A Thanksgiving Litany for Living through Fractious Times by Alla Renée Bozarth

Alla Renée Bozarth, Philadelphia 11, Philadelphia ordinations
All things being relative, remember
that collective and individual histories
are cyclical but open-ended, and discern
the kind of moment you are in and part of.

Remember how to make it better
by holding on to all that is dear in life,
and becoming more prayerful and thoughtful.

When deprivation comes, return to what is essential—
first, beauty, so look for and create beautiful behavior 
and encourage it.

Continue reading “A Thanksgiving Litany for Living through Fractious Times by Alla Renée Bozarth”

In Sight (Part 1) by Sara Wright

Four years ago I made a radical decision to spend a winter in New Mexico. Maine winters were long and I was 71 years old. An unfinished experience 25 years ago had left me with a longing to spend more time in the desert. Although I had formed a deep and abiding relationship with my land in Maine over a period of almost 40 years and had constructed a small log cabin on this beautiful piece of property that has a brook on three sides, woods and fields, I wondered if at this stage of my life I should consider moving….

I was very fortunate to find a place to live In Abiquiu, NM, and eventually I was able to move into a friend’s newly built casita that bordered a tributary of the Rio Grande, which also abutted another friend’s property. This abutting property included a Bosque (river wetland). I was blessed to have a beautiful place to walk through without having to get into a car. Most hikes required driving somewhere, a practice I disliked.

I discovered over time that New Mexico was a land of extremes – and not the paradise I had expected. The one torturous summer I spent there under 100 plus degree heat made it clear that I could not live in this stifling sauna with its bloody burning sun year round. Wildfires burned continuously. The west winds roared churning up clouds of dust that choked the air, sometimes for days on end; and the winds were relentless, especially during the spring. I remembered fairy tales that spoke to the malevolence of the west wind; I imagined I could feel that power here. Continue reading “In Sight (Part 1) by Sara Wright”

La Llorona and the Dark Green Religion of Hope by Sara Wright

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in natureI recently returned to Maine after what can only be called a harrowing journey from the Southwest. Grateful to feel beloved earth under my feet, I walk along the pine strewn woodland paths to keep myself sane. My animals have been ill, my neighbor was hospitalized briefly, other neighbors deliberately destroyed my garden wall crushing a baby balsam, and used this property as their personal ski slope, the threat of the C/virus looms – there are no words to describe this kind of exhaustion. As a PTSD survivor all my senses are on permanent scream. The simplest task has become monumental. And I am only one of so many…

Each day I attempt to feel gratitude for what is good in my life.

Momentary peace is found in the Dark Green Religion of Hope that I experience walking under every balsam, lichen, wet leaf, deciduous tree, listening to chickadees, phoebes, juncos, and finches, meandering along the swollen brook – Just to see clear mountain waters rushing to the sea reminds me that Nature’s rhythms are my own, and that most of the time I am not breathing with her – unless I take these walks. Somewhere along the way over these last weeks I have lost access to my body (PTSD). Continue reading “La Llorona and the Dark Green Religion of Hope by Sara Wright”

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”

Back Home? by Esther Nelson

It’s between semesters and as I’ve done for the past three or four years, I’m back in Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the winter break.  I only spend a month here at this time of year and find myself thinking about the time I’ll move here permanently if things go according to plan.

I don’t feel at home in Las Cruces—at least, not yet.  I attend many of the local functions and gatherings advertised in “The Las Cruces Bulletin” such as plays, music programs, art openings at various galleries, the popular Mercado (outdoor market) every Saturday morning, and the public library’s book club.

Every time I’m out here, I plan a couple of trips to nearby attractions—White Sands National Park, The Gila Wilderness, Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and the hot springs in Truth or Consequences.  I’ve also explored the nearby cities of Deming and Silver City.  On this visit, I drove to Columbus, New Mexico, and walked across the border to Palomas, Mexico.  (This is not a busy border crossing.)  Tourists can have lunch at The Pink Store and browse the shop for Mexican crafts.  There are several dental clinics and optometry offices in the area where some Americans go to have dental work and eye examinations for approximately half the cost of those services in the U.S.

I also spent a couple of days in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona, walking among the cacti—an interesting experience.  I learned that Saguaro cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert—Arizona, California, and Mexico.  The cacti, if they develop arms at all, don’t do so until they’re at least 75 years old. Continue reading “Back Home? by Esther Nelson”

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.

 

“This Golgotha of Modern Times” by Joyce Zonana

Our visit to Poland coincides with the Feast of the Assumption, a time when tens of thousands of pilgrims arrive on foot to pay homage to Our Lady of Częstochowa, Poland’s Black Madonna. I too am a pilgrim, visiting the sites, not of miracles but of martyrdom. As I make my way through what Pope John Paul II called “this Golgotha of modern times,” I am overcome; like him, I “am here kneeling down” to implore Our Lady to help us heal the vast, still open wound that is our life on this earth.

4BC9846D-628B-4F1D-89BF-BB212E5D94BCI had never imagined visiting Eastern Europe, a place toward which I felt no attraction, or, if anything, a deep aversion. To my mind, these were the killing fields, where six million Jews, Roma, political prisoners, homosexuals, and others were massacred by the Nazis during World War II. As a bisexual Jew, a dark-skinned Middle Easterner sometimes taken for a gypsy, why would I want to go there?

But my husband, who was raised Catholic in Chicago, is of Polish and Lithuanian descent. He and his two sisters have talked for years about visiting the villages from which their grandparents, escaping economic hardship and military conscription, had emigrated early in the twentieth century. It remained wistful talk until Mike and I made plans to attend a yoga retreat in rural Denmark. We’d be so close, we reasoned, why not cross the Baltic to explore his ancestral homes? His two sisters readily agreed to join us. Continue reading ““This Golgotha of Modern Times” by Joyce Zonana”

Rejecting TMT: Protecting and Protesting the Sacred for Mauna Kea and for all by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteRoughly 3 ½ years ago my FAR post was about the struggle that the Hawaiian people were facing with the proposed building of a Thirty Meter Telescope on the most sacred mountain in the Hawaiian Islands, Mauna Kea. When that post was published, there was a large social media presence and protests that helped cease construction of the telescope and sent the issue to the Hawaiian Courts. I am writing this post because Mauna Kea is again under threat. The Courts ruled in the favor of the telescope and for the last two months, large scale protests have gone under way on the road up to Mauna Kea.

Continue reading “Rejecting TMT: Protecting and Protesting the Sacred for Mauna Kea and for all by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

When “The Storm Left No Flowers” – A Review by Sara Wright

During the last year I have been struggling with the  catastrophic effects of Climate Change like never before as I witness the continuation of a drought that is withering plants, starving tree roots, shriveling our wildflowers and wild grasses, leaving our mountains barren of snow, and changing the face of the high desert for the foreseeable future. With forest fires leaving me literally breathless from plumes of thick smoke that turn the sun into a ball of orange flames at dawn, unable to cope with 100 plus degree heat, my body forces me to surrender: I will not be able to make my permanent home here. Instead I will migrate like the birds do – from south to north and back again.

Coming to terms with the ravages of Climate Change  brought me to my knees; it has been one of the most difficult adjustments I have ever had to make. I mourn the death of the trees, plants, the loss of precious frogs and toads, insects, birds, lizards – every plant and creature is under attack and few of us can thrive (let alone survive) in such an unforgiving climate. Continue reading “When “The Storm Left No Flowers” – A Review by Sara Wright”

Coming Home to the Sacred by Carolyn Lee Boyd

My grandparents and mother at their home in 1929.In 1929, my grandmother wrote the word “HOME” in resounding letters across the bottom of a photo of a herself and my grandfather, smiling lovingly and confidently, with my infant mother propped in between them on a rattan chair.  Within a few years the Great Depression stole that house, rendering them desolate and homeless, cutting a psychic wound so deep that it never healed.

I recently found the photo and thought of our family’s ancestors who, millennia ago in Old Europe, worshipped the Goddess in peaceful, egalitarian societies.  Then and there, as in so many cultures outside modern western societies, “home” was a sacred place. As discovered by Marija Gimbutas and others, small statues of the Goddess were frequently found by the ovens inside family dwellings, and temples included rooms for both sanctuaries and workshops for making bread and weaving cloth. Houses and temples were extensions of one another. 

Continue reading “Coming Home to the Sacred by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

Nichos Embody Natural Grace by Sara Wright

A ‘Nicho‘, is a three-dimensional or recessed area used to honor an important figure, saint, or loved one. Nichos originated as an adaptation of the Roman Catholic ‘retablo‘, painting of a patron saint on wood or tin.

When I was a little girl my parents spent a year in Europe and my mother brought me home a small Greek Orthodox retablo of the Virgin and Child made of silver. It had two small arched doors with tiny nobs that opened onto an etched picture of the Madonna and Child. I placed the retablo on a table next to my bed where it remained throughout my childhood. I opened and closed ornate silvery doors frequently drawn in by something that at the time I couldn’t name. When I became an adult this small silver story moved from night table to table in each house I lived in for about 45 years. Continue reading “Nichos Embody Natural Grace by Sara Wright”

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