Tag Archive | children

BunniHoTep and the Butterfly

Once upon a time there was a small rabbit goddess, she was the Goddess of Lost Objects and Simple Joys but today she was simply the goddess with a big headache. BunniHoTep never had headaches. Isis had headaches. Hathor had headaches. Osiris had headaches. BunniHotep never had headaches. She was usually the one that solved the small problems that gave people headaches.

She had woken up with this one. It started up the back of her neck and climbed around the side of her skull and if it didn’t go away soon she was going tear one of her long ears off. She’d tried the dark of the temple and the coolness of the stone floor. She’d tried the a nasty tasting potion that one of her priestesses had made from the bark of tree that grew near the Nile. The Priestesses had played her soothing music and read softly to her but she still had a headache. What was causing this stupid pain? She hoped it wasn’t anything like the headache poor Zeus had had when he gave birth to Athena. That was a colossal headache and she wasn’t big enough to give birth to a goddess from her skull. Although at the moment it felt like she could. She wondered vaguely what would come out, a hedgehog?

The sun was finally setting on this long day and she decided to take a walk in the gardens along the Temple Row. The colours of the garden were always pleasant and soothing. The lavender of the lilies in the pond and the soft pinks and yellows of the lotus were easy on her eyes and seemed to lessen the pain a little as she walked. She sat down on the stone rim of the largest pool in the shade of a large papyrus plant. She sat quietly dangling a limp paw at the edge of the pool and gently sniffed the twilight air. She sat day dreaming for a bit when she saw a flash of colour out of the corner of her eye. There was something emerging like a thought from her head. She saw a broad line of colours start from the direction of the Nile and arc overhead in the evening mist. It had been raining earlier and had started to clear up when she went out into the sunset.

“What was that? She’d never seen this before. It had bright colours and covered a wide band of the whole sky. It seemed to start at the Nile and arch over the whole temple row and at the moment she seemed to be the only one around who was watching it. And as she watched she felt her headache slip away and she gave a great sigh. The colours were slowly fading with the withdrawal of the sun and as they faded something new appeared. A small winged being was coming toward her. The being landed lightly on the edge of the pool and slowly opened and closed its wings.

It was striped in black over a coat of beautiful butter yellow. “Who are you?” BunniHoTep asked. “Or better yet, what are you?”

The being slowly fanned its wings open and spoke, “I’m what comes when you’re in pain?” It laughed lightly.

“No, really, what are you?” BunniHoTep asked again.

“I’m what comes sometimes when the world or a goddess needs healing. I’m the spirit of that arch. It’s called a rainbow. It will come now after rain when the sun calls it. Ra was sad that you had a headache and he thought I might help.”

“You did help. The headache is gone but you’re separate from the rainbow. What are you?”

“I’m a butterfly. I was born from the rainbow. When you see me, remember that sometimes healing comes in unexpected ways and unexpected places you just have to be open to it. Healing the pain is what I do and then I’m gone.”

“What do you mean you’re gone?”

“I only live a day. I have my purpose and then I go.”

“How is death healing?”

“Death is only the next step and sometimes the ultimate healing. There is no pain in death.”

The Butterfly lifted her wings and glided into the air and disappeared around the clump of papyrus.

BunniHoTep got up and slowly walked back to her Temple thinking about the Butterfly and what she had said.

How to be a Priestess of BunniHoTep

Geb and Nuit gave her the job of watching the shards of the egg that was left from the creation of the Sun. The egg is now kept in Thoth’s Temple. She became so adept at finding the small shards Geb and Nuit gave her a promotion to the Goddess of finding lost objects. And so she remains to this day, a finder of lost objects. So when you lose your other sock, your keys or your best friend you must ask nicely of Her and She, if She is willing will help you find your lost things. But you must remember some things are best left unfound and undisturbed. She can also be invoked during the spring ritual of egg hunts when real eggs have been used. The kind of hunt that the only other way you will find those missing eggs is some time in summer and you find them by their smell.

She is known by:

The Moon circlet that Isis gave her. All her priestesses are entitled to where a circlet like BunniHoTep’s or the can wear one with a rabbit on it.

Her preferred offerings are Chocolate rabbit effigies (dark or milk but not white chocolate) and eggs, sweet new lettuce, (no iceberg) carrots, radishes and new greens of any kind.

BunniHotep’s priestesses are entitled to wear soft brown robes like BunniHoTep’s fur. The fact that they resemble the robes of a religious order of a certain space opera does not matter. BunniHoTep is older that that space opera and does not come from a galaxy far, far away.

In the 3rd dynasty a schism developed in the Priestesshood. Those that ate the feet first of the effigies were called the H.O.P.pers or the Holy Order of Priestesses. The Priestesses who ate the ears first are the L.E.A.P.ers. or the Lagomorphically Easily Accessible Priestesses. These Priestesses were not antagonistic to each other just adamant about how to accept their ritual offerings. The H.O.P.pers took over the outside duties of the Temple such as gardening and sweeping the Temple steps and the L.E.A.P.ers took over the inside duties of the Temple such as cleaning and accounting and tending To BunniHoTep’s personal needs. BunniHoTep’s Priestesses in turn give back to the community.

Attending To BunniHoTep’s personal needs. BunniHoTep’s Priestesses in turn give back to the community by sharing BunniHoTep’s effluent as rich fertilizer to the faithful. They lead finding rituals daily for supplicants who have lost important objects. There are monthly rituals for finding missed opportunities and for lost causes. These are done with the New Moon. There is a yearly inundation ritual for the opening of hearts that corresponds to the fertilization of the lands around the Nile banks.

To be a Priestess you must be able to perform the ritual dance of the Priestesshood:

The steps are; right kick twice, left kick twice, hop forward, hop backward. hop, hop, hop forward. The music that accompanies this ritual dance goes: Da, da ,da, da.da,da, Dah, Dah, Dah,. Da, da,da,da,da,da DAH< DAH< DAH! Repeat.

Persons carrying rabbit’s feet into the temple will be asked to leave the temple and not return for this is considered very bad form. And punishable by any luck you have leaving immediately.

To be a Priestess of BunniHoTep one must commit to finding that which has been lost, seeing the bright side of life and finding the beauty in things that others find ugly. And to not bop field mice on the head, that is the wrong rabbit.

One must commit to making random acts of beauty and kindness and to do it without fanfare. Rabbits are camouflaged for a reason.

The Littlest Druid learns to smith – new story

The littlest Druid had finished her year of roaming and being a Bard. She had found out it had been so much more than she had thought it would be. She had thought it was going to be about just going around and sharing stories and songs and then she would be back in the village but she had wandered farther than she thought she would and that had taken longer than the prescribed year.

She had sung for the king and while she had been told all Bards were the king’s equal, she had found it hard to sing and pretend that she was. She had sat with the dying and soothed their passage to the Summerland. She had sung at festivities big and small and she had wandered over fields and meadows and through forests and over mountains. She had even soothed a couple of angry chieftains down and given them a solution to their problem, all the while being terrified they would think her a fraud because she was just a kid and might never make the rank of Druid. That had made her appreciate all the boring hours of memorizing those never ending laws and decisions but she was home now and the Chief Druid had her learning smithing! Why smithing? What did it have to do with being a Druid? She sighed.

Well, it really wasn’t just smithing, it was silver-smithing. The villlage’s smiths were all getting old and the Chief Druid decided that after all the returning Bards had finished their year they were too excited and not ready for more study quite yet so he decide to have them ease back into the learning mode and ease back into studying.

The silver-smith had been showing her how to make wire out of bigger and thicker pieces of silver, she was hot and sweaty and frustrated. The smith had left her alone in the smithy and went to go relax with the other craftsman in the village and she could hear them in the distance singing something and laughing.

She wiped her dripping forehead and winced when a drop of sweat got into her eyes anyway. Stupid stuff! Why did he need so much wire? Was this all smithing was? Whacking great hunks of metal into ever smaller pieces? She sighed again. This was so much less fun than singing for people or even sheep who wanted to hear her.

“Yes, there is more to it than whacking the metal.” A voice calmly said beside her.

Aisling dropped the heavy tongs she had been using on her foot. “EEEEEEEeeeee, Don’t do that!” she hopped and grabbed her foot and looked up. Brighid was standing there beside her and she was wearing a tunic and trews in green leather and heavy leather gloves and not the dress she had been wearing before. What???

Aisling stared at Brighid, “What are you doing here? And why are you dressed like that? And where were you when I was gone all that time. I never saw you once. ” Aisling spit out while hopping up and down. That had really hurt.

Brighid picked up the tongs and looked at Aisling. “I walked right beside you the whole time but you never needed me and you did just fine. We all are there when you need us and you should know that by now.” Brighid moved toward the draw plate and grabbed the metal point that should have been becoming wire and began to draw it through the plate slowly and surely. She hardly seemed to be working as the silvery metal came through the draw plate in a smooth shiny beautiful and perfect piece of wire. Aisling stared and couldn’t believe it. She had been pulling and yanking trying to get the metal through the plate and had just gotten chunks. She had either pinched it too tight and the metal had broken or she hadn’t pulled hard enough and the metal hadn’t moved at all and the scrap bin was full of ugly short bits of silver. This so wasn’t fair.

She stared at Brighid. “How did you do that?” she was angry and also guilty, how could you be mad at a goddess?

“Didn’t you learn this year that before you could do a good performance you had to center yourself and find your calm spot” Aisling nodded slowly. It had been better when she had.

“This isn’t any different. I know you have chants you learned to make things like childbirth or dying or even putting the fire to bed every night easier?” Brighid looked at her raising a very red eyebrow.

Aisling nodded slowly again. She was beginning to feel a little stupid.

Brighid looked her in the eye and began to fit another piece of silver into the draw plate and picked up the tongs again after adjusting her leather gloves. Aisling heard her chanting to herself faintly and the silver began to flow smoothly again in that beautiful shiny ribbon.

“All work is easier if you work with it and all work has some magic to it. You just have to find it. Imagine what this silver is going to be when it’s used. Will it make a lovely pattern that will hold the glass enamel in a brooch or a crown? Will it gently clasp a stone to hang around a friend’s neck? Will it be wound around the hilt of a knife or sword?”

“When you make it you can add protection to it, you can add peace to it. You can even add love to it for all people just like you can when you make a poem or a song.”

Aisling listened and was thinking really hard. At first, she was a bit exasperated. Does everything have to have some magic in it? And then she realized that yes, everything should have some magic to it. Aisling looked up at Brighid who had been watching her thinking. She knew her small Druid. She’d get there eventually.

“Now, I want you to try,” Brighid said and handed Aisling back the tongs.

“But I don’t know your chant?” Aisling whined just a tiny bit, she wasn’t someone who normally whined but she was tired, this was really work.

“That’s the second part, this time you have to make your own chants. Every smith has their own. That’s part of what makes the magic. Put your own heart and hands in every piece whether you know who the piece is for or not.”

Aisling looked at Brighid. She could hear a chant starting in the back of her mind. Was that why the smith had left her alone? She grabbed the end of the metal and started to hum and pull and the wire started to flow for the first time. The metal flowed just like it was supposed to and she turned around and Brighid was gone. Aisling smiled and kept pulling, maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.

The Littlest Druid and the Roses

Once upon a beautiful summer time, the Littlest Druid was out on the moor alone. She had been given an assignment by the Chief Druid. She was to sit and watch a wild rose bush. This was about the silliest thing she’d had been made to do yet.

She wondered if she had made so much trouble that she was being punished as far a way from the village as they could send her. She wondered if this was it. It had been hours and she was just supposed to watch this dumb old rose bush. Back in the village, work was going on as usual and she wanted to help. She really did.

It had been a great Beltane yesterday and it was time to clean up. The May pole had to be taken down and it was time for the sheep to be moved to a new pasture up the mountain. It was time to start brewing the summer ale so it would be ready for the harvest festival. The weavers were going to be carding wool so they could start weaving warm winter leggings and tunics. She had grown so much over the winter she was going to need all new clothes. Things were starting to pull and her leggings were way too short.

She looked down at her bare feet and wiggled her toes. Summer was nice. It was a warm day and the sun was shining down brightly for the first time this year. So far she had seen a family of rabbits hopping in and out under the wild rose. It was just starting to bloom and the lovely pink blossoms were nodding on the breeze and she was starting to get a little sleepy.

Suddenly there was a lot of howling and there was a big dog chasing a very small rabbit who was running as fast as it could for the rose. Aisling didn’t know whether to try and stop the dog or save the rabbit. She sat frozen in place but the rabbit dove under the rose and the dog ended up with a snoot full of thorns. Aisling relaxed. Served that old dog right chasing that bunny. Bunny hadn’t been doing anything but playing on the moor. She watched the dog slink off toward the village. She thought he was heading for the healers. That wasn’t going to be fun to have all those thorns removed.

She sat watching bees go in and out of the roses and hoped that they were going to be making lots and lots of honey. Honey meant honey cakes and spread for bread with new butter. It meant that those nasty medicines the healers made would taste better. It meant the Brewer would be happy making mead. Honey just seemed to make things happier even if you had to persuade the bees that it was a good thing to share. She watched them bumble along in their bumbly way. It was fun to watch them.

She sat watching absolutely still when a deer came up and started to munch on the rose blossoms. She wanted to shoo him away. No flowers, no honey but the Chief Druid had said she wasn’t to move and she wasn’t to make a single sound if she could so she sat watching.

The deer suddenly got a mouthful of thorns and reared back and decided the roses were too much trouble and headed off for the stream near by. And still Aisling sat. She couldn’t figure out what she was supposed to see sitting here and she was getting really bored. She was getting really suspicious about why she had been sent out here. They just wanted to do things without her being around. She knew it had to be because she punched one of the older boys who kept pulling her braids yesterday. It had really hurt and she wasn’t sorry she had done it either. He deserved it. Maybe not where she had hit him but it was as high as she could punch and it had been funny to watch him roll around on the ground. She hadn’t hit him that hard.

She watched the little wrens flying in and out of the thicket and wondered where their nests were inside the bush. She bet they were nice and cozy and she could hear the sleepy tweets of baby birds. She wondered if the mama and daddy birds got tired to feeding the hungry baby birds because there were a lot of worms going into that bush.

The sun was starting to set in the west when the Chief Druid came and sat down beside her. She had just gotten the idea for a pretty tune and was humming to herself not nearly as bored as she thought she would be after a day on the moor.

They sat quietly watching the sun set behind the thicket and watching the swallows and the bats come out in the gloaming to hunt their dinners.

The Chief Druid said quietly, “What did you see today?”

“I saw the rabbits that live in the thicket and I watched a big dog try to catch one and he missed and he got thorns up his nose. I saw a deer eating the roses but the thorns made it seem like too much work and he left. I watched the bees getting their pollen for honey and I saw all the birds who make their home in the roses.”

“Why do you think the rose has so many animal friends?” The Druid asked.

Aisling thought for a long while, “Because the rose is a safe place to be?”

“Very good,” said the Chief Druid nodding his head and watching the skies.

“What else? Why do you think it’s a safe place?”

“Because the rose is big and has sharpthorns and can protect itself when it needs to?” She looked up at the Chief Druid.

“How does it protect itself?” asked the Druid.

“By just being what she is?” said Aisling thoughtfully.

“So why are you out here watching a wild rose bush?” He asked looking at her directly for the first time.

Aisling thought for a long while, “I think it was naughty to hit someone where they really hurt and not just try a nicer way to protect myself. That I can be useful and helpful with just by being me and helping with what I’m asked to do.”

“Exactly,” said the Chief Druid, “And that it’s okay to defend yourself without getting to aggressive or mean?” He looked down at her smiling.

“He did look really funny though rolling all over on the ground and howling like that.”

The Chief Druid raised an eyebrow and then started to laugh. “Yes, he did, didn’t he? I think maybe he’ll have second thoughts about bothering you for awhile, especially since he spent the day cleaning the pig pens.”

They both were laughing as they walked back to the village in the gentle twilight.

BunniHoTep and the Three Fates

Once upon a time strange things started happening around BunniHoTep’s Temple. It started when all these multi-coloured threads started appearing up and down Temple row. BunniHotep hated to see such beautiful thread just laying around and she thought they were really pretty. One of her priestesses did finger weaving so she taught some of the other priestesses how to do it too. The priestesses had been sitting in the cool shade of the porch busily weaving belts for each other’s robes.

It made BunniHoTep feel happy to see her priestesses so engaged and busy. It felt her free to try and find out where all this thread was coming from. She walked slowly picking threads off the flowers and plants in the garden. Where was it all coming from? It wasn’t floating down from anywhere that she could see. It was just sort of appearing. She hopped down past the sphinxes on Temple Row filling her basket as she went. Down all the way to Neith’s weaving workshop picking up threads.

Neith was standing at the door of her workshop with a puzzled look on her face as she observed the threads. BunniHoTep hopped up to her holding a now heavily weighted basket.

“Are these all yours,” BunniHoTep asked holding out the basket.

“I was thinking Bast’s kittens had really been making a mess.”

Neith shook her head with a bemused look on her face. “They aren’t mine. They’ve been appearing for the last day and I never let my weaver’s waste thread like that. See!”

She moved aside to show BunniHoTep.

“All my leftover bits are used for embroidering or to make other household objects like potholders. And since it’s not my workshop where could they be coming from?”

“I don’t know. They just seem to be appearing. They were all over my cabbages and carrots when I left the Temple. I’ve been picking them up as I came. My priestesses are doing finger weaving with them because they so loved the colours.”

As she spoke she thought she saw someone transparent walk by. “Who was that?”

BunniHoTep pointed to the shade as it walked around the corner.

“I have no idea but it sure looks like the shade or ghost of someone who has passed but they’re dressed in Greek clothing. Who dresses in Greek clothing in our Temple Row? The Greeks rarely leave the Delta except for that pest Herodotus. He’s always around asking stupid questions.”

BunniHoTep was now very curious.”I think I’m going to have to find out what’s going on.”

She hopped back down Temple Row. There weren’t any ghosts heading in or out of Ma’s and Anubis’s Temple. It seemed to be a quiet day but there was more thread on the ground and on the sphinxes. This was very weird but BunniHoTep loved a mystery. She hopped some more down the Temple Row picking up thread as she went.

A very angry woman dressed all in white was standing at the end of Temple Row surrounded by the shades of many people, old, middle-aged and very young. They were milling about in a very confused fashion. As BunniHotep got closer she could hear the woman speaking.

“It isn’t my fault!”

The woman stomped her foot.

“I know you’re supposed to be on your way to Hades. I did not put you here!”

The woman was radiating her anger in every direction and BunniHoTep could see Ammit hiding from it under BunniHoTep’s Temple steps with a worried look on her face.

“Can I help you?” BunniHoTep asked the woman carefully. She didn’t want to make her any madder than she already was.

“I hope so!” the woman said angrily. “These people are all supposed to be going to Hades but due to a very bad pair of babies they aren’t. All my threads ended up in Egypt and from the feel of things they’ve been used to weave something else!”

BunniHoTep thought about all her happily occupied priestesses. Whoops!

“Who are you and can I do something for you?” She offered the basket with the threads she had been collecting toward the old woman.

The woman snatched away from her. “When I catch Eros and Discord I’m going make those two clean Zeus’ toilet for a hundred years. I’m Atropos and I cut the thread of life so people can go on to Hades or drink from the River Lethe and come back and now I have ghosts of people wandering all over. Because some of the threads have been rewoven into things some of them aren’t really sure they’re dead.”

BunniHoTep noticed she had a big pair of scissors hanging from the sash around her chiton.

BunniHotep was pondering what she should do when she saw two other women coming down the way each with a squalling baby tucked under their arm and a determined look on their face. The babies were wriggling and trying to get away. Both of them were flapping their small wings and stirring the goddesses’ hair. It was very clear those babies were not going anywhere very soon.

“These are my sisters Clotho and Lachesis and it seems they have Eros and Discord with them. I’m really tempted to tie these two up by their heels and leave them dangling over your god Sobek. Do you think he’d like a nice fat baby?”

She had a very thoughtful look on her face and BunniHoTep was afraid she was serious by the look on her face.

“Don’t you think Aphrodite should take care of that?” BunniHoTep asked quickly. Eros was squirming out the back because Clotho was distracted by the amount of thread in the basket.

“All of that was scattered here?” Clotho asked.

“And I’m afraid a lot more.” said BunniHoTep. “I have some in the Temple. And I think Neith has collected some at her workshop. Wait here and I’ll see about it.”

BunniHoTep hopped quickly to her Temple and up to her priestesses.

“Quick! Unweave all that thread. It belongs to the Fates and those are the threads of people whose life thread has been cut.”

The priestesses hurriedly started to pull the belts apart very carefully. BunniHoTep hopped around collecting the threads and gathering the threads they hadn’t been used yet.

“Quickly! Those Fates are very upset and we have ghosts wandering everywhere.’

BunniHoTep grabbed the last of the threads and raced back to the avenue.

“Here is all we have in the Temple.”
She hoped they wouldn’t notice that the threads had waves in them from being woven together.

Neith is bringing hers now.

BunniHotep pointed to the goddess that was coming down the way with a large basket.

“I think we got all of them.”

BunniHoTep looked at Eros and Discord to see if they agreed with her. The babies both nodded at her from behind Clotho and Lachesis. They looked very relieved. Atropos grabbed the three baskets and BunniHoTep put her paw out and stopped her.

“What do you do with the threads when you cut them?”asked BunniHotep.

“We burn them at the shrine in Delos, why?” said Atropos as she raised an eyebrow, “What else should we do with them?”

BunniHotep was thinking, was there something better to do with all these threads that wouldn’t leave ghosts wandering around? She just hated the idea of wasting all these pretty threads. She had an idea.

“How about we weave them like this?”

She grabbed a handful of red threads and started to weave them loosely in a square and then when she finished her small square, she grabbed a handful of blue threads and wove a blue square. The shades had gathered around again and the three Fates were watching what she was doing closely. Lachesis, the weaver was intrigued and so was Neith. Lachesis grabbed a handful of green threads and Neith a handful of yellow. BunniHoTep pulled a piece of twine out of pouch at her waist and tied her red square and then the blue and yellow square with the green square she had finished with the white that Neith was finishing. She now had what looked like a clothes line with small flags on it.

“It’s pretty but what is it?” asked the Fates and Neith nodded.

“Well, if the shades agree, these are prayer flags. We can have people who have prayers put them up and when they fray apart and birds take them for nests or they just fade and go back to nature they can carry the prayers of those people back to the gods.”

BunniHoTep turned to the ghosts.

“Wouldn’t you like to be useful a bit more?”

Most of the shades nodded.

“When your thread disintegrates due to wind and sun you will continue on to Hades carrying the prayer with you. Does that sound like a task you would like to do?”

The shades nodded again.

“We’ll have my priestesses and Neith’s priestesses weave them and give them to people to put on trees and over wells to carry their prayers.”

The three Fates thought about this. They had always been troubled by the disposal of all their beautiful threads. This would be a big help.

Lachesis turned the babe trapped under her arm and glared at him.

“I have a chore for you and Discord from now on you are to bring the baskets of thread to BunniHoTep and Neith. You obviously need a bigger job to keep you out of trouble.”

The two babies looked at each other and agreed. This was better than having to clean Zeus’s toilets for a hundred years. That was just gross. One never knew who had been using them in and in what form, it could be anything from a swan to a horse. Ick!

And that is why all over the world people have tied strips of cloth and colourful string to trees to carry their prayers to heaven. You can go to India and find a tree with string or up to Tibet to see the prayer flags on Mount Everest or to Ireland or Scotland and find them tied to willows above the wells. You can travel the earth and find them and know that they have an important job, taking a prayer to heaven.

The Littlest Druid finds the 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.