Barking up the wrong sacred tree

I think we have some pagans living in our part of town. Several, actually - and not all in one big, leafy communal house, either. They're sprinkled about the neighborhood like elf-dust.

Which is fine.

Pagans on the whole are a fairly interesting if occasionally goofy set of folks - whereas I'm just sour-tempered and my car is ugly and smashed into the backyard fence at a comical angle on a bed of empty beer cans. By comparison, "occasionally goofy" isn't a bad thing at all. Most of the "goofy" part comes via the names the pagans adopt to replace their given names.

"Chuck" and "Donna" and "Todd," for example, might well have become, in their new pagan guises, "Stormlight," "Ravenwidow" and, well, "Todd," who wanted to change his name to "Celtic Dragon-Lord" but his wife had just given him a box of thank-you cards embossed with "Todd" and so "Celtic Dragon Lord" will have to wait until the cards are used up.

Anyhoo, it's true I'm interested in what will happen as Spring draws nigh. The first day of this impending season is also known to pagans as the Vernal Equinox or, even more pagan-y, Ostara - and is cause for much ritual and rejoicing.

On the whole, I'm a little nervous about "pagan ritual" since my misguided attempt, last Halloween, to traverse the membraneous veil between the worlds and raise the Great God Pan. It didn't work too well, is what I'm trying to say.

I woke up the next morning with a brutal headache, my pea-green tights were smeared with pumpkin goop, and my dog, Gumbo, had magically grown elk horns out of his head. The antlers are so heavy we had to supply Gumbo with a neck brace, one like folk singers use for their harmonicas, so the poor hound can support his own head!

What's worse, Gumbo went out and bought a harmonica at Petco and is going on the road in July with Gordon Lightfoot!

OK. Back to what the neighborhood pagans might do as Ostara approacheth.

There will be bark-crusted wooden poles erected in the front yards of their quaint pagan dwellings, covered with vines and wildflowers. Altars will be assembled and draped with mats of woven field grasses and there will be candles and bowls of fresh soil and flutes. Magic Power Circles will be formed of sprinkled wheat chaff. A man in a hat like the Jolly Green Giant wears - Moonking (aka Cody) - will ring a bell calling to order the Spirits of the Garden.

And then all their peaceful ceremonies will be drowned out in a mighty roar as I crank up the gas-inhaling John Deere for the season's first Holy Lawn Mowing. Gumbo will follow drowsily in my path, munching lawn clippings. It's what he eats now that he's part elk.

Winter! Begone!

This is the opinion of Rick "Beerhoof" Koster.


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