All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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Song for the Mississippi River

Father of the continent!

Breast broad and deep and long and strong,

that artery pulsing with the mud of your heart,

how far you reach!


Fingers thrust high and wide into the wintry north reaches

of the heartland,

tiny capillaries bleating and bleeding

as they clench at the rich soil that is the land’s head—

breadbasket, ever-growing, dark source of life:

Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin.


Down you wend your way South,

snaking your trail through the Midwest,

your touch caressing Iowa, Illinois, Missouri:

land of corn and cattle, swine and soy,

waves sweet with sundered soil,

sweeping ever onward.


When the spring comes, you break free of the chains

imposed by ice, shake off your winter slumber,

and dance your way deeper into the land,

floes of your frozen flesh

colliding with one another,

grinding against each other like teeth gritted in frustration,

until at last they return to your bloodstream.


Oh, I hear you singing

when the thunderstorms of the heartland burst over you

with a rumble of anger and the hiss of the rain;

happy as these clean tears join to your bosom,

angry that they are needed,

sorrowful when they too are tainted.

Held within the heart of you is the blues,

and you have so much to grieve,

but yet you refuse to lay down and die.


Here you grow grumpy, growling:

the places of man spill their poisons into you,

burning in your belly,

killing fish,

enriching the bottom silt with chemicals

that the trees that line every bank

draw up with their thirsty roots,

weakening their hold on the shore,

and inch by inch each year those banks

draw farther apart, a middle-aged spread in the fundament

that only gets wider the further down you go.


In your depths swim great catfish and carp,

trash-eaters, gobblers of filth, who take up what man

would toss away, processing it through their bowels,

shitting out clean soil again. White blood cells of the river,

doing all they can to dispose of such infections,

unloved and unrespected denizens of the depths.



Your stance at the bottom is widest, drawn out,

the toes of each tributary digging deep

into the Louisiana soil, rich and dark and toxic,

water washing your ankles,

until at last you empty into our mother, the sea

–mother! O mother!—

rejoicing to be reunited with her,

exhausted by every inch of the long journey,

your substance returning to the womb where she created you,

and in her belly,

two become one again

and you sleep.



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Song to Cernunnos

Guardian of the wildwood,

You who watch over the creatures of the forest

and those humans who call the woods home,

I greet You each time my foot touches

the soft loam of the forest floor.
Hail to You, Cernunnos!

Antlered lord, You who are guardian

of the shadowed shelter of rabbit and raccoon,

fox and ferret,

badger and bear,

sow and squirrel.

I thank You for your watchful eyes,

I thank You for your fleet-footed step,

I thank You for your wisdom.


As the stag and the doe and the fawn

make their way under boughs of oak and alder and ash,

pine and fir, maple and willow,

You protect Your bourne with the

dedication of a father with his child.

You permit me entry to your domain,

And in gratitude I pour out libations to You

–wine and mead—

And leave offerings for You and Your kin.

Oats and honeycomb and dried fruit I set out,

Raw sugar and bread, apples and honeycomb,

And the prayer of these words,

Composed in thanks,

Written in thanks,

Sung in thanks.


I pray You hear me, o Cernunnos,

With an understanding and acceptance,

And ask You that I may be welcome in Your realm

–the home of my soul—

For so long as I draw breath.

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A Father’s Song

Never was father ever prouder of his daughter.

Not just a worthy woman;

enough skills has she for three women

–doctor, smith, poet–

and paramount, without peer, is she at all three.

Gentle are the hands of the healer,

grinding herbs,

setting broken bones,

stitching wounds,

massaging away pain from muscles with oils and ointments.

Strong are the hands of the smith,

lifting the hammer to bring it down,

turning the hot metal with tongs,

shaping it with careful blows,

quenching it in cool spring water.

Deft are the hands of the poet,

trimming the quill pen,

stretching and cleaning the parchment,

letting the fire in the blood

kindle verses for the bard and insults for the satirist.

What skills does she bring to a battle?

Not hard:

weapons keen and cruel to let the blood of the foe;

words and wit sharp as steel to lacerate an enemy’s courage;

bindings and medicaments to once more make whole the flesh of our own.

None there is like her,

My daughter Brigid,

Brigid daughter of the Dagda,

Dagda the son of Danu,

Danu leader of her people.

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His Cauldron

All good things come from His cauldron:

Roast of cattle and swine and sheep,

Duck and chicken and goose,

Oats baked into bread and porridge,

Apples and berries with honey,

Butter with garlic and onion, or from the cool bogs,

Milk both sweet and sour,

Cabbages and parsnips and wild herbs,

And every good thing that walked on two legs or four,

Or flew,

Or grew from the ground.


All good things come from His cauldron:

Meat for the protein to build a warrior’s strong muscles

And a worker’s strong back;

Fruit and vegetables to provide vitamins and fiber

To ward against sicknesses and keep the heart hale;

Dairy products with their calcium,

To keep bones growing strong and healing swift when broken,

And small green growing things with their many

Compounds to help build toughness for all.


All good things come from His cauldron:

Heat of a meal inside the belly,

To warm against a cold winter’s night;

Heat outside the body, from where it hangs

over the hearth’s flames to help send warm goodness

all through the house, and drive away the drafts;

The scent of food, which is the scent of home,

And the scent, most of all, of happiness.


All good things come from His cauldron:

Seated at His feast, we know how to work together

To create a meal;

We learn to cooperate to build something worth having,

To commiserate with each other when there is sorrow,

And celebrate with each other when there is joy.

We learn to understand the brevity of life; in knowing

It is short, and will end, we learn to value every moment of it,

Because once gone, those moments will never come again.


All good things come from His cauldron:

Health, and strength, and perseverance,

Togetherness and joy, even sorrow,

But of all these, the best thing to come from His cauldron

Is hope.

Hope is at the heart of every piece of daily bread;

Hope is the soul of the joy that links us together at the table,

And hope is what holds us together,

Tribe and family, beneath His gaze.


O Dagda, great god, good god,

We thank You for the gifts You bring us,

Red-headed lord of great knowledge,

Warrior without peer, champion with no equal,

Great father to Midhir and Aengus and Brigid and Bobd Derg,

Generous one, wise one:

All good things come from Your cauldron.

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The Road Home

This is so very important. Worth reading.



A thousand years ago, our ancestors understood the traditions we try to embrace today.  They lived in a world where they walked with their ancestors, knew the wights of the lands and waters, made peace with the jotnar of the high mountains and raging rivers, learned the alfs of the wild places.   The gods and goddesses held a place for them that was something we can only imagine, for they learned how everything fit together from their first breath, first step. There was no word for what they did, for it was no more possible to separate their practice from their life, than it was to separate their breath from their body and continue to live.

A foreign smoke stole that breath from the body of our ancestors, and the living faith died a long time ago.  The path they walked we cannot.  What they knew, we can only guess…

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The Gift of Fire

Prometheus remembers.


Will Zeus ever forgive me, if I do this?


Probably not.


The coals glow on Hestia’s hearth,

casting their warmth outward in a living blanket

of bright radiance that calms and cheers

everyone that rests under that mantle of heat.


Below, on Terra, the mortals suffered,

huddled in their caves as a storm raged overhead,

casting down rain.

The winds lashing all who ventured out,

the thunder’s roars loud enough to penetrate

even down into the depths of the caves where they dwelled,

the children crying out in terror

even as they clung to their parents for warmth.


He was decided, then:

My brothers may languish in Tartarus,

but I am here, and I can act.

I remember the Golden Age,

when mortals loved us unconditionally,

and we, them.


I think of all the things this fire can be used for,

beyond the most basic:

cooking food, eating homes, and giving light, yes, but—


A sheet of wildfire races across a fallow field,

clearing it for planting.


A torch is used to sear closed the stump of an arm

that a lion has bitten off, keeping a man from

bleeding to death.


A young boy chars the tip of a stick in a cookfire,

then begins to draw upon a wall.


Fire is used to soften up logs, so they may be more easily

chopped to build a house.


Agriculture. Medicine. Art. Architecture.

And so much more.


My theft is not one gift, but a thousand gifts.


I scoop hot coals into the hollow reed I have prepared, and flee.


I will pay the price for my theft in time…

but it will be worth it.

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To Odin

I don’t want to follow in your footsteps:

I recognize I am too weak for the

sacrifice of well and tree.

This does not mean I have not known pain

in my lifetime, only that I do not, cannot,

compare it with yours.

And yes, there is fear—

how could there not be?

I think of all that you are and quake;

You are not exactly known for your kindness.

A friend writes that it is a folly

to think that the Gods do not care for mortals.

Not all gods will concern themselves

with all humans, of course—

they take an interest in just certain ones,

just as we mortals may take an interest

in a favorite actor or author or painter,

or even a sports team.

We do not know why you choose

certain of us, of course;

for the most part,

You’re not telling,

and it would be rude (and dangerous!) to pry.

Now, saying that the gods care for us

is not the same as saying that they defer to us,

nor would I wish it so;

that is not the natural order of things.

What I mean is that it is natural to be afraid of you,

from time to time,

just as I would fear an earthquake,

or a tornado

or a wildfire

or a hurricane—

forces of nature, all so much greater in power than I,

and unpredictable,

with unguessable motivations,

smashing down boundaries,

ignoring the desires of the venal and greedy

and lazy and weak

(and sometimes the strong and the humble

and the dedicated and the committed, too),

and generally doing whatever must be done

to achieve their goals.


No, I don’t want to follow in your footsteps,

but I want to be of use.

I want to learn.

I know my fear has thrown up a wall between us—

no wall could keep you out

if you did not permit it to,

but I think, perhaps, you let it stand,

maybe to see how long I would go,

allowing myself to remain apart from you

(in my fear, or maybe my stubbornness),

before at last I cracked.


Longer than I should have,

but less time than it could have been, I guess.

I’m tired of—well, not fighting,

because I can’t hope to fight you—

but of struggling,

like a small fish trapped in an unbreakable net.


If you will still have me,

if I have not exhausted your patience,

(I do not delude myself that I could make you angry,

You who have faced down giants and trolls

and monsters without a qualm,

but neither do I think your patience is endless),


If you will still have me,

here I am.