Sunday, December 9, 2012

Swallowed Keys

(Image from here - click to enlarge)

Swallowed Keys

We locked up our wisdom into our bones
And swallowed the keys
They sank in our rivers of blood
And we forgot the maps

Because we had to forget the mysteries
To keep them safe.
We wove our hair into brooms
And swept over our paths
And then burned the earth with our rage
We didn't teach our children
It was the only way to protect them,
we thought
But in them we planted seeds, seeds and keys
And told them stories and riddles and songs
With no roots, just tangled threads
That would take years to unwind
Just enough time
For the rains to fall again
and put out the fires
For the dams to break
For the rivers to flood
For the paths
to be walked again
For the soil to breathe
And as the old bones crumble
Deep beneath the rubble
We find we've always had the keys
Our stories and our maps
Our paths are revealed to some
And the seeds grow again
The threads are unspun
And woven again.

Amara Bronwyn, Hollow Bones, 2009 
Found here.

Notes about image found here

A Bulgarian vrachka (medicine woman) gives a herbal decoction to a sick person in a propagandistic mural at Rila cathedral. The painter depicted devils pooping into the medicine, in an attempt to convince the people that their healers worked with demonic powers.

This is one of several polemical 18th century murals in Bulgarian and Macedonian churches and monasteries that targeted women folk healers. It follows the Christian European convention of portraying devils as black.

Although these murals reflect the clergy's persecution of female healers, the Orthodox Church in the Balkans did not commit witch-burnings. What is striking about their campaign is how recent it is, showing that this female sphere of power persisted into modern times.

Full view of the mural panel, showing sick people coming long distances by wagon and horseback to be treated by the vrachka. This title means literally "female doctor," but it was understood that such folk healers used incantations and rituals as well as herbal medicine to cure people. They were also described as baiatchki, "charmers.


  1. Love the 'story' and the explanation for the image-without it, it was very enigmatic.

  2. I think Swallowed Keys is a beautiful poem- thanks for sharing it : ) ~ Jess


Oh, look Toto - we have visitors!