Stir Things Down

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The dates to celebrate spring are close this year, within a month, and yet some religions seem far apart. They fight each other. They fight among themselves. “They are young,” Eostre said, “or maybe a bit territorial, those men.”

This ancient goddess brought them all together: old and new religions, female and male deities. The witches stirred a brew of love, the opposite of hate. They loaded it into clouds that rained tears on the land that had dried to dust. Cracked seeds opened into bulbs that bloomed lilies, all kinds, fields full. The perfume of peace filled the air.

The Ragnarök

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Líf and Lífþrasir lived in a tiny hovel on the side of a wild fjord north of the settled lands. Rippling through infinity, Thor came to them. He carried the couple to Hoddmimis holt. “From you, generations will spring.”

The gods went insane; a war of destruction, an ecological nightmare. Three winters arrived with no summers. Yggdirsil, the world tree, nurtured the couple. All the while, morning dew was their manna from heaven. Wandering, nestled in the warmth of moss, sheltered by the forest, emerging with the sun, nurtured by salt water, they rebuilt after the Ragnarök. They repopulated Earth.

The Tide Waits for No One

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Surf pulled at mother and daughter holding tight a last goodbye. “Take care of your brother. And your father.”

“Yes, mam. You’ll be back?”

“Your grandmam’s recipes, they’re yours.”

The girl held her mother’s hand. “Tell my ocean folk grandmam, ‘Happy Birthday.’ ”

Her mam nodded, winced as the tight skin she’d found in the attic fused land legs into a powerful swimming fin. “I will, love.”

“Your eyes are the same.” The girl touched the selkie’s soft fur. “You’ll be gone a day?”

The mother strained for breath. “Days linger undersea.” She wanted to stay. But she had to go.

The Kiss

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Cupid and Psyche lay feeding each other chocolate hearts. “You haven’t changed.”

“Nor you,” Psyche said, nibbling his ear.

Cupid stroked Psyche’s bronzed thigh. “It wasn’t meant to be.”

“Your mother hated me.”

Cupid’s lips bowed into a smile. “You bested her by surviving all those quests.”

“She underestimated how much I cared for you. Sorting poppy seeds from lentils. Fearing dragons on the Styx. I had my helpers.” Psyche looked smug.

“But it was Zeus who gave us each other. He couldn’t resist my offer.”

“I can’t resist you. Though the spell wore off long ago, I simply adore you.”

The Kitchen God’s Insight

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“Welcome, friend.” The Kitchen God greeted the Tiger, a pussy cat beside his massive bulk. They ate nian gao and fresh cut fruits, presented on a red lacquered tray in the Kitchen God’s study.

They exchanged pleasantries, the Tiger looking for a way to say what was on his mind. He plucked up his courage. “So many have suffered through the years of Rat and Ox. They worked hard for change, barely rewarded for their labor. Prosperity gave way to isolation. Isolation gave way to steady resolve. What of my year?”

“Be strong, Tiger. Be strong,” said the Kitchen God.

Close the Door Behind You

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“Diana,” Janus said, “So glad you could come.”

The goddess entered through the door of beginnings. She brought the moon’s fertility to Janus’s Table for All Times. She sipped his tea of memories past and future.

“Janus, dear,” she said, “I wish the night would never end.”

“But we must let the sun shine. Start over. Correct past mistakes.”

“Yes,” she said. ”We must think good thoughts- health, happiness, peace, prosperity, especially for the sick, the sad, the beleaguered, and the poor.”

Once again, they closed the endings door, watching the past recede and seeing the present open to change.

Christmas Coal

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La Befana, the Christmas witch, and Old St. Nick sipped eggnog in front of an electric fire.

Befana said, “Here’s to generosity and goodwill.”

St. Nick said, “How long have you been giving gifts?”

“A lady never reveals her age, but I’m from that old time religion.”

Nick said, “Eons?”

“You’re right and also very wicked. I’d leave you coal in your boot, but it’s out of fashion.”

St. Nick said, “Don’t I wish. If they keep burning that stuff, the North Pole will melt away. Mermaids will replace elves in the workshop. For the sleigh, porpoises instead of reindeer.”

From the Immortal Poets, Guaire the Generous

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It was a fine table Guaire set for the poets who stayed in his castle. But Seanchan, the most renowned, was displeased. “What victuals these? Better suited to cats than to learned men.” And by cats he meant the nobles filling their faces down the table. “So fat these cats, the mice run wild in the kitchen.”

When Irusan, King of the Cats, heard this insult, he came to kill Seanchan. Loading the bard on his back, he ran like the wind until they encountered St. Kieran who ran a hot poker through Irusan, saving Seanchan to reconcile with Guaire.

Retold from Ancient Legends of Ireland by Lady Wilde.

Equinox

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Eostre surveys the protestors at the Vernal Equinox Picnic. Signs read, “Change the name.” But there’s no consensus. Norwuz, Passover, Holi, Easter, Zhonghe…

Eostre gathers morning light and scatters its rays. It dawns on the participants that there’s better things to do. They discover Eostre’s hares laying eggs. Ashanti boils the eggs and Saraswati prepares dyes to color them. The feathered serpent, Kulkulkan, paints designs across the shells. Soon everyone wants a chance.

Eostre finds the old goddesses, Cybele, Wang Mu Niang Niang, Beorc, and Ishtar. Together, they lead the Rebirth Parade around the world, stopping to toast new beginnings.

Tower of the Moon

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An impossible quest. To marry the Moon Tower princess, Anton earns the help of four animal spirits- Eagle, Ant, Lion, and Dove. As an Eagle, the African prince persuades the Wind Witch, to help. Treacherous mother, she pries the location of the Tower from her Wind son’s lips. Becoming a dove, then an ant, then himself Anton enters the Princess’s bedroom.

But Papa refuses to negotiate. Becoming a Lion, Anton disembowels the fierce guardian pig who hides the father’s life inside an eggshell. And when Papa’s gone, good and gone, the hero rules the land, his princess wife as queen.

Condensed from an African folktale in Virginia Hamilton’s, The People Could Fly.