When I feel the world’s harsh breath – June 2019

FromĀ Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood

 

What can I do when I feel the world’s harsh breath and know

That if I stay too long in its path

My path shall be burned up also.

I must go back to the land again

And find the eagle at home with the rock.

I must climb to the mountaintop

And find the spot where the river begins.

I must lie quietly beside the earth

And find the warmth of its heart.

I must turn my vision to the sky

And find the purpose of clouds.

Then trouble seems far away

And the breath which consumes all beauty

Has passed right over me.

In the distance of my years – May 2019

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.

Birth Ritual – March 2019

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.

The Marriage of Stars and Flowers – February 2019

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.