W&P #32 – Polytheism

I just finished reading the Polytheism issue of Witches and Pagans, and it’s a winner.*  As well as a mind-expanding essay by Edward Butler and good solid pieces by Gus DiZerega, Galina Krasskovka, Niki Whiting and Silence Maestas, there was an excellent letter from John Beckett on what makes religion work.

* Of course, I’m also happy that there’s a review and a poem by yours truly in it… 😉

Shameless Self-Promotion

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up here:  I’ll have a book review and a poem published in the June issue of Witches and Pagans magazine.

I’d be excited about this issue anyway- the theme is Polytheism: Many Gods, Many Paths, and there looks to be some really good stuff in there.

You can pre-order through the link… or check with your local Pagan/Esoteric/etc. store to see when they’ll be getting it in (or give them a mournful, pleading look if they tell you they don’t carry it 😉 ).

Welcome, Yule!

Every winter solstice, my spouse and I do a simple household ritual involving (amongst other things) beating the bounds of our property (i.e. a tiny suburban lot)… much to the bewilderment of our dogs and likely to our neighbors.

The core of the ritual is right towards the start, when we turn off every light in the house and observe a moment of silence, breathing in the peace and stillness, feeling the turn of the year.  Then we light a candle and recite this poem by Susan Cooper (a perennial part of the Washington Christmas Revels and all other Revels celebrations):

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreens;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new years sunshine blazed awake,
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing, behind us – listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day.
As promise wakens in the sleeping land,
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now – this year and every year.
Welcome, Yule!

Wishing a safe, peaceful and joyous Yule to you and yours…

Poem

[Something I wrote a couple of months ago…]

We cannot do this: see the world as They do-
Somewhat removed from time, suspended in
A suffusing, after-storm light, wet gold
In the west; a renewal even at sunset,
A promise more freighted with subtle awe
Than a rainbow; a pregnant peace, cloud-
Formed magic on high meeting the damp below.

Or as She sees it, as all Muses do-
All things as words to a poem, parts
To the greater work, fuel or tool or
Metal ready for the forge; gems to set
Just so, refracting; the shape emerging
Under patient hands, carved or pulled
Or picked out by paint, shaded into life.

But They cannot (choose not?) to touch direct
The world of hours; upswing, downfall,
Chrysalis-change; our senses are the ones
To take in this dust and delight, our hands
The only to mold the mortal; They may guide, order,
Even drive our actions, but our blood, brains,
Will and thews are the means of making.

Poem for Brigid

For Brigid

My feet still in the well, cool shock of yesterday,
I look to the candle, let open my head, my heart,
My hands, then begin. It is years since I first
Reached out (hesitant? hubristical? hopeful
I hope, and certainly teetered between
Extremes), and the worn steps still lead down
Into cool clearness, scent of moss and old
Stone and clean depths; spark-bright and
Ember-dusky petals still fall from
The rose dancing in the hearth, on the wick;
Forms still elaborate, fractally implied and
Impelled by tiny and mighty forces at play.
it is Her mantle I saw first, silver river,
All the shining things about Her, bright
As Her eyes, Her smile, the fire
She cradles in Her hands, that surrounds Her.

The Flame of an idea
The Forge of its making
The Well of its setting into place

Healer, maker, granter of imbas– She
Gave so much to me, it sufficed. Not
That I denied Her other domains, or scorned them,
Just bowed and let them pass on by.

But that complacent wall broke, and She stood
There in the middle of the night, when the
Bothy’s wall was torn down to take the body out.
Maker of the First Keen, Her voice wound through
The mourning sobs and whiskey laughter.
Sword not hammer in Her grip, shield hand,
Not healer’s She laid between my shoulders,
Behind my heart- wordless reassurance- “I
Have your back in this. Have, and give;
Have not, and receive; lapse, and be forgiven.
Make do, do without, but always do your best.”
And now she shows in so much else-
Sunlight flowing through amber glass, sparkling
On soapsuds; the smell of spices slowly
Annealing to delight in the cooking pot;
When I make any solid thing, or beautify
The familiar, known becoming rich and strange.

Washer of the Dead, Bringer Into the Tribe,
Midwife of the Soul through three worlds,
I shall never, ever lose my way to her Well
As long as I can set my faltering feet on
The first steps of the path to my own heart,
Where her living flame dances, too, paired
Water and fire, as much spring as forge,
As much spark as droplet, two and three
And oh! so many, unbound by number,
Spiraling infinite in the shining flow
Of Her mantle.