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And The Goddess SMI2LED

by Adrienne Fein

We held our first Beltane circle in deep space today. We talked about whether a pattern danced in space should be called a circle, a sphere, or something else altogether -- but "circle" still feels right. We talked a lot afterwards, too; some of the elders were busily remembering old times…

I've been wondering how it used to be on Earth; how it was to be a neo-Pagan before life extension; before we got out into space -- obviously some of us had the idea even then that it would be good for both us and the Earth if we gave it a rest, and -- well, in a way Daystar was quite right; the planet mostly looks like a park, now, although there are still some cities. There are various groups of people in different areas still developing lifestyles in harmony with nature. Asteria says it reminds her of a place called Nattapoisett, in Woman on the Edge of Time. Some of the larger groups are almost invisible, she says -- the e-field buildings blend into the landscape so well. I think we've shown really good technology does wonders to help us avoid overburdening the land. I just visited the planet recently myself; it's as beautiful to look at as it is from space, although the gravity takes a bit of getting used to (exercise at full-G isn't quite the same thing, somehow). Still, it isn't a major adjustment for most people; a lot of people live both places, in effect, and say the adjustment is well worth making, to have the best of both worlds. Astoria, for instance, likes to go swimming in the ocean -- I think she's a bit eccentric; I wonder if the Oceania colonists would agree with me? They're genetically modified, of course -- she says she just ignores it if she gets water up her nose and into her lungs.

The circle was effective, if I do say so myself. We had to modify a lot of the traditional bits -- but they've been changed before, after all. And it was nice that we didn't have to hide what we were doing, or do it tactfully in a quiet corner of the colony. We've never had a return of anything like the Burning Times, mind you -- I'd almost say the human race is growing up and learning tolerance -- but I'll admit there have been times when neo-Pagans were considered pretty eccentric, and not the sort of people for a space colony -- or so I'm told. I was born in the space colony myself, long after anyone felt any need for elaborate screening procedures.

Astoria says she remembers her first two Beltanes, long ago, back on Earth -- she says sometimes it's true, the more things change the more they remain the same. We were using a free-floating cylinder, not a pole -- and "May" doesn't have much meaning out here (I suppose we keep the calendar for the same reason we keep "circle" -- it feels comfortable). But she says the feeling was remarkably similar. Instead of winding cloth or paper ribbons around a pole planted in the ground, we wound vines, and that new luminous tape the labs developed (the base element is mined in the asteroids).

Pan said beforehand that he didn't think any of the "groundlings" would be able to manage the dance patterns, even with the new pip's (portable jet packs), but Asteria pointed out that precise symmetry was never the point of the Dance. It's true that those of us born in the colonies, who've been playing in zero-G all our lives, could handle the Dance more easily. But Tree agreed -- it's the magick of what we do and feel, not the neatness of the results, that counts. She said some of the best Beltanes on Earth included people who weren't even coveners. Xib and Hypatia thought the circle was very effective, too.

After the dance was over, we brought the Maypole into hydroponics, so the vines could root in the tanks, and carry the energy and blessings through the year. We had good music, I thought -- I've never understood why the older folks call our commicators 'psi radios", and then laugh, just because they don't work on the old principles of sound on a planet. Anyhow, we played "Ride the Fire" and the new music that Daystar says is based on glyphs found on that planet the archeologists have been going crazy over. . . It was also effective when we turned off our "radios" and just looked at the stars, wondering if the Goddess would have anything to say to us.

Pan was playing grandfather after the circle -- he gets taken that way sometimes. Ah, well; he was born before most of the life extension techniques were even developed; I suppose he's entitled. He'd just come across some old tapes of stories published as books in the mid-2Oth, when people were still living only on Earth. One of them was Millennium, by John Varley --awfully depressing.

But Pan pointed out that people really didn't know what to expect back then - - there were a few who planned, or at least hoped, for the kind of future that is our present -- the SMI2LE slogan is that old.

I don't know whether hopes and dreams have much affect on the path the future takes, but it seems to me that at the very least people with hope are more likely to make positive choices. Maybe my present exists because of the hopes of people even farther in my past than any still around... I know that many of the people here now played key roles in developing neo-Paganism as an accepted religious path, especially Tree. (Asteria pointed out that the second Beltane she went to was a Maypole processional in Central Park I guess that was a big park in those days.)

I only hope that all of the people who, over the years, helped to create this moment, found it as beautiful as I did -- and since I believe in the cycles of life, death and re-birth, l feel that in some way they did and do.

SMI2LE: Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, Life Extension.

Adrienne passed on to the Summerland in the summer of 1990. This vignette is reprinted from Harvest, Vol. 6, No. S (1986), with the kind permission of Brian Burley.



Illustration, "Space"  Copyright © 1991 by Gilman.  Copyright © 1991, 1999 by Dawnblaze. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Jan 2002 06:13:27 -0500

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