Regular readers of this blog might notice that not much has been going on here since the winter holy days and the end of last year. 2016 was difficult for me as for a lot of people, on so many levels, most of which I would much prefer not to discuss in a public venue.
However, very discerning readers, or at least those who populate Facebook and Tumblr, might have noticed that my writing has been appearing elsewhere. Yes, I started a new blog–again.
Jesus, Antinous, Julian of Norwich, Medicine Buddha, Captain America, and Me, a Writer is, as the name implies, a blog to house and to promote all of my writing, whether fiction, poetry, or essays, whether the topic is Christian or pagan or Buddhist, original fiction or fan fiction, politics (not very often) or culture (pop and otherwise), or birds (and their cuteness).
This blog, for now, will remain live and accessible but not be updated. My goal is that eventually most or all of its content will be migrated elsewhere. I hope that all of the lovely people who have been following my writing here will continue to follow me at the new blog and consider bestowing a bit of financial support for my work.
Life is a work in progress. The last four years have been very good ones for me as a writer. The work goes forward. Please join me.
Antinous rises tonight
Tonight he bestrides the constellations,
bridging Aquarius and Aquila
Heralded by Muses and poets,
he ascends the heavens
to claim the Boat of Millions of Years
The archons of the underworld are defeated
Their perversions no match for his terrible beauty
Fear and hatred, greed and lust
flee from the light of his countenance
Hail, Antinous! Star of beauty in the night sky!
Hail, Antinous! Navigator of the celestial Barque!
Hail, Antinous! You are the journey, you are the guide,
you yourself are the destination!
Hail, Antinous! The beautiful boy rises in the east!
So many holy days in so many traditions cluster around the point of the winter solstice. Jesus shares his birthday with Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Son. Yuletide gave us decorated trees, flaming logs, and a night-riding gift-giver in furs who might be Odin. Hanukkah, as one Tumblr user wittily put it, celebrates an actual war on Hanukkah–the Jews won. Kwanzaa, too, has the symbolism of abundant light and abundant food.
The days will get longer now, but the weather will only get colder. In my neck of the woods, it might well be the spring equinox, another cluster point for feasts, before it truly starts to warm up. I’m not looking forward to standing at the bus stop on weekday afternoons, in the dark, perhaps in ankle-deep or deeper snow.
Why are we celebrating right now when things are only going to get worse? I think I figured it out. A Jewish friend of mine posted Christmas greetings to Christian friends on Facebook, with a picture of herself wearing antlers. I commented, “Hospitality: The real reason for the season,” and then I thought, Holy shit, it’s time for a blog post.
Hospitality. It’s cold and it’s dark, and it’s going to get brighter yet colder. The ground will be hard and the winds will cut. So we create light and color with our decorations, we create warmth with Yule logs and fires lit and ovens baking warm food. We have a surplus and so we share it. We invite friends and family over, make donations and volunteer to help strangers. We do these things, ultimately, because it’s cold and it’s dark and we’re not going to make it through alone. We share hospitality because we need it.
I’m divorced and I’m alone this Christmas morning, except for my bird, who appreciates his millet treat even if he doesn’t understand why he’s getting it. This is not my first Christmas on my own, but I’m seeing a lot of my friends who are isolated and suffering right now. I did have a party invitation I was eager to accept, but unfortunately, I picked up a cold at my workplace and decided not to go share it with my friends and their friends.
If you are enjoying a holiday with friends and family, food and gifts, lights and warmth today, take a moment to think of friends who might be alone. Call them, text them, invite them in. Show hospitality, because that, not axial tilt nor any one holy day, is the real reason for the season.
Mother is a place to rest, a warmth, a tuneless song.
Mother is a voice that cuts.
Mother is a lady in a blue veil, a blue robe.
Mother is a lady with a baby in her arms.
Mother is a grandmother fixing hot tea and cold cereal on a school morning
Mother is a grandmother putting my clothes near the radiator
Mother is a woman who sleeps late while I rise early
Mother is a woman who smokes and drinks coffee
Mother is a May Day procession dressed in white
Mother is an ivory statue of the Virgin and Child with a Gothic sway
Mother is a possibly heretical vierge ouvrante
Mother is the goddess Isis with baby Horus on her lap
Mother is an icon with stars on the Virgin’s brow and shoulders
Mother is a Middle Eastern woman wrapped in layers of veils and shawls
carrying her child away from danger, shielding it with her body
Mother is my mother’s mother’s mother, who died when I was one
Mother is my mother’s father’s mother, was her name Louisa?
Mother is my father’s mother Grace, his adoptive mother,
and his mother Clara, his birth mother, whose last name was Gunsales
Mother is the woman who bore my husband a child
who bore her second husband a child
Mother is my sister, who bore my niece
Mother is my niece, who has borne a son
Mother is a link in a chain, a cell in the umbilical cord
Mother is the land I walk on, the nourishing earth, the turning planet
Mother is the night sky, spangled with stars
the brightness of the stars
and the darkness between
and the end
The longest night, the shortest day
Each year it comes and goes its way
The bleak midwinter blest with feasts
To joy the greatest and the least
The newborn light becomes a boy
His mother’s pride, the whole world’s joy
The gods immortal come to earth
In mortal flesh for mortal mirth
Here Jesus sleeps with ox and ass
As one by one the shepherds pass
To worship him the angels sang
On whom the coming centuries hang
Antinous puts on the crown
That Dionysus handed down
Of ivy, grape, and fragrant pine
And bids us to the feast with wine
While Hercules, the victor strong,
Cries, “Io, Io!” with the throng
And Angerona has the right
To keep us silent for a night
So let us keep our flames alight
Through shortest day and longest night
And hold each other, heart and hand,
Till spring spreads forth throughout the land.
All in grey my love comes riding
Lady goddess, mare and queen
Bird and hound and hare and horses
In her sacred train are seen
Now a woman sadly weeping
Now a stamping heated mare
Life and death are in her keeping
Sack and keys are in her care
Grain she gives to those who hunger
Guidance gives to those who stray
Wise are those who fear her anger
Happy those who bid her stay
Ave, Epona Regina
Rigantona, Mari Llwyd,
Macha, Demeter Despoina,
May we all your wrath avoid
O Bona Dea, good goddess,
your name and your secrets have been lost.
Men who were writers speculated,
but women, your worshippers, neither spoke nor wrote.
Were you a chaste virgin goddess
assaulted by reckless Faunus?
Or were you his drunken slut wife,
whipped to death for your vice?
Vestals and matrons, patricians
and slaves and freedwomen, all alike
gathered for your rites, closed the doors,
and said nothing afterward to their men.
Bona Dea, good goddess, I pray you
protect all women, married or unmarried,
rich or poor, lovers of men or women
or both or neither, ignorant or learned,
hale or ill, cis or trans, all women, all of us
alike belonging to you, welcome to you.
VIII. In paradisum
Imagine there is a city.
Imagine there is a city which is also a garden.
Imagine that trees grow in this city
which flower and fruit at the same time.
Imagine that a river runs
through this city
and four rivers spring out of it
and the waters run out
to the four directions.
Imagine the streets of this city
are broad and clear,
paved with white
or inlaid with mosaic.
Imagine the windows
of the houses are open
to the light and the air,
and the doors
of the houses are open
to visitors and guests.
Imagine that fountains flow
in the parks, and the pigeons
eat from your hand, and the dogs
play without aggression
as the cats look on
from the window sills.
Imagine the people
walking there, walking in
the street, singing
in their doorways,
cooking at their hearths.
Imagine them in all colors,
imagine them in all genders,
imagine them in all races,
imagine them in all sexualities,
imagine them in shining robes,
in glorious hats, in golden shoes,
in jewelled sandals, in shimmering veils.
Imagine that you are welcome there.
Imagine being led into the city
through the gates that are never shut
while trumpets blare on the towers
and flash mobs dance in the streets.
Imagine there is a house for you
and in this house is every thing
you ever wanted and every person
you ever loved knows the address.
Imagine what you would call this city.
Jerusalem? Antinopolis? Alexandria?
New York? Shambala? London?
Imagine that you are going there, now.
Imagine that you are home.
On this day the colossoi do not speak.
The voice does not resound.
We came to hear the gods,
and the gods were silent.
Only the river continues to run, as ever.
Sometimes the oracle does not answer,
the gods do not speak,
the wisdom of the past
has nothing to say to us.
Sometimes we wait for a sign
that does not come, a feeling
that is not felt, a moment
that never ripens. And yet,
the only solution is to try
again: To remain faithful
to the tradition, to wait
with patience for the answer,
to come again tomorrow
and hope the ancient statues