I’m trying to get at the idea that women and others who refer to themselves as witches very often do so because in the first place they have been marginalized because they cannot be pinned down in the rigid categories of the religious establishment. The label or identity of witch does not necessarily mean that one situates herself outside the bounds of church or religion, but that her spiritual practices or ways of seeing the world and the holy are threatening to the religious status quo. Witch may be a chosen identity marker, but it may also be an identity conferred by religious dogmatists. Although I have been revising and re-revising, it still feels to me as though this is a poem in process.

Witch (noun) wich,
a word used by the spiritual gatekeepers
within religious and social establishments
(no matter how nominal their own piety)
to denote those who cross the hedge
between the status quo and the wildlands
of spiritual inquiry.

the witch is an excuse
the witch is a scapegoat
the witch cannot be catalogued
the witch will not denounce her truth
the witch disrupts the proceedings
the witch does not offer herself up
to be easily understood

What they do not understand,
they call the Devil,
and banish and punish and shun.

When difference is disciplined,
how do the tamed ones
manage their sameness?

What they do not understand
is that they will snare themselves
in their own rules of order.

For when one question is proscribed,
who knows which questions
will lead to the mine field?
Better to eliminate questions altogether.

the witch is feral and free
the witch is both/and
the witch is a shapeshifter
the witch will ask a thousand questions
and expect more questions in response
the witch has already given herself a name

Gratitude List:
1. A winter-bare tree filled with crows in a drizzling mist
2. People who trust my essential goodness and don’t require me to prove my piety
3. Lunch and good conversations with beloveds
4. The joy of the last week of school before vacation
5. Clean windows. (It’s been a while. Don’t judge.)
May we walk in Beauty!

“The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to all.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Organic images are destroyed if we subject them to linear thinking. How often we judge them as “bizarre” or “weird.” They need to be allowed to grow like plants in a spiraling movement. They carry emotional and imaginative energy as well as intellectual meaning, and as they spiral they are illumined with nuances of feeling. Hence their power to bring wholeness.” —Marion Woodman

“We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.” —Mary Oliver

“Beauty is not a luxury but a strategy for survival.” —Terry Tempest Williams

“The insects and birds and animals are singing themselves into being; this autumn land is dreaming and I am part of that dreaming.” -Sharon Blackie

“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” —Emily Dickinson


Exile is the theme of today’s Poetic Asides Prompt:

There are bubbles of belonging inside these spaces of separation,
places where true soul contact lies, and understanding lives.
It gives the exile a chance to feel connected, even in the crowd
of loud and angry judges who seek to cut away the sinners
from the inner group of those who belong, the righteous ones.

I’m done with trying to seek favor with the hoarders of grace
who place the ancient blood rules and regulations above
the call of love. I’ve chosen my exile and it only remains
to name the spaces where the outcasts can gather together,
our Cafes of Emigres, where grace and mercy are served with the tea.

Love Trumps Doctrine

In honor of civil rights activist and wise man Dr. Vincent Harding, a powerful voice for justice whom the world lost yesterday.  The form is a syllable count style called shadorma (3/5/3/3/7/5).
“Love trumps doctrine, every time.”
–Vincent Harding   (July 25, 1931-May 19, 2014)

Every time
like the ace of spades
like Grandma
like berries
in your breakfast cereal
love will trump doctrine.

The surface of this poem is sweet, and there was great gentleness in Vincent Harding, too.  But it must be noted that his deep love was connected to his work in the struggle for Civil Rights in the United States.  The love he spoke of was not only about simple tenderness, but about willfully choosing to love your enemies.  And then to live by that choice no matter what.

What are the doctrines and dogmas that I hold dear, that you cling to, that keep us from loving as we ought?  It’s just so easy for me to look at someone else and point out the way love gets shredded by creeds.  But then I let myself off the hook.  This week at least, in honor of Dr. Harding, I commit myself to focusing on my own story of intolerance, to seeking those hidden places within me where I grasp ideology more tightly than love.


Gratitude List:
1. People who live by love rather than dogma.
2. Even though they both kick, the occasional night when a snuggly boy joins us in bed.
3. Sorting and tidying.  Here, in the mundane realm.  Up there, in the brain.
4. Possibilities.  If the thing you are doing isn’t working the way you want it to, you can change it.  Or not.
5. Buttercups.  I followed my up-road neighbor’s lead and mowed around them.  They shine so happily at me.

May we walk in Love!