Recently I was asked a question that gave me pause. It was a simple question that opened up whole worlds of inquiry which have echoed through many hundreds of years. The question was, “Do birds have souls?” This is not such an unusual question. For a very long time in history, we have been told that only humans have souls. As God gave mankind dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26), this seems to imply that, though animals have the ‘breath of life’ to animate them, they are not connected with the Divine in the same sense as mankind. They do not have souls nor do they go to heaven. We have come a long way in appreciating that animals have thoughts and feelings. Anyone who owns a pet (and this implication of ‘ownership’ becomes interesting language itself) can attest to the different, particular personalities that come through. Many of you reading this likely have already answered the question of animal’s souls in your own minds. For me it was an invitation to a more expansive question, “What exactly is a Soul and does it differ from Spirit?”
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Inspired by the May traditions of Padstow, Cornwall, Dave Webber's May Song is a fine modern Beltane song in traditional idiom, heard here in a rousing performance by Magpie Lane.
The traditional May Day Hobby Horse's dance of sex, death, and resurrection has no known historical connection with the widespread and deeply sacred horse-sacrifices of the ancient Indo-European world.
We’re coming up on Beltane, that magical and fiery pagan holiday that I’ve always loved and was recently feeling strangely anxious about. I’m not a crone…yet. But I’m no spring chicken, either, and I was beginning to look at the brilliant, sexy, flirty day of Beltane for what it is: a spring holiday of fertility, and wondering to myself, how do I fit into this?...
Boy, my last post was a downer, huh? Believe it or not, spring in LA isn't all bad. One of my favorite events in spring--something I look forward to all year long--is the blooming of the Jacaranda trees.
Here's the Jacaranda closest to my home, visible from my daughter's window and our patio. I won't lie--out of all the Jacarandas in my neighborhood, this one is the most resplendent. The spirit of this tree is sweet and proud....
His-story. It's dark, and the air is chill--Summer is a'comin in--but not quite yet. You're standing in a circle around a tall, dark object. You can just make out its narrow limbs; arms and legs formed by tightly tied bundles of twigs and straw. Suddenly, flames blaze up. In the crackling firelight you can see the figure at the center of the circle--the Wicker Man.
The lighting of the Wicker Man is a very old tradition that we know little about. Of course, there's the obvious: a Wicker Man is a human figure made out of wicker, straw or twigs, but he's built hollow so that things can be put inside him. But how this tradition started is a bit of a mystery. The ancient people who first built them--the Celts--didn't write about their practices. The first person to actually record anything about Wicker Men was Julius Caesar, and the picture he painted wasn't pretty. He wrote that the Celts created huge, human-shaped wicker figures, and inside they would put small animals, grains and slaves (yes, people), to be burned inside as an offering to the gods....