Archives for August 2019

Howling in the Night, an Eerie Wonder

wolf, dancing, Wouldn’t you like to leap and spin around and over your friends and end up out of breath in a mush pile, a laughing heap of beings? That’s what wolf pups do.
The wolf is one of the animals that call to me, one of my Tla Twein. (see my earlier post on the Tla Twein)
I notice that many people love wolves. For some of my piano students, the stickers of wolves that I receive in the mail from conservation organizations are the first choice to put on a finished song.
Two conflicting ideas about wolves are prevalent. One is of the “lone wolf”, solitary, strong, but alone. The other is of the close warm ties between the members of a wolf pack.
But perhaps they’re not so conflicting. Perhaps we yearn for the comradery, the playful closeness of the pack, and yet feel like the lone wolf who is seeking a pack. On the other hand, sometimes we need the solitary alone (but not lonely) of the “lone wolf”. Sometimes we need to move away from the pull toward compliance of the pack. We need to find our own path.
But the lone wolf doesn’t stay completely alone. Sometimes in the night the lone wolf howls. If others can hear them, they respond, and the song echoes back and forth across the miles. This howling in the night is an eerie wonder – wolves singing together reaching with their songs across long distances to lone wolves and other packs (and all the other species that can hear them). Strange dissonances send thrills up our spine, bring new ideas of harmony, new possibilities.
Solitary singing is good, but when we sing in a group there is something so powerful and breathtaking that happens that I, at least, can hardly contain the joy. And when a human composer brings in the forbidden dissonance we hear in the wolf songs, I tremble with some combination of fear and delight. It’s clear, when we watch videos of wolves howling, that this power of harmony and dissonance happens for the wolves, too.
I confess, when the husky down the street howls in her yard as my dogs and I go past, I cannot restrain myself from howling back. Sometimes if she isn’t howling, I’ll give a little howl and she joins me. My little dogs don’t howl with the husky, only with the fire sirens. But when they howl, they sit up so straight, so earnest, so involved in the howl, that I know it’s a spiritual ritual, a solemn invocation of….?
What is it that the wolf as my Tla Twei is asking me to take on? Perhaps it’s the cooperative bonding of the pack for the serious business of the hunt – in my case to take on the serious problems of the world – and the restful dance of playtime ending in the physical closeness of the mush pile.
And in the night, the ritual of singing in strange harmonies, reaching joyfully to my fellow humans on the other side of the valley or the world.

In my book, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, the Tla Twein are trying to bring humans back into the sacred Dance of Life, the Tsin Twei. You can purchase print and ebook versions at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and order print versions from your local independent bookstore.
Want to explore your own Tla Twein? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area you can attend a three hour workshop on April 28th in Oakland where we will move and sing, write and create art work in search of the reason our particular Tla Twei call us. The fee is “pay what you can”. Contact me at for more information. Put Tla Twein Workshop in the subject line.

“All Who Hate [Wisdom] Love Death.” Proverbs 8:36

I Grew Tall like a Cedar in Lebanon

When I first studied the Wisdom literature of the bible I was so caught up in the joy and delight of the second half of this passage where Lady Wisdom speaks of her role in creation that I didn’t really get how serious and important this message found in the first half is. In fact, I thought it was a bit much to say that anyone who hated wisdom loved death.

But today I understand.

Why is this message so important today? The “hatred” of wisdom is prevalent in our society. Those who don’t listen to the words of the scientists who tell us of global warming choose the death of our species and many others. Those who turn their eyes away from the lessons we learned from the Holocaust and allow our government to imprison refugees, to separate children from their parents, choose the death of refugees and of democracy in our country.  Above all, those who embrace the ugly propaganda on right wing white supremacist websites and take a gun and commit mass murder choose immediate and horrific death.

What is Wisdom?

In Proverbs she says, “Learn prudence, acquire intelligence, … take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for Wisdom is better than jewels.” (Proverbs 8:5-11) She speaks of “attaining knowledge,” and using “the paths of justice.”

What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?  “Attaining knowledge” is integral to attaining wisdom.  Wisdom has to do with what you do with your knowledge.  A wise person relates what they have learned, the knowledge they have gained, to how they should live their lives.

What does it have to do with “the paths of justice?” Those who are wise understand that without true justice in our world we will never have peace.  If we don’t choose peace, we choose death. Wisdom is knowledge that leads to justice.

Today we need to acquire knowledge about our earth, understanding the danger we have put all life in. In Sirach 24:13 a beautiful soliloquy compares Wisdom to the trees of Israel.  Trees just may be the salvation of the earth, since they filter carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

We need to learn about the other humans in our world, understanding their cultural differences and similarities, and most of all learning to love and care for them.

This means we must understand what is happening in other parts of the world, learn about wars and oppression, floods and droughts, so that we know what our neighbors are experiencing.

And, we need to understand the consequences of our own actions, of the actions of our government and of the corporations that bring riches to a few of our fellow citizens. We need to dig into the understory, the past, if we are to understand why we have so many refugees on our southern border.

Then, above all, we must act on the knowledge we acquire with a wisdom that makes a “path to justice.”

If we do this, we will have “chosen life.”

If not, Wisdom says, “All who hate me love death.”


When taking a class on Wisdom Literature, I wrote a three part piece of music, For Wisdom is Better than Jewels based on Proverbs 8 and Sirach 24 for my class project.  Wisdom’s joy as she takes part in the creation of the world infuses itself in the music giving us the hope that will help us deal with the necessity to choose “acquiring knowledge” and the “paths of justice,” choosing Life.  For information about this music go to or look at the Wisdom page on