Tam Lin

Ballads were the movies, newspapers, and classrooms of their time. Easy to remember and self contained, they could be taken anywhere and brought to life with nothing more than a single voice. They passed from singer to singer, carried on the breath, and some of them have endured to the present time, long after they ceased to be a central carrier of knowledge. We haveFrancis James Child to thank for the fact that so many of them, in so many different forms, have made it to us. This version of Tam Lin was assembled from his collection.

Deeply magical and Pagan to the core, this ballad is one of my favorites. Janet is definitely a blood red rose. She isn’t afraid to go wander the forest alone, and she isn’t afraid of what she finds there. She went looking for Tam Lin, wanting to see for herself what the fuss was about. The story is a fantasy, couched in the language of myth, where Beauty rescues the Prince, for once. She chooses her own path throughout, and at the end of the tale, we still don’t know what shape her life will take when we leave her with Tam Lin in her arms, newly taken from the Queen of Faerie herself. That is another Tale, after all.

You never know what you’ll find wandering in a wild place. Very few of us have an adventure as dramatic as Janet did, no matter what the news would have us believe, but wandering does change us. It doesn’t have to be done in a forest, or even in a physical location of any kind. A gathering where we know no one, a library’s shelves, or our own imaginations will take us to the unexpected.

Even wandering in our own neighborhood can be rewarding. If nothing else, we’ll have a deeper knowledge of the place we live in and a stronger connection to it. Something as simple as knowing where the blackberries grow and not being afraid to taste their sweetness is an adventure available to all of us. Even here in the heart of Oakland I can find them. How many of us know where the city parks are, and go to them?

Where do you wander? What adventures do you have?

Next Stop: Robert Burns

The Great God Sam Hain

Silliness ahead, Use Only As Directed. No resemblance to most Realities Intended:

I have a yearly visit from the Lord of the Dead, the Great God Sam Hain. His first visitation came one year when I was surfing the web on Samhain with some fellow Pagans. Once again, the twisted tale of the Scary (nonexistent) Celtic God Samhain, Lord of the Dead, was being presented by the equally twisted and fanatical followers of a minor desert deity. All the little kids were being initiated unwittingly into his Evil Cult by participating in the costumery and by trick or treating. Funny how they seize on that. For me, that door to door procession is the heart of the ritual.

The beginning of the dark half of the year *is* a scary time. Peering through the thinning veil is not a task to be undertaken without courage. Many things walk the night then, and this is why the Celts kept to their houses that night. The kids who trick or treat don’t realize that they are unwitting messengers of the Gods. You never know what you might open your door to on Samhain, so be kind.

That year, while we were indulging in our yearly dose of gallows humor, I felt myself filled with a Presence.

The Great God Sam Hain spoke through me, and to me. He Revealed His True Nature. He does indeed wait, up in the sky, snaring unwary Evangelical Christians, Enslaving them to his Wicked Will. He brings them to his throne by a very simple means.

Breakfast sausage.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

After all, what will kill you quicker than a regular diet of greasy, cholesterol laden food? And what meal is the greasiest of all? Those of you who throng to the Bob Evanses of the world, who feast on Farmer John’s bounty of a Sunday morning, you Know Who You Are!

The Sausage Avatars sit at a great poker table in the sky with Sam Hain. They game for souls, using the Sacred Grease-Proof Cards and Sausage Patty Chips. Their names are many:

Bob Evans
Jimmy Dean
Farmer John
John Morrell

Those who follow the Way of Grease, who pack the Denny’s and the Carrows of the world, who serve great and heaping plates of eggs and bacon, who eat sausage gravy at every meal, yea, and Chicken Fried Steak are Pleasing in Lord Sam Hain’s eyes. When they come to him, to become spirits who walk the world when the Veil is thin, then will come their test. Will they continue to see things in limited terms of good and evil, or will they see themselves at last as part of the Dance?

Time will tell, for we all must Dance eventually, from Beggars to Kings.