All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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Down in the depths,
the Nereids dance—
Not the gavotte,
they all take a chance
To sway in a waltz,
to jig and to swing,
The Nereids dance,
and the sirens all sing.

The Nereids dance
while Triton approves;
Poseidon won’t laugh—
both gods like their moves.
The sirens all sing
as the waves ebb and flow,
The Nereids dance:
it’s all undertow.

The sirens all sing
while the mers play the tune—
The vision is bliss
in the light of the moon.
The light stretches far—
far under the waves:
The dance floor is made
of dead sailors’ graves.

The bones shimmer white;
with kelp they are bound,
And the Nereids dance
where dead men are found.
The sea never gives
up the bones of the dead:
The Nereids dance
when the waves all turn red.

The sirens all sing,
and the Nereids dance;
If you would sail,
you must take a chance:
Battles and storms
send the ships far below
And the Nereids dance
as the waves ebb and flow.


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Hermod’s Ride

The road to Hel is long and hard;
cold is the road to Helheim,
the way rocky and long.
When you ride to Hel’s hall,
your fears ride with you,
your ghosts ride with you.

With Sleipnir beneath me
I ride to Hel, and to Hel’s hall,
and though swift are the steps
of Loki’s son,
still the road is long and weary.
The journey to Hel lasts a lifetime.

The road that leads to Hel is not empty;
there are others traveling along this road,
others I find going this way.
The souls of the dead travel the road to Hel,
those that do not go elsewhere.

I go at the behest of the All-Father;
I go at the will of the Fetter-God;
I go at the command of the sire of Baldr,
sent to entreat Hel herself,
sent to ask for the return of the soul of Baldr,
to beg back the life of Baldr.

Móðguðr guards the bridge,
the bridge that crosses the noisy river
into the vast lands of Hel;
she admits none into Helheim
save those who have the right to be there.

Who would not fear riding through
those gates into Hel’s hall?
I am accounted brave,
and brave some say I must be,
to ride a brother’s back into a sister’s hall,
and demand back Baldr from the ruler of that place,
but I confess: I feared.

But I stood fast and made my plea,
and she answered.
That it was not the answer I might
have wished for, that Odin might have wanted,
was of no consequence:
it was the answer that she gave us,
and when the queen of Helheim
has made up her mind,
nothing in all the nine worlds will shift it.

Back I went, along the way,
that cold and winding way,
that hard and lonely way,
that longest of long ways,
the road that led back from Hel.

They call me a messenger, for that ride,
but it was no message I carried down the road from Hel:
in my hands, I carried
the bloody hearts of two parents,
grieving for their son.

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Carry That Weight

“Give me a lever and a place to stand,”

Archimedes once said, “and I will move the Earth.”

But where do you stand to move the Earth?

And where do you stand to hold the sky?

Atlas tricked me, just for a moment;

not easy to do, as I am not the brainless

basket of muscles that too many take me for.

I had been sent to bring back

the apples of the Hesperides, his daughters–

an impossible task, given the dragon

that guarded both apples and nymphs;

and since he was their father,

he offered to go and obtain the apples for me.

I shouldered his burden,

lifting the weight of the All upon my shoulders,

never thinking he would not honor his word

and immediately take it back when

he returned, as he’d said he would.

I never gave a thought to where I stood;

perhaps it isn’t the fact that I carried the sky

that was so important;

perhaps it was that I carried all that the sky contained,

all it represented,

and all it meant to all those who looked upon it.

The moon with its dreams and fancies,

the sun that lit our every day,

the stars that led us in our ways both day and night,

by land and by sea.

Every bird that soars overhead to become an augury,

every insect, every torn leaf on the wind–

these things weigh so much more than you might ever dream–

certainly more than I did.

I don’t know how he managed,

bearing that burden day after day,

but for even a few hours,

I held it up, and it tested my strength

as it had never been tested before.

Does that make him the stronger than me?

I took it on voluntarily,

whereas he was forced to shoulder that weight

in penitence for his crimes,

and bear it forever.

Which of us, then, is the strongest?

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Learning Curve

We start out with the gods by knowing nothing,

and that is the beginning of our education.

Many of us start out with books,

good ones if we’re lucky,

bad ones when we’re not.

Sometimes we pick up good information

on the gods and goddesses,

but sometimes we come away

with our heads filled with lies and rumors and bias.

To this, again if we’re lucky,

we add personal experience

in all its many forms:

Sometimes they talk to us.

Sometimes we hear them,

and sometimes we do not.

When we hear them,

sometimes we actually listen,

and sometimes we do not.

When we hear, and listen,

sometimes we speak back to them

…and sometimes we do not.

Talking with the gods is generally considered prayer,

but prayer can take many forms:

music and song, dance, feasting and offerings,

joy and laughter and tears,

and sometimes, reverent silence.

However long we revere and venerate them,

we learn more,

and more,

and more.

And the more we learn,

the more we realize

that there is always more to learn,

that there will always be more to learn,

that the task never ends–

and that is the beginning of our knowledge.

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This, then, is what I have given all of You:

All my words—the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime;

All the ways of stitching them together:

The awkward, the graceful, the singing;

All I think about, with a few small exceptions:

(My family, the spirits, the land and its sovereignty,

its well-being, and the last tiny dregs of things that make me smile.)


Once upon a time, I wrote nothing of the gods,

and all my words were of worldly things.

These days, I can write only of the gods,

(and my ancestors, and the spirits, and the land),

and nothing of worldly matters at all.

This, then, is my sacrifice to You:

For a very long time now, You have had my life;

Now, I give you my heart.

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I can’t always make sense of the voices in my head–

whispering, commanding, shouting, crying,

and all of them always overlapping.

They all always want something,

a voice to tell the world their stories,

their needs,

their anger,

and I’m happy to be that voice.

There’s nothing for me in their need,

but I don’t need there to be:

I’m not in it for gain or glory,

and even writing that down smacks of hubris, to me–

that I could dare to say

I let the gods speak through me.

What arrogance, to claim to speak for the divine,

though it is less pride and more

that I see myself only as a tool:

a megaphone, a mouthpiece, an intercom,

no more than that, and easy enough to replace

if I break down, misbehave,

or taint anything they say

with my own bias or words.

I do not speak for the gods;

rather, they allow me to serve them–

even more, they use me like

I might use a hammer to drive a nail

to hang a picture on the wall,

and I am content to be of use,

though it is often

confusing, distracting, worrying, fearful,

and sometimes even painful.

But I would not give it up for anything,

though sometimes I think it will drive me mad;

I know how blessed and privileged I am,

to be able to hear their voices

–and with such clarity–

when so many others can hear none of them,

and if I am sometimes overwhelmed,

it is a small price to pay

to know they exist, to be of use to them,

and to know that what I do

reaches others

and makes Them happy.

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The Faces of the Morrigan

Those who say you are made only of

murder and mayhem,

battle and blood–

they do not know you.

That is who you are, yes,

but it is not all of who you are.


You sing to us of what

will become the future,

telling tales of war and peace,

life and death,

success and failure,

and in your hands you hold

the knowledge of the warp and weft

of what is yet to come.


You guide he who is to be king

into that position,

conferring the role of sovereign

onto that man both blessed and cursed

with the dread yet awesome weight

of responsibility for a nation.


There is so much more to you

than violence and death,

though I do not dispute that these

are essential parts of your nature,

but you are not a one-note caricature,

and those who think you are

need to spend more time

getting to know you,

seeing all your faces,

and acknowledging you as much

‘Foreteller’ as ‘Frenzy’,

as much ‘Kingmaker’ as ‘Killer’,

and as much ‘Victorious’ as ‘Venomous’.


These are names by which

you might be known by,

and it is not until one

can know all of you that

they truly do you honor.

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I know full well the Gods do not need me.

They don’t require my devotion to exist;

my faith, my prayers,

are not Their meat and bread,

and my tears of pious joy

are not Their wine.

If anything, it is the opposite:

How could I live without They who made me,

who crafted my body,

who formed my soul,

who gave me sense and thought and breath?
How could I move, speak, sing without Their gifts,

or without Their Will?

It is They who created me,

guide me,

sustain me,

and to whom I will eventually go

–when my allotted time here, decided by Them–

is at an end.

No more of this foolish and ignorant fable

that They would die out without our prayers;

They existed for eons before They made us,

and They will continue long after we are all dust.

It is a joy and a privilege to serve,

but the Gods do just fine on Their own.

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I look for your messengers

–your Thoughts and your Memories–

for seeing them lets me know

You are still watching over me.

You leave me to walk my own Wyrd.

That does not mean you are uninterested

in what happens to me,

but you have never been my babysitter,

nor my parent, nor my watchman.

I am not supposed to lean on you,

constantly begging, making demands;

from time to time I talk to you,

and some of those times, I lament problems

I may have encountered,

but I have never asked you to wave a magic wand

and make everything magically all better.

This is why it is so heartening to see them there,

perched on that line every day as I

walk home from work;

just two ravens, no more, no less,

and I think always the same two,

peering down at me in curiosity,

and then flying off to report what they have seen

once I have passed.