When the worst of winter is behind us, we celebrate Somonath at all the king’s villas. At Goodmanham, the queen allows me to join in gathering the first four sods of soil during the night. The maids and I soak them in oil and honey before adding meal and baking fist-sized cakes. The next night we place the cakes under the first furrows in the field while we chant: Field full of food for mankind, bright-blooming, you are blessed in the name of the gods who made the ground, grant us the gift of growing, that for us each grain might come to use. The farmers begin planting our new crops, and by April, when we go to the king’s villa on the River Derwent, shoots are coming up.
King Edwin brings us here every year to celebrate Goddess Eostre. Queen Ethelberga says her child will come soon, and we shouldn’t jostle it, but much as my uncle anticipates the birth of his new son, he orders our journey here.
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