Yes There are Goddesses in the Bible, Part 3

This blog post is the 3rd in a series of looking for female deities in the bible who have been translated out of easy reach or otherwise hidden within its words. In my last blog post I discussed bird imagery and the bible. It is available here

 You can’t complete a discussion about birds without also bringing up Lilith. She appears by name only in one place in the bible; Isaiah 34:14. Isaiah uses the word liyliyth as a feature in a hellish landscape. Although it is also a name, liyliyth is treated as a common noun. The most prevalent translation is “screech owl” although others have included such names as night creature, night monster, night hag, and she-vampire. Continue reading “Yes There are Goddesses in the Bible, Part 3”

Salmon of Wisdom by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoSalmon, ancient symbol of wisdom and transformation, has been venerated by humankind since our pre-historic days.There exists one cave painting of a life-sized salmon – most likely part of a more complex composition – in the l’Abri de Poisson cave in the Dordogne, France, dated to 23,000 B.C.E.

Continue reading “Salmon of Wisdom by Judith Shaw”

Yes, There are Goddesses in the Bible – Part 2 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

As I wrote in my last blog post, there are female deities and goddesses sprinkled all throughout the bible. They just aren’t obviously in plain sight.

One example is the Goddess and Her association with birds. Many ancient creation myths have stories about life emerging from a cosmic egg and the Goddess who carries and/or lays that primordial egg-of-life. Like the bird, women carry the eggs of life’s creation within our bodies. This has given rise to numerous cultural symbolisms that have come down to us associating the Goddess with birds. The dove is Venus’ hallmark. Mother Goose is the keeper of our cultural stories. It is the stork who brings us babies. As I will show below, divinity, or the biblical LORD is sometimes depicted as a bird, making this biblical description of god a female. Continue reading “Yes, There are Goddesses in the Bible – Part 2 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Ecocide and PTSD by Sara Wright

The fierce light of the white star pierced her thick white fur as the mother froze. She was trying to imagine how her cubs could make the jump from one jagged ice flow to another in the cracked deep blue waters.

Just a few months ago she had birthed them on solid well frozen ice – cubs who knew nothing but nurture – feelings of safety, love, rich abundant milk   – trusting their mother implicitly – the solid blue ice that supported them was home. Now her children faced the threat of death by drowning… A mountain of despair flooded the bear’s mind and body. Blind fear slammed through her young. To lose her cubs was more than the mother could bear. All the accumulated bear wisdom – 50 million years of bear knowing – could not help her now. Her children were helpless. Continue reading “Ecocide and PTSD by Sara Wright”

Back to Back by Sara Wright

The Predator
dug a hole
in turtle’s wake
scooped and
sucked down
pulsing life
one dark night.
An empty pit
and shriveled eggs
mark the theft .
Her children are dead.

and violence
are bedmates
She bears
thirteen squares –
Round House
hovers above her.
Natures Protection.
But how can she
puncture the balloon of
his lies
with her body
to feel the strength
of the shield
she owns?

 is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.

 Letting Go by Sara Wright

Every year I bring back wood frogs, peepers or toads to this property to increase my amphibian population… this year with a drought underway the peepers captured my heart because a bizarre heat wave hit Maine just after the coldest freeze I ever remember. The poor peepers froze and then steamed and fried under a relentless solstice sun, their vernal pools rapidly disappearing from under them.

Intervening, I scooped up about a thousand and took them to the pond, brought some here to the shaded vernal pool that I dug here many years ago. Amphibians are the most endangered species on earth and I liked the idea of providing a temporary home for some. Continue reading ” Letting Go by Sara Wright”

Butterfly – Soul Transformation by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoI offer this look at the life and stories of Butterfly as a healing salve for our very troubled world. In this time of great, world-wide transformation, as we grapple with the many, many racial, social, economic and environmental injustices currently tearing the fabric of society apart, may the lessons that Butterfly brings help us on our path to love.

Continue reading “Butterfly – Soul Transformation by Judith Shaw”

Caprine Community by Laurie Goodhart

Two recent posts, Community Immunity by Natalie Weaver on May 6, and Carol Christ’s May 11 essay, Women Invented Agriculture, Potter, and Weaving…, have spurred me to focus and finally share something that I’ve meant to for a long time.  For 30 years I helped my husband realize his dream of a small farm, while I continued working as an artist.  We both came from urban backgrounds and both (separately) charged out into the wild world at age 17, inventing as we went along. That fearless approach continued with the farming many years later.

We started with sheep and cows but soon turned to focussing on goats. We wanted to farm organically from the start (1988) and that, combined with a lack of childhood indoctrination into Big Ag Culture had us devouring all the information we could while carefully observing the animals and applying our shared humanistic approach to daily life to the care of goats. I say this last part so no one imagines a slavelike situation as is often seen in images of dairy farms. Continue reading “Caprine Community by Laurie Goodhart”

A Beary Peaceful Day by Sara Wright

Photo by Sara Wright

It is overcast and a few drops of rain are falling. I have been out talking to Tree Bear (TB), a yearling who has brightened my life in these dark soul days. Tree Bear comes up the mossy pine strewn path to the clearing and peeks at me from behind his white pine intermittently as he snacks.

There are so many old felled trees full of tasty grubs and ants now that the spring grasses have matured and gone by; soon the berries will ripen and Tree Bear will begin to put on weight. Acorns will be the choice of food for fall. Few people know that Black Bears are 93 percent vegetarian.

The other night I watched TB in the cherry tree, sitting in the branches like a monkey calmly combing out his thick under fur as he munched on cherry leaves and hard green cherries. He is a healthy looking and very beautiful yearling with brown eyebrows and a bump in his nose that is only visible from some angles. He probably weighs 50 – 60 lbs and has some brownish fur in places.

Continue reading “A Beary Peaceful Day by Sara Wright”

My Green Spaces by Esther Nelson

I don’t do well being cooped up (staying at home) all day and every day.  Thankfully the state of Virginia, where I currently live, has kept their parks open during the COVID-19 pandemic.  For two months, I intentionally scheduled a “green space” time into my daily routine.  Usually I’d hike.  Sometimes I’d just sit in the car and look at the natural scenery in front of me.

The James River at Pony Pasture Rapids was my “go-to” place during the pandemic lockdown.  In addition to refreshing themselves by the river, people use Pony Pasture as their launching point for a variety of floatation devices, but mostly kayaks, to paddle around the river.

Pleasant Creek Trail is one among many paths along the James River at Pony Pasture.  After meandering a half mile or so, I came upon this view.  I call this scene “Entering the Emerald Forest.”

Showcasing Richmond, Virginia, in an attractive cityscape.  I walked along the floodwall to capture this Richmond skyline.

One day, I went to a local park (Maymont) and stared up at this tree like infants do with their mobiles hanging over their cribs.

Straight, sturdy tree trunk

Spreading its leafy branches

Green shelter in place

Richmond has had a goodly amount of rain this spring.  This is the James River after several inches of rain throughout the state.

Even when the rain came, I made it a point to get out of the house, sit in my car, dream a bit, and read from my Kindle for two or three hours.

Had a visitor one day while enjoying the sunshine and breathing in fresh air at Byrd park.

Bench-sitting alone
Cold winds blowing through the trees
Mother Goose visits

Earlier in the spring, I watched the dogwood tree bloom in my front yard.

Amidst clouds and chill
Nature still blooms pink and white
In my damp front yard

One of my favorite days at Pony Pasture Rapids put me in touch with this family.

Blessed be!

In sunnier weather, I’d visit beautiful, old Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.  From the web: “Hollywood Cemetery was designed in 1847 as a “rural” style garden cemetery to escape the grid-like monotony of city cemeteries. Landscape architect, John Notman, specifically left trees and other plants untouched when designing the cemetery’s landscape in order to create a peaceful haven for Richmonders. Today, our 135 acres of valleys and hills are covered with heritage roses, stately trees, and other blooms that live up to the name of a garden cemetery. In 2017, Hollywood Cemetery was named a recognized arboretum with the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program.”

One day I went hunting (and I did have to hunt!) for inscriptions that made me take notice.  There’s such a paucity of creative, interesting text on tombstones.  Of those I’ve seen so far, Andrea Smith Kauder’s is my favorite.  “Neal, Adam and Bryan–I love you very much. I thank everyone for visiting. Now go and be happy.”  Andrea died as a relatively young woman—44 years old.  I think I would have enjoyed knowing her.

And, I’m moving again!  Going to a condominium just three miles down the road from my current address in Richmond, Virginia.  Wonder where in the world I will eventually land.  I can’t seem to settle down in any one spot.  Here I am scrubbing the floor of my new condo in preparation for move-in.  My only green space on this day was the green gloves I used to protect my hands during the onerous chore.

My grandmother, Jessie, often told me, “Only way to clean a floor, honey, is to get on your hands and knees and scrub.”  Jessie was right.  Perhaps a fitting text on my tombstone might reflect the necessity of women’s domestic labor to keep the wheels of society moving.

She cleaned like a fiend

Hoping…yes, always hoping

For a little dirt.


Esther Nelson is an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. She has taught courses on Human Spirituality, Global Ethics, Christian-Muslim Relations, and Religions of the World, but focuses on her favorite course, Women in Islam. She is the co-author (with Nasr Abu Zaid) of Voice of an Exile: Reflections on Islam and the co-author (with Kristen Swenson) of What is Religious Studies? : A Journey of Inquiry.

Cow, Nursemaid to Humanity by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoOur human connection to Cow goes back to the days of prehistory. Aurochs (wild oxen), cattle’s wild ancestors, are found in prehistoric cave art throughout Europe, India and Africa. About 10,500 years ago modern cattle were domesticated from only 80 wild oxen in southeastern Turkey. This was not an easy task as wild aurochs are much bigger than cattle and not at all docile. But succeed they did and cattle became a foundation of human civilization. They provided not only food and clothing but also became beasts of burden for agriculture. An estimated 1.4 billion cattle exist today.

Continue reading “Cow, Nursemaid to Humanity by Judith Shaw”

Tribute to Charlie Russell (1941–2018) by Sara Wright

“Learning entails more than the gathering of information.
Learning changes the learner.
Like dwarf pines whose form develop with winter’s design, the learner is shaped by what he learns.” 

Talking with Bears: Conversations with Charlie Russell” G.A. Bradshaw

Continue reading “Tribute to Charlie Russell (1941–2018) by Sara Wright”

May – A Time of Becoming by Sara Wright

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in natureReturning home to Maine in April has allowed me to experience winter turning her ancient wisdom filled face towards the maiden of spring. Although the month has been chilly, and until two days ago snow covered tree stripped mountains still held a dusting of snow, all nature is celebrating renewal.

In the woods the maples are turning a deep rose red. Here in the yard all my fruit trees are waiting for May’s rain and the warmth of a waxing solar sun to set fragrant bursting blossoms as are the lilacs. Blood red cardinals sing love songs in my pine forest, whistling up the dawn. Wood frogs croak in the vernal pools, laying jellied egg masses, young foxes race through oak groves crackling leaves in their wake. The goose stands watch over his nesting mate at the pond, a loon does the same, haunting the sky with his song. Continue reading “May – A Time of Becoming by Sara Wright”

Dolphin – Friendly Guide, Ambassador of Peace and Play by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoAnyone who has seen dolphins frolicking in the sea, understands the allure of these mysterious creatures who live in the water and yet are not fish. Highly intelligent and communicative, Dolphin inspires a sense of joy in our hearts. Often seen leaping and swimming beside boats, stories of rescue and friendship abound. Continue reading “Dolphin – Friendly Guide, Ambassador of Peace and Play by Judith Shaw”

Canada Goose by Sara Wright

Canadian Geese have been on my mind a lot lately. This past winter I have missed the skeins of geese that fly back and forth up and down the river appearing every single morning like clockwork. In Abiquiu when winter turned to spring I noted that the geese were behaving in much the same way the Sandhill cranes did before they migrated, splitting into pairs or groups of three and flying erratically. I was puzzled. I didn’t recall witnessing such behavior before this year. I wondered about migration patterns. Were the geese shifting their flight patterns too? Or perhaps the small groups I saw were staying year round? Some days it almost seemed as if these water birds were confused by something.

I saw three Canadian geese on the last predawn walk I took to the river/Bosque in New Mexico – just an hour or two before leaving for Maine. I knew that a perilous journey was ahead because we were driving cross-country from NM to ME. The C/virus was a frightening threat even though I brought all food, and planned to camp/use woods as bathroom. The first morning after my arrival at home I saw and heard three geese honking over my head. I was struck by the odd synchronicity remembering the mother goose tales of my childhood – and later as a graduate student when I learned about their mythology. Continue reading “Canada Goose by Sara Wright”

Walking in Moonlight Before the Pandemic by Marie Cartier and Kimberly Esslinger

photo by Kimberly Esslinger

For this month’s blog my wife, the poet Kimberly Esslinger, and I have written a joint poem—


Walking in Moonlight Before the Pandemic


and what is done to the least of these….

Where is the god of woman. Of cats. Of dead cats?

Of wives. Of midnight walks with dogs and the normalcy of silence.

And day becoming more like night in this stillness.  All the crowded spaces. Open.

Empty. A bag floats down at night. A grocery bag. Onto the hood of a

speeding hatchback. Not a bag. But now a cat. Someone’s cat.  Dead.

Just like that.  A hatchback. And yes, here I was, with my dogs, wanting to believe

it was alive. I start to call her, she. Did she just move? Did you see her move?

My wife has gloves. A box. A plan. But I push her away.

I believe in god. And she could heal this cat.

She would. She would if I would wait long enough. Continue reading “Walking in Moonlight Before the Pandemic by Marie Cartier and Kimberly Esslinger”

The Portal: How Do We Know What We Know? by Sara Wright

Every morning I walk to the river in the velveteen hour between the vanishing blue night and the coming of the first scarlet, pink, lavender, purple or golden ribbons that stretch across the horizon. Sometimes clouds with heavy gray eyelids mute first light. Either way all my senses except that of sight are on high alert; a deep peace embraces me in the dark. My body knows the way. I murmur to the willows as I pass through the veil and under their bowed bridge. Their response is muted, a song beneath words.

At first my footsteps are barely audible on the narrow serpentine dirt path but as I pass by the river I note that she too is singing; and my senses quicken. If the Crane spirits are with me I hear the first brrring of Sandhill cranes as they take flight. “Freezing” I am crane struck; the involuntary need to stand still is overpowering. Body -mind viscerally absorbs Oneness as I breathe in a multitude of crane songs or perhaps only that of a few. Now my eyes are suddenly open, straining to see the familiar brrring materialize into startling graceful heads, necks, and stream lined bodies…. I note the shimmering waters beginning to mirror blushing pastels or the gray smoke that stains the horizon. Sometimes these hues deepen into rose, blood orange, or scarlet. Continue reading “The Portal: How Do We Know What We Know? by Sara Wright”

The Serpent and the Goddess by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoThe otherworldly energy of Snake – it’s vitality, its uncanny ability to sense danger, and its ability to shed its skin and reappear as if reborn must have invoked feelings of awe in our ancestors. All across the pre-historic world one finds depictions of Snake and the spiral or meander as Snake’s symbols.

Continue reading “The Serpent and the Goddess by Judith Shaw”

When the Cranes Come by Sara Wright

Picture of a group of cranes flying in the dusk sky
When the Cranes Come
I remember who I am –
A woman with wings.

When the Cranes Come
I listen with rapt attention
I am a woman with wings.

When the Cranes Come
I am pulled into a primordial field
I am a woman with wings. 

When the Cranes Come
I know I must fly with them
I am a woman with wings.

When the Cranes Come
I remember that community is real
I am a woman with wings.

When the Cranes Come
I believe hope can be restored
I am a woman with wings.

When the Cranes Come
I lay down in frost – covered reeds
In peace with Sand -hill Cranes. Continue reading “When the Cranes Come by Sara Wright”

The Ability to Feel and to Feel the Feelings of Others by Carol P. Christ

The term “panpsychism” is made up of two Greek words: pan, meaning all, and psyche, often translated mind or soul. Panpsychism is the view that (forms of) soul or mind or consciousness are found throughout the web of life. This view is in contrast to the traditional western philosophical and theological consensus that having a soul or a mind is what sets human beings apart from other forms of life. In contrast, mystics, children, and many indigenous people assume that human beings are not the only form of life with consciousness.

Traditional western thinkers believed that God created the world out of nothing according to principles in his mind. Those principles included the idea that minerals, plants, and animals are “lower” unconscious forms of life, while humans, angels, and the deity are not only “higher” forms of life, but are the only forms with consciousness or mind.

This view was still widely held when I was in graduate school in the late 60s and early 70s. My professors mocked anyone who dared to suggest that animals—including family pets—had any form of consciousness or feeling. However, the notion that human beings are essentially different from other forms of life creates an unanswerable question for evolutionary theory: how did human beings with consciousness or mind evolve from forms of life that had no consciousness or mind? Continue reading “The Ability to Feel and to Feel the Feelings of Others by Carol P. Christ”

When Every Day Will Be Tu B’Shevat by Ivy Helman.

ivy tree huggingTomorrow is Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees, or their birthday.  It is the day of the year when all trees, regardless of when they have been planted, turn another year older.  The rabbis standardized this day in an effort to minimize complexities, since in the land of Israel, fruit can only be eaten from trees that are four or older (Leviticus 23-25).  Tu B’Shevat, then, on a practical level, marks how old fruit bearing trees are.   

The holiday has evolved since then.  In the 16th century, Kabbalistic mystics developed a seder to celebrate the holiday, which involved eating certain fruits, drinking both red and white wine, saying blessings, and reading certain mystical texts.  Each type of fruit one eats has a specific mystical meaning whether the fruit is completely edible (i.e. apple), has an inedible pit (i.e. olive), has an inedible shell (i.e. pistachio) or has a covering one generally wouldn’t eat, but could (i.e. orange). To this day, many congregations observe the holiday by hosting their own Tu B’Shevat seders often ripe with such kabbalistic overtones.  Continue reading “When Every Day Will Be Tu B’Shevat by Ivy Helman.”

Wolf – The Call of the Wild by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoHowling wolves on a winter’s night sets the human heart aflame with fear – their legends are terrifying. Yet there is another side to Wolf. Deeply relational by nature, wolves are highly intelligent animals, excellent hunters and devoted to family. Human connection to wolves dates back to at least 20,000 BC in Southern Europe, where cave paintings of wolves have been found.

Continue reading “Wolf – The Call of the Wild by Judith Shaw”

Forgive Me My Ancestor(s) by Elizabeth Cunningham

Elizabeth Cunningham

When I was a child in the 1950s we often played cowboys and Indians. There is a photograph of my brother and me in no doubt inauthentic costume complete with feathered headdress. In kindergarten I named myself Morning Star. (I just googled and see that I must have gotten the name from the 50s television series Brave Eagle, the first with an indigenous main character. Morning Star is the female lead.)

When I was a teenager, my aunt came across a privately printed book The Gentleman on the Plains about second sons of English aristocracy hunting buffalo in western Iowa. My great grandfather accompanied them as their clergyman. I wish I could find that book now to see how this enterprise was presented. In my adolescent mind these “gentlemen” looked like the local foxhunters in full regalia. On opening morning of foxhunt season an Episcopal clergyman (like my father) was on hand in ecclesiastical dress to bless the hunt and then invited to a boozy breakfast. Continue reading “Forgive Me My Ancestor(s) by Elizabeth Cunningham”

The Storyteller by Sara Wright

When I walked into the space a bolt of light shot across the room and struck me so forcibly that it felt like it shattered the cells beneath my skin. Did this occur before I glimpsed her bronzed moon shaped face? I will never know. I sat down almost in front of her, sizzling with the uncomfortable buzz that seizes my nervous system when what I call, the Powers of Nature, have taken over my body/mind. I gazed at her in a dazed sort of way. She wore silver and white, and the two sharply contrasting hues shone so brilliantly my eyes ached…

As she began to speak about the Navajo Blessingway, I drifted effortlessly into a light trance in spite of the static. Honeyed words poured out of her mouth as she slipped from her Native Dine’ language into English and back again; creating a profound musical intonation that made it difficult for me to concentrate on the stories. Initially. All that music. Layers upon layers. I had entered the Forest of Enchantment.  Continue reading “The Storyteller by Sara Wright”

Flicker’s New Year Gift – Part 2 of 2 by Sara Wright

[Continued from yesterday…]

All sentient creatures are negatively affected by the deaths of one species.

And still people refuse to see.

As I wrote about the loss of trees and woodpeckers old tree memories surfaced without warning. Resolutely, I faced my past…

Thirty five years ago I left the coast of Maine because trees were being slaughtered and their insides ground up so million dollar homes could be built. Initially, I believed that I escaped tree carnage by moving to the edge of the wilderness in the western hills only to discover that whole mountains were being strip logged around me. The stench of pitch nauseated me. I wept, helpless in the face of such violence. Continue reading “Flicker’s New Year Gift – Part 2 of 2 by Sara Wright”

Flicker’s New Year Gift – Part 1 of 2 by Sara Wright

January 1st dawned clear and cold as I meandered through the frosted scrub and under the graceful Cottonwoods that line the Bosque by the river. I hadn’t planned on a walk because it was so frigid but the ethereal light that precedes the dawn often becomes a “calling” I cannot resist, pulling me towards the river regardless of practical intentions.

With the snow crunching under my feet I entered my usual meditative state without effort as I circled the bog, celebrating this time of deep inner stillness. Suddenly, an intention popped into the open space in my mind, one that I had not made as part of my ritual during this fluid turning of the seasons. The words flowed directly from the trees into my body without sound. Continue reading “Flicker’s New Year Gift – Part 1 of 2 by Sara Wright”

My Feline Familiars by Joyce Zonana

When I made my breakfast, Ginger watched and waited for his own; when I worked at my desk, he slept beside me or walked across my keyboard; when I relaxed in front of the TV in the evening, he immediately jumped onto the couch and curled up in my lap. I prided myself on living alone, on my solitude—but in fact I was never alone. The cat was a constant presence in my life, a silent witness to all my actions, my deeply intimate, silent companion.

jz-headshotSixteen years ago, I was living alone in New Orleans in a lovely Craftsman’s Cottage I’d purchased the year before. In late December—just around now—a friend called to tell me about a kitten she’d seen at her Uptown veterinary office: “It’s time you got a familiar,” she declared. “I think this one’s perfect for you.” Grudgingly, I agreed to visit the vet’s office and take a look at the little black-and-white female tabby she’d seen. I wasn’t at all sure I was ready, but Mary was my priestess, the leader of our small coven, and I trusted her implicitly.

I’d lost two beloved cats—Charlie and Lisa—a few years earlier, cats who’d made the journey with me from Philadelphia—where I earned my Ph.D.— to Oklahoma—where I had my first teaching job— to New Orleans—where I’d been teaching since 1990. Charlie and Lisa had been a sort of ballast, accompanying me through huge changes of circumstance and locale, loving me and letting me love them no matter what. I’d nursed Charlie through several years of diabetes, giving him daily insulin injections, and my partner had regularly administered subcutaneous fluids to Lisa after she’d been diagnosed with kidney disease. Charlie died in our arms, and we buried him in the backyard behind my little cottage near Bayou St. John; Lisa died less gently, but she too was buried with great ceremony behind the house we later shared. Continue reading “My Feline Familiars by Joyce Zonana”

Mess and Magic, by Molly Remer

Maybe beautiful things 77381912_2495811250631082_8017831208572420096_o
don’t only grow from peace,
maybe they grow from the
soil of living,
which holds both
blood and tears
muck and magic.

Last week I tried to work on my book while the household debris whirled around me. We are supposed to be leaving for homeschool co-op in just a few minutes, I still need to take a shower, there are orders to fulfill and I really, really want to format this title page, add two attributions, and re-upload the digital file.

The toilet has a ring of water around it, or is it pee, the children come to report.

There’s a weird smell in the kitchen.

I can’t create like this, I yell.

I want to be inspiring, not so messy, not like this.

I gesture frantically, almost crying, my hair wild, my eyes frenzied.

I only have nine minutes before it is time to leave and I still need to take a shower and I haven’t finished my formatting. I stare at the screen and shout:

I only want to make things
from a place of beauty and peace.

But, then I say:

maybe beautiful things don’t only grow from peace,
maybe they need this too, this mess, in order to flourish.

I abandon my book file, left open on my screen, photo half placed and words askew and I take my shower with my heart beating too fast, my mind spinning with to-dos, and agitation thrumming through my veins.

I hastily dry my hair and we pack the car. We will be late, I know. As fly down the road there is a big buck in the road.  It is hunting season and I stop the car on the hill to watch him. Our eyes meet for a moment, he is still, his antlers are wide and beautiful, some of the nicest I’ve ever seen. His shoulders are broad and brown in the early morning sun.

Run free, big guy, I say, run free. If you go up the hill, you will be at our house and it is always a safe place.

This feels both true and beautiful.

A week passes and it is still hunting season, rifle now instead of bow, so my husband and I put on our orange vests before we go out for our morning walks, so that no one will shoot us. I have lived in a state where hunting is an established part of the culture for my entire life, so deer season is “normal” to me and I understand the purposes of it, though I cringe every November to hear the gunshots in the early morning, the wild eyes and swiveling ears of the deer whose home has been invaded with fear and risk after a summer of grazing on wild grasses and berries.

Today, as we walk, we reach the crossroads and something tugs at my attention. I turn back and look into the woods where my eyes catch on the body of the beautiful buck, lying motionless at the base of an oak tree. He has been murdered and then left behind, his large body still and silent, his beautiful antlers against the leaves, the sun glinting on a stripe of white along his belly. His legs are folded against his body, relaxed, this is not a very old kill.

My thoughts of my work and my doing and all the everything that needs my attention fall away and I am struck with grief at this senseless death. I think about his antlers and how I’ve always wanted to find some and I know that someone will come back and cut off his head to remove them. I think for a moment that it could be me who does this, but I don’t have the heart or stomach for it. I imagine taking rosemary and lavender petals to scatter over his body, I imagine laying my hands across his fur and thanking him for being here. I think perhaps that after the vultures and coyotes have done their work I will creep back through the woods and look for him, for his bones, and perhaps I will collect the antlers then, if they have not been chewed by rats or carried off by dogs. I hate that this has happened. It tortures me to walk back by and leave him there, disrespected and alone.

I leave a message for our closest neighbor asking if perhaps he shot a deer that got away and later died in our woods. I message another neighbor and ask if he thinks there is anyway the meat could still be used. The first neighbor calls me back a half hour later, I am surprised to hear his voice on the phone, as we don’t talk often. He is agitated and yelling, not at me, but about the men he found in the road yesterday who killed this animal. He heard the gunshot while cleaning his own deer from the morning and flew down the road to confront them, where he found them standing in the road, truck parked at the crossroads, the deer dead beneath the tree. This is illegal and it disgusts him, his voice shakes as he recounts the story. He tells them that he will always know what they did and they are the ones who have to live with themselves and their actions. They deny it, claim someone else must have done it and drive away, leaving the body behind. He expects they will sneak back in the night to take it, but they have not, and there he lies in the dappled morning sun.

Our employees have arrived to work and the house is full of voices and questions and people waiting for me to do things. I take a shower anyway. Showers are one of those things I occasionally withhold from myself as I desperately try to keep up with everything people need and want from me in a given day, but I take the shower and try to let the adrenaline, the anger, the sense of waste and loss wash away from me. I keep thinking about the deer, his life, my mind turning it over and over, my body filled with sorrow.

As I am putting on my lotion and simultaneously also answering calls from our bank 73292554_2486141391598068_5135782722731507712_oabout a new account, feeling rushed and out of breath, there is a knock on the front door. I quickly dress and go out to the living room, my hair still wet and ragged, and find our other neighbor standing there. He is holding two white skulls in his hands, long antlers curving between his fingers. We talk about the buck, about the waste of his life, about the disrespect and senselessness of this action. He is a hunter too and he says he has been watching this deer for more than a year and that you get to know them when you live here, that you see the same ones, sometimes every day, that there are only so many in a given range, and you get to be a part of their lives. We ask him if he knows Limpy, the doe with the broken leg that healed crookedly, but that we see almost every day, sometimes twice a day, in the field across the road.

She raised twin fawns this year, he says.

We look at each other quietly for a moment. I feel a wave of gratitude that I live somewhere where the neighbors, too, know Limpy and her babies.

I hurt my ankle in June of this year and when I could finally walk on the road again, taking my first real walk in six weeks, I saw Limpy and her twins at the end of our driveway. She looked at me for a long time and I felt a sense of kinship with her, two mothers with injured legs, trying our best to keep going.

My neighbor holds the antlered skulls out to me and says he will call the buck in to the conservation department as you are supposed to do. He says this deer has sentimental value to him and he will make a mount with his head and he is offering me these skulls in trade. I take them with gratitude, though it isn’t the same as finding my own. The antlers are whitened and smooth. One has small chew marks along two of its spikes, the others has knobby ridges along the base. They are beautiful. I hold one skull in each hand, antlers curving along my arms. They feel like precious treasures to me, something given, something received, a moment of genuine respect for a needlessly slain creature of these woods we all love.

When Mark and I walk the next morning, the buck’s body has been moved deeper into the woods, out of sight, and there is only a heavy flattened place stained dark red in the carpet of oak leaves across the forest floor and the thick smell of blood in the air to indicate that he was ever there. We know though, we shared this home ground, and I leave rosemary, lavender, and thyme scattered across the blood-soaked leaves.

Molly Remer has been gathering the women to circle, sing, celebrate, 65317956_10219451397545616_5062860057855655936_nand share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri. She is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, ceremony kits, mini goddesses, and jewelry at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of WomanrunesEarthprayer, the Goddess Devotional, She Lives Her Poems, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon, Brigid’s Grove, and Sage Woman Magazine.


Archy and Mehitabel by Barbara Ardinger

Archy the Cockroach and Mehitabel the Cat were introduced to the world in 1916 by Don Marquis, a columnist for the New York Evening Sun. Marquis was more than a mere columnist; he was a social commentator and satirist admired by nearly every famous writer of the first quarter of the 20th century. Franklin P. Adams, for example, said Marquis was “far closer to Mark Twain than anybody I know” (see note).

As the story goes, Marquis said he came into his office one morning to find a big cockroach jumping about on his typewriter keys. The cockroach kept climbing up the metal frame and hurling itself headfirst onto a key, one slow letter after another. He couldn’t use the shift lock (except one time when he hit it accidentally and produced an entire uppercase column), so his writing is lowercase. After about an hour, Marquis reported, the cockroach fell to the floor, exhausted after typing just one page. He never could manage punctuation, and he also had trouble with the carriage return—how many of us remember how those old typewriters worked?—but he somehow hit it every time. (My grandfather had an old typewriter like this. The keys were very stiff. I felt like my little fingers were gonna break when I tried to type.)



In his previous life, Archy was a free verse poet. As he explains to Marquis,

expression is the need of my soul

i was once a vers libre bard

but i died and my soul went into the body of a cockroach

it has given me a new outlook upon life

i see things from the under side now

Continue reading “Archy and Mehitabel by Barbara Ardinger”

Firebird’s Song by Sara Wright

In response to Carol Christ’s latest post

She came on the wings of the Owl
flew out of the crack of our imagining,
swooped low over the underground forest
hooing, hooing, hooing
screeching and clacking –
Haunting the night with her song.

I almost didn’t recognize her
inside the feathery brown cape with bars.

On Starry nights while the white moon sleeps
the cloak falls away and behold!
She steps out
in all her Firebird splendor.
Burning, crimson, gold, she crackles — turns blue
white light torching
the fire turned star.
Beaming second sight
she rises out of Earthen ashes Continue reading “Firebird’s Song by Sara Wright”

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