2. The Song of Thule
All were gathered for the feast. The picnic tables now formed a big horseshoe, with a long one set on a line at its base. At the latter sat Gavin and the rest of the clan who lived on the farm, joined by a few special visitors, making about two dozen people; there were almost two hundred more at the tables in the horseshoe. In appearance they could have passed for a party of average Americans, except for two striking differences: they were all white, and most of the women and older girls wore dresses, with skirts ranging from knee- to ankle-length. And in the meadow flew a flag atop what had been used as a Maypole two days earlier; it had stars but no stripes, and in its center was a curious sigil. They called it the flag of Thule.
The last victuals were brought to the tables, and the servers seated themselves among their kin. The buzz of conversation took on an expectant hum, until at exactly one o'clock a man at Gavin's table stood up and raised his hands. All fell silent and focused their attention on him. His name was Flash, the elder of the resident clan, though he was a youthful 54.
Someone said merrily, "Hit it, Flash!", and with a twinkle in his eye he chanted HELIOS, drawing it out in a long operatic crescendo with a hand raised to the Sun. Diana also rose, and Flash gestured to her at the conclusion of his chant. In a hauntingly beautiful voice she sang her name, which is that of the Greeks for the Moon.
At the top of the horseshoe on the opposite side of the array of tables sat Eric and Saxon and their closest friends and kindred. Here arose a man and woman; in a resonating bass he chanted WOTAN, and the woman followed with FREYA. Eric stood up next and in a chant that was more of a war-cry he intoned: OM NAMAH SHIVAJAYA! He gestured across to Gavin's table where a man named Ted stood up and chanted VANDE VISHNU. Then many voices in unison chanted Hail the Gods of THULEEEEEEEEEY!
A number of people stood up at tables all around the array; this was an a cappella chorus who began singing a song:
Thule, Thule, past the farthest star.
Thule, Thule, show us what we are.
Thule, Thule, stardust in our brain.
Thule, Thule ~ when the world ends, we remain.
Before the dawn of mind on Earth
Came ships of light across the abyss
They took on flesh and gave us birth,
And raised us up and made us wish
We morphed and changed, and grew in worth
With the Father's hand and Mother's kiss
They wanted us to be gods like them
With lucid skin and golden hair,
And hold the cosmos in our ken,
And climb up evolution's stair
But even the best-laid plans of gods
Can go astray, with mortal will
And human weakness in the cards.
We lost our perch, and are falling still;
All that's left are shards
Of Thule. . .
And these will soon be ground up in the mill.
Now at the end we have one last chance
To redeem the sacred spark inside us,
And save the race for another dance
Before eternal night shall hide us.
We've shrunk so small that we must call
Upon the gods to save us.
Let them come right now to hear our vow,
As we ask for heavy favors.
Father, Mother, Son, and Daughter,
Listen to our plea...
Here there arose Saxon and the man sitting next to her, who looked to be about her age. He chanted: DEVA PA, and she followed with: DEVI MA. They gestured to the opposite side where Gavin and Gwendolyn stood up. He chanted RAMAR, and drew it out so long with such resonance that many people almost swooned in the states of spiritual bliss that it evoked. When the last
vibration died away Gwendolyn chanted in a lovely but less transcendent voice: SAVITRI.
And then the whole assemblage chanted in imperfect unison but resounding voice: And RAMASAVITUR, all in one... At this point the chorus picked up again and sang the last stanza:
For once and future Thule
We will fight on till the light is won,
Or till we are buried truly!
So send your light and send your might,
And send the ships of Thule.
The end of the song reverberated in a deep well of silence. There were heard some sighs, a few sobs, and a soft OOOOOMMMM from many souls in a lingering state of spiritual rapture. All were awash in the light of the Sun directly overhead... but then some of the people realized that although the Sun was at his zenith, his arc did not reach the very top of the sky. They looked about and saw a second Sun, which was the real one, and then grasped that the disk at midheaven was something other. Its radiance grew more brilliant, until all the people and objects on the ground became stark flat silhouettes bathed in pure white light.
The souls began to awaken out of the illusion of their separate identity into the startling reality that there was only one being present, a single organism that began to materialize into a giant humanoid shape that reached up its hand to the luminous disk. Its finger was touched by a ray of the light, which filled it with exultation. Then the form of the spirit-being began to fade and shrink back into its human components. The first thing they saw as their separate selves was the disk whirling around in a widening spiral, until it suddenly shot straight up and was gone.
The silence was broken by shouts of joy: "Huzzah!" "Hail Thule!" "Praise the Gods!" "That was a good one!" And a woman named Mindy at Gavin's table exclaimed: "Holy sha-MO-ly!" A few people laughed, and the spell was broken.
"My God, was that a UFO?" said Gwendolyn's father, whose name was Dunstan.
"Nope," said Gavin, "we identified it pretty thoroughly awhile back."
"What? You mean it's appeared before?"
"Happens every time," said Flash, "at least when the ritual's good."
Another newcomer at the table was a woman named Nasreen, who said: "But it was a flying saucer?" People nodded, and she asked, "So who's in it, or driving it? Space aliens?"
"We call them Überterrestrials," said Gavin. And for the nonce, that's all that was said.