(Book Excerpt 3) Introduction From She Rises by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

Artwork by Ingrid Andrew
Artwork by Ingrid Andrew

Reading the Sign of Time from Animal Companions

Animals appear to act and adopt a new mode of living at the time of impending extinction. Such endangered species as wolves and gray whales travel far across the lands and the seas and interbreed to conserve their species. Recently, scientists have made speculations based on the observation that a group of gray whales took amazingly long journeys crossing areas not previously thought to be habitats in the Pacific Ocean. A particular gray whale named Varvara (Russian for Barbara) is noted for her six-month travel in 2011 and 2012, a roundtrip journey from west to east and back to the west of the Pacific Ocean, making the longest journey in history of nearly 14,000 miles. Having started from Russia’s Sakhalin Island, she traveled to Baja, Mexico, the other side of the Pacific Ocean, and back to where she started. It is commonly known that western gray whales are endangered, whereas their eastern counterparts are not. She is noted to have visited the breeding grounds of eastern gray whales, the species not endangered, off the coast of North America.[1] Interpreting the journey of Varvara, Bruce Mate, biologist of Oregon State University, suggests the possibility that the western gray whales and the eastern gray whales may be after all the same single species. It is inferred that, as the population of western (Asian) gray whales is drastically low compared to their eastern counterparts, Varvara’s transoceanic travel was an act to conserve her species by (re)uniting with her kindred on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

This reminds me of what Harriet Ann Ellenberger reported from her observation on endangered wolves in her area. Ellenberger writes:

A hundred years ago, farmers had shot the last wolf in New Brunswick. All up and down the eastern parts of North America, it was the same: no wolves in the woods, no wolves anywhere.

But a tiny remnant of the eastern wolves had found refuge in Ontario’s Algonquin provincial park, and when coyotes from the southwest migrated that far north, the Algonquin wolves accepted them into the pack, mated with them, and taught them wolf culture. The result was the eminently adaptable coywolf, or bush wolf, who has since repopulated much of the land where the eastern wolf was killed.

Coyotes arrived in New Brunswick many years ago, but only within the last three or four years have wolf-coyote hybrids been sighted. This past July is the first time we have seen a timber wolf streaking across the back lawn, headed for the treeline. And in August 2014, the man delivering gravel for our driveway told us that where he lived, near the Maine border, wolves, coyotes, wolf-coyote hybrids, and runaway guard dogs were forming a new kind of pack that included all of them.[2]

The above is the backdrop of Ellenberger’s poem, entitled “The Ones You Love, which is included in the present anthology. Ellenberger urges us to break the chain and free ourselves to join the motley sister clan in this poem:

The Ones You Love

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.

In the day, the cut grasses hear you howl;

at night, they make a nest for your body.

You go nowhere.

You could lie down and die,

but someone wants you kept alive,

a cheap security system.

Years of this and then one full-moon night,

suddenly you hear them —

the motley wolf-coyote clan.

They’re calling

from the far side of the creek,

and you’re answering.

Break the chain, they say,

and you do.

Lastly, I have a message to tell us from an earthly sister. As I write this Introduction, I am experiencing the effect of a spider bite. The spider venom has permeated my left cheek for a week now. It took a few days to realize that it actually works like a spiritual medicine. Amidst discomfort, my thought was coming to shape with clarity. I have been guided by the consciousness of WE. I realize that I AM still desperate in my desire to make things right. My spider sister reminded me of what really motivates me to do all these things that I do, a desperate love for Life. I am thankful for her and feel connected with all other non-human sisters. On behalf of our contributors, I say to all members of the earthly community out of joy and gratitude: How can we not let the world hear our gynocentric pulsing? How can we not have something to say or tell about what we think/feel/dream as Goddessians/Magoists?

[1] Mary Bowerman, “Gray whale travels 13,987 miles, breaking world record” in USA Today. [http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/04/15/gray-whale-breaks-mammal-migration-record/25806791/ (April 15, 2015)]

[2] Harriet Ann Ellenberger, “The Ones You Love” in Return to Mago. [http://magoism.net/2015/02/11/poem-by-harriet-ellenberger/ (February 11, 2015)]

Read more on She Rises.


Book Reviews & Endorsements

  • (Book reviews) The Mago Way Volume 1 by Mary Blair Petiet and Sara Wright

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  • She Rises Book Review by Hearth Moon Rising

    She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality (Review) June 26, 2015 The eagerly awaited anthology She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality?, edited by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang and Kaalii Cargill, was released this past Solstice (Summer or Winter, depending on your perspective) and I don’t exactly know what to say about it, except WOW. It certainly does not disappoint. This is a hefty anthology of almost 500 pages. It has scholarly essays, stories of personal experience, poetry, and […]

  • (Book Review) Helen Hwang’s The Mago Way by Elizabeth Hall Magill

    Dr. Helen Hwang’s The Mago Way makes a significant contribution to our understanding of thealogy (the theological study of the divine feminine) and to the transnational feminism that must be the basis of global change. The Mago Way weaves together several stories—Dr. Hwang’s own journey away from Christianity and toward Mago (the gynocentric principle, rooted in pre-patriarchal East Asian/Korean culture, that encompasses all of existence), the story of Mago as told through the text of the Budoji (made available in […]

  • She Rises Book Review by Sara Wright

    “She Rises” uses a thousand perspectives to perceive Her Presence! Yesterday I finally finished this extraordinary book and wanted to share a few thoughts with you. First, once again I am astonished at the amount of labor that went into this amazing creation. Secondly, I wish this volume had been available to me during the ten years that I taught Women’s Studies. I believe that the Women’s movement cannot survive without the goddess in whatever form she may manifest, and […]

  • She Rises Book Review by Mary Hazlett

    Legitimacy of female power in a patriarchal world I’ve seriously explored my spirituality for nearly 40 years, since i began college. Raised catholic, i immersed myself in that religion and its mystical tradition. and for a long time it served me well. but over time, as i matured in all areas of my life, i saw the effects of patriarchy on society and in my religion. language was and is the most obvious sign of patriarchy. what is wrong with […]

  • (Book Review) Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess by Hearth Moon Rising

    This was first published in Hearth Moon Rising’s blog (https:hearthmoonrising.com).  [Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess is your gift book for this holiday season. It will delight any woman who enjoys reading about the Goddess.] Through essays, poetry, art, and ritual, this anthology addresses the ways we acknowledge the yearly cycle. It is fascinating heartfelt tribute to the Goddess of the Year by women who dedicate their lives to her. Helen Hye-Sook Hwang explains the Mago calendar in detail, exploring its history, […]

  • (She Rises Volume 2) Endorsement by Kathryn Rountree

    See book info here. This second volume of She Rises addresses the practical question of how Goddess feminism makes a concrete, vital difference to the everyday lives of its 96 contributors, and, in turn, how these women make vital, concrete differences in the world. It is a glorious and robust tapestry of prose pieces, poetry and art revealing a vast variety of ways in which Goddess inspires women from diverse religious, ethnic, cultural, and disciplinary backgrounds to act. They are […]

  • The Mago Way book review by Dr. Glenys Livingstone

    Order it Mago Bookstore! This book, The Mago Way: Re-discovering Mago, the Great Goddess from East Asia, is an important and major contribution of scholarship to the rising global return of gynocentric consciousness; to the return of the Female as imagined source of all being – and it is an wholistic vision, wherein no difference is known “between you and me or between one nation and the other”. It is a radical work. The work that this book unfolds on […]

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