All Our Relations

photo by Donna Ruiz (

I am always thinking about or — much more accurately — feeling into the relationships among all Earth’s creatures — what scientists call ecology and old stories call kinship. I am struck by all of the different inter-species interactions. There is, of course, the relationship of eating/feeding each other & the behaviors that elicits. A couple of weeks ago I watched a high circling hawk suddenly fold his wings & plunge to earth. I could not see the final outcome but I might guess. I often see crows mobbing hawks ( at our last house, it was owls), loudly cawing their own version of “We see you! Go away, bully, or else…”

Several days ago, as I was watching the local herd of 12 deer grazing in the grassy area below our house, I saw a different sort of interaction: A doe roused a pair of mallards who had been hidden in the long grass at the edge of the mown meadow. The deer alerted, ears up & then resumed grazing. But as the ducks waddled off down the length of the meadow two of the younger deer were fascinated & followed them — not chasing, just curious. And the ducks waddled on. At last, having drawn their observers quite a distance from their hiding place, the ducks flew away. So much to wonder about. Were the ducks nesting? It was an odd place for them…. But mostly I was left with a smile at the gentle way [from my perspective though not, perhaps, the ducks?] the interaction unfolded.

And then, too, I ponder — much less happily — the various ways that those human animals who are members of the capitalist/extractive/consumer culture interact with other-than-human beings.

Of course, when any of us focuses Attention & Intention on something, all sorts of related things seem to pop into one’s field of vision/sensation! The quotes & the story below are some of those gifts that have recently arrived here — a flood of pondering by kindred spirits.

As a result of that flood, I have just kept adding more & more, and this post has gotten very (probably “too”) long. I do hope you’ll at least read the story of The Fox & the Girl at the end.

This post is very long. I just keep adding more & more. But I suddenly realized that today is Earth Day & I should stop now and just post it! I hope you’ll at least read the story of the Fox & The Girl at the end.


According to Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letter from an American,” nearly 60 years ago the amazing scientist and writer Rachel Carson (considered by many to be the Mother of Earth Day) wrote:

“Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature. But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself. [We are] challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.”  

Science has continued to show us the ways in which our actions are destroying Life’s Web, of which we are a part, but it has not been able to motivate a critical mass of people to make the changes necessary to stop the tsunami of damage. Indeed, as we keep relying on technological “solutions,” we are often creating further rips in the Web. Some of the “solutions” being considered (e.g. “geo-engineering”) are absolutely terrifying!

Traditional science is based on the strange myth that a scientist is a “Neutral Observer,” totally disconnected from what she or he is observing. Both ecology and quantum physics have shown this to be an error, but that new awareness has not percolated through the “over-culture” & the stories it tells itself. Can other Stories help us find deeper understanding & knowing? New tellings such as Journey of the Universe by Brian Thomas Swimme & Evelyn Tucker or Swimme’s book The Universe is a Green Dragon translate scientific findings into Story. And, of course, ancient Stories remind of what we have forgotten.

According to the mythtellers, we are part of the living music of the Earth, her dancing story, and our capacity to participate in the music and move with the rhythms was a gift from our animal helpers.

Evolutionary biology also tells us that we inherited from our animal forbears, but evolutionary biology does not tell us how to honor this connection nor how to communicate with it, let alone within it. Myth, born within the participation of honoring and communicating, speaks a different language from science. The original mythtellers were not trying to conceptually “explain” how the world works, to scientifically contain it for management. Those stories, told communally around a fire at night or inside a lodge to young people transitioning to adulthood, were repositories of an ecology of knowing, they held the “parts” of the local Web-of-Life in a living dance of relationships wherein no life was separated from the sacred pattern of familial connection. ….Each telling of a story was active participation in the living landscape, knowledge as intimacy.

— John Shackleton,”Languages closer Than Words”

The following story in Orion ( ) by Chickasaw novelist, essayist, and environmentalist Linda Hogan arrived via the internet not long before John Shackleton’s words above surfaced in one of my piles of papers :

MY LIFE IS ONE ENRICHED BY ANIMALS: cats, dogs, the birds at the raptor rehabilitation center where I volunteer after teaching, and all the wild animals that pass by my little cabin, which sits in a wildlife corridor, bears, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, foxes, deer, bugling elk.I have heard a Pueblo emergence story about a man being sent from the world beneath the earth level to see if his people might ascend there to live in harmony. He climbs a reed and, upon reaching the surface, he first meets the animals. To his surprise, he is wounded by them, but after the wounding, after they have shown him their powers, they heal him. In this way he is taught methods of healing — with plants, with songs, with minerals. When he is whole and has seen this world of richness and beauty, he returns beneath the ground and tells his people, “We have been accepted.” It is a story not only of human mythology, but of animal powers, the teaching of respect for them all. As I stand with the horses beneath the black, wintry sky, watching the elder one eat, her warm, dark eyes looking grateful for food as she chews and concentrates, the wild horse leans against me gently, and I think: I have been accepted. Perhaps she still holds the consciousness of a herd, and for her, I have become a part of it. So often, I have observed that being accepted by animals is something most human beings want and need.

Linda Hogan,”snow”

With Linda Hogan, I believe that “being accepted by animals is something most human beings want and need,” something intrinsic to our own nature as fellow animals, as kin.

Although we humans in the “over-culture” have been tamed and domesticated, I believe there is, in each of us, a wildness that longs to connect with the different wildnesses of our other-than-human relations, that knows we are all kin. Perhaps that is partly why people flock to zoos, why so many of us have pets. And I suspect that many of you have had that magical experience of feeling accepted by a wild animal. A feral cat finally trusting you enough to share your home and your love. The doe that looks at you long & long and then returns, relaxed, to her grazing. The phoebe that nests on the porch and goes happily about her busy-ness as you come and go. I think especially of the coyote — one of several that denned on the hill behind our house on the farm — who deliberately stepped out of the woods and onto the path just in front of me. He stopped…. He gazed at me for minutes/hours/eternity — seeing deep into me — and then, apparently satisfied, disappeared calmly back into the woods.

In “The First People” ( ) Linda Hogan explains further:

That we held, and still hold, treaties with the animals and plant species is a known part of tribal culture. The relationship between human people and animals is still alive and resonant in the world, the ancient tellings carried on by a constellation of stories, songs, and ceremonies, all shaped by lived knowledge of the world and its many interwoven, unending relationships. These stories and ceremonies keep open the bridge between one kind of intelligence and other, one species and other.

What and where are our current stories and ceremonies to open this bridge? Foro


What and where are our current stories and ceremonies 
to open this bridge?

[For one example, see the beautiful story Marti tells in response to my last post.]


It has been said that we humans will never have peace with each other until we are at peace with and at home in the larger Earth community. Several weeks ago I was introduced to “The Curing Fox,” a story from the Cree Nation of North America. This story was gifted to Hugh Lupton and published in his book Tales of Wisdom and Wonder (Barefoot Books, 2006). It has been haunting me, showing this sacred connection among kin in a beautiful way.

Sometimes the telling of indigenous tales by people of European descent is fraught with the ugly history of those who stole & often destroyed the poeples and lands who gave birth to these stories. Sometimes there is, no doubt, a sort of “appropriation” by those of the dominating culture, a further theft, a further kind of colonization — a hunger to fill the emptiness of our current “over-culture.” But that is different from appreciation of & learning-from the stories. The Land still speaks in Stories and those who live on it — especially those of us in the all-too-often deaf and deadly “over-culture” — must begin to listen to and heed the Land’s voice. Often the old stories tell us exactly what the Earth community needs for us to learn. Several weeks ago, I heard the botanist and writer Robin Wall Kimmerer say that along with conservation and restoration of the land, we need to engage in its “re-Story-ation.” It is in that spirit of gratitude and humility that I offer these words.

This is my telling for today, with gratitude to the Cree storytellers who gave breath to this story & kept it alive and to Hugh Lupton was entrusted with the story & shared it with us. I don’t know if this is exactly how it happened, but I know that this Story is true:

This is my telling, based closely on Lupton’s version, and re-told with gratitude to him and to those who told him the story and to the whole community of Cree storytellers who kept the story alive. Re-telling indigenous stories is sometime fraught with the danger of “appropriation,” and this does sometimes occur. But there is a difference between “appropriation” and “appreciation” or “learning-from.” So, this story is told not only with appreciation but also deepest gratitude and humility. This is truly a story that we in the destructive “over-culture” need desperately to hear and to learn from at this time. I don’t know if this is exactly as it happened, but I know that it is true:

There was once a village in a forest clearing. In one lodge, near the edge, there lived a hunter, his wife, and their beloved daughter. She was a happy child — active, curious, always the one to find the ripest sweetest berries and most delicious mushrooms. When her chores were finished, she liked to slip in among the trees, listen to the birdsong, and dance among the shadows.

One day, as icy air from the north shivered into the village, the girl fell ill — struggling to breathe, barely able to stand. A cough shook her whole body and left her gasping.

Her parents placed her bed near the fire. They covered her with the warmest furs and offered her broth & sips of tea from the summer herbs she’d gathered & dried herself– but still the girl coughed and gasped for air, growing weaker and weaker. On the third day, her father went to ask the village healer, old Duck Egg, for help.

Duck Egg entered their lodge silently and went straight over the the girl. Still without speaking, Duck Egg lowered her ear to the girl’s chest. She listened carefully for a long time. “I hear a fox,” she said. “I hear a young she-fox struggling through the snow. I hear her sinking again & again through the icy crust of the deep, deep snow — khuh, khuh, khuh. Her paws have grown sore. It is so hard for her. She is hungry and growing weaker. We need to help that poor fox.”

After a moment, her father spoke. “I am a hunter. I will find the little fox.” Without further words he rose from the floor by his daughter’s bed and, after gathering together the things he would need for his journey, the father tied on his snowshoes and stepped out into the swirling snow and the bitter wind.

The hunter walked for a long, long time through the forest. He could see the tracks of deer and the trees where they had gnawed the small branches. He saw the skittering script left by snowshoe rabbits. But it was only as evening was falling that he saw the tracks of a fox. In one print there was a trace of blood from a worn paw. “This must be the poor little fox,” thought the hunter, and he followed the trail. Once, just up ahead, he glimpsed a flash of red between the broad trunks of the trees. A thin fox was forging her way ahead of him, struggling as she ran through the deep snow.

Back in the village, old Duck Egg again placed her ear on the girl’s chest. She listened long and long. At last, she raised her head and said to her mother, “I hear the sound of your husband’s snowshoes and, nearby, the crunch-crunching as the fox’s paws fall through the crust — khuh, khuh, khuh.” She lowered her head again and listened. “He has seen the fox,” she said. “He has seen the poor little fox.”

At nightfall the hunter made his camp and kindled his fire. The flames leapt brightly. The little she-fox felt the warmth. She moved as close as she dared, hidden among the flickering shadows of the trees.

In the village, Duck Egg listened closely to the girl’s chest before speaking to her mother. “Your husband has built a hot fire and the fox feels the warmth. Tonight your daughter will be hot with fever.” And sure enough, though they laid cool cloths on the girl’s forehead, she sweated and glowed with fever all night long.

In the morning, the fox began to run once more, every step sinking through the icy crust with every step — khuh, khuh, khuh — slower and slower And, in the village, the girl shivered and coughed — khuh, khuh, khuh.

The hunter followed the fox and soon caught up with her. The frightened little she-fox stopped and turned towards the hunter. “Why have you been following me?” she asked in a shaky voice. “Go ahead and kill me. I am tired of running.”

The hunter looked at the fox. She was thin. Her copper coat was dull and rimed with frost. He reached down and picked her up. As he cradled her shivering body, he felt her heart beating quickly with terror. “I will not kill you, little fox,” he said. “I will help you. And perhaps my daughter will be well again.” The hunter turned toward home, the fox still trembling with terror in his arms.

In the village, the daughter began to shiver. Old Duck Egg listened to how wildly her heart was beating. To her mother she said, “Your husband has found the weary and frightened she-fox. He is holding her in his arms. They will soon be home.” The daughter gasped for air. Her heart struggled and each beat shook her thin bony chest. Her eyes began to dull. The girl’s mother sat weeping but Duck Egg was silent, listening to the girl’s heart, listening to the world.

After a day and a night, they heard the hunter’s snowshoes crunching towards their lodge. He pulled aside the deer hide that covered the door and stepped into the warmth, carrying the limp and nearly lifeless fox in his arms. Gently he laid her on the thick furs at the foot of his daughter’s bed.

“Bring meat,” commanded old Duck Egg, and the mother brought fresh meat to the fox. At first the fox was too weak and weary to do more than sniff and lick at the meat, but little by little she began to chew. And finally the fox ate it all. She closed her eyes, and went to sleep.

The girl, still coughing, slept beside the fox. Nestled in warm furs by the fire, they slept for a long time.

No one spoke. Then, at the very same moment, the fox and the girl opened their eyes. Duck Egg saw that their eyes were brighter now and she smiled. “Bring more meat,” she said.

Again the mother brought fresh meat She placed it beside the fox and, without any hesitation, the little fox ate every scrap. The fox stood up. She shook herself, fluffing out her bright copper coat.

Duck Egg nodded at the father.

Duck Egg raised the girl to sitting and held her so she could watch as her father pushed aside the deer hide. The fox watched too.

Then out the door the little she-fox trotted — strong and firm.

Duck Egg and the girl watched together as the fox gradually disappeared into the falling snow. When they could no longer see the fox, they listened to her footsteps, still strong and firm, moving away through the storm. The sounds grew fainter. Finally, they heard only silence. Inside the lodge, the girl’s cough stopped. She got up and walked to the door. Looking out at the forest and the snow, she smiled.

Old Duck Egg rose too. She nodded.

As so it was.

photo by Hayden Huntley (


Finally, I want to share with you some remarkable images to ponder. They are by Sarolta Ban . I am especially intrigued by the 3rd image down.

P.S. You might also enjoy checking out her video, “Fable of the Wolf,” and the brief clips of the howling wolves.

The beautiful Red Wolf you hear howling is indigenous to North Carolina and is nearing extinction. Currently only between 13 (collared) and 19 (estimated) are living freely in the coastal forests of NC wildlife refuges. Early efforts to re-wild captive-born red wolves were successful but ran into problems of politics, perception, and funding. New programs are being implemented. There is still hope that these magnificent beings may once again roam freely, taking part in all the interactions of the land where they evolved. Can we humans learn that we are not the sole “managers” of the land, that each kind of being is vital the creation of a complex & healthy web of Life? Can we learn what our role is?


From the poet Gary Snyder:

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”

Old Oak is Teaching Me

Life is a process

~~ always beginning ~~
 -- emerging, opening, changing, transforming --
~~ beginning again~~

it takes


March 27 – First Buds


April 1- Emerging


April 4 – First Flowering


April 9 – Full Flowering


April 15 – First Leaves


April 20 – Transforming the Sunlight

And these words by Mary Oliver about her friend, the great poet & devoted gardener Stanley Kunitz

STANLEY KUNITZ  by Mary Oliver

I used to imagine him
coming from the house, like Merlin
strolling with important gestures
through the garden
where everything grows so thickly,
where birds sing, little snakes lie
on the boughs, thinking of nothing
but their own good lives,
where petals float upward,
their colors exploding,
and trees open their moist
pages of thunder --
it has happened every summer for years.

But now I know more
about the great wheel of growth,
and decay, and rebirth,
and know my vision for a falsehood.
Now I see him coming from the house --
I see him on his knees,
cutting away the diseased, the superfluous,
coaxing the new,
knowing that the hour of fulfillment
is buried in years of patience --
yet willing to labor like that
on the mortal wheel.

Oh, what good it does the heart
to know it isn't magic!
Like the human child I am
I rush to imitate --
I watch him as he bends
among the leaves and vines
to hook some weed or other;
even when I do not see him,
I think of him there
raking and trimming, stirring up
those sheets of fire
between the smothering weights of earth,
the wild and shapeless air.


Something to ponder:

What do we mean when we worry about the “End of Civilization”?

“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones.
But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.

A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said.”

I do not know the origin of this quote. It was just sent to me by my beloved sister(-in-law) Jonni. It struck such a deep chord within me that I just had to share it with you all.


In the library last week I spotted a book of Mary Oliver’s poems with which I was not familiar. I picked it up, opened it randomly, and found this poem.

HEART POEM by Mary Oliver

My heart, that used to pump along so pleasantly,
has come now to a different sort of music.

There is someone inside those red walls, irritated
and even, occasionally, irrational.

Years ago I was part of an orchestra; our conductor
was a wild man.  He was forever rapping the music-
stand for silence.  Then he would call out some
correction and we would begin again.

Now again it is a wild man.

I remember the music shattering, and our desperate

Once he flung the baton over our heads and into
the midst of the players.  It flew over the violins
and landed next to a bass fiddle.  It flopped to the 
floor.  What silence!  The someone picked it up
and it was passed forward back to him.  He rapped
the stand and raised his arms.  Then we all breathed
again, and the music restarted.

I had to smile. What a beautiful description!!!

The local cardiologists, surgeons, and electrophysiologists have all conferred & told me that there is nothing more that they can do to help my heart. They did, however, enthusiastically suggest that, since the leakage in my tricuspid valve is “torrential,” I might be a good candidate for participation in a research trial involving a new procedure developed by Abbott Labs. One of the trials is being held in a large medical facility only an hour and a half away, so they sent off my records & I settled down to wait for a response, wondering, hoping. At length, the doctor running the trial called me down to Charlotte for yet another echo-cardiogram & a clear, enthusiastic,and quite fascinating explanation of the procedure. The doctor said that one trial had just been completed elsewhere with exciting results and that “You’ll be reading about it!” [And sure enough — yesterday (3/5) the NY Times had a long article describing the symptoms and the trial’s excellent results: ]

I was told that during the next few days, the research team would meet to discuss my case & by the end of the week they’d call back with a schedule of tests needed before the procedure.

Indeed, a call came, not to offer a schedule but to set up an appointment to talk with the doctor. I knew then what to expect. Every time a doctor talks to me, the first sentence is “You know your case is very complicated.” The ensuing conversation with this doctor began the same way. The team didn’t think they could successfully carry out the procedure on my heart and, even if they managed to do it, they thought that — given all my other heart & lung complications — it probably wouldn’t make much difference anyway. So…. a dead-end.

Well, I’m telling you this long story only because of the surprising (to me) and wonderful, joyful outcome — truly old Trickster teaching me his famous side-step! Somehow I feel liberated! No longer wasting energy considering possible remedies, various strategies, what-ifs & hopes, I feel free to just accept, with gratitude, that this is how it is going to go for me & to get on with finding ways to live my life as meaningfully as possible anyway. Every life has its constraints. These are mine. So what?

Acknowledgement & acceptance have led to a wonderful increase in — or reclamation of — my inner Fire. This has helped me finish a project that had been languishing or, at best, proceeding very, very s-l-o-w-l-y for months. Somehow, my conversations with the fibers must have continued to simmer in some hidden inner cauldron. Now the embers rekindled & flamed and the cooking began in earnest. I began to show up more regularly in my work/play room & my conversation with the fibers began to flow again. The completion has (as always) hit some snags & included some tedious bits but, once I started to work again, the impetus — the Fire — stopped faltering & grew.

This past year, I have heard 3 different Slavic stories of the beautiful magical Firebird [not to be confused with the Persian Phoenix who rises from her own ashes]. I told one of the stories in my 9/23/22 post.

These stories have enchanted and evoked some deep resonance within me. Encounters with the Firebird are never simple. Always the finding of a Firebird feather signals the beginning of a difficult adventure that leads one deeper into one’s true self. The adventure usually involves a tsar demanding (with the threat of death) that one capture the Firebird, the delivery of the Firebird to the tsar, and then the freeing the Firebird at last. The Firebird is elusive and wild. Those in power seek to cage it for themselves, but always it must be, will be, freed — just like the Fire within ourselves. And just as the Firebird is wild so, too, in the required series of tasks & adventures, the “hero” requires help from an animal (a talking horse or big gray wolf in the stories I heard). No rule book could provide the necessary map & answers nor could his own human rationality, but Wildness itself showed the way. There is much here for me to learn.

Touched by the Firebird


[On a larger-than-personal level, my shift is a bit like finally having realized that we are, in fact, already in the midst of the disasters (ecological, political, economic, technological, etc.) that we have struggled for so long to prevent, hoping we could somehow stave them off and return to what we’d thought of as “normal.” Our need to act remains, but — recognizing that deep & irreversible changes have already taken place — can we channel more of our emotional energy away from fear or ranting or trying futilely to “stand our ground” when that ground has already become shifting windblown sand dunes? Can we focus our energy not on so much “combat” as on creative responses to the evolving situation? I believe that, in spite of everything, we can uphold our gratitude & reverence for all life and “remember who we are and how we got here, accept the inevitable, honor our grief, and prioritize what is  pro-future and soul-nourishing.” We can live “meaningfully,  compassionately, and courageously no matter what.” (Quotes from ) ]

“Sometimes I go about pitying myself. All the time I am being carried on great winds across the sky.”

Chippewa Song

Imbolc, Time of Emergence; Brigid, Goddess of Creative Fire

Sometimes it takes a message from the larger world to shift our inner and outer paths. Sometimes the message arrives via spoken word or by e-mail, letter, or book. Sometimes it arrives, early in the morning, from Crow, whose presence in Old Oak speaks clearly to me without need of human words.

Sometimes, the necessary message wells up from many different sources/places/beings all at once– coming again and again like quick beats of a Drum moving my feet, my body, my spirit into a different Dance.

That is the kind of synchronicity that I have experienced this week. My deepest gratitude to all that have helped in their different ways to open my heart, letting in fresh air to fan dim embers back into flame. On my walks, I have seen the gift of crocus blossom and rising shoots of narcissus. It is time.

Yesterday was February 1. That day is associated with Imbolc — Celtic season of Emergence and New Life, whose name is derived from words meaning “in the belly,” pointing to the time of early spring lambing, to Birth. It is also the day associated with Brigid. She is Celtic goddess, historic person, and Christian saint — embodying — in all her forms — Unification, Inclusion, Mercy, Hospitality, the Fire of Passionate & Creative Purpose, and the Sacredness (Sovereignty) of the Land.

Yesterday — February 1, 2023 — was also the first celebration of a new national holiday in Ireland, the first national Irish holiday dedicated to a woman — Brigid.

You might enjoy the Irish video prepared to mark that special day: Finding Brigid . The video explores all the aspects of Brigid and why she is so important to women today. It concludes that Brigid is, for each of us, a mirror — and so, I would add, is every myth, legend, story. I recently came across a quote (lost to me for now) or maybe dreamed the image of a Story built of mirrors, arranged in constellations that reflect and illuminate not only the listener but so much more.

Now, blessed as I am with the spirit of Imbolc/Emergence, it seems like the time (Kairos) to open my heart & hands, to reach out to the vastness of Community which spreads from each being in ever-growing circles –like ripples on water in which a stone has been dropped — onward and outward to furthest reaches of the Cosmos. So, here I am.

Firebird stories and images have long been haunting me (see, for example, Sept. 23, 2022), but I have hindered myself with feelings of the difficulty (impossibility?) of embodying what is speaking to me. Materials have been left to languish helplessly on my table. But now, once more aware that I — like all — am filled with the Fire that the ancient goddess Brigit celebrates, I gather the colors and textures together — giving them permission to begin taking whatever form they will, curious to discover whatever may emerge, viewing with with kindness and acceptance rather than judgement.

* * * * * * *

Mindful of the anguish caused by the wildfires that have engulfed so much of Earth and by the turmoil and pain as Earth’s inner that erupt in lava flow and quake, I can’t help but wonder whether I am being insensitive to dwell so much on the metaphor of Fire as Life. And yet, in fact, there would be no Life here without the generous Fire of the Sun, the Fire of Earth’s core…..

So today I will leave you to ponder a prayer & blessing by John O’Donohue ( from his book To Bless the Space Between Us:

"Let us praise the grace and risk of Fire.

 In the beginning,
 The Word was red,
 And the sound was thunder,
 And the wound in the unseen
 Spilled forth the red weather of being.

 In the name of the Fire,
 The Flame
 And the Light:
 Praise the pure presence of fire
 That burns from within
 Without thought of time.

 The hunger of Fire has no need
 For the reliquary of the future;
 It adores the eros of now,
 Where the memory of the earth
 In flames that lick and drink the air
 Is made to release

 Its long-enduring forms
 In a powder of ashes
 Left for the wind to decipher.

 As air intensifies the hunger of fire,
 May the thought of death
 Breathe new urgency
 Into our love of life.

 As fire cleanses dross,
 May the flame of passion
 Burn away what is false.

 As short as the time
 From spark to flame,
 So brief may the distance be
 Between heart and being.

 May we discover
 Beneath our fear
 Embers of anger
 To kindle justice.

 May courage
 Cause our lives to flame,
 In the name of the Fire,
 And the Flame,
 And the Light."

And, just as I finished writing this, a final word came from the cardinal outside my window: Feast and Fly Free!


Back in March 2021, when I sent that first installment of “Sharing Trickster’s Hoard” flying out into the unknown, I wrote: “I’ll start by posting once a week on Fridays. Then we’ll see whether Trickster has something else in mind.” I’ve stuck with Fridays for almost two years — 94 posts. As much as I dislike deadlines, they are often life-lines for me — forcing me to stop galloping off in a dozen different directions & focus my thoughts. So, once a week it has been — a good, rhythmic journey from which I’ve learned much more than I had ever expected. Now, however, Trickster is taking me by the hand & suggesting I try something else.

Over the last 10 years or so, my body has developed a number of issues, the main one being my heart — its crumbling architecture & its tangled and unreliable wiring — blood unable to proceed smoothly on its expected rounds, wildly erratic heartbeats, no steady rhythm on which to build. With unpredictable days when neither my brain nor the rest of my body get all the blood they need, my life has changed. I cannot depend on my body to cooperate with my plans & schedules.

Sharing Trickster’s Hoard continues to be a precious & liberating experience for me — and I love hanging out with all you wonderful & amazing people. So, I’ve decided not to say my farewells. There are so many unfolding wonders & wonderings & stories still to play with. And l love hearing your responses & your stories in return! Such gifts you have given me!

I will send out letters to you as I can — quite randomly. And randomness is certainly in keeping with both Trickster & what many scientists tell us about the underlying nature of the Universe! 🙂


In the January Reflection sent out by The Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World , I was delighted to see this quote from Thomas Berry:

“Through our contact with the natural world we learn that the universe throughout its vast extent in space and throughout its long sequence of transformations in time is a single multiform celebratory event.  Our role is to enter into this celebration in a special mode of conscious self-awareness, for this celebration is the divine liturgy, the purpose of all existence, a celebration begun in time but continued through eternity.”

Questions I’ve been asking myself today:

If the Universe is an on-going Emergence, how am I emerging at this point in time?

How am I — as part of the Universe — celebrating?

I’ve been spending long moments, even hours, beholding the land behind our house: this morning’s dense fog; my teacher, Old Oak; the birds that gather at the feeders in such a perfect & perfectly surprising array of sizes, forms, colors & personalities; and the shifts & plays of winter light. Such beauty! And I no longer have much doubt that Beholding, Loving, and Praising are “Real Work” — maybe as important to the Cosmos as any other form of creative work I might undertake. It’s not as tangible as a woven mask or a story or a garden or a tasty stew, but could it be just as essential? Certainly it is Celebration!

And what of praise?

In his poem of the same name, the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski implores us to “Try to Praise the Mutilated World.”

Pattiann Rogers has written a lovely poem imagining the role of Praise, which I may have already shared with you:


Suppose the molecular changes taking place
In the mind during the act of praise
Resulted in an emanation rising into space.
Suppose that emanation went forth
In the configuration of its occasion:
For instance, the design of rain pocks
On the lake's surface or the blue depths 
Of the canyon with its horizontal cedars stunted.

Suppose praise had physical properties
And actually endured? What if the pattern
Of its disturbances rose beyond the atmosphere,
Becoming a permanent outline implanted in the cosmos ---                  
The sound of a celebratory banjo or horn
Lodging near the third star of Orion's belt;
Or to the east of the Pleiades, an atomic
disarrangement of the words,
"How particular, the pod-eyed hermit crab
and his prickly orange legs"?

Suppose benevolent praise,
Coming into being by our will,
Had a separate existence, its purple or azure light
Gathering in the upper reaches, affecting
The aura of morning haze over autumn fields,
Or causing a perturbation  in the mode of an asteroid.
What if praise and its emanations
Were necessary catalysts to the harmonious
Expansion of the void?  Suppose, for the prosperous
Welfare of the universe, there were an element
Of need involved.

Well, why not?

photo by Luke Stackpoole (

The Wise Trees

Winter Trees — by William Carlos Williams

"All the complicated details
 of the attiring and
 the disattiring are completed!
 A liquid moon
 moves gently among
 the long branches.
 Thus having prepared their buds
 against a sure winter
 the wise trees
 stand sleeping in the cold."

Here in the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice will occur on December 21. The word “Solstice” derives from two Latin words meaning “Sun” & “Stopped/Stationary.” The sun — which has been rising & setting further and further south every day [or, in the southern hemisphere, further north] — appears to stop its southward path for three days before reversing its journey to move gradually further north, lengthening our days. There seems to be a pause in the sun’s travels, a stopping, a still point….

Excerpt from BURNT NORTON (No. 1 of ‘Four Quartets’) by T.S. Eliot

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

In our human world, this is a time of festivities and celebrations in many traditions. It is a time when we gather together to rejoice in the lengthening days & to strengthen relationships as we face the deepening cold. In our U.S. version, however, it has tended to become a time of blatant commercialization & frenzied consumerism. The simpler, beautiful, heart-inspired rituals of the season can too easily become buried, overwhelmed by the rush, drowned out by the noise.

For many reasons, this year I need to honor the Still Point, to step back, to stand quietly — like the wise trees — resting a bit, dreaming roots & paths & ways of being that I have not yet imagined.

I am taking the next two weeks off from Trickster’s Hoard. I’ll be back on January 6th — a new year, a time for new weavings of fibers, stories, and thoughts.

For now, I want to leave you with a poem by Pattiann Rogers that, for me, captures the way a cold winter wind can actually be enlivening, can carry to me the mysteries of the far north [a place that has haunted me all my life] & bring me the dreams of the Old Ones whose wisdom — born of their deep & sacred communion with place — kept them alive through times of ice and hunger.

THE FIRST NORTHERby Pattiann Rogers

Arriving all evening, turning up the bellies
Of oak leaves, parting the edges
Of cotton hulls and spikelet shafts, it comes,
Having swept first over deserts
Of black tundra, having brushed the flanks
Of the musk ox, descended into the dark
Bubbles of the pipits’ lungs and out again.
It has been slack in the wings 
Of the snowy owl, static in the webs
Of a thousand firs, but it comes now
Pressing particles of down
And whale smoke, penetrating windows
With spirits of cedar, frost
From the lemming’s mouth.

Aware of its presence, what will happen to us then
If we choose to leave this room together,
If we walk out among the trees maintaining
Their broken intentions against the wind
And stop beside the wall, feeling the hiss
Of Arctic lichen in our sweaters, the rush
Of frozen grasses in our hands?
You and I, tasting the same air that touched
The eye of the caribou in migration,
Taking into our lungs the same molecules
That reckoned their motion over icy plains
By darkness alone?  Surrounded
And utterly possessed, how will you speak
To me then? How will I ever reply?

Sending you love & all the blessings of this season, however it enters your life and your heart — Margery

With Gratitude to All Teachers of Whatever Kind

Wise words from Jude Hill, November 19, 2022:

“Yesterday, simply asking myself a lot of questions. Today trying to answer them.  But I think answers don’t apply for very long really.  Things are always changing. And I, we, are only human and answers, there aren’t any really.  Questions are prompts for considering, and answers , well what if they are just coffee breaks?”


Thank you all for your warm, wonderful, and kind contributions this past week. This safe circle is truly a sacred space.

And thank you again, Tina, for your question. It has been said that a good question prompts more questions. That has certainly my experience this last couple weeks. I keep finding more & more questions, shifting perspectives, uncovering important memories…. My mind/spirit does enjoy finding connections that expand & complexify things. [No doubt part of my love of Paradox & Trickster.] So — a simple question requesting one title of one book sent me off down many maze-like rabbit holes at once. (And, of course, it doesn’t help that I am what my husband calls a “bookaholic.”)

I began to think about the myriad of books that have ignited life-changing passions, patterns, ways of being — starting with the books my mother read to me as a young child…… I thought about how, in 1986, a single step into an unexpected bookstore led me to randomly open a book to the poem that gave me the courage to make a difficult but necessary life-changing (shattering) decision.

And then I thought beyond the books to some of the authors with whom I was later fortunate enough to interact for a day or a week or, occasionally, for months.

I thought of folktales & myths which I was told — encountering them with my ears & body, rather than through the written word.

And then, beyond words — to experiences such as time spend beyond language with the land, plants, and animals for months in Kenya or daily in my own backyard. Or Aramaic chants & the Dances of Universal Peace with a Sufi master — sounds & movements that helped me develop and deepen a new relationship with my body, moving from head-centered to heart-centered.

Oh, I could go on & on — but would any of this be helpful in the sense of a “recommendation”? It’s the story of my life, which may or may not be relevant to another in one or many (or no) details.

So — I am incapable of recommending one book or one experience or one teacher (human or other). But what I did realize as I thought about possible answers was that it is the very diversity of books, experiences, and teachers that is the treasure.

I guess if I have any recommendation it is to Cherish your Curiosity.

And another recommendation [I told you I couldn’t do just one!] is to Practice Gratitude. Even though it is often hard or may seem impossible at times, I believe we can learn to give gratitude for whatever we meet along the way — be it book, dance, idea, personal teacher, unexpected bird, Old Woman in the Forest, or Coyote at the Crossroads. I often fail. Still, whatever my response, I believe each encounter does have at its heart (though often disguised & recognized only in hindsight) something I need to learn. The gift can come gently or with the roughness of a rusty blade, but it is something that can help in building a more grounded, kinder, and wiser life. And building such a life from what is at hand is something I will keep trying to do.

THE HOUSE  --- by Mary Oliver

It grows larger,
wall after wall,
on some miraculous arrangement
of panels,
blond and weightless
as balsa, making space
for windows, alcoves,
more rooms, stairways
and passages, all
in light, with here
and there the green
flower of a tree,
vines, streams
breaking through --
what a change 
from the cramped
room at the center
where I began, where I crouched
and was safe, but could hardly
breathe!  Day after day
I labor at it;
night after night
I keep going --
I'm clearing new ground,
I'm lugging boards,
I'm measuring,
I'm hanging sheets of glass,
I'm nailing down the hardwoods,
the thresholds --
I'm hinging the doors --
once they are up they will lift
their easy latches, they will open
like wings.

— photo by Mark Olsen —

Two Gifts

Last week Tina, in her comment, wrote: “I feel I have spent my whole life searching for a better kinder self. It’s why I visit here everyday. If you would recommend one book to read .. what would it be?? I want help!” It was a good question, but I couldn’t answer it — I couldn’t recommend just one book. There have been too many different ones at different times. I meandered at length through a maze of thoughts & feelings and finally wrote a long response …. but somehow my response disappeared into the ether, into the Virtual Dark Hole. Then, when I sat down to try to reconstruct it yesterday, I had total writer’s block.

I’ll write more next week but, in the meantime, if any of you have suggestions, please put them in today’s comments to share with all the circle. Thank you so much! We’re all in this together.


This morning my dreams wanted to keep me trapped in their web & the down-filled duvet was so warm, so comforting. But a whisper came, a line by Rumi:

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell. Don’t go back to sleep.”

I got up and raised the blinds — opened my eyes to the beautiful world. The pale sky was filled with several different amazing patterns of light gray clouds moving in some stately dance . As I watched, the still-invisible sun began to stain them a deep magenta that gradually spread upward & outward — every moment different — gradually changing — through coral to a more golden tint.

It was pure gift.

I was totally engaged — embraced by the world, experiencing more comfort than any quilt could offer. Just before the fading began, I finally tore myself loose to take a photo. I wanted to share the gift with you.

[And only now, as I write this & look at today’s photo, do I remember the dawn I saw out the hospital window when I was 18. I’d had a bad bicycle accident, with a concussion, and that dawn was my first awareness of coming back into myself. Another gift.]

Dawn in Greensboro, 12/1/2022

Then — after breakfast, I turned on my computer, and found this beautiful December Reflection from The Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World: .

Again, pure gift.

“The experiences that we have spoken of as we look up at the starry sky at night, and as, in the morning, we see the landscape revealed as the sun dawns over the Earth – these experiences reveal a physical world but also a more profound world that cannot be bought with money, cannot be manufactured with technology, cannot be listed on the stock market, cannot be made in the chemical laboratory, cannot be reproduced with all our genetic engineering – cannot be sent by e-mail.  These experiences require only that we follow the deepest feelings of the human soul.

What we look for is no longer the Pax Romana, the peace among humans, but the Pax Gaia, the peace of Earth and every being on the Earth.  This is the original and final peace, the peace granted by whatever power it is that brings our world into being. ….”

~ Thomas Berry, Evening Thoughts (from The Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World, December Reflection, )


Even in difficult, ugly times, the Earth offers so much Beauty….

The world will be saved by beauty.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky


In the United States, we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday (the 4th Thursday of November). I hope each of you, wherever you are, had a good day with much to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving, among other things, celebrates the day in 1621 when about 90 people — native Wampanoags & the Puritan settlers, who had recently arrived from England & needed the help of the local people — gathered together to share food & celebrate the harvest. Since childhood, I have been buoyed up by the image of two very different peoples coming together in a spirit of friendship and sharing. Later, of course, I learned that such a spirit was quickly dissolved as the settlers attacked the indigenous people and stole their land. Still, I like to focus on the image of that moment sharing across divisions.

I am reminded, too, of the Hindu woman in India who received a relief package of rice during hard times. She meticulously counted out the kernels and gave half to her Muslim neighbor. Such caring & sharing is something beautiful that holds the world together. I am thankful for the possibility of this way of being.

Today (Friday) is Native American Heritage Day. This is a time for the indigenous people of Turtle Island to celebrate their traditions, including the ways they have learned to care for the land that sustains them. It is a time for those Americans whose ancestors came from other lands to give thanks for the wisdom that Native Americans have developed over millennia as they have lived with & cared for this land. And it is a time to give thanks for their willingness to share that wisdom now as we all confront the damage that the dominant “settler” mindset has created during the last 5 centuries and that we must now confront together.

This wisdom is embodied in the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, which is proclaimed at the beginning of every solemn gathering. After each short section of the address is recited, all the people present affirm their unity and their gratitude by saying “Now our minds are one.

May we all now affirm our praise and gratitude to the Earth community!

I’ve printed the Haudenosaunee Address below.

You can also find a lovely illustrated & more meditative copy of the Address at

And at You can see a video of native people explaining what the Address means to them. On that page, also, Robin Wall Kimmerer is quoted:

“You can’t listen to the Thanksgiving Address without feeling wealthy. And, while expressing gratitude seems innocent enough, it is a revolutionary idea. In a consumer society, contentment is a radical proposition. Recognizing abundance rather than scarcity undermines an economy that thrives by creating unmet desires…The Thanksgiving Address reminds you that you already have everything you need… That’s good medicine for land and people alike.”

— Robin Wall Kimmerer, from braiding Sweetgrass


Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address:
Greetings to the Natural World

The People
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and
streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish
We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden.  Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and
appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength.
With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers
Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one
to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers. 

Now our minds are one.

The Sun
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator
Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.
This translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address was
developed, published in 1993, and provided, courtesy of: 
Six Nations Indian Museum and the
Tracking Project All rights reserved.

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World 
English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) 
Mohawk version: Rokwaho (DanThompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) 
Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, WolfClan/Mohawk) 


Giving thanks today to the woodland community that has sheltered so many:

Thanksgiving Day walk in the Guilford College Woods near our house — once an important part of the Underground Railroad