The Shortest Day/The Longest Day – June 2022

From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood

 

December 21

O sun, the father of us all, maker of ripe flowers, creator

of fat corn, return this day to our part of the shrinking sky.

Your journey to the south is now complete and we pray to you

to remember the drear, dark days of winter caught between

Your strong fingers struggling to release the earth from sleep. In this

long gasp of icy silence, all creatures find renewal, a pale hope

That spring will not forget to come this year, nor will birds forget to lay eggs

heavy with the yolk of generation.

 

June 21

Now the earth lies panting in the rich blood of summer, and you are content,

O sun, father of full orchards and the restlessness of elk. We observe

Your deep shadows and hear the laughter of leaves green with continuity,

but we are not deceived by the smoothness of our ripe landscape.

Even the longest day contains the seeds of winter and on the wind we hear

the song that icicles sing to stay awake. The longest day is merely

A pause between the places where our lives are lived, and in its fullness

we dance for the right of bumblebees to gather distant honey.

The Story of a Flower – May 2021

From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood

The Story of a Flower

 

In the season of wild strawberries

I came from the earth as a flower

High on a hill above my village, with only

The Eagle, the Buffalo, the Bear and the Butterfly

To watch the petals of my spirit unfold.

 

The Eagle spoke first. He said:

Sister; you will never have wings like me,

Except in the pathways of your dreams,

Yet you will fly to the top of the sky

Because I give you the Gift of Courage.

 

The Buffalo spoke next. He said:

Sister; you will never survive a long time like me,

Except on the trail of your memories,

Yet you will see a thousand winters go by

Because I give you the Gift of Endurance.

 

The Bear spoke next. He said:

Sister; you will never know the secrets

Of the Four-Legged Animals, since you are only a flower,

Yet the knowledge of all creatures is yours

Because I give you the Gift of Wisdom.

 

The Butterfly spoke next. She said:

Sister, you believe you are very important,

Because the creatures have given their gifts to you,

Yet here on this hill you will always be at home

Because I give you the Gift of Humility.

 

So I have lived for many seasons,

Among the Eagle, the Buffalo, the Bear and the Butterfly,

Watching the birds go by, speaking to rain and sky.

My colors have been the colors of the rainbow.

My beauty has given joy to all who see me.

 

To bloom even when there is no rain

Requires the Courage of the Eagle.

To last through the heavy snows of winter

Requires the Endurance of the Buffalo.

To understand the importance of all seasons

Requires the Wisdom of the Bear.

But to rejoice when my blossoms die

Requires only the Butterfly’s Humility.

 

Earth Woman – April 2021

From Hollering Sun, 1972, by Nancy Wood

 

Earth woman with hands

That shape the bread of time.

Earth woman with

Pumpkin-seed earrings and

Bracelets of wild plum.

Your house is made of summer.

Your children are the crops

Of all good seasons

Growing strong

In the house of earth woman

Who weaves the thread of life.

When the hand of winter gives up its grip on the sun – March 2021

From Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood

 

When the hand of winter gives up its grip on the sun

And the river’s hard ice becomes the tongue to spring

I must go into the earth itself

To know the source from which I came.

Where there is a history of leaves

I lie face down upon the land.

I smell the rich wet earth

Trembling to allow the birth

Of what is innocent and green.

My fingers touch the yielding earth

Knowing that it contains

All previous births and deaths.

I listen to a cry of whispers

Concerning the awakening earth

In possession of itself.

With a branch between my teeth

I feel the growth of trees

Flowing with life born of ancient death.

I cover myself with earth

So that I may know while still alive

How sweet is the season of my time.

The earth is all that lasts – December 2020

From Sacred Fire, 1998, by Nancy Wood

 

The Earth is all that lasts.

We who have been asleep for years

return to plant seeds in abandoned gardens.

We summon the rain and beg for the sun

to release its energy to our care.

 

The Earth is all that lasts.

We who were flattened by our inability

to rise above the wreckage of the past

are eating shadows

in order to stay alive.

 

The Earth is all that lasts.

We who were invisible, except

to those with similar vision,

stand here possessed by our old lives.

We are unwilling to disappear from our origins.

We have replaced shame with serenity,

doubt with desire.

Our skin is bursting with new muscle.

We are one with snowmelt and with Fire.