All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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In the Greenwood


Lurking in the shadows of the woods,
I see You there, Silvanus,
running with the deer,
standing guard over the badger’s sett,
Your face dappled with light
where thin rays of sun
break through the cage
of the smallest branches of the treetops.

Your crown is oak and ivy,
Your brow garlanded with these sweet leaves;
singing birds flit in a halo round Your head,
and You walk barefoot through
the thickest tangles of thorn and briar.

The fox is lulled to sleep in Your lap,
the bear sleeps curled up at Your feet,
and the serpent twines round Your ankles,
unmoved to bite and share his venomed kiss.

All the forest opens to You,
wild god, fierce god, great god,
sharing with You its secret heart,
and You, its secret heart.


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There is field,
and there is forest.
The field leads up to the forest,
and green gives way to green;
the forest is a darker green,
kin to black,
the dividing line quite clear.
The birds in the woods fall silent as I approach;
Robin, swallow, starling, and sparrow all fall silent
as I step off the soft grasses
and step onto softer mosses.
Instantly, I am enveloped:
around me tower tall oaks,
tall pines, beech, maple;
their scent fills my nostrils–
rich resins, the heady smell of decaying leaves,
the sweet greenness of herbs:
a very particular sort of magic.
Silence lasts for but a moment,
and then the music of the woods returns:
the songs of birds,
the soughing of branches in the wind,
the rustle of deer and squirrels moving between the trees.
I listen to the songs,
listen to what the wind and trees and birds
have to tell me;
there is wisdom in their voices.
Ant and spider, dragonfly and butterfly,
bee and wasp work and worry and drone;
crow and hawk, mourning dove and whippoorwill,
owl and falcon fly and flit and soar.
Raccoon and possum, coyote and fox,
fish and frog run and creep and swim.

I walk, and I listen;
I walk, and I whisper;
I walk, and I pray.

These are my songs.
This is the song of the forest.
Woven between the two is a harmony,
and the harmony flows,
and the harmony soars,
and the harmony lifts my soul on wings of dream.

I am the forest.
The forest is me.
And we are one.


Prayer for Brigid

Forge-lady, healer,
here is a lump of ore for your anvil.
Pitted and scarred,
cracks and craters a mute testimony
to past attempts to
pound this crude and damaged lump
into keen steel.
I pray your hammer will do the work
of finally restoring to wholeness
the broken and battered,
torn and twisted
chunk of crippled rock
that is my heart.
Make of me, forge-lady, healer,
a useful tool,
that once again I may do good work
out there in the world
where You send me.

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For Agni


Who knows the language of fire?

The patterns that the smoke weaves,
the crackle of the flames,
the glow of the embers,
the scent of things burning,
the flush of heat on your flesh?

What bard is there who can recite the poems,
compose the songs,
chant the histories of fire:

Pompeii 79 C.E.
Chicago 1871
Shanghai 1894
Rome 64 C.E.
London 1666
Turku 1827
San Francisco 1906
Cuyahoga River 1962
Moscow 1547
Constantinople 406 C.E.
Peshtigo 1871
Atlanta 1864
Tokyo 1923
Karachi 2012

There is a beauty to fire that
nothing can surpass:
the play of color in the flames
— orange white blue red yellow green —
rivals the dank and drowned colors of any rain-spawned bow,
and where is there in all the world
a more intoxicating perfume
than the scent of wood and herbs
slowly being rendered to ash?
The talent it takes for mortal hands
to skillfully gather tinder, birth the single spark that catches,
then build a careful scaffold of wood,
a mound of coal,
or other such fuel as you would give it
is as much an act of worship,
if unknowing,
than simple necessity.

With me, you cook your food,
warm your home, forge steel, fire clay,
make light in the darkest night.

Without me: darkness, hunger, starvation.

So give me your hands, your skill, your time, your efforts,
and build me my perishable temples,
and offer me your gifts,
and feed me.

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Hymn for the Morrighan

I ask for nothing from You:

You have already given me so much.

You have shared Your strength with me;

You have showed me patience when I have not earned it;

With Your sword and spear You have

helped me to slaughter my fears.

In return for this, I ask for nothing; instead,

I offer You such gifts as I may:

I offer You my silence, and

from here on, I will try not to bewail my troubles,

or keen out my pains;

I will try to bear them with the fortitude

I have learned from You.

I offer You my patience:

I shall always seek not to leap

to the most dire conclusion,

but wait through adversity for it to end,

knowing that to presume that only evil

shall befall me is an insult

to the Gods that made me.

I offer You my vigilance:

Always will I watch for the signs

You show to me, to direct me in the way

You would wish me to go.

The flight of crows, the pattern of wind on water,

the sight of wolf or mare or heifer or eel

in the world around me; by these things

shall I know You.

I offer You my reticence;

You ask me to be brave, not stupid,

and I do You no compliment by leaping blindly

into danger without knowing all I can learn

about it; missing certain truths can

get me needlessly killed.

These things do I offer You,

Phantom Queen, Frenzy, Terror;

I offer them in good faith for the good turns

You have done me, and in gratitude and love

for being allowed the honor

of knowing and serving You.

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To Flora


They tell us in school: from you, we get flowers,
and by that, of course, they mean that your name
is the root of that word,
but the literal is true, too.
In spring: lilacs, apple blossom, lily-of-the-valley,
tulips and grape hyacinth,
(yes, and dandelions too, humble as they are,
and violets scattered through the grass like a child’s toys,)
and all of it exquisite.
I inhale their perfume, drawing into my lungs
the scent of seed and exhaled oxygen,
and thank each plant for that bliss,
(for how intimate a gift, sharing breath
with another living creature,)
but when I say “Thank you”
to the rose or iris or honeysuckle,
I know that I am also thanking You.


For Frigg

They call me the Lady of the Keys;
I keep my ways,
keep myself to myself,
and all that is in my keeping
is never more secure
than when only I know why the doors are locked,
what the secrets are behind each one,
and which key opens which portal.

They call me the Weaver;
with my distaff I control the threads of warp and weft,
catching up the fabric of the future
in the tapestry I create;
you think the cloth is merely full of pretty pictures
— or not-so-pretty ones —
but in those skeins of thread and their patterns
I can see all of existence.

They call me Baldr’s mother;
as if to be the creator of a child is such a small thing,
as if anyone can do it;
giving half of your essence to make a new being
is an act of magic and miracle,
and the love involved in doing so is a force of such ferocity
that, to protect him, I was willing to wring oaths
from all of reality;
the pain of my failure is a wound
that will be with me forever;
some days I walk as one already dead.

You may know my stories,
you may collect lost baby teeth, spindles, and old keys,
but some doors only I can open;
some looms will only work for me;
and some children are all the more dear
for having been loved and lost.

In my hands, I hold
the sanctity of home and hearth,
all that was and all that will be,
and the heart of every mother grieving for a fallen child.

Those who dismiss me merely as “Odin’s housewife”
do so at their peril,
and I encourage those who do
to reveal their folly;
such misguided and stupid braggadocio
such dismissal of the power that I hold
— such blatant impiety —
is met with its own reward in time.

If you would, instead, honor me,
care well for the things in your keeping:
your secrets, your future, your children,
for in those things are treasure beyond gold and diamonds,
but also in those things exist
the essence and best blossoms
of all that shall ever be.