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Boudicca’s hare

From here I can see all across the fields to the Roman Legions. They stand there stiffly in their orderly squares.

I lie in her arms wrapped in her cloak of so many different colours. Her long red hair floats in the wind as she waits. I’m surrounded by the roars of the tribes.

She breathes deeply and looks around. These are her people. She is doing this for them and for my Goddess, Andraste.

She is well named for Boudicca means Victory and we will win today. We may not win every day but today we will. My goddess has decreed it. And still she stands waiting for the sun to be favourable to us and then she will let me go.

She will watch how I run for left is victory and right is loss. I will run left. I will run as fast as I can across the fields and into the arms of my goddess for I see her waiting for me. I know where to run because I watch for her to keep me safe.

Boudicca leans down and I’m off! Running as hard as I can, my sides heaving as I breathe. The Iceni and their comrades have become quiet watching me go.

I’m almost to Andraste when their spears start to fly. The noise roars higher and Boudicca’s people run at the Romans who are trembling in the turtle of their shields.

And it is done. I’m safe in Andraste’s arms. Safe to run again another day.

BunniHoTep and Ptah

Once upon a time BunniHotep was walking on Temple Row and came across Ptah. Ptah was staring at a half carved obelisk with a chisel in his hand and a puzzled look.

“What’s wrong, Ptah?” asked BunniHotep because something was quite obviously very wrong. Ptah usually looked very happy when he was going about his crafting tasks. It was his job to make and design all the art in the Temples. He had just finished Osiris’s lotus columns so this was very strange.

“I’m stuck,” he said with a sad voice. “I never get stuck and right in the middle of this obelisk too. I have to finish it and I have no idea how. My inspiration just flew away like that ibis there.” He added sadly. “That never happens to me. I have no idea what to write.” He looked even more dejected. Ptah was a god of few words so he had to be upset if he was going on this way. He saved his words for his work.

BunniHoTep decided she needed to shake Ptah’s lost inspiration loose. He had done a lot for her. He had spent a long time crouched down in rabbit-sized tunnels in her Temple carving and painting beautiful scenes. That had to have given him very big amounts of back pain and head bumps.  She had to help if just as a thank you for all his hard work.

“How did you get the idea for this obelisk in the first place?” she asked quietly.

“I don’t remember! It’s all gone.” Ptah was almost whining in frustration and this would never do. Gods do not whine!

BunniHoTep made an executive decision and grabbed Ptah’s arm with both her paws and tugged. “Let’s go for a walk. You need to get away from here.” She guided him off Temple Row. She thought Temple Row might be part of the problem. He rarely left it. How can you get an idea if you never go out?

So she walked him down to the docks on the Nile and they sat down and watched Ammit catch frogs for dinner. This aspect of her friendship with Ammit was a little hard to stomach but one makes allowances for friend’s oddities and it might help Ptah. They watched the ibises come and go from their nests, feeding their chicks. They watched the dragonflies buzz back and forth, their blues and oranges flashing brightly in the sun. She watched Ptah start to relax but he still had a sad expression on his face. So she tugged on him again and they continued on their walk.

She decided to walk him thru the Palace gardens, maybe that would help. They walked among the date palms and along the papyrus and lotus pools. They looked at the minnows darting back and forth catching insects for their suppers. They watched a vulture circle around over the desert in the distance. “He looks like he hasn’t a care in the world,” Ptah sighed.

“No, he looks like he’s found dinner,” BunniHotep said and hoped it was no one she knew but Ptah was seeming a bit brighter. “When was the last time you did something besides work for one of us?” She asked Ptah quietly.

“I don’t remember. Everyone keeps me so busy and I hate to say no.”

“Well, let’s make a bargain. Once a week we’ll take a walk off Temple Row. You don’t even have to speak to me when we walk, just be.” They kept walking and BunniHoTep smiled to herself at the small joke she had made. Thoth had made the rabbit hieroglyph the word “Be” and Ptah was too wound up to even remember.

“Let’s go watch the sunset over the Sphinxes. This time of year it goes right down the row of them and I like to watch it and then we can have supper.” Ptah nodded and they went and sat on the steps at the end of the row for their private show from Ra.

“You know something BunniHoTep? You gave me a big present. I think I can go back there tomorrow I know how to finish it. I think I’ll sketch it out tonight on papyrus so I won’t lose it but I know what to do now.” Ptah was very relaxed and smiling a bit now. He leaned back on his elbows and just watched to sun set.

Then the two friends got up and walked companionably back to Temple Row.

The Littlest Druid visits the spring forest

Aisling skipped down the lane with her long red braids flying behind her. Spring was finally here. She could see the lambs gamboling around the meadow and head butting each other. She wondered if that hurt since they hit each other so hard. Did they get headaches? And if they did why did they keep doing it?

She watched her friend, Raven glide on a breeze high in the air and since no one was watching wheeled down the lane with her arms outspread while the raven wheeled overhead. She flung back her head and laughed. The snow was gone. The trees were blooming. The air was fresh and clean and she wasn’t in trouble for anything. That all by itself was a wonderful thing.

She had been given the morning off to go collect mushrooms in the forest and any other edible new greens that could be sprouting. She was hungry to eat green things but so was everyone else after a winter of eating only dried and salted things. She hoped there were a lot of new fern bracts popping up. She liked the taste of those.

She looked up and saw a butterfly illuminated in a sunbeam that was streaming through the trees. Sunbeams in the forest always looked magical to Aisling as if anything caught in them should have your absolute attention. She stood for a moment and just enjoyed the sight of the butterfly drifting on its wings. It was a beautiful green on the bottom of its wings and brown on the top. It looked like it was flashing on and off as it flew.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” a quiet voice said. Aisling jumped and turned around.

A quiet pale green and brown woman stood half in and out of a willow tree. Aisling looked at her.

“Are you one of the Sidhe Draoi?” asked Aisling curiously.

“I am, today is the first spring day I could come out and I’m enjoying it. Are you Aisling?”

Ailsing started again, “How do you know my name?”

“The Green Man told us he had met you and claimed you for the forest.” The Faery laughed. “Did you think all of us who dwell here wouldn’t know you?”

“You all know me?” wondered Aisling. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? “Everyone? Even the spiders?”

“Every tree, plant, mushroom, hedgehog and spider, by the way you can call me Willow.”

“What do I call the other Willows?” asked Ailsing.

“Willow, my sisters and I are all connected.”

“All right.” Aisling wondered how confusing this was going to get.

“Would you do something for me?” Willow asked.

“Of course,” Aisling replied without thinking.

“A family of hedgehogs lives here in my roots and their mother was eaten by an owl last night. Would you help them?” said Willow with a sad face.

“How do I do that?” asked Aisling.

“They are too small to live on their own so would you take them to the village and feed them.”said Willow.

Aisling had a very strong feeling she was about to get in trouble again but she’d given her word and went to the side of Willow’s roots that she was pointing at and saw three small balls all curled up together. Aisling sighed. They really were cute. It made her sad that they had lost their mother and she wondered if she knew the owl. She knew the owl was just doing what owls did but still…

She gathered them in her tunic carefully and wondered if they were going to wake up and get prickly on the way to the village. As she turned to go walking slowly she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Put these in your pouch and look at them later and thank you.” Aisling took the package wrapped in a large soft leaf and tucked it away and forgot about it. Willow turned and melted into her tree. A few moments later Aisling was alone in the spring wood.”

Aisling walked slowly back to the village with her precious bundles. She thought the healer’s cottage would be the best place to go since it always had a fire going to warm potions and medicines. She worried about what they would say.

As she approached the healer’s cottage, Maeve, the Chief Healer was standing in the door. “What do you have?” She asked with one eyebrow raised. She knew Aisling, it would be either something very terrible or very wonderful.

Aisling held her tunic out. “Babies that have lost their mother?” she said hesitantly and waited for the explosion. Maeve peered into the tunic.

“Tiny tiggies,” she said quietly and reached in to pick up one. “Where did you get them and where is their mother?” She said sternly to Aisling.

“I met one of the Sidhe Draoi in the forest and she asked me to do something for her and it was them. She said an owl got their mother last night.” Aisling was afraid she was going to cry. She couldn’t take care of them herself without help.

Maeve stroked Aisling’s hair. “It’s all right. I bet it was old Willow.” Maeve said and looked at Aisling.

“How did you know?” asked Aisling surprised.

“You aren’t the only one who meets friends in the woods, Aisling. Come inside and let’s find them a box. You are going to be busy taking care of these for awhile.”

They went into the cottage and founds some old rags to line a wooden box Maeve had tucked away. They put the box near the fire where it would be warm and she sent Aisling to find some worms and to get some eggs from the cook and generally kept Aisling busy until evening. They had decided Aisling would sleep there with her charges.

Aisling curled up near the babies to watch them before she went to sleep and the package in her pouch poked her tummy. She had forgotten all about it. She drew out the package and inside was a set of ogham sticks. She had been wanting a set for a long time but hadn’t had time to collect the wood to make them. They were beautifully smooth willow sticks, all perfectly made and marked. Aisling smiled. She would have taken the babies anyway but this was a very nice thank you. Aisling lay down clutching her beautiful ogham set. Maybe while she was taken care of the tiggies Maeve would show her how to read them. It had been a wonderful spring day after all.

The Cloud that wouldn’t rain

Once upon a time there was a cloud. She wasn’t a big cloud and she wasn’t really a small cloud. She was a nice medium cloud who lived in a herd of clouds. Cloud had a problem or at least the other clouds thought so. Cloud wouldn’t rain. Day after day cloud went along in the herd of clouds and while the other clouds were dropping their rain and throwing thunder and lightning at each other in their day games, Cloud would not.

This made the Head Cloud very angry. Cloud was not doing what she was supposed to do. This was not right or good. All his clouds should behave themselves and not make trouble. So he went to Cloud.

“Cloud, what’s our job?” he asked.

“To rain where it is needed and wanted.’ Replied Cloud calmly.

“NNNNNNNNOOOOOO!” thundered the Head Cloud. “We rain when we hit a mountain range. We rain when we group together and we rain when I say so!” The Head Cloud moved ponderously away looking blacker every moment.

Cloud had a feeling there was a really big storm coming but it really didn’t matter because she wasn’t going to rain here and he could yell all he wanted. “We rained here yesterday and they don’t need it here. It rained too much as it was and people were still cleaning up.”

They had rudely gotten shoved up against a mountain by a Hurricane and that made the Head Cloud mad so he rained and he had rained hard. Cloud thought they should only rain when and where it was needed but she was the only one that thought that way and sometimes that was lonely. She thought if she could just get over the mountain where it almost never rained she would do it but she would have to break free and that was hard for a cloud. Clouds tend to stick together.

This continued on for many days. And the Head Cloud thundered at her more and more. He just couldn’t understand that she had to do it just right. But one day the Hurricane blew again and Cloud decided she would try and get to the edge ahead of the group. Maybe she could get away.

They were being pushed faster and faster and the cloud was getting heavier and heavier as she picked up moisture the closer she got to the front of the cloud bank. She… needed… to… hold…on…just … a …little… longer…. And with one final shove from the Hurricane and the bank of clouds behind her she was free and roaring down the other side of the mountain. “Whhhhhhhhhhheeeee!”.
She was freeeeeeeeeeeeee. Now what? The other side of the mountain was barren. No one seemed to live here. It was the perfect place to rain but something was happening. It was hot here and she was beginning to feel lighter. “Uh oh!” She needed to rain and she needed to rain now!

And she tried and she tried but she could feel the heat from below making the water leave her but she could hear a noise behind her. And it was getting louder so she looked back the way she had come and the cloud bank was coming over the mountain! And some of her friends were leading the way racing down the mountain to join her.

And the more the clouds came, the more cool it got and less water left the cloud. When they were finally all around her the cloud was happy. She had missed them and not even known it. The Head Cloud caught up with her.

“Now will you rain?” he roared. As he looked around at the sand and spindly cactus and a lone flock of sheep that if you looked just right looked an awful lot like those clouds.

“Yes!” and she started to rain. She rained on the desert that was so dry and she watched something happen below. It was magic. Almost immediately pools appeared and she saw a tortoise find it. And then in the blink of an eye flowers and grass appeared. This made the sheep happy and because it cooled the shepherd, he was happy too. The little cloud was ecstatic. This was how it was supposed to be. She decided no matter how the Head Cloud thundered at her, she was only going to rain where she was needed.

And that is why on some spring days if you live in a desert you see one lone medium size cloud. She’s looking to go where she is needed but look quickly because the rest of the clouds might be right behind her.

How the Fire learned her magic

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Once upon a time Fire thought she had no magic. She knew Earth had magic. Earth held the seeds that sprouted in the soils both rich and poor. Earth could make more land, she could move it around. But Fire didn’t know what her magic was.

She knew Water had magic. Water could make things disappear and float things. She was the fluid that made life in all living beings. Fire thought Water had amazing magic.

Air had magic. She made the wind blow and the clouds move. She could shape trees and rocks. She could make things spin and move things from place to place. But what was Fire’s magic?

Fire was getting depressed when finally the other Elements decided they had to tell Fire what her magic was.

They went to see Fire who was hiding in a volcano in Southern Italy. “Why are you hiding, Fire?” They all asked.

“You all have magic and I don’t.” Fire said morosely. She was having quite the pity party.

“You silly thing,” the Elements said, “Of course you have magic, we all have magic. Don’t you know what magic is?”

Fire shook her head no.

“Magic is Change and you do it all the time. Don’t you cook people’s food and keep them warm when it’s cold? Don’t you change plain old rock to shiny sparkly metal? Sometimes you get out of control but we all do. It can’t be helped. Sometimes major change is needed to heal things. When you burn forests it’s the only way native plants can come back where they belong. Fire! You have always had magic, you just didn’t see it.”

Fire flickered quietly as she thought. “I do have magic. Why did I ever think I didn’t? Shall we go change the world, sisters?”

And they went off to shape the world and to help it grow.

How the Air learned to sing

Once upon a time the Air was very quiet. There was no sound as she moved across the Earth and Water. This used to scare the Earth quite a lot and it also made the Air lonely. No one ever greeted her or played with her because they didn’t know Air was there.

The other Elements got together for a meeting. “This has got to stop!” said the Earth. “How can we work together and play together when we never know she’s there!”

“We can’t see her or hear her. How can we change that?” said Fire.

“We need her to make some noise. Can we teach her to sing?” pondered Water.

“Hmmm, maybe I can.” contemplated the Earth. “I’m tired of getting spooked and when she knows she’s frightened us she gets even quieter!”

So the Earth put a mountain where she thought the Air was and sure enough the Air tried very shyly to creep around the mountain. “Please stop and stay for a bit.” the Earth said to the Air.

“Why?” said the Air. “Why do you want me to stay?” The Air was moving in slow spirals.

“Because we want to get to know you and you never play with us. May I teach you to sing?” said the Earth. “We’d like you to play with us and we can’t see you or hear you and if you would sing with us I think we’d all be happier.

“You want me to play and sing with you?” asked the Air.

“Yes! You are the only one who doesn’t play with us and we would like you to join us and be friends.” said the Earth.

“Really? You want me to play with you?” cried the Air. “I’ve been lonely and I didn’t know if I was welcome.”

“How do you know if you aren’t welcome if you don’t come and find out.” asked the Earth. “So, do you want to learn to sing or not?”

“Oh, yes!” said the Air, “Yes, what do I have to do?”

“See the trees on this mountain? They have leaves that if you move against them will make a lovely sound. And if you move around this mountain quickly that will make a different sound. Why don’t you try that and then I think Water has some sounds to teach you as well.” explained the Earth.

The Air started through the trees and it made a lovely rustling noise and she tried moving slowly and then quickly and she found she could vary and change the sound with different speeds. Then she tried moving up, down, and around the mountain. That made fun noises too. The Air was getting more and more excited. This was fun!

Air went to find Water. “Hello Water! What can you teach me? I’m so excited!”

“I can see that,” laughed the Water. “I take it Earth found you and showed you how to sing with the trees?”

“Oh, yes! And it’s lovely.” said Air. “How did you know I could sing?”

“I heard you and I liked what I heard,” laughed Water. “Would you like to try some more sounds?”

“Please?” sang Air.

“All right, please move across the lake here and see if you can make the tops dance and then you can try the ocean. If you push it around I’m sure it will make some lovely sounds.” explained the Water. “When you’re done, why don’t you try Fire?”

The Air went and played across the lakes and learned wonderful splashing sounds. She stayed and played for awhile and then went to try the ocean. She found she could make huge booming sounds and little splashing sounds and this taught her a new sound, giggling. This pleased her very much and she went to find Fire.

“Fire! I’m having so much fun playing with the Earth and the Water. I can make noise! Will you teach me too?” Air was very excited and moving in quick little eddies.

“Of course,” said Fire. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask. There is a nice campfire down the way. Why don’t you try playing with her and then you can work your way up to one of my volcanoes.”

Air went to the campfire and found she could make nice crackling noises but she had to be careful. She didn’t want to get out of control and hurt something. She went and found the volcano and saw that she could make more loud booming noises as well as small dripping and glooping & blooping noises. Air was very happy and noticed that playing with the other Elements was fun. The Elements were happier too and that is why Air sings. They were supposed to work together and now they could. All was in balance and good in the world.

How the Earth learned to dance

Once upon a time the Element of Earth was sad. She had been looking all over and no matter where she looked the other elements and things around her danced. She wanted to dance. She knew if she danced people and animals would get hurt.

The other Elements noticed that Earth was silent. So they came to ask her what was wrong. Fire was the bravest so they let her ask the question. “Earth, what’s wrong? Is there something we can do?”

The Earth thought and then said,” I don’t know if you can. I see all of you dancing alone and with each other but I can’t join in and I really, really want to.”

Fire was quiet and then said, “Wait here a moment.” She went to the other Elements and they met in a huddle. “Is there some way we can each let her dance with us? She can’t dance alone but I bet there is some way she can dance with each of us.”

Air spoke up, “Well, I can take some of her and dance. I can’t be all over her but I can dance with her edges.”

Air went to Earth. “May I go to the dry parts of you and would you dance with me?”

“Oh, yes!” said the Earth.

And the Air went to the desert and started to spin slowly across the Earth’s surface. A dust devil rose in the Air and the Air gently spun the Earth across the desert surface.

“Oh that was lovely”, cried the Earth. “I can dance with my edges! If I dance with my edges people will usually have time to get out of the way. Do you think Water and Fire will dance with my edges?”

Air replied, “Of course, let’s go see.”

Water stepped forward. “Would you like dance in me or me to dance over you?”

Earth was so excited, “Let’s try both!” And Water took some Earth and danced her through the waves taking her back and forth all over the world. “Would you like me to dance over you now?”

The Earth smiled happily and Water slid and danced down mountains and over hills laughing all the way and the Earth laughed too. If you listen you can still hear them laughing if you go to a brook or stream. “I think Fire would like to dance with you now, too.”

“Do you mind if we heat you up?” asked Fire.

“Oh no! However you need me to be I’ll be.” Replied the Earth.

And Fire heated up the Earth around her. “I can only do this if you let me through some cracks, is that alright?”

The Earth sighed happily. Fire took her up through a crack and spun in the air, they came back down, they flowed over the Earth rising and falling. Air and Water joined in all three danced. Now there are islands that people call Iceland and Hawaii.

The Earth was happy. She could dance, maybe not all of her but parts of her and she could be happy with that.