Tag Archive | littlest druid

The Littlest Druid gets ready for Am-Foghar

Aisling sat on the stone step outside the healer’s cottage. It was late in the afternoon and for once no one was in any of the healer’s cottages. The cottage next door where they kept the herbs and the medicines was still. The Herbalist was out on the moors collecting plants and everything that could be cleaned or mixed was done at the moment. The last grain harvest would start in a few days when the moon was full.

Aisling had nothing she was supposed to be doing. Lessons would start again after the harvest and the village was quiet, something that didn’t happen very often. Aisling was thinking about harvests and the different kinds of harvests. The year would be ending soon and food being gathered for the winter. The weavers were busy weaving and knitting warm woolen and linen cloth to be made into winter clothes and spinning and dying yarns of different weights and colours to be used for knitting by the fire when the snows came. They had just finished dying the wools. Aisling had enjoyed creating the dyes with the herbalist. She thought it was rather magical when something that was green like yarrow could create a yellow dye or how some crushed bugs could make a rich red. She had learned a lot in this year. She had been there when babies were born and when the new lambs entered the world. She was there when her friend, the priestess had gone into the West. She learned about healing herbs and how to make teas and medicines. She learned some new divination techniques with the Ogham sticks. She’d learned to interpret the flights of birds and the patterns of clouds. She’d learned poem after poem and lots of new songs. Her friend the Raven had taught her so much about birds and things like how to go quietly and how to laugh at herself.

The harvest would start on the day of equal day and equal night that also happened to be the full moon this year so they could have the feast that followed the first day of harvest when the sun set and the moon rose.

Aisling was missing the priestess who had gone to the West. Aisling thought she had learned more from her than when she was supposed to be in class or with her mentors. She missed their cream teas. The priestess always managed to charm Cook into a plate of s’gons and some cream or freshly churned butter. The Priestess had become a favourite with everyone in the Druid village even the Chief Druid spent long hours comparing notes about their villages and how they did things. She had been a truly wise woman and when she passed over the water the last time the whole village had sung her home. The priestess had left almost as big a hole as her Anam Cara had when she had left. She knew Anann, the bean sidhe had said they were both fine and that death was a part of life but it didn’t make the harvest of loss any easier when you wanted to share a secret or what you had learned during the day. It didn’t make thinking you saw them in the distance and realizing it was someone else, any easier when you knew it wasn’t them and that you’re heart had fooled you again. She did wonder when she smelled the scent of lavender when there was no lavender anywhere nearby if someone was visiting so she had started saying hello and chatting when there was no one around to hear the conversation.

The cottage faced west and the sun was starting to set. Aisling closed her eyes and let the last warm rays of the sun bathe her in the warmth when someone sat down beside her. Aisling was almost afraid to open her eyes because so many big and strange people had sat down beside her to talk. Who was it this time? She sniffed the air and knew who it was and laughed.

“Why are you laughing, Aisling.” The Chief Druid chuckled softly because he knew why, he just had to ask.

“You know,” Aisling said, “I’ve had some pretty interesting people sit by me when I least expect it.”

The Chief Druid laughed, “So what were you thinking about so solemnly?”

“Everything I’ve learned this year. It’s almost Samhain and we’ll start over again before winter. I’ve learned so much but I’ve also lost things I didn’t expect to lose.”

“Like your Anam Cara and your friend, the priestess? You know, Latharn, thought you were something very special.”

“She did?” asked Aisling.

“She did, and I miss her too.” Said the Chief Druid. “She taught me a lot too.”

Aisling looked at the Chief Druid in astonishment. “She did. She taught me to face death with a full heart. She taught me to say when people mean something to them. She taught me to count my blessings.”

“I thought you knew all those things” Aisling looked at the Chief Druid with big eyes.

“I knew them but I didn’t KNOW them. Does that make sense?” Aisling thought about it and nodded her head.

“I think so.” Aisling said slowly.

“Latharn thought that someday you will be a great druid because you have an open heart and an open mind and because you love so completely.”

Aisling sat in stunned silence. Latharn had really thought that about her!

“She thought I should start teaching you some things that the others in your class aren’t ready for yet.”

Aisling was looking at the Chief Druid like an owlet that had been woken up suddenly. “Wwwhhyyy? did she want you to do that?”

“Well, no one else your age or even among the other druids have had conversations with Brighid or Lugh or the Green Man or any of the others that have befriended you since you’ve been here.” Aisling was just staring.

“Think that would be a good thing to start after Samhain” asked the Druid in a teasing voice.

“Really? You want to teach just me? No one else?”

“Just you and maybe some of your friends will help sometimes.” He smiled to himself. This was going to be an interesting winter.

“I’ll let you digest that for awhile. I’ll see you at ritual. Would you recite a poem at ritual about what you are thankful for this year?”

Aisling nodded. She didn’t feel able to speak yet. She looked to the West just as the sun was setting over the far hills. She felt like someone far away had just smiled at her and maybe they had.

Another Brighid story with the Littlest Druid

The Littlest Druid pushed through the snowy afternoon. She needed to be at the next small village to sing at their Solstice celebration and she was afraid she wouldn’t make it. It didn’t snow often here but when it did it could quickly get very deep. She was cold and she was wet and she smelled like a wet sheep.

Her raven had flown ahead a long time ago and she was feeling very alone. She wished she was warm and safe in her village waiting for the Solstice in the barrow (Brú na Bhoinne) waiting for the Sun to return. Being a Bard was way harder than she thought. She had mediated a village disagreement that was just plain silly at her last village. She had sung every song at about the Fae at another one, they hadn’t wanted to hear anything else.

The Sun had disappeared a few hours ago and she was now following the stars to the next village. She was homesick and she was tired of the dark and she was missing Beith and the Head Druid who was so kind to her and she was feeling very alone in the dark with just her pack and her staff and musical instruments for company.

All the sheep and cows had been gathered into the crofts and the only animals she had seen were a few deer. There was no one to talk to out here.

She started to hum a rather sad tune that had begun haunting her several hours ago. It was started to cloud over and she was afraid it would begin to snow again, she gave a huge sigh.

“Oh, Aisling, that was a particularly big one,” a soft voice said behind her.

Aisling almost levitated out of her boots. She turned and saw a familiar green mantle. “Brighid!” she shrieked. She had a very strong impulse to hug her favourite goddess. She stopped. One does not hug goddesses particularly when one is wet and cold and stinking of sheep.

Brighid grabbed her around the shoulders and gave her the hug she’d wanted to give her. Suddenly she was warm and dry and a lot more comfortable. Her raven came flying back and landed on Brighid’s other shoulder.

“I love that you are here out in the middle of all this snow and I thank you for the warmth but why are you way out here?” Aisling asked bravely.

“You” said Brighid. “Bards should bring hope and cheer at Solstice to welcome the flame and the birth of the Sun. You are getting close to the village and they want you to celebrate with them. You are a light for their Solstice.”

“I don’t feel like a light right at the moment, at all.” She said rather emphatically.

“I know, Aisling, I know. That’s why I’m here. You can see the village lights shining across the snow? This village really needs you to be their light in the dark. There were a lot of deaths near Samhain and they have been very sad and in a dark, dark place. No Bard or Druid has been here for many months. You will be the first in a long time.”

“How can I be a light when all I want to do go home and be with my people? Until you came I was cold and miserable and very stinky”

“Aisling, look around you and what do you see?” As they had been walking the sky had cleared and stars shown.

“I see the stars, oh so many bright stars. I see tall trees and oh! There are some rabbits under the trees. And a deer and there’s an owl in that tree ahead.”

“Were you alone?” asked Brighid raising an eyebrow.

“Nooo,” replied Aisling.”I was a little blindered, wasn’t I?”

“We all get that way sometimes.” Brighid said thoughtfully.

“Even you?” Aisling asked

“Even me.” nodded Brighid.

“It’s hard to look for the good in the world. It’s hard to look for beauty and for the love in the world when all looks dark.” said Brighid.

“Your job, though, is to remind people there is good in the world even at the darkest of times and hours. The Sun always returns at the darkest hour and so does hope. There is always life in death and light in dark and a spark of hope if you know where to look. You just have to remember to look.” Brighid pointed to a woodpecker with his bright red head diving onto a tree branch. A full moon had risen as they were walking and it was very, very still.

Beautiful lights gleamed across the snow in welcome. Aisling felt calm and ready to face this sad village. She strode forward and Brighid faded away.

She was ready to be the light.

New Story – The Littlest Druid needed some Yuletide cheer

The Littlest Druid pushed through the snowy afternoon. She needed to be at the next small village to sing at their Solstice celebration and she was afraid she wouldn’t make it. It didn’t snow often here but when it did it could quickly get very deep. She was cold and she was wet and she smelled like a wet sheep.

Her raven had flown ahead a long time ago and she was feeling very alone. She wished she was warm and safe in her village waiting for the Solstice in the barrow (Brú na Bhoinne) waiting for the Sun to return. Being a Bard was way harder than she thought. She had mediated a village disagreement that was just plain silly at her last village. She had sung every song at about the Fae at another one, they hadn’t wanted to hear anything else.

The Sun had disappeared a few hours ago and she was now following the stars to the next village. She was homesick and she was tired of the dark and she was missing Beith and the Head Druid who was so kind to her and she was feeling very alone in the dark with just her pack and her staff and musical instruments for company.

All the sheep and cows had been gathered into the crofts and the only animals she had seen were a few deer. There was no one to talk to out here.

She started to hum a rather sad tune that had begun haunting her several hours ago.  It was started to cloud over and she was afraid it would begin to snow again, she gave a huge sigh.

“Oh, Aisling, that was a particularly big one,” a soft voice said behind her.

Aisling almost levitated out of her boots. She turned and saw a familiar green mantle. “Brighid!” she shrieked. She had a very strong impulse to hug her favourite goddess. She stopped. One does not hug goddesses particularly when one is wet and cold and stinking of sheep.

Brighid grabbed her around the shoulders and gave her the hug she’d wanted to give her. Suddenly she was warm and dry and a lot more comfortable. Her raven came flying back and landed on Brighid’s other shoulder.

“I love that you are here out in the middle of all this snow and I thank you for the warmth but why are you way out here?” Aisling asked bravely.

“You” said Brighid. “Bards should bring hope and cheer at Solstice to welcome the flame and the birth of the Sun. You are getting close to the village and they want you to celebrate with them. You are a light for their Solstice.”

“I don’t feel like a light right at the moment, at all.” She said rather emphatically.

“I know, Aisling, I know. That’s why I’m here. You can see the village lights shining across the snow? This village really needs you to be their light in the dark. There were a lot of deaths near Samhain and they have been very sad and in a dark, dark place. No Bard or Druid has been here for many months. You will be the first in a long time.”

“How can I be a light when all I want to do go home and be with my people? Until you came I was cold and miserable and very stinky”

“Aisling, look around you and what do you see?” As they had been walking the sky had cleared and stars shown.

“I see the stars, oh so many bright stars. I see tall trees and oh! There are some rabbits under the trees. And a deer and there’s an owl in that tree ahead.”

“Were you alone?” asked Brighid raising an eyebrow.

“Nooo,” replied Aisling.”I was a little blindered, wasn’t I?”

“We all get that way sometimes.” Brighid said thoughtfully.

“Even you?” Aisling asked

“Even me.” nodded Brighid.

“It’s hard to look for the good in the world. It’s hard to look for beauty and for the love in the world when all looks dark.” said Brighid.

“Your job, though, is to remind people there is good in the world even at the darkest of times and hours. The Sun always returns at the darkest hour and so does hope. There is always life in death and light in dark and a spark of hope if you know where to look. You just have to remember to look.” Brighid pointed to a woodpecker with his bright red head diving onto a tree branch. A full moon had risen as they were walking and it was very, very still.

Beautiful lights gleamed across the snow in welcome. Aisling felt calm and ready to face this sad village. She strode forward and Brighid faded away.

She was ready to be the light.

 

 

 

 

 

The Littlest Druid learns about Samhain

Aisling sat at the edge of the turnip field, a pile of perfect turnips piled beside her. She only needed one more. Her teacher had sent her out here to select the nine turnips that would be carved into lanterns to represent the skulls of the people who had died in the village for the procession on Samhain.

Her teacher had told her that they used to use the skulls of people who had died. She was glad they had switched to turnips. She knew death was a part of life but she didn’t want to see the skull of her friend Beith that had died this year. She missed her so much. It still hurt to lose her.

It was an honor to be picked for this job. She had to find the biggest and most perfect turnips for the lanterns. This wasn’t easy because turnips grow underground and she had to choose hers before they started harvesting the field. She was supposed to pull the turnips that called out to her and those would be the right ones and she had one left to go. She wanted the absolute most perfect one for Beith.

She closed her eyes and reached her hands out trying to feel which one in the field was calling her. She felt a tug from the left and started to walk that in that direction. She kept her hand out and cautiously walked across the field. She closed her eyes and stood still and put her hands out again. It was close by, she could tell and someone put a turnip in her hand.

Aisling’s eyes flew up and a woman smiled at her.

“I think this is the one you need for Beith.” The woman said as she handed Aisling the turnip. It was a lovely one. Beautiful clear white and just an edging of purple around the top and it was clean with no soil clinging to it.

Aisling knew she had been alone in the field but it was the gloaming time and she was well aware anything could happen in the between times and for her it usually did.

Aisling studied the woman and was trying to figure out who she was when the woman said to her, “I’m Anann. I’m the one who came for Beith. She wanted you to know she is doing well but she still loves and misses you.”

Aisling felt a lump in her throat. She swallowed trying to keep it down. She didn’t want to cry in front of the goddess. Anann reached her hand out and smoothed Aisling’s hair which really didn’t help at all.

“She’s happy and safe and not in pain anymore?” Aisling finally got out.

“She is happy and safe and not in pain anymore. She and the priestess you helped have a message for you.”

“They do?” Ailsing wasn’t sure how that worked.

“They want you to know they are always around if you need them and that someday they will be back.” Anann told her.

“I so want to carry Beith’s lantern in the procession. Do you think that they will let me?” Aisling asked beginning to relax.

I don’t think the Chief Druid would have it any other way but you know you will be the youngest in the procession?”

Aisling nodded. She really wanted to honour her friend and not do anything wrong. Samhain was too important a time and she wanted Beith to be proud of her and know she still loved her.

Anann spoke and it was if she had heard Aisling’s thoughts. “She is proud of you all the time because you don’t give up and you’re always learning. Do you know what my job is?” asked the goddess.

Aisling thought and remembered, “To comfort the dying, and to make the fields fertile and to protect the cattle.”

Anann laughed, “Good! That’s some of it. I also teach the dying about their existence after they die and help them get ready to return. You know how your teacher told you that you are supposed to rejoice when people die because they are being born into the Otherworld?”

Aisling nodded again. She still didn’t feel like rejoicing that her best friend in the whole world was gone and it made her choke up again and start being angry. How was that something to rejoice about?

Anann looked at her. “The rejoicing part is the hardest, isn’t it? You still want and miss your friend. She still wants and misses you too but part of life is learning to let go and rejoicing when someone dies hurts. There is no way out of that but you need to know that that is you hurting and she doesn’t hurt any longer. No pain and no strife, she is at peace.”

Aisling was beginning to see the pain was about her. “Am I being selfish when I miss her so much?”

“No, you’re being human and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’d worry about you a lot if you didn’t.”

“You would?”

“Aisling, you are going to be a very good druid, maybe even a great druid and the best druids have felt all emotions and know that other people feel them too. They learn that everything isn’t about them. It’s about the all, everything and everyone that exists.”

Aisling was quiet for a bit. “Is it okay if I still miss her a lot?”

“Always, it will just hurt less and you will start to have more happy memories than sad ones.”

“Really?” Ailsing asked.

“Really, and it’s even all right if you cry during the procession and the ceremony. It shows you loved someone.”

Anann hugged Aisling, “Don’t you need to take these and go help carve them into lanterns?”

Aisling grabbed her sack and started stuffing the turnips into the bag she’d brought.

“Not so fast, you don’t want to bruise them.” laughed Anann and she helped Aisling put the turnips in more carefully.

“I’ll be watching tomorrow night with the rest of your dead. Be well, Aisling, you will be fine,” and Anann walked to the end of the field and was gone.

******

The next night Aisling lined up with the others. She was last in line with her lantern. She was very proud of the carving she had done. She thought she had captured Beith’s smile just right. They started the procession and Aisling started to weep. She missed her friend but it was going to be all right. She thought she got a glimpse of Anann, Beith, and the Priestess in the crowd but it was hard to see by the light of the turnip lanterns and she couldn’t be sure. When she got to the hall where they were going to have a feast and celebrate the lives of their dead, the Chief Druid caught her eye and winked.

“What was that about?”

This post references the events in this story:http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-loss/

and this one: http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-healing/

The Littlest Druid gets ready for Am-Foghar (Autumn)

Aisling sat on the stone step outside the healer’s cottage. It was late in the afternoon and for once no one was in any of the healer’s cottages. The cottage next door where they kept the herbs and the medicines was still. The Herbalist was out on the moors collecting plants and everything that could be cleaned or mixed was done at the moment. The last grain harvest would start in a few days when the moon was full.

Aisling had nothing she was supposed to be doing. Lessons would start again after the harvest and the village was quiet, something that didn’t happen very often. Aisling was thinking about harvests and the different kinds of harvests. The year would be ending soon and food being gathered for the winter. The weavers were busy weaving and knitting warm woolen and linen cloth to be made into winter clothes and yarns of different weights and colours to be used for knitting by the fire when the snows came. They had just finished dying the wools. Aisling had enjoyed creating the dyes with the herbalist. She thought it was rather magical when something that was green like yarrow could create a yellow dye or how some crushed bugs could make a rich red. She had learned a lot in this year. She had been there when babies were born and when the new lambs entered the world. She was there when her friend, the priestess had gone into the West. She learned about healing herbs and how to make teas and medicines. She learned some new divination techniques with the Ogham sticks. She’d learned to interpret the flights of birds and the patterns of clouds. She’d learned poem after poem and lots of new songs. Her friend the Raven had taught her so much about birds and things like how to go quietly and how to laugh at herself.

The harvest would start on the day of equal day and equal night that also happened to be the full moon this year so they could have the feast that followed the first day of harvest when the sun set and the moon rose.

Aisling was missing the priestess who had gone to the West. Aisling thought she had learned more from her than when she was supposed to be in class or with her mentors. She missed their cream teas. The priestess always managed to charm Cook into a plate of s’gons and some cream or freshly churned butter. The Priestess had become a favourite with everyone in the Druid village even the Chief Druid spent long hours comparing notes about their villages and how they did things. She had been a truly wise woman and when she passed over the water the last time the whole village had sung her home. The priestess had left almost as big a hole as her Anam Cara had when she had left. She knew Anann, the bean sidhe had said they were both fine and that death was a part of life but it didn’t make the harvest of loss any easier when you wanted to share a secret or what you had learned during the day. It didn’t make thinking you saw them in the distance and realizing it was someone else, any easier when you knew it wasn’t them and that you’re heart had fooled you again. She did wonder when she smelled the scent of lavender when there was no lavender anywhere nearby if someone was visiting so she had started saying hello and chatting when there was no one around to hear the conversation.

The cottage faced west and the sun was starting to set. Aisling closed her eyes and let the last warm rays of the sun bathe her in the warmth when someone sat down beside her. Aisling was almost afraid to open her eyes because so many big and strange people had sat down beside her to talk. Who was it this time? She sniffed the air and knew who it was and laughed.

“Why are you laughing, Aisling.” The Chief Druid chuckled softly because he knew why, he just had to ask.

“You know,” Aisling said, “I’ve had some pretty interesting people sit by me when I least expect it.”

The Chief Druid laughed, “So what were you thinking about so solemnly?”

“Everything I’ve learned this year. It’s almost Samhain and we’ll start over again before winter. I’ve learned so much but I’ve also lost things I didn’t expect to lose.”

“Like your Anam Cara and your friend, the priestess? You know, Latharn, thought you were something very special.”

“She did?” asked Aisling.

“She did, and I miss her too.” Said the Chief Druid. “She taught me a lot too.”

Aisling looked at the Chief Druid in astonishment. “She did. She taught me to face death with a full heart. She taught me to say when people mean something to them. She taught me to count my blessings.”

“I thought you knew all those things” Aisling looked at the Chief Druid with big eyes.

“I knew them but I didn’t KNOW them. Does that make sense?” Aisling thought about it and nodded her head.

“I think so.” Aisling said slowly.

“Latharn thought that someday you will be a great druid because you have an open heart and an open mind and because you love so completely.”

Aisling sat in stunned silence. Latharn had really thought that about her!

“She thought I should start teaching you some things that the others in your class aren’t ready for yet.”

Aisling was looking at the Chief Druid like an owlet that had been woken up suddenly. “Wwwhhyyy? Did she want you to do that?”

“Well, no one else your age or even among the other druids have had conversations with Brighid or Lugh or the Green Man or any of the others that have befriended you since you’ve been here.” Aisling was just staring.

“Think that would be a good thing to start after Samhain” asked the Druid in a teasing voice.

“Really? You want to teach just me? No one else?”

“Just you and maybe some of your friends will help sometimes.” He smiled to himself. This was going to be an interesting winter.

“I’ll let you digest that for awhile. I’ll see you at ritual. Would you recite a poem at ritual about what you are thankful for this year?”

Aisling nodded. She didn’t feel able to speak yet. She looked to the West just as the sun was setting over the far hills. She felt like someone far away had just smiled at her and maybe they had.

My heart is broken

Yesterday at Faire, I was reading my stories to everyone and this was the next one I had picked to read and standing there I just couldn’t read it. Now I wonder if I should have. So here it is,  and it’s dedicated to my gay brothers and sisters who died because of someone’s hate celebrating their pride and love.

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 grow 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.

The Littlest Druid creates

Aisling watched the rain fall outside the stone window and expected that this was going to be a long day. It was a soft rain but steady and since it was just another day in a long line of rainy days. She sighed.

She supposed she could work on the piece she had been trying to write. It was almost La Fheil Brighde and she had been trying to write a new hymn to Brighid. It was the first time in almost a year she had been back to the village since she had been consecrated a Bard.

It had been a wonderful year but a lonely one. She had told all the stories she had learned. Learned some new ones along the way. Sung some songs and walked long distances alone except for sheep and a few wild deer she had been lucky enough to chat with along the way but now she was home for a rest and to celebrate Brighid’s day.

She wondered if Brighid was going to appear at the ritual. Here Aisling was one of many and the newest Bard still so she wouldn’t be part of the ritual unless she could come up with a good enough piece to please the Chief Druid and the Head Bard. The Head Bard had never forgiven her for her raven’s thievery so it was always hard to impress him.

She had a tune that kept circling her brain like her raven drifted in the sky but it wouldn’t settle in or enlighten her with the words that were supposed to go with it. She supposed she could go get one of the smelly sheep skins and wrap herself up in and find it but that had never worked well for her. All she could think about was the poor old sheep it had come from and they stunk. Sheep’s wool was still itchy on or off the sheep. She wondered if sheep itched from their wool but probably not and she couldn’t really ask them and get a good answer.

She decided to take a walk in the rain, maybe that would shake something loose. She grabbed her cloak and her carved staff which had gathered more carvings when she had been away and her bag with her whistle and started on the path out of the village to their standing stones. She could hear the sheep in the fold moving around and knew they would be out on the hills soon and giving birth. She wondered if her favourite ewe was pregnant again, she was an old friend.

It was too wet for the raven to be out and about so she walked alone up the hill. She pulled out the whistle and started to play the tune that was swirling in and out. It was lilting and she could almost hear the words but they were just out of her reach. She reached the circle of stones and sat with her back against one. Somehow these stones were always comforting. She could see the first snowdrops blooming on the hill behind the stones and she started to sing.

Spring comes and brings the lambs
Brighid comes and wakes our land
From darkest night to the coming of day
The light returns after darkest day

I sing of healing
I sing of new life
I sing of love and the return of the light

We are inspired and live to create
We use our hands, wonderous things to make
From nothing they come, to use they go
The coming of spring after winter’s snow

I sing of healing
I sing of new life
I sing of love and the return of the light

I sing of her guidance and the sense of peace
I sing of her patience while I try to create
I sing of inspiration and the raising of hope
I sing of her flame we keep in the grove

Brighid, I welcome you at the start of your day
Please guide me with your flames to light my way
Inspire me, create me a new every day
Forge me and make a flame for a day

I sing of healing
I sing of new life
I sing of love and the return of the light.

“Thank you.” a voice behind Aisling’s stone said and Aisling turned around quickly. Brighid was standing there in her beautiful green cloak and dress.

“You heard it?” Aisling finally squeaked out.

“Every word and note.” Brighid laughed softly. “It’s lovely and you had better share it.” She said with a twinkle. “Aisling, I thank you for honouring me with it. Blessings of the day, dear one” and she was gone.

Aisling shivered to herself. Brighid had liked it! That ought to be enough for the Head Bard but most of all it was enough for her. She settled back against the stone after tugging her hood back down on her curls. It was going to be a wonderous day.

The Littlest Druid learns to smith

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 celebrates La Fheile Brighid

Once upon a time, Aisling was sitting on the side of the hill above the flocks of sheep. She was thoroughly wrapped in a sheepskin coat and leggings and she wondered if the sheep cared that she was wearing one of their old friends. It made her feel funny until she remembered how cold she would be if she wasn’t wearing them. She was feeling marooned.

She’d been sent out here to watch for the ewes to start bearing their lambs. She wanted to be back at the village while they got ready for Imbolq but once again she had made herself unwelcome. Everyone was all excited for the feast and ritual. Most of her friends were more excited about the feast than the ritual. It had been a long time since the Winter Solstice festival and the winter had been cold and hard. It was time to celebrate spring’s return.

She had been trying to help out with all the preparations but her teacher and the Chief Druid had finally sent her out here to be with the sheep.

They had told her it was a very important job but sitting here alone in the cold it didn’t seem so important. It seemed like punishment. She lowered her head to her knees and felt a rush of self pity.

She always meant well but things just didn’t seem to ever work out well for her. She had been helping with the beeswax candle making but got distracted making wax build up on her finger. She couldn’t help how nice and warm the wax had felt on her hands and it smelled so good!

Somehow the druidess in charge of the candlemaking hadn’t seen it that way. She’d gone over to hold the wool that a group of women were spinning and some how it ended up in one big knot instead of a ball that they could use to knit.

So now she was here, by herself, while the regular shepherds went in for dinner and a nap. They had told her not to worry. None of the ewes were ready to give birth yet so all she had to do was sit.

So she sat in the dark surrounded by sleepy, stupid sheep even the sheep dogs had gone with the shepherds for their dinner. She gave a heavy sigh.

The Chief Druid had said this was an important job because they couldn’t start the celebration until the ewes gave birth and their milk came in. This usually happened around a full moon and a half after solstice so it was a few days yet. He had said someone had to be here because sheep sometimes got into trouble and the mother died giving birth so someone had to be with her and some one had to make sure the lambs would be alright. Aisling just felt punished and not important at all. The only thing she could see was that if there was extra milk there would be really good cheese and she loved cheese.

She was trying to stay awake by counting falling stars and watching the Aurora shift and move across the sky. One of the boys had said it was Brighid’s green skirt moving across the sky and she wondered if she tried hard enough she could see the rest of Brighid.

She was starting to get really drowsy when a ram hit her from behind and rolled her forward into the grass. “Hey!” The ram stood looking at her and then turned to run across the field. He stopped to see if she was following so she did.

He turned around and started running again toward the far eastern part of the field. She struggled to catch up. He was moving really fast. She had no idea a sheep could go that fast. She fell twice and each time he stopped and waited for her to get up.

What was happening here? The shepherds had promised nothing would be exciting in the least but she had a feeling they were wrong.  At the edge of the field was a dip and in that dip was a very pregnant ewe. She was bleating softly at the ram and she looked like she was trying to give birth. She was on her side and Aisling knew that wasn’t good. Sheep give birth lying down but she didn’t look right.

The ram butted Aisling again. Aisling knew she was in real trouble. The sheep’s side was heaving as she strained. Something was very wrong and Aisling was very scared. They had promised nothing would happen and as usual they were wrong! She had never even watched let alone help a sheep give birth and there was no one else around.

Aisling started praying to Brighid because she couldn’t think of anything else to do while she patted the sheep and tried to remember to breathe.

What was she going to do? If the sheep or the lambs died she’d be in real trouble then and it would mean a bad celebration and year.

She was too far away to call for help. She just kept stroking the sheep’s head and felt a tear down her cheek. She’d really done it this time. They had promised it wasn’t time yet!

She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up. There was a woman in green kneeling next to the sheep. The woman smiled at her and began to touch the sheep gently to find out what was wrong.

She motioned to Aisling to hold the sheep’s upper body and rolled up her sleeves and reached into the sheep’s birth canal to straighten the lamb that came sliding out. The sheep gave a jerk and turned to lick her lamb while the lamb tried to stand. The woman gently pushed the lamb toward the mother’s teat and wiped her hands on the grass.

She watched the lamb and ewe for a moment and smiled. She stood up and gave Aisling a hug.

“You did well and now you better go tell the shepherds and the Chief Druid what has happened. It’s time for the feast.”

Aisling looked at the woman. She was dressed all in green with embroidery of red, black and white around her dress. The woman had red hair worn in braids like a crown and had warm blue eyes. Aisling wanted to ask her name but she had a feeling she knew who she was. She had asked her to come after all.

“Yes, I am who you think I am. You asked with all your heart and I came to help. Prayers are always answered when you ask. You just may not like the answer.”

Aisling looked at her with doubt. She looked at the Goddess and she looked at the ewe and her lamb. The ram had sat down with his legs folded under them and just looked at the two of them. She decided they were the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

Brighid gave Aisling’s hair one final stroke. “You’d better go and tell them the news.” She said again and gave Aisling a slight push. “But don’t tell them I was here. Let it be our secret. They don’t need to know. Well, maybe the Chief Druid.”

She laughed and walked away over her shoulder she said, “Keep trying Aisling, just keep trying.”

Aisling took off running back across the field. The boys were right. The Aurora did look like Brighid’s skirt she thought as she ran.

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.