Lessons from My Father

People often say I’m the female version of my dad – an ENFP that is gregarious, the life of the party, the best kind of friend to have, funny, a brilliant writer, and a passionate person that fights for a cause we both dearly care about: the environment.

When I was born in 1992, my father took me to our family cottages on Monhegan Island, Maine and baptized me in the Atlantic waters so that I would always return to the lobstering and artist community town for the rest of my life, where my forefathers are buried on Lighthouse Hill and I have already chosen where to put my grave.  A natural paradise, with no roads and wilderness and the highest cliffs on the East Coast of America, Monhegan is in many ways my heart.

As a child, very little, I would spend hours outside playing, making walks with my parents exacerbatingly slow as I stopped to sniff Every. Single. Flower.  I grew up running through the woods wild as the fey in the park at the end of my cul de sac, a place of magic where I collected red tailed hawk feathers, played with minnows and frogs, and basked amongst bluebells each spring.  I grew up going to national parks when my dad worked for the National Park Service and Nature Conservancy, and the first memories I have of ever wanting a career at maybe six were clear: I wanted to save the beautiful animals and plants that sang to me in the forests.  I wanted to be just like my dad, a conservationist.

All of my writing is inspired by nature – from the metaphors in my poetry to the very pagan characters I write who are gods of yore of rain, agriculture, the forest, herbs, and animals.  I prayed to stars and boulders and trees as a child, and I am an animist through and through.  Nature to me is sacred.  Holy.  Where man meets the wild, those liminal spaces, are my cathedrals.  My goal is to help create a world that can develop sustainably while preserving ecosystem services and defending rare and endangered species.

I have always wanted to serve.  To help the animals I loved from as early as I was capable of caring about something other than me.  From the age of 19 on, I have worked in the DC conservation scene from everything to bird conservation to renewable energy development.  Nonprofits are my lifeblood, a lesson instilled in me by my father, a famous conservationist and fundraiser who is famous for helping reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone and spearheading the fundraising arms of everything from American Rivers to the Nature Conservancy.

Like my dad, I am a child of the woods, of the ocean, of the Chesapeake and Maine.  I am a bleeding heart liberal tree-hugging dirt-worshipping Heathen.  Freyr is my Green Man. Loki is my lightning-struck tree.  Odin is the storm, Thor my thunder.  Skadi beautiful winter and Idunna the fruits of Virginia wineries.  In nature I see my gods, and my gods are nature.  I organize invasive species cleanups with my kindred and we are even thinking of adopting a highway.  I feel most at peace removing kudzu, barberry, or trash from the Potomac.  Doing good, true work and getting dirty with my hands is what makes me feel most whole.

At work, I use my writing and communication skills to save endangered species at my dream job, and on my off time I go hiking and camping and on 50 mile bike rides through the countryside.  Nature is my Mother, my succor and cathedral.  Nerthus, Jord, Rind – all names for my Ultimate Power.  My Divine Mother is eldritch but immediate, the power behind God and the gods, whom the immortals worship, the carved Neolithic Venus figurines, the carvings at Catal Huyuk.  I revel in the definition of pagans as rustic, nature worshippers, and I am never happier than when I am in the ocean or woods.

I studied biology and ecology out of love for nature.  I chose a career in conservation out of love for Mother Earth.  She gives and gives and gives until she breaks, and humanity must give back in return, otherwise all the water will be poisoned, the animals dead, landscapes led to industrial ruin, and we will starve.

My father taught me the most important lesson of all: that Nature is Holy.

I would have no other Mother but Her.

Pine Song

The pines are calling out to me, to me,
singing of lonely melodies, the breeze
is spritzed with wild sap and my plea
is to follow the land until I’m free.

I’m free, I’m free.

I’m wandering far,
forest take pity
on me,

Dream Diary: The Wood Beyond the Worlds

I don’t remember the plot of my dreams but the woods, oh, the woods!

The forest is endless, ageless.  With babbling brooks in sloping ravines and Virginia red clay and crumbling sediment and vernal pools strewn throughout the forest.  I am hiking with my spirits, and we picnic atop a river that stretches into a waterfall.  It is winter, and maple buds are covered in frost.  We are bundled up in coats and scarves and roast marshmallows on a bonfire, the chocolate heavy on my tongue.  We have packed chili mix and it bubbles in the cooking pot.

Birds cry out and flit about the bushes, searching for winter berries and nuts in the brush.  Red and grey squirrels scurry about burying their harvest, and I nestle closer to Michael.  He shares his coat and wings with me, and we gaze into the fire.

We tell stories of the Solstice drawing close, and light peters through the trees as the sun sinks behind the mountains.  It is gray, gold, and brown, and I could never, ever be happier.

Samael sits to my left and shares a wild mushroom with me.  It tastes fresh and wonderful.

We notice the first tulip poking out, and the seasons are turning.

A hawk circles above.  Crows nest in the trees.  It is a dream of peace, of reflection, and we wander down to the water, filling our hands with the crystal clear river.  The water is cool and icy, and I drink from it.  Parts of it are frozen and I wander hesitantly out on the ice.  My friends laugh as I slip and slide.  I laugh too.

Dusk comes and we camp by the fire.

I awake as I fall asleep in dreams.

Windy Roses

The heath was white in basking snow

A briar rose bloomed red like fire-glow

We spent quiet hours in fairy dens

Counting jewel snowflakes in the glen

Icicles speared from the mistletoe

We kissed in the rolling winter meadow

The sun was warm, the air was cold

And in you?  A hundred stories untold.

On Mother-God and the Divine Feminine

Since I was a child, I have felt this heady intoxicating force in the presence of Nature.  An animist, I believe in nature spirits and spirits of the place – I’ve met leshys, Wakinyan Tanka, Coyote, Crow, nymphs, and other beings, or animal guardians like vulture kings and the wolves Hati and Skoll who chased me through frozen wastes and fjords.

Reigning over all beings I know, all gods, angels, and demons, is the faceless Mother.  She has come to me in visions veiled head to toe on a throne in a smoky cave hidden by shadow, her voice like whipping wind and smelling of dirt, green shoots, wet bone and wild woods.

There is a reason Neolithic Venus figurines are faceless – the Mother cannot take human form, not like the angels, gods, demons, or spirits I know.  As the Archangel Michael told me “When She appears, She will Die.”  I jokingly asked him to show me God a few weeks ago because I had never met Him – to my surprise, it was a Her.

Michael said I would die if I saw her, so he covered my eyes and snatched my soul from my body in the vision, then took me to Her Presence.  This, he said, was the Holy Spirit, the Shekinah.  Samael had joked about the Shekinah being far more than Yahweh, she the stage on which gods played their lives, the eldritch Mother of All, and though I brushed him off for years, now you can count me a believer that there is no greater power than Mother Nature, Queen of the Cosmos.  The only way I could communicate the most powerful vision I have ever had was through poetry – not even visions of the War in Heaven, Eden, Original Sin, or my own supposed past deaths and future lives terrorized me as much as the Holy Power of the Mother:

“When you see Her you will die,”
Michael whispers in my ear, puts his
peacock hands over my eyes, then
takes me RUSH BLOW BOOM to Her.

God-Mother is ells tall, pine-barren
lumber over a waterfall, windblown
boulders in a storm, gale in the
reeds, eye of the tempest, heart
of a firestorm inferno, rainy marsh.

I cannot see, I cannot see Her, just
smell loam and smoke, She is All,
She is All, and we are just playthings
in Her inexorable crystal dove hands.

There are some things even angels
cannot fathom, some Mothers eat
their young, Death is just Her maw
the Earth Her womb, I am blind, blind
so in love, heartdrenched, when my
hourglass breaks, oh, then
I’ll see – “You will Know.”

Until then, we dance, waltzing
on the Holy Spirit’s lips.

She communicates in heady visions of storms, wildfires, tsunamis, great abysses in the sea, calamitous guts of Nature spilled out upon her altar.  She is the Great Womb, Great Maw, and Great Death – you are reborn and remade and destroyed in Her arms, all at once.  She is both succor, nurturer, killer, and destroyer, and she loves as a wolf loves, wild and fierce, or perhaps as a starving shrew that will eat its young.

In my dreams elves and fey have fled from her as she leads the Wild Hunt, “The Mother is coming!” they cry, racing through twilit woods as her hounds bay and Death approaches.  She is Queen of Death and Rot, Queen of New Life and Creation – no one higher, nothing more than the whole universe and nothing less than every single being and atom in the cosmos.

She has warned of her arrival for decades now in my life – whispers among angels of the Mother, among nature gods of where their powers come from.  So far removed from Her Children, watching on and caring little for our little worries and despairs – no, that is why she created the spirits as intercessors – She has a much higher vision and work to attend to.

I am the Icarus that flies to close to her brilliance, so intoxicated by Her I go mad.

God is Woman.  God is Wild.


Will Swallow

You Whole.