Most Pagans are no stranger to Beltane. May 1st, marking the mid point between Spring and Summer. The celebration of new life, fertility, and the warmth of the coming season. A month ago I would have looked the most seasoned witch in the eye and said I knew all there was to know about this Sabbat. A few weeks before Beltane began a lesson that taught me how little I knew.
A mid-April evening I was sitting on the front porch and noticed something was moving beneath the dirt in a flower pot. Thinking it was a snake, I used a large stick to slowly unearth the slithering fellow. My heart jumped when instead of a little snake, a tiny fur covered head popped out, followed by his siblings. It was a nest of 3 baby bunnies, eyes and ears still closed!
We carefully tucked them back in and left the flower pot as we had found it. I knew it was a myth that the mother would abandon her babies, but that was all I really knew. I spent the next couple days reading all I could find about wild rabbits and their habits.
It was amazing to watch them grow and develop that entire week. I would peak in on them every time I would come and go. Mommy bunny was always in sight just at the edge of the yard. She would come late at night and early morning to feed them and adjust their nest.
The following week the temperature dropped and it started to rain. Because the babies were growing, and their nest was only a flower pot they were exposed. I was worried not because of the near freezing temperatures expected that night, but because they would face those temps with wet bodies and nest. Desperate, I started walking around the yard thinking what could I do?
Mother Goddess answered. Looking down, I found myself standing over some giant maple leaves that must have blown in the yard. How perfect! Something natural looking and water repelling. I gathered what I could and made a little umbrella of leaves. It worked! They would face the frost that night dry and toasty warm.
The next day proved a different story. The rain was too heavy for the leaves. The babies and their bed were soaked. I put my hand over their little bodies and couldn’t feel warmth. They were alive, but very listless. I had read there are only a few reasons to remove baby bunnies from their nests. One of those is if they are wet in cold temperatures.
I was torn. We had been so careful not to let them get used to our scent. We wanted them to keep their healthy fear of humans. But I was almost sure at least one wouldn’t survive the freezing temperatures that night in a muddy flower pot, soaking wet. But, if I took them in would mommy ever come back?
I had grown to love them over those two weeks. I took the chance and took them in. We warmed some towels in the dryer and found a cardboard box. We gently placed the babies in the warm box and put it in the warmest room in the house.
I made a deeper hole in the flower pot so they could be sheltered from the wind. Using a heat gun I dried the dirt as much as I could. The leaf umbrella was replaced, and some evergreen boughs laid on top for added insulation. I knew I could move the nest up to ten feet and mommy would still find them. So, we did. We moved the whole pot under the porch roof.
Gradually two of the babies perked up. With the light off we could hear them rustling about exploring the box. The third, the littlest one hadn’t moved yet. He was dry, but chilly to touch. The others were warm. I took the little runt to warm in my hands. I gave Reiki as we sat. My hands were burning from the energy he was taking, but about 30 minutes later he perked up! I almost cried! They were all placed back in their toasty warm and dry nest. Mommy tended to them until it was time to go on their own.
May 1st, Beltane is when they left the nest. I cried because I had grown to love them. I would have loved to keep them. I wanted to keep them. To protect them from hawks, cats, owls, etc. But I know they weren’t there for me to possess. It was a beautiful gift I was given to witness. To experience a tiny glimpse into the miracle of Mother Nature’s circle of life.
They left that little flower pot nest on Beltane. The day we celebrate new life, fertility. The Sabbat I could have told you all about a month prior. Color correspondences, incense, herbs, stones, you name it, I knew it. The Divine shared an up close peek into the true sacredness and meaning of celebrating life. I will never forget that beautiful gift.
I still put carrots out for them. 🙂