Beltane summoned Oberon into our lives in the summer of 1997, just after our other cat, Rudy, died of cancer. Rudy's illness was a relatively long one for a cat, and Beltane had apparently gotten lonely. During the last month or so of Rudy's life, we found a certain stuffed gray tabby kitten (my mother gave it to me the fall before) in front of our statue of Bast, the Egyptian goddess of cats, several times, placed neatly in direct line with the statue.

A week before Rudy died, my friend Drue told me that the kitten she'd gotten to keep her grandmother company hadn't worked out, and that she was keeping him until she could find a home for him. Named Eliot (after the poet, T.S., I presume), he was living with Drue in her heavily cat-populated home. We took him the day after Rudy died, despite some misgivings about bringing another cat in so soon. As you can see from his photo, he is, in fact, a gray tabby, and his markings match that of the stuffed kitten beautifully.

We never call him Oberon. Well, almost never. You see, it started out this way: when we got him, we wanted a name that went along with Beltane. May Day is traditionally when the faeries are most active, so we gave him the name of Shakespeare's king of the faeries. But it was too long. So we shortened it to Obie, but Obie was stupid, so we shortened it to "B." But that was too short, so it grew to Beek, then Beekman (according to the grand tradition of Shirley Jackon's Raising Demons).

We long ago decided that Beekman is merely a familiar for his tail, as it seems to do things without regard to what he wants, and inspires his back end with a higher startle reflex than his front end. So we named his tail "Obi-Wan" and ask it to prophecy for us periodically. It stubbornly refuses, but Beekman generally head-dances for us.

There's far more of Beekman in the photos with Bel -- he's a social beastie.