Woodspriestess: Exploring the intersection between Nature, the Goddess, art, and poetry.

Listening to the woods, to the stones, to Gaia, and to women...

In the woods behind my house rest a collection of nine large flat rocks. Daily, I walk down to these “priestess rocks” for some sacred time alone to pray, meditate, consider, and be. Often, while in this space, I open my mouth and poetry comes out. I’ve come to see this experience as "theapoetics"—experiencing the Goddess through direct “revelation,” framed in language. As Stanley Hopper originally described in the 1970’s, it is possible to “…replace theology, the rationalistic interpretation of belief, with theopoetics, finding God[dess] through poetry and fiction, which neither wither before modern science nor conflict with the complexity of what we know now to be the self.” Theapoetics might also be described, “as a means of engaging language and perception in such a way that one enters into a radical relation with the divine, the other, and the creation in which all occurs.”

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Molly

Molly

Molly has been “gathering the women” to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, Red Tents, seasonal retreats and rituals, Pink Tent mother-daughter circles, and family ceremonies from her tiny temple space in rural Missouri and teaches online courses in Red Tent facilitation and Practical Priestessing.

Molly is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees. She finished her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. She is the author of Womanrunes, Earthprayer, and The Red Tent Resource Kit. Molly and and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, mini goddesses, pendants, and ceremony kits at Brigid’s Grove (http://brigidsgrove.com), where they also publish Womanrunes book and deck sets.

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Two Octobers ago my last grandmother died, my last living grandparent. As the leaves turn to red and gold once more, I wake thinking of her each morning. I wake thinking of my maternal grandmother too, who died five years ago, in springtime as the iris bloomed. I dream of my husband's grandfather, he stands shoulder to shoulder with my oldest son, white hair flashing as he compares their heights and laughs.

We've just returned from a two week long trip to Florida and have arrived back in Missouri to a life in full b2ap3_thumbnail_73311891_2462875420591332_173510902027386880_o.jpgswing, parties to attend and plan, new products to develop for our shop, old requests waiting for our attention. But, the leaves will only be this color for a moment. The air will only be this sweet and pleasant for a moment. The sun will only glint across the cedar branches in this way that brings my soul to life right now, the colors of the day so sharp and vivid, clear and bright to my eyes, that it is almost like stepping into another reality. We have only this moment to join hands and slip off into the woods beneath the early morning sun, stepping past pools of slowly dripping water, over sharp and uncertain stones, soft green moss, and carpets of fallen leaves. It is only this moment in which we will hear the hawk's cry ring out across the trees. Only now in which we will turn over leaves and discover shining mushrooms, gleaming in the October sun.

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“I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.”

—Rufus Jones

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I chose not to follow crows today,b2ap3_thumbnail_69344062_2412917695587105_7552633619886374912_o.jpg
but turned away
to follow the mist instead,
descending down a rocky hill
and into an underworld of my own making,
in which I laid aside
the pressures of pleasantness

and considered how it would feel
to lay my drive down
across the stones too
and walk away,
leaving it gasping in surrender
between a flattened cracker of frog
and finality.

I knelt beside blue chicory
with a cloak of white fog across my shoulders
feeling weary of smiling,
thin of patience,
and with only a thread of faded magic
beating feebly beneath my skin.
I pondered messages from purple asters,
gravel beneath my knees,
and resisted reaching for rosehips
through the ebbing bowers of poison ivy.

An unripe persimmon, gleaming purple-red
below the bright white sky,
rolled into my path
and as I made my way back up the hill
two vultures rose silent and hulking from the trees,
so close I heard their feathers whispering together.
I felt an ember quicken quietly
beneath my breast
and on the gliding motion of broad wings,
I was reminded that we can always
choose which way to go,
and that even thin and tattered magic
is worth
savoring.

 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Molly, That's really nice. Thanks for sharing! Life is hard...it's only a cliche because it's true.

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You don’t need to fix anything,
it is okay to let your feelings feel, b2ap3_thumbnail_68513579_2397020617176813_5076035239403323392_o.jpg
to let your swoops swoop,
to let your not-knowing not-know,
to let your hope soar
and then plummet,
to let your joy be joyful,
to let your tears be hot.

Witnessing,
without fixing.

As part of my ongoing Living the Questions free e-class this year, I offer you this brief audio about Adversity and Normalcy

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“Do not forget that it is summer. Have you slowed down, taken days or weeks of vacation, let the air have access to your body, explored nature, or let your toes out of your shoes?

It’s not too late.”

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There is nothing tidy here
life is too broad and billowingb2ap3_thumbnail_67121748_2382169271995281_35922234585382912_o.jpg
to be contained,
restrained,
confined,
constrained
by lists and wishes
and well-laid plans,
or even by thin and bloodless prayers.
There is nothing tidy here,
expect wild winds and sharp teeth
amid the violets and sunrises.
There is nothing tidy here,
the world a great jumble
of twining grapevine,
sprawling brambles,
winding roots,
and beating hearts.
There is nothing to do
with such an untidy world,
but whirl with the wonder of it all,
keeping your hand outstretched
to touch everything,
even if your feet bleed
and your skin is streaked
with sorrow and joy. 

Last weekend, I was thinking about how to conclude the book I am writing, how to finish it, how to know it is done, how to wrap it up tidily, with some kind of moral or lesson for living, some kind of final conclusion of "figuring it all out." In the quiet moments as I questioned, walking around in circles on my back deck, I received a reply that then became a poem: there is nothing tidy here.

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Deck Review: The Herbcrafter's Tarot

As a long-term fan of The Gaian Tarot, I eagerly awaited receipt of the new Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck illustrated by Joanna Powell Colbert and written by Latisha Guthrie. I knew from the first card that I was in b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_8376.jpglove. The illustrations for the Herbcrafter’s Tarot are exquisite and breathtaking. Even the precise detail of the illustration on the back of the deck as a whole is enchanting. It has become my favorite card-back illustration of all time, the little tincture bottles, butterflies, and sprigs of herbs prompting a sense of discovery and joy every time I touch one. Instead of immediately shuffling the deck and drawing a card, which is how I usually approach a new deck, I made the decision to approach The Herbcrafter’s Tarot card by card, day by day, even (mostly) resisting the urge to peek ahead at the cards to come. It is truly a deck to be savored and I knew from the third card that I could recommend it wholeheartedly to others.

Drawing inspiration from the shared Celtic heritage of the authors as well as from Latisha’s Mexican-American heritage, The Herbcrafter’s Tarot is a sister deck in many ways to The Gaian Tarot. Like a traditional tarot deck, it includes 78 cards. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana follow an herbcrafter’s journey. The Minor Arcana cards are divided in four suits, aligned with the four elements: Air (Swords), Fire b2ap3_thumbnail_66007504_2368806219998253_6388625486133592064_n.jpg(Wands), Water (Cups), and Earth (Pentacles).  Each card contains a detailed colored pencil drawing in photorealistic style. Each card is alive with vibrant detail and thoughtful connection, most of the illustrations containing very subtle nods to the original major and minor arcana cards of traditional tarot decks. Depending on the suit and type of plant, some of the herbs are shown in the act of being prepared or harvested, in use in baths or teas, or in their native environment. The People cards for each suit, depicting the hands of women healers at work, have been titled according to the archetypes each woman embodies as she “matures into her craft from wonderer to warrior to midwife to teacher.” The skilled, creative, intuitive hands of Hijas (daughters), Adelitas (warriors), Madres (mothers), and Curanderas (healers) are represented in the People cards. Accustomed as I am to the faces and personalities of the people depicted in full in The Gaian Tarot, I did find myself sometimes missing that human component and wanting to see who is “behind the scenes” of the beautiful herbal layouts, nature mandalas, works in progress, and the gnarled hands at work in The Herbcrafter’s Tarot. The inclusion of scenes, plants, and hands rather than faces is intentional, however, because the primary perspective of the deck is from that of the plants.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    What a wonderful review, I love this deck, too!
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I'm really in love with it! I keep thinking of more things I should have added to the review--it is visually "nourishing," I find.

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