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BunniHoTep and the Donkey’s Boy

Once upon a time BunniHoTep was sitting on the Temple porch. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and every one was out celebrating the Inundation. The porch was cool and there was a breeze blowing through the pillars that just lightly lifted her fur. BunniHoTep was happy but then she was happy most of the time.

BunniHotep was startled by a noise not very far away. What was a donkey doing braying out in the Temple district? She could hear the braying getting closer and closer and she got up to see what the commotion was all about.

A donkey came running down the avenue with a small boy bouncing on his back. The little boy was having a fine time yelling at the top of his lungs along with the donkey but the donkey didn’t look very happy as he ran.

BunniHotep stepped off the porch in front of the donkey and the donkey skidded to a stop. “What’s all this noise about?” BunniHotep asked the donkey.

“He’s supposed to be studying with his father and instead he’s making me run around the town.” replied the very disgruntled and angry donkey.

The boy was looking curiously at the rabbit goddess and the donkey as they talked. He looked to be about three years old and had a mop of curly dark brown hair that kept flopping in his face. BunniHoTep thought it was about time his mother sheared this sheep. The boy smiled down at her.

“Why aren’t you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?” She asked the boy.

“I’m tired of studying and Donkey didn’t look like he was busy.”

“I was busy resting.” said the donkey. “Your father has me hauling timber all the time. It was my turn to rest, you little monster.” The donkey seemed resigned. It obviously wasn’t the first time this had happened.

“He wants to drive camels and he thinks he can practice on me instead of learning to be a carpenter like his father. He’s supposed to be learning to do his measurement tables.”

“I already know them.” The boy told the donkey.

“How could you? Your father only showed them to you this morning.” The donkey scoffed.

“Enough!” cried BunniHoTep, “Your bickering is hurting my ears. And how can you understand what Donkey says?” BunniHoTep was curious. Human boys didn’t generally understand the speech of animals. The child was clearly no Egyptian godling. He didn’t look Egyptian at all.

“I understand the speech of all animals. I always have. Right, Donkey?”

Donkey nodded with an exasperated look on his face. “We get no privacy in the stable when he’s around. He’s always in our business.”

“Well, it kept you from keeping that stone in your hoof.” The boy retorted.

“Enough,” BunniHoTep said again. “What are you doing over here on Temple Row?”

“My parents say there is only one god and I heard from the animals that Egyptians have many gods and even some goddesses and I wanted to see for myself.”

“Well, now you’ve met one and you can go home.” BunniHoTep said. She didn’t like being the object of scrutiny. She knew some people believed there was only one god but she didn’t know how they could in Egypt when there were so many temples to so many gods but to each their own.”

“You’re a goddess?” the child asked. “You’re a rabbit.”

“Yes, I’m a goddess, my name is BunniHoTep and I’m the Goddess of Finding Lost things and Small Joys.”

“What are small joys?”

“Small Joys are the things that make life worth living like appreciating a sunset and enjoying a flower or listening to friend’s talk.”

“Oh,” said the boy thoughtfully. “Like listening with love.”

“Yes like that. Would you like the see the other temples? Most of the gods and goddesses are out celebrating the Inundation and giving thanks for the earth’s bounty but we can walk around.”

“Okay.” The boy got off Donkey and took BunniHoTep’s paw. “Let’s go.

BunniHotep and the boy walked down the row with Donkey following and BunniHoTep pointed out each temple and told the boy what that god’s job was.

“Your gods work very hard, don’t they?”

“Most times.”BunniHoTep replied. “Would you like to meet one of my good friends?”

“Sure.”

They had walked down to edge of the Nile by Ma’at’s Temple where there was a smaller dwelling. It wasn’t a very big building and it appeared to have a mud wallow in front of it at the edge of the Nile. There were 2 small ears poking out of the mud.

“Ammit! Come meet a new friend.” BunniHoTep called.

The ears started to rise and this incredibly ugly beast started to rise out of the wallow. It looked like it had been put together with spare parts of several animals mostly hippo and crocodile. Ammit had a hesitant look on her face.

“Hello.” She said quietly. Ammit was very shy and knew people were afraid of her but she trusted her friend BunniHotep so she kept coming until she was on solid ground. She stood looking at the boy and BunniHoTep. The boy looked like he was ready to break and run.

BunniHoTep had been wondering if he would run too so she kept a tight grip on his hand. “If you want to know the gods and goddesses of Egypt you have to know even the unpleasant looking and scary ones. Ammit has a very important job. She eats the souls of the wicked. Sometimes even the most ugly and odd looking people do the best things for other people. Ammit is a good soul and a good friend no matter how she looks.”

The boy had stopped pulling and was offering to scratch Ammit’s ears.

“Even the ugly and odd can be good?” he asked.

“Yes, just like sometimes the most beautiful can be bad. Don’t judge by looks, Young man. Even the smallest or ugliest or lowliest can be loving good people.”

The boy was thoughtfully stroking Ammit’s neck and Ammit was almost purring at the unexpected kindness. Most people ran away from her.

“Shall we go have tea in my Temple?” BunniHotep asked. “By the way boy, what’s your name? Calling you boy seems rude.”

“My mom calls me Jesse but my dad says it’s Yeshua. I like Jesse.”

“Well, come on Jesse let’s have tea and then I’ll send you and Donkey home.”

They all walked back to the Temple and had a nice time at tea and when the boy left he was thinking hard.

Tale told at Yule – The Littlest Druid celebrates Winter Solstice

Once upon a time in a place that is now called Ireland and a place we call Newgrange there was a very small Druid, well, she wasn’t a Druid yet but all the adults seemed to think one day she would be one. She wasn’t so sure. She didn’t seem to be good at anything. All she really seemed to be good at right at that moment was getting in trouble. So she sat on the bench outside the Chief Druid’s house and waited to hear how much trouble she was in. She sat kicking her heels on the stones that surrounded the hut. She gave an enormous sigh.

The Chief Druid was sitting inside with one of the littlest Druid’s teachers and they were both shaking their heads and smiling.

. “How much trouble is she in this time?” he asked. “Quite a bit,” replied her teacher.

“She’s managed to make herself unwelcome just about everywhere. She was supposed to be helping in the kitchen and she decided to stick her fingers in all the honeycakes that the cook was making for the feast. The cook sent her to help one of the healers and she somehow managed to break several jars of cough medicine the healer had just brewed. The healer sent her over to the Master Brewer and she decided to assist him with the mead for tomorrow and he ended up having to start all over again since she decided if a little mint was good, a lot was better.”

By now the Chief Druid was desperately trying not to laugh too loud and looked about to burst from holding it in.

“Anything else?” he asked, with the little Druid around he was always afraid there was more.

“Let’s see, she was helping the blacksmith with his bellows and blew ashes all over and he got a cinder in his eye and the blacksmith sat down on a hot nail he had just made. He sent her over to Chief Shepherd and she let the sheep out on the grounds in front of the Temple so she’s been picking up the stuff they left behind.”

The teacher was eyeing the Chief Druid who was now bright red and crying.

“What are we going to do with her? She doesn’t try to make trouble, most of the time she thinks she’s helping. But her help is not the kind of thing most people need especially when everyone is going to be up all night waiting for the Sun’s return. And it isn’t helped by the older students scaring her by telling her it will be her fault if the Sun doesn’t return this year. One of them told her if you make too many mistakes the Sun will get mad and not come back and would bring darkness forever more. That made her try to help even more and it’s just gotten worse and worse and I don’t think the poor thing has slept all through the night in a week.”

“I think it must be my turn then,” the Chief Druid said. “I think I’ll keep her with me tonight in the mound. I think she can’t do much harm there. You might as well call her in”

The Chief Druid motioned at the door and the teacher got up and went to get the littlest Druid. The littlest Druid walked in hanging her head and scuffing her feet on the stone floor. Now she was going to get it. It was all going to be her fault if the Sun didn’t come back. They were going to do something awful to her. They might even send her home and she really didn’t want that. She liked it here. Most of the time the teachers were kind and she loved all the animals and she liked learning the uses of the plants and what the meanings of the stars were but she knew if she stopped the Sun nothing would ever go right again and she was really afraid of what they might do to her.

The Chief Druid looked down at the littlest Druid. She was rather bedraggled looking. She had a smudge across her nose and her tunic and pants were filthy with stains and there were several rips and tears and somehow she had managed to get straw in her hair. She looked so sad. The Chief Druid was trying hard not to smile. He had a soft spot for the littlest ones. They always seemed to grow up to be the kindest of the druids.

“What am I going to do with you, Aisling?”

The Chief Druid asked kindly. The littlest Druid just kept looking at her feet. They seemed to be very interesting to her. It was almost worse that he was being nice to her. She kind of wished he would just yell and get it over with.

“I guess it’s my turn to deal with you.” The Chief Druid said. “So tonight, you are going with me behind the spiraled stone and we will wait for the Sun’s return. I think if you stay with me until sunrise we can make sure the Sun does return, no matter what you’ve done.”

The Chief Druid looked down at Aisling very seriously. “You need to go get cleaned up and meet me at the stone in a candlemark. Do you think you can do that?”

Aisling looked terrified but nodded and ran out the door. She was going to sit with the Chief Druid! If the Sun didn’t come back in the morning every one would know it was her fault and the Chief Druid would know first of all!

She was so scared but she didn’t see anyway to get out of her predicament so she got all cleaned up and went to meet her doom at the Temple of the Spirals.

The Chief Druid was standing with his staff waiting for her. “Now we go inside and wait.”

Someone had lit a small lantern and put a couple of sheep skins down inside the room behind the spiral stone.

“We need to get cozy. We are going to be here quite awhile. Do you think you can stay awake to sunrise? We need to catch sight of the sun’s first rays.”

The littlest Druid was terrified. She knew the Sun would never return. The older boys had said so and they were always right and here she was trapped with the Chief Druid. She was shivering with fear.

“Here, sit down by me and we’ll wait. Wrap up in the sheep skin and I’ll tell you about Elen and the reindeer. Your teacher may drop by in a bit with some tea and you can tell her the story later.”

He wrapped the littlest Druid up in her sheepskin and started to tell her all about Elen of the Ways and how she followed the reindeer. About halfway through his story the teacher came in and joined them in their vigil. She’d brought some chamomile tea and they all sat and sipped slowly and they listened to the Chief Druid’s tale of another Winter Solstice night long, long ago.

The littlest Druid’s eyes kept closing and she’d shake herself awake. She had to see the Sun return, she had to, it was important! But she fell asleep anyway and the Chief Druid and her teacher smiled. The teacher reached over and smoothed the littlest Druid’s hair.

“When she’s like this you’d never know she caused any trouble at all.”

And the two of them laughed quietly and kept the vigil as they did every year. The night passed as the longest of nights eventually does and it was almost time for the first light to enter the stone room.

The Chief Druid gently shook Aisling’s shoulder. “Wake up or you’ll miss it.” He whispered.

The littlest Druid started awake. Oh no! She’d fallen asleep! Now the Sun would never return. It was her final failing. She couldn’t meet the Chief Druid’s eyes as he blew the lantern out.

“Oh! Don’t do that! We’re going to need it. The Sun won’t ever return now. I fell asleep and I promised I wouldn’t.”

The littlest Druid started to sob.

“Hey there, none of that. Why don’t we see if the Sun rises before we start our crying. If it doesn’t rise I promise I’ll cry with you.”

Aisling was so confused. This crazy grownup must not have heard everything that had happened or he wouldn’t have said that.

“Come here with us.”

The Chief Druid commanded as he stood up and waited. And something wonderful began to happen. It was just a spark at first and then a small line and then suddenly the room was full of beautiful orange light. The room positively glowed and then it started to fade away and it was gone for another year.

She’d been wrong. The light had returned even though she had done bad things. It had come anyway. She felt like she could breathe again.

The Chief Druid and her teacher took her hands and led her from the small room. Everyone outside was cheering and hugging each other and blessing each other saying. “Blessings of the Sun’s return!”

Someone handed her a small cup of mead and she looked up at the Chief Druid.

“It came back. The Sun came back even though I did bad things?”

The Chief Druid looked at her. “Why do you think that was?”

The littlest Druid thought a bit. “Because I had nothing to do with it? That the Sun was always going to return anyway and I shouldn’t believe everything I hear.” She said uncertainly.

“All anyone can ever do is try their best and just because you make mistakes the world isn’t going to stop turning and the Sun and the Moon will always stay on their courses. Now I think it’s time for a feast! Who’s hungry?”

And the three of them moved off towards the tables that were full of all kinds of good things to eat and stood watching the new born winter sun shine down on all their friends.

Tales told at Yule – The Littlest Druid and the Reindeer

Aisling sat staring out into the sheep pasture. She’d volunteered to stay behind while almost everyone went over to Si an Bhru’ (Newgrange) to watch the Sun return. She knew that the sun would return after her night with the Chief Druid. Her teacher was due to give birth soon and she was in no condition to walk to the barrow so a few healers and Aisling had volunteered to stay behind and have their own quiet Solstice celebration.

Aisling looked up at the stars. The night was dark and calm. The stars twinkled over head like a million tiny gems and thought of the watch taking place not so very far away. She was going to keep watch this night for all that were left here in the village.

She could hear the soft breathing of her teacher as she slept inside. She could see the candles in the windows of the healer’s cottage down the path. She knew it was very late because all was so still. The sheep were bedded down near their fold. The cattle were in their barn drowsing and it felt like she was the last person left in the world. And so she was the only one who kept watch.

She vowed she would not fall asleep like last year. She was a year older now and not the baby who was always in trouble. She thought of all the interesting things that had happened this year. She put her head on her knees and wrapped the sheepskin tighter around her. It was getting cold and she wondered how much colder it was going to get before morning and whether it was time for a warm drink.

She looked in the direction of the barrow and it seemed like the there was a light coming over the ground from that direction. It lit the way as if someone had drawn a path in light. She had never seen that before and she wondered what or who was causing the lighted path. She wished she could follow the path but her duty was here tonight watching to see is the baby would come.

As she was watching the lighted path deer started to appear and walk confidently down the path and through the village. Aisling watched in awe. She had never seen so many reindeer and never in the village and she wondered where they had come from and where they were going. Following the reindeer was a woman in a dress made of the reindeer’s hides and she wore a cowl with horns from the reindeer. The woman left the herd and walked over to Aisling.

“Blessings to you this Solstice night.” The woman said to Aisling. “Come with me, Aisling.”

“Blessed Solstice to you as well.” replied Aisling, a little startled that the woman had even seen her sitting here in the dark. “Where have you journeyed from and would you like something hot to eat or drink?” Aisling offered.

“I wouldn’t mind a cup of warm cider that is on the hearth.” The woman said.

AIsling suddenly knew that this was not an ordinary meeting if the woman knew what was inside and shivered a little as she got up to get a cup for the woman. She hurried back out and handed the cup to the woman.

“I have come from far and I have farther still to go tonight but thank you for the warmth of the drink.” The woman said and drank slowly from her cup. Aisling watched her shyly and wondered if she could ask what she was doing when the woman spoke.

The woman smiled as she said. “I’m Elen of the Ways and tonight I walk the leys and you need to come with me tonight.”

“The Leys?” asked AIsling.

“Yes,” replied Elen. “The paths on which energy travels easiest on the earth. I walk to connect them so you can use them in your workings.”

Aisling thought a bit. She knew her teachers had said it was easier in some places than others to work magic or create poetry. And she knew that the village had been sited along one of those paths as was the barrow where everyone else in the village was keeping watch.

“Did you just come from the barrows?” Asked Aisling.

“Yes, and the Chief Druid said you could come with me tonight. Now please, grab a cloak and come. Nothing will happen while we are gone.”

“You’re sure?” Aisling said anxiously.

“I’m sure.” Elen said emphatically and helped Aisling get astride the reindeer that was patiently standing.

The woman started walking directly east and she walked faster that any normal human being could.

Aisling asked Elen where they were going. “Your Chief Druid thought you might like to help me open the way for the sun’s return in the east.”

“We’re opening a way for the sun?” Aisling was trying to understand but she couldn’t quite get there.

“Yes, I open the ways and that includes the paths of the sun energies to flow.”

They rode and walked until they reached the edge of the sea. It was just before dawn and the light was starting to turn a bit greenish in front of them. Elen stood with her staff on the edge of the cliff and motioned for Aisling to join her. The reindeer gathered round them keeping them warm in the chilly night.

“Stand here next to me, Aisling.” Aisling moved to stand next to Elen.

“What do we do?” Asked Aisling a little worried. Could she really have stopped the sun last year? Was the Chief Druid wrong? Aisling was getting even more worried. What happened if she did this wrong? Would the sun not return?

Elen looked at Aisling. “Don’t worry. The sun will always come back. We just open the way for the energy to flow across the land. It’s like opening a damn so the energy will flow. It slows down in the dark times and now will speed up again and you want it to bring health to the land.”

Aisling thought and then nodded, that made sense. “So what do we do?”

“We stand right here where the sun will hit our land first and then we open our hearts to the new sun reborn. Can you do that?”

Aisling thought she could do that but wasn’t sure exactly how because the sun appeared as a tiny light in the east and Elen flung out her arms and Aisling did the same facing the sun as it peeped over the edge and started to rise. Aisling needn’t have worried. The sight of the sun filled her with joy. She felt full to bursting with love and happiness and Elen gave a loud laugh and cry and Aisling felt the energy rush away.

The sun rose and Elen turned to Aisling. “Time to go until next year”, and she touched Aisling with her staff. Aisling shook her head. She looked around and she was back on the doorway of the cottage. She looked to the East and the newborn sun was rising above the meadows. She looked to the west and saw a herd of deer and a small figure wave and she was gone.

Just then behind her, she heard her teacher give a gasp. “Aisling, go get the healers.”

Aisling ran across the way. Time for a new son or daughter to be born here. Aisling smiled. This was a good day.

Kat Robb
2014

A Yule Story – Bjorn the Bear’s Winter Dream

Once upon time there was a small bear named Bjorn. Bjorn was born in a far northern forest up where it was very, very cold in winter. Bjorn had been born in the dead of winter with his brother and sister, Berta and Esben. They spent that first winter cuddled close to their mama and as they got older she started to tell them stories about the outside world.

Deep in their den she told them about tall trees they would see and deep, cold lakes and about the high mountains around the place they lived. He heard about the salmon that swam in the rivers in spring and about the rabbits and squirrels that lived near the den. His mom told them where they could find a honey tree and where the best back scratching trees were.

When spring came there were no more stories, Mama led them out into a world of wonder. To the bears eyes the world was born anew just for them. The snow was gone and the water ran clear. Mama taught them to hunt and to fish. She taught them how to hide in plain sight as they grew. She taught them to stay away from people. People had guns and guns hurt bears.

They grew quickly ambling along in the forest and the summer passed in beautiful days of deep burning blue skies and sunlit days in their northern forest. As the days got shorter Mama showed them where the best blackberry bushes were and the cubs stuffed themselves fat. They got so sticky Mama had to dunk them all in the spring and in late fall they went back to their den to sleep. This year, when they woke up in their long sleep Mama would tell them about a tree that she had seen one winter not far from their lair. She had woken in up on Solstice night and had felt the need to walk in the quiet of the forest. It had been silent except for the owls and she had seen a bright light.

Mama bear followed the light across the forest and watched it land in a little pine trees branches. The tree had stood there bearing the star in its branches and had lit up their forest. It was so beautiful. The bear had gone back to her den to sleep after the lovely sight and had never managed to wake up again on Solstice Night. The cubs bothered her the rest of winter for that story. It became their favourite winter story and Bjorn began to have a dream. He wanted to stay awake and see the tree and the star but that winter was deep and cold and the bears slept most of the winter and didn’t come out until the next spring.

The bear cubs were bigger that year and Mama spent most of the summer teaching them how to be on their own. That fall they would have to make their own dens for the first time. She taught them how much they needed to eat to store enough fat to make it through the winter. She taught them how to make it cozy and she taught them how to stay away from other bigger bears. Soon it came to be fall and the cubs split up for the first and last time. Each of them choosing a different direction to go and seek a place to make their own and all the time he was choosing and making his own den, Bjorn day dreamed. He was going to find some way to wake up and see the tree and star.

He kept trying to figure out a way to wake himself up. His mother had told him that just wasn’t possible, that if he was meant to see it he would wake up in exactly the right time to see it, otherwise it just wasn’t meant to be. She had supposed that it was something most bears would ever see once in a life time and then only if they were very, very lucky. She didn’t even know if it happened every year or if it had happened only once. She had never heard anybody else in the forest ever talk about it.

Bjorn swore he would be that lucky bear! He would wake up on Winter Solstice and he would see that star and his friend, the tree. He wanted to know what that special night was like. He wanted it with all his heart and he kept whispering to himself as he lay down for his winter nap to “Remember to wake up! Remember to wake up!”

He extremely disappointed to wake up and it was almost spring. It was different in a den by yourself with no brother and sister and no mama to tell you tales. He had slept the winter away and missed it. He was horribly disappointed and fell back asleep until spring had truly arrived.

This went on for several years and Bjorn had decided it just was a dream his mom had dreamed and maybe he should just give it up. Bears belonged in dens in the winter sleeping not roaming around in the cold and dark forest.

Bjorn was making his den again one fall and he remembered the story but just shook his great black head. No point in wishing, he would just sleep anyway and tucked himself into his lair but this year was different.

One cold, cold clear night Bjorn woke up. At first he was disoriented. What had woken him up? And then he heard it. He could hear a faint chiming and see a bit of light filtering in the entrance to his den. “Could it be? Could it really truly be?”

Bjorn shot out of his den and pushed the heavy snow way from his den and stood up. The light was coming from the north but not very far away at all! He started to move quickly through the snow. He saw other animals around him, a small herd of elk. Snow hares that should have been asleep were lolloping through the snow. White owls that flew silently over head hooting softly. “Come, come celebrate with usssss”

And they came. They came to a tree that was standing all alone in a field of deep snow. In the tree’s branches a star hung nestled at the top and shedding star dust all around. The snow sparkled and shone all around. The animals crept closer and closer and soon it seemed every kind of animal was there and on this night it felt like they were all friends. A deep peace hung over the forest and the only thing that could be heard was a soft chiming from the star.

Bjorn had never felt this way before. No hunger, no need to hunt, just a need to be with other creatures and to maybe, just maybe have friends and be at peace. He looked at the other animals. They seemed to be feeling the same thing as they sat in large circles around that tree absorbing the blessing of the tree and the star and Bjorn thought to himself, “Sometimes having a dream come true is better than any dream.”

He sat in the snow and a small hare snuggled up to him and then a squirrel. A great deer lay down near by and an owl sat in the rack of his antlers. For this night there was peace in the forest and the blessing of a star from far away and a lonely little tree that was his friend.

***This follows yesterday’s “Lonely Little Star” and is available here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/146621239X/ref=mp_s_a_1?qid=1354728417&sr=8-1&pi=SL75

Tales told at Yule – The Lonely Little Star

Once upon a time there was a lonely little star. She shone up in the sky every night but she shone all alone. There were no other stars for millions of miles. For millions of years she went round and around another star called Polaris because that was what all stars did near her and she got fainter and fainter.

One day the Star Goddess couldn’t stand it any more. All the other stars she shepherded were fine for stars are like sheep and have to be shepherded very carefully. They shone brightly each night and lit the night just like they were supposed to do but this little star was different. She wasn’t part of a constellation and she was way, way at the tip of her nebula so the Star Goddess could see how she could be lonely so she went to visit the lonely little star.

“Astra.” For that was the lonely little star’s name. “What can I do to help you shine bright like all my other stars?”

The lonely little star twinkled at the Star Goddess. “Keep me company?” Astra asked shyly.

“No, you know better than that. I have an immense flock of stars to keep watch on. There are millions and millions of you and you all keep moving all the time. I know time moves very slowly for you out here and not even a comet has come to visit you in a long time so I have a suggestion. See that tiny planet down there?” She pointed to a blue and green marble way down below.

The star twinkled faintly at her. “Yes. Why?”

“I want you to watch that planet for a year and see if there is anything you can do to help someone down there on it and if you do I’ll have a surprise for you.”

So the lonely little star started her vigil watching Earth for a year. She saw ships that sailed on the sea but no one seemed to need the kind of help she could give.

She watched the people who lived in the desert but no one seemed to need her there either.

She watched jungles in the Amazon but life seemed to be very busy in that jungle although she could see things like the cutting and burning of lots of trees.

She didn’t like seeing trees hurt but how could she stop the hurt? She became very interested in trees as she roamed over the world at night she looked at all the different kinds of trees. There were tall ones and skinny, funny looking ones with poufs at the top. There were tiny squat ones on the edge of cliffs or in deserts. There were trees that were constantly blown by the wind and trees that always had their feet in the water.

She crossed over the poles and one night while the Aurora was watching, below her she saw him, a tree all alone. He was a sturdy little tree. She saw that he was a beautiful deep green. He was very far north on the blue and green marble.

She watched him every night as she passed over the Pole. Sometimes he was covered in white stuff. Some times he wasn’t but he looked cold standing there all alone. She wondered how he got there since there were no other trees near him.

One time she did see some large animals with big antlers pass by him. It reminded her of how the stars move through the sky.

One day when the planet was tilting toward the star that was their Sun the Star Goddess came back.

“Is my year up already?” Astra asked.

The Star Goddess smiled at the little star. The little star didn’t know that ever since the star had found the little tree she had been growing brighter and brighter every night. She now shown so brightly that she could be seen on that little blue and green ball.

She also didn’t know that the Star Goddess had had a conversation with Gaia, the Earth Goddess. For the Earth Goddess was having a problem with a certain lonely little tree who was very, very lonely, so lonely that not even squirrels and birds visited him and they had a plan, “Little Star? What do you want your wish to be?” the Star Goddess asked.

“There is a tree that stands all alone in the snow. It looks so lonely. Do you think I could meet him?”

The star looked up at the Goddess with hope in her eyes.

“Do you mean the one that’s way up on top of the ball where it’s almost always white?”

“Yes!’ The star twinkled at her. “No one ever visits him except big herds of some beast and they only run by him. They don’t seem to stay and chat.”

“You mean the reindeer?” The Goddess asked.

“Reindeer? So that’s what they are. I wondered.”

“I have a job for you and I think you are going to like it. You might even make it your wish when you hear it.”

“What!” The star was bopping all over in excitement and getting brighter and brighter and somewhere down on Earth there were three very confused astronomers watching and wondering.

“Well, I talked to Gaia about you and she says she wants you to meet that very tree you have been watching. He has been drooping and she is very worried about him because trees live a long, long time. Not quite as long as stars but a long time down on Earth but he isn’t going to live very long if he doesn’t cheer up. Now, here is what I want you to do.”

And she whispered in the star’s ear.

“Just for tonight?”

“Just for tonight and if all goes well next year too and the year after that.”

“Ooooooh! Goody!” squealed the little star.

And the star began to compress herself into a very, very, very tiny ball of very bright light.

The star whizzed down to Earth heading for that small tree way up on top of the world. She slid down the Northern Lights and bounced across the stone and snow until she came to the tree she had been watching.

People everywhere that Solstice Night, for it was Winter Solstice, saw a bright light move across the sky to the north and called out to each other about it but the star didn’t know anything about that.

“Hi! Tree!” twinkled the star at the lonely tree. “I’m here to visit you!”

The tree looked up at the little star.

“Why do you want to do that? No one ever visits me but reindeer passing by. I haven’t seen anybody else since a big black bird dropped me here when I was just a cone.”

“I’ve been watching you from way up in the sky and the Star Goddess said I could visit any one I liked on Earth and I picked you!”

The tree was quite astonished. Someone had noticed him! He didn’t think anybody but the reindeer, that big black bird and maybe Gaia knew he was here. He stood up a little straighter. He could have a friend after all.

“Would you like to rest in my branches?” asked the tree. “You must have come a very long way.”

“Oh, that would be nice.”

And the star settled down on top of the trees very top. As she settled in star dust fell off her and made the tree glow with hundreds of little lights. The Star Goddess had been careful to make sure that when the star visited she wouldn’t burn anything. The star and the tree started to get to know each other and as they started chatting something strange began to happen.

Some birds noticed the beautiful shining little tree and they came to visit. Then the reindeer came around to chat with both of them and drink in the beautiful sight of the star and tree shining on this longest night. Squirrels and badgers and bears woke up from their winter’s nap just to go see the beautiful sight knowing they would have to go to sleep again soon.

Owls and other night birds came to see. Pretty soon the little lonely tree and the little lonely star were surrounded by a party of animals and never noticed that they weren’t lonely anymore.

The night sped through all too swiftly and soon the sky began to get pink and yellow and the star knew she had to go back up into the heavens.

“I have to go now.” The star told the tree. “But the Star Goddess says I can come again next year. You only have to wait a little while and I’ll come again, I promise!”

The tree nodded but not too sadly. Now that all the birds and animals knew he was there they promised him they would visit too.

“I’ll see you next year!”

The tree cried. And the star flew back up into the sky of dawn light. She twinkled at Venus as she whizzed by. She had a friend now.

She settled back into her cold bit of space and watched over the little tree. The next Winter Solstice would come again soon enough and she wanted to shine bright enough that her new friends would be able to see her every night.

And so the little star and the little tree weren’t lonely any longer and the Star Goddess and Gaia saw this and knew this was a good thing.

And one year on their nightly visit a lone woodsman was out and saw them in their beauty and splendour and it made him feel very good and the next year he decorated a tree in front of his cabin just like he had seen the little tree shining.

And now little trees shine at Winter Solstice all over the world with stars on top and deep in the northern part of the world under the Aurora Borealis every Winter Solstice a very, very, very tall tree still lights the northern snow on the longest of winter nights with his friend the little star.

This story and others available here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/146621239X/ref=mp_s_a_1?qid=1354602640&sr=8-1π=SL75

Kat

The Littlest Druid finds a good in the bad

Aisling looked around at what was left of the tiny village, everywhere around her the building’s roofs smoked. Household goods were strewn over the landscape. People lay where they had been slain. The marks of the weapons clear to be seen. There was nothing here for a healer to do.

She looked at the other druids around her. Some were in tears, some were in shock, some were angry. Aisling wasn’t sure how she felt, numb?

In the middle of the night a young boy had come yelling into the Druid village about the sea raiders that had come to his village up the coast to the north. The Chief Druid had quickly roused all the people old enough to help and they had come as fast as their ponies would go but it wasn’t in time. It looked like the boy was the last one left from his village.

Aisling looked at a loom in pieces on the ground and the half finished wool blanket in slashed hunks around it. She could see it would have been beautiful when it was finished with all the colours of sea and sky in brilliant hues. It made her sad. What made people think that they could come and harm a small village? Aisling’s heart hurt.

She could see an abandoned butter churn milk and butter left to curdle on its own. Ravens and crows gathered in the trees above some of the cottages as if waiting for a meal and she was glad her Raven was back home and not here. She couldn’t stand the thought of her being part of this.

The blacksmith must have run to his forge and laid about with his big hammer but it had done no good but she could see he had taken some of the raiders with him to the Summerland.

The older men went to build a pyre to burn the dead. The ravens and crows would get no meal here today. She wondered if the raiders had taken anything of value or if the reason the devastation was so bad was because the village was so poor. It made no sense at all to her and the tears ran down her face.

What made some people do this? No one in this village had done any harm. They had lived quiet lives. They sometimes sold their extra crops to the Druid village. The Chief Druid put his arm around Aisling and gave her a hug.

“Why? Why do people do this?” she asked him. The Chief Druid looked around and shook his head.

“I don’t understand it myself.” He said. “But it makes me cling to the good I can see. Some people want what others have. Some people think they have the only way. Some people just enjoy doing evil.”

“But what’s the good in this?” Aisling asked. She couldn’t see anything good at all.

“Hamish is alive, he’ll have a broken heart but he is alive. People came to help even though there was nothing they could do about the raiders. People will rebuild this village together and new people will help Hamish rebuild the village and his life. This village will be able to show its best hospitality again as is our way.”

People were now starting the clean up around them. Stacking timbers, collecting the things that were spread around the village. Someone was herding the sheep that had been on the hill above the village. One of the women was getting ready to milk the village’s last living cow. The cow was not happy, She should have been milked hours ago. The cow had blood on her horns and none of it was hers. The cow had obviously fought in the battle. Aisling wondered if it was one of Brighid’s cows since it was red and white.

Aisling went to start help collecting the goods left around the village. Maybe they could collect enough to put one household back together for Hamish. Someone had said his grandparents and an aunt and uncle had been sent a messenger. Would they want to settle here?

She looked towards the fields that appeared to be untouched. The oats were just starting to grown and the fields were aglow with the green of new growth. Would Hamish’s family tend them? It was strange to see such a strong symbol of life when she knew if she turned around she would see the blacks and grays of destruction.

Aisling collected a set of wooden bowls, some linens from where they had been dumped. She found someone’s prized bronze pin of a wild boar. It had a broken clasp but she thought it could be mended again and worn with pride. As the day went on the village started to look more like it would have life again.

Men were up on the thatched roofs pulling down the old straw and the burnt parts so they could be re-thatched. They had found the village thatcher’s store of straw and reed in an outside shed.

Some women from the next village were washing out the cottages and mixing white wash. Soon the cottages wouldn’t show any burn marks.

Aisling was near the back of one of the cottages when she heard a soft cry. She looked around to see where the noise was coming from. There was a pile of old abandoned clothes she guessed wasn’t good enough to steal and gently went over to sort through when she heard it again. This time she could hear that it was a mew. And she dug through the pile. Nestled under someone’s old tunic was a tiny black kitten. Its eyes were barely open. Aisling looked around quickly to see if there were any more but this one was alone.

Aisling cradled the kitten to her chest, it crawled up to her shoulder and nestled into one of her long red braids. So there was still life in the village, she thought. The kitten purred into her ear as she gently stroked its back and she wondered how long it had been since it ate. She headed over to where the woman was taking care of the cow, she had tied it to the outside of the pig sty.

Aisling had grabbed a napkin and fashioned into the shape of a nipple. Maire took one look at the kitten and grabbed the napkin. “I see someone needs to be fed here at least,” and dipped the napkin in the bucket of milk and handed it back to Aisling. “Are you ready to be a mathair?”

Aisling nodded and looked at the kitten as it greedily sucked on the napkin, at least one good thing had happened this day. She looked at the kitten. The Chief Druid was right, it had felt good to help even when she wished it hadn’t been necessary, but there is always some good with the horrid. It just can be hard to find.

“I’m naming ‘Nuadh Bheath’. ‘New life’ seems a good name, Beo for short? Do you like that?” Aisling looked down at the purring sleepy kitten and smiled for the first time that day.

Heart Town

Once upon a time there was town where the people were all made of very strong crystal and if they fell down they didn’t break. They were a very beautiful people and the most beautiful thing about them was their hearts. Their hearts were made of red crystal and looked like Valentine hearts. And one of the many unique things about this very special town is that they were all well loved and every one knew just how loved they were.

How did they know how loved they were? When some one was loved in this town their heart would have a lovely ribbon tied around it with a bow because love leaves a mark on your heart. Everyone always made sure that their ribbons were tied with a bow so that everyone was free to walk around. Because everyone in this small town had a different colour ribbon the hearts were full and amazingly colourful. And in this lucky town no one ever tried to see how many ribbons were on the hearts they just enjoyed their beauty.

One day a new person moved into the town. She changed the balance of things. When she met people she liked she put her ribbon on like every one else but because she was afraid of losing people she held on to the ribbon and tied a knot instead. She was afraid of losing the love she had collected.

Pretty soon people in town were falling down because she hadn’t let go of the ribbons. For the first time in their lives they were showing cracks. It was terrible. The ribbons trailed all over the street and got tangled around street lamps and cats played with them, dogs tried to bury them and birds tried to carry them off to make nests.

The town’s people got together and decided something had to be done. Their children would never make it to adulthood if they started having cracks like this. Some day they might break. So they decided to do something for the witch, for a witch she was. They normally liked witches. Witches did a lot of good work in town but this one needed help badly. She just had the wrong idea about things. So they went to the witch with a pair of big scissors.

“Dear Miss Witch,” they said, for they were always polite to each other in this town. “Would you let us cut the ribbons you are holding and tie you some beautiful bows?”

“No!” said the witch. “How will I know who loves me and who I love if I cut the ribbon and don’t hold on tight?”

“You will just have to trust like the rest of us that you are well loved.” said the town’s people.

“But that’s not right. What if someone doesn’t love me? What will I do?” wailed the witch.

“Not everyone is always loved by everyone. We all leave marks on people’s hearts. We just always try here to make a beautiful mark. We let go and let people come back and tie a bow on our heart when we are ready for them. And if they are never ready to do that we find other people in town who will love us. Tripping people and holding on to their heart ribbons is wrong and makes people like horses on reins in other towns. Even our horses here don’t have reins. You need to let go and trust and I as Mayor of the town will tie the first bow.” He picked up his ribbon and followed it back to the lonely witch and as she cried and shivered he tied a beautiful bow. One by one the people who had met her and cared for her tied bows on their ribbons. She was shivering so hard they thought she might crack herself. Not every one tied a bow, some people didn’t know her well enough and some people didn’t like her very much so they cut their ribbon. This made the witch cry with the loss but not everyone as the Mayor had said is loved by all. Some people just don’t like being held on to so tightly. You just have to grow up and accept this as fact.

The witch looked down when they were done and stopped crying. There were simple bows and frilly bows and silly bows but still there were enough bows to show that she was loved and liked. The town’s people had made their point and she was just going to have to trust that she was loved as much as her heart showed. And from then on there were no more cracked crystal people in town from tripping on ribbons and this made all the town and the witch happy.