All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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The Road to Brân’s House

(This serves both the New-Deity-of-the-Month poem I promised for Brân, and day four of the Five Day Poetry Challenge.)


If I stand in darkness, it is because
I stand in the shadow of His wings.

Have I been climbing this mountain forever?
Perhaps. But it is the only way I know,
step after step, sometimes staggering,
pausing to catch my breath,
resting a hand against the rough bole of a tree,
feet dug in and set,
and this is the way I must travel
if I want to see Him.

Oh, He doesn’t make it easy,
but why should He?
The mountain does not come to the man;
that is not what mountains do.

Every so often, now and then, I think I catch
a glimpse of a little piece of Him:
the flash of an eye,
the curve of lip,
wind blowing through that black, black hair–
but it is sunlight on water,
or wind-sculpted earth,
or leaves blowing on the breeze
which means it is Him, after all.

I know the stories:
giant brother, sorrowing sister, anger to kill
hundreds of men and burst a magic cauldron from the inside,
but here I travel out of the domain of story,
and make my way to see Him face to face–
that is, if He will let me.

It all started with whispers, really:
the sweep of wings on the wind,
and shadows from overhead,
and curious longings,
and too much time in unfamiliar daydreams,
and suddenly I wanted to know Him better.

There are no mountains where I live.

This little midwestern town at the cock-tip of a lake
is the dictionary definition of flat:
lonely, too, and boring, and banal,
and not the sort of place
that a girl like me
would go looking for a god like Him,
but here I am, nevertheless.

The stories are a guide, but a drunken, inept sort of guide:
Wales is no map for Indiana,
and the waters that the people who lived here longest called Michigan
are not the Irish Sea:
nonetheless, I must make them serve.

I greet Him in the morning with coffee,
and honey-oat cakes; there are no ravens here,
but after awhile, their littler cousins, crows,
come sniffing around to see what I have to offer.
Is that just nature being nature, then,
or does He work with what’s available,
as They all do?

This journey is apt to be a long one,
but then, all the best journeys are;
there was never a god worth seeing
who didn’t require some effort on the part
of those who would gawk;
more still from the devoted and the devout,
who would bring prayers and offerings and their hearts,
laid open bloody and bare,
willing to do the work,
if only to find the truest meaning
in giving themselves up to service.

He doesn’t make it easy:
I said that once,
I repeat it now;
what better way to winnow out
the rubberneckers, the cynics, the greedy, the lazy,
and those for whom scorn and jeering
is barely concealed beneath a veil of bored curiosity?
If they’re only here for the show,
best to kick them to the curb now.

So, yes, over the river and through the woods,
though the woods be sparse, and riddled with disease and parasite:
box elder bugs and emerald ash borers and black maple spot,
and all the rivers hereabouts are only now slowly being reclaimed
from having become dumping grounds for garbage.
Still, that is the traditional route to go when going to visit someone’s home,
and it might be a circumlocutious route,
but it’s the only one I know.

And I go slow on purpose;
I’d hate to finally show up at His house,
find Him,
and find out I wasn’t wanted there, after all;
it’s the worst sort of rudeness to force yourself into
a place where you weren’t invited, after all,
but I haven’t heard ‘No!’ yet,
so I go–
–but slow.
Gods can change their minds too:
they have that right, no less than we mere mortals do,
although it’s a lot more dangerous
to ignore Them when they do.

I don’t know how long this journey will be;
it’s been a while now already,
though not as long as some I have taken,
and some I am still taking.
I have a nebulous sense that
it will be finished — eventually —
though no real understanding, yet,
of how the journey’s end will be.

For this is not archaeology:
I am not here to simply dig up potsherds,
fit them back together,
and suddenly be an expert on
all there is to know of Him;
this is not a child’s puzzle,
piecing together every die-stamped cardboard token,
so at last I see the bigger picture;
and this is not medicine,
waiting only to find the right drug
to cure some dread disease.

This journey I am on is worship,
as much an act of reverence as any prayer or offering,
and with each step further that I take,
I understand that even when I arrive at the end of the travel,
it will not lessen the mystery,
enlighten the masses,
or leave all loose ends tied up neat and tight,

and with that, I am content.


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Deity for August

According to the impressions I’ve gotten, and confirming those through divination, the deity for August will be Brân.

I don’t have much interaction with the Welsh gods at all. I did a poem for Blodeuwedd some time back, and another for Rhiannon, and I’ve done a lot of research on Manawydan back a few months, when I was writing so many poems for Manannan; I also recently re-read the different translations I have of the Mabinogion (I have the Gantz, the Sioned Davies, the Jones and Jones, and the Ford) because I was getting a LOT of hints that I was supposed to be paying more attention to the Welsh deities. I wanted to refamiliarize myself with the stories of Gwydion, Lleu, Dylan, Math, Arawn, Pwyll, and Arianrhod.

The hunter on the hill, then.

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Hymn to Forseti

Forseti at Jud

Hail, Forseti, justice-bringer
from the halls of great and mighty,
to the homes of small and timid,
over all you see and judge them.
Winnow right from wrong, you judge them,
telling truth from lies for all men,
finding out the secret misdeeds,
reconciling all who seek you.
Mediating, all-presiding,
wielding truth like Thor’s own hammer,
honest, fair to all who come hence.
For you are impartial always–
You, renowned among all Aesir
for your skill bestowing judgment,
and for that, we ever praise you,
praise the one who metes out justice,
thank you for the gifts you give us:
Hail, Forseti, justice-bringer!

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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.


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.

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For Belenos

Fair Shining One

High summer, and the golden wheat waves in the wind,
bending under the shining brightness of your love.
Grasshoppers sing in the field, small frogs peep from every tree,
and all the world celebrates at the warmth you bring,
the measure of your power, your kindness, and your love.

Bright shining gold is the light you pour over the face of the earth,
each ray caressing and kissing away the cold of winter, of snow, of death;
of bright shining gold is your countenance, is the chariot you guide,
are the stallions who pull your chariot, and the spoked wheels that turn
in graceful and perfect service to your passage across the sky.

In the pastures of Gaul, where your people drive their cattle, they knew you;
in the forests of England, where the hunters stalked the deer, they knew you.
In the mountains of Italy, where the snows linger very long, they knew you.
In Denmark, in Ireland, in all the lands where your folk lived, they called your name.

O beautiful radiant one, o Belenos, o gentle generous one, across those lands and more,
they raised their voices in honor of you, and in praise of your gifts.
Inscriptions sing of your glories; offerings were given up at holy springs,
horses and spiked wheels, the wheels of the brilliant sun,
and the world over knew the touch of your gentle hand, and rejoiced.

In exultation at Beltane, we light the fires for you;
in praise of your power, which brings life to the earth again as winter fades,
we dance and feast, offer wine and our finest foods to you,
and always, always, share the joy we know in you with all who come.

There is no greater beauty than your golden light on our faces in summer;
no greater warmth, no joy brighter and more enduring;
your light stirs the land to fertility, heals the illnesses of man and beast,
and as it lays weightless across the bosom of the earth, we revere you and are content.

O Belenos, brilliant one, shining one, beautiful and unstinting in your gifts,
I pray you hear me now, as I raise my voice in song to you,
in joyous memory of those days past and those days soon to come
when once again your light will spread across the land,
a radiant blanket of golden warmth. On that day soon to come, I shall
light the May-Eve fires, and offer you wine and grain, and with these gifts
mirror the love you have always poured out to shine down on us.

And in this, I hope, you are well pleased, as I lift up my face to you,
and sing to you of my love and gratitude, from now until my final breath.

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Psalm for Flidais

The scent of loam,

of fir and oak and rain.

Here, in this instant,

She breathes in;

the light of midday

falling through the trees

dapples Her shoulders

like an extra layer of freckles.

Hair bound back in a tight plait,

so as not to catch on

branches and briars when She runs.

She runs;

oh, how She runs!

The deer She guards

are no more fleet or lithe than She;

the tunic woven of leaf and ivy

blends in to the forest around Her,

and the blur that She becomes

as She runs is all but invisible.

Her hair is the flame that does not burn;

Her eyes are stars falling, blue-white in darkness.

Her feet are bare against the wet mud

and broken boughs

that litter the forest floor.

Her steps are lighter than gossamer;

each foot leaves no impression

in mud or mire,

and all around Her, birds sing

to praise the lady of the woods.

Flitting through the treetops, from

branch to branch, toes barely kissing each limb

before leaping to the next;

each fleeting step so perfect a dance that

the winds become envious of her grace,

and the deer find themselves clumsy in her presence.

She shines, even when bending low;

head dipping before the pool,

kneeling to sip water as the deer sip.

Round her fair throat twines the sweetness of woodbine,

pale yellow blossoms in clusters,

curling heavily where nothing else about her is;

in the pellucid gloaming, dusk

paints purple and charcoal shadows on her eyes.

The deer do not start when she joins them,

do not flee;

She moves with them when dusk comes on,

and beds down among them when the bright sun

lifts its head above the far horizon.

She grieves when fawn or doe or stag

falls to the fangs of fox or wolf,

but does not hunt them in vengeance;

these things are part of the cycle,

and the balance must be maintained.

Here she will be, dwelling among them always,

racing through ash and alder, elm and apple,

tangled oak and beech weaving their limbs together,

these slender violins strung with ivy and wild grape,

in this greenwood that is her home.

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Progress, and the next subject in the god-a-month-poem project

Currently working on the poem for Flidais. What I have so far is long and descriptive, but disorganized. I have several different forms of poetry I usually choose among: stories the gods tell me about themselves or an event they took part in; devotional prayers; praise poems; and very rarely, unstructured chaotic works that most closely resemble the work of T. S. Eliot (who is as close to a personal poetic patron saint as I have). This poem, however, can’t decide yet what it wants to be, which is why, I suspect, it wanders. Once I have it firmly in my head, it’ll all snap into place and flow like wine. Right now, out of those formats, it hews most closely to the praise poems — long, descriptive invocations of her beauty and her grace.

The candidate for the next poem has presented Himself to me; He’ll be the subject for March’s poem (or for the poem for the second half of February, if I finish Flidais’ poem before the month is half over). The Gaulish gods have been doing a lot of tapping on my shoulder of late; the only deity from that region I’ve written work for is Cernunnos, and the gods and goddesses that were worshiped by my ancestors from France, before that area was converted to Christianity, have entered my life rather late, and want to make up for lost time.

So, the next poem will be about…



I’ve already started on the research, and later today (since I’m off work today), I’ll be lighting some incense, pouring Him a libation, and sitting down in my temple, hoping He’ll talk with me.

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A new year and new beginnings

I don't know who the artist is for this image, but I will gladly add the name if I learn it, or delete the image if the creator requests it.

I don’t know who the artist is for this image, but I will gladly add the name if I learn it, or delete the image if the creator requests it.

Over breakfast today, an idea came to me; whether it’s something I came up with on my own, or whether inspired by the gods, I’m not certain. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent idea, so I’m going to go with it. It occurred to me, as I was munching my apple, that there’s so much about the deities I follow that I don’t know. More than that; there were plenty of deities within the pantheons I follow that I don’t know at all. Oh, I might know their names…but that’s it. And that’s simply not acceptable. Not to me, and, I suspect, not to Them. So. For the next 12 months, I will be working on a new project, so to speak. At least once a month, I will choose a deity from one of the pantheons that I follow and write a poem for Them. This gives me, at base, four weeks to write a poem, for a total of 12 new poems at year’s end. This is a goal that, between my depression and my health issues and my financial issues and my other responsibilities, I feel I can meet. Two poems a month/a poem every two weeks would be even better, and might be do-able if circumstances are kind. I won’t commit to that, because I know that they are NOT always kind, and I refuse to break this oath, but if it can be done, I’ll do it. (Divination on whether I should do two poems for the same deity, if I can manage two in a month, or whether I should do one poem for two deities? Answer: I got the rune Jera, harvest. I interpreted this to mean that the harvest would be greater if I’m honoring two deities in a month, rather than one. This is, after all, a way of introducing myself to those gods I don’t know, a beginning effort that will be fleshed out later on with more devotional work, such as offerings and libations; therefore, introducing myself to two gods instead of just one is a greater harvest. And since a harvest takes a year, and I have oathed to do this for a year/12 months…I don’t think I could ask for a clearer answer than that.) The initial rune I drew in divination when I first set out to ask whether I should do this was Berkano — rebirthing, new beginnings, receiving of offerings (“Taking Up the Runes”, Paxson, p. 180, paragraph 4, a paraphrase of a quote from Gundarsson). I think all those signify for the idea. So, I’ll start on Imbolc — February 1st — and since Imbolc is originally devoted to Brigid (whom I know well), I’ve chosen to go with an Irish goddess I don’t know for my first month: Flidais. When I’ve written the poem, I’ll post it both here and at my FB. It’ll also go into the growing collection that will eventually come out as my second poetry collection (though that is very likely a couple years into the future). Hail to the gods and goddesses! I hope You accept the fruits of this endeavor, which are meant to please and honor You!