I was a healer.
I was midwife of birth and death.
My medicine grew in hedgerows
My heart beat in time to the spin of the earth.
I spoke only truth.
I would not be silent.
I would not speak the name of their god.
So they cut out my tongue.
I was an oracle.
I was She Who Sees.
I saw the tracks of the stars and the path of the swallows,
The sun rising in the stones and lichen on tree trunks.
I would not cast down my gaze in front of their masters.
So they burnt out my eyes.
I was Creatrix.
Pleasure was my magic.
My body writhed, moss against the arch of my back
As I howled my ecstasy to a strawberry moon.
I knew no shame.
I birthed when I chose.
I bled on the earth.
I would not hide my blood.
So they ripped out my womb.
I was sovereign.
I knew no greater power than that of my own body.
I was not afraid of the dark.
I was Shakti.
I was wild, untamed.
I ran with the wolves and swam with the seals.
I raged with the wind and wept with the rain.
I would not be controlled.
So they bound my hands behind my back and slaughtered my children, one by one, in front of me, As I begged and screamed and sobbed.
“Help me,” I cried.
But my sisters turned away,
Their own children too precious to lose.
They hung me from a sacred oak.
As the blood dripped from my broken body, staining the blackthorn pyre beneath my feet,
I made a vow
And the terror settled into my bones, like sand.
For hundreds, thousands of years, I slept like this:
Obedient, chaste, demure.
My voice, my eyes, my blood, my magic, my power, my truth, all hidden in plain sight
In women’s bodies, coiled like a snake,
By shame and fear.
They knew that I was not dead
So they masqueraded a parody of me through children’s dreams:
grotesque, warted, cackling
and bad to the bone,
A role model for no-one.
This was their greatest subterfuge.
When they heard my name, people trembled,
The truth was forgotten:
That I was a healer, a seer, a force of nature, a woman free of shame.
I slumbered on
But I could not sleep forever.
I heard a sound, what was it?
The death song of a shrike perhaps?
The padding footsteps of a lonely tiger?
And then I felt the blood.
It swelled in my womb and gushed from every cell in my body:
The blood of shame, the blood of pain,
The blood that forever kept time with the moon.
The disobedient blood that kept flowing from a wound that would not close.
I howled in agony
And opened my eyes.
And looked around in disbelief at the withered, treeless earth,
Her arteries clogged with a filthy waste,
Her lungs choked.
She was not as I remembered her.
“Where am I?” I whispered.
The earth answered:
“You are home.”
The clothes they had dressed me in, I tore them from my body.
I put my hand to my breast to check my heart was still beating.
I reached down to my vulva and caressed her
And dipped my fingers inside that long forgotten passage.
At first, I felt nothing.
The numbness gave way to pain.
I pressed my cervix and the cries of a billion women,
Raped and beaten and silenced and murdered,
All over the world and through all of time
Seared my flesh with white heat,
I unleashed the rage that had built in my body for a thousand years:
A terrible screech, an animal howl, a guttural scream,
That split the sky
And rained back down on the earth as shattered glass.
And then the honey.
Sweet, orgasmic waves
Merged my body with the earth and the stars
And I was almost whole again.
There was work to be done.
I broke a branch from a willow to use as a wand.
My pelvic bowl was my cauldron.
I made magic.
I remembered that I had not always been alone.
I called out to my sisters: “Where are you?”
And their sleep muffled voices echoed back to me through the mist:
“We are here.
We are here.
We are here.”