I’m having a sort of crisis of faith not that I believe faith has anything to do with paganism because I don’t but I don’t know what else to call it. When I first came into the community 30 years ago things were a lot less serious but now a great part of the community seems to me to be lacking a sense of humour and has a sort of superiority complex. I follow around 300 blogs most of which are pagan and the majority of them take themselves too damn seriously. Folks you aren’t getting out of this alive so you need to see the lighter side of things.
There is a reason I don’t use the title Rev. before my name in public. I’m entitled to it legally but I don’t use it ever. It’s one more pompous thing to put in someone’s face and quite frankly a lot of people who do use it don’t seem to really have the credentials for it. That and due to some freak of the cosmos I was born into a family without the reverence gene. The only one who had it was my brother and he’s dead now, sometimes I think he got brain cancer from trying to pun like the rest of the family. Life is very funny and funny things happen to pagans constantly so why does no one talk about our deep dark secret? We’re so damn serious.
I know some of you must have a sense of humour, some of you read Terry Pratchett and Jim Butcher. There are funny pagan gods and goddesses like Baubo, and Bes/Bisu, Dionysus, all have funny sides. When was the last time you read about Baubo? No, its’ Hecate, Ares, some of the other stalwart serious beings.
Life is funny, circle can be funny. Ever had the cat catch his tail on fire in the South candle and seen a bunch priestess chase the cat? I have? Ever been in a public circle where East was called at all four corners. I have. Ever seen the priestess with her robe caught in her underwear after she exited the bathroom too quickly? I have. Ever sang the wrong words to a chant in a public circle? I’ve done it but I firmly say it was Scott’s fault. He was singing the bastardized words in my ear but it was still funny. Ever been to a circle where some priestess has dubbed herself the next Isadora Duncan and the interpretive dance portion is just plain silly? I have.
I know I can’t be the only one seeing and doing these things and finding life funny.
Mirth and reverence (but not Reverend) people. It’s right there in the Charge of the Goddess. It’s time more of us remember that.
BunniHoTep and Hathor’s Mirror
Ammit was having a really bad day. Her job was to eat the hearts that were rejected by Ma’at. These were very bad people who had not lived well. People whose hearts weighed more than a feather on Ma’at’s scales. These were people that had no good in them or very little at all. People who willingly chose to do bad things.
Most days Ammit stood by the scales and did not have to eat a single heart for most people in the world are good and choose not to hurt other beings. And Ammit was glad. She would much rather eat something that did not taste as bad as a bad person’s heart. It takes a very good and kind person to do Ammit’s job. Nobody else could eat all those hearts full of negativity, apathy and just plain evil and still be a good loving being.
Today she had had to eat three people’s hearts. That almost never happened. All of them had said mean things about how ugly she was and that someday she would be just like them. That night after she had finished her day with Ma’at, Ammit slunk back to her small mud temple and didn’t even stop for tea with BunniHoTep like she usually did. She was feeling very ugly and hurt. She had let herself listen to what the people has said to her and the things that they had said her were mean. She lay in her mud wallow and cried. Sometimes she wished there was someone else who could do her job but she knew there was no one else to do it. She had been created to do it.
Ammit the Devourer, the people called her and she had been made to look as scary as possible. She was part crocodile and part hippo and part lion. She had looked in the Nile one morning when it was calm and still and seen herself and vowed never to do it again. She scared herself and if she scared herself what would other people do when they saw her? She had no idea why BunniHoTep would want to be her friend but she was and that made a little pool of comfort in her stomach most of the time but not tonight.
Ammit dug deeper in her mud wallow and saw only darkness around her. She was so sad. She wished she had a nice job to do for the gods and goddesses. She lay there in the quiet mud and wallowed in it.
BunniHoTep sat in her Temple with the tea all made and she’d found some of the nice papyrus roots for Ammit to eat. Ammit said they tasted sweet and washed the bad out of her mouth. BunniHoTep waited and waited and Ammit didn’t come and then BunniHoTep went looking for her in Ammit’s Temple and it was dark and not even the porch light was on and BunniHoTep knew that Ammit had had a really bad day.
BunniHoTep decided to hop up to TempleRow to see how bad it had been. She got halfway down TempleRow before she found anybody to ask. Hathor was standing outside her Temple decorating it for the next festival in a few days with fresh flowers.
“Hi BunniHoTep, how are you this fine evening?” Hathor asked.
“Wondering how Ammit’s day went. She didn’t come to tea and her porch light isn’t lit and her Temple is very dark. That never means anything good.” BunniHoTep answered.
“Oh! You didn’t hear? Ammit had to eat three people’s hearts today. It was awful but then the people were too. Poor Ammit! They said awful things to her.” Hathor said thoughtfully.
“Did anyone say something nice to her after she had to eat the hearts?”
Hathor thought carefully. “No, I hadn’t heard anyone had. I wasn’t there so I really don’t know.
“Uh oh, I bet she is hiding. She feels every bad thing they say to her, you know. Then she goes into her Temple and hides because she thinks everyone feels that way.”
The two goddesses thought for a moment and then BunniHoTep had an idea. “Hathor, is your mirror near by?”
“Always.” Hathor pulled it off the belt she wore around her robe. “Why? Do you think we can help?”
“It shows how you really are on one side and what others think of you on the other, right?”
“Yes, do you think we should show it to Ammit?” asked Hathor.
“I think we should.” replied BunniHoTep.
And the two goddesses hurried down TempleRow to Ammit’s small mud Temple.
“Ammit, are you in there?” They called.
“Yes, go away.” came a small low voice.
“No, Ammit you need to come out of there. You missed your tea and I missed my friend.” BunniHoTep said.
“No, you didn’t. No one misses me.” said Ammit sadly.
“Yes, I do and come out here right now!” BunniHoTep said firmly.
There was a long pause while they could tell Ammit was thinking. “You really want to see me?” She asked.
“Yes, we do and we have something to show you.” said Hathor.
“Hathor? You’re there too?”
“Yes and you need to come out here right now.” she said even more firmly than BunniHoTep had.
There was a sucking sound and Ammit’s crocodile head came out and then the rest of her followed.
“What did you want to show me.” Ammit asked suspiciously.
Hathor took her mirror out from behind her back. “What do you see Ammit.”
Ammit looked cautiously and cowered away. “That’s awful! It’s horrible! Why did you want to show me that when I know how I look.” Ammit collapsed to the ground and started to cry.
“Oh, Ammit! We’re sorry but that is the side that shows how other people think of you like the people whose hearts you ate today. That isn’t really you.” Hathor quickly flipped her mirror around.
“Now look.” She commanded.
Ammit took a cautious peek and then another and then she stared.
“That’s the real me?” She said in wonder. “Honest?” Ammit couldn’t stop starring. “I’m beautiful.”
BunniHoTep patted her friend. “Yes, Ammit, you are. This is the side we see not the side the evil ones see. People who love you usually see you better than you do yourself and Ammit your outside can be scary but your heart isn’t.
Ammit just stared at the mirror. “That’s how you see me?” and her tears began to fall.
Hathor answered this time. “That’s we see you.” and she leaned down to hug Ammit.
“Don’t believe what all those evil people say about you. They’re being evil, that’s why you have to eat their hearts so that they can’t do more evil. Now could we all go have tea and get cleaned up? I have some of your favourite things today.”
Hathor nodded and reached down to help Ammit out of the mud. “Just remember it’s what you look like in the eyes of people who love you and what you know about yourself that counts.” She brushed the mud off her robe and the three walked over to BunniHoTep’s Temple and sat quietly watching the sun set at the end of TempleRow. Ammit smiled for the first time that awful day. It was good to be loved.
Once upon a time there lived a witch in a town known as Heart Town. The witch had moved here because she was lonely and wanted someone to love her. She had gotten in a lot of trouble over that. People in Heart Town were people made of clear crystal who had beautiful ribbons tied around their red crystal hearts. These ribbons were all different colours, a different colour for each person that loved them.
The witch had gotten into a lot of trouble because she had tried to hold onto the ribbons so she could be sure of who loved her and the whole town had gotten all tangled up and some had fallen and gotten cracks in their bodies. The town’s people were all made of crystal so that everyone could see their hearts and no one had ever even gotten a scratch before the witch had arrived in town. Some of the people still hadn’t gotten over that. It just wasn’t what they were used to but the poor lonely witch had another problem now. She wouldn’t tell anyone her name and people were starting to avoid her again. This had made her sad again.
Names are important things. When you have someone’s name you could call it and get someone’s attention or ask them to do something. The witch didn’t want anyone making her do something she didn’t want to do so she wouldn’t tell anyone her name. The witch didn’t understand the power of two different words, “yes” and “no”. She was convinced if some one asked her to do something and they knew her name they could make her do it. This was a town of very nice and polite people who would never make anyone do anything they didn’t want to do but the lonely witch wasn’t good at helping and she wasn’t very good at even trying that was why she was the lonely witch after all. Besides that she really hated her name. Her name was Penelope Faery Rainbows. That was just not a good witch name. She thought a good witch name was something like Agatha or Esmeralda or Guisbertha not someone who could be called Penny.
So when she went out she was always addressed as “Miss Witch”. She was getting tired of this but she really wasn’t outgoing enough to tell anyone her real name. She was shy and had a hard time making friends at all. The town’s people had finally had enough of this. They got together again and decided that the Mayor should speak to her again. That’s what worked the last time and they saw no reason to change now. They were a very practical town of people and if it worked once it should work again, right?
So Mr. Mayor went across town to visit the witch. He actually liked visiting the witch because she had a beautiful garden and always had fresh pastries and cookies. The Mayor was very fond of baked goods.
The witch’s house was very strange. It was all higgledy-pigglety. It was full of strange towers and funny shaped windows like moons and stars and had a widow’s walk around the top. It was also painted in many colours. It had a teal tower and a cobalt blue tower next to a turret that was painted emerald green. The porch was painted lavender with white pillars and was covered in pink roses that filled the air with a sweet scent and even though it was all mixed up it all sort of mixed together and was quite pretty.
Mr. Mayor opened the gate on the white picket fence and walked up the garden walk. It was filled with flowers. There were columbines and foxgloves. There were nasturtiums and abutilons. There were violets and lavender and sage and marigolds and pansies. The whole garden was filled with colour and around the edges she had planted pumpkins. There were some of the biggest pumpkins he’d every seen. And as he walked up the walk he had an idea. He wondered if it would work. He walked up to the door and used her doorknocker. It was in the shape of a pumpkin too. She must really like pumpkins.
The witch answered the door wearing her apron. She had been inventing a new cream treacle scone recipe and had flour on her nose and all over the brim of her hat. She wasn’t a bad looking witch. She was round where she should be round and not where she shouldn’t be. She had big blue eyes that twinkled when she wasn’t being shy. “Wouldn’t you like to come in Mr. Mayor?” She asked, “I have some new scones that should go nicely with the raspberry jam I made yesterday or would you rather have lemon curd?” She shooed him into her front room.
The Mayor looked around in wonder. There were always so many things to see here. She had bookcases full of books. She had things made of glass that spun and twinkled and made rainbows all over the room. She had an enormous desk that had a huge open book that he saw had a recipe written on it. She also had the biggest cat he’d ever seen sleeping on a foot stool with one eye half open studying him quietly. Mr. Mayor sat in a big overstuffed chair next to the tea table that had a large steaming tea pot in the shape of a big green cabbage.
“So Mr. Mayor, what brings you over to my house on this bright sunny day?”
“Well,” Mr. Mayor started just a wee bit uneasily, “It’s about not knowing your name and I bet you don’t even know mine, do you?”
The witch looked ashamed. “No, everyone just calls you Mr. Mayor and I’ve never heard anything else.”
“You should be around my wife. She uses it a lot.” Mr. Mayor laughed. “My name is Aloysius Benjamin Honeydew but you can call me Ben. We would like to know your name so we don’t have to keep calling you Miss Witch. People here in this town are very kind and won’t make fun of it no matter what it is.”
The witch was blushing and fidgeting in her chair. “I have a awful name for a witch. My mother had no sense of a proper name for a witch so I never tell people my name. I’m afraid I’ll become my name and it’s just too silly.”
“Surely it can’t be that bad, can it?” asked the Mayor.
“Well, you be the judge, it’s just not a proper witch name. It’s Penelope Fairy Rainbows.”
The Mayor choked back a giggle. He could see that maybe a witch wouldn’t like such a foofy name. “I can see that that might not be a name a proper witch might like or even one you could grow into like Aloysius. Have you tried shortening it?”
“Do you think ‘Penny’ is any better?” the witch asked.
“Maybe not.” The Mayor was thinking quickly. “How about Fay?”
“That isn’t too bad.” The witch thought that wasn’t too awful a name. It didn’t make her cringe like her real name in fact that just might work. “Miss Fay? That isn’t too bad but how do I let people know nicely what my name is? I’ve been here almost a year and it seems kind of late and embarrassing to spring it on people now.”
“I have an idea.” said the Mayor. “Why don’t you have a party and invite people to your garden and you could share some of your wonderful pastries and have tea. You could send out invitations and just put your name on them and that way you don’t have to walk up and tell everyone your name. We could also put a pretty sign out on your fence that says ‘Welcome to Miss Fay’s Garden’. Would that be all right?”
The witch sat back in her big chair and thought and thought while the Mayor took another scone and heaped lemon curd on it. She wouldn’t have to leave her house except to go to the post office to mail the invitations. She could just stay in her garden and welcome people in but what if they wouldn’t come? She worried.
“What if no one comes?” She asked fretfully.
“Oh, they will come. People are always curious and they know from taking walks that you have a lovely garden from the outside. They will come, trust me.” The Mayor got up to leave and shook the witch’s hand. “It was nice to see you again Miss Fay.”
The witch sat in her chair for a moment. She got up and got her special feather quill and a packet of stationary and sat down at her desk. She dictated the invitation to the quill and let it get busy writing the invitations out. What was the good of being a witch if you couldn’t let something else do some of the work? She went back to baking. She had just thought of a new raspberry cookie recipe that would be good. She might as well use that jam she had just made for cookies for the party. Later that afternoon she mailed the invitations.
She woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and looked out her bedroom window at the sky. It was going to be a beautiful clear day for the party, so far so good.
She had been tidying her garden all week. The gnomes that lived in an oak tree in the back had been helping and she knew the dryads, devas and faeries had been helping too. All the colours of the flowers were perfect and there wasn’t petal out of place. She was going to set up tea in the side garden where she had conjured up some comfortable garden chairs. So much to do and what if no one came?
Three o’clock came and people started to line up at the gate. Their heart ribbons tied in gay bows and their crystal all shiny. The witch relaxed. People had come. She went out to greet them. The Mayor’s family was first in line. “Hi Miss Fay! We’re here!” they cried!
The witch went eagerly to greet them. She shook hands with everyone and remembered most of their names. They all greeted her happily and called her Miss Fay and she didn’t mind the name a bit. The witch learned a lot that day. She learned that if she was nice and friendly people would want to be her friend too. Now if she could bring her self to share the scone and cookie recipe…
Once upon a time there was no way to write things down. There was no way to send a friend a note. No way to write a story down. No way to remember the words to a song. No way to say I am and have anyone remember who you were. The gods and goddesses were concerned about this. How could they let people know how to behave and who to pray to? How could anyone know what each god did? Isis and Osiris got together with the other gods and decided since Thoth always marked on the nice clean Temple walls with charcoal from the fires, he could put those scribbles to good use. So Thoth was elected by the group to find a way to do this. There was only one problem Thoth wasn’t there when they decided this. That’s what happens when you miss a meeting.
The gods also figured if he was god of wisdom and he found a way to do it he would have some way to record it and it would be a good thing all around. They thought Thoth might get annoyed so They sent BunniHoTep to find Thoth to tell him of his new job. Always send the smallest, fastest god when delivering interesting news. BunniHoTep hopped down Temple Row and found Thoth on his back porch staring at a big, blank, white wall with a piece of charcoal in his hand. BunniHotep told Thoth that Isis and the other gods had given him a new and important job; He was to invent writing and then She ducked and waited for the storm. The storm didn’t come and She raised her head. “Aren’t you mad?” She asked. “No”, said Thoth, “I think its what I’ve been waiting for all along.” And He started to mark on the wall. He drew an ibis and said to BunniHoTep, “Here is my name”. “ I think because the Great Cackler created the sun from an egg I will make an egg around all kings and gods names to show they came from the sun and the egg.”
He stood thinking to himself. “The gods are easy to show, a hawk for Horus, a cow for Hathor. This is way too easy.” He continued marking down the walls. He had completely forgotten BunniHoTep in his excitement. He went faster and faster down the wall naming everything he could think of to name. He only stopped when he started to run out of room. Then he got another idea and ran to borrow some ground stone paints some men were using to make enamel jewelry. He mixed them with water and quickly began to fill in the drawings He had made on the wall. The wall began to come alive with the symbols and the colour. Beautiful reds and blues and greens glowed from the wall.
Soon a crowd began to gather. Isis, Nepthys and Hathor brought their folding chairs and sat quietly watching at the birth of this wondrous thing. They wanted badly to ask what everything meant but they didn’t want to disturb his concentration. They sat and watched and waited as the white walls came to life with the colour.
BunniHotep sat in Isis’s lap totally entranced with the rest of the goddesses. But finally she couldn’t keep quiet any longer. “ How do you say we are here?” She asked, breaking the silence. Thoth stopped for the first time in hours and took a deep breath. “Hmmm,” He mused. “ I don’t know.” I have drawn the story of the soul’s journey and I have named us all. I’ve told how to make and offering and what sort to use but I haven’t found a way to say that we exist. But I think I know now.” He lifted an eyebrow at Isis and she nodded back.
Thoth faced the wall again and drew a new character, a small rabbit running. “ In honour of having the courage to speak up and because you had the courage to come tell me about my new job when the others wouldn’t I shall make you the sign that we exist. That we have come into being.”
BunniHoTep smiled shyly from Isis’s lap. “ Thank you” She said very quietly. Thoth went on drawing and painting and they all passed the afternoon in peace watching Thoth and offering suggestions when He asked.
And that was how writing was invented and why we say “Be hare now” when we cast a circle.
Once upon a time Isis, Hathor and BunniHoTep were having tea on the Temple porch. Young Horus was playing on the steps below them while they chatted about events on Temple Row.
BunniHotep happened to look at Horus and was horrified. He was pulling the iridescent wings off the poor scarab beetles that had the misfortune to come within his reach. Isis looked up when BunniHotep gasped and was equally horrified. “No! Horus! No! We do not harm other living beings! How would you like it if someone pulled your wings off!”
Horus, who had been happily playing started to cry. Isis decided it was time for the dreaded No! No! chair and she went into the Temple to go get it. She came back and put it down on the Porch and hauled the godling into the chair. Horus did not like this so when Isis’s back was turned he used his wings to float himself out of her direct sight. Isis looked up and brought him back. This went on three times before Isis lost her temper. She had had it. She thought to herself, “I’m the Goddess of Magic. I will just have to use it to teach him lesson.” She cast a spell to shrink Horus and the chair and put it on her head. “He isn’t going anywhere now! She said to Hathor and BunniHoTep. The goddesse continued with their tea and Horus was stuck and finally calmed down. He decided he really hated the No! No! chair.
And that, my children, is why you see Isis pictured with a throne on her head. It was the only way she could keep track of Horus when he was in the No! No! chair.
Meanwhile BunnHoTep had been healing the poor scarab beetles and decided that as a part of the healing and as an apology they should have an important job. The goddesses made the scarab beetles the rollers of the world through the cosmos. So that the world would always keep turning and the beetles have been doing their job ever since.
Aisling sat on the stone in front of the door. She was exhausted. Her mentor Eithne had had her baby girl last night and it was Aisling’s first time attending a birth. She hadn’t had a big important job like the midwife but it had been her job to hold the energy of a healing space and she was tired. She slumped against the door and wondered if she had the strength to get up and go to breakfast.
All was quiet in the village but she could hear a cow lowing far off. The sun had just crested the hill at the east of the village when she heard steps on the gravel and looked up. It was the woman in green she had met by the stream and Aisling was paralyzed with fear for a moment and then she burst out, “No! You can’t have them I won’t let you!”
Aisling stood up and spread her arms in front of the door and the woman laughed softly. “Bean sidhe don’t only come for death, Aisling, but I appreciate what you are doing.”
She motioned for Aisling to sit back down and sat down beside her. “I see you’ve only heard the stories about how we warn of death.” Aisling nodded still a little frozen.
“Bean Sidhes also come at births to bestow blessings. Indeed we are invited to attend all life’s big occasions. We don’t only come at death. That is just what people talk about.”
Aisling stared at the woman and hoped she could believe her. “You bestow blessings?”
The woman nodded, “Don’t you think every baby deserves a welcoming blessing after their perilous journey into the life?”
Aisling thought about this and about her night. “Yes, being born seems to be hard work.” She thought about how red and tired the baby had been.
“So you come to bless her? What do you bless her with?”
“What do you think would be a good blessing?” the bean sidhe asked Aisling and she looked like she really wanted to know what Aisling thought.
Aisling was quiet for awhile. “I think I’d wish for her to make good choices. To ask for a long life seems not always be a good thing.” She was thinking about an elderly druid who was being cared for in the village. He was very old but he didn’t seem to know what was going on. What was the point of being alive without knowing what was going on?
The bean sidhe smiled at Aisling, “Very wise. Are you thinking of Seamus?”
“Sometimes when you live a long time it isn’t about you anymore. It gives the people who love you a chance to take care of you after you have taken care of them. It’s a chance to give back.”
Aisling thought about this. “Really?”
“Really, at least if you have been a caring and good person maybe not so much if you are too mean to die.” The bean sidhe laughed as she said those words because the both knew Seamus had been a very wonderful teacher and person. The bean sidhe reassured Aisling.
“What else do the bean sidhe do?”
“Well I watch over the village and sometimes if the Chief Druid asks I will tell him what I think but most of the time I watch. That’s how I know when to warn of death coming and to prepare for it.”
“You have to prepare for death?” Aisling asked surprised.
“Didn’t Eithne prepare for the birth of her little girl?” Aisling nodded remembering the months or making things for the coming baby and how her mentor had changed.
“Well, death is a lot like birth and if you are lucky you get to prepare for it and say your goodbyes.”
“Oh” Aisling looked thoughtful. “Like preparing for Autumn and saying goodbye to summer.”
The bean sidhe, laughed, “Yes, a lot like that! So will you come and help me bless the baby?”
Aisling stood up. “Yes, of course. She deserves the best.”
And a very thoughtful Aisling followed her into the cottage.