The Crone of Winter, by Molly Remer

Just for right now,
let the swirling soften.
Exhale into the day,
wherever you are,
whatever is happening.
Allow a cloak of comfort
to settle across your shoulders
and enfold you
with peace and restoration.
Draw up strength from the earth
beneath your feet.
Settle one hand on your belly
and one hand on your heart.
Feel the pulse of the sacred
you always carry within.
Breathe in
and know you are loved.
Breathe out
and know you are free.
Trust that you are carried
and enfolded
as you go along your way.

A chill is in the air and Winter’s Queen has spread her gray cloak across the land. She has stilled the leaves and frosted the hills, has quieted the scurrying, and placed her fingers firmly on the pause. In this waiting place, hushed and chilled, we remember the preciousness of the light of renewal, we remember how essential the warmth of connection. Just as the earth does, let us, too,
lay aside what is unnecessary and draw close to one another once more, rekindling the fire of community, offering one another what nourishment we can. Let us enter a time of deep restoration with intention. Let us listen to the call of contemplation that twinkles in these dusky hours of replenishment and renewal. Let us pause and wait with grace.

Continue reading “The Crone of Winter, by Molly Remer”

Heat Wave by Marie Cartier

The heat wave was real. Suzie squinted into the afternoon light glinting off her pink ’69 VW. How was that still running, she thought, rebuilt and rebuilt? Work?

That’s how. And that’s how she’d keep running. Work. You just had to not freak out. You just had to not over heat.

But it was 125 degrees in Bakersfield. And she, like everyone else, had no air conditioning. And it wasn’t supposed to get better—it was supposed to get worse. She got in her VW and drove with the windows down—no AC– but a breeze was better than nothing. She pulled into the parking lot and waited for a spot to open up. She turned off her car to wait. Ten minutes but it was worth it. Six p.m. – it was a good time to have come. She walked out and got into the cart area.

Barely inside the supermarket she stood and let the air wash over her—air conditioning. Conditioning the air. The security guard asked if she was a buyer or a browser. Browsers could be in the front area with the carts, as long as there was room. Buyers could enter and walk up and down, and down and up—the breeze lifting the sweat from their skin.

Continue reading “Heat Wave by Marie Cartier”

Crumbs of Our Souls, by Molly Remer

So, what trail of crumbs has your soul been dropping for you? And how might you savor and kiss these fallen crumbs, rescuing them from where they’ve been kicked under the table?

Something that I keep coming back to in recent years is accepting the reality of our lives as they are right now, really inhabiting where we actually are. To be clear, this does not mean settling for injustice or not taking action—it does not mean settling into apathy or turning away from suffering, it means inhabiting our own lives in full, in the present.

My word of the year for this year is attend and with that I mean, pay attention to where you are, pay attention to your life right now, not what you think your life should be, not what you think other people’s lives are, not what you want to pretend to be, but what is your life right now? Can we take an actual unflinching look at the reality of our lives, right now? I invite you to take a brief pause and let yourself inhabit your own life right now, as it is, no need to change anything about it. It is what it is. For example, I hear the distant sounds of my brother mowing. I hear birds. I am looking at full-leafed trees and the drippy little fingers of green pollen on the oaks, the long, green flowers on the mulberry trees. This is the first sunny day and blue sky that I’ve seen in what feels like several weeks (possibly exaggeration). I feel a tightness in my shoulders, but here I am. And, here you are. What do you feel where you are? What do you see where you are? What are you hearing where you are? What is your life like right now?

I feel at strange, tender, and tentative point of reemergence this summer. I know that the pandemic experience has been very different for different people according to your geographic region, according to the culture and climate of the state in which you live, and according to your type of employment or your life’s structure. Many people who are employed in some kind of service industry did not have the luxury of just stepping out of society and retreating to their homes during the pandemic years. For people like me who work at home and who already school their kids at home, it wasn’t that big of a stretch to just further close off my life and just stay home and not go places. It took me practically two years to even miss doing things outside my house externally with other people. So, acknowledging that there are some people who never had the choice of just retreating to their homes and stepping out of society, people who had to keep riding public transportation, people who had to work at restaurants or in stores or in health care, people who are students and had to go to classes. There wasn’t the option to step out and away for some of us. For others of us, the last two years have been almost a kind of hermitage where you’re suddenly just withdrawn from everything and in a type of waiting place. For me, I have in many ways appreciated this withdrawal in its own way, the opportunity become small and closed in. And, now, at the cusp of summer, I’m also starting to recognize that becoming so small and closed in is now beginning to feel tight and confining. As we consider reemergence, we may find it is time for us to decide: What do we want to step back into and what do we want to stay out of?

In Jennifer Louden’s Oasis program (of which I am a long-time member), she spoke of reemergence as a theme and one of the things she noted that I found really powerful is that we may have in some ways forgotten how to exercise our “no” or our boundaries, because we’ve had an automatic built-in, “oh, it’s a pandemic. I’m not going to do whatever.” Now, as we re-emerge, we have to actually say, “No, I still don’t want to do that.” Or, “Yes, I do, let’s try to rebuild that.” What I’m recognizing in myself is that it’s very hard to tease apart what I still actually want to do and what I’ve actually just gotten out of the habit of doing and so actually feel some type of trepidation or anxiety about doing again. For some things that I haven’t been doing, it is not that I truly don’t want to do them again, it’s that I am also holding some kind of fear of stepping back into it. And, these things may be all rolled up together. For example, I am unsure whether I really do not want to have a big summer solstice ritual this year, or whether I just feel nervous about it, because it’s been several years since I’ve had a bigger group ritual and so I’m afraid I don’t know how to do it anymore. Which is it? When is it really your heart or intuition saying, “I laid this down and I want to leave it laid down.” When it is your heart or intuition saying, “This is something I want to pick back up.” What is obligation telling us we should pick back up when inside we know we no longer want it? And, what is fear making us afraid to pick back up that we really DO want to pick back up?

One of the books I just finished this year is A Woman’s Book of Soul by Sue Patton Thoele. It is a book of daily meditations that is a little more Christian in orientation than I usually prefer, but it also has some interesting things in it too. In a section called savoring our souls, Thoele writes: because the demands of day to day life have a way of dulling our spirits and cutting us off from our hearts, it’s essential that we find ways to reinstate solitude into our lives and through it experience the beauty of heart and soul. One day while suffering from solitude starvation, I ran across a poem in which the poet talked about wandering alone through his house savoring and kissing the ‘fallen crumbs’ of his soul. I smiled as I read the poem because it validated the feelings I often have when home alone. I wander. Touching, appreciating, remembering, singing, gathering, and kissing the fallen crumbs of my soul. Very often, this is the time I choose to change the symbols in the miniature Zen Garden given to me by my son, a simple task taking only a few minutes at the most, but nonetheless, a richly replenishing ritual in which I savor my soul. If your soul has been dropping a trail of crumbs as it accompanies your body through its days, how would you like to savor and nourish it? Can you arrange for some solitary time at home in which you sweep up and kiss your soul crumbs? Gently close your eyes and imagine a time in your own home when you are blessed by the renewal of solitude. Cherish it. Wander or sit quietly. Give yourself the gift of enjoying the solitude in ways that warm your heart, fill your spirit, and revitalize your soul. It is a sacred assignment to rescue the crumbs of our souls that have been kicked under the table by too much activity and too little aloneness, to collect and kiss them all better.

The affirmations at the end of this section are: I need and deserve time alone and I am adept at balancing time alone and time with others.

So, what trail of crumbs has your soul been dropping for you? And how might you savor and kiss these fallen crumbs, rescuing them from where they’ve been kicked under the table?

Deep breath, a hand on your heart, let yourself settle into center and then perhaps you may wish to read this prayer aloud:

I dedicate myself to the full living of my own life
in all its joys and complexities.
I dedicate myself to walking my path.
I dedicate myself to being present.
I dedicate myself to brave and joyful wholeness.


May you nourish the crumbs of your soul.

Molly Remer, MSW, D.Min, is a priestess, teacher, and poet facilitating sacred circles, seasonal rituals, and family ceremonies in central Missouri. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of nine books, including Walking with Persephone, Whole and HolyWomanrunes, and the Goddess Devotional. She is the creator of the devotional experience #30DaysofGoddess and she loves savoring small magic and everyday enchantment.

Rituals for Our Sons, Part 2, by Molly Remer

Five years ago, I wrote an essay for Feminism and Religion musing about rituals for our sons. I wondered aloud how we welcome sons in manhood, how we create rituals of celebrations and rites of passages for our boys as well as our daughters. I have been steeped in women’s ceremony and ritual since I was a girl myself, watching the women wash my mother’s feet and crown her with flowers at her mother blessing ceremony as she prepared to give birth to my little brother when I was nine years old. Her circle of friends honored us too, crowning their daughters with flowers and loosely binding their wrists with ribbon to their mothers as they crossed the threshold into first menstruation.

At 24, I then helped plan the rite of passage for my youngest sister, then 13, as she and her friends gathered into a wide living room, flowers on their heads and anticipation in their eyes as we spoke to them of women’s wisdom and the strength of, and celebration of, being maiden girls on their way to adulthood. I knew then that I would have a ritual for my own daughter, yet unconceived, one day. I birthed two sons and lost another son in my second trimester. I led a circle of mothers and daughters through a series of nine classes culminating in a flower-becked coming of age ceremony while newly pregnant with the rainbow baby who would become my own daughter.

Continue reading “Rituals for Our Sons, Part 2, by Molly Remer”

Summer Magic, by Molly M. Remer

We take a slice of honey cake
and a pottery cup of grape juice
and leave it by the rose bush
as an offering,
arrayed on a bed of petals
and topped with a single daisy
and a ring of wild raspberries.
We make some wishes
in the dusty air,
kneel down
with our palms upon the warm earth

and sing for rain.
We walk under
a half-moon sky
beside a blood-red sun,
the sound of coyotes
rising into the night
as a silent deer watches us,
head a triangle of alertness,
black eyes staring across
the heat-weary field.
We catch fireflies,
winking
above the wildflowers
sparks of yellow-green,
and find a plump brown toad
waiting in the path.
Then, we stand quietly together,
mosquitoes beginning to cluster
around our legs,
our heads tilted back
watching carefully for fairy
silhouettes against the deepening gray
of the midsummer sky. 

It is summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. Deep summer. Dusty summer. Thirsty summer. Humid summer. In central Missouri, it is the type of thick, wet heat that soaks into you and saps your strength and enthusiasm about life. Life can feel faded, dull, and magic hard to see. The woods, where I find such solace, renewal, and enchantment, become closed to me as poison ivy, thorns, ticks and chiggers, resolutely bar my way. So, I walk on the road these days, in the mornings and at sunset, seeing what I can see from my vantage point on a dusty gravel road. Deep summer I find offers an opportunity to look around to see what flourishes of its own accord, to see what grows without tending, to see what rises wild and unfettered from the natural conditions in which they thrive.

Sometimes as humans we become used to controlling as much of the world as we can control and as much of ourselves as we can control. Sometimes we get focused on what we can cultivate and grow and intentionally tend. So focused on this conscious tending may we be, that we may even rip up or destroy or change what is naturally growing in our own little ecosystem, our own little biome, what is growing right where we are. We may even pull it up and put something else in its place that we think is prettier, or nicer, or even more beneficial or useful. I encourage us to consider summer as a time in which to pause with, appreciate and look at, savor and explore, learn about and discover, what really grows right where you are, what thrives right where you stand, without the need for you to manipulate or control or change it. And, I invite you to also consider how this might apply to the growing and thriving in your own personal life? How or what are you perhaps trying to manipulate or change or control in yourself or with the people in your life? Perhaps it is time to take a step back, to sit back, and to see what is already growing. What is already there? What is thriving in your world? What is thriving for you that doesn’t require wrestling with or changing or trying to make it fit in a certain way? I encourage you to soften and see. Perhaps the mulberry trees are green and spreading in your world. Perhaps the clover is in bloom. Perhaps there are daisies. Perhaps there are monarch butterflies still bravely persistent on the milkweed in the field. Perhaps there are wild onion scapes, with their little purple heads. Perhaps there is yarrow, white, and waiting, and interwoven in its own curious way with the health of your own blood and body. Perhaps that book you want to write is bubbling right behind your fingertips, waiting for your pen to be set against the page. Perhaps that project that sings your name is waiting for you to pause to see it.

We doubt sometimes our place in the natural world. And, yet these plants that surround us, that spring up around us, that grow right where we are, are here and growing, just like we, ourselves, are growing where we are. These plants are intertwined with the health of our own bodies. That is amazing and enchanting and wondrous to me.

My youngest son, Tanner, is six and we are working together on an earth science class, studying planets and the earth and geology and the universe. He came to me saying: “Mom, did you know, there’s real iron in us! There’s real iron in us.” And I replied, “there’s real iron at the core of the Earth too. Isn’t that amazing? The earth has iron in it and so do we.” He looked at me and asked then, “is magic real?” And I replied, “yes, honey, we walk around inside of it every day.” I pause here in the hot exhaustion of summer to marvel that so it is. In truth, it is not only that we walk around inside of it every day. We walk on top of it every day. We walk with it every day. It beats in our veins every day. We live with it every day. If we carry an awareness of this embodied magic with us, then every day becomes enchantment. Every day becomes sacred space in motion. Every day becomes the opportunity to fully inhabit our own living magic as we literally walk around within it each and every day.

So, what is growing for you? What is blooming for you? What is flourishing and healthy, just of its own accord, asking nothing else from you, but witnessing?

The earth is made
of days
beyond count
and roots beyond question.
The fire in your belly
is that which whirls worlds into being.
There is iron in your blood,
iron at the planet’s core,
iron in the stars,
iron in beak of hawk
and eye of crow,
and iron in the red rocks
beneath your feet.
This air you breathe is
river woven,
lightning laced,
tear salted,
iron eyed,
earth kissed,
raven winged.
Wait,
let this breath expand
your chest
and know:
here you are,
today,
in-dependence
with all things.

Molly Remer, MSW, D.Min, is a priestess, writer, and teacher facilitating ritual, making art, and weaving words together in central Missouri. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of nine books, including Walking with Persephone, Whole and HolyWomanrunes, and the Goddess Devotional. She is the creator of the devotional experience #30DaysofGoddess and she loves savoring small magic and everyday enchantment.

Finding the Antler, by Molly Remer

May you witness
a growing trust
in the guidance around you.
May you allow magic to find you
where you are.

Seven years ago, I did a drum-guided meditation in which I journeyed deep into the forest. On my head as I walked, antlers grew, curving above me. As I followed the sound of drums and the glimmer of firelight, I kept raising my hand to check to see if they were still there, firm beneath my hand. I reached the fire and met the Goddess there, she reached up and took the antlers off my head and cast them into the flames, where they twisted and glowed until they became a golden ring, which she removed and placed on my finger, antlers now wrapped around my index finger. In waking life, I scoured etsy and two years later located a bronze antler ring extremely similar to my vision, which I bought and placed on my own finger in the woods as a symbol of my earth based path, my priestess vows, and some kind of unspoken dedication, felt within but not able to be fully verbalized at the time.

Continue reading “Finding the Antler, by Molly Remer”

Restoration by Molly Remer


In 2014, I sat on a low wooden bench nursing my 6 week old baby boy while wet plaster strips were laid across my face to create a mask. The final activity of the Rise Up and Call Her Name program, a women’s spirituality curriculum by Elizabeth Fisher that I’d been guiding over the course of an entire year, I had shown all of the women in my living room how to make masks and now it was my turn to have the mask material applied. My back was sore and I felt tired and lonely within my plaster shell. As my face faded from view, the women began to talk around me as if I suddenly wasn’t there and as my lips were covered, I became voiceless and closed in, shrouded and silent. When the plaster dried and I emerged again, I saw a dear friend sitting in the recliner drinking tea. While I was not sorry to have finished my commitment to the group and to have closed out the year-long program, I was suddenly awash with a deep longing for rest, a deep longing to be the one in the chair being brought tea, instead of the one to lead the group, baby dangling from her breast, tugged in a million directions by questions and needs.

This moment, this snapshot of maternal priestessing, has recurred for me many times over the last few years, a wondering of why I could not permit myself to be the tea-drinker instead of the hostess, the person to enjoy instead of the person to teach, the person to rest instead of the person to create experiences. Continue reading “Restoration by Molly Remer”

October Magic, by Molly Remer

In was in October that my last grandmother died, my last living grandparent. As the leaves turn to red and gold once more, I wake thinking of her each morning. I wake thinking of my maternal grandmother too, who died seven years ago, in springtime as the iris bloomed. I dream of my husband’s grandfather, he stands shoulder to shoulder with my oldest son, white hair and smile flashing as he compares their heights and laughs.

We’ve just returned from a two week long trip to Florida and have arrived back in Missouri to a life in full swing, books to write, projects to plan, new products to develop for our shop, old requests waiting for our attention. But, the leaves will only be this color for a moment. The air will only be this sweet and pleasant for a moment. The sun will only glint across the cedar branches in this way that brings my soul to life right now, the colors of the day so sharp and vivid, clear and bright to my eyes, that it is almost like stepping into another reality. We have only this moment to join hands and slip off into the woods beneath the early morning sun, stepping past pools of slowly dripping water, over sharp and uncertain stones, soft green moss, and carpets of fallen leaves. It is only this moment in which we will hear the hawk’s cry ring out across the trees. Only now in which we will turn over leaves and discover shining mushrooms, gleaming in the October sun.

I stepped into the woods holding memories of my grandmothers next to my heart. The leaves were lit gold from within and below, forming an enchanted tunnel into the trees near where we have built our new work studio. As I moved into the clearing, I heard two crows raise an alarm call. I stood silently and looked, curious about the source of their alarm. They called again sharply, once, twice, and right in front of me a quiet brown deer, previously unseen, lifted its white tail and leaped gracefully away through the trees. It took a breath, a beat of time, for me to realize that it was me, my own small form standing relatively motionless among the trees watching the morning sun illuminate the yellow leaves, that was the cause of the raised alarm, this communication between species, sharing the same ground.

We set off along a stony gully that bisects the land of my parents, pausing by a series of small pools and gazing through the backs of dogwood leaves turning to rich red with veins of green still lightly tracing through their round centers. Suddenly, the scent of cedar filled the air and I crouched beneath the tree to see the ground beneath it littered with small snippets of evergreen, strewn across a thick blanket of brown oak leaves and yellow maple, glowing in a stained glass impersonation in the perfect touch of the sun upon their surfaces. My breath made a fog in the air and I looked up into the tree to see that it, too, was breathing in this cool morning, steam lifting off its trunk and rising into its thin fingered branches. There are small blue juniper berries brightly laid against the wet green moss beneath the tree and I turn to see the peachy-rose globes of persimmons hanging on thin branches against the sky. I have the sensation that they are watching me there, kneeling on the wet ground, caught between rays of sunlight and enchantment.

We continued picking our way carefully across the lichen-laden gray stones until we came to fallen tree, carpeted with a beautiful array of fungus. Small brown knobs that look like new potatoes spring from what was once the top of the trunk and a panoply of beautifully spiraled whorls of turkey tail mushrooms form small cups which hold last night’s raindrops.

As we descended into the gully, the view opened up before us, slabs of stone forming a naturally terraced series of platforms dropping lower and lower into the round stone pools. The trees are yellow here, sun gleaming on the leaves, forming a temple bower of golden branches. I felt full of delight and joy, so pleased that we had chosen to lay aside the to-dos and come on this ramble together. I asked my husband to take a picture of me in the trees and stones telling him with a smile that this is the only moment in which the leaves will be this color and in which I will be this fabulous.

Being in the world, noticing what blooms and breathes and flows around us, is the fullest expression of my spirituality to me. Seeing what emerges, what fades, what rises and falls, this is a living magic. Honoring the passage of time, the turn of the wheel, the cycles of the land, the earth as an ensouled presence, and my own footsteps on her an act of devotion, these are the cornerstones of feminist spirituality for me. Look. Learn. Listen. Feel. Care. Act. Goddess worship and the symbol of the Goddess plays an important role in re-conceptualizing and restructuring the role of women, the value of nature, and the social order. In her book Ecofeminist Philosophy, Karen Warren writes: “Many spiritual ecofeminists invoke the notion of ‘the Goddess’ to capture the sacredness of both nonhuman nature and the human body…the symbol of the Goddess ‘aids the process of naming and reclaiming the female body and its cycles and processes.” Rather than something to dominate and control, the earth becomes the body of the Goddess and is acknowledged as both literal and spiritual home and is something inseparably linked to personal well-being—planetary health and personal health become synonymous—and both are treated with reverence and respect.

I have wondered if I try too hard to make my life be magical, to make it meaningful and then I realize, if you look for evidence that the world is made of magic, for evidence that your life is magical, that you will find it everywhere. This isn’t wrong. This is beautiful and powerful and real. Yes, my life is magical. So is yours. The whole world is magical. We need only step right up to it and look, to see that we are surrounded by magic, woven right into the threads of it.

The stones were slippery with water and moss as we skirted our way carefully to the bottom of the gully, where a wide, curving, bowl-shaped basin has been formed of rock and rain and time. Gazing at it, tranquil and still, gently rippled rocks forming the sides and leaves filling its bowl, I said aloud:  “When I die, you can leave me curled up here and I’ll be happy.” For a crisp moment I could clearly see my own bones lying nestled, smoothed and ivory, across this bed of leaves and sunbeams.

Something bright red caught my eye then, looking at first like the domed half of a large cherry tomato partially covered by brown leaves and I squatted down to discover a burst of crimson mushrooms grouped together and bright against the decaying foliage.

Mark didn’t answer me, but he laid his hand across my hip and together we scrambled like mountain goats past the crimson mushrooms and up the steep slope, the oak leaves giving way to a carpet of pine needles as we climbed, the now bare stems of lowbush blueberries catching on our socks and pants. At the top of the hill, we sat on the stones, chests heaving, breath fast from our ascent, smiling silently as we looked at the sunshine through the pines.

 

Molly Remer’s newest book of poems, Sunlight on Cedar, was published in March. Molly has been gathering the women to circle, sing, celebrate, and 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 more at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of WomanrunesEarthprayerthe Goddess DevotionalShe 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, Feminism and Religion, and Sage Woman Magazine.

Nourishing Wholeness in a Fractured World, by Molly Remer

List for today:

Rescue tadpoles from the evaporating puddle
in the driveway.
Look for pink roses in the field.
Look for wild strawberries
along the road.
Listen to the crows in
the compost pile
and try to identify them
by their different voices.
Plant basil and calendula
and a few more rows of lettuce.
Examine the buds beginning
on the elderberries
and check blackberry canes
to see if the berries have set.
Watch the yellow swallowtail butterflies dance.
Wonder about action and apathy
and what bridges gaps.
Refuse to surrender belief in joy.
Listen for faint echoes of hope.
Feel the tender beat of humanity
pulsing in the world.
Feel the sun on your face
and water seeping
into your jeans.
Remember that even if you have to
move one tadpole at a time,
change is always possible.

It is easy to become exhausted and overwhelmed by the volume of things there are to say, the things there are to think about, to care about, to put energy into, to love, to be outraged about. I want to invite you, at the moment of this reading, to breathe it out, to let yourself come into your body right where you are this second, and put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Remind yourself that you’re whole right here, right now. There is suffering and there is fear and there is pain and there is joy and there is beauty and there is life, and we can hold it all. Let yourself settle and feel, present in this moment, in this unfolding. And, with whatever you feel, whether you feel hopeless or joyful or angry or happy or thrilled or enthusiastic or creative or drained, whatever it is, with your hand on your heart, accept those feelings as okay right now: how you feel, is how you feel; where you are, is where you are; who you are, is who you are. Continue reading “Nourishing Wholeness in a Fractured World, by Molly Remer”

Persistent Beauty by Molly Remer

I knelt beside a sprinkling
of deer fur
dotted with delicate snowflakes.
Don’t take a picture of that,
my husband said,
people will think it is gross.
I don’t find it gross.
I find it curious.
I find it surprising.
I find a story.
Sometimes I feel like
I have to battle a horde
of demonic trolls
before I can take care of myself,
I tell him,
and yet somehow,
I say,
always,
always,
I find my life is still a poem,
in the quietude,
in the battling,
on my knees in brown gravel
to better see this spray of fur
and how the frost
glows like white stars.


I sit on a stone in the pines and let the winds come, sweeping my hair back and lifting my lamentations from my forehead, where they have settled like a black cloud.

I let the air soften my shoulders and my sorrows, sunshine bright on thick brown pine needles, slickly strewn across the steep hill. Continue reading “Persistent Beauty by Molly Remer”

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.

 

Nourishing Your Caring, by Molly Remer

Take time 60107979_2326071390938403_2921363486892097536_o
to nourish
your caring.
It is needed.

Last month it was raining heavily on a Saturday morning and I spent time coloring letters to fairies with my younger children and baking a cake. Before I knew it, the day had slipped away into the rain and I didn’t get to make my daily visit to the woods behind my house as I like to do in the morning. While the things I did instead were fun and loving, I found myself telling my husband, once again, that I am feeling burned out in my life in general and like I’ve lost my caring. I sometimes worry that I don’t care anymore, that I’ve used up my care, my inspiration, my passion, that I’ve fueled magic for others for so long, that my own has evaporated and I’m finished, extinguished. I listed off the things I need to refuel my soul and restore my care so that I can be there for others, for our work. My list was simple and short and my husband pointed out that I get the things on it almost every day:

  1. Go to the woods.
  2. Write and journal.
  3. Walk and discover things.
  4. Create/draw/take pictures.
  5. Read.

I need to nourish my care, I tell him, because I can’t stop caring.

Caring is what holds life together.

What do you need to nourish your caring?

This year, I have found myself struggling with recurrent episodes of feeling like I don’t care. I feel careworn, care-overloaded, care-burned out, care used-up. Sometimes I even feel like I actually can’t care anymore, like all my care is used up, spent, extinguished, exhausted. I have also found myself feeling a little sad and wistful remembering how much I used to care, about everything, but at times I also feel liberated by owning the “don’t care” sensation. Sometimes it sets me free. The world is stained, strained, and brittle from so much lack of care from so many people. We must keep caring, we must care, even when it is a strain. I suppose the secret may be not to care too much about things that don’t require our care, not to overload ourselves with cares that are not our own, or that don’t actually require our attention and are, frankly, quite fine without us and our meddling.

After the month’s Pink Tent ritual with my local circle, a friend tells me that she has been 58639012_2319362924942583_1704575264542949376_o(1)going to yoga class and every time she lies on the floor at the end of class, she thinks of me. I consider this a compliment. If I could be known as a lay-down revolutionary, that would please me. At least two years ago, I put on my list of “100 Things to Do this Year,” to lie on the floor for at least three minutes every day. I have kept this up more or less every day since then, even setting my phone timer for three minutes at the end of my personal yoga practice each morning, so I know I’m actually giving this to myself. I wonder what might change for many of us if we allowed ourselves three minutes a day to lie on the floor? Ten minutes? Fifteen minutes? One hour? Another friend tells me she needs a time out to refill herself until she is overflowing, instead of just refilling her cup a tiny bit and then draining it over and over again. I feel this too. I have the sensation that I been coasting on my reserve tank for at least a year and my reserves are now becoming depleted too. It takes more than three minutes to fill the tank, so that it carries sustained and lasting energy to fuel my soul.

In the woods the next day, I sit with my eyes closed in the sunshine, basking in the warmth. I hear the sound of birds from each side of me, ping-ponging off of one another into the sparkling green air. I listen to them until my mind softens and I am no longer tormenting myself with questions of how to be better, be more, fix it all. I am very still on the rock and when I open my eyes, I see a vulture coasting towards me. It swoops very low, skimming the treetops, possibly checking to see if I am actually breathing there on the stone, it circles once, twice, three times, above my head, at each pass coming very low, low enough that I can see its red head turn from side to side, looking at me.

Hey, buddy, I say. Yes, I’m still breathing!

My floor-lying friend has spent the night at my parents lodge and I go to visit her and to paint with my mom, my daughter, and my friend and her family. My head is throbbing with the headache I often get following an intense ritual and I don’t feel very present, but we paint anyway, the colors swirling and mixing and the freeform nature of the pour painting meaning there are no mistakes, only magic. When we finish, I help her load a weaving loom into her car and we speak briefly about group dynamics and ritual etiquette, and priestessing energetics. As we speak, I look up to see nine vultures this time, circling in the wide sky above the large open field surrounding the lodge building. They dance in the air and they whisper, It is okay to let go. It is okay to soar. It is okay to be free. It is okay to clean things out and away. That is how you can keep caring.

Recipe for Rebuilding a Soul:

1 weary heart61445954_2342336385978570_2975037873578835968_o(1)
2 open arms
1 large flat rock
As many tall pine trees
as you can find
1 empty book
Many pens
Lots of water
2 scoops of sunlight
An infinity of starshine.

Mix together patiently and wait in the shadows. Let rise in the sun. Let rise with the moon. Check for delight. If still soggy and deflated, expose on a hillside or soak in the ocean. Sprinkle with laughter.

Submerge beneath a stream of inspiration.
Drizzle with dreams and a generous helping of time.
Steep with incredible slowness.
Dust with flowers and need well.
Let become exquisitely tender and soft.

When fully risen, warmed throughout, and glowing with strength and satisfaction, enjoy with a tall glass of moonlight, a side of magic, and a handful of enchantment.

Create regularly for best results.

Additional audio poem: Careworn Soul

This essay is excerpted from my book in progress, The Magic of Place: Rebuilding the Soul Where and How You Are.

Molly Remer has been gathering the women to circle, sing, celebrate, and 61538890_2344169199128622_8199673458095816704_oshare 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 WomanrunesEarthprayerShe Lives Her Poems, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon and at Brigid’s Grove.

Glimpses of Women in India by Elizabeth Cunningham

Recently I traveled in India with my husband who did doctoral research there 48 years ago. I had no goals of my own other than to be open. Back only a short while, I am still pondering the journey. Here are glimpses of the women I saw, often only from a distance, with gratitude for so much kindness.

“Welcome to the City of Joy,” says our guide when we step out of the airport into the warm Calcutta night.  “You have arrived on Maha Shivaratri, the Great night of Shiva. This is especially a holiday for women. Every woman wants a husband like Shiva.”

Source: Alamy; used with permission

Continue reading “Glimpses of Women in India by Elizabeth Cunningham”

Stories the Stones Tell by Sara Wright

A couple of days ago I was climbing a mesa with my friend Iren who is “a guide to the wild places” – those places off the beaten track where stories are told by the stones and the Earth that supports them.

As a severely directionally dyslexic person who cannot tell her left from right navigating this hidden world would be impossible without Iren’s deep knowledge of this land, her expertise, her extraordinary sensitivity and her love for Nature. No words can ever express my gratitude for this friendship without which I would feel bereft.

As we climbed through mountains of human garbage and four wheeler tracks we discovered potsherds at our feet. Picking up the predominantly black and white pieces for inspection I found myself wondering about the women (and children) who gathered the clay, shaped it into pots, and fired the vessels to store food. There are so many untold women’s stories hidden in these clay fragments… Continue reading “Stories the Stones Tell by Sara Wright”

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