Beltane Encounters with the Otherworld

The energy of the ritual still hung in the air, shimmering in the light of the Beltane full moon. I was alone in the garden, tidying up the lanterns and getting ready to put the fire to bed. As I walked down the garden steps, my offering of milk and honey in my hands, I made my way across the lawn to where the altar and offering place lay beneath the canopy of an old beech, its leaves just beginning to bud. I said a quick prayer as I entered that sacred space, with nine small stones delineating the boundary of this “faerie circle”, a minilithic stone circle that I built last year.

As I walked into the circle, I felt the air thick with the magic of the evening. I knew something was about to happen. I laid the food and drink upon the altar, and gave my thanks to the spirits of place, and to the Good Folk. No sooner had the words left my mouth, than a rustling in the hedge all around me began, as if some strange wind was shaking just the coniferous boundary of my garden, or a small army of badgers were all coming through the little holes in the hedge at the same time. My heart pounded in my chest as the moon shone through the branches of the beech above me. Frozen in place, excited and both frightened to see what happened next, I tried to see into the darkness of the hedge, shadowed from the moon’s light, but I could perceive nothing but the inky blackness.

The rustling all around me stopped, and I found I was able to move. I knew that something had come through the hole in the hedge, but I could not see it. Slowly I walked towards the firepit, hoping to see what had come through by the light of the fire. I cautiously approached the dying flames, and peered into the shadows about ten feet away. I could see very little, but I felt a presence, someone – male – standing by the birdfeeder and the hole in the hedge, standing shoulder-height to me, dressed in shades of brown. Suddenly, even as I looked and felt his presence, he moved without a sound like a dark shadow in the blink of an eye back into the hedge, and there from the depths of the green and black two eyes shone a whitish/green, reflecting the light of the fire. Whatever that being was, he had changed into the form of a badger in the blink of an eye, to watch me from the depths of the back hedgerow.

“Beltane blessings,” I murmured. Unsure of what to do next and still very much afraid and alone, I curtseyed and then covered the firepit with its iron mesh guard, walking back slowly towards the house. I had wanted to ask for his friendship, and for that of all the Good Folk, but my courage failed me on that night of the full moon, as the powers of Beltane and the Otherwold flowed through the land.

I only hope that he will return, and soon.

Open Letter to the Badgers of the UK “Trial Cull”

badger cullDear Badger Cousins,

I write to apologise for the failing of my species.

I am so utterly sorry for our short-sightedness, for our unreasonable behaviour when we claim to be the only species that carries reason.

I am so sorry for the killing of your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I am sorry for the killing of your children.

I am sorry that our government has decided to allow this “trial cull” to go ahead despite scientific evidence that it wouldn’t help the problem.

I am desperately sorry that even though there is a vaccine for bovine TB that our dairy farmers refuse to use it, as it means they cannot trade with the EU should they vaccinate.

I am so very sorry that those being killed are not even taken back and tested to see if they have TB as per article 6.7 in the Bovine TB Policy.

I am utterly sorry that this “trial cull” has nothing to do with bovine TB, and isn’t the main objective in article 6.1 of the Bovine TB Policy – that it is mainly looking at the effectiveness of shooting to see if they can kill in a safe and cost effective fashion.

I am sorry that because of us humans, you were put on a protected list in the first place, and that now we are killing you off even more, for no apparent reason.

I am sorry that dairy farmers are not asking for better monitoring and control of moving cattle across the country to prevent the spread of bovine TB.

I am also sorry that the living conditions on some dairy farms are what are causing bovine TB.

I am sorry that DEFRA have allowed the use of dogs to locate injured animals, and allowing the possibility of further mauling of your kindred by our hounds.

I am sorry that hundreds, if not thousands of you will not even have a clean kill, and die in excruciating pain due to the lack of monitoring of the people who are doing the killing, and the lack of specialists in this abhorrent so-called trial as per DEFRA’s statement.

For all these reasons and more, I apologise on behalf of my species.

Know that I continue to support the protest movement against this genocide of your species.  I continue to sign petitions, write letters and make the truth known.  Though distance is a factor and I cannot protest where the shooting is taking place on the other side of the country, please know that I am doing all that I can for you. I know it is still not enough.

When the developers built their new estate in my village, promising to leave the badgers living on the brown-land alone, and providing a “badger exclusion zone” we knew they were lying, and we could do nothing to stop it.  That crucial evening, as I stood outside in the moonlight and raised my arms towards the construction site, I opened my heart to yours and invited your brethren to come and live here, with us, on the quiet cul-de-sac, the bank beneath my hedge a good place for a sett, and food and love and sanctuary provided.  A few days later we saw our first badger, and we were glad.  Though this is a small act in the horror of what we are currently witnessing, know that people are fighting and working to save your kindred each and every day.

Know that I pray for you every day.  I know that prayers cannot change the world, but they can change the individual praying, and therein lies the power.

Dearest badger cousins, I am so deeply, deeply sorry for the failing of my species.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69463/pb13691-bovinetb-policy-statement.pdf

http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/_Attachments/Resources/858_S4.pdf