What have I learned during this life – December 2018

From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood

What have I learned during this life of falling often on a path that

offered me direction I did not take? The language of snails.

Why did I ignore the advice of those who had lived a long time?

So that I could embrace my own mistakes.

Who was willing to accompany me on my painful journey?

Myself alone, dragging along the shadows of experience.

What shall I give to those ready to embark upon an even steeper
path?

An open heart. Resistance to despair. Laughter. Most of all,

The love of birds, animals, and spirits who watched my progress and said,

Though you have arrived, you are nowhere at all.

Children of the Sun – December 2017

FromĀ Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood

 

May you have life, my children of the sun. May you rise as smoke rises,

and spread yourselves on the wind. In our house, you are always welcome.

In our prayers, you will always hear your name spoken with reverence.

 

In you is the continuation of the world, both made and unmade. Soon you

must go, for your roots are growing, and your branches are reaching out. Soon

your wings must unfold, so you can stand at the edge of the cliff, learning

 

How to fly by yourself. You are free, my children of the sun, released from

your familiar place. Our thoughts go with you. Our songs are sung for you.

Our dances are intended to purify your heart. Please, now go.

 

Grief’s Companion: War – November 2017

From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood

 

The death of children amidst the cross fire of ideas is evil’s

grandest gesture. Not even the loss of love nor a

summer without flowers creates a grief as deep

As the theft of children’s laughter. No horror speaks as loudly

as the final cries of children, who, like birds,

seek to spread their wings even when the sky bleeds

Dead dreams. In these dark moments, the Earth’s great heart

 

Stops beating. In the void that evil leaves behind, a question

arises: If fools make war on innocence,

then who becomes grief’s companion?

 

A single shaft of sunlight, falling on a drop of blood. A bird

rising higher than danger. A blade of grass, defiantly green

after fire wipes clean the face of desire. But most of all,

Music created by children’s tears.

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.”

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.