3
Nov

Nancy's Thoughts: Poems as Rituals and Connections with Nature

From the preface to Shaman's Circle, her sixth book of poetry, 1996:

 

"Most of us non-Indians are out of touch with the magic of the seasons, the subtle rhythms of the earth, and the daily blessings of the natural world. We hardly notice birds building nests, green leaves budding, or the way a river swells with life in spring. We are too busy to care. But care we must, for we are inextricably tied to nature, and to one another. We have to rediscover ritual and, in so doing, rediscover ourselves. We need to strengthen our bonds with nature, every day of the year. Few of us greet the rising sun or bid it farewell at sunset; not many of us howl at the moon, nor do we sing to rainclouds, growing corn, or the death spirit. We have drifted away from our roots, and melancholy prevails. Now we must reestablish contact with our sacred center and invent rituals that have personal meaning.

These poems are a ritual in themselves. They're meant to be read in private, preferably under a tree or beside a stream. They're meant to trigger a desire to get up and dance. Or to sing. Or to write a poem of your own as you enter the shaman's sacred circle, where anything can happen."

12
Oct

The Earth Is All That Lasts - October 2017

Nancy Wood poem poster 14 - The earth is all that lasts

From Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood

 

The earth is all that lasts.

The earth is what I speak to when

I do not understand my life

Nor why I am not heard.

The earth answers me with the same song

That it sang for my fathers when

Their tears covered up the sun.

The earth sings a song of gladness.

The earth sings a song of praise.

The earth rises up and laughs at me

Each time that I forget

How spring begins with winter

And death begins with birth.

13
Aug

You Shall Ask - August 2017

 

Nancy Wood poem poster 3: You shall ask

Poem poster includes Nancy Wood's photograph of Fort Union Ranch, NM, circa 1980.

 

From Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood

 

You shall ask

What good are dead leaves

And I will tell you

They nourish the sore earth.

You shall ask

What reason is there for winter

And I will tell you

To bring about new leaves.

You shall ask

Why are the leaves so green

And I will tell you

Because they are rich with life.

You shall ask

Why must summer end

And I will tell you

So that the leaves can die.

 

1
Jul

Mother's Words - June 2017

From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood

 

Why look for answers, my child,

Among the people you meet?

Why believe there is fulfillment

In your narrow life of work?

 

Why sacrifice the gift of loneliness

To fill up the time with diversion?

 

Look inside every living thing you find.

Feel the energy of rocks and leaves, hummingbirds

and cactus.

Dwell for a moment in a single blade of grass.

Discover the secret of snowflakes.

 

In these patterns lie harmony, my child.

In harmony, the universe.

 

27
Mar

What the Trees Said When They Fell - March 2017

From Shaman's Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood

 

The forest was an ancient tangle, so dense that whispers

could not be heard between the leaves, so tall

That birds became caught in branches and never reached

the sunlight, but spent their lives in the twilight

Layer where moss hung like ropes and the mist of ages

clung thickly to the air. Trees grew like sentinels

To history, older than animals, birds, or fish ever dreamed

of becoming when they were young and believed

 

That life would last forever. Those trees knew forever meant

long centuries of observation of weather, birds,

And animals, also ferns and moss, the sliding nature of

rocks embedded in mud and the temperament of snails.

Those trees grew up knowing all about one another, side by

side in a moss-green light, comforted by wind trying

To get between them and by rain falling in vertical shafts

anxious to penetrate their dry roots.

 

Those trees were necessary for balance, harmony, and beauty

in the world. All the animals and birds knew their importance

And spent their days and nights honoring their existence. Then brazen

people came and looked at the trees with calculating eyes.

They built roads and trails, then they cut them down, those ancient,

peaceful ones.

 

The trees fell gracefully, according to their nature,

one by one, with moans heard by birds and snails,

While in the river fish hid in dark pools. As the trees fell

they said: We bore witness to our time and

Each of you shall bear witness to a different time. Then,

where each tree fell, a child of destruction sprang up.

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