Godhian tradition for the celebration of the Winter Solstice – the Yule – is to present a gift for each of the nine days and nights that Odin/Woden hung in sacrifice to gain the Wisdom of the Futhorc that he may grant it to Man.
In it’s simplest form, the gifts take place as a daily surprise for our children or our loved ones. In it’s sacred form, the gifts take the form of a daily offering to the God for his unmatched gift that raised us above the beasts of field and forest.
Yet there exists a third form that few of my kind – and we are few indeed – come to truly appreciate. They are not gifts of ourselves to others; they aren’t part of our rituals. They are gifts, blessings, given us by the Gods throughout the year. Often unremarkable until seen in retrospect, others that shine forth brighter than stars.
In the past 7 days, during my battle with bronchial pneumonia, I have had an extraordinary opportunity to look back at this past year and discover those blessings given me.
The first, though sentimental and bittersweet, came with the loss of my darling Cinmouii. She was a quiet, loving and gentle presence in my life for many years – and the best lap-warmer the Goddess ever gave four legs and fur. When age and illness took her, my heart was broken. But Fate, ever the capricious mistress, decided that Tiggami and I should not mourn her loss for long. That is when Baal entered our lives permanently. One of the many stray, abandoned, and feral cats that I keep watch over Baal greeted me every morning when I came out to feed them. Black as night, sleek and beautiful, but ever so quiet. After two years of his morning greetings, his absence for three days had me worried. I had just lost Cinmouii, and I couldn’t think of losing his solace. Then he reappeared, in his favorite spot on the porch, but badly wounded and very ill with an infected bite through his paw.
Four visits to the vet, and close to $600 later, Baal became an indoor cat thoroughly ensconced as the new “man of the house.” He is every bit as loving, gentle and quiet a presence, with the added bonus that he keeps to my daily schedule far better than I do. He infallibly wakes me 15 minutes before the alarm – even on my days off – knows exactly what path I will take from the bed, to the bathroom, to the coffee pot and then the food bowls… and guides me every step of the way. When it is bedtime, he guides me to the bathroom and supervises while I brush my teeth, take my meds, and then patiently waits at the foot of the bed while I get in and get situated. Then he gives me goodnight kisses, a brief “massage” on my shoulders, then curls up at my feet until he knows I’m asleep. Tiggami welcomed the assistance with her job as Pusservisor – she’s an old girl, now, and I seem to need a lot of pusservision… according to her. But she never has taken to him as her constant companion, and there was something still missing from our little family.
Then came the second half of the blessing… Tima. The fore-shortened, feminine version of her full name, Tiny Monster, this itty-bitty yellow and white ball of fur had been hiding under my neighbor’s porch where she’d been born about 6 weeks prior. Her mother had been killed by one of the many cars that race up my hill, and that day I came home to find my neighbor on her porch. She told me what had happened to the mother, and couldn’t I hear the kitten crying under the porch? Oh, yes… so I stuck my nose into the gap beside the steps and spoke to the kitten, putting my hand down to search for it. I could hear from the cries that the kitten was close. That was when I suddenly found my hand full of trembling bones and fur.
I took the crying baby to my chest and snuggled her close… and there she’s been ever since. No longer quite so tiny, but likely to always be the runt of my litter, she has managed to fill the companion role for both Tiggami and Baal – to be honest, it takes all three of us to keep her amused… we’ll never be able to keep her out of trouble, even if we were a platoon of Marines! She excels at terrorizing Baal, tormenting Tiggami, finding new ways to create disasters from rolls of toilet paper, and is a master of getting into places where air doesn’t fit. During this past week, as I battled to breathe and fought my way through cycles of fever and chills, she decided it was the perfect time to go into her first heat. Perfect timing. It was then that I realized that she was not only perfectly named, but that she was also the perfect successor to Cin’. She’s every bit the Whore of Babylon her predecessor was, with the added amusement of performing contortions across the floor, accompanied by what I can only assume is the Feline version of the 1812 Overture, complete with cannon and fireworks! Poor Baal… he thought for sure he was going to get him some sweet virgin ass, but every time he tried, he ended up with a face full of yellow fury. To quote the best drag-movie ever: “He’s so confused he don’t know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt.” She’s a demon, she keeps Tiggami bemused, and she’s my constant shadow ever ready to curl up on my lap, on the pillow next to my head, or to remind me that whatever else I’m doing I must feed her FIRST!! Pushy wench. So the first blessing… to have lost one so loved, only to be reminded that our hearts have the ability to heal and there is always room to love one more.