Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Fool and hIs shoes

Once upon a time...

There was a young man who left home to make himself in the world. His family wasn't wealthy. So, his mother and father could only give him a loaf of bead and a pair of shoes. He promised to take good care of them and left home.

He traveled all day along the road. When the sun was low in the sky, he thought it would be a good idea to stop for the night to rest. He didn't see a town or a house along the road. All he could see was a poor man sitting on the side of the road. The young man went to him and asked, “Is there a town or house near here where I could find shelter for the night?”

The beggar looked at the young man and shook his head. “I'm sorry. There is nothing out here, only me.”

“Well,” said the young man. “Two is often better than one. So, if you don't mind the company, I will sit with you here for the night and share my bread.”

The beggar smiled. “Please do! I have not had company or bread for a long time.”

The young man sat next to the beggar and shared the bread. They talked long into the evening. Leaning against the tree, the young man finally went to sleep.

When he woke in the morning, the beggar was gone. But on his shoes, were written the words, “Further Wisdom flies on the wings of Fools.”

The young man was shocked and disappointed. “Well, it looks like I learned that sharing bread with beggars will lead to them writing on your shoes.” Not knowing what else to do, the young man got up and continued down the road.

The road was very long. it continued all the way out to a great cliff that overlooked the sea. Not far from the cliff was a little island. The young man could see a beautiful island with two great bridges leading in from the coastline, one from the left and one from the right.
The young man looked to his left and right, and could see that he could go either way.  He could not see down the road very well in either direction. He shrugged and began his journey to his left.

The young man walked all day and all night, dreaming of the beautiful city. And when the sun rose, the next day, he found himself on the same cliff overlooking the sea and staring at the beautiful city. “Well, that's strange,” he said. “I didn't see any other roads to get to the city. Maybe I missed something.” He turned left again and began again. He took his time this time to make sure he didn't miss anything. Walking all day and all night, it was an hour after the sun rose in the morning that he found himself at the same cliff, overlooking the beautiful city.

“Wow! What a waste of time,” he exclaimed. “I walked all that way twice. I stubbed my toes, got four blisters, fought off a wolf, and slept under a pine tree just to end up back here again!” He turned to the right. “At least, I know the way is this way now.” The young man started off down the road to the right.

As he walked, he dreamed of owning a big house and finding a wonderful spouse to share it with. He dreamed of working at a fun job that made him happy. Then, he dreamed of children playing between the shining houses of the city. He walked all day and night. Just as the sun rose high in the sky, he found himself at the same cliff, overlooking the beautiful city.

The young man got mad. “I can't believe it! I'm hungry and tired. I walked all that way and I still am not at that city!” He thought really hard. He didn't remember any other roads, paths, or secret ways he missed. “I'm doing it again!,” he yelled at the sea. “And this time, I will get there!”

The young man took the road right. He walked slowly and checked everything that looked like it might be road or path. He checked for any highway, biway, leyway, backway, sideway, and pathway. He looked around boulders along the road. He walked all day and night. When the sun rose high in the sky and the birds decided it was time for teatime, he found himself at the same cliff, over looking the city.

The young man yelled at the sky and frightened the birds off their tea. “I can't believe it!” He looked left. “I am sure it is not that way.” He looked right. “I'm really sure it isn't that way.” He looked behind him. “I know for certain, it is not that way.” Not knowing what to do, he threw up his hands and sighed. Then, he looked down at his shoes.

They were a little worn but the shoes had held up fine, even with the rocks, stubbed toes, and blisters. They had lost a little of their color and they certainly felt more like a part of his feet that ever before. But the words that the beggar had written on them were just as clear as the morning they were written. “Further Wisdom flies on the wings of Fools.”

“It sure does! I have been a long way trying to get to that city!” The young man yelled at his shoes. “I have walked and ran, and I am not any closer to that city. It isn't to left. I have been that way twice! It isn't to the right. I have been that way twice too! It appears that if I want to get to the city I will have to...” He stopped in mid sentence.

He looked back over the sea to the beautiful city. It was there. It wasn't a dream. It was real. That had been decided already. But at the next thought, he made no more hesitation. He backed up a few paces, turned towards the cliff, and ran. When he got to the edge, he made an extraordinary leap into the air and over the cliff, towards the crashing waves of the sea and the island with the beautiful city.

His shoes sprouted wings and he flew away.

The First Snow Rabbits A Porquoi Story

It happened one day, a long time ago, when the world was new...

There was a sky mother. It was her job to light the stars every night with her magic torch. Like other mothers, the sky mother had children. In fact, she had many, many children. As many children as there were stars in the sky. It was this particular day that they all decided to cry.

The cries of the sky children filled the heavens with a terrible noise. It was so terrible that it shook the floor of heaven. The sky mother heard the noise and she came running. Even though she was a very busy Sky Mother, she was worried about her children. “What is wrong, children?” she called them. “Why are you all crying?”

We are bored!” cried the children. “We are bored! Bored! Bored! We have nothing to do!”

I do not have time to amuse you,” replied the sky mother. “I am very busy. You must amuse yourselves.”

But what shall we do?” cried the children. “We are so bored!”

I don't know,” said the Sky Mother impatiently. “Go twinkle the starlights or something. Just do not bother me. I am very busy and have so much work to do.” The sky mother turned and went away into the heavens.

The children stopped crying and scattered amongst the stars. There were so many children in the Sky that there was one child for every star. And every child did what every child wants to do most, they each began to twinkle the starlights. They went on and off, on and off, and on and off, and on and off, and on, and off, and off, and off, and off. The stars stopped shining, one by one, until the sky was completely dark. Then the children began to cry again.

The Sky Mother came running again. “What's wrong, children?” called the Sky Mother. “Children? Where are you?”

The starlights will not twinkle, Mother!” cried the children. “It is dark and we are bored! Bored! Bored! Bored!”

The Sky Mother had brought her magic torch. She looked around the heavens and sighed. “You have broken the starlights. Now, I will have to fix them. That will take a long time. I cannot entertain you. You must find something to do.” She grabbed the nearest star. Using her torch, she repaired the star, then made it bigger and brighter than the others. “This star is named Sol,” said the Sky Mother. She placed it above the children so they had light. “It will help you to see while you play.”

The children rubbed their eyes from the light and crying. “But what shall we do, Mother? We are so bored!” they sniffled.

Beat the Thunder Drums,” said the Sky Mother. “Just let me do my work.” She turned and went into the darkness of the heavens, carrying her torch with her.

The children stopped crying at once. They gathered the Thunder Drums and sat in a circle. Then, they began to beat the Thunder Drums. The heavens filled with the sound of rhythmic pounding.

There is one thing in the Sky that cannot resist the sound of Thunder Drums and that is Clouds. Once the heavens filled with the sound, the clouds heard it. So, they all gathered together and danced to place the sound was coming from. Soon, heaven was so crowded with clouds. But the children did not care. They were having fun beating the Thunder Drums and watching the clouds dance. The children laughed and beat the drums harder and harder and harder and harder and....BOOM! The Thunder Drums lay broken and in pieces all over heavens floor, leaving the children nothing to do. So, the Sky Children began to cry...again.

The Sky Mother came running with her torch. “What's wrong, Children? Are you alright?”

Mother the Thunder Drums are broken! We are bored! Bored! Bored! Bored!” they cried.”There is nothing to do!”

The Sky Mother cleared the floor of heaven with a wave of her arm. She looked around at the clouds filling heaven and sighed. “Well, Ill tell you what to do! Why don't you get rid of these clouds! I have work to do and I cannot keep coming to tell you how to amuse yourselves.”

But Mother, How will we get rid of the clouds? There are so many,” the children sniffled.

Shake them!” replied the Sky Mother impatiently. “Please leave me to my work.” She took her torch back into the darkness of Heaven to fix the starlight.

The Sky Children stopped crying. They all reached up, took a cloud, and began to shake it. They shook and shook and shook and shook the clouds as hard as they could. And as they shook the clouds, snow fell out and started to cover the floor of heaven. The harder they shook, the more snow fell and the less clouds they were. Soon, the clouds were gone and the floor of heaven was covered in huge mounds of snow. The Sky Children began to cry....again.

What is wrong, now?” called the Sky Mother, as she came running to the crying children, her torch burning brightly in her hand.

The clouds are gone the floor of heaven is covered in snow!” cried the children. “We are bored! Bored! Bored! Bored!”

Then make balls of the snow and play with them!” ordered the Sky Mother. “I am very busy and I am getting angry that you are crying because you are bored.” She turned and went back into the darkness.

The children stopped crying. They scattered and made balls of the snow. Soon, they were throwing the balls at each other. The children were having a wonderful time, laughing and playing. They were having so much fun that the children did not realize the snow balls were rolling off the edge of heaven. The children played, the snowballs rolled. They rolled, and rolled, and rolled, and rolled. They rolled until only one was left. The youngest picked it up and threw it hard. The other children called out, “NO!” but it was too late. The snowball bounced and rolled right off of heaven. The children ran to the edge of heaven and looked down. They could see all the snowballs hurtling towards the Earth. “No!” They began to cry. “Our snowballs!”

The Sky mother heard the children crying again. She came running with her torch. And she was very angry. “What?” she yelled. “What is wrong?”

Our snowballs rolled off the edge of heaven! They are falling to Earth!” They cried.

The Sky Mother ran to the edge of Heaven and looked down. The snowballs the children were playing with were still falling down to earth, far down below. The Sky Mother became more angry than ever. “You naughty snowballs! How dare you make the children cry!” The Sky Mother threw the torch at the snowballs.
The torch flew down towards the snowballs and it missed. But not before the torch scorched the snowball's tails. The snowballs hit the earth, bounced, and rolled away into the forest.

And they are still there today. Only you call them Snow rabbits.

Princess Elizabeth's Freckles

It was when Queen Elizabeth was a young woman and a princess, when a noble little French girl saw her at court. The little girl thought that Elizabeth was beautiful. The little girl made her way across the room and curtsied at the princess. She asked, “Please Ma'am, what is the secret of your beauty?”

The young Elizabeth laughed and said, “It is due to my freckles.”

The little girl was pulled away by her parents and they left court.

As the little girl grew up, she looked in the mirror and prayed for freckles every day. But as she grew from girl to woman, she grew sad that her freckles did not happen.

Finally, her parents saw that she grew sad everyday that passed. So, her parents decided to declare that whatever man could give their daughter Elizabeth's freckles and make her happy could have her hand in marriage.

Many suitors came with make-up, potions, and promises but none of them could give their daughter Elizabeth's freckles.

One day a young man saw the woman who wanted Elizabeth's freckles. He thought that she was very beautiful exactly the way she was. But he knew about her parents and their declaration. He didn't know anything about how to give this woman freckles. He was also poor and could not afford to pay a wise man for advice. He knew that make-up and potions did not work either. So, he decided to go to the source.

He petitioned to visit Elizabeth, who was now locked in the London tower. He got to see her and when he did, he told her the story of the girl and his love. Then he asked, “How can the secret of your beauty be freckles?”

Elizabeth laughed again and said, “Bring me a bowl of Lentils everyday for a year, cook them just how I say, and I will give you my true secret of beauty.”

The young man agreed. He got a job as a cook.. He learned the recipe of Elizabeth and cooked lentils everyday. And everyday, he brought a bowl to Elizabeth. Almost two months went by, when Elizabeth found out she was to be moved out of the tower of London and go to live at Woodstock Manor. 

The young man brought Elizabeth her bowl of lentils and she told him that she was to move away from the tower. She excused him from the agreement that they had made. And she said, “Deliver this letter I have written to your beloved and also make her a bowl of lentils I have taught you how to make. If you do this, she will marry you.”

The French young man went back home. He made a bowl of lentils and delivered it and the letter to the young woman. When she opened the letter, read it, and laughed very loud. She ate the bowl of lentils. Her parents and the young man saw her laughing and smiling, they asked her what did the letter say?

The young woman showed them the letter and on it was written, “In England, Lentils are called freckles.”

Everyone was amazed. The young man married the woman and everyday they ate one bowl of lentils.

Chen Wu and the Hungry Ghost

Chen Wu was not a very spiritual man and was very poor. So, whenever his wife requested to visit the shrine his response was always the same. “Why go to the shrine to make offerings to the dead? They are gone and we are still living, what use do they have for offerings of rice, tea, or flowers?”

His wife would always respond the same. “It is the way we remember them and remind ourselves how much we love them and they love us. Rice is a sacred gift and each grain reminds us of the good times we had with them while we shared a hard earned meal. The offering of tea reminds us of the harmony shared with them and each leaf is a fond memory. And the flowers are to remind us that life is a gift only for a short time and we should enjoy it while we can before we die, each petal being a day shared those who loved us. The offerings bring peace to the living and the dead. And if you neglect your duty, it will come back to you.”

Happy was the day he found out that she was with child. And he was devastated on the day that she died with the child in her belly. Overcome with sadness and being very poor, he gave his wife's body to the monks and did not attend her burial.

Chen Wu could not grieve. He tried to forget and remarried a beautiful and young wife. Chen Wu forgot his sadness and began to live happy.

Until one day, he noticed his new wife began to look pale and sickly. She began to sleep longer hours and would not have the energy to even smile. Chen Wu asked her, “Wife, what is your ailment? You look pale, do not eat, and sleep too long.”

His wife began to cry. “Husband, in the night after you go to sleep I see a ghostly pregnant woman come into to our bedroom. As I lay in your bed, the woman touches my belly and tells me that as long as she walks hungry, I shall be sick and will nor bear any children. I was afraid to tell you, because you do not believe in spirits. I was afraid you would not believe me. But for every night that passes, she takes more and more away from me and I can stand it no longer. Please help me.”

Chen Wu then understood the problem and it was his fault. He sent his new wife away to her family. He lit two candles and sat them outside of his door on either side. In between the candles, he poured a large amount of rice in front of his door. Then he went inside his house, closed the door, sat down and waited.

It was very late in the night, when Chen Wu heard footsteps. They shuffled up to the door and stopped. Chen Wu held his breath. After a moment, he heard a soft whisper from the other side of his door. 
One. This is for the first meal we shared at our wedding. Two. This is how he smiled and laughed when I served him his meal and spilled the broth.”

Chen Wu listened as the ghost counted the grains of rice and named a memory. It was morning when his eyes hurt from crying and when he could bear it no longer, he opened the door as the sun rose, all he saw was a giant pile of rice grains and two burnt out candles.

On the second night, he lit the candles and sprinkled tea leaves before the door. He waited again. As before, it was very late when he heard the footsteps. They approached the door and stopped. Then the counting began.

One. He provided for me and I cleaned his home. Two. I cooked the meal that he brought home for us.”

Chen Wu listened to the ghost tell of how his first wife and he had lived in harmony with each other, even during hardship. When his eyes had weld with tears, the rooster crowed the morning as he opened the door. All he found was a large pile of tea leaves and nothing more.

On the third night, Chen Wu did the same, only this time he sprinkled chrysanthemum petals in front of the door. And he waited again.

It grew late and he heard the footsteps. Then he heard the counting. “One. This is the day of our wedding. Two is the first day in our home together.”

As the counting of the days grew into a larger number, he knew the day of her death would come. His tears did not see the morning this time. He opened the door before the rise of the sun and knelt before the ghost.

I did love you and I also remember you. I have laid out the offerings so that we may both could count them. I will remember you at the family alter from now on. But please release me and my new wife from the burden I have put upon you. Go in peace and rest. You will not be forgotten.”

As Chen Wu looked at the ghost, she turned from a pregnant woman to a woman holding a child. She smiled at Chen Wu and disappeared. Chen Wu brought back his new wife and told her what happened. He kept his word and remembered the offerings. His new wife became well again and never were they visited again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A sacrificed Loki tells his version

It was late in the evening and men were deep in their cups. Mimingus, disguised as a human, had the small crowd entertained with a mimed recreation of the Aesir-Vanir war. Of course, Mimingus had added a few things on his own that had a humorous flare. So, this small public house, on the edges of the wild forest, was filled with laughter that echoed outside into the darkness. It could have been the laughter or the fire light from within, but however the attention was caught, it was seized by a very exhausted and weakened Loki.

The door opened. The crowd turned their heads away from Mimingus. Loki stepped into the firelight. The crowd went silent, stood, and began to leave. Loki went to a table, sat down, and demanded five ales and five mead. Mimingus called out to the crowd, begging them to stay. Mimingus never got a reply. In less than 3 minutes, the public house was empty save for the owner, Mimingus, and Loki.

Fearing for his saftey, the owner served Loki and then vanished to the back room. Mimingus, on the other hand, wasn't afraid of Loki. He could tell that the trickster was not feeling himself and his powers were unusually diminished. Mimingus transformed into his normal faun form. “Good Evening, Loki,” said Mimingus. He joined Loki at the table.

Loki made no indication that he saw Mimingus sitting across from him at the table. The Asgardian merely continued to swig his drink, in secession from ale to mead, without stopping. Mimingus watched silently as Loki finished his drinks and called for more. The faun waited patiently while the brew-master appeared, served, and disappeared just as quickly. Loki reached out to grasp a mug, he wasn't fast enough to hide from Mimingus that the God was shaking, violently.

Mimingus lowered voice. “Well, if it was disturbing enough to make Loki tremble, I sure hope it isn't coming here.”

Loki finished off the twelfth drink. He lowered the mug slowly to the table. “You have no clue, Mimingus. It was horrible.” He grabbed at thirteen.

Mimingus cleared his throat and kept his voice low. “We are alone, Loki. Do you uh....” The faun leaned in a little towards him. “ wanna talk about it. Because it looks like you really need to talk about it.”

Loki finished off thirteen and threw the cup across the room. He reached out and grasped the faun by the scruff of his neck. “If you breath a word of this to any being, living or dead, I'll have your hide above my door frame,” Loki whispered angrily. 
Hey now, Loki my man!” squeaked Mimingus. “What ever it is, I can keep it on the DL, you know...the “down-low.”

Loki let go of Mimingus. “It doesn't matter. Once the Asgard get a hold of the story, I will never hear the end of it.” He slammed his fist on the table. The jolt knocked the mugs over. The brew-master came out. “Sorry, I'll compensate,” said Loki. The brew-master replaced the drinks and disappeared.

Mimingus eyes grew wide. “Loki, what happened to you?” The concern in Mimingus voice was genuine. He had never seen nor heard of the sly god so disturbed. Mimingus knew that Loki was a traveler within the World Tree. Loki had been in tight situations, faced strange monstrous creatures, and had to think his way out of weird situations that he, and other gods, had gotten him into. Loki had never shown this much exhaustion or trauma in all of that. Mimingus was honestly concerned, and more than that, he was completely entangled in his own overwhelming curiosity.

Loki sighed. “I better tell it to someone or my side will never be known.” He grabbed the fifteenth mug and began his tale.

“Many months ago, Freya and I were out among men. Having a few drinks, watching the
entertainment, we weren't looking for trouble. We just wanted to relax and have a little fun. Freya and I got fairly drunk and had a conversation about security issues of Asgard. We had been experiencing breaches from the giants onto Asgard territory.” Loki raised his brow and leaned into Mimingus. “The treaty clearly states what our borders are but do you know of any giants who can read?”

Mimingus shook his head negatively.

“Yeah, well, neither do I,” retorted Loki. “Anyway, I got angry with Freya because she told me I was stupid when I mentioned that what Asgard really needed was well placed boundary markers. That way there is no confusion and we don't have to fight, kill, or imprison others for making a common mistake.”

Makes sense,” mumbled Mimingus.

I know!” yelled Loki. “But Gods forbid doing something that actually makes sense! Because we are the Asgard, we do things the Asgard way, and if others do not do it the Asgard way, we will make them do it the Asgard way!” Loki took another drink and slammed it down. “Which is, generally, the way that is the hardest and lacks any wisdom or fore thought!”

I understand and identify with that,” said Mimingus as he pointed up and down his faun body. “Not the first time and certainly not the last.”

Freya just got angry with me. She wandered off on her own after that,” said Loki. “But the moment she left, this really tall dwarf sat down next to me.”

Wait,” said Mimingus.” A really tall...Dwarf?”

Yeah, he claimed to be a giant among Dwarfs,” replied Loki.

But, Loki,” said Mimingus. “Dwarfs don't usually leave their clan halls. You said that Freya and you were among men to relax and have fun. Dwarf fun is crafting or mining...”

Well, Fullangr's fun is apparently wall building and blacksmithing,” interrupted Loki.

Fullangr,” echoed Mimingus. “Funny. I'm not familiar with him.”

Doesn't matter,” mumbled Loki. He took another drink and continued his story. “Fullangr asks me about the breaches. So, I tell him. He's a Dwarf! What's he gonna do? gnaw at Thor's knee?” Loki huffed. “Point is I didn't figure him as a villain.”

Fullangr's the villain of your story?” asked Mimingus, shocked.

It doesn't happen often but it does happen. I was stupid and let my guard down.” said Loki. “A few cups after the conversation about the breaches, Fullangr begins to boast. He says we need a huge wall that wraps all the way around Asgard. He claims that he can built what we need in just three seasons. I told him if he could build a wall that big in three seasons, he could probably ask of the Asgard anything he wanted.”

So he boasted and it turned out to be true?”

Oh, no Mimingus it is far, far worse than that,” whined Loki. “Fullangr shows up at Odin's thing. Fullangr introduces himself as a giant among the small. Then, he claims that he had already made the deal with me, that if he can build the wall in three seasons, he would be given the sun, the moon, and Freya as his wife. Which is a lie. But who are they gonna believe?”

Mimingus held back a chuckle. “Not you.”

No! Not me!” yelled Loki. He threw his mug again and grabbed another drink. “So, in retaliation, I reply that I didn't agree to that. I agreed that Fullangr would get what he wanted in exchange for a complete wall built in one season.” Loki shook his head. “It was to be an impossible task.”

Let me guess,” said Mimingus. “Not so impossible after all.”

No! That weasel had a horse that could pull three times its own weight! Four days before season's end, the wall was nearly complete!” Loki took another drink. “The next thing I know I have the Asgard telling me that I gotta do something before Freya gets married off to a dwarf!”

What did you do?”

I couldn't think of anything to tell the truth.” Loki lowered his voice. “Freya is like my sister. She taught me much of Vanir magic. I didn't mean to hurt her or marry her off. “ Loki sighed. “Later that evening I went to her. I apologized to her. I told her I couldn't think of a way to fix it.”

Her reaction?” asked Mimingus.

She listened and got angry. Then, she told me that there are ways that I could fix it. She told me that if I thought like a girl, instead of a man, I could easily get out of it. Freya said something about not really trying because it would be easier to marry her off. She said things like if I was a girl, I would be much smarter.”

Basically, she brought gender into the mix,” said Mimingus, nodding.

That's what gave me the idea,” replied Loki. He stopped talking and did more drinking.

So, you turned yourself into a female dwarf?” asked Mimingus confused. “That's not possible. There is no such thing as female dwarfs, they do not procreate like mortals do. They...”

Loki slammed down his mug. He peered Mimingus with all of his face and a raised brow.

You did not turn into a female dwarf because that is impossible. He also fancied himself in love with Freya. That would not have worked anyway.” Mimingus came to a mind-numbing conclusion. “You..turned yourself into...a”

And ran as fast as I could through the forest! I didn't want that thing to catch me,” said Loki. 
Can't say I blame you,” said Mimingus.

Well, it did anyway!” Loki stood up and threw his mug across the room. It shattered into many pieces that fell to floor.

How?” asked Mimingus. “You are a very powerful Asgardian! There should have been no way...”

Loki sat down. “As I was running through the forest, a great entanglement of vines wrapped around my legs. I tripped and fell. I had to make a great struggle just to stand up.”

Why didn't you just turn back into yourself?”

Loki's face grew dark and sad. “I tried but could not. In hindsight, the only thing could have prevented me from turning back is a Vanir binding spell.” He buried his head into his cup.

So, you were trapped and couldn't turn back. You managed to get up, at least. But by then the other horse found you. And then he...” Mimingus stopped.

Yes,” replied Loki with a low voice. “I could do nothing but stand there until it was done.”

I am confused,” said Mimingus. “You said all this happened months ago. What does all that have to do with tonight?”

Loki looked back up at Mimingus. “Because tonight, I finally had the foal and could return to normal.”

Mimingus mouth hung open.

And the worst part is, I did this to save my family and I think it was my family who sacrificed me,” said Loki."I am such a fool."