All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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They dance for you, clad in

the gold of crocuses.

They dance for the bear that was killed,

and honor it—and you—accordingly.

Singing, celebrating,

cheeks aglow with joy under the masks,

under the false faces of the bear that died.

Every girl-child born in that place

grows from infancy knowing

that some day, she will go

to your temple, first racing through the woods,

arktoi in name and face,

wild as the bear is wild,

before coming with the others of her kind

and dancing those slow and solemn steps

that show how the great beast

once walked those same ways,

sleeping and hunting and playing,

your children now

as he was then.


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Freya’s Refusal

Perhaps Thor was careless,

Misplacing that which was most precious and most dear to him.

Regrettable, dangerous, alarming,

but what came next

was insulting in what he proposed.

The news echoed ’round Asgard:

Thyrm had taken Mjolnir,

nor would he return it to the Thunderer

unless you were given to the giant-king in marriage–

the worst sort of extortion.

All the men of Asgard simply expected you to concede,

offering up the treasure of your golden self

to the prison of a giant’s bed

in return for Asgard’s safety.

You rightly set them straight:

never would you surrender

to repair the damage that

Thor’s carelessness had caused,

and if he expected differently,

he could don a dress and veil,

and go wed and bed the conniving thief himself.

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The Morrigan at War

Two handfuls of the blood of their kidneys:
That’s what I promised them,
Before the birth of the battle,
Nor did I fail to make good on my promise;
My hands were stained scarlet
well before the battle’s end,
the meat of many men in shreds under my talons,
and the skies black with my birds.
Ever around me were screams–
of pain
of terror
of woe:
Each that fell, I took his head,
hurled it into the heap,
my acorn-crop, my treasure trove,
and though many others on the field
took heads of their own,
my mountain was most mighty.
For feasting, there is the Dagda;
For learning and lore, Ogma;
For healing, call on Dian Cecht;
For cleverness, Manannan.
But for maiming, for mayhem, for murder,
call my name.
For none among Danu’s kin
know so much of the shedding of blood as I:
of weaponry against wights,
of bodies torn limb from limb,
of guts on the ground.
Mine are the ways of sword, of spear, of shield;
Mine are the ravens, ravenous, who rear their
young on dead man’s eyes;
Mine are the howls of the wolves,
the whinnies of the horses,
the eel’s sharp fangs.
And mine is the sight that sees through time,
showing me the woe of the world to come.
What I see is that I will have battlefield business
for ages yet,
Man and god alike will never cease to wage war,
exchanging blades for bullets and bombs,
and the legions of the dead
will only continue to expand;
the graves will grow, row on row,
and the two handsfuls of blood
that I took then
will become an overflowing ocean of red.

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Finding Athena

There are many kinds of wisdom,

but I have always felt closest to you

in the library,

surrounded by tall stacks of books,

the scent of gently aging paper and ink in the air,

words of wit and wisdom in frames on the wall.

This is not your true home,

no more than any earthly temple can be,

for it is not Mount Olympus.

But nonetheless, I feel you here,

just out of sight,

browsing, running your fingers

over the spines of many tomes:

history, archaeology, strategy and tactics,

languages, arts and poetry,

the science of the polis,

government, and the care and feeding of human devotees.

The quiet here, the respect for learning,

these strike me as things that would please you,

and the reverence for knowledge

seems to me as its own sort of offering

in your name.

Many times while visiting,

I fancy that I might meet you face-to-face

if I just step around a corner,

or around the end of the next stack,

and then, if I were very lucky,

very blessed,

we might sit down with cups of tea,

and enjoy a long and enlightening conversation

about all the topics

which we both long to know more about.

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Song for Pomona

There is nothing like the sweetness of an apple.

It is not cloying like chocolate,

strong like honey,

or sharp like wine.

Crisp and light, it sings on the tongue,

and that song is the name of its Maker.

Pomona, fair one, rosy-cheeked,

fed on sunlight and sweet rain,

Your kindness in sharing your gift

with us is beyond compare.

Each bite announces itself with a crunch,

proof of its goodness and firmness,

and the further goods we make from your gift

–juice, cider, pastry–

feed us and quench our thirst throughout the year.

In thanks we praise your name,

in reverence we sing of your glory,

and in gratitude we ask only to be permitted

to partake of your gifts so long as we may live.


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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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.