Today was Spring Equinox, or Ostara. It is the day where light and dark is equal, a day of balance. We see the Goddess awakening after the winter sleep. Trees are budding, early flowers bloom. Here, the spring winds blow and the weather is unpredictable.
My friend celebrated her birthday today as well. I prioritized the celebrating my friend over the casting of a ritual Circle. Life is about building relationships. There is no better way to celebrate Her than to be with friends, as they are among Her greatest gifts to us.
After returning home, I took care of my ferret and cat chores. Litter boxes do not wait, holiday or not. Then, I celebrated Ostara with my furchildren. A lesson I learned long ago is whiskers and candles do not mix. With five furry critters, simplicity was choice. Yet, it was spiritually meaningful.
The majority of Circle was meditation. I needed the quiet focus time. I chose to focus on the Crone's role in rebirth. I know this is a rather odd choice for Ostara, as it is generally a holiday associated with the Maiden. However, I have been dreaming of bats and fascinated by them recently. They are associated with rebirth, among other things. Honestly, I have liked bats for years, but more intensely recently. I feel "Bat" is trying to reach me. I felt a sense of Her presence and reassurance. She is pleased with my growth, in relation to the TBI, but there is more coming. It was an intense experience.
The ferrets played elsewhere, although the energy in the Circle attracted them to visit, and enticed a brief game of pounce from Bobby. It was amusing to watch. He played with me and Kaliyah for several minutes. Then, he saw something interesting on the other side of the room and bounded away.
Scout was barking at the door after the I ended the Circle. I have been hearing frogs for weeks. The first frog came to visit tonight. Frogs are also associated with change, growth, and healing.
When I spoke about goals on New Year’s Day, I must have tempted fate. But, wait, I did not mention patience. Or needing to learn to let go of control. But, perhaps the Universe or the Goddess in Her infinite wisdom, decided on that lesson plan. I have served in the military for over 17 years, the last 10 being Army Reserve. My proudest moment was obtaining my social work commission. I still remember my goal was to help enlisted make the most out of their service. I wanted to mentor in addition to my work as a clinical social worker helping soldiers and families. Little did I know that decision to get a commission would blow up in my face.
When I was first injured, my only thought was towards my unit. The Warrior Ethos, “I will never quit” and the Army Values of Loyalty and Duty drove me. My unit was deploying in 2012. I was going to be with them. I did everything the doctors recommended and then some. I ran until I vomited. My commanding officer pulled me out of OBLC (Officer Basic Leadership Course) or I would have gone and tried my damnedest to pass. Even two months before they deployed, my goal was to recover enough to be a “replacement” mid-tour. Then, my goal was to deploy with another unit in 2014. See the pattern? It was only last month that I finally accepted, grudgingly, that my military service is over. It’s not that I want to fight and kill anyone. I wanted to deploy, first, to be with my Soldiers and, secondly, to help soldiers in country. I wanted to be a social worker. If I could prevent one service member from getting PTSD or committing suicide, it was worth a year of my time. For myself, I wanted the experience. I know that sounds strange.
How messed up is the journey? I was passed over twice for captain. That usually means an administrative discharge. Only, I am also medically unfit. Unfortunately, in order to qualify for medical retirement, I have to state that I am not medically unfit, thus triggering a medical board. The medical board then finds me unfit and medically retires me. Army logic. I can’t just accept the findings and request retirement. That would make sense. The medical board has to convene before the administrative board takes action on my non-selection. Now, here my unit comes in.
At first, my unit was supportive. Then, I got two letters today. Well, honestly, I hadn’t checked my mail in 10 days, so I probably got at least one of them earlier. According to my unit, I now have 8 unexcused absences from drill, for November and December 2012. True, I did not attend drill. I am medically unable to drive or ride 170 miles or so one way to my unit. Even if I get there, I am very limited in what I am able to do. For example, I do work a full 8 hours due to fatigue. I also can’t fire a weapon and I get migraines under florescent lights. Prior to this, my drill have been excused and my rehab has been counted towards drill time. Before I received the letters, my commanding officer left a voice mail. I returned her call four times in the past month, leaving voice mails. My medical provider has also called her. She never returned the calls. I also emailed the unit administrator twice and called and left messages twice (before letters). Can you hear the crickets chirping? I can. So, if I get one more unexcused absence, I can be reduced in rank and receive an other than honorable discharge. Guess what is this weekend? You got it! The letters have no email, phone, or fax contacts, just an address. I have my medical providers writing letters to the commander, but after this weekend, I may face the military equivalent of criminal charges. For having a brain injury and being medically unfit. Oh! And I need a signature on a form by the unit in order to start the medical board!
I’m calling a JAG tomorrow. He’s actually a civilian lawyer and a JAG with the Army Guard. I’ll be paying him out of pocket to represent me. I will not be dishonorably discharged out of stupidity.
Yes, I think the Goddess decided I needed a lesson in trust.
Another one of the Warrior Ethos, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” My unit not only left me. They kicked me down the hill and under the bus.
This story of a young unicorn came to me as I ran on Saturday. It took a few days to outline and get started. I’m not sure when I’ll get hte next part of the story completed. I created a new category for the story, called Unicorn Story. I hope you enjoy it.
A Unicorn Tale
Long ago, unicorns roamed the land. They lived in a peaceful Glen, magical and far from humans. The Glen was filled with lush, green grass and shaded by tall oaks and willows. Wildflowers grew in the spring, a riot of yellow, purple, and white. The Glen was truly a magical place. The rainbow colors started there and arched the sky as a sign of the Goddess’ blessing. The air sparkled golden in the sunlight. All the seasons were special. When winter caused the land to sleep under its blanket of snow, the unicorns celebrated with snowball fights and a winter carnival. The snow provided nutrition. It is little known that unicorns can feed on magic and the very seasons themselves. Summer was for lazy swims in the shaded river and naps on the grass. Fall, the unicorn young played in the leaves. But, spring was the best time in the Glen. Mother unicorns gave birth to their young.
One mild spring night, on the evening of the full Moon, a baby male unicorn was born. His horn, like all newborns, was barely a stub on his forehead. However, as his mother lovingly groomed him clean, she noted something different. Instead of glowing yellow or white, the baby’s horn nub glowed pink. “How beautiful… and odd” she commented to her mate. Her mate looked concerned. “Pink?! I’ve never known a unicorn to have a pink horn. I’d better talk to the Elders.” His mate sighed in contentment as the baby started the nurse.
Unicorn Elders are wise, usually the oldest unicorns that learned wisdom through their long lives and had a heart to serve. They are not perfect and all-knowing. The Elders heard the concerns of Aerven. They spoke amongst themselves for a time, then Taran the Warrior Leader, stated, “Aerven, we must see the youngster to judge.” He led the Elders to his young son and wife.
Adreyn leapt to her feet and stood between the Elders and her baby. “Peace, Adreyn. We do not come to harm the babe. We wish to See,” Awena of the Bards said gently. Healer Caerwyn gently nuzzled the babe and carefully examined him. “He is healthy, Adreyn. I see nothing amiss in the child, except the pink horn. It is not due to illness,” he said with a shrug. Taran looked next, “He looks strong. I see no kernel of evil in him. Arianwin, Kynan, what say you, Priestess and Priest of the Goddess?” The shamans eyes unfocussed as they studied the aura of the youngster. “There is no evil,” they said. Arianwin shook head silver mane. “I think there is a Destiny on him. But, he is very young. I cannot tell for true.” First Warrior Trainer Aeron merely nodded acceptance of the child. “He looks strange but he has the body of a young warrior, when he is ready to train.” The Elders agreed. The baby looked odd but did not seem to pose danger to the unicorns.
Seasons passed. Shylock grew taller and stronger. His coat shone white and his mane and tail grew silky silver strands. He played in the meadow with his parents and learned to drink from the rainbows. His only problem was the other unicorns. The Elders accepted his presence but did nothing to curtail the whispers of the herd.
Unicorns were gentle warriors. They fought evil wherever they encountered it, as they could not bear the presence of evil. But, their children were like children everywhere. They teased those who were not like them. “Pinky, pinky, you’re so stinky,” the children chanted. Only a few unicorn children played with him. As time went by, those tentative friendships dissolved under the pressure of teasing. Even the adult unicorns were uncomfortable around him and eased their children away. Eventually, Shylock learned to enjoy solitude in the forest. He learned the languages of the animals that lived there and often played with young rabbits and squirrels. His pink horn did not bother them.
Every young unicorn is trained in combat and magic. Some show special talent or gifts and were selected for additional training, perhaps as a Healer, Bard, or Representative of the Deities. All unicorns go into the world of men for a time in order to gain experience in battling evil. Shylock was no exception. He reported to Aeron for training. Aeron, for her part, was a tough warrior. If she had a weakness, it was that she did not recognize emotions. She trained her Warriors to be tough and hard. “Battle is not the time to be gentle,” she said, “War is horrible. You must be tough to survive.” She did nothing to stop the young unicorns from teasing Shylock. She did not see their behavior as a problem.
Smack! Shylock shook his head. Liam’s strike hurt and he was dazed. Before Shylock could recover his balance, Liam struck again. Shylock fell to the ground. He yielded. Liam looked sideways. No adults were observing. He knocked Shylock to the ground again and kicked dirt on him. “Pinky. You’re no unicorn Warrior.” Of course, Liam wasn’t a warrior yet. He had missed an important lesson of the Warrior Code. “Fight only when necessary. Respect your opponent.” Liam snickered. The gathered unicorn youth giggled. Shylock became a strong fighter, as his father tutored him. For all she was not emotional, Aeron was an excellent teacher. She, also, practiced extra with the youth. He was a talented student. She felt he would make a great Warrior in time.
As Shylock grew, his horn started to dim. Most unicorns’ horns glow brighter with magic as they age. They become stronger in the inherit magic of the unicorn Way. But, not Shylock. His horn dimmed with the weight of shame he felt for his difference. Instead of glowing, his horn was a dull pink and over time, faded to gray. The Elders were concerned. How could a unicorn have no magic? However, he was not evil and was not a threat, so his presence was tolerated. Shylock did not learn the magic of the unicorn. Often, Shylock ran off into the forest to cry. “I hate my horn. I’m so ugly and stupid. I hate the Glen!” Shylock wished he did not have to return.
His mother, Adreyn, tried to comfort the young colt. “Shylock, you are beautiful and strong. Your horn is different. But, it is part of you.” Aerven also supported his young son. “You did well in combat practice today. Aeron said you defeated Liam and Olson in battle practice. Well done.”
When Shylock turned 5 years, Adreyn and Aerven took their son to the shamans. He was now a young Warrior. His Quest to the world of man was soon. They hoped the Representatives could help ignite his magic. Kynan worked with Shylock for 40 days. Shylock’s horn remained stubbornly gray-pink. Yet, he learned much about the Way of the God and the stars above. Shylock enjoyed his lessons.
Next, Arianwyn took Shylock to the Goddess’ Cave. Perhaps a blessing ritual would help the young colt. Arianwyn lit a small fire and put herbs in it. The fragrant scent drifted toward the sky as she chanted. The young unicorn stood quietly, meditating, as he was told. Arianwyn inhaled the smoke and blew the incense over Shylock. She chanted more. Arianwyn led Shylock into the Sacred Spring, nurtured by the Womb of the Goddess. She bathed him and ducked his head under the water. After the ritual concluded, she sighed. Shylock’s horn still did not glow. Arianwyn shook her head but smiled at the youngster. “Shylock you are an enigma. You have a Destiny, yet you cannot touch magic. It is curious.” Shylock ducked his head to hide his tears. He hoped the ritual would fix his horn to glow bright white or yellow. It seemed the Goddess did not want to heal him. Arianwyn studied the silent youth for a time, then gently said, “You must be hungry. Let’s go back to your mother and your meal.”
Kynan spoke to his parents. “Aerven, your son is strong in spirit. But, he has a shadow about him. It is not evil but it speaks of trouble. Perhaps it is part of his Destiny.” He blew air from his nostrils in frustration. “We cannot See his Destiny. We are not sure where he will be Called or how.” Arianwyn nodded. “He is truly different. I sense something of the Goddess about him. But, he seems- disconnected. He will either be a great Warrior or bring trouble upon us. Perhaps both.”
“How can he fulfill a Destiny without magic,” Adreyn asked, worry in her eyes.
“That we do not know. Perhaps the Destiny does not involve magic but the skills of a Warrior only.”
“All of us, even the best Warrior, still have magic,” Aerven stated. “My son is a freak. Perhaps he will grow to be a strong warrior but I do not see how he can manage a Destiny or anything else important.”
Adreyn exploded in anger. Soon, all four adults, even the Priest and Priestess, were involved in a long, loud argument about Shylock. They did not notice a young unicorn return after finishing his snack. Shylock’s eyes filled with crystalline tears and he slunk away, his tail dragging behind him. Shylock decided, then and there, it was time for his Quest. His Quest was due to start this summer, anyway. He would leave for the man’s world at first light.
The morning dew glistened on the spring grass. Shylock, now an adolescent warrior, Rank 1, licked the grass and enjoyed the taste of dew. Today he would leave the Glen, never to return. Shylock understood his friends in the forest accepted him, as the unicorns did not. Perhaps his place was in the world of man, not in the Glen. He walked slowly toward the Boundary. Kynan and Arianwyn suddenly stood next to him. “You cannot leave without the blessing of the Goddess and God,” they said. Shylock picked up his head and looked into their eyes. “I will leave today. The Glen has nothing for me. The world of man may be where I meet my Destiny.” The shamans nodded. Kynan drew a mark on Shylock’s side. Arianwyn marked his horn and forehead. “Blessings of the Goddess of All and Her Consort be on you. May you travel in safety and return as an adult.” They bowed their heads and nodded. Shylock bowed and turned his face to the Barrier. He galloped through the glorious morning.
He is so food driven, he does tricks. It’s hillarious.