Curious about Nancy’s prolific career and renegade life? Read this four-page bio written by author India Wood about her mother Nancy: A Woman as Strong as Mountains.
From Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood
In the distance of my years I cover myself with time
Like a blanket which enfolds me with the layers of my life.
What can I tell you except that I have gone
nowhere and everywhere?
What can I tell you except that I have not begun
my journey now that it is through?
All that I ever was and am yet to be
lies within me now this way.
There is the Young Boy in me traveling east
With the Eagle which taught me to see far and wide.
The Eagle took his distance and said,
There is a Time for Rising Above
So that you do not think
Your small world too important.
There is a time for turning your vision toward the sky.
There is the Young Girl in me traveling west
With the Bear which taught me to look inside.
The Bear stood by himself and said,
There is a Time for Being Alone
So that you do not take on
The appearance of your friends.
There is a time for being at home with yourself.
There is the Old Man in me traveling north
With the Buffalo which taught me wisdom.
The Buffalo disappeared and said,
There is a Time for Believing Nothing
So that you do not speak
What you have already heard.
There is a Time for Keeping Quiet.
There is the Old Woman in me traveling south
With the Mouse which taught me my limitations.
The Mouse lay close to the ground and said,
There is a Time for Taking Comfort in Small Things
So that you do not feel
Forgotten in the night.
There is a Time for enjoying the Worm.
That is the way it was.
That is the way it shall continue
With the Eagle and the Bear
With the Buffalo and the Mouse
In all directions joined with me
To form the circle of my life.
I am an Eagle.
The small world laughs at my deeds.
But the great sky keeps to itself
My thoughts of immortality.
I am a Bear.
In my solitude I resemble the wind.
I blow the clouds together
So they form images of my friends.
I am a Buffalo.
My voice echoes inside my mouth.
All that I have learned of life
I share with the smoke of my fire.
I am a Mouse.
My life is beneath my nose.
Each time that I journey toward the horizon
I find a hole instead.
From Hollering Sun, 1972, by Nancy Wood
Never shall I leave the places that I love;
Never shall they go from my heart
Even though my eyes
Are somewhere else.
From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood
New being, new citizen of the world, new carrier
of cloud wisdom and moonstones, new
flame of the universe, new eyes of animals
too old to see beyond their footprints, new repetition
Of the old ideas that people thought had died long ago,
we stand before you, ready to protect your small
breath of life, ready to teach you songs, ready to
help you plow the fields cluttered with our mistakes. Your
Recent journey affirms our faith in ancient circles. You are
the voice of us who tried to change the world. You are
the continuity of seasons and migrations, the best
or worst of all that has gone before. New being,
The ancestors are depending on you to surprise them. Little one,
our prayers for you come with love and heartbreak.
The world you enter is dangerous and filled with
imbalance. Knowledge comes from experience, not from
Easy answers. Resist those who would have you blindly follow them,
dear child of buffalo and hawks, ladybugs and fireflies. Turn instead
to the rhythm of waves, the pattern of grass, the shape of clouds,
the music of raindrops, and the color of autumn leaves. Strong
Mountains and saplings await you. The tongues of animals are anxious
to speak to you and the river is eager to teach you to dance. Learn
from the vagaries of winds, the honking of geese, the dance
of trembling leaves, and the way that shadows mystify.
New being, this is all you will need to be at home in the world.
New being, this is all you will need to recognize your song.
From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood
When stars first appeared in the sky, they were lonely, never
touching, or becoming touched by what lay beyond their isolation.
They had deep eyes with which to examine the sinews of
The universe and secret ears with which to hear the struggling whispers
of plants emerging from the earth below. After a while,
when the stars were looking within themselves for meaning,
They noticed a field of yellow flowers swaying in the wind of a
distant mountaintop. These flowers were patient and unresisting,
some so small that the stars couldn’t see them very well,
But they knew these living things to be mirrors of their own vast beauty.
Thus stars married flowers in loving affirmation
Of one another, expecting nothing more than recognition
of their unimportant differences.