Chapter 18

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She went on to inform Uriel that the Council decided to allow him to maintain his status as a guest. She did not mention that the vote was four to three in favor. After announcing various stipulations and cautioning him about several additional issues, the High Witch brought up a different subject.

"Before the fifth moon rises we will be celebrating the Khresnhet, our festival of cleansing and growth. We thought you might like to join us. It is not customary to have a man amongst us, however I thought we should include you due to your status as a wizard." At that, Dhynelle delivered an audible snort while the others sat in amazement, though nobody actually contested the High Witch's invitation.

"How long is five moons?" he asked after a hooded look at Dhynelle. "Five days?"

"Witches usually speak in terms of moons, two moons being the equivalent of a day," Arhyvhynne explained. "I am surprised you did not know."

Uriel shrugged. "What happens at this festival, anyway?"

Arhyvhynne became somewhat animated as she explained. It was clear how much she enjoyed the holiday. "Khresnhet promotes an inner cleansing and continued development on the spiritual side. On the physical side, it encourages the cleaning of one's home and nurturing the growth of the crops."

"Our celebration begins at sunrise when all the witches gather in the Sacred Grove. The Council members disrobe the witches one by one at the edge of the pond and confer a blessing of the goddess while they are anointed with special oils. Then the witch enters the pond, crosses the length of it and emerges on the isle where I also bestow a blessing. They partake of a mead which includes argentree leaves and, when all our sisters are on the isle, we weave garlands for our hair and perform ritual dances with branches from the argentree. The celebration ends at moonrise."

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