Read all posts by Mary Saracino.
Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir writer who lives in Denver, Colorado. Her most recent novel is Heretics: A Love Story (Pearlsong Press, 2014). Her novel The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press, 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She is the co-editor (with Mary Beth Moser) ofShe Is Everywhere! Volume 3: An anthology of writings in womanist/feminist spirituality (iUniverse 2012). Mary’s short story, “Vicky’s Secret,” earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize. Mary’s other book-length work includes the novels No Matter What (Spinsters Ink, 1993) and Finding Grace (Spinsters Ink, 1999), and the memoir, Voices of the Soft-bellied Warrior (Spinsters Ink Books, 2001). Mary’s Pushcart Poetry Prize-nominated poetry appears online at www.newversenews.com. Her poetry and stories (creative nonfiction and fiction) have been widely published in a variety of literary and cultural journals and anthologies, both online and in print. For more information visit www.marysaracino.com;www.pearlsong.com/newsroom/marysaracino/marysaracino.htm
Recently published posts:
Welcome our new Executive Editor, Rev. Dr. Patricia ‘Iolana!
Happy 4th Birthday to Return to Mago E-Magazine! Continue reading
Lydia Ruyle with her Goddess banner of the Seven Star Deities
I feel blessed to have known Lydia and to have been in occasional personal communication with her for several years … initially via the Goddess Scholars list. Lydia sent me great information of some of her journeys, was always encouraging and generously supported my CD crowdfunding project in 2015. I feel honoured to have carried her Goddess banners to Australia in 2014.
A river runs through me
a river runs through me
to the sea
the sea’s inside
touching everything I see
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
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There are places
inside us where words
only silence dwells.
Into these still, dark caverns
meeting unexpected faces
The stones share their secrets with the sea,
the brilliant blue sky, the tasseled grasses,
the trees—and any humans who will listen—
defying history’s edicts to remain silent.
Parched by the wind and the rain,
the stones speak fiercely of love and of times lost
as outcroppings of brilliant wildflowers
sing sacred songs in the sunlight.
(Review) Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak
A Girl God Anthology
Edited by Trista Hendren and Pat Daly, preface by Dr. Amina Wadud
Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak offers readers a diverse array of writings on spirituality and religious traditions by feminists of faith from around the world.
The anthology contains short, personal revelations—essays, poems, and academic musings— written by real women about their real experience of faith in a variety of traditions, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Paganism, Goddess-centered spirituality, and Hinduism. Some of the stories are provocative. All are thought-provoking, honest, insightful. And decidedly feminist.
Cottonwood Tree in February, Denver, CO
Photo credit: © 2011, Mary Beth Moser
If we were rooted to the ground like trees
or roses would we understand how intimately
our lives are entwined with the Mystery?
She carries us in her arms, cradles us in her heart
washes away our sorrows with her rain
echoes our fears with her thunder
warms our weary bones with her sun
dries our tears with her billowing wind
Heretics: A Love Story by Mary Saracino, Pearlsong Press, Nashville, TN 2014
Rich details of the Barbaricini culture, and the Genargento Mountains in the Babargia, the most remote region of Sardinia in which they live, ground Mary Saracino’s novel in a very specific place. Saracino blends the research of an anthropologist with a gift for story-telling, rendering a sort of ethnographic fiction. The foundation of culture, topography, flora and fauna, and linguistic details is firmly based on fact but vividly realized in a story so beautifully and poetically written that the scholarship and data are effortlessly ingested, threaded through the book’s pages so naturally that the reader is caught up in the fictive moment as if surrounded by the wild mountains and centuries old holme oaks. Through her scrupulous research, Saracino brings to life a village of shepherds, basket makers, wild bee charmers, and deeply knowledgeable and intuitive folk healers.
Mary Beth Moser’s doctoral dissertation, The Everyday Spirituality of Women in the Italian Alps: A Trentino American Woman’s Search for Spiritual Agency, Folk Wisdom, and Ancestral Values, takes readers on a wonderful adventure to uncover women’s ancient ways of knowing and being in the world.
While it explores the cultural and spiritual traditions of Trentino—a region in northern Italy that is the motherland of Moser’s grandmothers—the truths that it unearths transcend location and contribute to the ongoing effort to reclaim the story of women’s culture and spiritual agency across time and space.
All my relations hail from Puglia and Tuscany
their bodies rooted to ancient hillsides, sacred ruins
forests filled with wild cinghiali, fallen chestnuts
fields bursting with red poppies, stone menhirs
All my relations flew through the night skies
their souls danced with stardust, cradled by the wind
and the voluptuous arms of the full moon
secret-keepers, storytellers, healers
bakers, winemakers, farmers, musicians, poets
In She Appears! Encounters with Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, Sandy Boucher has compiled a sustaining feast of personal stories and artwork about the beloved Asian Goddess, the Celestial Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kwan Yin.
Like Boucher, many—but not all—of the contributors to this volume are Buddhists—meditators, Zen priests, nuns, teachers, students. All have been profoundly touched by the very real presence of Kwan Yin in their lives.
The Boss we called her, though in life her authority barely reached beyond the aroma-stained walls of her over-worked kitchen. She came to America from Puglia in 1920, seven months pregnant with my father. A woman on the run from who knows what. Poverty, or the threat of it. Of my grandmothers, I knew her best, this woman of sad brown eyes, whose drawn lips withheld somber secrets no matter how many times I asked, “Why did you leave Italy?”
After her husband died, The Boss ruled, a dowager empress, her queenly attire, a plaid or flowered house dress, a simple apron, with or without pockets, anointed with meatball grease, stained with red sauce, flour, egg yolks, and sweat. Immacolata, her mother named her, a mother who died before her sweet girl-child turned four, leaving a hollow of want in the young girl’s bones (the onset of shrouded mystery?).
The sting of namelessness
the blade of silence eviscerating memory
that is how shame is interred deep
into sinew and bone.
For my ancestors, muteness was chosen
a precious tool wielded
by the men and women
of the Mezzogiorno,
the southern Italians of La Miseria.
I was bred to appease,
close the gaping mouth of desire,
a child speaking in the foreign tongue of docility
relying on conforming consonants,
denying voracious vowels their due,
jailing truth behind clenched teeth,
taut lips, a shaking, frightened heart.
Peter Wilkes’ small, but powerful book, A Woman Called God, is the first in his series of what he calls Little books for Big people™.
Part storybook, part parable, the words and pictures contained in this 54-page volume were created by a Wilkes, who describes himself as “a 70-year-old white male who has long wrestled with the
contradiction and implausibility of the patriarchal Abrahamic religions.”
Shardana woke with a start. The chilling dirge of a howling wolf rang in her ears. Her heart raced. She rubbed her eyes, but was unable to erase the face of the animal that had haunted her dream. In the murky residue that lingered from her night vision, Shardana could still feel the anger that radiated from the wolf’s bloody stare. His fangs, sharp as the blade of a shepherd’s knife, glinted in the moonlight that bathed the deck of the sea-going vessel. His thick coat bristled along the bony ridge of his spine as he prowled the squeaking wooden planks.
Shardana stared into the darkness of her bedroom, allowing the blackness to calm her. “Dea Madre!” she called out. She kicked off her blankets and reached across the mattress to where her husband Basilio should have been—and would have been—had he not spent the night at his shepherd’s hut outside the village on this early February night, tending his herd of birthing ewes.
Sweat bathed Shardana’s brow, though she didn’t wipe away the dampness. She grabbed a shawl to chase away the cold before walking to the kitchen to boil some water to make a medicinal remedy to calm her mind.
The Future Has an Ancient Heart: Legacy of caring, sharing, healing, and vision from the primordial African Mediterranean to occupy everywhere (iUniverse 2103) by Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum.
A book review by Mary Saracino
The preface to the 2013 revised edition of Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum’s ground-breaking work, The Future Has an Ancient Heart is, by itself, worth the price of the book, as it offers a treasure trove of insights and an encapsulation of Birnbaum’s visionary work. But, I urge you to read this extraordinary work from cover to cover.
After the passing of her spouse/life-partner, Wally Birnbaum in September 2012, Lucia began to reflect upon the many ways that her body of work was and has always been imbued with Wally’s presence and essence. In doing so, she was inspired to add several chapters to this latest edition of The Future Has an Ancient Heart to acknowledge Wally’s contributions as logistician for her research and study tours, a formatter and photographer for all of her books, and a critical thinker and insight-sharer as a “peaceful nuclear physicist” who supported her work as a feminist cultural historian throughout their long and happy egalitarian marriage.
Meet Mago Contributor, Mary Saracino.
If I touched my hands to the ochre palms
that grace the walls of the ancient cave
would I know the secrets the rocks
whisper in the dark to ears attuned to magic?