Sunday, November 13, 2011

Won't somebody please think of the children!

We went to our Spiral Scouts meeting today. It was fun! No, this isn't a rantastic post on building Pagan community and support for our children. Another time. I'm actually feeling pretty chill tonight (uh oh, someone knock on wood before I go off on something!).

In pondering this fun group, and thinking about the upcoming Mercury retrograde (Please don't cry. Yet. I haven't mentioned that Mercury goes retrograde during a Solar eclipse. Hmmm, now you can cry!) , I came across one of the fables attributed to Aesop.
Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica are a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today. Many of the stories, such as The Fox and the Grapes (from which the idiom "sour grapes" derives), The Tortoise and the Hare, The North Wind and the Sun, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Ant and the Grasshopper are well-known throughout the world.
Tonight's tale which brings this all together: Mercury and the Woodcutter.

A woodcutter accidentally dropped his old, battered ax, dull and chipped by wear, in a river. The ax sank straight to the bottom, depriving the poor man of the one tool of his trade. With his livelihood lost, the woodcutter sat on the riverbank and began to cry. At that moment, the god Mercury broke through the surface of the water, holding up a splendid golden ax. "Could this be yours, old man?" "Oh, I wish that it were," sighed the woodcutter. Mercury dove back into the icy-cold water and this time brought up a magnificent silver ax. "So this is yours," said the god, offering the man the wonderful ax. "If only it were," lamented the woodcutter. "But my ax is old, and rusted, and chipped on the head." Mercury, pleased with the man's honesty, plunged into the river a third time and surfaced with the woodsman's used ax. "You are an honest man. I want you to take the golden ax and the silver ax as rewards for telling the truth." Thanking his benefactor, the woodsman ran home to tell his wife of his good fortune. As the story spread, a neighbor, who was also a woodcutter, rushed to the same spot on the riverbank and tossed his only ax into the deep water. Suddenly Mercury broke through the water's surface bearing a golden ax. "Is this the ax you lost, my friend?"

"Yes, yes, it is," lied the man, greedily reaching for the magnificent tool. Mercury tossed the golden ax into the water. "I deny you that one," said the god, "and your own ax." "Please, just get me my old ax," pleaded the man. "I won't be able to support my wife and children."

Mercury departed, and the woodsman cried to himself, "Honesty is the best policy."

In other versions, many others in the town do the same deceitful thing. In yet other versions the ones who are dishonest have their head cut off. Interesting. I mostly agree that honesty is the best policy. Am I being honest about that? ;) heh heh heh I find it interesting that in this tale The Trickster Himself is punishing dishonesty. Wouldn't he reward a clever thief? Maybe that's what it is... He didn't mind the dishonesty, he just didn't like that their trick lacked wit and cleverness. Maybe you just can't bullshit a bullshitter! Maybe He tells the truth, just in a way to make it imply what He wants you to believe? Ah, more meditations!

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