Danielle Dulsky’s Seasons of Moon and Flame has now been added to my bookshelf–a handy, visible shelf filled with books by Starhawk, Zsuzsanna Budapest, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and Carol Christ. All of these visionaries help us get in touch with ourselves as women and with the phases of the moon and the seasons; and offer rituals to honor the wisdom of earth-based traditions.
Dulsky’s visits to her Grandma Grace’s house were her “Crone School.” There’s a word women are learning to reclaim as we age. Another is hag. Dulsky has “liberated” the word hag to embrace its more ancient meaning of a wise, elder woman. Cailleach and the Baba Yaga are other terms for the “archetype of the wild and fearsome hag.”
While not all of us have an elder to guide us, we do have books like this with stories, rituals and guidance. Dulsky says: “Find that hallowed meeting place where your life – where your lived experience, passions, wounds, and infinite hope – encounters the story; this is the edge of wildness, the fringe on which the greatest transformation can occur.”
Seasons of Moon and Flame has thirteen chapters, corresponding to thirteen moon cycles. The lunations are organized to reflect the four seasons, which are named in the Celtic tradition as Beltane, Lughnassadh, Samhain, and Imbolc. Each season has an archetypal hag: The Garden Hag for Spring, the Desert Hag for Summer, the Sea Hag for Autumn, and the Mountain Hag for Winter. There are “hag lessons” throughout, such as “Our bones want belonging.” As Dulsky says, “We all have rich Earth-based ancestries if we go back far enough.” In various ways our ancestors’ heritage may have been obliterated.
I appreciate that Dulsky has referred to the need to dismantle “deeply seated and systemic racism, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and classism, as well as a general fear of otherness.” She uses the pronouns “she” and “her” in the book, but reminds us that “this is not to exclude nonbinary, trans, or other gender-nonconforming individuals from eldership or to herald the gender binary.”
“The hag teaches us to slow down – to look to where we feel both joy and hurt, and find, right there, the impenetrable wildness of who we are,” Dulsky says. Her book is a rich resource that will inform, delight and awaken us for years to come.