Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Silver Walking Cane - Magpie Tales 11

Looking back through the years a thread of time dangled from a needle of doubt as I began to remember...

The first time I saw him, or felt his presence to be more precise, was on one of those evenings when it was too hot to sleep.  Nightmares sought to wrap themselves around my sleeping form like a suffocating blanket of grey mist from which there is no escape.

Lifting my head I could just make out through my window, a pale, ghostly moon above the trees that surrounded the lake.  It was not yet full, but the lake, bathed in the moonlight, was more visible for the shining of its silvery beams.

Shaking off the clammy sheets, I made my way to the bathroom where I relieved myself of discomfort and washed my hands in the cool water, which flowed from antique taps.  I gazed into the  mirror just as a shadowy shape slipped by behind me.  I saw the glint of the top of a silver walking cane as the shadow went out of my view.  My skin began to shiver.  Was it fear or an awakening of some sort?  I could not be sure.

I turned round, but there was no-one there.  No sound to indicate the presence of another being and yet...  Morgana, my little calico cat, was waiting for me on the bed as I returned to the four-poster. The large bed was left to me by a favourite aunt when she died. I had always admired it and she was kind enough to tell me that one day it would be mine.  The little cat showed no sign of fear or disturbance, but as I stroked her soft fur I noticed a second form on the eiderdown, this one much larger than a cats.  It looked as if a larger being had taken rest on top of the feathered eiderdown.  Also there was a slight aroma which filled the air.  A scent of the forest would describe it adequately.

Feeling uneasy, I walked the three steps to the window and looked down towards the lake.  Fireflies were darting in the bushes.  Were fairies lighting the way?

Many years have passed since that mysterious night.  There have been nights when the fireflies were as bright as electric sparks and nights so dark that my blood ran cold and my skin grew icy and almost translucent.

There is a certain stillness in the night sometimes that compels me to follow the path down to the lake, to open my senses to the smell of the forest and to train my eyes to watch for a silver glint and a shadowy, tall shape. My ears are keen for the rustle of a leaf or the snap of a twig and my heart quickens pace when I hear it.

These are the nights when the nightmares come.  The terror of being awake and yet asleep.  These are the threads of doubt which dangle from the needle of time as it stabs my heart and I remember... Is it the ancient four-poster bed that keeps me from slumber or the knowledge that I will never see the reflection of my own face as I gaze long and hard into my mirror and attempt to clean those long, sharp teeth?

The silver handled cane stands in the corner of my bedroom these days.  It stands as a testament to my one true love and sometimes, when the moon is almost full, I think I see it sway.  Never again will I follow it down to the lake, watching the fireflies while the cicadas sing their accusing song.  The dark stain on the carpet will see to that!

This is a Magpie Tale.  For more Magpie Tales, click here.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


The west quarter of the Wiccan pentacle represents water and  is the place to find emotion.  It is where the water filled roots of a weeping willow tree would seek succour. It is where I, an emotional being, am drawn.  The Celtic tree month of Willow began on 15th April and I have been thinking about this dramatically powerful magical tree.

I love the idea of a tree for each month. It helps to focus my thoughts and this month I am happy to think about emotion. There is a lot of water in me.

This is an enchanting time of the year. It is a time to use scents to enhance our bodies and an exciting time for our minds because nature is waking up.  Birds and other animals are becoming vivid in their livery in order to seek a mate.  We, as humans, are doing the same, preparing for the big spring Sabbat of Beltane on May 1st.

When we think of the willow tree, we usually think of a weeping willow but there are many other kinds.  The Druids favour the Goat Willow for its branches make a good wand.  It has special spring qualities - silvery flowers on the female tree followed by golden pollen on the catkins. It is an important moon and sun tree.

So, what better time to sit beneath a willow tree with a willow basket in your hand and enjoy the warmer days.  Who knows, if you look in the water beneath the tree, you may even see your future lover.

At Imbolc the triple Goddess was a maiden.  Now she has become a seductress, ready to seduce the young God. He will consummate their union on May 1st.

Many ancient Goddesses are associated with the willow tree.  Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld and the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the Greek Goddess of the earth, had a sacred grove in Tartarus.  It is said that the grove was remarkable for its black poplars and aged willows.


Beltane is the second most important Sabbat in the Wiccan calendar and the last of the three spring fertility festivals. It is a time for loving and finding a mate. In honour of the fire God, Bel, pagan fire festivals have been held since ancient times. Usually celebrated on May 1st, it is an excellent time to hold a wedding.

'The ancient Sumerian goddess Belili was a goddess of trees and willows in particular. She also ruled over the moon, love and the Underworld. As a willow-goddess, she resided over springs and wells. Belili was dramatically superseded by her willow-god consort Bel, who became the supreme lord of the universe through a solar (patriarchal) revolt against Belili's lunar (matriarchal) order. In Europe the Celts honoured Bel as Belin the sun-god, and his worship as 'lord of life and death' slowly entered Britain during tribal migrations and eventually ousted the indigenous lunar worship. Belin's feast days were 30th April and 1st May. So these celebrations became known as Beltaine and during them great fires were lit in Belin's honour.'

from 'Tree Wisdom' by Jacqueline Memory Paterson.

Next you will see an excerpt from the Beltane fire festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2009.
Some nudity in this video.

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Timely Death

Death occurred at 10 o'clock. As the departed soul of Mr. Magander, lifted by angel wings, began its journey, his friends could only stand around and keep vigil.  He died with his best suit one, suddenly and without a fuss as befit his stature in life.

His friends, memories over-flowing in their minds, regarded each other - a state of bewilderment having already set in.  It would be hard to imagine life without this pillar of their society, but what made him really special was the timepiece.

The day he brought it home for them all to admire, was the day he won their respect.  To be in possession of something so precious and to go to such lengths to purloin it, was a cause for celebration.  Even on a full moon they could, if they wanted to, still see it: its gold colour a burnished glimmer in the moonlight. It was a treasure beyond price and forever his... From that day forward, they would look to him to lead them and he would have his choice of the females.  It was only right.

"We must tell the gypsy," said the second in command.  'She'll know what to do."

"Where is she?" said another.  "Has anyone seen her?"

They looked from one to another.  Anxiety hung in the air as the clouds turned black in front of the sun.

"She washes her hair, down by the brook," said another of their number.

The gypsy saw them coming, upside down in her vision as her hair hung free and reached the water.

"What is it?' she asked as they flocked around her.

"We have a funeral to attend," they told her, their voices loud and in unison.

"Oh, I see.  Must I attend?"

"You must come. Please say you will; and scatter flowers round.  It's all we ask."

"I shall attend."

Mr. Magander's friends collected suitable matter for the funeral circle and the gypsy attended as she had promised.

Each friend laid a special wreath near the still body - a blade of grass, so gently laid and another and another.

The gypsy placed the time piece at his head and the chain reached to his feet: a circle of gold.

For a few precious moments, the friends stood still and said 'farewell", each in his own way and then departed. A flurry of darkened wings as they took flight...

When they had all gone, the sky seemed black, covered as it was by a cloak of magpie wings.

The gypsy, looking this way and that, stooped down and picked up the timepiece, putting it gently in her pocket.


NB Magpies are said to hold funerals for fallen friends and even bring along wreaths.

For other Magpie Tales, click here to access Willow's  website.