Tag: birds

Theogamia: Hera and the Cuckoo

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Cuckoo in the storm, poor bedraggled thing,
come here, trust me, and I will warm you.
Lady, your hands are gentle, and your bosom is soft.
I will rest here while my feathers dry.

Cuckoo on my breast, are you hungry, are you thirsty?
Water from my cup, golden crumbs from my plate I offer.
Lady, your cup is deep, and your food is sweet.
I will eat and drink from your hand.

Cuckoo on my hand, what a silly song you sing!
Yet it amuses me to hear you say your name.
Lady, your laugh is lovely, and your breath is sweet.
No other mate I have, so I will sing my song for you.

Cuckoo in my home, how you brighten my shining palace!
Your blue-grey wings, your striped breast, your jaunty tail delight me.
Lady, your halls are fair, your home is spacious,
yet I will always come back to roost near you at night.

Cuckoo on my bed, rest here upon my pillow.
Rest only lightly, that I may not crush you in the night.
Lady, to be near you, I would dare death and more.
I will even dare your wrath when we awaken in the morning.

Stranger in my bed, where has my cuckoo gone?
Whose arm is this, whose leg, whose rampant prick I feel?
Lady, it is I, your cuckoo and your brother,
Zeus son of Kronos, lord of sky and storm.

Cuckoo in my nest, how strangely you have wooed me!
Yet I am still charmed by your antics, nonetheless.
Cow-eyed Hera, lady of sky and cloud,
Will you not marry me? Let us rule together.

Cuckoo of my heart, yes, I will marry you,
but you must be faithful, for I am always true.
Lady of my heart, if you marry me,
you will be the queen of heaven and earth, the noblest goddess.

Cuckoo of my heart, that will do for now.
Come, let us marry, let us tarry together in love.
Lady of my heart, the spring is here, the birds are mating.
Our love shall be the rain that quickens the soft earth.

Oh, oh, oh, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo!
Ah, ah, ah, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo!

(Originally published at Antinous for Everybody)

Come out, come out, wherever you are

When I was still a teenager, I came up with a brilliant (if I do say so myself) idea for a Broadway musical: The story of the first gay President and the First Significant Other. Acts I would cover the campaign and election and conclude with the Inaugural Ball, during which the First S.O., costumed as Glinda, would sing a song that began with Glinda’s invitation to the Munchkins, “Come out, come out, whatever you are.” That would be such a show-stopper. *sighs*

Unfortunately, I never quite figured out what would happen in the second act. (“American lives have no second act.”) But today is National Coming Out Day; it’s also the day when the Ekklesia Antinoou comes out to the ancestors and remembers all of its spiritual ancestors, the sancti and sanctae.

PSVL had this to say a few years ago about coming out to ancestors:

Our ancestors have a vested interest in their lines of descendants continuing; thus, they’re interested in and are often our first lines of defense and first sources of assistance when it comes to health, wealth, and other matters of well-being, so that their descendants flourish and are healthy and are all the more likely to carry on honoring them and remembering them for their blessings and contributions toward their descendants’ success. They have a vested interest not only in making sure their descendants do well, but also in encouraging their descendants to have offspring of their own. (And, in case anyone feels that is in some sense pejorative, own that viewpoint and opinion for yourself: it is what it is, and it’s no better or worse than the desire that many deities have to be honored, or the desire that most humans have to be loved and appreciated. It’s no better or worse than any other potential motive or driving ideation that any sentient beings, corporeal or otherwise, might have.)

Those of us who are queer in some fashion or other are often less likely to have descendants than our non-queer siblings and other relatives. We are, thus, biological and genealogical dead-ends.

As a stepparent with no children of my body, I am to some extent one of those dead ends; however, I have an older sister, who has a daughter, who has a son, so my genetic line does not simply stop with me. And I am fortunate that no one close to me ever pressured me to bear a child.

So, what do I have to come out about today? I am a cis female, queer, bisexual, clinically depressed, divorced, polytheist, devotee of Antinous, media fan, fanfic writer, unabashed fan of Chris Evans, fat person, cockatiel owner, friend of birds, Angry Birds fiend, chocoholic, lover of red wine and dark beer. And this is my blog.

Part of the flock

In the summer of 1992, a few months before we married, my now ex-husband and I wandered into a pet shop in a mall and looked at some birds. About a month later, we returned to the same store with a purpose and brought home two small exotic finches of a sort called White-Headed Nuns. We named them Hildegard and Alexander and watched them with fascination. Only about four inches long, with cream-colored heads, reddish-brown bodies, strong conical blue-grey beaks, and large blue-grey feet distinguished by a long, hook-shaped nail on the rear toe, they were bursting with personality. Hildegard was domineering, suspicious, and aloof except when she chose not to be. (She would occasionally eat from my hand.) Alexander was calm, sedentary, tolerant, and a lover of music who added his own little song to any music he liked. (Which included flutes, recorders, Brahms, and the singing of Emma Kirkby.)

Two years later, we were given a pair of zebra finches. Two years after that, we mourned the loss of Alexander, but by then we had another pair of finches, Indian Silverbills we called Peter and Harriet Wimsey, and another White-Headed Nun we called Cadfael. More finches, two canaries, and several budgies followed, and Rembrandt the cockatiel arrived in our lives in July 2000, and after him two other cockatiels, our dear hen Mango, now deceased, and Sandro, another male, who lives with my ex.

Since 1992 I have never been without the company of birds. I don’t think I could tolerate living without them. And living with birds in the home very soon made me pay attention to birds outside. I discovered that even the city holds more than sparrows and pigeons, and the ducks and gulls who frequent our harbor area. I learned to recognize starlings, mourning doves, goldfinches, cardinals, robins, and the juncos who fly down from further north and winter here. Catbirds arrive in summer. Canada geese and coots share the harbor’s waters with mallards and gulls; all of them are prone to taking naps on the paddleboats, the historic sailing ship, and the various private boats docked there.

I’ve awakened to the calls of a mockingbird that could imitate the most annoying of car alarms, and to the soft, repetitive cooing of the mourning dove.

Even when I’m travelling outside my home turf, I feel that birds recognize me. I didn’t get the nickname “Mommybird” just from taking care of my own little flock; wherever I go, birds approach me, as if they know that I’m part of their flock. My ex and I agreed that birds have an “Internest”; when you see them sitting on wires, they’re sending signals around the globe through their feet. Wherever I go, a mourning dove is apt to show up and give me the beaky eyeball; I’m sure they go off and report to Rembrandt somehow.

As far as I can tell, I’ve always believed that birds and animals, trees and plants have feelings and deserve respect. I apologize if I walk past a plant and bend its leaves or branches. I step around worms and ants so far as I can. I accept spiders as friends. (I have E.B. White to thank for that.) I want to have plants and rocks about me in my home just as I want to have the companionship of birds. I struggled to keep a plant alive at work until I had good luck with a bamboo that’s now in its third container and towering over my desk.

Do I see land spirits? Er, maybe–out of the corner of my eye. I saw skittering, darting things that I knew weren’t mice from the corners of my eye in my apartment. I did some divination, and then I stopped seeing them when I started offering them milk and speaking to them politely. My practice, that is to say, my ideal, is a daily offering of a small dish of milk for the spirits, plain purified water to the dead, and incense and lights to the gods. I fail to carry out my ideals some days, some weeks, but I never give it up.

Keeping birds has made me see myself as part of the flock. My pet birds typically eat when I do, sleep when I do, am active when I am active. Alexander used to like music; Rembrandt will sit on my shoulder and watch Elementary with me. I think we are just so a part of an ecology of spirits that includes the land, its mortal beings, our ancestors, our gods and powers. The problem is we’ve forgotten that and insist on ignoring our neighbors.