Moments in Magical Modernity: XIII


XIII.

             When the winter snows have melted away, the trees warm and bud as their lifeblood begins to flow once more. The world begins to awaken. Not only awaken but also rejoice. Spring is springing, life is budding and blossoming, and warmth is returning to the world with Persephone’s ascent.

April is the month of preparation and May the month of revel, of celebration. The budding trees are festooned and beribboned in preparation for Beltane or May Day. There is food, music, dancing, and merriment. Persephone petitions her mother Demeter’s joy for a picturesque day on Beltane, to allow creatures and humans alike to who have been caged and sequestered for the whole of winter to frolic and enjoy freedom once more. And because she can deny her dearest daughter nothing, Demeter, along with the Lady Ostara (whom Persephone calls ‘Aunt’), will fashion the most beautiful day, the one which every spring day that comes after will strive to emulate.

Sunshine to warm. Breezes to cool. A bright blue sky to dazzle. Daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips in colors to delight and amaze. Birdsong to soothe. Soft new grass for children to run in, their feet free from restraint or encasement and their laughter inciting Joy. Yes, the most beautiful day imaginable.

 

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Image by Paper Boat Creative/Digital Vision/Getty Images, as utilized in Patti Wigington’s “Deities of the Spring Equinox”. https://www.thoughtco.com/deities-of-the-spring-equinox-2562454 

 

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Moments in Magical Modernity: XII


XII.

“Here you are, lovely. One Sencha green tea with lotus blossom honey,” Pearla smiles at the woman before whom she sets down the delicate cup and teapot, as fragile as robins’ eggs, along with the pot of cloven lotus blossom honey.

Domo arigato, Pearla-chan,” Akiko bows her head gently, the delicate curve of her golden-red fox ears luminous against the jet black luster of her abundant hair.

“Enjoy!” Pearla flutters back to the counter and busies herself with other orders.

Akiko, meanwhile, sits placid and peaceful in her secluded corner. Eventually, she pours herself a cup of tea with great deliberation and gentle intent. The steaming liquid fills the cup with nary a splash against its delicate sides, the steam curling and coiling cunningly into shapes and characters that only Akiko can discern as she mingles her breath with the wispy steam. It seems that her breath and the airy drawing of her delicate fingertips brings life to those shapes, little silvery-grey maidens dancing with their fans and precise archers shooting at the honeypot.

“Those are pretty!” comes a childish voice.

Akiko turns to find a pair of babyish green eyes looking up at her over the edge of her table. The little boy watching her steamy shadow players with rapt attention is beaming as he does.

The lovely kitsune gives a beatific smile to the child. “Do you think so?”

The boy’s head nods quickly, his little chin just missing the edge of the table and a hard knock.

Akiko smiles and, leaping from her teacup, a silvery horse gallops around the table, stopping to rear majestically before the child’s very nose. His green eyes widen as the horse lowers to all four legs and stretches out its tiny muzzle to touch the tip of its nose to his. Then he laughs with shrill delight, utterly shattering the peace that Akiko had carefully cultivated. But she doesn’t mind. The child’s smile reinforces her own, her quiet demeanor unfazed by his rambunctious energy.

“Come, Kyle,” a maternal voice finally calls to him, much to his chagrin. The horse, however, capers for him once more before rearing and beating its forelegs against the air in goodbye as the little boy lingers over his shoulder as his mother draws him away with a thankful smile to Akiko.

The kitsune gives them a little bow in her seat and returns the wave young Kyle gives as he and his mother exited the Hollow on the busy city street. She then returns to her tea, the little steamy figures bowing to her and dissipating in a cooling mist that kisses her cheeks. Quietly, Akiko takes the cup in both hands and raises it to her lips, which still smile in that soft serenity that seems to be woven into her very being.

Moments in Magical Modernity: XI (The Godly Edition)


Author’s Note: This one is much inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods, both favorites of my husband’s.

There is one night a year where deities get the night off. Gods, lords, fae barons, all the like: it’s their night to relax from answering prayers, helping destinies along their way, healing, protecting, teaching, growing, and abiding. Big and small gods.

But that doesn’t mean that the world is left unattended. One god is always left in charge, a sort of designated survivor, as it were. They take it in turns and that god oversees the world at large for that twelve-hour stretch, keeps records and tallies, notations on prayers and needs, and answers earnest prayers that might have time-sensitivity. Oh, and Cerberus needs to be walked, after all.

Everyone knows of God’s Night Out but life doesn’t pause, even for the gods. Their line of work’s cogs never stop. That’s why there is always a designated deity on GNO.

A favored spot for GNO is often Banebridge Farms. One: it is far from cities and multitudinous souls that inhabit them, and two: Bryan’s property boasts a large acreage of ancient forest, purposefully left un-tilled and to run wild wild. In it are groves and fairy circles, templed ruins and venerable, cracked stone tables of old. The Lord of the Hunt himself considers this place a pleasant  respite and so, once every year, Bryan Banebridge and his staff find themselves playing host to the most glorious and varied of pantheons ever assembled. Ahead of GNO, Dionysus always  brings up the ambrosia and liquor, all the tastiest ingredients, and Bryan and his cooks whip up some absolutely ethereal and otherworldly dishes and drinks. As a result, though Bryan still has to work hard and romance his investors, there are godly machinations to make sure that Banebridge Farms is never deeply in peril.

Now, it is true that not all gods attend GNO at Banebridge Farms. Some of them choose their own ways to enjoy the night off. Some of the eternally-watching gods take the opportunity for a good twelve hours’ sleep. A power nap, if you will. Others, like Atlas, take a walk to stretch their stiff legs. Night, underworld, and winter gods sometimes bask in the bright, warm sunlight of a beach in Bora Bora or Maui (hey, it’s not nighttime everywhere at once, after all).

Everyone knows about Gods’ Night Out. Even the eternal need a break. Tomorrow, it will be right back to work. Stars will be tended, sun and moon set and risen. Prayers will be assessed, requests weighed, comfort given, and answers given by the designated deity reviewed. Every god back in their place and position, their faithful adherents breathing a sigh of relief, like a child whose mother has finally returned from her night out and kissed their head as they lie waiting in their bed.

All is right with the world, and big and small gods–tanned, fed, rested, and slightly hungover–have a few new stories to tell until next year.

Moments in Magical Modernity: X


X.

Pixie-small feet find terra firma as a mother warns against flying on the public sidewalk. On the baseball diamond in the park, there are complaints against winking from third base to home in a kickball game and the rules are changed to keep things fair all round. Starlings swarm and meld into eccentric shapes at the turn of a childish finger, the tiny birds eager to please an equally tiny artist.

Nemiah, the park’s caretaker, watches with appraising eyes as his young students imagine unruly hedges and bushes into lovely topiaries for the Children’s Garden, coaxing the plants into the shapes without every clipping or snipping a single leaf. Animals, geometrics, knights on horseback, and shapely towers materialize under the fruitful imaginations of nature-sensitive children.

Leina leads her prenatal yoga class in her studio of soft blues and whites. She guides and transitions her class through the movements in soft, soothing tones, the sound of water pouring and rushing through her dulcet voice. Together, they bathe souls and bodies weary with the work of fostering and growing life in consolation, commiseration, and calm.

A young satyr blushes from his horns to his hooves with joy as a lovely, rosy redhead accepts his invitation to the Solstice Block Party and Dance with a pretty smile.

Childhood and growth are as full and varied and joyful and tumultuous as it can ever be. Babyish “I love you’s” still give way to the intermittent “I hate you’s” of adolescence and puberty. New life is celebrated profusely and milestones. First steps, first words, first flights, first shapeshifts, first discoveries of hands, feet, tails, wings. Lullabies are sung over cradles, midnight feedings stumbled and whispered and sleepily cooed through. Children grow and learn. They make friends and attend school. Magic does not separate them. Rather, it pulls these little ones together in a world sewn together by Magic.

A little girl is awoken in the deep night, sensitive ears catching the sound of crying through her open window. Peering out, she spies the neighbor boy weeping in his darkened bedroom with only the silver of moon to witness. Weeping for fear of the shadows.  A bit of paper folding, a silvery bit of flame whispered on a breath, and the little Mrs. Darling nightlight floats across the hedge barrier to rest on the boy’s window sill. There the paper lantern sits to cheerily flicker away throughout the night and assure him that he is not alone. Never alone.

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Photo Credit – Pinterest

Moments in Magical Modernity: IX


IX.

The public library is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Night Librarian is a woman named Lydia Dumont and everyone knows that there is no one better-suited for the job. She is knowledgeable on just about every subject the library holds within its walls; after all, she has lived out the necessary centuries in order to be thusly educated, as well as quite proficient.

Lydia is a statuesque woman with piercing grey eyes that look up at you (or down at you, depending on the sort of question you have just asked her) over cunning cat-eye framed glasses. She always wears a ruby-red lip and impeccably manicured nails to match, as if she has decided that the ’50s and its styles rightfully belong on her person. And, of course, they do. You will ever find her in hourglass-hugging pencil skirts and sheath dresses, kitten-sharp high heels, and hear her declare Calvin Klein a “darling” for his everlastingly vintage vision in dress designs. Oh, her hair, you ask? That is…well…Shakespeare would say “whatever color it please God” (Much Ado About Nothing, 2.3.30). Or rather, in this case, whatever color it please Lydia. Blonde, brunette, redhead, silver fox, ebony-tressed…one can only imagine how they will find the Night Librarian from night to night.

The library is Lydia’s domain, a kingdom all her own. Everyone knows that she rules absolutely here when night falls and the midnight oil burns late. University students spend many a night here, the Librarian’s expertise frequently a lifeline for them. Yes, she is often referred to simply by her profession and in hushed, respectful tones. There are stories of her ire and wrath for those who disrespect the sanctity of her domain and her complete authority within it. There are whispered tales of unsavory behaviour–an excessively foolish set of kits and cubs literally foxing first-edition volumes, for example–resulting in said individuals or even whole coteries never seen in or near the library ever again.  And fines? Return her precious texts late? Let’s not even joke about such a thing. Raucous behaviour is one thing; the loss or, in her mind, theft of a priceless reliquary of knowledge? You had best set your affairs in order and make yourself right with your faith.

Do not, Sirs and Madames, mess with the Librarian. Or you may come to fear the shadow of her citadel.

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Moments in Magical Modernity: VIII (or, The Silver Lady’s Acolyte)


Author’s Note (2/22/17):  The idea that this piece belongs with the rest of the Magical Modernity entries has not let me go, not since I first published it. And so I am succumbing to it and will now count this lovely moment amongst my other glimpses into a world where magic is everyday but still so very…well…magical.

VIII.

The sun blazed its way to its cradle in a conflagration of amethyst, coral, and rose, stark and dragon-breath bright against the indigo of the coming night. This breath of celestial fire found her bathing in a lake on a ridge. The water ran in rivulets over soft skin and rained in droplets from fingertips as gold spread over the surface of the lake. As the burning gradually died away and the indigo velvet cloaked the sky, the stars found her amidst the trees. The blue-white light spilling from the Silver Lady’s train lit on firm, supple skin, a graceful curve here, a soft roundness there. As the light scattered over her, she basked in it, breathed it in like oxygen itself. She could feel the gold begin to shimmer in her hair as she basked in the blessing of the Silver Lady. She began to move through the woods, the scent of spring blossom thick and heady in the early spring night.

As the Kitsune moved, picking up speed along the forest floor, moon-spangled skin gave way to golden softness. Pale fingers became strong black paws, five gorgeous flowing tails trailing out behind her. Scents and sounds became sharp and heady, the very scent of moonlight filling her nose to the point of euphoria. As large as a direwolf, with a coat that splashed sunset fire and paws that threw up stars where they met earth, she ran and yelped, howled and leaped, stretching her nose and fanning her tails in obeisance and for the Silver Lady’s delight.

The first spring full moon, the air full of blossoms and new life, the many-tailed fox ran free in the blue-white light.

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Moments in Magical Modernity: VII


VII.

On Sunday mornings, the silvery peal of church bells can be heard ringing out over the city, calling to the devout and the believers, the lost and the hungry.  Places of worship fill with those who arrived weary and leave with beatific faces. But the churches are not the only places filled with the faithful, human and magical alike.

In a small apartment, an aged, bent, great grandmother sprinkles salt over and lights a warm candle near the lovingly-framed photographs of her children and grandbabies. Salt and light.

In a bare-branched, snowy copse, a frost fairy etches designs in ice on the ancient trees. Runes of renewal, healing, community, the hearth. With delicate fingers, she arranges jeweled webs, diamine dream catchers, between spindly branches stretched towards a winter-blue sky.

On star-hidden nights, silver-threaded, constellation-shot, blue velvet is hung over the beds of gargoyle children, folded snugly in their wings, so they know they are seen, loved, and protected by the skies they will soar.

Small groups gather in the warmth of the Hollow to talk about God and truth, faith and practice and impact. Pearla fills coffee mugs and tea cups, and Kingsley provides dishes of soup that warm hearts and open souls. Under the Hollow’s peaceful roof, debates are held, disagreements acknowledged, insights shared, and hearts encouraged. Souls often leave a little lighter, hooves, paws, feet, and wings moving a bit more briskly, and hands and hearts feeling maybe just a little fuller.