(Prose) What Matters by Harriet Ann Ellenberger

river_in_winter_198896

Public Domain

Guadalupe has an arm around quotidian Mary
they have begun to howl not worrying
that the moon is not in the right phase

it’ll come says the second Mary

when we reach BE
elemental quintessential
that is what matters

–Susan Hawthorne, “wolf pack” in Lupa and Lamb (Spinifex Press, 2014)

30 January 2017 BE (Biophilic Era, time of the life-lovers) Continue reading

Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Harriet_02aug2012Read all posts by Harriet Ann Ellenberger.

Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Harriet Ann Ellenberger was an activist in the U.S. civil-rights, anti-war and women’s liberation movements before immigrating to Canada at the age of forty. She was a founding member of the Charlotte (North Carolina) Women’s Center (1971), co-founding editor of the journal Sinister Wisdom(1976-81), a founding partner in the bilingual feminist bookstore L’Essentielle (Montreal, 1987), editor of a small web publication She Is Still Burning (2000-2003), and co-editor (2004-8) of Trivia: Voices of Feminism. She lives in rural New Brunswick, where she writes, practices piano and helps her partner rebuild their old farmhouse. She blogs at http://www.harrietannellenberger.wordpress.com/

Recently published posts: 

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How do you say what The Mago Work is? by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang & Mago Circle Members

logo the mago work

The Creatrix represented by the three-color rays of light, patterned in nine corners.

It took many years for me to pronounce the communal nature of the Mago Work. Defining the Mago Work necessarily endows us with the bird’s eye view of the Great Goddess, the primordial consciousness of WE in S/HE. Early this year, I asked people to define the Mago Work and their definitions are illuminating about what this book ultimately seeks to achieve.[1] Continue reading

(Tribute) In Memory of Barbara Mor by Harriet Ann Ellenberger and others

Barbar MorFrom Harriet Ann Ellenberger: TO BARBARA MOR — BRAVE CAPTAIN, FAITHFUL FRIEND

March 8, 2015

International Women’s Day

Dear Barbara,

Now that you’ve flown free of your body, I won’t bother with e-mail — I’ll just talk to you.

Listen, Barbara, you fought the good fight for women and for earth and for all of earth’s children. What that English soldier said of Jeanne d’Arc, I say of you: you were a brave captain.

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(Poem) The Ones You Love by Harriet Ellenberger

“Re-enter the fullness of the world, they say; rejoin the children of earth.”

 

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

People you love

build a small house for you,

cover the dirt floor with hay,

hook a long chain to the cowhide

that circles your throat,

fix the chain to a stake in their yard.

 

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(Poem) Desire Spoken Under a Night Sky by Harriet Ellenberger

eso9845dMay the earth live,
May we live on the earth,
May love in our life flower,
May the transformation be realized.

 

May it be stone that we stand on,
May winds bring us fast-moving thought,
May our heart bathe in salt waters,
May spiral galaxies light our way home.

 

– Harriet Ann Ellenberger

March 2014

Read Meet Mago Contributor Harriet Ann Ellenberger.

We, the co-editors, contributors, and advisers, have started the Mago Web (Cross-cultural Goddess Web) to rekindle old Gynocentric Unity in our time. Now YOU can help us raise this torch high to the Primordial Mountain Home (Our Mother Earth Herself) wherein everyone is embraced in WE. There are many ways to support Return to Mago. You may donate to us. No amount is too small for us. For your time and skill, please email Helen Hwang (magoism@gmail.com). Please take an action today and we need that! Thank YOU in Goddesshood of all beings!

(Click Donate button below. You can donate by credit card or bank account without registering PayPal. Find “Don’t have a PayPal account?” above the credit card icons.)

(Essay) Farewell for Now to a Beautiful Mother by Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Kathryn

Kathryn Louise Truitt Ellenberger

On 19 May 2013, my mother died, four days after her hundredth birthday.

She’d been living for weeks on ice chips and low-dose morphine, regularly leaving her body to walk and talk with my father, then returning to report to my brother at her bedside and to me via long-distance phone. No one knew when she would leave and not return, but everyone believed that her departure was imminent.

Five days before her centennial, however, she suddenly said to my brother, “It’s only a week away; maybe I can make it.” And she revived, sending the nursing-home staff into a frenzy of last-minute party planning. When the morning of her birthday dawned sunny and warm, they came to dress her for a convertible ride around the small town of Reinbeck, Iowa, and she said, “Hallelujah, I thought I’d never get out of this place alive.”

The convertible was a bright yellow muscle car with the top down, and the route had been planned so that town residents could come out on the curb to sing “happy birthday” to her at various stops along the way. It all worked like a charm, and she made the driver stop three times in addition, to listen to the birds singing and to watch squirrels run up and down the tree trunks. After a half-hour ride, they returned to her room, which had been transformed into a festival of balloons and cakes and flowers and visitors with cameras.

The next morning, she slipped into a coma and was gone three days later. And the morning following her death, I woke with the realization that there was no one left but me who knew the stories of her early life. In a rush to send something to my brother before her grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered for her funeral, I wrote the following:

Some Things You May Not Know About the Young Kathryn Louise Truitt Ellenberger:

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(Poem) In A Time of Storms by Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Purple clouds mass along the horizon.
Sheet lightning crackles.
Black winds cut,
keen as an obsidian knife.

Out of the dark west she rides.
From the yellowing east she comes.
Her white flags fly to the north.
In the south her red fires are lit.

She speaks.
The rock peaks split.

She speaks
and the past is laid open.

She speaks.
A light rain falls.

She speaks
and the future rises,
vapor on her breath.

She speaks.
Death is real.

She speaks again
and death is not an end.

El Reno, Oklahoma, May 31, 2013.  Photograph by Camille Seaman.

El Reno, Oklahoma, May 31, 2013.
Photograph by Camille Seaman.

Meet Mago Contributor, Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Harriet_02aug2012Harriet Ann Ellenberger was an activist in the U.S. civil-rights, anti-war and women’s liberation movements before immigrating to Canada at the age of forty. She was a founding member of the Charlotte (North Carolina) Women’s Center (1971), co-founding editor of the journal Sinister Wisdom(1976-81), a founding partner in the bilingual feminist bookstore L’Essentielle (Montreal, 1987), editor of a small web publication She Is Still Burning (2000-2003), and co-editor (2004-8) of Trivia: Voices of Feminism. She lives in rural New Brunswick, where she writes, practices piano and helps her partner rebuild their old farmhouse. She blogs at http://www.harrietannellenberger.wordpress.com/

Recently published posts: 

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(Book Review) Amazon Grace: Read it Aloud by Harriet Ann Ellenberger

amazon-grace-re-calling-courage-sin-big-mary-daly-hardcover-cover-artMary Daly’s Amazon Grace: Re-Calling the Courage To Sin Big, New York and Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006
reviewed by Harriet Ellenberger

I want all of us to read Mary Daly’s latest book, sooner rather than later, and to read it aloud. Here’s why:

  1. Amazon Grace transmits energy at bolt-of-lightning levels, even more so when the sound of the words intensifies their meaning.
  2. Amazon Grace exposes made-in-the-USA fascism with such fierceness that reviewers in the homeland of homeland security have been leery of touching it. I think it’s our political responsibility to not let this book be buried.
  3. Amazon Grace sums up and takes off from a lifetime of the author’s philosophical work, work that is both solid and wide-ranging. Amazon Grace begins by announcing itself as “a challenge and an invitation hurled out to Daring, Desperate Women everywhere” – and it is – but the interweaving of idea, fact, metaphor, and story in Amazon Grace can prove central and illuminating for anyone desiring that life continue on earth.

I love the cut-to-the-chaseness of Amazon Grace – Daly wastes zilch time in getting to the point. Patriarchy is the global terrorist system that targets the planet and its life forms for destruction; woman-hating, nature-hating, life-hating, are at its core; and women who once knew this perfectly well, as well as those just learning it, need to begin again generating the energy between and amongst ourselves to name the system, confront it, transcend it. Even if, or especially if, the situation appears hopeless. To emerge from despair, do something.

I also love the time-traveling aspect of the book. Daly and nineteenth-century feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage hold frequent and fervent conversations throughout; Mary shows Matilda the televised bombing of Baghdad and briefs her on the history of atomic weapons; they travel together to 2056 B.E. (Biophilic Era) to meet with the survivor women of Lost and Found Continent.

These parts of the book work well if read as flights of the imagination, fictional devices to make vivid the author’s points about what has been, what is, what can be. But I’m noticing something additional going on with these time-travel stories: in telling them, Mary Daly performs the classic work of the tribal medicine woman or shaman. On behalf of the collective, she journeys into the realms of non-ordinary reality and brings back knowledge to make whole the life of her people. Her people are, to begin with, the daring and desperate women everywhere whom she addresses; through them, the circle enlarges to encompass the living beings of earth. She connects us to the intelligent powers of the universe, and this is a medicine woman’s job.

Finally, let me not fail to mention that the animals in Amazon Grace, from Mary’s cat Cottie, who, in ordinary reality, paws out significant volumes from Mary’s bookshelves, to Brontie, the telepathic brontosaurus who sets out on a vacation and ends up teaching Mesozoic-Era wisdom to the inhabitants of Lost and Found, are a pure delight.

beyond god the fatherIn 1973, when Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation was published, Mary Daly seemed to me to be articulating the deepest desires and intuitions of an entire movement, myself included, and placing that movement at the center of hope for human survival. The fortunes of her work since then have mirrored the fortunes of the movement to which she devoted her thought and energy: first, she was made a sort of media star, then she was scapegoated, then her work was pigeon-holed and ignored. But the peril of women and all the creatures of earth that she described thirty-three years ago has only intensified in the meantime; the forces responsible for that danger have gathered strength and momentum and become more clearly visible; and the movement that could name and dispel them has been divided and dispersed, becoming an almost un-locate-able entity.

Under these circumstances, a mourner part of myself resists any re-kindling of communal energy and hope, wanting only to disappear into the woods (get me out of this mess, puh-leeze), while the spirit part of myself longs as much as ever to live and act and be part of something that is authentic, passionate, directed. I hate to drag Shakespeare into it, but “to be or not to be” really does seem to be the question du jour, for each of usAnd be-ing confronting non-being has always been the focus of Mary Daly’s work. That’s what makes her books essential reading, more timely now than when they were first written.

Harriet Ellenberger was an activist in the U.S. civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements and a founding member of the Charlotte (North Carolina) Women’s Center (1971). She founded and edited the lesbian feminist journal Sinister Wisdom with Catherine Nicholson (1976-81), was a founding member of the bilingual feminist bookstore L’Essentielle in Montreal (1987), published a small feminist journal on the web called She Is Still Burning (2000-2003), and co-edited with Lise Weil several issues of Trivia: Voices of Feminism (2004-8). She lives in rural New Brunswick, where she and her partner are renovating an old farmhouse.For an updated list of works published in TRIVIA, please see this author’s contributor page.

Originally published in  Trivia: Voice of Feminism.

(Poem) Eclipse of Hope by Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Acutely Personal, Eerily Collective

In early autumn of 1985, I had been living for four months in a Studio of One’s Own, a beautifully airy structure built by women for women artists on Ann Stokes’ land, a low wooded mountain-top in New Hampshire across the river from Brattleboro, Vermont. It was the first time I’d lived alone and the first time I’d lived in the woods. I was there to write a serious book of prose and to chart a new direction for my life. Instead, I’d been getting up at the crack of dawn to write in my journal, walking the trails all over the old mountain, and skidding wildly from ecstatic vision to paralyzing despair. My journal entry for 1 October 1985 reads: “11 a.m. I am EXHAUSTED. 11:30 a.m. Well, shit, I just wrote a poem.”

It was, astonishingly, a real poem, one of the first I’d written since childhood, but there was a tongue-tangle, marking a conceptual muddle, in the second stanza that I couldn’t for the life of me disentangle.  Eventually, I put the poem away and even forgot I’d written it. Twenty-six years later, in the midst of an e-mail to a friend about something else altogether, the lines as they were meant to be surfaced in my mind.

Why did it take so long? Well, I’ve come to think that humankind has a species-soul, a deep current that courses invisibly beneath the surface of our individual lives. When that soul is in trouble, we can feel it. In the mid-1980s, it was clear to any witness of my life that I personally was in trouble, my past gone and my future unknown. But I couldn’t altogether articulate what that felt like. By the summer of 2011, though, human beings were clearly and collectively in the same kind of trouble: past gone, future unknown. And suddenly, with so much company, I could say how that feels.

Have human beings already precipitated the final decline of our mother the Earth? If not, how far will she need to go to restore balance and renew life? Will humans become extinct in the process, the way we’ve sent so many other species into extinction? These are the questions I ask myself, but I don’t know the answers. I only know how it feels now to be human, and on the brink.

ECLIPSE OF HOPE 

A moon blots out a sun.
Darkening silence comes between us.

In place of my house,
stands a tower of stone.
At its crown —
the lightning catcher,
she who writes on the blank rune.

Below, my departing selves
wait with their boats.

Driftwood burns.

I mark in sand
the sign of migration.

My eyes sting.

At my wingbones
four winds rise.

– Harriet Ann Ellenberger

Photograph courtesy AP Photo/Tourism Queensland

Photograph courtesy AP Photo/Tourism Queensland

Note: “Eclipse of Hope” first appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Trivia: Voices of Feminism http://www.triviavoices.com/eclipse-of-hope.html