Purifying Shepherds

Smoke from burning

 droplets of blood from the tail 
 of last October’s sacrificed horse,
 ashes of the stillborn calves,
 the shells of beans.

 We are sprinkled with water,
 wash our hands
 in spring-water,
 drink milk mixed with must.

 Towards evening after shepherds
 fed their flocks,
 laurel-branches
 are used as brooms
 to clean their stables,
 water sprinkled through them,
 then stables adorned
 with laurel-boughs.

 Shepherds burn sulphur,
 rosemary, fir-wood, and incense,
 usher the smoke through the stables
 and the flocks to purify them.

 cakes, millet, milk,
 and other food
 is offered.

 Hay and straw bonfires lit
 cymbals and flutes play
 as sheep and shepherds
 are run three times
 through the fire.

 At an open air feast 
 we sit or lay
 on turf benches
 and sup a lot.

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