(Poem) Motherlines by Mary Saracino

1. Margaret

On the day I was born you nearly bled to death

perhaps a sign that our lives were marked for strife

but a mother’s womb is a thing of power

a proving ground for life and all its mysteries

you called me first-daughter and I shouldered

that responsibility, sometimes bearing

too many of your sorrows

always bearing mine.

Our lives are as entwined as our DNA

that mitochondrial ribbon of memory

tethers us to the long sighs of mothers and daughters —

Maria Fiora Petronilla Lazurri

Maria Assunta Rocchiccioli — and other

more ancient daughters, mothers,

grandmothers, great grandmothers –

whose names we do not know

strong women who loved and lost, laughed and cried

dreamed and despaired and lived —

always lived, knowing that blood runs deep

and primeval bonds are never severed.

Whether our days are carefree or fraught with pain

something carries us forward

something that knows mothers are imperfect

and daughters are too

something that knows us each by heart

celebrates the joys and sorrows

blesses us all the way through.


2. Rose

Not mother by birth, but second mother by chance

your fierce spirit a reminder

that a woman strong is a mighty beauty —

though some would not agree.

When first you married my father

my twenty-something eyes had already

seen too much, yet much more lay ahead.

At your table I have feasted on roasted chicken

with potatoes, polenta simmering in red sauce,

savory meatballs and homemade fried dough

listening to stories about your sisters,

heeding your reminder to always cherish mine.

There’s something in a woman’s bones that celebrates

the twin sustenance of food and sisterhood,

something that honors the balm that resides

in the love of mothers—biological or not —

that knows life is painful and bearable

knows, too, that only love sustains us

through the long walk home


3. Rosemary

When first I met you my life lay in shards.

Splinters of mirrored glass reflected

worry and woe back at my astonished eyes

discontent called my name.

You asked me to look closely

wait and listen for my truth, for answers.

I never cried in front of you

yet the kindness in your eyes

called my name

steeled my courage

led me home.

Together we mended

the fragile fragments

fashioned woe into a window

a doorway

a way in & out

of my delicate, willing heart


4. Laura

Voice clenched in terror

I sat before you

too many secrets trapped

in too many memories

my lips afraid to speak

my brain shattered by shock;

I wanted to shout, but could not

I wanted to silence years of no-no-no

dive, singing, into the boundless sea of yes-yes-yes;

I longed to drown in epiphany, be reborn

a woman whose tongue was ablaze

with voluptuous vowels

loose-limbed consonants;

I could not have known

the way out was strewn

with prayers and poems

pictures drawn of fierce, howling mouths

the dark eyes of a young girl staring back at me

her twisted mouth clamped shut

her lonesome hands reaching

for something it would take me years to recognize.

When at last the stifled air stirred

I began to cry and sculpted Amazons of clay

fists clenched against injustice, wanting — always wanting —

to laugh, to dance, to say what I needed to say

without censor, without regret, without retaliation

and you, a patient midwife,

witnessed my bloody birth without flinching.

Breath after precious breath you stood resolute

as I gathered the lost syllables

reclaimed the nouns, verbs, plump sentences

of my mother tongue

the native language of my soul.


5. Lucia

Mother of mothers dark and divine

your secret keys unlocked ancient doorways

ushering me down dusty roads

peppered with red poppies and parched ruins.

Sicily captured me, cradled me in her fragrant arms

coaxed my soul from its too-long slumber.

Your audacity, your heart, your laughter

spoke of things long forgotten

daring me to speak as well

and to remember




Her name

Her name

Her name.

(Poem) The Neighbours Send a Message by Harriet Ellenberger

 The Neighbours Send a Message

Moose, deer, lynx, coyote, bear,
skunk, porcupine, snowshoe hare,
hawk owl, ant, crow, honey bee,
all who live in the woods
behind the house I live in,
now formally address the human race:

We, aforementioned children of earth,
together with all our relations,
and by the power of spirit that moves in all things,
do hereby protest vehemently
the destruction of our homes.

We have kept watch in silence
while you made war on each other,
but our time for surveillance
and fleeing is finished.

We will not watch
without intervening
while you mindlessly kill our mother.

– Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Many thanks to Monica J. Casper (co-editor of Trivia: Voices of Feminism www.triviavoices.com) for encouraging me to turn a flippant e-mail remark into a finished piece.

A note on the hawk owl, for those who live outside her territory: The hawk owl is a northern owl who hunts silently by day. If you’re a field mouse in the wrong place at the wrong time, her shadow will be the last thing you see. If, however, you’re too big to be on her luncheon menu, you are free to calmly admire her fluffy-feathered beauty, her grace in the air, and the stealth and precision of her strikes.

A note on “the power of spirit that moves in all things”:  Watching animals, birds, insects, reptiles, and being influenced by them, has given me the idea that they feel “the power of spirit that moves in all things,” that they’re plugged into cosmic mind. I think humans used to be plugged into cosmic mind too, but that the social systems which developed with patriarchal religions broke the connection. Since then, we’ve been rushing around out-of-sync with everyone else on the planet, and, as a consequence, increasingly unhappy and destructive. I especially love the many images of Goddess-with-her-sacred-animals because these images help me feel again what the other beings on earth feel; they help me reconnect to universal intelligence.

(Essay) The Invisible Bleeding Goddess by Trista Hendren‏

“We need a god who bleeds now
whose wounds are not the end of anything”
– Ntozake Shange

I have been contemplating these lines for several days now. What has come back to me is the empty promise of “leaving it at the foot of the cross“ – which has usually meant, letting the things that matter most to women die there, too. I have internalized these lines to mean that I am no longer willing to leave anything at the foot of male privilege.

My work these last years has centered upon empowering women through the Divine Feminine. My vision has shifted significantly since I started. I am caught in an interesting vortex of new age mysticism and social justice, with Christianity and Islam peppered in between due to my religious affiliations.

What I am feeling more and more, is that there is no right answer. Feminists spend entirely too much time fighting over insignificant matters and not enough time digging down to the root cause of our oppression, which to me lies in male-centric spirituality.

My fear is we are often missing what the Goddess is trying to tell us. And if there is one singular message of the goddess, in my mind, it is that every woman matters.

There are a lot of people running around with good intentions that are entirely missing the bigger picture. Case in point: the photos of Malala Yousafzai floating around the internet.

As a Muslim woman, I am tired of seeing pictures of Malala exploited to legitimize American violence abroad. Like everyone else I deeply admire Malala. I love her – as my beloved sister – and I am rooting for her full recovery. However, we have made one girl more important than the hundreds more who are killed by our own hand. And in the process, we have trampled on the hearts of women and girls the world over.

What I was intending to write today was already written (much better than I could have done it) by Kim Tran earlier this week.  (http://thefeministwire.com/2012/10/what-mourning-malala-yousafzai-might-mean-come-november-6th/)

“I find the violence perpetrated against Malala Yousafzai reprehensible in every way. As a result, I want to consider how her young body became both the site where the Taliban chose to enact physical warfare and also ideological justification for the very thing it rejects: an American presence in Pakistan. Put simply, how is the attack against Malala Yousafzai being used to legitimize American imperialism? In an election year, mourning Malala Yousafzai and celebrating her bravery should cause us as American voters to examine how women are appropriated time and time again in war rhetoric.” ~ Kim Tran

But the heart of what I want to address is still very much avoided among us polite women folk. The line I always feel trapped between is those goddess-inspired folks who want everything to be nice and rosy, and those who are angry – possibly perpetually so, about the injustices towards woman throughout time.

It is exhausting to be a feminist. There is always something to fight. And we cannot fight everything or fight all the time. I go back and forth between the peace I have found in the Divine Feminine and the anger I feel as a woman, sometimes even towards other (probably well-meaning) feminists.

But here is what I need to say: If you are silent about drone attacks, don’t cry publicly on your Facebook page about Malala. If you are silent about the epidemics of rape, domestic violence and unequal pay in our country, don’t talk about Malala or other girls in Muslim countries as if they were in need of our salvation.

This is as condescending as believing only a Male God could possibly save us.

The divine feminine is unconventional. She does not come to us as a Savior; rather she is the force within us who empowers us to save ourselves. She loves indiscriminately; you do not have to be good to merit her attention. As Mary Oliver reminds us,

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

When we recognize, both individually and collectively, our value as women, the world will change. As we shift our worship to a female deity, the pulse of the world will slow to follow us.

When we return to the Divine Feminine, beating a woman becomes as unacceptable as burning down a church or a mosque.

When we return to the Divine Feminine, rape will become inconceivable. How can you pillage what is sacred?

When we return to the Divine Feminine, we will stop trying to “save” women in other countries and realize that we have problems of our own to conquer. We will realize that each of us is capable of becoming our own savior.

The thing I love most about Malala is that she never felt the need to ask for permission. So many of us are still waiting for our father or husband to sign our permission slips – whether it is for an abortion, birth control or schooling. When we feel the sense of the divine within us, we learn that we do not need permission for anything. Many of the “rights” we are fighting so hard for are already things we innately possess.

That is the lesson we should learn from Malala. It is not that one type of woman is more valuable or more exploited than the next. Malala is not someone we should feel sorry for. She is someone who can teach us a great deal.

We do not need more separations between us as women. It is those “differences” that keep us fighting over silly things, like whether you can even be a Muslim Feminist.

What I love about the divine feminine is that she is found in all the world’s religions. There is no separation between us and our sisters.

The Goddess speaks through all women, including young girls. Oftentimes, I find it is the youngest and the oldest women who speak with the most clarity. And ironically, we have a bleeding goddess before us now, held in the light by millions of people around the world. I am very curious what Malala will have to say to us when she is able. I only wonder, how many of us will actually listen?

(Poem) Oh Mother, Our Mother by Mary Saracino

When the sun rises

and the moon sets

when the earth sings

and the sky sighs

will we remember

that clouds are kin to every human

that every woman, every man

is mother, father, sister, brother

to every bird that soars every tree that welcomes the wind?

Oh Mother, Our Mother

when will we remember

we are aunt and uncle to every flower

every bee, every field of grain

grandmother, grandfather

to every river, every ocean, too

that water blesses each of us

and blood binds every living thing?

Oh Mother, Our Mother

when will we claim your rhythms as our own

heed the secrets in our DNA

one human race, one planet

one precious home, one sheltered haven for

every living creature, great and small?

“Oh Mother, Our Mother” was first published on April 22, 2010 at wwww.newversenews.com to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

(Essay) Three-Fingered Fish Goddess- South Slavic Intangible Oral Memory Traditions by Danica Anderson

Lepenski Vir is a Mesolithic site on the banks of the Danube in Serbia, close to the Iron Gates.  Dusan Boric and Preston Miracle’s work on the Mesolithic and Neolithic sites of Padina and Hajduka Vodenica, Serbia revealed a long residence of Proto-Slavs from 10,000 BCE in the Danube Gorges. [Boric & Miracle, 341-371]

Photo by Suzie Leach

At Lepenski Vir many Fish Goddesses were found reveling in the aquatic lushness of the Danube river gorges. Perhaps, as a tribute to the huge water reservoir, the Fish Goddesses were important relics for burials and a part of the architectural structures consisting of temples not residences. The impressive fact is age of Lepenski Vir dated to the time of Mesolithic-Neolithic transition 6300-5950 BCE.

It is here that the ‘Three fingered Fish Goddess’ is remembered in modern day Orthodox religion. The Serbian Orthodox sign of the cross performed with three fingers is a South Slavic oral memory tradition that originated from Neolithic-Paleolithic. In the Lithic eras, the three fingered salute stood for the truncated tree in the vast forest indicating a crossroads or intersection. [Harding, 42; 62-63] Combining or sharing of iconography such as the crossed circle motif associated with Atlantis and Egyptian oral memory traditions to that of Hindu antiquity, we have the geographical coordinates origin (Indonesia first began this geography) and has to do with the intersection of the equator and the Meridian Zero. [online Atlantean Symbolism]

With Egypt’s great Nile river, and the legend of Atlantis’ located in the middle of a large body of water to that of the great rivers, Danube and Sava in the Balkans we have in our modern life the same ancient monumental hybrid forms of commemorative practice. The Three Fingered Fish Goddess, held on to the intangible oral memory tradition transmission of important navigation skills for or inner ecology and that of the Slavic Moist Mother Earth. What is held in the archeological artifact of the Slavic Three Fingered Fish Goddess; her three fingered hands are held at the mid-section of her body; the equator.

One of the most important insights of the cross and crossing oneself with three finger salute is that we are performing archaic oral memory traditions, what I name as ‘human geography.’ Related to the three fingered Fish Goddess—early Christians did the sign of the fish. In this sense early Christians were not performing a social memory but the sense of a continuous body of wisdom living from generation to all future generations. In doing so, the early Christians portrayed oral memory traditions. The practice of the sign of the cross or three fingered salute acknowledged relations to Aphrodite whose hand pose originated from the three fingered fish Goddess.

Three-finger salute (Serb/три пpcтa or tri prsta)-patronymics is found in South Slavic-Serbian names, with “ic”, “ich,” to refer to little or son of. ‘Patri’ is word origins are for father, tracing the upheaval from the Great Mother Goddess. The Serb Orthodox religion took on the three fingered aspect of the Fish Goddess due to the Pagan-Earth Based Religions of the South Slavs once centered on the Moist Mother Earth, the archetypal feminine. With the early Christians, the removal of the troika- of daughter, mother and grandmother, three fingered salute and sign of the cross became modern day trilogies of the father, son and Holy Spirit instead. The Holy Spirit is the last thread to the Great Mother of what was once a cohesive, endogamous (anthropological marriage with accordance of custom or law) body of wisdom.

We can move through the generations to present day to view how the cultic and performative practices of our ancestors are still held in our cultural situations. It shows the surrender to the evoke the substantive meanings from what their ancestors embedded in daily life acts. A painting by Paja Jovanovic “Takaovo” translates from Serbo-Croatian to ‘Here or done like this’. This indicates the lithic era for the sense of direction to be taken with the three fingered salute or cross. The intangible oral memory traditions began a twisted notion of ‘Here or done like this’ that now is a sign of inciting wars. For instance, the Serb folk Prince Milos Obrenovic in a three finger salute started the second uprising against the Turks- Ottoman Empire with – “Here we are and here you are” to incite a revolt- war. [Online, Three Fingered Salute] “Njegos” prince-bishop-Vladika who was a great poet, and “Karadorde Petrovic” 1768-1817- the first Serbian leader to start the uprising against the Ottoman Empire- is known as the Serbian House of Karadordevic. [Milne] Note how the house became the domain and power of males- father authority figures.

The Montengrin peoples are termed Crni Dorde- Black George for his Montengrin Serb Vasojevici tribe’s dark complexion. The latter indicates the migratory route from middle of Africa, the lineage of our first Mother. The Vasojevici tribe handed down orally for more than thirteen generations their legacies with poems and songs and kolo dances (folk round dances).

Serb folk wisdom states Nema krsta be tri prsta- there is no cross without three fingers. What has occurred in modern day era is the identity of the important meaning behind the three-fingered salute, the human geography, is now a mortuary practice to incite violence. The three finger salute went on with its gynocide and mass murder with Ante Pavelic- once leader in WWII for the Croatian Country that became the infamous Ustashi- Nazi SS arm murdering, Serbs, Muslims, Jews and Romano on a whole scale level. In 1991, the Serbian Renewal Movement political party, Belgrade used the three fingered salute for demands, and was stated by Srdan Serckovic, the vice-president to represent “St. Sava” Serbian patron saint known for teaching literacy and orthodox religion to the masses. The latter is the dominance of the father; patriarchy.

In 2007 Eurovision employed a song contest with Serbian Marija Serifovic given the award in front of Bosnian television viewers. Marija Serifovic upset the Bosnian viewers with her three fingered salute- since most Bosnians are Muslim and was seen as an insult.


Boric, Dusan & Miracle,Preston in Oxford Journal of Archaeology, November 2004, vol. 23, no. 4,  Blackwell Publishing

Esther Harding, MD, MRCP. The Way of All Women: A Psychological Interpretation. (Rider & Company, New South Wales, Australia, 2007), pp. 62-63. Esther Harding, MD, MRCP. Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern. (Rider & Company, London ,1971), p. 46.

The Atlantean Symbolism of the Egyptian Temple –


Three Finger Salute (Serbian)


Milne Holton, Vasa D. Mihailovich. Songs of Serbian People: from Collections of Vuk Karadzic. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).

Collections of Vuk Karadzic. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).

(Poem) Meanderings by Anne Wilkerson Allen

A thousand threads
have woven wings of love,
mounting us on the wind.

Images of ancients
have caressed our eyes,
revealing new shapes and colors.

Drums of women
have kindled memories forgotten,
thrumming the cadence of our hearts.

Poets and musicians
have sailed us on rivers of passion,
touching empty spaces with fever.

Waves, like dervishes,
have swept us from the abyss,
spinning us into ecstasy.

Wisdom, in full raiment,
has sent her shafts of light,
illuminating our truths.

Is it any wonder
that we choose to sail these seas
with fellow travelers?

(Essay) ‘The Hard Side of Aphrodite’ by Hearth Moon Rising


She is a goddess to be approached with caution, even trepidation. If you feel no apprehension in matters involving her, then you have no thought of danger, obstacles, shattered illusion, broken trust – and if so you are a fool. Aphrodite does not like fools.

Robert Graves says of Aphrodite:

As Goddess of Death-in-Life, Aphrodite earned many titles which seem inconsistent with her beauty and complaisance. At Athens, she was called Eldest of the Fates and sister of the Erinnyes [Furies]: and elsewhere Melaenis (“black one”);…Scotia (“dark one”); Androphonos (“man-slayer”); and even, according to Plutarch, Epitymbria (“of the tombs”).

How could the goddess of love and beauty be associated with the frightful Furies or with Fate, always cruel because she decrees that life must meet with death? The Greeks saw beauty and ugliness in terms of complementarity. This is somewhat different from the Christian duality which sees another set of opposites, good and evil, at continual war with one another. The complements of

Birthplace of Aphrodite off the coast of Cyprus.
Photo by Paul

beauty and ugliness give birth to each other. Thus when Uranus is castrated by his son Cronus, his genitals flung into the ocean fertilize the sea-mother, precipitating the birth of Aphrodite. Out of an ugly incident arises something of great beauty. When Aphrodite and the god of war Ares get together, the child of their tempestuous fling is the goddess Harmonia, harmony, who is herself mother of the warring Amazons. Another child of Aphrodite, the ugly Priapus with the grotesquely huge phallus, tends a famous garden of gorgeous pear trees. Aphrodite’s husband is the misshapen and crippled Hephaestus, the unparalleled metal craftsman, who creates exquisite jewelry and other ornaments.

The story that best describes the nature of Aphrodite comes from the Greco- Roman myth “Cupid and Psyche.” Psyche is a young woman of extraordinary beauty who is compared to Aphrodite and even attracts a group of worshipers. Aphrodite considers this comparison a challenge and responds by putting Psyche through her paces. She arranges for Psyche to marry a terrible monster, a scheme that Eros (Cupid), who usually carries out his mother’s bidding, thwarts because he has fallen in love with Psyche himself. Aphrodite disrupts this romance and devises a series of seemingly insurmountable tests for Psyche to pass before she can be reunited with Eros. Psyche has no blemish on her character, she is completely innocent, but it is this very innocence that Aphrodite finds objectionable. Psyche must develop and display a strength of character before Aphrodite can embrace her.

Psyche in the Underworld
Painting by Eugene Ernest Hillemacher, 1865

Psyche’s last trial is a harrowing trip to the underworld to obtain for Aphrodite a small box of beauty from the death goddess Persephone. This trial, which underscores the relationship between Aphrodite and death, is a calculated set-up. Though Psyche has been warned not to look inside the box, no woman could resist the temptation to snatch a bit of extra beauty, not even a woman as beautiful and good as Psyche. It turns out that Persephone’s “beauty” is the sleep of death.

Perhaps it is inaccurate to say that Aphrodite does not like innocence; rather, innocence is something she actively seeks to destroy. Aphrodite is the goddess of hard lessons, of maturity. She forces her followers to grow up and learn about truth, which as the Greeks knew well is often ugly. One of the ways she compels mortals to develop character is through romantic love. Sexual attraction is a part of her terrible plot to make us understand and work through our difficulties and conflicts with others.

Anatolia, 2nd century b.c.e.

I well remember the resentment I felt after encountering one of Aphrodite’s trials. The experience involved confrontations with betrayal, deception, and the self-serving machinations of so-called allies. It was one of those grueling experiences where, if the lessons are recognized right way, their importance is not understood for many years. As I nursed my ill feelings, reviewing the part I felt Aphrodite played in my difficulties, I said to myself, “and if she were to come into this room right now, I would not even think she was pretty.”

Aphrodite immediately rose to the challenge. My jaw dropped as she entered and I felt stunned, numb, unable to form a thought of my own, confronted with her beauty. Eventually her figure faded in an onslaught of flowers of every color and kind imaginable, thousands of them. I understood then that Aphrodite’s beauty is so great that it cannot be contained in the female form – or in any form. I could do nothing but kneel and say, “Yes, you are beautiful. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”


Apuleius. The Golden Ass. Robert Graves, trans. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1951.

Evslin. Gods, Demigods and Demons: An Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology. New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1975.

Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. London: Penguin Books, 1960.

(Poem) ‘Crane Dance’ by Anne Wilkerson Allen

Crane Dance

We danced at the edge of pale waters,

not caring if we missed a step

or fell into the wake of each others jubilance.


We leapt in the moonlight,

contours of light and shadow

reflected in the depths of the lake.


The soft down at the base of her feathers

was a gentle caress on the breeze of tender love

and her silver eyes embraced me.


“Why are you afraid of what you feel?

Kindle the furnace of your heart and

let go, or you will never know yourself”


I beheld my nakedness and abandon

and felt complete freedom in that moment,

as with a trusted lover.


“Mother,” said she, and I looked behind me.

“Mother,” said she, and stepped closer to my fear

because the voice was not of my child.


In her voice I heard the yearning of a million hearts

I felt the aching of a thousand needs

And the brokenness in my own heart that I don’t know.

I don’t know if I have enough to feed them all.


Crane Dance by Matthew Allen



Translated to French by Pierre Leclair



Traduction (anglais > français)


Nous avons dansé au bord des eaux pâle,


ne pas se soucier si nous avons manqué une étape


ou ont diminué dans le sillage de chaque jubilation autres.


Nous sauté dans la lune,


contours d’ombre et lumière


reflété dans les profondeurs du lac.


Le duvet à la base de ses plumes


était une caresse sur la brise de l’amour tendre


et ses yeux d’argent m’a embrassé.


«Pourquoi avez-vous peur de ce que vous ressentez?


Meublez votre cœur avec passion.


Si vous ne lâchez pas, vous ne serez jamais se connaître »


Je regardai ma nudité et d’abandonner


et ressenti une liberté totale en ce moment,


comme avec un amant de confiance.


«Mère», dit-elle, et j’ai regardé derrière moi.


«Mère», dit-elle, et s’approcha de ma peur


parce que la voix n’était pas de mon enfant.


Dans sa voix, j’ai entendu le désir d’un million de cœurs


J’ai ressenti le mal d’un millier de besoins


Et le brisement dans mon propre cœur que je ne sais pas.


Je ne sais pas si j’ai assez pour nourrir tous..


































Translated by Kunibumi Izumi

訳: 泉国文