Turn to the left, down the road to the ford. A quick glance to my left, to the North where the two earth mothers reside. Great Grandmother Bear gets a polite greeting and the Blue Lady a whispered prayer in the language of the village, her prayer, the only one I say that was written by others. I feel their acknowledgements. A muttered growl from one and a white hand, lifted imperceptibly from its position of “endless compassion” in a blessing, or was it the waggle of fingers one does with a close friend passing in a car? A gesture that says “I know you are there”?
Slipping Lily from her lead we carry on towards the river, noticing the deciduous trees nodding in their sleep while the pines wave boisterously.Will I sing to them? Of course I will, I sing to everyone on my walks. A quick burst of joy to the sun and I start with a tree song, ending with The Trail of the Lonesome Pine for the two conifers on their own in the meadow. It’s like singing in the pub when I was young. Expected, appreciated but usual. I think I’d hurt their feelings if I didn’t.
The river is over the ford, lapping up the road so I stop and greet it in two forms, Mother Saraswatee, like the Ganges, present in all flowing water and the individual water spirits who gurgle and laugh back while teasing at my bootlaces like playful puppies. I snap a dog biscuit in two. Throwing half for Lily to fetch I sneak-chuck the other into the stream as an offering, waiting to hear if they have any demands to tell me. No. Then they will not flood the village. I am not just a messenger in one direction, I carry notes to and from the world of men. I imagine each water droplet’s journey and wish them well. “Take my love to Uncle Neptune when you get there. Tell him I miss him.” My childhood by the sea returns and salt tears replace the salt water that was ever on my face as the old sea-father held me up in his arms, teaching me to swim, robbing me of any fear. Turning with a word of blessing to the water spirits for that gift of precious memory, the tears still wet on my cheeks as I remember that I have also met him as Poseidon, angry vengeful wrecker of ships. I do not miss him at all.
Shaking my head I throw it back and say aloud “I know you by all your names. You are but One and I know all your names!” A flicker of red ducking behind the hedgerow and a snigger of “Even mine?” A magpie scolds which I know to be Loki laughing which gave the bird a bad name.
“Yes, Loki. I know you. How could I not? You are me!”
The blue lady sings from the hill, a refrain I too have sung so often in the church “He hath put down the mighty from their seats and hath exalted the humble and meek….”
Just as Loki elevated the poor blind Hod who must have been despised in Viking culture and tricked him into slaying the gorgeous Baldur, dazzling Sun-Prince using the meekest of plants, the over-looked mistletoe. The same story.
Tsk! You lack imagination. For the divine creator you show an obsession with telling the same tale in so many forms. I too am the laughing face of the one who will not take anyone or anything too seriously. I am Loki’s half sister, with my other hand in that of Bride, the woman smith, poet, bard, forger of the finest weapons and words. Reputed to be the Celtic foster mother of Jesus. How would that work? I glance at the lady on the hill and realise that they fled to Egypt after Herod’s attempt at post-natal birth-control. Poor Joseph, older, widowed, offering respectability to a young pregnant girl and pretending to believe her tale of angels, finding himself chased from his country by those who would kill his wife’s son. How much the tale repeats itself today!
Bride walks with me. “You aren’t just Loki’s friend.”
No, Bardlady I am everyone’s friend except the proud and puffed-up. As you see, I speak to all gods and goddesses in all forms, nationalities and pantheons. Just as Jesus learned from the priestesses of Isis in Egypt and then from Bride in Ireland, possibly from Buddha too, or so men think. He took all wisdom and learned from them that tales teach better than moralising. He learned well, your young Aramaic bard.
“Show me your blade, Otter.”
My blade is old and blunt, rusty from lying too long in my own blood. What was a sharp and rapid mind is dulled and stilled.
“No. It has been re-forged in the white heat of madness and tempered in the ice-melt of depression. I give it back to you, new-sharpened. Arm yourself, Otter Bard. Go forth and serve us all well. Tell tales and let men make of them what they will.”