Insect Conversations by Barbara Ardinger

“She’s doing it again,” Mrs. Cockroach is saying to her friend Old Mrs. Spider. “You know? The giant? She’s been blowing on me and telling me to live somewhere else. Like, I’d leave a good home?”




Old Mrs. Spider looks up from her weaving. “Yes,” she says in a weary voice. “But you know she’s not a giant. She’s just a normal human being, well, overweight, as I understand humans measure their bodies. And if she’s going to blow on us and ask us to live somewhere else, well…..I think she needs to brush her teeth.”

Mrs. Cockroach chuckles. “Indeed. We insects, maybe with the exceptions of fleas and termites, we don’t have bad breath. Blood-breath and wood-breath are sour! I was sitting on the wall in her bathroom, keeping an eye on things and telling the termites to get away from the window, and she just walks up. Doesn’t she know we insects and arachnids are protecting her house?”

Continue reading “Insect Conversations by Barbara Ardinger”

Practical Lessons in Kindness from the Grasshopper and the Ant (With apologies to Jean de La Fontaine for significant changes to his fable) by Barbara Ardinger

Note: This story was originally posted early in 2016. I’m posting it again because, thanks to the state of UNkindness the Abuser-in-chief has pasted all over the semi-civilized Semi-United States, we need lessons in kindness more than ever before. I bet you agree with me!

“Curses on that grasshopper!” exclaimed the ever-busy Madame Fourmi. “All he ever does is play. He’ll be sorry when winter comes.”

And so it went. Every day, Mme. Fourmi spent the morning scrubbing her front steps. And Monsieur Cigale?

“Partaaaaayyyyy!” Every day, he sped by on his skateboard. “Hey, Auntie Ant, stop cleaning the concrete and come and play with us. We’re gonna start a band!”

“Not on your life,” muttered this grandmother, most of whose conversations with her many daughters and granddaughters consisted of instructions on how to properly clean their homes and hills and how to prepare and store food for the winter. “Life is serious business, it is, it is. We need to plan ahead.”

Continue reading “Practical Lessons in Kindness from the Grasshopper and the Ant (With apologies to Jean de La Fontaine for significant changes to his fable) by Barbara Ardinger”

The God of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar by Race MoChridhe

race-mochridheThe morning air is hot around the pillars of Jerusalem stone, but the congregation is already tired. The prayers are old, pro forma and remote, drawing power now from the sound of the Hebrew more than from the meaning of the words. “Thank you for mercifully restoring my soul to me…” intones the small group of gathered men, “and for not making me a woman.”

The voices are smooth and practiced, unmixed with the rustling of pages except for a teenager who cannot recite from memory, whose Hebrew is still bad enough that he has to pay attention. This boy tires of waking, and wonders why God did not make him a woman—why he will never be a thing as close to his maker’s image as a woman seems to him to be. Continue reading “The God of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar by Race MoChridhe”

Our Bodies Tell Our Stories by Kate Brunner

KateGetting out of my head can sometimes be such a challenge in the environment that surrounds me. The onslaught of information coming in at almost every waking moment often means my head is very, very full. Add to that the simple fact that I am a just a wordy kinda gal & I have a whole lot of life lived mentally.

In recent years, though, I’ve come to really appreciate the power, wisdom, and importance of the sort of information my body carries. Bone wisdom, blood power, mtDNA information. The collection of stories carried in my very flesh.

I have a scar across the fourth toe of my right foot where I knocked my father’s wood chopping ax off a backyard picnic table onto my foot when I was around five years old. It tells the story not only of that particular incident, but also of the screened-in porch that contained that picnic table and the summer dinners we ate there. Of the crepe myrtle tree that I could see through those screens out in our yard from that outdoor table. Of the hours spent enchanted by its feathery pink blossoms dancing beyond my small fingertips & annoyed by its prickly seed pods under my bare feet. Of the little garden patch on the side of that house I could see from that crepe myrtle where I first learned to garden. Of a dog named Heidi, of the chocolate brown shag carpeting inside that house, & of learning to play chess on its hearth while the fire crackled over the wood my father chopped with that ax.

KatefeetI have another scar, a set of scars really– thin dotted parallel lines stretching between my ribs across my upper abdomen. Literal tracks left by a beloved cat who was startled from the nap she was taking on my pregnant belly when my eldest daughter gave her a swift kick from the womb. And there are the silvery lines licking their way up both sides of my lower belly and perpetual gap between my stomach muscles thanks to the blessing of full-term twins. There’s the small dot marking the place where I once pierced my own belly button in a teenage girl’s effort to be the coolest of the cool. And the vertical line etched deeply in the center of my forehead as a result of not wearing my reading glasses as often as I should. There’s a scattering of silver threads in my hair now, echos of my mother & my mother’s mother. And a half dozen or so snow white hairs in my thick, dark eyebrows– a gift from my paternal line.

Our bodies tell our stories. And not just our stories, but the human story. Each of us carries a synthesis of bloodlines, a tapestry of genetic experience that connect us to every single other member of our entire species. Get a group of women together- complete strangers even- and see how long it takes before you start hearing body stories being told. We live this physical life through our bodies. They are how we move through this world. There are no stories without embodiment. Physical form gives us the context needed for abstract thought. We cannot define “happy” without the image of another’s happiness embodied or an understanding of how happiness feels in our own bodies. We cannot perform ritual, receive communion, answer the call to prayer without our bodies.

Yet, it seems to me that this somatic foundation is largely misunderstood in the modern, industrialized world. Instead of being receptive to the stories our bodies are trying to tell us and honoring the gifts the body brings, we seem to seek dominion over the body. But what would happen if we took a breath, if we could find the space and time to truly look, to listen deeply to our bodies as they are in this very moment? And if we could not only listen to our own bodies, but respect and honor the stories of the bodies of others?

What stories do our very beings have to tell?


Kate M. Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a somewhat nomadic American, homeschooling her children with the world as their classroom. She holds a BA from Tulane University, where she studied Economics, International Relations, & Religious Traditions. Kate is a presenter for Red Tents & women’s retreats. She also hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, facilitates labyrinth rituals, and leads workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics. During 2016, she will be presenting at the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Conference in Boston, MA, at the SOA’s first open online conference, AvaCon 2016, & at the inaugural Ninefold Festival in Orange, CT. 

Releasing Artemis by Carol P. Christ

As I was writing thcarol molivos with view 1is story, my Word program froze several times, and I lost what I had written. This has never happened before. The fifth time, it occurred to me that Artemis was not happy with the way I was telling the story of her life and death. I lit a candle and prayed for her spirit to fly free like the gulls over the sea that I could see out my window and began again. The words in italic are the ones she added.

Yesterday morning I heard the church bells tolling a plaintive, “dong, dong, dong,” as they do when someone dies. Quite a few people die in our village in winter, and I did not wonder who it might be. You didn’t think of me? A few hours later, I saw the death notice on a telephone pole next to my car. My friend and neighbor Artemis died. The words “Theos voithos,” “with the help of God,” came immediately to my mind. Continue reading “Releasing Artemis by Carol P. Christ”

It’s All About the Story by Esther Nelson

esther-nelsonEvery August my friend and colleague, Dale, preaches–does pulpit supply–at his local parish (St. Mark’s Episcopal) in our hometown.  He always has something valuable to say so I ventured forth eagerly on a recent Sunday morning to hear him even though “church” is something I gave up years ago.

Dale began his sermon noting that the news he reads online every morning while striving to keep an “ordered” and “routine” life is overwhelming.  Institutionalized racism, poverty, addiction, and lack of healthcare are problems that affect us all.  We live in the “wilderness”–both physically and existentially.  How do we cope?  He asserted that the Bible explores humanity’s response to what we call “the human condition” and then proclaimed, “Darkness does not have the last word.  God does.  Hope triumphs.”  Dale’s sermon reflected a perspective based on the tradition (story) he embraces–Christianity, however, the “particulars” of Biblical stories have universal themes.  One of the functions of religion is to create a “reality” that enables hope.  Dale gave three Biblical examples of “wilderness experience”–examples that included the promise of hope.  Continue reading “It’s All About the Story by Esther Nelson”

A New Yarn for a New Year by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara Ardinger
Once upon a time there lived a smart but lonely woman named Wrenhilde who had had five husbands (but only one of them was her own) and was a single mother. Because she was seldom unwilling to speak her mind in public, she was either unliked or envied by the respectable women of the town, who were ordered by her husbands to avoid her company. So Wrenhilde did what she could to earn a pittance to pay the rent. She also grew as much of her food as she could. As she worked (or didn’t work), she sang to herself:

Bitter is my cup,
My life’s not worth a shtup,
I believe I need a new world—
I’ll have to make one up.

Well, with that kind of song and the attitude it betrayed, no one was surprised that her son Jack was a dropout by the time he was fifteen. Jack lazed around, acted stupid, stood up to the rich boys who tried to bully him, and secretly wished he had a pet for company. One of his chores at home was to milk the cow. This was the only thing he never neglected because the cow was big and white and warm and affectionate. She practically purred while she was being milked! Continue reading “A New Yarn for a New Year by Barbara Ardinger”

Visions of My Grandmother by John Erickson

“I never told my grandmother I was gay. I’ve often wanted to visit her grave, clench my hands together, and pray that she forgive me for betraying the trust she instilled upon me long ago. However, even today, I cannot bring myself to make that trek, up the hill into the countryside where her ashes lay below the ground.”

I haven’t dreamt of my grandmother since her passing one hot summer July evening.

The night, and the days that followed, continue to be a blur.  However, as my family members continue to see her in their nightly visions, I, go on unabatedly longing to see and hear the voice of a woman who made me feel the presence of the divine with each passing story.

My sister saw her in a dream when she was buying shoes, my mother has seen her multiple times when she would be undergoing a particularly stressful situation, and I, left alone and oftentimes wondering through an abyss of loneliness and disarray, wake up each morning wondering why, I am left all alone. Continue reading “Visions of My Grandmother by John Erickson”

The Original Art by Elise M. Edwards

Storytelling is the original art as the desire to communicate is a common thread of all the other arts. I started reflecting on the stories – through various mediums–that have shaped me, and I wanted to use my post today to honor the herstories, the narratives of the women that have been meaningful to me.

On Tuesday night, I attended a gathering of storytellers.  I sat with two of my friends and listened to professionals and amateurs alike share stories.  The stories they told presented a range of narratives from Danish folktales to improvised children’s stories.  I was both horrified and enchanted by the content of their works.  While one story was a particularly violent tale of retribution and “justice,” another seemed to offer lessons about cooperation.

I thought about sharing a story of my own, but I didn’t feel prepared.  By the end of the evening, I was aware of the irony of my reluctance to share.  I was afraid I was not a good enough storyteller, yet I’d spent a good part of the previous two weeks traveling and catching up with old and new friends, which certainly involved animated retellings of the events going on in my life. Continue reading “The Original Art by Elise M. Edwards”

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