Images of Divinity
20 Sunnyside Ave, Suite A
Mill Valley, CA

A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert
Pilgrimage Prayer
Messages from the Mothers

Hymn to the Divine Mother Craving Forgiveness
The Very Short Sutra On the Meeting Of the Buddha and The Goddess

A Brief for the Defense 

Sorrow everywhere.  Slaughter everywhere.  If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
Picture of Author
somewhere else.  With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our loves because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine.  The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well.  The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick.  There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight.  We can do without pleasure,
but not delight.  Not enjoyment.  We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.  To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit that there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

—Jack Gilbert

Jack Gilbert was born in Pittsburgh. He is the author of the recent, Refusing Heaven as well as  The Great Fires: Poems 1982—1992; Monolithos, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Views of Jeopardy, the 1962 winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize. He has also published a limited edition of elegiac poems under the title Kochan. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Gilbert lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.


Pilgrimage Prayer

The following Pilgrimage Prayer is from Paula Kay in New Mexico, after the celebration of the feast of Guadalupe this past Dec. 10-12, 2004.

Treasured friend ~

Your prayers were received and acknowledged. Your prayer was bundled with prayers of my own and those I received from all over the country. All the prayers were placed into a delicately *red woven bag with Milagros, blue corn meal, hummingbird feathers, flower petals and sage to present to la Virgen as offering. 

Last night I returned home from New Mexico for the Fiesta of our Lady of Guadalupe.  I traveled with Kristine (from California) and friends Nancy and Lisa (from Phoenix) met us there.


The festival began Friday at sun down with a candlelight procession carrying the la Virgen's palanquin from the small chapel, Capilla, to the meetinghouse, Casa del Pueblo, where Her altar is placed. With a candle in one hand and prayer bundle in the other, I presented my offering to le Virgen and placed your prayers on Her altar.

Throughout the night until dawn people approached the glowing altar of la Virgen, with prayer candles or multiples of in hand, photographs, notes, milagros, flowers and most often a kiss to her varnished portrait.  All night we prayed recounting the nine catholic mysteries and Novena of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Between Novina sets we sang songs (all in Spanish) and the Danzantes (18 men dancers) danced a poetic melody of sorts, falling into a rhythm winding and unwinding with the dance to the tune of a scratchy fiddle. Each set of dance told a historical piece of the story about Juan Diego and his experience with la Virgen and the bishop.  At 1:00 am we were served a ceremonial supper of fresh baked bread and beef stew in the Casa de Comida by the community residents.

The last set of dance ended around 4:30am followed by a couple pf prayers and a few more songs. I retrieved the bundle of prayers before le Virgen's palanquin was carried in procession to "Our Lady of Guadalupe" church. At 7:00 am or thereabouts, the pilgrimage began to the top Tortugas Mountain (a 4 mile walk maybe). This year I met an 80-year-old man named Nando. He and his two daughters sat next to me during the all night prayer ritual and walked along side of me part of the way up Tortugas. His daughter Sandy told me that Nando's been making this pilgrimage annually for 55 years, ever since her sister contracted polio as a child. Her sister survived the disease. I was deeply touched as I watched Sandy help her father, rosary in hand, up the steep and rocky trail, which I have witnessed some people to walk barefoot. Sandy too had her stories and treks up the mountain of years past and shared intimately about her family's sorrows, joys, offerings and promises. They travel from California each year.

At the summit of Tortugas, Kristine, Nancy, Lisa and I set up our little camp for the day and made a campfire. In the background we could hear the traditional mass being spoken through the speakers, there were too many people to see anything.  After mass we selected Yucca roots and stalks from the recently gathered mounds to make our Quiotoes  (walking - prayer staffs). Kris gathered clusters of dried flowers and creosle branches from the surrounding landscape, Nancy brought ribbon, and I brought the knife and scissors. We sat around our little campfire, sharing stories, laughing, crying, munching on burritos, nuts and fruits as we prayerfully cut, peeled, shred tied and wrapped pieces of plant and root together to create our prayer staffs. Throughout the day and even the day following, a number of people inquired about the red satchel that dangled from the bow at the top of my Quiotoes. The trek down the mountain began around 4:30pm (dusk) back to the Casa. Walking down the mountain, the Quiotoes of peoples danced in the twilight sky, transporting me into a time that is not of this time. Midway down, a great bon fire raged from the dry shrub and twigs gathered by wandering pilgrims as they trekked up and down the mountain earlier in the day. I asked the Capitan permission to leave the line and throw the prayer bundle into the fire to transcend them. He gently placed his arm through mine and escorted me to the blazing fire. With a prayer I offered the bundle of prayers and offerings to the heavens.  I tossed the prayer bundle high into the flames; an air draft caught the bundle and your prayers soared high with flames and sparks into the sky! 


Tortugas - Turtle: In Native American teachings, the turtle is the oldest symbol for planet Earth. It is the personification of goddess energy, and the eternal Mother from which our lives evolve. *Red - renews life; protection and movement; success and triumph
Blue corn - blessing, growth, health, and life
Sage - offering and honoring the spirit, prayer, purification
Milagros - Hearts, bird, angel, feet, hands, eyes, mouth, man, woman, child, lungs and a rose.  Hummingbird - ancient legend tells us that the hummingbird was the courier of prayer to the heavens. My cat provided me with the hummingbird feathers, that's another story for another time.

Messages from the Mothers
by Rev. Melinda McClain

Images of female divinity are often images of mothers. Mothers impart pearls of wisdom that echo through many religious traditions.

Kali and Our Lady of Guadalupe having Tea

Clean your room.
Mothers of Wisdom insist that we care for the Earth and its creatures.  She has provided us with a beautiful home and expects us to take care of it.

Play nicely together.
If only the Mothers were in charge of negotiating disputes in the international arena, perhaps peace would be more within our grasp.

All children are loved equally.
No Mother can choose between her children.  Each one is precious and irreplaceable.  Her wisdom leads us to love everyone without exception.

If you continue to behave this way, there will be trouble.
Our Wise Mothers know that our actions have consequences.  For example, if we continue to fight with our playmates, we will eventually become friendless.

Take care of the child that is hurting first.
Fierce and brave Mothers run to the aid of any child who is injured or in trouble.  She practices compassion without any thought or prodding.

Call me.
Divine Mothers, like earthly ones, expect our attention and love.  Mothers require our contact and truthfulness, not because we need to earn her love, but because when we disappear she worries.

Hymn to the Divine Mother Craving Forgiveness

Here is a hymn to draw us closer to her.

Alas, I do not know either the mystical word or the mystical diagram, nor do I know the songs of praise to thee, nor how to welcome thee, nor how to meditate on thee, . . . nor how to inform thee of my distress.  But this much I know, O Mother, that to take refuge in thee is to destroy all my miseries. 

 – Longing for Darkness, pg. 59


The Very Short Sutra on the
Meeting of the Buddha and the Goddess 

by  Rick Fields

Thus I have made up:

Once the Buddha was walking along the forest path
In the Oak Grove at Ojai, walking without arriving anywhere
Or having any thought of arriving or not arriving
And lotuses shining with the morning dew
Miraculously appeared under every step
Soft as silk beneath the toes of the Buddha

When suddenly, out of the turquoise sky,
Dancing in front of his half shut inward looking eyes,
Shimmering like a rainbow or a spider's web
Transparent as the dew on a lotus flower,
-The Goddess appeared quivering
Like a hummingbird in the air before him

 She, for she surely was a she
As the Buddha could clearly see
With his eye of discriminating awareness
Was mostly red in color
Though when the light shifted
She flashed like a rainbow.
She was naked except
For the usual flower ornaments
Goddesses wear
Her long blue hair was deep blue,
Her two eyes fathomless pits of space
And her third eye a bloodshot
Ring of fire.

The Buddha folded his hands together
And greeted the Goddess thus:
'O Goddess, why are you blocking my path.
Before I saw you I was happily going nowhere.
Now I'm not sure where to go."
"You can go around me," said the Goddess,
Twirling on her heels like a bird darting away,
But just a little way away,
"Or you can come after me.
This is my forest too,
You can't pretend I'm not here."

With that the Buddha sat
Supple as a snake
Solid as a rock
Beneath a Bo tree that sprang
Full leaved to shade him.
"Perhaps we should have a chat," he said.
"After years of arduous practice
At the time of the morning star
I penetrated reality, and now .. "
"Not so fast, Buddha.
I am reality."

 The earth stood still,
The oceans paused,
The wind listened
- a thousand arhats, bodhisattvas, & dakinis
Magically appeared to hear
What would happen in the conversation.
"I know I take my life in my hand," said the Buddha
"But I am known as the Fearless One
- so here goes."

And he & the Goddess
Without further words
Exchanged glances
Light rays like sunbeams
Shot forth
So bright that even
Sariputra, the All Seeing One,
Had to turn away.

And then they exchanged mind
And there was a great silence as vast as the universe
That contains everything
And then they exchanged bodies
And clothes
And the Buddha arose
As the Goddess
And the Goddess
Arose as the Buddha
And so on back & forth
For a hundred thousand kalpas.

If you meet the Buddha
You meet the Goddess,
If you meet the Goddess
You meet the Buddha.
Not only that. This:
The Buddha is the Goddess,
The Goddess is the Buddha.
And not only that. This:
The Buddha is emptiness
The Goddess is bliss.
And that is what
And what-not you are
It's true.

So here comes the mantra of the Goddess & the Buddha,
the unsurpassed non-dual mantra.
Just to say this mantra, just to hear this mantra once, just to hear
one word of this mantra once makes everything the way it truly is: OK.

This sutra was written by the much beloved Buddhist practitioner and author Rick Fields, (now deceased), and sent to China Galland by Elizabeth Sawyer.