Women with Wings

 

 

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(magpie visiting at dawn)

 

What does it mean when the Black Birds Come?

 

First it was the magpie

Black and White

shivering iridescent

feathers flashing

in every conceivable hue –

warning about extremes.

 

Next the raven took up

residence in in the upper crown

of the Russian Olive

outside my window

quorking his threat

hoarsely at dawn.

 

But when the red – wings arrived

in outrageous numbers

flocking to the ground

a hundred or so at a time

I imagined I heard a Red Bird’s song

rising from the sea…

 

A river of birds around

and over my head cry out

that Nature is always listening

appearing in times of calamitous need

supporting by Presence

a tangible truth

in the midst of

alcoholic delusion.

 

The Great Goddess

comes to life through

trees and birds –

thriving on the edges

of disaster –

offering Comfort

when there is none.

 

Women with Wings

are ancient female spirits

appearing in the guise

of birds whose Love

intervenes

when Fire threatens

to annihilate

just as Gimbutas intuitively

understood.

 

 

 

Working notes:

 

This morning I read Carol Christ’s most recent article on scholar and archeologist Marija Gimbutas whose work has informed my writing for the last thirty years ( Carol P. Christ feminismandreligion.com).

 

Understanding intuitively that Marija spoke truths no one else had dared to utter, I read, wrote, sculpted and listened to Nature with secret relief having finally found a context in which I could find comfort and a reason to go on…

 

Instead of paraphrasing I will quote Christ’s words directly because this woman is a scholar perhaps equal only to Gimbutas herself.

Responding to the backlash against her theories, Gimbutas is said to have told a female colleague that it might take decades, but eventually the value of her work would be recognized. It is now more than twenty years since Marija Gimbutas died in 1994, and the value of her work is beginning to be recognized by (at least some of) her colleagues—including one of her harshest critics. In a lecture titled “Marija Rediviva: DNA and Indo-European Origins,” renowned archaeologist Lord Colin Renfrew (allied with the British Conservative Party**), who had been one of Gimbutas’s most vociferous antagonists and a powerful gate-keeper, concluded the inaugural Marija Gimbutas Lecture at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago with these words: “Marija [Gimbutas]’s Kurgan hypothesis has been magnificently vindicated.”

In the lecture, Colin* explains Gimbutas’s Kurgan hypothesis about the spread of Indo-European languages from the steppes north of the Black Sea by invaders she called “Kurgans,” from a word of Slavic origin which refers to their characteristic burial mounds. Gimbutas spoke of these as “big man” graves, arguing that they marked the appearance of a new cultural group into Europe—one that was patriarchal, patrilineal, and warlike. Before their arrival, the people Gimbutas called “Old Europeans” buried their dead in communal graves, with grave offerings indicating no great difference in wealth or status and no domination of one sex over the other. Gimbutas argued that the “Kurgan” people introduced Indo-European languages into the lands they conquered, as well as new cultural systems based on domination of warriors and kings over the general populace and the domination of men over women. She stated that the Kurgan invasions of Europe began about 4400 BCE and lasted for several millennia.

Colin* dismissed the Kurgan theory, advancing his alternative hypothesis that Indo-European languages were introduced into Europe through the spread of agriculture from the Middle East after 7000 BCE. While Gimbutas spoke of a “clash of cultures” between the peaceful, sedentary, matrifocal cultures of Old Europe and the new culture of the Kurgan warriors, Colin* preferred the theory that cultures change through processes of internal evolution, rather than by violent overthrow.

In his lecture, Colin* discussed the different theories about the diffusion of the Indo-European languages across most of Europe and large parts of the Middle East and South Asia. He cited new evidence based on analysis of DNA in ancient bones that has been published in the last several years, acknowledging that this evidence definitively proves that a group called the “Yamnaya” people entered Europe in large numbers from their homeland north of the Black Sea. Colin* stated that he believed this evidence to be scientifically valid and thus to have proved Gimbutas’s Kurgan hypothesis. Stating that little work had been done on DNA of ancient bones from the area of modern Turkey he postulated as the Indo-Eurpoean homeland, he said that his hypothesis had not been disproved and held out the hope that it too might be proved to be correct. (Most scholars consider this unlikely.)

It is important to note that when Colin* said that Gimbutas’s Kurgan hypothesis has been proved, he was saying only that there is now convincing DNA evidence to uphold her idea that a new population element most likely speaking an Indo-European language entered into Europe at the times she postulated. He did not evaluate or endorse Gimbutas’s theory of a “clash of cultures” between peaceful, sedentary, matrifocal cultures of Old Europe and invading nomadic, warlike, patriarchal cultures of the Indo-Europeans. Nonetheless, in declaring Marija Gimbutas’s Kurgan hypothesis “magnificently vindicated,” Lord Colin Renfrew, considered by many to be “the grand old man” of his field, opened the floodgates. He implicitly gave permission to other scholars to reconsider all of Gimbutas’s theories and perhaps eventually to restore her to her rightful place as one of the most–if not the most–creative, scientific, ground-breaking archaeologists of the twentieth century, “the grand old lady” of her field.”

 The Women with Wings are hidden

among the boughs of the trees that love them,

biding their time until Her Collective Voice rises out of the ashes of a civilization crumbling in collapse.

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Underground

 

Underground,

the conversation

is animated –

full of light.

 

Underground,

trees, fungus,

grasses,  illuminate

the darkest winter soul.

 

Underground,

sweet scented humus

hums new beginnings,

offers hope to the weary.

 

Underground,

a multitude of voices

mycelium, detritus, and rootlets

commune without sound.

 

Underground,

seeds of pinion pine, juniper,

and cottonwood slumber

in comfort and silence.

.

Underground,

Love is a peaceful wave

moving up through

ancient star clusters

over her head.

 

Underground,

the Earth witnesses

a month without sleep

pulsing a dire warning:

You must find a way to Rest.

 

Underground,

the angel of death emerges

from the anguished body

of her dreams.

Her plants and trees are dying –

and she weeps.

“Keep Out”

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Rusty barbed wire

blocks my way

to Owl canyon

the place where

owls pray.

 

When I saw strings of

dirty spiked metal

stretched pole to pole

my heart sank.

 

We had only one day

to visit with the owls

in their sandstone castle

before being turned away.

 

Now cattle can graze

behind bars

in the desert scrub

to put hunks

of bloody red meat

on the table –

fattened by Monsanto’s

Roundup,

and god knows what else.

 

Poisoned from birth

the death of “animal soul”

is present in vacant,

world weary eyes.

 

Held hostage by humans

like the walking dead

do the animals still weep?

 

What we know is that

hormones and pesticides

will be consumed

with great gusto

on the coming Feast days.

 

Can’t anyone see that

Poisoned flesh

like the infamous apple of lore

is rotten to the core?

 

Will no one mourn the

death of these animals

who have become sacrifices

for human consumption?

After the Fall

 

 

Blood red dawn

bleeds through bare branches –

Where is night Owl sleeping ?

A mad raven swoops low.

 

Too far away the river’s flow

sinuous jade serpentine

speaks a language

I do not know.

 

Unshed tears block my vision.

I am floundering in snow.

A pile of Magpie feathers tells one tale…

Loss of Trust murmurs truths I do not want to know.

 

Too far away the river’s flow

sinuous jade serpentine

speaks a language

I do not know.

The Abuser was someone I loved

Dedication: I dedicate this writing to all animals, women, children who have been violated, brutalized or murdered by men.

 

The Abuser was someone I loved.

 

I will never forget

the look in her eyes

when he kicked her

the ugly brown shoe

smashing the domed

brown skull –

the daze – vacant

uncomprehending

falling to the floor

her eyes glazed

still find mine

“What did I do?”

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

I scoop her in

my arms

and flee

slamming a door

to get away

from him –

my terror – her fright

a matrix of confusion

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

I cannot comfort her

or me

shock waves

pass through this animal body

rocking her in my arms

keening,

I beg her for forgiveness.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

I scream into the silence

He will never

touch her again.

My thundering heart

replays the scene in my mind

how could he?

In seconds he shattered

the bond between us.

I believed.

I’ll never trust him again.

 

Is death stalking us both

will she die?

 

I cradle six

pounds of silky fur

and fragile bones

in equally fragile arms,

 

she growls

shaking convulsively

shivering with fear

tears of white anguish

fall on soft skin.

“I’m sorry

I didn’t protect you”

The fault was mine.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

Carved out of stone

raging with fury

I spit out words

a fiery forked tongue

“If you touch her again

I am gone”

Her life is my life…

(And this he doesn’t yet know)

“I would rather

you murder me than harm her

DO you understand?

don’t get near her again”

In a frenzy

Truths tumble incoherently

filling a dead room

(that moments ago seemed to be filled

with peace)

But the promise I make

to us both,

this dog I love

more than my life

is one

that I will not break,

this much I know.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

And meanwhile

concussions take time

To resolve – or not

I can’t wait

I must get her into the

Night, let her walk beside me

feel her body

moving against mine

let the air calm my

racing, rabid heart

let the stars return me

to the woman

I was before

I witnessed this threat

to her life.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

When I look up

at the stars

I see the Great Bear

circumnavigating the sky

feel Nature’s arms

close around me,

the only real comfort

I have ever known.

 

When I return to the house

she jumps up next to him – the man

who could have killed her

with a single blow –

circling back to her abuser.

I know, I once did this too.

 

Is there a concussion still waiting

to strike in the wings?

 

The Sphinx is silent.

 

My god I am sickened by the specter

of bullying, violence, abuse.

 

But I will not live with it.

This I know.

 

 

Working Notes:

 

Veterans Day Weekend 2017 – the weekend we celebrate having “almighty power over” at the cost of human lives.

Lupita

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Lupita,

Your points of light

glow in grave darkness.

 

Hecate’s Moon was red.

The raven sliced the sky into shards.

The river caught shivering stars.

 

We remember our First Mother…a She Bear

Patiently, painfully,

we return broken parts to the Whole.

 

See the Wolf who hides behind the Tree?

Welcome her in.

Only then can we begin…

Again.

 

Working Notes:

Last night I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine that addressed the non- generative aspects of darkness. Just in this last week we have covered the problems of both envy and hatred. Yesterday I spent much of the day struggling with negative feelings, knowing from experience that these would pass. Sometimes, we need permission from others to feel what we feel, and validation that our feelings no matter how fiery are temporary.

When my friend’s partner (who is called Mr. Bear) heard the wolf singing, he came in to get her and she went outdoors with him to listen to the iconic cry of the wilderness. It was All Hallows Eve. Later I learned that when she heard the wolf howl, she howled back, and also howled for me!

Both generative and non generative aspects belong to this dark time of the year which in some traditions begins with the Feast of the Dead, the honoring of the Ancestors, and our own journeying through the dark. Late fall is an uncomfortable time for many.

The above poem was written last year at this time to acknowledge the importance of creating space for the wolf in us and her wild wolf feelings, both positive and negative. Animals incorporate both positive and negative attributes without fear and live out their lives in a state of wholeness that we humans can only imagine.

To think about what it would be like to feel naturally whole I personally am drawn to the ancient image of the Great Bear who circumnavigates the skies, and whose son provides direction helping humans to navigate the dark and the unknown. The celestial bear meets the bears on earth who are preparing for hibernation underground or under the snow. In January, mothers will give birth to cubs, beginning a new life cycle. Together these earth and sky images of the Great Bear offer comfort and remind me that the cycles of living, dying, and birthing are One.

Is this why the Great Bear was worshiped by Neanderthals at the dawn of humankind and later by other humans? These peoples looked to the stars and saw patterns that helped them navigate, and could easily see the shifting seasons on earth mirrored by stars in the sky. More than 50 thousand years ago bear skulls adorned cave walls in Europe and elsewhere. Although we continue to speculate how bear skulls, bones, and later bear effigies were used (in spite of Marija Gimbutas’s scholarly work), attests to our refusal to align ourselves with the Power’s of Nature as wolf, bear, bird or frog. I wonder about this obsessive need to substitute a human image for an animal when it comes to the divine. I think it reveals the terrible split that allows humans to cry out for peace and continue to wage war. We are a broken species that has lost touch with our bodies and that of our mother, the Earth.

 

(Lupita, by the way, translates as Little Wolf in Spanish.)