All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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The Golden



They thought to keep me down,

cast me under:

          end me,

          erase me,

           eradicate all that I was–

my magic, my power, my voice


Transfixed by metal, there is blood:

the shafts of the spears dig into my breast,

dimpling the flesh, puncture the skin,

bore in, probe deep, drill, thrust, split:

           run through my chest,

           my heart,

           my breath,

           my liver and lights–

Penetrated by a forest of shafts, still I would not die.

Borne on spear-point to the pyre,

thrust into the flames,

feeling the heat melt flesh and calcine bone

rendered into ash,

still. I. rise.

Three times, they tried to kill me.

Three times, they sought to destroy me.

Thirty times three would not have succeeded.

Three hundred times three would not have sufficed.

Three million times three and still I would have risen.

You cannot kill wisdom.

You cannot kill power.

You cannot kill freedom.

There is more to me than mere meat:

I am Gold-Bright, I am Gold’s Strength, I am Gold-Drink,

and like my namesake, fire only distills me,

           concentrates me,

           improves me,

so that all impurity might be seared away,

leaving me only strength and surety.

I am wisdom and I am will,

and they could not winnow me from the world so easily.

Woe to those that thought thus.

They say I ‘corrupted’ the women–


What you call corruption, I call education.

I shared my knowledge with them, taught them,

gave them such gifts as the Aesir knew not–

well, the men.

And when they thought me dead–

dust and dirt, dross on the embers,

I rose again,

taking a new name, a new face, a new life.

I am the brightness of the sky,

the Sun bright as gold,

my power flowing out like that light to all women,

           seeing the future,

           speaking with spirits,

           weaving our way between worlds,

and that is no gift nor power to take lightly.

Drink of the mead I offer,

the Gold-Drink that corrupts and liberates,

that frees the mind.

Drink and listen to the words I speak,

the wisdom that strikes off chains.

Drink and know the power within you,

the power that flows with the brightness of the sun,

and the heady heat of blood spilling to the ground.

Drink and know why they fear me,

why they will fear you.

Drink and know, as I teach you,

as we speak with the spirits,

that you too are part spirit,

and spirit cannot die.

Yes, you may say, no wonder they feared me.

If you knew one tiniest mote of what I knew,

those around you would fear you, too.

For Gullveig.



In Hel’s Hall (The Pleasures of Eljuðnir)

In Hel’s hall,

the tables do not groan under

their burdens of whole roast elk and boar and geese,

and axes do not split open barrels

sticky with mead and foaming ale

to spill and splash on the ground,

but there is food enough to fill

every hungry belly to satiation and surfeit,

but not excess;

none overeat so grotesquely as to spew

their meals back up under this roof.

In Hel’s hall,

there is quiet conversation spiced with smiles,

not the clash of endless battle,

the roars of warriors seeking each new day’s death

with axe and sword and spear,

nor the clash of tankard on tankard

and tables toppling over amidst deafening shouts.

In Hel’s hall,

There are places to sit and read,

to spin and knit and weave;

to gather flowers and tend a garden,

to carve a toy for a child or a cabinet for a wife,

to set a room to rights, tidy and neat,

or sing a song with friends,

or fish on the banks of the rivers that flow through Niflheim,

and private spots where a father

may visit his beloved daughter in peace.

In Hel’s hall,

there is time to contemplate, to remember,

to debate points of wisdom,

places to rest after decades of pain and sickness,

physical and emotional alike,

places where the weight of the living world

drop away and leave one free.

In Hel’s hall,

the beds are as the bread there–

soft and rich and sweet,

enough in themselves to make a ‘Heaven’,

and the Home of Mist is not

that place whose name was stolen from its mistress;

in this place they understand

that being smart enough in a world of war

to survive every battle you face,

and die of old age or illness,

is not a sin or a crime.

In Hel’s hall,

the cold and snow that the cravens dread

are picturesque soft white drifts,

fit for a winter postcard,

and the scent of sweet wood smoke

layered over the intense perfume of dying autumn leaves

buried under the crispness of snow’s stark powder.

The great hearth crackles with flame,

sending out its warm glow against the chill,

and the fireplace in the huge old kitchen

provides ample places for people to sit and read,

for cats to sleep on warm stones, for stew to bubble and simmer,

for bread to bake, for cider to mull, for tea to brew.

Everywhere here there is rest and calm and quiet,

what we all crave after so many years of strife.

Those who love war

will find their way to Valhalla or Folkvangr,

brought hither by their hosts and their hosts’ folk,

but warriors are not the only dead.

Those who died of a heart quietly giving up the ghost,

or a mass grown too large to bear in a body withered away,

or year piled upon year until no man could endure more–

these too deserve their place of repose

when the bustle of life is done,

as much as any who died spilling out his life’s blood

at the tip of a blade.

Eljuðnir calls home those who have lived too long,

or too-short lives cut short by fever and fatigue,

all those who long for its quiet and sweet surcease,

and on her throne, Hel sits,

watching over her people,

her precious, beloved people,

all those who trust her to share her hall,

and she smiles.

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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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For Nehalennia

Across the oceans,

The traders come,

The ships with their cargoes

Cresting the waves;

Enduring storm and sea,

Wave and woe,

To bear their goods home.

Pottery, cloth, oil, wine—

Making men rich for their labor.

But those voyages are always a risk,

Dependent on the whims of the water

to make their way from foreign shore

to home docks.


Thus, o merciful lady,

We offer these stones:

Every time a storm threatens to sink our ship,

We appeal to you, bright one:

Let us live, and afterward,

We rear these votives in your name.

A gift for a gift,

And for our lives, we honor you

Who gave them to us.

A gift for a gift;

You do not need our worship, surely,

For you are a goddess,

And we are but men.

But something about it

Seems to please you anyway,

And so we continue this tradition,

Offering up payment for our lives

Every time you see fit

To return them unto us.

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“Blood and Roses”

How in the world could he not love her?
No one else loved blood
as much as he did, but her:
scores of lovers, spurned,
opening their veins in despair
for what they could not have:
love and passion’s ultimate offering.
And millions of hearts
where love is turned to hatred:
such passion.
The opposite of love is not hate,
but indifference.

Beauty such as hers is deadly, always:
as bright as a sword’s blade,
fierce as Greek fire,
sharp as a sword’s point:
beauty to die for.

The Lord of War does not love much–
oh, passion he knows, war is all about passion,
but love? Blood and bodies,
weapons and wrath,
but that tenderer emotion is
all but a stranger to him.

Save for her.
Never has she asked him to give up his zeal–
never asked him to foreswear
the slaughter, the battles,
the bloodied steel, the corpses.
She understands the love of that
which makes one’s heart sing,
no matter whether it is her bourne or no.

That is her power, then:
that she could make even him know love,
of all those in the world–
he whose being is entirely devoted
to the ending of life,
rather than the act that creates it.

And in that, he acknowledges
which of them is more powerful.

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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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Flidais’ Emissaries

That day,

in the rain,

water dripping off the branches overhead,

the forest all around me embracing me,

I felt your presence as never before,

sensed your gaze upon me as

I walked past oaks and pines and maples,

listened to the whisper of the rain,

and then, ahead of me,

well off the path I had abandoned

a mile or more ago,

your emissaries stepped out of the shadows.

Six deer:

a stag, three does, two fawns,

and I came to a stop,

watched as they cropped grass and herbs as they walked.

They showed no fear of me,

just as they would show no fear

of hawk or squirrel or raccoon or rabbit,

coming forward until they were no more

than a foot or two away.

I could have reached out

and touched those children,

but was content

to stand there under the boughs of an elm,

water streaming from my hair,

and watch them continue on,

until they were out of sight,

fellow travelers from your land,

neither far-off or foreign.

visiting that place that we both loved so well.

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Paean to Brigid

You are a healer, but you are not

the gentle, doe-eyed, dainty lady

that some folk make you out to be.

Your arms and shoulders bulge with muscle,

gained from lifting your hammer in the forge;

you are practiced with swords.

No weak and whining maid,

no cringing, fainting girl.

Woe to the foe that underestimates you;

send him screaming to his doom!

The hands that heal, that build, and

that pen songs of praise

may also wield the blade that takes

a head from its shoulders.

Hail to the warrior healer,

warrior smith,

and warrior poet:

May your sword shine ever bright!