Meditation at Dawn

Red clouds



woman torn

in two

by sky gods,

raped twice –

once through memory.

And still they



A woman’s truth

is never enough.

Unspeakable horrors

are sanctioned

in unhallowed dark places


by those who

hold the power.


For women

Compassion and Justice are dead.


The Supreme Court’s need to have corroboration for Christine Ford’s testimony is an oxymoron. Rape or attempted rape almost always occurs when other people are absent. To suggest that Christine needs more validation is a sneaky way of discrediting her by using  “lack of further evidence” as an excuse.



Poem: #MeToo, We Re-Member by Marie Cartier

When the trees start moving all women have to do is follow…

I need the grandmothers to help me

re-member my rage.

Cross stitch. Double knot.  I sew it back on. The raggedy parts I let fly loose

when I thought it was OK to not be “so angry.”

“Boys will be boys.”

And so then, girls will be angry.

And we will re-member—our rage.

I need the great aunts, and all the old women with the signs that read,

“We are still protesting this shit.”

I need them, this herstory to help me

re-member my rage, feel it strong and tight. Cross stitch. Double knot. Those women re-member

me. I am that woman. She is me.

Our rage is a song.

After all this time, we are still singing it. Our rage

is a river and we swim in it, even if it’s upstream. There is a fierce mermaid goddess,

Yemaya. She protects us. She knows

our rage is our best…

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Rape and the Miracle of Joy


( photo of a Passionflower that just opened this morning and a photo I took at dawn that I call Persephone’s Mist)


Category: Essay

Tags: Persephone, Greek Mythology, patterns, dreams, feminsim



This morning I walked to a river that was shrouded in mist that ran parallel with the flowing waters skimming over smooth round stone. As columns of wave –like, smoke –like mist billowed skyward I remembered last night’s dream…


I am with a young girl who has discovered the slender green and white stems that surround pure white bouquets of crocus that are not yet in bloom. These clusters of budded flowers are located just outside my front door on the land I live. I carefully and compassionately explain to this young girl that she cannot take what does not belong to her… these crocus are emerging on land that belongs to me, but perhaps we can share them.


Reflecting on the dream I am struck by my deep compassion towards the young girl. I see her as a Persephone.


In Greek mythology Persephone was a child who was spirited away to the underworld while picking flowers and raped by Hades while her mother’s back was turned…Demeter, who was a Great Goddess was not able to protect her own daughter from Fate, suggesting Demeter’s influence does not extend into the underworld. A warning to all mothers, perhaps.


Persephone’s story has been my own, literally and metaphorically.


Although we continue to ignore these myths in the modern world relegating them to primitive thinking we do so at our peril, because myths are the stories that inform us of the patterns in our lives.


Whenever I am spirited away by Hades I experience this descent as a spiritual if not physical rape that is beyond my control. As my birthday approaches during the week of the Grecian Eleusinian Mysteries (which re-acts the descent of Persephone) I am struck by my dream body’s response to this yearly cycle of descent or despair that I am asked to acknowledge if not actually endure…


Today I honor my body and tell her that I am sorry that I didn’t know how to love her or how to behave in a compassionate way towards a child and or adolescent who had no control over a destructive pattern that dominated her life.


It no longer matters why. It only matters that I support the child and the young girl I was, just as I support the woman who has come forth to reveal that she was almost raped by Brett Kavanaugh, nominee for the “Supreme Court” of this country. To elect a Patriarchal judge who once attempted rape of a child/adolescent (and who no doubt eventually did rape because the pattern was already present in the adolescent boy) – is an obscenity.


Some scholars understand that these patterns persist over a lifetime and through generations although most Americans deny this reality. Why? Because the United States is steeped in the myth of “free will” and an “either or” mentality. A “both and reality” is an anathema to Patriarchy. In the ideology of “free will” the pattern of rape doesn’t exist. This leads us to the conclusion that patterns can’t be a force to be reckoned with. This Patriarchal approach is frightening nonsense and one reason we don’t hold boys and men accountable for attempted or actual rape.


In reality boys and men rape because warring Patriarchal culture says they can (power over) and because they are living out a destructive inner pattern. I think these boys and men need to be identified and incarcerated after one attempted rape. If a boy is old enough to rape he is old enough to be tried in a court like an adult male.


I can only hope that Dr. Christine Ford’s allegations of sexual assault will result in this man being dropped as a nominee for the Supreme Court.


But to return to my story…


Persephone’s loss of innocence and descent into hell is the result of having been split in mind, body, and soul, a wound that no child, adolescent, or woman ever completely recovers from.


To pretend that one heals adequately from such a wound is an atrocity, dismissing the reality of what is. Rape opens the door to suicide, depression, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorders, the latter three cannot be cured. A woman who has had a rape experience will probably never feel safe in the world even if she never admits it.


My dreams persist alerting me that what I have just written is truth, while reminding me to behave compassionately towards myself during these cyclical periods of my own forced descent.


What interests me the most about this dream is that in the myth Persephone was picking saffron yellow crocus (a flower that only blooms in the fall) before she was abducted by a rapist. The only difference is that the young girl of my dreams shows me a scattering of crocus that are pure white, the color of innocence and not the yellow associated with Persephone’s crocus.


What this suggests to me is that although I am a woman who has been raped twice, once by men, and then by a pattern that has dominated my inner life, my innocent self still survives. The dream illustrates that both the woman and the young girl have access to shared innocence. What was stolen has been restored.


That Joy lives on is the Miracle.

What the Lizards have Taught Me and Other Mysteries

Categories: Narrative

Tags: Sagebrush lizards, Eco – feminism, Nature writing


I have six sagebrush “house lizards” that lived on the adobe walls of my present abode. I say six because I thought I lost one of the garden wall lizards but now two have come together again.


Perhaps another lizard joined the crowd because autumn is near and cooler temperatures are bringing them together?


These sagebrush lizards are supposed to be territorial but this behavior is not in evidence around here. In fact, these days the lizards seem to be sharing one common area – an apartment complex that I created totally by accident when I lined up Mexican hats along the garden wall.


Mexican hats are large sunflower heads that I am drying in the sun. As soon as I placed them on the warm adobe walls two lizards moved in. I watched the baby take up residence under one small hat, darting out for tasty ants that skittered around the edges of his new home. The ants never had a chance! I thought he had found the perfect abode! However, he was soon displaced by the adults, including the two house lizards that lived in the front of the house who used to use the giant nasturtium patch for safety and good cover. These days every time I walked by the garden wall at least one or two adult lizards peer at me from baby lizard’s front door!


I finally discovered baby’s new hiding place behind some slats by the south door, just a few feet from the garden wall. Immediately I placed not only a Mexican hat on the railing but a lizard friendly rock and a small dish of water. Since then he spends early mornings hidden behind the slats and emerges to sunbathe just outside his Mexican hat between 10 and 11 AM. Yesterday was hot and I was surprised to note that he had migrated to the garden wall. I glimpsed baby lizard under one of the Mexican hats along with three other lizards during the late morning. Today he is gone.


Sometimes a lizard climbs on top of the nubbly seed hats with spidery feet to bask but I notice that even late September afternoons are still too hot, so during those potentially lizard frying hours they all retreat under their “flowers” for shade.


All six of these lizards regard me as a friend and I have conversations with all of them during the day. Because I know that soon they will go into hibernation I spend a lot of time visiting and they always seem interested in what I have to say!


Today is cool, and only a couple of the adults are visible. If I lifted those hats I am sure that I would see more but to do would be invasive. I know how I’d feel if someone pulled the roof off my house to see if I was home!


Where will my friends spend the winter I wonder? Hopefully there are a few friendly burrows, or rocky crevices where they can bury themselves, lower their body temperature, and sleep through frost and cold. I am pleased to see that all are plump and seem well fed.


Although I can find no support from the literature I suspect that these little characters might hibernate close to one another… it does seem odd that within the last week of cooling temperatures that they have clustered close together in the same apartment complex!


I have learned by paying attention to the daily habits of my reptilian friends over the course of this summer that when it’s too hot for lizards to be out and about, it is also too hot for me. We both retreat to our respective homes to protect ourselves from the searing white sun star.


In Nature mysteries abound and keen observations only bring more questions, reminding me that people including scientists know so little about our non human relatives. All we seem to be able to do is to classify them, take DNA, experiment on them… So few of us simply watch them in wonder and gratitude that they exist at all.

River Musings


The moon is on the wane

pale against a blue wash.

Heart shaped leaves crackle

under my feet.

A field of papery brown

stalks dull my senses

as I witness the ravages of

a passing season

of raging heat and drought.

The deer and the elk

no longer bed down

in supple long grasses.

Clumps of snakeweed

bear spiked skeletons.

Weeping trees

bare few seeds for


The Earth is parched.

In this epoch

of irreversible climate change

will the shrinking river

once again swell to overflowing,

on her own?

Only she knows the love songs

to sing to smooth round stones.




Every morning I walk to the river at dawn and this morning as I stood on the beach I realized that the water level is so low that there is more rocky shore than river…For the last 100 years or so humans have been in control – raising and lowering the river artificially, but with Climate Change upon us Nature may well be in the process of crafting her own story.

The End of Democracy?


All three sides of this terrifying sculpture


I recently read Carol Christ’s response to an article “ The Patriarchy Will Always Have Its Revenge” (New York Times) with respect to our current political insanity with regard to women and rape. Carol wrote, “I find myself caught in the undertow of bad memories, stuck in a simmer of rage. My hands furl into fists. My jaw clenches. My teeth grind in the night.”


Mine too.


The Brett Kavanaugh case makes it abundantly clear we still blame women for rape even when the woman is a child.


The independent and most neutral of all papers from my point of view, The Guardian, states that according to the New England Journal of Medicine, rape is about four times more likely to result in diagnosable PTSD than combat.” I would add that attempted rape has the same result.


As a woman who has suffered from PTSD her entire life, has a history of sexual abuse, and has worked with abused women during most of her adult years I know from personal experience that this statistic is accurate, and as a therapist, I recognize that attempted rape destroys a woman’s sense of self in mind, body, and soul, just as actual rape does.


Ironically, the same morning I read Carol’s post a man posted the above picture on FB stating “that the sculpture was about a man thinking about wife giving birth.” WHAT? This frightening triple image spoke volumes to me about the hold real men and the dominant Patriarchal culture have had over Women and the Earth for millennia.


But thankfully not all men. John Erickson asks the same questions in his post on that I have been asking as the horrors mount:


“If you are like me, you have found yourself, more times than one I am guessing, watching the news, mouths agape, mind in disbelief, and your heart heavy with grief and sadness. While these great travesties occur, I find myself wondering what is the cost? How many children must be locked in cages? How many women must come forward with accusations of sexual assault and rape? How many more people must accuse the President of harassment and assault? How many more anonymous op-eds and faulty promises must be made before we finally all see that the real cost, is that these great travesties themselves (too many to recall here) are what it really takes to take down imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”


He continues: “People have grown weary of having me at parties because my normal talking points are:

  1. Asking people if they’re registered to vote (and if not, why aren’t they?)
  2. Making sure people are discussing difficult issues with their friends and families that may or may not support Trump…
  1. Asking how long they think it will be until we are actually living in The Handmaid’s Tale universe?”

He also reminds us that this is more than about Trump’s presidency. Trump’s election is a symptom of the disintegration of an entire culture.


John finishes his essay by encouraging us to vote.


In my despairing state I have reached the same conclusion. There’s nothing else left to do. If we don’t vote in November to begin the process of ending this insanity, feminist or non –feminist, Democracy will be dead.

Autumn Equinox Reflection



After a torturous summer and fall with temperatures still in the 90’s until three days ago we finally had rain and then it was a bracing 56 degrees the next morning with a light northeast wind!


Oh, the joy of finally being in synch with the season of fall.


I was flooded with gratitude although all around me the ravages of drought drone on.


Yesterday was a “doing” day. I took my first real hike into a canyon nearby, but was disappointed to see little green on the cottonwoods, shriveled sage, and dead snakeweed. What did I expect?


Coming home I gathered seeds, and trimmed my juniper tree, the one that has been watered all summer. I can’t save them all but that tree has grown a foot, much to my delight.


Yesterday was also a “play” day and I went around gathering seeds and pods that I saw and created a collage for the equinox, one that reminds me to give thanks for Nature’s bounty.


I watched birds and lingered at the river listening to water singing to stone.


And almost all day I periodically visited with my house lizards all of which were perched under Mexican hats (large sunflower heads) on my garden wall, basking on the ledge near my compost, and on the warm sandstone rock ledge… The best part was when baby lizard appeared on the railing. I provided him with a new Mexican hat since the other lizards had stolen his refuge. He’s so tiny I am afraid something will get him and I dearly want him to live long enough to go into hibernation, which I believe will be soon. All of these sagebrush lizards are my friends… so I wanted to simply spend the afternoon visiting with them letting them know I would miss each friend like lovers do, and I did!


This morning once again the owls awakened me – Today they hooted from two different trees, sending me off to the river. The Bosque looked like fall had touched her with a wand of subtle color. Russian olive trees were losing their canopies. The ground was also littered with the leaves from willow, compost for next spring. Every time I looked up to the Matriarchs of the Bosque tired cottonwood hearts were drifting to the ground. The river beach wears a bigger apron each day as the water recedes…


This morning I gazed at the milkweed pods in the center of my outdoor altar… As the breeze took the delicate white spidery parachutes that held each seed, one aftet the other, I thought that this dispersal somehow personified the whole of what the fall equinox is all about – the letting go – and how poignant a time of year this is…And yet, as the Earth prepares for winter she brings relief to parched plants by sending them into dormancy – a merciful response to starvation by lack of water.


My Autumn Equinox ritual, created to honor the Turning of the Wheel speaks to Nature’s abundance. The Earth has gone into the grain, fruit, and vegetables that will sustain us all winter long. A Great Goddess to all, acknowledged or not, She remains steadfast – the Earth Mother of us all. Her generosity knows no bounds. This is the time of year to give thanks for life as we prepare for the colder months head, leaning into this season of golden light and shadows.


Tonight I shall walk into the sunset knowing that I have been fully present for this seasonal event.


Blessed Be at this Turning

And Blessings to All


Mexican Hat


( you cannot tell from this picture but this newly hatched lizard is only an inch long!)


I have a baby

lizard who makes his home

under a Mexican hat

that sits upon

the garden wall.

When the sun

climbs high

over the cottonwood


he scoots out his door

as I pass by,


the moment

I call his name!


Working notes. My two house lizards are the parents of this little lizard who is presently sharing his parents general territory. When I placed the sunflower heads on the wall he immediately moved in. A perfect lizard haven, ants climb around his abode and all he has to do is wait in safety until one presents himself. Baby lizard has his breakfast delivered to his front door!

I have a special attachment to this little fellow because his parents live on the same side of the house and are allowing him to stay. Unlike his parents he is very shy. He will watch me curiously but the second I try to speak to him he disappears. Contrast this with his parents who actually follow my movements outdoors and seem to enjoy our daily conversations!



A Tale for a Life Lover


Last night I was thinking about the giant western toad that is living in my garden when I had a peculiar thought: Write a story about the Toad and an Old Woman and call it A Tale for a Life Lover. At this very moment I heard my toad’s rasping guttural cry outside my window. I was so shocked I got up and went out on the porch, hoping to hear the call again, but the toad only spoke once. Afterwards, I wondered if I had imagined it.


When the giant western toad appeared in my yard last week I had been in a state bordering on despair over baffling health issues and the ravages of Climate Change. Maybe it is no longer possible for me to separate the two? After the visitation I sensed that the toad’s abrupt appearance meant something beyond the amazing fact that I had met a giant toad who apparently had been living here all along.


Some preliminary natural history research revealed that the western toad is becoming extinct in the Southwestern states due to UV light, chemicals polluting water, vulnerability to other toxins, loss of habitat etc. so I was even more grateful to have a venerable Grandmother Toad living here near the river’s edge. She must be a grandmother of many thousands –her impressive size suggests her sex and her age.


Toads literally change forms; they are shapeshifters beginning their lives in vernal pools as strings of eggs becoming “toadpoles.” They metamorphose quickly into lung/skin breathing terrestrial toadlets moving away from the water, who, if they survive predation, become adult toads that inhabit meadows and mesas. Most toads also have poisonous parotid glands whose secretions can irritate the skin; a few are deadly. Toads deal with the heat and lack of rain by spending most of the day under protective leaves in gardens, underground or in a burrow, emerging at dusk or during rain to hunt. During a drought, they do not breed. In the winter they hibernate. Toads also shed their skins and often eat them. Mine still had sloughed off skin attached to her back legs. Adults are also long lived, even in the wild.


Two days after meeting Toad who had just shed and eaten a skin I also found an empty snakeskin. Discovering two creatures that shed their skins almost simultaneously couldn’t be coincidence and helped me to prioritize the probable importance of some kind of personal transformation that I was undergoing.


I have intuited by living my life and following my dreams that if I want to learn more about how to be in the world I needed to turn first towards Nature to provide me with a Guide and then to mythology to unravel her/his story. I know a lot about toads having raised so many from tadpoles… so I investigated Toad’s mythology.


Christianity demonizes both women and toads attaching both to evil, darkness, sorcery, and poisoning, a too obvious distortion of Patriarchy which seeks to control both Nature and women and therefore isn’t of much use. Too one sided. However, what emerges in other mythologies is Toad as a powerful figure, a literal manifestation of the Earth Mother.


Marija Gimbutas mytho – archeologist and scholar traces the toad back to the early Neolithic period 8000 – 5000 B.C. in old Europe when a toad shaped figurine with a flower shaped head was discovered at Sesklo 6000 B.C. – 5800 B.C. The toad/frog motif is common in Neolithic pottery, especially in Italy and Crete. Gimbutas doesn’t make it clear what the distinction is between the Frog and Toad Goddess beyond that the former seems to be associated more frequently with birth and the latter concerns herself more with death and regeneration, a possible distinction I find useful. Certainly both are two facets of one female goddess as Creatrix/Destroyer.


More recently the Egyptian Goddess Creatrix Haquit was portrayed as a woman/frog. Hecate of Greece has a name Baubo that also means toad. Gimbutas also writes that the names given to the toad link it with the goddess in many European languages, for example, hexe in German, and fata in Italian dialects. All words refer to the ability of this goddess to read the future as prophetess. But primarily the toad was associated with the powers of death and her ability to restore life.


In the Americas I found more recent Indigenous mythology on the Toad as Goddess. Tlatechtli is a Pre – Columbian (1200 – 1519) goddess belonging to the Mexica. Although Tlatechtli’s name is masculine modern scholars interpret this toad figure as female because she is squatting giving birth. Some see her as crouching under the earth, mouth open waiting to devour the dead. Since the Aztec culture was a warring male dominated Patriarchal one I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the Earth Goddess/Toad was seen as masculine to the Mexica.


In Mesoamerica we find Toad widely represented in art, often with feline or other non-naturalistic attributes, including jaguar claws and fangs. These images can be regarded as versions of Tlaltecuhtli. In contemporary Mexico, as in Guatemala, and throughout South America toads play a role in myth, sorcery, shamanism, and in curing/healing.


In South America the story of Toad begins with the birth of the divine hero twins when their natural mother is killed by the Jaguar People. The unborn twins are saved by Toad Grandmother, who is Mistress of the Earth, Owner of Fire, as well as Mother of the Jaguars, who can change back and forth between jaguar and toad. As the black jaguar she is a threat to humankind, as well as to other non human species. This wild cat aspect of the toad interests me because “cat women” are sometimes experienced as negative figures, perhaps legitimizing the dark side of the female in a concrete way.


Toad Grandmother rears the twins teaching them to hunt, cure, etc. but eventually they kill her. From her dismembered body comes food – cassava, or bitter manioc, and other useful plants. Toad as Grandmother in this story dies violently but also literally transforms herself in the process becoming food for the people even after she is slaughtered. This profound level of transformation suggests her immortal nature.


There are also many related stories in which a culture hero is taught hunting skills, etc., by a Toad who seems to be identical with the Earth goddess in the twin tradition. Myth’s abound in which an Indian takes aim at a giant supernatural toad, only to have her disappear and reappear elsewhere in the form of a gigantic black jaguar.


In many respects the most interesting South American version of the Earth mother as Toad is that of the Tacana of lowland Bolivia. In the male-dominated pantheon of the Tacana, the Earth Mother is one of the few female goddesses, but she is clearly of fundamental importance. She is also known as Pachamama, Guardian of the Earth.


In her animal form as a live toad (Bufo marinus – a toad with very toxic properties) she is kept in a circular hole dug below the altar of the temple somewhat reminiscent of the sipapu, or place of sacred emergence in the Hopi kiva, or the emergence hole of the subterranean gods of the Mexican Huichol Indians. The toad’s home is kept covered with a cloth, or, more, usually, a flat disk of cedar wood. Curiously she is fed a diet of frogs, which harkens back to Gimbutas’s distinction between the toad and the frog suggesting that the toad is more powerful than the frog because she symbolizes death and regeneration as well as birthing. On ceremonial occasions, offerings are made to this Toad goddess.


Toad is the originator of cultivated food plants and tropical forest horticulture. She is a culture bringer incarnating as Earth Guardian and Mistress of the animals, especially those that make their home underground. She also functions as Bringer of the Seasons. She is the mother of Rain, and the Bearer of the Moon. In her negative aspect (as usual) she devours the dead. Toad is therefore a complex figure. On one hand she is a protector, mentor of shamans, mother, teacher, regenerator of the Earth, bringer of fire and cultivated plants, and on the other hand she is also a vicious killer and one who swallows the dead.


There are also some interesting parallels from Asia. Especially in China and Japan we find numerous traditions in which toads appear as creatures skilled in the magic arts, transformers, mentors, spirit helpers and alter egos of curing shamans, etc. There are a number of apparently quite ancient tales of sages living in mountain caves in the company of giant toads who taught them their magical knowledge and who function as their spirit companions and avatars. Some toads were feared as monstrous supernatural beings capable of inflicting death and destruction, others were highly regarded as benevolent creatures that could draw down the clouds and bring rain and radiant visions. Again and again we see Toad as the nurturing and frightening animal/human aspect of the goddess as Creatrix/Destroyer.


After this journey through toad mythology I returned to my original question about what messages my garden toad as Earth Mother, Guardian, might be trying to convey to me.

What follows is what I learned…


Toad reminds me that I need more protection from the sun (from the desert sun and from the fathers of patriarchy) than I am getting.


Even more challenging S/he models that I have to shed an old skin by ingesting it. This second idea suggests that shedding an old skin or “letting go” is not enough. I also need to integrate more shadow qualities as I become a toad grandmother.


Toad is a terrestrial creature who spends a lot of time underground listening to the pulse of the Earth. As a goddess she communes with underground spirits. She also knows how to avoid extremes. Perhaps choosing to align myself with her “ground way of seeing” will help me to send down deeper roots and gain knowledge not otherwise available to me. She may help me to accept my amphibious nature, one that requires regular moisture to thrive, even as she breathes through her skin underground.


Toad also needs water to breed. This creative act is not possible in times of drought and escalating heat, one of the results of climate change that is impacting all life forms including myself. The Earth is on Fire. Perhaps all I can do is to witness what is, and ask her for guidance…


Toad is a healer and has been associated with female shamans for millennia so she carries the potential for healing splits that are the result of living in a patriarchal culture. I am just one of millions of women seeking closure for this collective wounding…


Toad comes to life during the nocturnal hours. Like her I can lean into starry skies and waxing moons just as she does finding nourishment by embracing the dark.


Since I am in the process of becoming an old woman I can’t think of a better Guide or Grandmother figure than Toad whose knowledge of destruction re –creation can help me negotiate the joys and difficulties of aging and dying with grace. Perhaps I can even acquire some wisdom in the process. Her venerable age reminds me that I too may have many more years to live. Only Toad and the cells of my dreaming body know for sure.


So ends this tale of Toad, an almost Old Woman and one who is surely a fierce lover of her own life.


Postscript: This is the second time I have written this essay! In it’s earlier incarnation I wasn’t clear how Toad was guiding me. Now I am.


(photo taken of one of my owls)


It was dark

when I first heard Her

whooing overhead

bearing witness,

ushering in

the First of the

Harvest Moons.

The seasonal wheel turning towards

ripe fruit and swelling seeds.

Summer’s Bounty.

This goddess

is cloaked

in feathery mole brown splendor

a Sphinx flying

through the night.

S/he heralds the

Gift of Water

answering earnest prayers…

As ‘Changing Woman’ she brings rain

to soften cracked desert ground…


Hidden in a tangle of branches

Owl observes my approach…

When I pass

under the Cottonwood tree

she takes flight in silence.

lands on a snag –

luminous eyes glowing.

Fiery embers

sweeten the night.


Her beneficent

Presence floods me

with wonder –

Oh, I know Her well.

Love seeps through

a body punctured by holes.

Seen at last by my Beloved

I give thanks for Owl

whooo calls my name.


Working notes:


Last fall on the night of my birthday I was serenaded by three Great Horned owls conversing outside my window. In the thirty years I had lived in my cabin these owls had never visited me before. The hair stood up on my arms – an omen, I was sure. The owls felt like an embodiment of my mother for reasons I will explain in a moment. Every night after my birthday the owls whooed outside my window until I left Maine for New Mexico six weeks later.


The night after I arrived great horned owls began hooting. I couldn’t escape the irrational thought that the owls had followed me here. I felt confused because although I loved hearing them, each time I did I was also flooded by conflicting thoughts about my mother, and what this omen might portend…


When I was a child I adored my mother – the first woman I ever loved…Unfortunately, my mother didn’t seem to have much use for her daughter, though I did everything I could to please her. A gifted visual artist, my mother loved great horned owls and often drew them. I imitated her, drawing stylized images but I also feared them. The rational explanation for this feeling is, of course, that I feared my mother and equally feared her abandonment of me, so owls became associated with both a fear of women and death. This love and fear of my mother – a distant, cool, unattainable woman dominated my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. It wasn’t until mid-life that I began to separate from her emotionally. It was only then that I began to see her. I recognized that her inability to see me as a person separate from herself ran both ways with disastrous results for both of us. Betrayal characterized our relationship. We gradually became more estranged, and for the last twelve years of her life she refused to see me at all. When she died, initially, all I felt was relief.


It was during mid-life and long before my mother’s death that owls first came into my life. One barred owl flew into the house through a window. Others serenaded me at night. A Snowy owl flew head on almost hitting my windshield. Saw whet owls peered at me during the day and the nights were punctuated by Barred owls whooing at night. I found dead owls on the road, collected their feathers, attended a weekend with a well known Lakota -Souix Medicine Woman who wouldn’t allow me near her because I had “Owl Medicine” (for these Indigenous peoples, the presence of the owl portended certain death). Because I still associated all owls with my mother these occurrences left me with feelings of dread. However, during the next 25 years a great horned owl never appeared to me, and that was a huge relief.


Up until 11 months ago.


When a convocation of three Great Horned owls surrounded my house and started singing the night of my birthday I sensed that I was crossing a threshold and that my mother was on the other side. Their night calls thrilled me even as I struggled to deal with my fright. The owls kept up their symphony until I left Maine for New Mexico six weeks later. Amazingly, I had only been in Abiquiu one day when Great Horned owls started whooing in the cottonwood forest in the predawn hours. I couldn’t escape the uncanny feeling that the owls and maybe my mother had followed me here…


Because I have had intimate relationships with animals all my life I befriended the owls, taking deep pleasure out of their calls, even as I attempted to deal with my fears and reflected over what their continued presence might mean.


I arrived in Abiquiu in a destabilized condition not having any idea what the winter would bring, whether I would make my home here, unsure of whether to sell my house. I was moving into the last years of my life and I wanted them to count. When I look back now it is easy to see that I was in crisis but at the time the obvious escaped me. As it turned out the winter months were very difficult with me wondering if I had made a terrible mistake.


I was walking on air.


At dawn or at night owls continued to serenade me throughout the winter and spring.


In late May just before moving into my present home I found one owl feather outside of the east window. The owl’s feather graced the first Nicho in the house, followed by a second discovered and given to me by the builder a day or so later.


The first night I spent here the owls sang from the cottonwoods. A few days later I found and added three more owl feathers to the Nicho.


All summer I have been graced by owl presence, especially during the full moons when owls have let me see them in the predawn mornings.


On the morning of September 1st almost one year after hearing them for the first time, a hooting owl awakened me… Then for two weeks – Silence. I couldn’t help wondering if this was the end of the owl serenade that had begun almost one year ago…I experienced a powerful sense of loss.


Two nights ago I had a dream about being abandoned, a painful reoccurring theme. When I awakened I heard an owl calling insistently from the cottonwood forest. Feeling a profound sense of relief I rushed outside to listen. I was astonished and delighted when the persistent calls were answered by another adult owl who then flew across the field to join her mate. Now I listened to a conversation occurring between the two that I had never heard before. This murmuring between the two was so intimate I almost felt like I was intruding as I stood under the cottonwood listening for about 15 minutes. When the sounds ceased I looked up to see the two hidden by cottonwood leaves sitting very close together. Joy engulfed me. They were back! Yesterday morning three owls were hooting, the male sat in the cottonwood, the female and the young one hooted from the next field further away.


Just as I opened the door to take a twilight walk that night I heard two owls conversing nearby, found two owl feathers while walking, and then glimpsed another owl flying over my head to land in a juniper high on the mesa!


Reflecting upon this unusual clump of owl sightings after not hearing them for two weeks I thought again about my mother and owls, acknowledging how much I missed them both. Was it possible that as I approach old age my mother in the form of an owl was coming to witness and support me, in a way she was never able to do during her life?


I think the answer is yes and that that the broken thread between a mother and her daughter is being re-woven by the owls that sing to me at night.