Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

ODE TO A COOPERS HAWK and Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  A wonderful time to enjoy humanity, beauty, the bountiful harvest and give gratitude.

Thanksgiving 2.jpg



“Sea Eagle”, jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2001

The world is suffering deeply and no one religion owns God.  Regardless the amount of bombs, attacks, suicide vests and the retaliation of the ‘other sides’…..the balance of life is distorted, destroyed.

Our creativity gives us a sense of balance and a return to sanity.  Today, that is in short supply.

Lady Nyo



Come to me.

Come to me,

Winged celestial beauty.

Come to me with your notched

Mermaid tail,

Your silken roll of feathers.

Fly down into my hollowed-out soul,

Fill me with your sun-warmed glory

Nestle in my arms

And bring the curve of the horizon

Embraced in your outstretched wings.


I need no white bearded prophet,

No mumbled prayer, no gospel song

No hard church bench, no fast or

Festival to feel close to the Divine.

The glory of the universe,

Is embodied in your flight

As you tumble through heavens,

Ride the invisible thermals

Screech with joy at freedom

Fill your lungs with thin air

And play bumper car with an Eagle.


I, earthbound,

No hollowed bones to launch me,

Just tired soul to weigh down,

No soft plumage to feel the course

Of wind through glossy feathers

No hunting call to herald my presence.


Still my soul takes flight

The breeze lifts my spirit,

My eyes follow you,

And we will find that glory

Transcend a sullen earth,

Transcend a mean humanity

And soar together into the blue eye of God.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015 (A version of this poem was published in “Pitcher of Moon”, 2014,






“The Token Rose”

April 23, 2015

The Token Rose

It is spring here in the South, and the tenderness and fragility of life brings memories of those who have died over the years.  Token was a suicide, driven to this by the intolerance of her family, and mine.  Her ‘sin’ was that she became a lesbian, after marriage and children to a fundamentalist pastor.  Religion can be a ‘cup full’ of bigotry, intolerance, ignorance.  It’s not supposed to be so, but in the hands and minds of narrow bigots, it becomes something with the capacity to maim and kill.

Token was very kind to me when I was severely injured in an accident.  When she died, it was a shock. . It was incomprehensible to me that a beautiful young woman could be driven to such an act.  I planted a white rose bush in my front garden many years ago in remembrance of Token.  It is the first rose to bloom and continues on throughout the year until frost. 

Token’s kindness and beauty are present in those blossoms. They are a reminder to me to show compassion and acceptance to others as was given to me by Token.

Lady Nyo

The Token Rose

Outside it is cold,

No leaves flutter

In bitter winds,

No birdsong to

Sweeten the air,

Just the Token rose

Trembling in fierce gusts

Howling round the eaves.

Too early this spring,

This rose started to bloom,

A miracle of season,

A miracle of mercy.

Named for a woman

Who died by her own hand,

A hand forced by ignorance


Isolation, and

No Mercy.

We are so hard on those

We say we love,

We lack compassion

To those who march out of step,

Who don’t believe as we do,

And then we hide from

What we have wrought,

Uneasy but still righteous.

If there is any hint of shame

We bury it deep

As deep as the grave

She now lies in.

The Token Rose flutters in the cold.

Pearly white tinged with pink

Catches the feeble sunlight

And waves a forgiveness

That we, hardened of heart,

Do not deserve.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

A Short definition of Humanism:

an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.

Religious Fundamentalists hate the thought of Humanism.  It’s not only the ‘absence of theology’ in humanism, but the inability of fundamentalists to control the thoughts and creativity of humanists.  Power and Control seem to be the two legs of fundamentalism.  Where they can’t achieve this ‘order’, they will raise Hell. In my opinion, there is no difference between the oppression and ignorance between Christian/Jewish/Muslim fundamentalism.  They are of the same cloth.

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 10

June 17, 2013
Summer in Scotland, watercolor, 2003, Jane Kohut-Bartels

Summer in Scotland, watercolor, 2003, Jane Kohut-Bartels

I want to thank the readers of this story. I didn’t know how well it would be received, but I see that people are reading this tale all over the world. That is extremely gratifying. It encourages me to rewrite this long book.

I had some questions at first about even posting these chapters, because of the issues of religion, etc. …plus sex, that would keep people from reading this FICTIONAL tale of devils and demons and mortals. Some people can’t relax even to read something of such fantasy because the words demon or devil set something off in them. Hah!

The imagination of writers is something that expands, except when it doesn’t, and then perhaps they make for very dull books. I hope to avoid that plague.

I don’t believe in these little buggers, but they make for a lot of good story telling. So, thank you, those who are brave enough to enter into this story.

Lady Nyo

Chapter 10

“Tell me, Demon. Tell me more about your ‘world.’ You certainly have pushed your way into mine.”

“I wouldn’t say pushed, Madame Author,” he retorted. “I would say, ‘pulled’ into your world, by the push of your ink.”

Perhaps. I was trying to make sense of what happened to me since he first stepped from the page.

“Can’t you write “leaped” from the page? Sounds more manly.”

I laughed. This demon lover “Capitals, Please…as in “Demon Lover” he whispers to me…

…THIS Demon Lover…you got another? … is always concerned about his masculine…’virtues’. Can you use the word ‘virtue’ with a devil? Well, he is very concerned about how he appears. This little vanity makes him more ‘human’ to me.

“Don’t bet on it. You’ll lose your coin.”

“Then tell me, Garrett. By what other names have you been known?”

The Demon grinned across the table. “Pick a letter from the alphabet.”

“Stop being coy. Tell me about your world. What do you do with yourself when you are not here? That will do for starters.”

“Well, ‘for starters’ as you put it, I could say I bedevil other old maids or I could tell you I danced in the street to the tune of my fiddle, or I was a gigolo, or it was ‘none of your business’ as you say to me. Pick.”

“Ah! So…I’m an old maid to you? I guess this is the end of the honeymoon.”

“Could be. We almost started a litter last time.” He grinned broadly.

“You can start with that little event. What happened there? All I remember is being very heated.”

He grinned wickedly. “You could say that. I seem to have that effect on old maids.”

He is an insufferable boor! But I vaguely remember being….passionately aroused, out of my mind with lust, and then I remembered falling asleep.

He reached over the table and passed his hand down my face. I floated in darkness. There were stars above me, and little hills beneath, hills that looked like mole hills far down there.

“That’s a nursery.” He smiled, and then laughed at my expression.

“Mole hills? What are you talking about.”

“Some dimension’s nursery, where the little monsters are cradled until they are let out upon some world.”

Lately I have discovered that the Demon has knowledge about worlds and creatures I don’t have a language for. Asked directly, and he will hem and haw. But every so often, he will slip up and tell me something actually interesting.

“You hurt my feelings, Bess. Everything I have to say is interesting.” The Devil is reading my mind again. He does so when he damn well pleases.

“And besides, you are a virgin where the cosmos is concerned. I only tell you what you need to know.” He leaned towards me across the table. “Besides, it can be a very scary place. Good thing you have me around.”

He puffed on his long white clay pipe and I would have to say that his last statement could easily be qualified.

“Tell me, Garrett, if I was ‘breeding’ as you say, what would the baby look like at birth?” I was curious as any woman would be.

“If they were female, they would have your breasts. If male….my cock.” He grinned nastily.

“No…I mean, would they be human looking? Would I be able to love this child?”

“Every other woman who has had my children loved them. Don’t know why you would be any different, Bess.”

I didn’t expect this! Other children by him. Somewhere in the novel, I remembered writing he had two bastard children by a woman in Martinique, but then I had forgotten to follow up with more information about these children and the mother.

“You are slipping on a lot of things, sweet lady.”

“I guess because now I am an old maid?”

“You can be revived.”

He had a droll wit at times. Grinning and snapping his fingers, produced out of the ether two tankards of ale.

“Do you aim to get me drunk?”

I couldn’t drink more than a glass of wine. A tankard would put me to sleep. He snorted, again reading my mind.

“Tell me…you must know more than you let on. How did I become fertile?”

Certainly this was a worry, because I was beyond the age where a woman needs to carry around a pregnancy. I had never thought of ‘demon-control’ before.

He looked thoughtful, and puffed on his pipe.

“ There are many ways and many carriers of mischief. This could be what you call a succubus or it could be of another species altogether.”

“So, you have no control over what happened to me?” This was not welcome news.

“Oh no, I could make it happen myself, but it’s so early in the affair, sweetheart, and I wanted to have more fun before I loosed my seed up your womb.”

He laughed. “Much more fun. Besides, I would be turned away from your charms when you got heavy with whatever was brewing in there.”

He took a swig of his ale and his eyes glittered across the rim of his tankard.

“So it ever is with mortal woman.”

I took a sip of my ale.

“These mole hills you said were nurseries. What happens to the birthlings when they are born?”

“Think of spawns or swarms of fish. Most are eaten by other species, some by their own. Others end up ‘road-kill’.”

“Oh! That is too horrible!” I was shocked.

“No so much if you saw them. It would take a particular mother to nurture one,…like a blind one.” He laughed as he swallowed his ale, and managed to choke.

“Would our child appear like a monster?”

He put his tankard down and looked at me. “Not if you loved it from birth.”

That was not exactly encouraging!

“Garrett…do you have shape shifters in your world?”

“Doesn’t every world have that? I think you call them transvestites in yours.”

I had to laugh. Not exactly what I was asking, but I’ll take that answer.

Ah…Witty Devil.

He knew much more than he would say. He held some of the secrets of the ages and this I was sure. But he was a damn tricky Devil, and he made me work for it. It was like peeling an onion. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get to his center. He was full of mystery, but then, most demons are. If anyone tells you they are benign, or banal, don’t believe a word of it. They are charmers and tricksters and will keep you unbalanced. My Demon was a handful, but ‘life’ as I was becoming to know, would be a lot duller without him. I had learned it was not just the human heart that was layered with complexities. If I was learning anything, it was that the Universe held infinite mysteries, some of them anxious to be known.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007-2013

“Aberrant Thoughts In A Quaker Meeting”

October 7, 2010

This is another poem that goes through periodic revision when I catch it. It will continue to do so.

Very few poems come out like Moses’ tablets.  Most poems go through revision after revision.  This refining process is essential I believe to strengthening the poetry….and the poet.

Lady Nyo

Obviously the character in the poem is making the ‘sin’ of intolerance….

Aberrant Thoughts in a Quaker Meeting

Sitting on a Quaker bench,

The wood as hard as stony hearts

I hear this buzz word: tolerance

In message after message—

The ‘Professors’ leadings from

The Spirit.

Beginning to hate that word,

That single word,

There’s little enough

Spread in this world.

Some stiff-necked brethren,

And sisthern, too,

Spirituality like dull pearls

Round stiff necks,

Proud in a borrowed heritage

Coming from foreign shores to do good–

Some did very well– for themselves.

I wonder what the God Vishnu would do?

Would he jump up,  burst into flame?

Would he call in the elephants and stomp the

Professors flat?

Kali would do something.

She would not tolerate false piety,

But would she, as she could–

Run a path of death and destruction,

through the middle of the Meeting,

and let them pick up their ‘weighty’ pieces?

And Shiva?

Would he bring a particularly nasty Rise of The Meeting,

When all would shake hands to those on left and right?

Or would the trickster be the

Yamabushi Tengu–

with a buzzer in his hand?

It boggles the mind,

but at least gets one through

the Meeting for Worship.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

Religion and other bothersome matters…

October 4, 2010

Painting: "Irish Coast", watercolor, 2005, j.kohut-bartels

Lately I have been thinking  about religion and spirituality.  I don’t see these as the same, and I struggle through a lot of nattering influences to come to a place of my own.

I went through a period of searching for a religion where I felt I could belong.  Raised haphazardly Christian (Episcopalian) or as my brother the holy roller likes to refer to this as “raised by wolves”….nothing of organized religion seemed to ‘fit’.

A short while ago an Orthodox Jew (who turned out to be a bad example of Jewishness and humanity), tried to harangue my husband about “the Saints”.  I guess to this Jew’s thinking my husband looked like a Christian.  I had to laugh because my husband was and is a Buddhist of 25 years standing.  His wife finally told him to shut up because she didn’t want to hear this stuff.  Good girl.

His religious narrowness didn’t put me off the Jewish religion and for a year went to classes about Judaism and attended Temple.  Somewhere my father’s family was Jewish, and though it was on the wrong side of the blanket, I wanted to understand something of this religion.  Finally, it was, to me…..just rituals.  About as mystical as those damn Saints.  I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.

I have a lot of friends who come from different religions.  Muslims, Ba’hai, Christians, pagans, Jews, etc.  The Christians break down into many various parts.  Episcopalian, Unitarian, Quaker, Unitarian Universalists, etc.  With the Jews it was Reform, Orthodox, Conservative.  The Ba’hais were pretty consolidated.  The practicing pagans were just down-right silly to me. Perhaps I had grown far beyond such  stuff.

But still there was a nagging issue of spirituality.  This, I believe,  is something that encases a broadness  that perhaps the religious dogmas can’t touch.  For me, it comes down to a question of Gratitude.

I am grateful for the breath of life, for the ability to awake and walk, to read, to laugh, to see the marvelous passage of clouds and time, to commune with nature and friends and family, and all this is wrapped up in Gratitude.  To receive love that sometimes I don’t deserve.  To give love and to mean it.

I fight this battle with myself and at times it gets overwhelming.  It’s more than I am, and more than I can solve.  I’m out on a limb here, and the answer isn’t  within these accepted forms of worship. At least not for me.

Today it was a perfectly beautiful day…one which was memorable for nothing except the perfection around me.  The sky was marvelous, from dawn to dusk, that sharp sentiment of expectation in the change of season, and the season to come;  the beauty of the still-green leaves and overwhelming, huge trees here in the South; the winds that made themselves known, not as gentle blowing breezes, but as swooshing dervishes, rotating branches and making their power known.

I felt such gratitude in the presence of this day: what wonderful beauty was before me.  There was no way around gratitude.

I came across something tonight, and it struck me as a coda for the day; something that brings a definition or a conclusion to this marvelous beauty before me.  It gave structure and meaning to what I was seeking.


“The Autumn quarter of Lughnasadh brings the gift of maturity and is a time of physical harvest and spiritual garnering. It sees the greatest change in weather from broiling heat to dark and chilly nights.  It is the time for celebrating the harvest and sees the busy preparations for winter.  In the human growth cycle, Lughnasadh corresponds to the period of mature adulthood when a certain steadiness and responsibility have been established.  It is a good time to celebrate the lives of all who have helped stabilize and uphold the noble values of life, of all who have exercised good judgment and steered the doubtful into the harbor of certainty, of all holy ones whose guardianship has saved us from life-disabling mistakes.”

From “Celtic Devotional”, by Caitlin Matthews.

Funny, this hits the spot.  It incorporates the Gratitude I am feeling and it gives a particular direction.  It gives hope.

Lady Nyo (with a fond hug to Margie and Bren)

Voluntary Simplicity, ecology and changing the patterns of our lives.

June 27, 2009

I have been thinking of a lot of issues, some not new, some dropped for other things, and some that will not stay down.  We can get detoured in life by personal issues, and we can lose the bigger picture.

Sometimes aging helps as we try to refocus our eyes, energies towards something that means more than what we see around us and what we are doing.  We live in the West surrounded with material abundance and a lot of spiritual confusion.  We can hide our behavior within the confines of Orthodox or Liberal religions, but that is a shell.  The true mark of a person is our relationship to the rest of the world, perhaps where we step out of the comfort or the boundaries of what we know and open ourselves to things alien and unknown.  Our experiences and influences should be challenged and growth is only possible when we do so.

Recently these things have come home to me as I find myself dissatisfied with what I see around me and with a yearning to do something ‘more’.  Perhaps all of us are influenced, affected by the current world economic situation. We should be.  Even if we suffer only a small fraction of what is happening, we can not stand aside and continue to ignore or to dismiss that events are world changing and earth shaking.

I believe we stand at a critical juncture.  For a while, it was a time of withdrawal, a time of research, a time exploration into those things of interest, but perhaps ultimately shallow and not supportive of life.  The dualism of our thinking (which pits materialism against spiritualism) must be transcended if we are to be generators of a new world; and there can be no doubt that we need to resolve and reform many things in this world.

It’s not only myself that has been pushed to this realization, but friends from some unexpected places.  Mac the Knife, a writer and practitioner of shibari  (  is turning some acreage into biofuel, a three year plan of organics that takes him far afield from what I know of him.  Jimi Tatu of  shibari fame and teaching is also presently working hard on their (his and Sumi’s) little farm.  Other friends are working in intensive organic gardens and turning their efforts to these things because they believe these things are the ‘stuff’ of a better life, a deeper committment to the Earth for better reasons.

Recently I found my old copy of “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin.  I sat down to read this book, printed in 1981, and realized how much I didn’t understand when I first read it, (20 years ago), yet it did have a fundamental influence on me and propelled me into Quakerism, (which lasted for 12 years) and ecological issues which lasted longer.  I wrote for major publications on permaculture up until 2005, urban pioneering and intensive gardening, lectured locally a bit, but then put these issues on a back burner of life when other things became of interest.  Still, these issues were deeper and broader than what I was recently experiencing and they never stopped nagging at the edges of my consciousness.

Recently I received a lovely letter from Duane Elgin, encouraging me, thanking me for my passionate poetry in a compassionate life.  I was amazed.  And I thought a bit more about that ‘compassionate life’.  Really, what did my life account for?  And I wondered just how much compassion I really exhibited.

I had to think more on what I was doing.  Some recent influences helped, and a letter from Dr. RK Singh helped lay some of these issues bare.  When we think we are alone in our dismay and confusion, we can get overwhelmed.  When we realize that we are part of the bigger picture of it all, we can take comfort and ask for ideas and glean guidance.

I wrote to RK about my anger concerning religions….all religions, and I received this answer:

“I agree with you, Jane, that no religion is diseased beyond redemption. And it is the followers of religions, and their gurus, that corrupt and debase humanity to the lowest level. We see all around us in India the naked game of what you call “prejudiced rationalization for hatred and contempt” by the right wing political parties and groups, but the silent majority only suffers. I have been UNCOMFORTABLE with institutionalization of faith/religion/ideology as it ultimately corrupts and degrades humanity. Politicalisation of all such groups, without excluding fundamentalists,  in the  name of democracy has ruined the prospect  of living in the environment of  tolerance  and peaceful coexistence. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if the current trends continue for another five to ten years.
I have always thought I am a misfit in this world and have been living a life of helplessness. As I composed the following haiku this morning:

Not a day without
begging gods to solve problems–
faith in helplessness

We like it or not, the game of convenience has been  taking its toll, and willy-nilly, we all have been participants in it.


RK is writing about religions, he is also hitting at broader issues.  The web and fabric of all of our lives that ideology, religion, politics have impacted.  We can not avoid any of this. He is acutely aware of this.

I hope in future blog entries to write more about the fundamentals of Voluntary Simplicity because that is where I am starting. Well, my husband Fred and I are starting.  We know that we have gone far afield in this issue…and we need to regroup, rethink our lives and go forth with a plan.  With our friends above, and the understanding that we are not alone, at all, that others with consciousness are feeling these same Discomforts,  we can choose to make a difference in our lives and impact the environment around us.

It all is a matter of a further evolution, after all.

Energy of hope

expresses the dynamics,

We roll up our sleeves.

Lady Nyo

Winter Solstice in place of Xmas….

December 9, 2008

Every year it hits. A general unease with the season…or more, the ‘holidays’ and every year I determine I must do something about it.

This year I have talked to family and friends and it’s rather interesting. Many feel like I do…except my son and Husband.

They are the holdouts….spoiled by the previous Xmases. Having only one child has allowed us to spoil him in certain ways. He is a good young man, 21 now, but I could see it in his face when I said: “How about no Xmas this year?”. A look of panic, like the world has stopped turning. A bit of the same in my Husband’s expression.

In Christian tradition Xmas is a time not for self-indulgence, but for sharing in ways that promise renewal for ourselves and others.

Seeking a deeper meaning for this time of year, as I am spiritual, not religious.

And that is the rub. All around are the Churches….the different denominations we have attended over the years….Episcopalian (from youth and more recently) Quaker, Mennonite. But I don’t fit.

Perhaps it’s because I have never really ‘felt’ like a Christian. And that was helped along when I realized that I was part Jewish..though that ‘secret’ was only revealed after my father died. But I was born on the wrong side of the stick, I am told by a Jew, and I am not a Jew because my mother wasn’t.

So, that claim to religion is out. But then again….I think religions…of all elk, are superstition. Or something like that. I just never…well, bought it.

I think how I would describe myself best is I am really a pagan. No, not human sacrifice, though there are some folk I would gladly throw on a merry pyre, but I don’t delve too deeply into the modern paganism that I see and have once experienced. Silly stuff, with a lot of rules and regulations.

I go more towards the worship of the Earth…the turning of the seasons, what I understand and make of it all. There is such magnificence and splendor in the Earth and nature, that why do we seem to gravitate towards tinsel and ho-ho-ho?

There is enough within nature, and what we have made of it to celebrate. I came across something about the “Holy and the Ivy” and had never understood the basis of this song. Long ago, holly and ivy were considered the male and female symbols within the forest. Songs narrated their often rowdy vying for mastery in the forest or the home. Sounds much more interesting than what we are served up with plastic boughs and plaid ribbon this time of the year.

So this year I am going to institute a celebration of the Winter Solstice. It happens on December 21. I will decorate this old house with holly (we got a large tree , a male…and we have a neighbors female tree…with berries.) and Ivy we have aplenty. Fir boughs on the mantels and windows and over the doors. We will dwell in the beauty of the Solstice, and we will light candles for the appropriate reasons.

We will strive to avoid the crowds, the tinkling bells, but we will give to the Mennonites because they seem to have a strong tradition of service.

And perhaps, in essence, this is what the season is all about: charity and service to others.

Lady Nyo


I saw the Cooper’s hawk this morning. She landed on the chimney pot outside, probably looking for my miniature hen, Grayson. Four years ago she was a starving fledging who mantled over to me while I fed her cold chicken. She’s back this holiday, my spirits lifting. A good Christmas present.

In the middle of the commercialization of Christmas, Nature closes the gap. I have noticed squirrels with pecans in mouths leaping the trees, hawks hunting over now-bare woods, unknown song birds sitting on fences, heard the migration of Sandhill cranes as they honk in formation. You hear their cacophony well before they appear.

There is a brightness to the holly, washed by our early winter rains and the orange of the nandina berries has turned crimson. The smell of woodsmoke in the air and the crispness of mornings mean the earth is going to sleep. We humans should reclaim our past and our fecal plugs and join the slumber party like our brother bears.

Jingle Bells will fade and our tension with it. Looking towards deep winter when the Earth is again silent will restore our balance and calm our nerves with a blanket of peace.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008

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