An Incantation For The Wild: To Those Who Stay & To Those Who Leave

By Courtney Quinlan

I give you lavender, cedar and balsam fir. I give you sweet orange and cinnamon. I gift you grapefruit and eucalyptus with a splash of lime.

Here are sea salts to soothe your skin, to smooth your wounds. Here is oil of almond to merge with your golden skin. Here are my lips to your forehead with a gentle, yet purposeful kiss.

Here is my hand.

Salutations to the undisturbed forest in all its splendour. To its natural order within chaos—the fallen trees taken over by moss and eaten by insects—the branches that intersect your path and scratch your legs as you maneuver through the untamed.

A bow of my head to the silent wing of a barn owl, the soundless flight, the motion without detectable noise, and the stealthy eyes riding currents of the night.

A bow to the notion that this is highly ordered, to the untangled and untouched, the unfiltered and unmanicured wood that has fallen and resurrected for countless years. This chaos is its optimal state.

A bow to the niches and the symbiotic mutualism, the relationships in nature that all rest in balance with one another.

A bow to the delicate chain of life itself, and survival, and cells, and photosynthesis for this is proof of magic. This is proof beyond any God.

A moment of silence for the dead. For the ones we’ve loved and the ones we’ve never met, but mourned for in stories of war or in pages of fiction that weave themselves into our hearts and become a part of us.

A moment of silence for the word grieving and how that one word can mean so many things. We grieve loss, or what never was. And there is so much in this world to lose. There is so much we will never have. So much pain mixed with so much beauty.

A moment of silence for irony and being able to laugh in moments of sheer sadness or panic.

A moment of silence for you.
For. This. Minute.
It is yours.

An incantation for the wild that lies beneath
For the quiet who observe and absorb
All you hear
All you see
And taste and touch
And smell and inhale.
For all the salted tears that fall upon your face and drip slow like honey, hanging thick like morning fog, like the space between yourself and reality.

An incantation for dissociation and how it serves a function, an often overlooked purpose.
It saves us.

It keeps us from feeling things that are just too much at once. It keeps the reactive anger at bay. It keeps me humble, and allows me to see my life from a safe space.

Blessed be the women who curse and speak with silver tongues and move their hips like snakes, who own their curves and imperfections and realise these are their unique and individual markings, their collection of stories in form of flesh and fat, in rib and collarbone.

Blessed be the storytellers. The ones who keep the truths. The ones who tell to remember as much as teach, who see the story as a dance, as a ballet or as a symphony of synesthesia. The ones who continue giving and creating and sharing themselves, piece by piece by piece.

A whisper to the fields of wild flowers and ferns and the twists and turns and Fibonacci sequences that match the galaxies and spiral on a nautilus, the natural spiral shape of the universe, the shape I drew over and over as a child, because it was comforting to me, because it felt like home, because drawing that shape felt like my fingerprint or tracing my hand.

An incantation to birth, to beginning and end.
To the fire and ash,
To those who leave and those who stay.

A clasping of hands pressed to lips
For the color the world is painted
Right before the sun sets.
For the nights that are clear enough
To see meteors fall from the sky,
For planetary alignments
And magnetic shifts,
For having a place,
For this measurement of time,
For being so small…
So insignificantly spectacular

In this vast space
In the grand scheme of it all.

For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness.



Courtney Quinlan

Courtney Quinlan is a lover of words and how you can craft them together, piece by piece and build a story, or a moment in time that speaks to someone. She lives in Vermont, as a single parent, with her son who is on the autism spectrum and advocates fiercely for him and others with disabilities. She volunteers as a parent advocate and editor for The Urban Howl and Wild Heart Writers and is a contributing author of poetry and prose. She can generally be found lost in a whirlwind of creative thought, she is unfiltered and fairly transparent. She is passionate about empowering women and social justice issues. She likes to get crafty, making beaded jewelry and crafts and photography inspired by the natural world around her. She is a sarcastic lover of humor and is blessed to be able to laugh at herself and find the irony in stressful situations. Rarely embarrassed and often clumsy she is practicing the art of vulnerability and can be found just throwing her whole self out there!

  1. Tanya Markul

    Totally adoring your wisdom and flow. Thank you beyond the moon and stars for being here, dear one. Tremendous love and mama-howl! XOXOXO

  2. barbara klein

    LOVE every single word. Stunning piece!

  3. I think this is truly brilliant, magnificent, and amazing! Deep gratitude.

  4. Beautiful and haunting and exactly right!

  5. Beautiful.

  6. Marsha Rice


  7. Oh, how I LOVE this!!!!!

  8. So much resonates here. I’m grateful it stumbled my way and that I was ready and open to read it. Beautiful!

  9. woozers courtney such scrumptious nutrition, thank you beyond words

  10. Thank you Courtney, a magnificent gift,
    Melanie x

  11. Asherah Allen

    Gorgeous , thank you!

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