Monday, December 31, 2007
(top image from source; second image original which appeared by "accident")
Shining and Breathless
To be wild and perfect for a moment,
like the favored daughter
of the high house
who runs away
with the son of the cook,
the would be explorer
finding his fate
in the snowy embrace
of the uncharted polar realms,
the pilgrim who cast away all
and measured his length
on the ground
again and again
all the way to the shrine,
his shoes melted,
his face red with the clay
of the earth he kissed
so many times
until he arrived,
shining and breathless,
at the temple
where salvation waited.
(First line is from Mary Oliver.)
December 29, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
What Better Path
So what if we don't know everything.
So what if the gods did not invite us
to their council or their revelry.
If we were relegated to the outer circles,
where we occasionally caught the scent
of heavenly aroma wafting near,
or heard only the distant strains
of celestial tones.
Better to forge ahead in unknowing,
without transcript or direction,
maps forgotten or lost,
guides glimpsed barely
or from time to time,
ragged images floating ahead,
in unknown languages,
brief encounters with
what better choice
what better path
to uncover as we go.
December 29, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
At Year's End
It is winter,
and all the summer blossoms--
the peonies, the dahlias, and even
the humble daisies--
have gone below,
their beauty fled
into winter quarters,
where they hide their heads
curled like small animals in their caves.
There is a whiteness everywhere,
blank pages of snow
waiting to be inscribed
by crow's feet,
a smoothed tablet,
an alabaster sky
unimpeded by clouds.
Everything is hushed, expectant,
wondering if spring
will come round again this year,
what new message it will bring,
what we will write
on our as yet unsullied scrolls.
December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
We are moving ahead
along the cliff's edge
on a narrow trail.
We do not know
who sent us
on this journey,
where it leads.
Below, the waves
are splintering on the rocks,
the sea weaves and unweaves
the moon's pensive face.
The trees murmur directions,
but we cannot hear.
We feel our way forward,
singing as we go.
December 18, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
(image from source)
The following lovely New Year's blessing comes from Lawrence Edwards, who is responsible for creating and maintaining the organization called "Anam Cara." For more on Anam Cara and to sign up for the free newsletter, go to
http://www.anamcara-ny.org "Anam Cara" means "soul friend." May we all be soul friends to one another during the coming year and all future years as well.
Anam Cara, Inc. Newsletter
Perennial Wisdom For The Soul's Journey
Greetings and Namaste!
In the northern hemisphere, especially in the northern latitudes, our nights have lengthened as we move towards the winter solstice with its longest period of darkness in the year. In a sense it's the darkness that calls forth the light. This age is known in the Eastern traditions as the dark age, Kali Yuga, where the Light of Dharma, the Light of Love, the Light of Spirit is most challenged by the darkness of the ordinary ego mind - individual and collective - with it's profound ignorance and emptiness driving it into states of craving, fear and mad grasping at power. We all see how this is inflicting untold suffering and death on countless beings. This nearly overwhelming darkness calls to each one of us to bring forth the Light. The Buddha said he chose to take birth in Kali Yuga because of its darkness and this being the time of the greatest need of all beings for relief from suffering.
Whether we see ourselves as honoring our Buddha nature or our Christ nature or our Divine nature or our Goddess nature or simply our highest human nature - by radiating Light into the darkness through our acts of generosity, compassion and loving kindness we are serving the Divine in all Her forms. We must never give in to the numbness that this time of tragic suffering on such massive scales can bring. You are that seed of Light, that flame that can always beat back the darkness, always.
When the ordinary ego mind awakens and discovers its purpose is simply to serve through love and compassion, it also sees how insignificant it is, how small in comparison to the task the Divine has given it - to relieve the suffering of others. It can feel overwhelmed until it sees that it can fulfill that Divine command by simply helping whoever is near in whatever way it can. That simplicity sets us free from overwhelm and numbness and the ego inflation of trying to take on all suffering only to collapse. We can always take action, however small, to bring love, compassion, patience and kindness into the world.
May our every breath, every thought and every act help to alleviate the suffering of others. This is the way of Christ, Buddha, bodhisattvas, sages and saints of every tradition. This is what it is to realize our most sublime human nature.
(The following poem is from John O'Donohue, whose book is called "Anam Cara)"
A Prayer of Blessing
May you awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple
of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement
when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift
and find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame
and may anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror
an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles
that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the
secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift
woven around the heart of wonder.~
John O'Donohue ~
Author of the book, "Anam Cara"
Monday, December 24, 2007
Here is Wonder as a lamb.
(picture by Stephanie Marohn)
Sheep play a major role in the Christmas story. And recently I attended (twice) an amazing play based on the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.
So this might be the time to describe my recent encounter with a sheep, who has become an intimate part of my life.
The setting was Stephanie Marohn's Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary provides for various rescued animals (all large) including several sheep. Each year, when the sheep grow heavy with wool, Stephanie has them sheared and then she sends the wool to be made into wonderful "quilts" or comforters of wool batting.
When I visited Stephanie several months ago, I ran my hand above a few of these (her own) and could indeed feel sweet energies flowing through. I was surprised and delighted, for each comforter seemed to speak (to my inner ear) a message as well (such as "I love you," or "Tee hee, tee hee"--the latter from a young and somewhat giddy young sheep.)
So I decided to buy a comforter for myself, and went up recently to the Shelter to pick one out. There were seven newly created comforters in all, and each had a different feeling and message.
Here is what they said and how they felt on Friday, November 30, 2007:
(At first, I felt each one not knowing which sheep the wool came from--the energies seemed to enter mainly through the lower chakras, at least initially. This did not surprise me, since animals tend to live more in their bodies than their heads.)
Wonder 1 (not one of my final three choices): I will heal you.
Chloe: I will make you strong.
Samantha 1 (not the comforter from her that I actually chose): My body seemed to feel pain coming through, but I did not know why.
Charlotte: I did not seem to connect with her. She did not seem eager to go with me.
Finally, I narrowed the group of seven to three top contenders. At this point, I believe I had Stephanie read me the descriptions of the personalities of these sheep.
Here were the final three:
Samantha 2 (the comforter I actually chose): I like you and we will have so much fun together.
Wonder 2: I felt high energy zinging through my body. I felt strength here too. Wonder said, I like you. At this point an image of a rose came into my mind. Wonder added, We could be friends for life. You would really like me because we're already in tune. I can be your soul mate.
Isabel: I felt her joy, but she was also serious. She felt "really, really, really nice." She had strong pulsations. (She was the younger sheep I had encountered before.)
Now, the message from Wonder (2) was extremely compelling. But after Stephanie read me their descriptions, I chose Samantha, who was known as the "wild and free" spirit. Samantha was found by the side of the road as a newborn lamb with her umbilical cord still attached. She was taken to an animal rescue center nearby and hand raised there, being bottle fed. When she grew up, she got along well with her caretakers and her fellow sheep, but she liked to be alone most of the time. She spent her days up on a hill, communing with nature. I felt she was right for me. I never was one to follow the herd (in this case, flock).
So I brought my free spirit home and we have lived together happily ever since.
To read more about Stephanie and her Wonderlamb Shoppe and her Animal Sanctuary, go to http://www.stephaniemarohn.com/ Do give her a visit.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
(Paravati--image from source)
Gauri Durge Namo Namah
Oh, why did I think
I could ever leave you,
my precious ones.
I have loved you
from the beginning of time,
locked you in my heart.
Laksme, Radhe, Parvati,
oh, mysterious and shining ones,
oh, my beloveds,
draw near so that I may
shower you with petals,
bathe you in honey.
Durga hold me now,
cover me with kisses,
bring me to Jagadambe
when I am ready.
December 18, 2007
Laksmi, the furrow born, radiant one
Radhe, fortunate one, wife of Krishna
Parvati, brilliant one
Durga, Incomprehensible one, bringer of self-knowledge
Jagadambe, Mother of the Universe
Friday, December 21, 2007
(picture from source)
"You may as well tell as much truth as you know in poetry, because nobody makes any money off it ...)
Drunk with honey and wine,
you came last night
and lay beside me.
You slept close,
and that was enough.
This morning when I woke
I found you still there.
Now we have danced
the morning away,
forgetting to put on our clothes,
or even eat food.
(Jai Govinda is another name for Krishna.)
Thursday, December 20, 2007
(picture from source)
Durga is one of the strongest gods of all. She rides on a tiger and carries various weapons in her many arms. She is venerated with 100 blue lotuses, and in some depictions, lotuses appear to be springing from her crown.
Here is how she was created: A great battle was going on between Good and Evil (a demon.) The major gods were helpless to deal with the threat, so they gathered and concentrated their energies. Flames sprang from their mouths, the flames merged, and thus Durga was formed, embodiment of Shakti stronger than the other gods all together.
Durga also symbolizes the rule of the intellectual sphere; to seek to understand her is to engage in the most powerful intellectual exploration possible.
But, like many "warrior queens," Durga has a soft side as well. In her peaceful form she is worshipped as MahaGauri, The Fair Lady, and Shree Shantadurga. The poem addresses her in this "peaceful" aspect, though mindful of her fierce qualities.
For today, Durga represents to many women an emblem of power and strength,uniting masculine energy and female compassion.
Oh, my dear one,
we have danced like this
for a thousand years.
Forever would I stay
the lotus blooms
in your hair,
your golden bracelets
as you turn.
Let your sweet energies
flow into my body
and give me strength and joy.
Gladly would I die
for this embrace,
your breast against mine.
December 18, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
(picture from source)
When the crown opens,
oh, so sweetly,
then my darling,
I know I am with you.
When the light
and brushes across my eyes,
you tell me
you are there.
Surely, this is the
which Krishna brings.
Surely, my beloved,
you have come once more.
December 18, 2007
(Krishna is the Lord of Knowledge,the giver of "honey" knowledge, that is, the knowledge of the Self, which is sweet like honey.)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Snow on the mountain,
the tears of god, frozen.
The geese circle overhead.
Only the lake knows
where they will land.
Is it the mind, is it the soul,
this vessel filling with light?
Light delivers the landscape,
carries us into definition.
What we hope for
is what we are given.
Let us list our needs
Moving into the field of light,
we become the light,
it becomes who we are.
What does it matter
whether they do
or do not believe
what you tell them
of your journey.
It is engraved on your heart,
of your spirit's awakening.
December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
(image from source)
The Gods at Play
What is the point
of having a god
if he runs amok
among the women,
assumes lewd postures
upon a gift shop wall.
I am not talking
about the old gods
who descended seriously,
found their maidens,
gave them sacred progeny,
though they too
sometimes broke the rules.
Or sweet Krishna
with his magic flute,
luring the milkmaids
eager to answer his call,
so many at once.
Nor yet the holy light
which cast its rays
begot the sacred child.
this bawdy scene,
what can it be called
but titillation for the
the eager voyeur,
the shadow side of god.
(Note: written after viewing a picture of Hanuman, the monkey god of India, copulating with a mortal woman. For me, this graphic depiction was a caricature of sacred union.)
December 15, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
(This is Titian's picture of Zeus coming to Danae in a shower of gold.)
or sacred ray.
Always there is
a coming down,
a waterfall of light.
Even the monkey god
at play among the mortals.
The women, taken,
do not protest.
This is who they are,
their chosen fate.
Sometimes they live
to bear his child,
or else vanish
in a flash.
Their stories linger
echo through the
vanished temples of our mind.
We listen in silence.
Who would not give
to annihilate in rapture,
mate with a god?
December 15, 2007
(Technically, “hieros gamos” (sacred marriage) refers to the rite of the ancient Goddess cultures in which the King and Queen,(in the guise of god and goddess) mated to ensure the well being of the community for the coming year. I am using it in a more general sense here to refer to other sacred pairings. The marriage of the human and the divine is one of the recurrent themes of myth and legend. The bird is the swan (Zeus) who comes to Leda, an encounter made famous in Yeats’ celebrated poem. The bull is again Zeus, who pursues Europa in that guise. Many early depictions of Mary show her conceiving through a ray of celestial light which pierces her ear. The monkey god is Hanuman, sometimes shown in Eastern painting in union with a female mortal. It was Semele who “vanished in a flash” when Zeus coupled with her. Some feel that Kundalini, repository of divine power, brings about Sacred Union with the Beloved Within and thus shares kinship with the ancient tales.)
Friday, December 14, 2007
The Moment of the Poem
In order to write a poem,
there must be an intense
concentration of thought,
a focus of perspective
which shuts out all
and reveals at its center
a single, illumined thing,
unmasking at last.
Only the slow dreary work of days,
the minute by minute
will free the moment of its
let it shine forth unblemished
in its own essential light,
April 27, 2001 San Francisco
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The monk known as "Symeon the New Theologian" is one of my favorite poets. He captures the essence of "true Christianity" in his embrace of the mystical and loving elements which that faith has to offer. In this, he is in marked contrast with those who seem to favor a religion of judgment and condemnation, rather than love.
I think that the kundalini experience makes loving mystics of us all, by whatever name you call it. (And of course there are loving mystics of many kinds, not just those who have been graced by kundalini awakening.)
By what boundless mercy, my Savior,
By Symeon the New Theologian
(949 - 1032)
English version by John Anthony McGuckin
By what boundless mercy, my Savior,
have you allowed me to become a member of your body?
Me, the unclean, the defiled, the prodigal.
How is it that you have clothed me
in the brilliant garment,
radiant with the splendor of immortality,
that turns all my members into light?
Your body, immaculate and divine,
is all radiant with the fire of your divinity,
with which it is ineffably joined and combined.
This is the gift you have given me, my God:
that this mortal and shabby frame
has become one with your immaculate body
and that my blood has mingled
with your blood.
I know, too,
that I have been made one with your divinity
and have become your own most pure body,
a brilliant member, transparently lucid,
luminous and holy.
I see the beauty of it all, I can gaze on the radiance.
I have become a reflection of the light of your grace.
-- from The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul's Ascent from the Desert Fathers and Other Early Christian Contemplatives, Translated by John Anthony McGuckin
(poem from Poetry Chaikhana)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Some morning thoughts
The spiritual body
does not need a wardrobe.
The garment of the soul
However we come to god(the goddess),
we are acceptable.
No one is refused
because of appearances.
The reality is
that there is no reality
we can catch hold of.
We dwell in Mystery
which speaks to us
in unknown syllables.
Whatever we are looking for,
we will find it
in our own hearts,
or we will not find it at all.
Do not ask,
“what am I supposed to be doing?”
You know very well what it is
that you must do.
You chose it as your path
before you were born.
Give up your questioning
and be about your life work.
is always present,
waiting for you to attend.
Whatever you do,
who you are.
However you define “life,”
it is not what you say.
You can live it,
but never know it.
When we arrive at a
certain point in life,
our goal is to become
more fully ourselves.
We no longer care what
the “others” think or do.
Our only allegiance is
to the soul.
December 12, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
(image from source)
In my work I turn matter into spirit.
Louise Nevelson (paraphrase)
The carpenter dreams
of varied dimensions.
Of measurements and
plumb lines and squares,
exactly into place
according to design
like an unfurling pattern
on a seamless cloth.
And then there are
with their vast souls.
from place to place,
one sacred location
carrying with them
their builder’s trade,
the secrets of their
craft and faith,
only the initiates
allowed to know
how to insert spirit
how to become
the hand of the unseen.
At night they flew high
in their calculated sleep,
setting the final slabs
of the steeple upright,
ready to ascend to
their immeasurable heaven.
As for the pyramids,
construction through Mystery,
How did they raise
those heavy blocks?
Fit them with
(even your knifeblade
won’t slip through)
Who set them so exactly
into the directions,
sun and stars in total alignment,
the ray of light striking through
the narrow aperture,
your heart waiting.
December 9, 2007
(For those who might not know: The Stonemasons of medieval Europe were members of a special Craft Guild. Acceptance into the guild meant that you also became part of a secret spiritual order, with private rituals and beliefs. Today this group is known simply as the Masons.
There is still much uncertainly as to how the heavy stones of the pyramids were brought to the sites and then lifted into place. Many of the “explanations” don’t seem to hold up under close inspection. They were too heavy to transport by water, and no trees in the area were strong enough to serve as a system of wooden “rollers.” As for the lifting process, earthen ramps and wooden rollers have been suggested, but critics point out that rain would have quickly melted the earth. Personally, I prefer the notion of help from outer space, perhaps angelic beings who brought knowledge which allowed both the transport and raising of the heavy stone blocks through levitation. And built into certain of the pyramids was a small opening, which allowed a beam of light to strike a predetermined place at certain times of the year.)
Friday, December 07, 2007
Somebody wants to say something
In spite of myself
these words keep coming
Somebody wants to keep
and using my tongue
as a telegram.
Listen, I've got
appointments to keep,
places I need to go.
Answer: Be still,
This is the appointment
you made in eternity,
before you were born.
It is the only one
December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Li-Young Lee is one of the best poets writing today. His work is not as "transparent" as some, but it is haunting in its evocative power. Let its syllables wash over you without trying to ask too often, "What does this mean?" Rather, think of what it suggests to you.
By Li-Young Lee
(1957 - )
Li-Young, don't feel lonely
when you look up
into great night and find
yourself the far face peering
hugely out from between
a star and a star. All that space
the nighthawk plunges through,
homing, all that distance beyond embrace,
what is it but your own infinity.
And don't be afraid
when, eyes closed, you look inside you
and find night is both
the silence tolling after stars
and the final word
that founds all beginning, find night,
abyss and shuttle,
a finished cloth
frayed by the years, then gathered
in the songs and games
mothers teach their children.
and find yourself changed
and changing, now the bewildered honey
fallen into your own hands,
now the immaculate fruit born of hunger.
Now the unequaled perfume of your dying.
And time? Time is the salty wake
of your stunned entrance upon
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Hiding in this cage
English version by Sushil Rao
hiding in this cage
of visible matter
is the invisible
she is singing
-- from "Beloved May I Enter: Kabir Dohas and Other Poems," translations by Sushil Rao
(from Poetry Chaikhana)
Monday, December 03, 2007
I recently received the following message from my friend Tosha Silver, a gifted psychic reader and personal counselor. Her words contain much wisdom for us all at this time of transition.
(for further information, see her sites at: www.toshasilver.com
A WHOLE NEW CYCLE UNFOLDS...
"Walk out of your old thoughts, walk into a new life."
--Stephen Karcher, Total I Ching
This is my first mailing in almost a year, though I plan to get back in touch about once a month in 2008.
December,astrologically-speaking, is a time of mammoth, even epic, changes. Saturn moved into Virgo early in the fall, and now the lunar nodes prepare for Aquarius and Leo, while Jupiter and Pluto get ready to enter Capricorn. A fateful meeting of these two powerhouses occurs in Sagittarius for the first time in 12 years on Dec.11. People have been telling me in readings how they feel the insistent, irresistable energy of birth arriving in their lives, one way or another
I too have been opening out of a coccoon after a long retreat to resume teleclasses and workshops in 2008. Perhaps you've been feeling this energy of emergence yourself. I'll be in touch soon about new offerings.
In the meantime, I continue to give individual astrology and psychic readings (and will accept a limited number of new clients for charts in 2008). Feel free to email me about these. Email always receives much faster response time than telephone.
So the tides are shifting. How can anyone ride them in the most uplifting, positive way, in a way that benefits all? In a way that moves with the Divine flow?
Here's one possibility.
"Acknowledging the Source"
During major transitional times likes these, it can be really helpful to remember the Divine as the Source of all abundance.
Transits like the ones we're in can shake life's foundations. We might fall into thinking the current job, relationship, or living situation, IS our security.
But this is illusion. As soon as you remember the Divine is the Source,things get simple.
Here's an affirmation I've found invaluable: "The Universe ITSELF is my Source. It always provides all I need".
The derailed train of perception returns to the proper track. Divine Order unfolds. Doors open in highly unexpected, synchronous ways. Things fall into place organically, without pushing. I have seen this with so many clients for so many years that my doubt on this topic is over.
By invoking Divine Order, the illusions of competition, jealousy and envy dissolve like salt in water. When you know you'll be guided to all that is right for you, no need to covet someone else's karma.
Isn't this just giving credit where credit is due? After all, who brought the partner, the job, the home, the body in the first place? As soon as the Divine is restored to its proper status as the source of all, energy begins to realign. Leads present themselves to be followed. Solutions come in the right time, in the right way.
Perhaps as as the poet Hafiz would say, God just wants to be included.
The No Worry CD Trilogy available below has much more on this topic.
Big Holiday Sale on CD Sets
I now have 3 different cd sets in a beautiful new format to help keep the mind peaceful and content, no matter what the transits.
Do you know someone who is so stressed that breathing seems like an exotic luxury? These cds can help anyone who needs a map back to peace and sanity. They are filled with practical techniques and meditations for riding the wild waves of life's changes.
Because I believe so deeply in these tools, I'm doing a major sale FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER ONLY to make them easy to purchase.
1) 20% off all prices on CD sets!
2) We'll pay the sales tax till the end of the year!
3) Free shipping on all orders over $100!
Any of these titles can be a wonderful, pragmatic gift for someone you love, including yourself. All are available in MP3 format as well, especially handy for international orders.
THE NO WORRY TRILOGY
3-cd set/also available as an mp3
Does your mind sometimes drive you crazy? Is anxiety a frequent companion?
This set is a comprehensive, practical guide for
befriending your mind and inviting the highest in every situation. Learn how to bring tranquility, clarity and peace to any problem. Covers how to protect yourself from psychic negativity within and without, fill up on the inside, release grasping, move with the universal flow and much more.
BALANCING GIVING AND RECEIVING
3-cd set/also available as an mp3
Ready to give up overgiving?
PART 1 and 2- EMBRACING RECEPTIVITY
Especially for overgivers,helping professionals,and "people who love too much." Covers the connection between breath and receiving, welcoming divine assistance, and receptivity as a spiritual practice.
Also, includes why giving to yourself first is essential, refilling from the Divine, handling difficult families (or partners), and receiving help from plants, animals, and nature.
PART 3- GIVING WITHOUT FEAR
Covers filling up on the inside, moving out of grasping, receiving the universal flow of the shakti, and letting the inner self reveal your secret gifts. Includes guided meditations.
PSYCHIC DEVELOPMENT INTENSIVE CD SET
Available on CD only
A User's Guide to Your Own Energy
A comprehensive introduction to working with your intuition and subtle field.
Includes detailed information on psychic cords, chakras, intentions, energy-clearing, grounding, protection, and much more.
May you have a wonderful holiday season,filled with peace and steady, bounding leaps of faith!
"God will make a way out of no way."
Sunday, December 02, 2007
San Francisco has a poetry writing group for older lesbians, and I keep meaning to go but haven't made it yet. But here are two poems I received in the mail this morning from the leader of the group, one from Marge Piercy and one by Joan Larkin.
Come step into the fire, come in,
come in, dance in the flames of the festival
of the strongest sun at the mountain top
of the year when the wheel starts down.
Dance through me as I through you.
Here in the heart of fire in the caves
of the ancient body we are aligned
with the stars wheeling, with the midges swarming
in the humid air like a nebula, with the clams
who drink the tide and the heartwood clock
in the blood thundering through the great heart
of the albatross. Our cells are burning
each a little furnace powered by the sun
and the moon pulls the sea of our blood.
This night the sun and moon dance
and you and I dance in the fire of which
we are the logs, the matches and the flames.
*** by Marge Piercy
Breast to my breast
I held my beloved
with both hands
came through my house
closed eyes re/member
river cinnamon fern
sea cave and wet
conch unburied by my fingers
from pulling mud
I make my body sing
I am the potter and the spinning clay
She sings: I center
I put my two hands to myself
and heal all this.
*** from A LONG SOUND by Joan Larkin
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Ivan Granger suggested the following books as possible gifts for the holidays, and added his commentary for each book. (See poetry chaikhana listed under links.)
Here is what Ivan wrote:
As we enter the holiday season, please remember that books of sacred poetry make wonderful gifts (including gifts to yourself.
I've found that a collection of poetry by several poets makes an especially good introduction for people -- a holiday sampler.
Here are a few of my favorite general collections of sacred poetry:
The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell
This is a compact anthology, but a wonderful collection that includes Li Po, Wu-Men, Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai, Rilke. . . One of my personal favorites!
Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Edited by Jane Hirshfield
This is the first anthology I got years ago that made me say, Wow! Includes Sappho, Rabia, Yeshe Tsogyel, Hildegard of Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Lal Ded, Mirabai, Bibi Hayati, Tsvetaeva. The best collection I've found of women's voices in sacred poetry.
The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, Translated by Peter Lamborn Wilson / Translated by Nasrollah Pourjavady
One of my favorite collections of the Persian Sufi poets, some you m ay have heard of and others who may be new to you: Jami, Attar, Hamadani, Iraqi, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Sanai, and many others. If you like Sufi poetry, this is a book you should have.
Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition, Translated by David Fideler and Sabrineh Fideler
Another very good collection of Persian Sufi poetry. This book focuses on poems and poets that are not as well known in the West. A very good place to discover some new names.
Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from the Sufi Wisdom, Edited by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut
Something about Andrew Harvey's selections and translations always strike a pure note. This book is a delightful collection of poetry and Sufi wisdom stories. Rumi, Kabir, al-Hallaj, Shabistari, Ansari. . . This is one I return to again and again.
To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light, Translated by Willis Barnstone
Willis Barnstone's translations balance the scholarly with the poetic -- a real treat! This anthology ranges from Sappho and early Biblical utterances, to Wang Wei, Rilke, and St. John of the Cross. I like to leave through the pages until something catches my attention and I'm pleasantly lost in the page.
The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhalla Library), Edited by Sam Hamill and J. P. Seaton
A very nice sampler of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry. Han Shan, Li Po, Wang Wei, Basho, Soseki, Ryokan, Issa... The book fits well in your hand when you're walking to the riverside or the local coffee shop.
Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight & Awakening, Translated by Thupten Jinpa and Jas Elsner
Believe it or not, I found this one in a discount bin at my local bookstore -- but what a find! One of the best general anthologies of Tibetan Buddhist poems I've found. Several verses attributed to Milarepa, as well as many other Tibetan yogis and masters. If you haven't read much Tibetan poetry, this book is an excellent place to start.
Speaking of Siva, by A K Ramanujan
This book became an immediate favorite of mine ever since I picked up a copy of it a couple of years ago. Stunning poems from the Shiva bhakti tradition of India. Basavanna, Devara Dasimayya, Mahadevi, Allama Prabhu. The commentary in the book, though a little academic, is genuinely insightful. Enthusiastically recommended!
And at the end of his list, Ivan adds:
May you and your loved ones have a special holiday season during this time when the sacred light renews itself in the midst of darkness –
I strongly second his blessings and wish you all rich enjoyment and spiritual renewal in the coming days.