All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine


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Protocol

Lay down before you the tools you will need:
the hammer, the dagger, the horn, the bottle of mead,
the salt, the candle ready to be lit,
they keys and the handful of soil, rich as you could find,
best from an ancestor’s grave if you can;
lastly your own blood, so freshly drawn
it has not yet begun to clot.

Best to perform this rite in secrecy;
behind a locked door, at the least,
or deep in the forest, shielded by old oaks and ash trees.
On the bank of a raging river,
or as close to the top of a mountain
as you can climb;
unhallowed eyes have no place watching you now.

You must be clean to perform this work;
the gods and the spirits will know
if shadows lay down alongside your soul,
and then what you intend will be for naught;
you will fail.

Do not undertake this working lightly;
you need not wear a funereal visage,
but whatever it is you seek to achieve
will find no aid in giggles.

When you are ready to begin,
fix in mind your purpose and your need,
all that has brought you here;
do not let your thoughts wander.
For focus is the final tool you bring to this rite,
and without it, all your efforts are for nothing.

Show respect to those you bespeak,
gods and spirits and ancestors,
for they are greater than you
–yes, they are–
even the smallest of them knows things
you have yet to learn,
and if you mock them, dismiss them,
or deal with them with derision,
you will never learn those things–
at least, not from them.

Above all, remember:
this is holy work,
not for dullards or the vain, or the jeering;
there is a place in this work for the holy fool,
but the key word there is ‘holy’,
not ‘fool’.

When you have finished, do not forget gratitude;
thank those whose aid you have asked for,
and do not be too impatient.
Some works take longer to carry out than others,
and do not forget:
sometimes you will ask a question,
request a favor,
and for reasons we may never understand,
the answer can still be ‘no’.

If this is the case, do not be disheartened;
remember that those we entreat
know more than we do,
and perhaps they do not grant our requests
to save us from something far worse,
down the line.
Many times, it has been so.

Pack away your tools,
clean up the spot where you have performed
this most holy ritual,
and go back, for the moment,
to the task of living your life
until it is time for the next rite
to be carried out.

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Scar-Lip

I hunger for the chance

to run my fingertips along the seam of your lips

where remain

the holes the needle left behind–

a horrible presumption, I know,

but not, at least,

out of pity

–which would be as stupid as I can imagine being–

but because I long

to read those scars like Braille

and hear the secrets they tell

when your mouth was sealed

to keep you from speaking.

The dwarves thought

a sliver of steel

and a length of thread

would keep you silent.

 

 
Such folly.

They were wrong.

They call you ‘god of lies’,

and yes,

you do lie,

but in those wordless marks

are such truths

as they could never comprehend.


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Gangleri

No road so long

you haven’t walked it;

no path so obscure

your feet have not trod it.

One never knows where one might find wisdom

in your wanderings.

You keep Your eye open,

and you walking stick ready,

and your stride is strong and swift.

I do not know you

–none of us really knows you—

but there are some things you allow us to understand,

and that there is no trail you will ignore

for fear of missing

the knowledge it might lead to,

that is one thing you have given us to know.

You might meet challenges on the road,

but they are hardly threats,

and those, too,

offer up their own sort of wisdom.

Those who know only of this face of yours

might think you spend

your entire life on the road,

and they would be wrong,

but if the tales are even half-true,

they are not wrong by much,

and it is a worthy attainment.

The roads whisper your name

from the mouths cracked into the pavement

and the cobblestones

and the dust;

they know who owns them

(as we all do)

and when your son’s thunder roars overhead

and the rains pour down,

the hiss of the water against the road

is a prayer to you,

a hymn to your will and your seekings,

and that prayer is one

we all sing in our hearts

every time we emulate you

when our feet touch down

on a path

–no matter if new or old—

to walk it to where we must go.


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Not Just the Flower Child

I am not frozen in time.

Too many of you do not realize

that gods, too, can change and grow;

we are not fixed and unmoving like our marble statues.

I was a child, once, a young woman,

playing in the field of flowers

with the nymphs who served my mother,

but in an instant, that all changed.

Why, then, do so many of you

see me still

—see me only—

as that innocent child?

Do you think that all I have seen,

done, endured, enjoyed

has no power to move or change me?

Evolution is a process

that not even the Deathless Ones

are exempt from.

My lord and my love Hades

brought me down from my mother’s sunlit world

to his dark and chilly realm

where there is only whispering and wails

when there is not silence.

A goodly portion of the year, I sit atop a cold marble throne

instead of warm earth crowned with spring blossoms,

and I see myself garlanded in gems

—or bones—

instead of fragrant blooms.

I am shaped by my home and those who are part of my life:

my somber, solemn husband,

the silent dead,

the shrieking Furies,

and occasionally, laughing Hermes,

who does what he can to lighten my mood.

 

 

I am my husband’s wife.

I rule Hades’ realm at his side,

and I am no longer an innocent child.

Just as humans can change, so can the gods,

exchanging old faces for new.

Our masks are not fixed, are not set.

Even a goddess of death is alive,

and this needs to be acknowledged.

I am my mother’s daughter, yes,

but I am also the Queen of the Dead,

and I have not been an innocent child

for a very long time.


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Streetside Prayer

Athena of the Polis,

watch over me, I pray you,

as I walk the byways of your city;

see me as I wander and keep me safe

as I honor you with my visits

to the libraries

the galleries

the schools

the museums,

and pray with the rhythm of my feet

against the sidewalks and cobblestoned street.

The merchants, the artists, the craftsmen,

they sing the litany of your skills

in the call to buy their wares,

the pounding of hammers;

the creaking of wheels against the road

are the instrumentation of your hymns.

O Athena, I exult in the richness

of this, your place,

this temple to civilization,

and thank you, grateful that I am so lucky

as to be allowed to share in it.

Io Athena!

The city, too, is your temple,

and gladly I worship there.


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Ode to Pan

Let me honor you with my fear,

o Lord of the woodlands and meadows.

Goat-footed god, great Pan, Hermes’ son,

there is wisdom in your wildness,

and ecstasy to be found at your revels,

but all the libations poured out to you

are less a fitting tribute than that primal terror

you engender,

setting the heart to roaring

and the skin to grow cold.

I taste metal streaking my tongue,

the song of adrenaline and cortisol,

a thunder in the ears akin

to the pounding of drums.

No matter how steady my feet have been

on the forest path,

when my mouth goes dry and

my breath comes quick,

I know it is reverence for you,

ripped from my bosom

even when there is no obvious cause—

no bear or wolf to menace with claw and fang,

no strange sound, sourced in silence,

no bolt of lightning or earth shaking beneath my feet,

only terror,

raw and relentless,

climbing up my throat from

my heart and my gut.

Great god Pan,

accept that offering that I bring you,

the gift of fear that you, in turn, give to me,

a gift for a gift,

given to the giver,

the respect and awe that I have for you,

and let my cries rise up to you.


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Love Song for Aengus

Laughing boy, dancing boy, beautiful boy,

your father’s house is now your own.

Above you, the doves dance as you dance,

stretching their wings, exulting in the poetry of movement.

There is glory in your gaze,

sensuality in each step you take,

and every smile is seduction.

Goldenhair, blue-eyed perfection,

or green, or hazel—

Each of us sees in you what we most crave,

and what our longing bends toward.

You have every temperament that

draws lovers to love:

courage and wit,

kindness and humor,

intelligence and patience,

generosity and strength and gentleness.

Silver tongue, silken voice, smooth manners.

 

 

God of youth, god of passion,

Lord of poetry and of love,

we beg you to be kind in your gift-giving;

we do not always know what is good for us,

so when we beseech you to bring us love,

I pray that you lead to us

what we most need

rather than just that which we desire.

Beauty is found in the heart,

not just on the surface,

and let us not be deceived

by hateful heart wearing fair face.

Sweet and knowing Aengus,

let us never be so blinded by our lusts

that we forget there are other qualities just as great, or better.

and in your generosity and mercy,

help us find a love that will last a lifetime.