The Three Lost Verses of Amazing Grace: A Forgotten Hymn for the Wild Heathen.
Somewhere, right this minute, a wide-eyed and dirty-kneed girl is refusing to call herself a wretch.
She knows the lyrics, but she only hums the familiar tune halfheartedly, gaze fixed on the oak trees outside the beauteous rainbow windows and imagination wandering to another time and place. She is older in her dream vision, and she has no apologies left to give. In her so-wise, so-innocent mind’s eye, she sees herself spiraling in majestic movement alchemy with her wild sisters.
She sees their wide, bare hips shaking in the New Moon’s milk-silver light, their untamed hair cast southward by the first cool wind of late Summer, and she sees the shadows of the Mother Stones as they encircle the Church of the Wild.
On this holy ground, there stand no golden statues of bleeding men. Here, these wild heathens have married their sex and their spirits, and consummated the union with whole-body prayers to their own voluptuous, red sensuality. Here, the hefty footprints of the sacred feminine have sunk deeply into the fertile loam, and the primal Mother ground swells under their bare feet.
Here, the choir howls in guttural moans, sultry swoons, and ecstatic chants, sending the holy songs of the wild into the cosmic infinite.
They raise their red hoods in solidarity now, and a small woman with a heartened, dark, melodious voice steps into the center of the circle, beginning their long-lost hymn: Amazing grace, how raw the sound of my emblazoned soul! I once was lost, but now I’m found, and in the mud I’ll roll. With her last words, she dug her fingers deep in the Earth and began painting the faces of her sisters with ancient symbols of life and death; all the while, the Heathen kept singing: ‘Twas grace that brought me home to heal, and grace that feeds my bones. How luscious, full, and fed l feel when I stand between these stones.
The mud-painted sisterhood erupted into righteous wails and shrieks of pure, unbridled belonging. They looked skyward to the god-stars now, and began to sing in low voices with their crooning Priestess: Through the dangers of the unholy world, grace has led us on. No more will we be shamed or told that we don’t deserve the dawn. The Wild Mother keeps us near to our unruined Earth. It is our sex-born power they fear. We know our wild worth!
The tribe of hooded ones cast their robes to the ground then, again sky-clad in the waxing moonlight, and invigorated by keen knowledge of their own divinity. Hand in hand, they began the ancient spiral dance, weaving around and through the standing stones with the graceful ease of every temple dancer who was ever born. Their energy rose so high and strong that the mighty oaks bent backward, and they continued with the final verse of their hymn: We’ve been here ten thousand years, and as long we’ll stay. We’ll meet right here, on holy ground, the wild woman way. Amazing grace, how raw the sound of my emblazoned soul! I once was lost, but now I’m found, and in the mud I’ll roll!
The last word turned into a volatile howl that rode the wind through time and space, striking deep into the little girl’s wild heart like an arrow shot from Artemis’ bow. Her mother tried to shush her, but the young one’s voice called out to her wild sisters, not yet found, in the same shrill tone a lost wolf unleashes to find its mother.
She howled until the choir stopped singing, and she howled until another little girl, this one with grass stains all over her white lacy dress, joined her in the wild song.
Most of the grown-ups’ faces were twisted in holier-than-thou disgust, but a handful of grandmothers grinned approvingly under their bright, beflowered hats. The white-robed man behind the golden altar pointed to the door, but the two little girls were already running down the center aisle together, hand in hand, still howling and giggling, and destined for the Church of the Wild, the only church that could contain them.
They spent the remaining hours of their Day of Rest climbing trees, building altars out of sticks and stones, telling ghost stories, and praying to the oak trees. They pondered the reality of sin, decided they had absolutely nothing to confess, and lay down to watch the holy moon rise through the maternal branches above them.
They’ll be looking for us, the girl in the white dress said.
Her sister shook her head, the dream-vision’s hymn echoing in her belly: They know where we are.