Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beltane Bonfires, Part-Time Jobs, & Past Lives

On the last night of April I had a campfire at the farm. It was a very humble affair, nothing like the way people were celebrating elsewhere. I mean, over in Scotland the Beltane Fire Society puts on a show that would make Lady Gaga blush. There are fire dances, a May Queen, and people naked and painted red and blue, dancing and reenacting old rites and stories of Scotland's past. It looks like a hedonistic romp, or something from the set of Game of Thrones, but it is actually a college performance of the Scottish Studies Department at the University of Edinburgh. Over 300 dancers and collaborators donate their time and tickets always sell out. I'll let you search online for videos and other pictures, as I think it would offend some of my more conservative readers. But let me tell you something folks, they know how to party over there. You can see some nice BBC coverage from last night here.

I lit the bonfire because I would not be painted blue or running around naked. I just don't have the time. But I do try to light a campfire every May Eve. Legend says that if you jump over the flames on the evening before Beltane you gain the luck and favor you need for the coming year. I jumped over the backyard fire with as much intention as I could manage. I'll take what I can get.

Yesterday was Beltane. May 1st. That's a holiday around here and I spend the day as if it was a holiday. I did the usual chores and writing requirements but besides that I enjoyed myself doing the things I love. I'm very, very, fortunate to have access to those things in my backyard and if there was ever a day to be grateful for a horse and a bow and arrow, it was then.

Speaking of bows and gratitude, I'll have you know I may have landed a part time job! I will be interviewing next week for a gig as an Archery Instructor over in Manchester Vermont. A large resort called the Equinox has a falconry and archery school and I emailed them to see if they needed help? As a falconer's apprentice and active archer who adores teaching people skills I thought it would be a perfect fit. I show up next Tuesday to see if I fit in!

This job is necessary as things keep getting tighter and tighter around here. With a few months until I get paid the next part of my current manuscript's advance, I keep needing to find ways to keep this place going. I'm one month behind on the mortgage, which is scary. But I talked with the bank and they are going to help me refinance to get a lower interest rate, which is a blessing. Between that and the new job I may just keep this place going strong, which is the only thing in my life not up for negotiation. I will always keep Cold Antler afloat, whatever it takes. More income is needed but I see no reason not to make it doing something I love, outdoors, with people just as passionate about the things I love as I am. I will get to meet new people, shoot every day, and get away from the farm a bit. This is exciting to me, all this. And it was part of what was going through my mind as I cleared the flames.

The rest of the holiday I worked with both the horses. I trained Jasper in the cart with some friends from Common Sense (that little guy is coming along!) and took Merlin for a trail ride up the mountains at sunset. I sang to him the whole time. I made up a song about May, and the holiday, and anyone who could hear me would have laughed at the silliness but I was downright happy on that black pony.

I confess I always start singing because I'm scared. Every time I get on Merlin there's the fear of a beginner, that hesitation and understanding that I am about to mount myself on top of a thousand pounds of powerful muscle with a brain of its own. So when we start up the trail I sing, because it relaxes me and so it relaxes Merlin. A horse can tell if you are tense and assumes it's for reasons that make sense to a horse. There must be a predator, danger, something to be worried about. When I start into a few verses of a familiar tune we both breathe deeper and start to enjoy ourselves. I start to enjoy the ride halfway through. Maybe someday I'll enjoy it at the beginning! Half the battle is going out and riding. You only win the battle if you keep doing it. And every day I am getting better with horses, just as I am with my archery.

Sometimes people haves told me they think I am an old soul. That because I'm in love with Scotland, archery, horses, hawks, folklore and agriculture than perhaps that's because it was who I was in a past life. That's a romantic notion, for certain. It sure would explain why a Slovak girl raised in a small town without a farm, horse, bow, or trust fund would find herself in a kilt on horseback on a Tuesday afternoon, but I think I like my mother's idea about reincarnation better.

My mother always said that if you can inherit your grandfather's eyes, or your aunt's red hair, than why couldn't you inherit their memories and interests? What in our DNA (which we only understand at a basic level) stops who we are mentally from carrying over into the next generation? She didn't believe in reincarnation, but she did believe you could experience deja vu and it would be accurate because it may be a memory from someone related to you in the past. Perhaps my desire to play the fiddle, ride horses, and travel are just part of my gypsy blood stream? Maybe far back in the forest of my own family trees there was a Scot in the Highlands, a tinker in Ireland, or an exile to Prague that slipped some of his or her self down through passion and history to me. I like to think that's why I am who I am, and how I will get where I am going. I prefer to think we are who we are through human actions like sex, decision, and passion then random rebirths at some deity's whim. At least, that is what I was taught, and I'm sticking to it. My mom always said "Science can only bring us closer to God", that it's the exact same thing. The more we learn about the universe and earth the more we can understand our source. I see so many people online arguing that science and religion are enemies? How is that even possible?

This became deeper than I thought it would be. But that's what holy days are for, right? I spent mine with horse sweat and fire jumping and perhaps you did the same? Maybe you just planted peas and felt the sunshine on the back of your neck? It doesn't matter, it's all the same. And that's the most sacred truth of them all.

Well, that, and you may have inherited your grandfather's memories. But you'll have to ask my mom for details on that one.

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