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One Crow Sorrow, Two Crows Joy, 200 Crows A Crow Tree

A tweet flying through my twitter feed tells of a woman who just attained her PhD in … crows. Well, her thesis is more exact than that, but anything dealing with crows catches my attention. And I find she also has a WordPress site. So, why not repost this older “Crow blog“? Whilst I look out at The Crow Tree.

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(image)https://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/10/01/science/01ZIMMER/01ZIMMER-master1050.jpg

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The crows are in The Crow Tree. They have not been there for months. Sitting at the top above the red and orange foliage.

There are 50 and more crows in The Crow Tree. Making a mighty ruckus as if in strenuous debate. They are greatly agitated.

Crows leave The Crow Tree in droves, circle and return. They are clustered on the top branches with constant noise. More arrive.

Stark contrast on The Crow Tree. A ridge of black crows on top of the red and orange leaves against the blue sky. They keep circling.

It is a picket fence of crows on The Crow Tree. When they perch they cast large shadows. They seem less agitated.

The crow discourse on The Crow Tree seems to be over. Most have moved on and the few remaining are silent. I wonder what they decided.

At The Crow Tree, the rest is silence.

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An hour ago my walk took me to a small park/garden across from a church. There are three benches, and I sit there often. Part way through my contemplations, a crow settled into the bird bath. A large crow and a birdbath that would not comfortably accommodate two crows. There had been  a big rainstorm the day before and the birdbath was full.

At first I thought the crow was just drinking from the water. But, within a couple of minutes, he was splashing and cavorting and dousing himself in water from his active dance. Head to tip of tail and all feathers in between. A right good soaking.

Then, with a great shake and some flying sprays of water, he flew away.

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Ogma Meets A Unicorn (for National Unicorn Day)

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Twitter and many other parts of the world are awash in comments and observations about National Unicorn Day. Since so much of it seems frivolous, here is an excerpt from my novel, A Lost Gospel, where unicorns are as real as the fingers on your hand.

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“You want us to think like the unicorn?” Ogma was irritated, and spoke with deliberation. “The ways of the beasts are even beyond the girl. At her best, I believe she just follows.”

“There are times, Ogma, when the worth is not in the accomplishment, but in the attempt.”

“I’ll be a better man by trying to think like the beast?”

“You can’t help but be a better man, Ogma.”

“Well. That’s spoken like a Head Druid.” Although Cowin could not see his actions – perhaps because Cowin was unable to see him – Ogma held out his hand and rubbed his fingers together. “Here, beastie, beastie. Uncle Ogma has a wee treat for you.”

“Is that what you think a unicorn thinks?”

“But if you come up to Uncle Cowin,” Ogma’s voice now had a sing-song tone. “Just jab him in the arse with that big horn, for he doesn’t have anything for you at all.”

“A least I promise nothing.” The Head Druid had finally deduced what Ogma was doing. “But what will be the reaction of those very sharp teeth when your hand is found to be empty?”

“What?” Ogma hesitated.

“Does the unicorn possess your sense of humour?” Cowin did not try to suppress a chuckle. “Or will your empty hand be empty even of fingers?”

Ogma momentarily considered the question, then quickly raised his hand. He was about to make an obscene gesture, but instead turned in the direction of a distant noise. He could feel by the brush of Cowin’s cloak that the Head Druid did the same.

“We’re being approached without hesitation.” Ogma whispered the words.”By more than one, if the sounds don’t play tricks.”

“That isn’t possible in this fog.” As the oncoming noise shifted, Cowin turned slightly. “I don’t suppose you have a knife under your cloak?”

“No, Head Druid.” Ogma stared into the dark. “Like most, I rarely carry arms while on the Island.”

“The times are changing.” Cowin looked at the vague shape of his companion. “Keep no more than a few strides distant.”

“We’re not prepared for a fucking invasion.” Ogma got into a crouch and flanked the Head Druid.

“Maybe they won’t see us.” Cowin leaned toward the approaching noise.

“I think that’s a false hope.” Ogma moved into his fighting position, bracing for an attack. “They’re aiming right in our direction.”

“The fog will give some protection.” The Head Druid also crouched into a combat stance. “Let as many as possible go past, then jump the ones at the rear. If they’re armed, we might wrestle a weapon from them.”

“Or a body to use as a shield.” Ogma wrapped his cloak around his arm to help deflect a thrusting sword.

“Nothing fancy.” Cowin dug his heels into the earth. “We have to go on this voyage – nothing is more important. If we’re overwhelmed, we must try to escape.”

The fog seemed to muffle noises which were close, yet make distant sounds crack like a whip beside their ears. This aided to the druids’ confusion, and they couldn’t tell who was approaching, or from where. It was Ogma who spoke first, using an oath which held traces of fear around the words.

“Something’s brushing against me.”

“What do you – ”

“Curse Manannan’s damn fog – it’s at my legs.” There were sounds of commotion, and then of a body rolling on the earth. “Fucking sword of death.” Ogma’s voice was high.

“Where are you?” Cowin stared uselessly through the fog.

“By the gods of hell. Get it away from me.”

“Ogma.” Cowin moved toward his voice. “I can’t even – ”

“It’s the beast.” Ogma shouted. “The damned beast.”

“Beast?”

“The unicorn.” Ogma was sputtering in anger. “It’s pulling my clothes with its teeth, and that horn has come inches from – ” Ogma’s voice moved. “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

“Ogma.” The Head Druid was both concerned and relieved. “Don’t struggle – it’s not going to hurt you.”

“You don’t think being frightened can’t hurt you?” Ogma’s voice was sharp, but the rage was ebbing from it. “I’m stopping, you bag of shit. I’m sitting on my arse and not lifting a hand, so get your head away from me.” There was a pause, filled only by the heavy breathing of the unicorn. “This damn thing is bigger than you’d think, Head Druid.”

“Do you still have all your fingers?” Laughter surrounded Cowin’s words. “Or does the unicorn look upon you with a smile?”

“This was its game?”

“Be thankful.” Cowin walked toward the other man’s voice. “You found out the unicorn has a sense of humour.” He reached his hand to help Ogma to his feet.

“The beast does not go after your fingers,” complained Ogma.

“I don’t tease him.” Cowin rubbed the animal’s neck. “Nor do I speak of him in such a rough manner.”

“You think it understands me?”

“Not the words – but the intent.” Cowin felt the unicorn become tense under his hand. “The girl approaches.”

Santa & Me / Me & Santa

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Although I am no fan of having the Santa Claus story take such a bite out of Christmas, I’m not against Santa Claus. In fact, we’ve had quite the relationship.

As a child, I had two ‘encounters’ with Santa. I can’t place the years, but I remember them from the houses I lived in.

The first time I would have been no older than five. I was going to the outhouse on a dark Christmas Eve. The outhouse was a couple of minutes walk from the house. On my way, I heard the bells on Santa’s sleigh. Don’t try to dissuade me, I know what I heard. I even remember the direction I had to turn to see if I could see anything. I was right quick about doing my business.

The second time would have been a couple of years later. On Christmas Day I saw the marks from Santa’s sleigh runners on the snow beside the house.  Never mind your smiles, I know what I saw.

And, a few years after that, I was with some younger friends who questioned me about the reality of Santa Claus. Now, by then I did not believe that Santa existed. But, I didn’t want to tell the “children” that. Neither did I want to lie. I don’t know how long it took me to think of a way out, but long enough (obviously) for it to remain strong in my memory. My answer was: “Well, there must be a Santa Claus. How could your parents afford all those gifts?”

In the years when I did a fair amount of house-sitting, I did so for one couple where the husband had a perfect resemblance to Santa Claus. Thus, for many a Christmas, he was the hit of local gatherings. And he had a beautiful suit and hat and – of course – a real beard.

I also know a poet whose first book was about Mrs. Claus. She is also known to dress up the part (even with a Christmas bonnet) and read at Christmas gatherings.

As for myself, one day I entered my financial institution around Christmas and got into line. As we snaked forward, I came opposite a mother and father with a young child. He looked at me and screamed (literally) “Santa Claus!” Then he burst into tears. I don’t know what troubled him (maybe I was out of uniform).

Finally, a few years ago, (and this was not around Christmas, though it was Fall) I was walking in a park. A family approached, two parents and three children. One of the boys (and he looked five or six) dashed ahead and stood in front of me. “Santa Claus,” he said. I thought it was some sort of joke, but he turned excitedly to his siblings. “It’s Santa Clause.” He was quite happy. The father said “Maybe not.” but did not really try to dissuade him.

And neither did I.

DE

(image) http://www.abc.net.au/news/image/8129170-3×2-940×627.jpg

The Pagan Feast Of Christmas Where Jesus Tags Along

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Christmas is a fake that has taken root like the holly and survives tenaciously. It has become a goodies grab fest, and helps keep our commercial society stable. Perhaps reason enough to exist.

The wily Christians conquered the outnumbered Celts and supplanted their winter festival with the birth of their God. The wily pagans live on in the numerous traditions the Christians stole, so perhaps it is a fair trade. And no doubt those wily pagans chuckle over their mead, noting this celebration of reverence has become a surfeit of greed.

I have been no fan of Christmas for decades, but its mixed legacy encourages me not to abandon it. My Christian background encourages my enjoyment of the music and traditions. Most commercial intrusions can be muted or turned off. I have some personal traditions I almost follow religiously.

I do not even rail against Santa Claus. I heard his sleigh bells one Christmas Eve when I was five. I saw his sleigh runner tracks in the snow a couple of years later.

I have even been mistaken for Santa a couple of times.

Once, in the line-up in a bank near Christmas, a two year old pointed at me. Unfortunately, my presence terrified him and he started to scream and cry. His parents said things like “But Santa is nice and kind.” I was wise enough not to go Ho Ho Ho.

Another time a family approached me as I walked in a park. A boy, who looked to be six or seven, stopped in his tracks then ran back to his parents. “Santa Claus!”  He pointed. Happily he did not cry. They walked past me in silence.

Also, for decades, I lived close to a residence where one of the very first recitations of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas happened. The author of that stirring piece, Clement Moore, who wrote it in 1822, sent a copy to his godfather, the Rev Johnathan O’Dell, of Fredericton New Brunswick. However, the poem was not published until 1837.

This year, I have been brushed by Christmas but twice.

I entered a restaurant to meet a friend for lunch. Before any query was out of my mouth, I was ushered to the correct table. I found out the maître d ‘ had been told to be on the outlook for Santa Claus.

And, just this morning, I was told by a revered friend and writer that she was going to write a Christmas Eve column about how silly Christmas really is.

Silly is a kind word.

DE

(image)http://www.irishcelticjewels.com/celtic-wedding/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/irish-christmas-angel.jpg

The Seeds Of Halloween

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Halloween [All Saint’s Eve] has been imposed upon the Celtic festival of Samhain. That’s what the Christians did as they replaced other religions. Keep all the good bits and call it something else. In my novel, A Lost Gospel, Druids and the Celts go one better. They have to make sure that Yeshua [Jesus] gets crucified.

The following is a portion of the first chapter of A Lost Gospel, edited for clarification.

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Segment from  A Lost Gospel:

It was a Sorcerer’s moon.

At least that is what the boatmen called it, and they feared travelling under its light. It gave false hope in the fog, disappearing just when it promised to show the way. And when it emerged again, it was only to reveal the distance the foundering sailors would have to swim.

“We can’t go in this, Head Druid.”

“No, Ogma. We can’t.”

“I don’t concern myself with the things you deal with, Head Druid.” Ogma stared into the fog before he continued. “You plot and plan.

You tell me our voyage will affect the world for thousands of years.” He laughed again. “You may be right, or you may get visions from the ale.”

“There isn’t drink strong enough to show me what I’ve seen.”

“None of us doubt you.” Ogma’s voice became lower. “You tell me what to do – and I do it. But I can’t do my job if I begin to worry about what might happen.”

“It isn’t that simple.”

“For me it is.” Ogma took a couple of steps closer to Cowin.

“You’d pull the oars alone, if you had to.” The Head Druid’s voice was less tense. “I don’t know if that’s single-minded, or simple-minded.”

“This might prove no worse than sailing around the island.” Ogma debated whether or not he should be insulted by Cowin’s last comment. “Going around the north tip of The Isle of Man is like going to the end of nowhere. We do it often.”

 

“That’s right enough.” Cowin turned his back to the water. “We add some days to our usual voyages, and we can reach Europe.” His voice became animated. “And after we arrive in the Alps, we won’t be travelling alone.”

“What do we know of these Mountain people?” Ogma turned abruptly from the sea. “We should stick to our own kind.”

“Do you need things repeated into your ears time after time?” The Head Druid was quickly annoyed.

“Perhaps.” Ogma pulled his cloak against the damp.

“What is it you want to be told again?”

“How are we supposed to kill a God?” Ogma’s voice rose as the words spilled out. “And why do we go to this place called Jerusalem to do it?” He leaned toward the other man. “And in this giant heathen encampment, how will we find one man named Yeshua?”

“We’ll know these answers when we get to Jerusalem.” Cowin’s voice betrayed his impatience. “We’ll get there with the help of these mountain people.” Cowin bent down to speak directly into the little man’s ear. “And they are our own kind. They’re Druids, and they join us with their unicorn.”

“The beasts.” Ogma shook his head. “One is trouble enough.”

“We need their woman, Glarus. She was with this god when he was born.”

“Why didn’t she smother him then?”

“Because it was not the time!” Cowin stared at the smaller man. “You’ve heard the oracles. You’ve seen the signs. You know the way the unicorn behaves. This Yeshua must die only when he is a man – and we must make certain that the man dies.”

“A God which is a man. A God which is able to die.” Ogma’s voice rose. “And you ask why I don’t understand.”

“Our own gods decree this change.”

The Head Druid made a cutting motion with his hand to show the discussion was over, but Ogma ignored him.

“These are not our beliefs.” Ogma moved his own hands in an agitated manner. “You mix us together with strangers, then cast us into the oven of Jerusalem to bake with Romans and Jews.” He shook his head empathically. “I’m more than willing to die, Head Druid – but for something which makes sense.”

“If you will die for our ways and beliefs, consider the glory of a God who accepts to die.”

“Such a God would be dead.”

“Ogma.” Cowin forced himself to be patient. “We go to a wondrous place when we die. And it is most glorious to go through the Door of Death if we die for a valiant cause.” The Head Druid grabbed the small man’s shoulder, his voice no longer controlled. “Try to imagine where a God must go, once he is dead. How magnificent it will be. How powerful that God will become. Greater than any of the Gods we know.”

“A dead God greater than our Gods which live?” Ogma was silent for a long time, surprised by Cowin’s fervour.

“Much greater.” Cowin nodded his head.

“You talk like the Oracles, who speak of thoughts I don’t understand.” Ogma suddenly laughed, and slapped the Head Druid on the back. “But if this Yeshua becomes more powerful than our gods, it is wise to get on his good side.” Ogma grinned broadly. “I’ll be glad to kill him myself.”

“We don’t raise a hand.” The Head Druid walked away from the shore. “We make certain that the Romans nail him on their tree.”

“What?” Ogma hurried to catch Cowin. “We trap this Yeshua, and do the dirty work of the fucking Romans?” He grabbed the sleeve of the other man’s tunic, and forced him to stop. “I won’t help those dogs.”

“You’ll do what’s necessary.” The Head Druid waited until the small man loosened his grip. “We join these other people, and we do this job.”

“A slave’s job.”

“We deliver nobody to the damned Romans.” Cowin resumed his brisk walk. “We help the woman Glarus get to Jerusalem, and she makes Yeshua deliver himself.”

“Yeshua is to surrender to the Romans?”

“Yes.”

“What real man gives up?”

“Ogma.” The Head Druid paused to look closely at his companion. “The reason you can never lead the Council, is that you don’t see past the end of your sword.”

DE

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The Druids And Celts Present Halloween – It’s Just Around The Corner

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(image)http://www.zionstower.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/druids7flat1.jpg

They have learned that every celebration has its risks. The Druids have taught them this, and the Druids are correct.

Samhain is a festival of the harvest; the end of summer; the preparation for the winter to come. Samhain is a juncture. As they all know, junctures lead to sundry places. There is both the leaving and the coming. A time of disquiet. A time of danger to those unprepared.

It holds the magic and the power of midnight. Midnight is a powerful time because it is the juncture of two days. Midnight of Samhain thus holds double the power. It can not be avoided. It must be met with all the power that mortal man can muster. It must not be met alone.On the Eve of Samhain, the border between Life and the Otherworld is breached. A door swings invitingly open, but it is not inviting to those who live. It is inviting to those who have died.

The Dead who still miss their lives. The long Dead who still are curious.The distant Dead who get a whiff of fresh air and have their memories stirred.

So the Dead approach.

The Dead approach.

The living must prepare to meet them, just as they prepare for the vicissitudes of winter. The same threatened cold holds sway over both.

The living assemble the treats and threats that will assuage the longings of the Dead. Because the living have a healthy fear of death, they equally wish to avoid the Dead. The Dead can prove to be envious and attempt to relieve the living of their lives.Lanterns from the earth are hollowed out of turnips. Their light will guide the dead to safer places (safer for the living). Candles will shine through carved faces.

Some faces are friendly and welcoming.

Some are ugly and fierce to give any aggressive Dead a pause.

There will also be treats to entice the Dead – apples and pastries and savouries and some roasted game fresh from the bonfires. There will be ale and other spirits to keep the Spirits at bay.The living will wear costumes and masks to disguise themselves from those Dead who might wish their company to be more permanent.

They will remove the masks if the Spirits are friendly.

They will dance and sing and raise a right ruckus to entertain the Dead.

The boneyard is on the outskirts of town. The revellers approach with noise and caution. The bonfire is set. The moon hangs from the trees. The gated fence stands closed and latched.

The living pause.

And watch.

And listen.

Is it the wind, or do the hinges scrape the stone?

DE

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Kafka Sees His History In The Mirror [from: Kafka In The Castle]

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04 March 1917

I dreamed I was a prophet. The prophet Amshel, which is my Jewish name. And, I could talk to God. And I was looking at myself in the mirror.

And I was looking back at me. I mean, Franz was in the mirror, looking back at me – the me of Amshel – who was looking in the mirror. Except, I was as much me looking out, as I was me looking in.

The wall behind the prophet was painted red, while the one behind Franz was of brown wood. They both could raise their fists at each other, and sometimes did. In unison, of course. That was the law.

“Certainly, you may speak to God,” said Franz. “What is there in that? Everyone speaks to God – in sentences, in actions, with their lives. No one is more talked-to in the Universe than God. But what a prophet needs, is to have God speak back.”

And then God spoke, from somewhere behind the mirror, but He did not speak to Amshel. He spoke to Franz.

“You are on the wrong side,” said God.

“Speak to me,” said Amshel.

“Wrong side of what?” asked Franz.

“Of the mirror,” answered God.

“Don’t speak to him,” shouted Amshel. “He is from the world of vipers.”

And Amshel raised his fist, but Franz had to hold up his fist in turn.

“I am not the prophet you seek,” said Franz, and pointed his finger at the mirror. “There is your prophet.”

And Amshel was also pointing toward the glass. “Not him – you don’t want him.” He then turned his hand toward himself. “I’m the one you want.”

But Franz was just as vehement, as his thumb arched toward his own chest. “Not me.” For emphasis, he placed his hand over his heart. “In this, God, you have erred.”

And his words echoed those of Amshel, who also had his hand upon his heart. “In this, God, you have erred.”

And the two faces stared at one another, their fingers clutching at the garments they wore.

But God was silent.

DE

(image) http://www.enidhuttgallery.com/images/_lib/angelo-decorative-corner-silver-leaf-bevelled-mirror-deknudt-mirrors-9166-0-1430262718000.jpg

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