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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Before the Gate of Winter

Bone, Heart, Thought, Deed, and Spirit, I choose to honor these people this season
Many modern pagans celebrate the Mighty Dead at Samhain. I borrow from these ideas and bits from the late Zenna Henderson with some of my own flourish. My Befores include not only my direct ancestors, but other people who have altered my life.

Not only do I choose five people who helped shape my life, but I share those choices with you, my readers.

My maternal great grandmother is my Before of Bone this year. She was not a kind woman. She was a hard woman and a practical woman. She was a young widow with six children on a poor Louisianna farm. This was in the 1910s and 1920s, there just wasn’t a lot of money. She managed.

I’ve talked about knowing my first strong woman from before I was born, but Mother got it from her grandmother. And while Great-Grandma was as hard as nails and twice as strong, she raised kids that knew life and their faith and the occasional joy as very few do. Her legacy is clear and I’m honored to be part of it. I think that if she knew of my Befores, she would expect to be one of the first. I missed that bit, but I will honor her now.

ETA: I was going to leave it out, but it defined her character so much. When she was a young teen, she fell out of a wagon and broke her back. She spent the rest of her life with a walking stick and hunched over. She was considered “unmarriagable.” She managed.

My Before of Heart exemplified philos. She was the first true philosopher I ever met. She was in her 60s when I knew her as a young man, and yes, I met her around a campfire. We didn’t usually agree, but we respected each other’s brains. Her greatest gift was bringing people of different creeds and passions and thinking together to talk. The marvel is that even as we disagreed, we still spoke as friends. Since her death, I’ve never knoen anyone else who could do that. In this day of political correctiness and agenda-based thinking, we need that back.

Robert Heinlein is my Before of Thought this year. My first of his was probably Starship Troopers. I read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, that’s where I got The Lady Always Chooses. Of course I read Stranger In A Strange Land and Time Enough For Love. What set Heinlein apart was the humanity of his characters. And if you didn’t like your society, there was time to change it if you had the courage.

A few years ago I told you about Ladimir Kwiatkowski, part of The Wallace & Ladmo Show. This year my Before of Deeds is Bill Thompson who played Wallace and doubled as the head writer. The show ran for thirty-seven years. It has fans from Alice Cooper to Steven Spielberg, It was never just a kid’s show. They did biting political satire long before Saturday Night Live. The cartoons were for the kids, the sketches were for the adults. If you were a celebrity and didn’t do a guest appearance, well, you hadn’t really done Arizona at all.

Most people don’t understand how rural Arizona was. In the 60s and 70s, there was exactly one televisiton station that reached most of the state. When you have to drive sixty or seventy miles for groceries and water, that one television station is very important. And the best known show was Wallace & Ladmo.

Wallace, Ladmo and Gerald made thousands of personal appearances over the years. Their stage shows in
Legend City were (ahem) legendary. Almost every Arizona kid of the time was exposed to Thompson’s snappy humor and characters.

I know
Doreen Valiente was my first public Before of Words, but I’m making her my Before of Spirit this year too. Valiente was Gerald Gardner’s unacknowledged co-writer. She was probably a better ritualist and she was certainly a better poet than he ever was. Gardner may have had the original inspiration, but Valiente made in practical. So with that thought and in honor of the season, here is Doreen Valiente’s Samhain Chant from Witchcraft for Tomorrow.

Fire red, summer's dead
Yet it shall return.
Clear and bright, in the night,
Burn, fire, burn!

Dance the ring, luck to bring
When the year's a-turning.
Chant the rhyme at Hallows-time,
When the fire's burning.

Fire glow, vision show
Of the heart's desire,
When the spell's chanted well
Of the witching fire.

Dance the ring, luck to bring ...

Fire spark, when nights are dark
Makes our winter's mirth.
Red leaves fall, earth takes all,
Brings them to rebirth.

Dance the ring, luck to bring ....

Fire fair, earth and air,
And the heaven's rain,
All blessed be, and so may we,
at Hallows-tide again.

Dance the ring, luck to bring …

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