16
Jun

Of Mountains and Women - June 2018

From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood

 

The hearts of mountains

and the hearts of women

Are both the same. They beat to

an old rhythm, an old song.

 

Mountains and women

are made from the sinew of the rock.

Mountains and women

are home to the spirits of the earth.

Mountains and women

are created with beauty all around.

Mountains and women

embrace the mystery of life.

 

Mountains give patience to women.

Women give fullness to mountains.

Celebrate each mountain, each woman.

Sing songs to mountains and to women.

Dance for them in your dreams.

 

The spirit of mountains and of women

Will give courage to our children

Long after we are gone.

1
Jun

Nancy's Thoughts on Understanding Native American Spirituality

From the Preface to Spirit Walker, 1993

 

These poems, like the others, are based on my long association with the Taos Pueblo Indians, who shared their deep spirituality. From the time I first met them, in 1961, I was impressed by their values and by an unshatterable outlook that stemmed from their interconnectedness to the earth as a living whole. Was it possible for me, a white woman, to understand these values? For years I merely observed, absorbing what I could. Slowly my perceptions and, ultimately, my way of life began to change.

 

What did it take to become "in tune" with Indian beliefs far removed from my Judeo-Christian background? Learning to listen, for one thing; letting go of old, worn-out cultural ideas, for another. Solitude was necessary if I was ever to learn anything, so I retreated to the mountains for long periods of time. I still live that way, twenty miles from Santa Fe, at the edge of an old Spanish land grant. Loneliness is part of the lesson, my teacher Red Willow Dancing used to say. Empty your heart and mind. Do not become distracted.

 

But that was the catch. I was distracted - by the realities of having to support four children. After a time the children left, my life moved into a middle-age phase, my consciousness expanded. Distraction meant taking time to watch a red -tailed hawk soaring above my house or witnessing the drama of huge clouds rolling down from any one of the four mountain ranges I can see from my window. This is what matters now, acquiring what the Indians call the quiet heart. In so doing, I have learned to live life from the inside out.

 

We all are a part of something largely undefinable, call it God or the Great Spirit, Buddha or Allah, Krishna or Mozart. I feel connected to this mystery on rivers, in deserts, and on the sea, but mostly in the mountains. Twice a year at summer solstice and again at autumnal equinox, I make a pilgrimage to the top of Independence Pass, at twelve thousand feet in the Colorado Rockies.

 

As I am perched on top of the world, my ritual never changes. I carry a portable tape deck, tapes of beloved Vivaldi, the Mozart horn concerti, and Beethoven's Triple Concerto, and hike out across the tundra until I am far away from people. I choose a spot on the knife-edge ridge that forms the division between the eastern and western watersheds of the country. There I unpack a long, billowing purple silk dress from my day pack and slip it over my parka and jeans. The music of Vivaldi plays to the wind, and I dance, on and on along the Continental Divide in my hiking boots, paying homage to the mountains, renewing my claim to a stubborn, persistent force that anchors me to this earth. Here is where I am free. Here is where I bend to examine, with a geologist's loupe, a tiny yellow flower no bigger than the head of a pin, and weep because the Great Spirit has seen fit to create such perfection.

 

This is what Red Willow Dancing meant about interconnectedness. A blade of grass was where he said God lived; the wind was the breath of the Great Spirit, renewing us once again. To me, this is what life is all about.

 

There, between earth and sky, suspended in time, I begin to understand.

 

Nancy Wood

Santa Fe, New Mexico April 1992

15
May

Knowing the Earth - May 2018

From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood

 

To know the Earth on a first-name basis

You must know the meaning of river stones first.

Find a place that calls to you and there

Lie face down in the grass until you feel

Each plant alive with the mystery of beginnings.

Move in a circle until you discover an insect

Crawling with knowledge in its heart.

Examine a newborn leaf and find a map of a universe

So vast that only Eagles understand.

Observe the journey of an ant and imitate its path

Of persistence in a world of bigger things.

Borrow a cloud and drift high above the Earth,

Looking down at the smallness of your life.

The journey begins on a path made of your old mistakes.

The journey continues when you call the Earth by name.

15
Feb

Women, You Must Learn to Be Warriors - February 2018

From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood

 

Women, you must learn to be warriors

Now when times are dark and our men

Are afraid to tell us what is in their hearts.

There is so much trouble in our land

That it is up to you to decide

Which direction the wind must blow.

 

Women, you are our tree of life

Just as you were a long time ago

When a man said: carry my seed.

If you go forth from this darkness,

Telling our story of courage and survival,

Then our tree will grow strong with your words.

 

Women, do not worry about tomorrow.

Even when daylight is long in coming,

The sun remembers its place in the sky.

Take this blue shawl of knowledge and

Wrap it around your daughters, telling them

That women must not be afraid to be warriors.

29
Sep

Love - September 2017

From Spirit Walker, 1993, by Nancy Wood

 

Listen to the song! Jen Myzel, a singer/songwriter who "sings of personal and planetary healing," has created a song of this poem. Thank you, Jen!

 

For us, my love,

The faraway moon laughed

And breathed a new song

For all the earth to hear.

 

For us, my love,

The stars deserted the sky

And became a silver pathway

To our dreams.

 

For us, my love,

Time made a ladder out of grass

To show us to our happiness.

 

For us, my love,

Beauty encircled two lives and

Love created one horizon.

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