Craft. Beltane is also one of the three spirit-nights of the year when the faeries can be seen. To welcome the magick of the Faeries into your home on this Sabbat try my Beltane aromatherapy blend;

3 drops Rose EO
3 drops Vanilla EO
3 drops Honeysuckle EO

Burn in diffuser or aroma lamp and feel the magick unfold : )

Beltane celebrations traditionally begin with the lighting of Beltane bonfires at moon-rise on May Day eve to light the way for Summer. A ritual in form of the Maypole dance is performed, representing the unity between the Goddess, manifesting as the May Queen and Flora ( Ribbons), and the God ( Pole).

 
As a festival of passion, Beltane represents one of the two greatest Sabbats in the Pagan wheel of the year, second only to Samhain, which lies directly opposite it on the Wheel.
In Germany, Beltane is also known as Walpurgis Night, which means “Night of the Witches.” With the take–over of Christianity, the life-affirming Maypole, became the death- affirming cross. Thus, in the Christian calendar, this was celebrated as ‘Roodma,’ which is an archaic English word meaning “Mass of the Cross”.
 
Traditional Symbols for Beltane include;
Maypole
Ribbons
May Fires
Cherries
Strawberries
Cakes and Wine
Beads
Colors, Herbs, and Flowers symbolic for Beltane include;
Pink
Blue
Yellow
All Greens
Honeysuckle
St.John’s Wort
Mugwort
Almond
Daisy
Marigold
 
Traditional incense include;
Frankincense
Rose
Mint

Beltane Cakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter (unsalted)
1 egg
1 cup mashed peaches
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
cinnamon to taste
Mix flour, baking powder, and brown sugar together, cut butter into mixture , add egg and peaches, add some cinnamon to taste. Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 F for about 15 – 17 min.

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About The Author: Freya is ordained High Priestess in the Order of The White Moon, Founder of the school and circle of Sisters In Freya’s Moon, Reiki Teacher, Celtic Shaman Practitioner and have a doctorate degree in Naturology with diplomas and certificates in related fields http://www.sistersinfreyasmoon.com

Secret Visions from the Flame

Secret Visions from the Flame

by Andy

 

The old witch added a whitish powder to the fire and waited as the flames grew strangely green. “I see forms taking shape… visions… A tree! No, it is a wheel! A wagon wheel, on a wagon with horses!” She turned back to her guest and asked in a knowing voice: “Are ye planning a journey, perhaps?”

For as long as there has been fire, people have seen visions in it. Shamans would see visions of a good hunt in the campfire and then use its ashes to paint the visions on the cave walls to bring them about. Perhaps the oldest form of divination, fire scrying is one of the most primal (and beautiful) methods a witch has for “seeing the unseen”. It is not an easy form, to be sure, but it can produce clearer results than any other method if done well.

Basically you look into a fire and see the shapes there. Take the seeds of images that the fire gives you and apply all the visualization skills you ever learned to get a coherent vision out. If you are not a good visualizer, this method is not for you. Then you have to figure out what the vision means. Yes, you saw a wolf chasing down a cloud and eating it, but you were wondering if you should take that class at the community college. Finding an appropriate meaning is often the really hard part.

Those searching for visions should find a dark, quiet, and open area. Cast a circle to set up the ritual space. Then invoke the flames, lighting the scrying bowl at the end of the invocation. Detailed instructions on preparing and lighting the scrying bowl are in the side article. How you invoke depends on your relations to fire. Keep it simple if you are not a fire person, go all out if you are a closet pyromaniac.

I like to take a long candle (or long lighter), light it, and draw three invoking pentacles in the air with the flame. The chant of “Fire, Fire, Flames Grow Higher!” punctuates each pentacle, one word per point. Then I bring the fire to the center in front of me and say: “From the fires of the stars, to the fires of our souls, Fire be with us. As you burn in the sun, giving us all light and life, burn for us here and now. Burn through the veil that separates the worlds and let us see that which is unseen.” Then I focus my mind on what I want to know and light the bowl with the fire.

Use as little light as possible while casting and invoking. That will help set the mood and will make it easier to see the flames. Any colors you may see will be enhanced by the darkness. Fire is finicky. If the invoking flame keeps going out or the bowl just will not light, don’t force it. Let it go and try again some other time. You don’t want to see the visions that come from unwilling flames coerced into life with the repeated application of flammable liquids and mechanical aids.

Sit comfortably and stare into the fire. Watch the flames and see what shapes they make. Open and shut your eyes repeatedly. Try to make out the pattern the fire leaves behind your eyes. At first your mind will say it is just the shape of the fire, but put that aside. Picture the shape that it is most like. See the form it takes. This is not easy. It is the same process you use to see the shapes in the clouds (something we, here in Seattle, have a lot of experience with). When you get a vague image, go with it. Let the shapes change as your vision focuses. Open your eyes again and get a new form to help the vision continue to grow. Shapes can change and the vision can move. Just let the flames shape the images they will. With practice, you will move from an image to a movie in your mind.

For instance, I just did a bit of test scrying into the candles I’ve lit to write this by. I saw the flame which made a circle in my mind. Rays came out of the center of the circle and turned into clock hands. The circle turned into a clock face. As I realized what it was, the hands started turning backwards. It probably means I should have started writing this article earlier or something….

After you have your visions, thank the now departed fire, open the circle, and try to make sense of what you have seen. Think about what you saw and ask what it means to you. In my sample, I had a clock moving backwards. Clocks mean time to me. Backwards brings to mind the past or a while ago. Since what I wanted was something for my article, it probably meant I should have started writing this earlier. Or maybe I should rewrite what I did a while ago. Another interpretation occurs to me, the hands were going counterclockwise, or Widdershins. Anyway, that was my vision. I could go for another one for clarification, but that could also just confuse things more.

With practice, anyone can see the visions in the flames. It is interpreting the visions that separates the oracles from the players – with – entrails. Just as anyone with a book can do a tarot reading, it takes skill and work to figure out what it means. I find most symbols to be too personal to give a general meaning list. If you are doing a reading for yourself, whatever you think the symbols mean is probably what they mean. If you are reading for someone else talk to them and ask lots of questions. If they don’t know, suggest what you think, but their meanings are probably the best. If you have trouble coming up with meanings, a book on interpreting dreams will have most of the common symbols and their meanings listed.

The final thing you need is honesty with your vision. Many “life is a bowl of crystals” tarot readers often reinvert inverted tarot cards because “there are no bad things, just challenges.” This neuters the readings. Life has bad things in it, to believe otherwise denies the Dark Goddess. Sometimes you have to eat your own young, figuratively speaking, and it is not pleasant. If you see your yourself being burned at the stake, go with it. Mentally forcing it to be you, as May Queen, being tied to a maypole will invalidate the vision. Not everything you see will be happy. That is why Cassandra, the ancient Greek prophet, considered her visions a curse.

Puzzled, for she wasn’t planning a journey, the woman went home. The next day, at the supermarket, she hit another car in the parking lot. It was a Jeep Wagoneer. “Damned visions! Always right but never right enough!”, she muttered as looked about, hoping no one had seen her.