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The Council of Bone-Women: A Once-and-Future Birth...

The Council of Bone-Women: A Once-and-Future Birth Story

Bone women birth story the house of twigs wolf woman witch danielle dulsky

Vision wants memory. The bone-women were singing in this apocalyptic nightmare of mine, crouched with fleshless hands drumming softly on each other’s skulls, slow-rocking in a rhythm modernity’s orphan children had long forgotten. I stood in shadow for a time, a voyeur haunted by all I could never be, but something in their hymn made me bold. Something hidden in that once-and-future resonance of initiation-by-drumbeat lured me forward, and I stepped into the milk-pink light of the setting sun. Not without caution, I moved toward these wild things until I could see the spiral shapes of the earthen stains on their skinless ivory, until I could see what lay dying at the center of their mythic circle.

Grief wants the ground.

I knew them then to be midwives. I knew them to be the hooded witches come to drum a loam-and-crystal body into being around the tender, red world soul. A raw and bloody thing, it was. No more than a bit of smooth tissue and a lone blue vein sputtering and clicking like a drum gone too dry, their just-dead-now-born babe. In the small moments when their song would pause, in between the echoes rattling from their hollow bones, I could hear this aching heart coughing words of its own becoming.

Babes want to be sung out of the dark.

A hundred years passed, and the heart-babe grew fat and full. A thousand years passed, and its pulse swelled to meet the rhythm of the drummer women. All the while, the small thing spoke of its own dreams for what it might become, an earth unpoisoned by the toxin of progress, a more-than-human planet unmarred by its own weather. Crisis after crisis cracked the fated heart open, and the dead ones would sing-stitch its wounds.

A scar wants a story.

I watched empires rise and fall all around this eternal labor, and I watched the bone-women repair every break, reweave every frayed edge with the strongest scar tissue. I saw the heart shred itself over and over again, and I saw this coven of hags hum and drum a timely remedy for every war and conquest. A thousand more years passed, and a stone circle of rib-bones sprouted from the ground and surrounded the wizened innocent.

Birth wants a witness.

I grew weary of the waiting then, and my triple-braid of arrogance, sorrow, and longing threatened to disrupt the poetry of this moment. I wanted to be part of the imagining, you see. I wanted to dream the new world alive. I wanted to join these old ones in their ceremony, and a shrieked like an abandoned child. So broken was I by my envy that some of the ribs around the heart cracked and fell with my wailing, but the witches sang them whole again. I mourned for the rites of passage I would never take, the dances I would never learn, and the myths that would never mark me.

Stories want a tongue to do the telling.

It was then that I knew. I knew it had all happened before. I knew that this world heart had been swelling and thinning over and over again. I knew that the bone-women’s marrow was brewed from a certain patience and dedication I never tasted, that these fleshless creatures were animated by a cosmic destiny. Their eye pits were the black-hole ghosts of dead stars, and their memories were infinite.

Chaos wants an order.

There I was, nested at the center of a star system made of crone-doulas singing an anthem one million times older than any we might call ancient. There I was, suddenly singing right there with them, struck by a living remembrance shaped like a slowly growing child-skeleton world with long blades of wheat for hair, lava rocks for hooves, palm leaves for wings, and a molten volcano heart sputtering killer poetry at the center of it all. There I was, dying.

Growth wants a sacrifice.

One hundred thousand years passed through me in the space between two drumbeats, and that strange new world was something I could barely see now. I had no reference for it. I had no names for this dazzling monster I watched rise from the earth and stand on shaking legs. I only knew that if this one, extraordinary babe was going to live, if this built-from-truth new-world beast was going to be, I needed to die and die well.

Death wants a song.

Part of the old order, I was. For all my peculiar imaginings, for all my exquisite art-making and unholy storytelling, my end was looming, and I crawled to the center of the circle just as the new world majesty danced away from the bone-women. Cities burned in that moment. A sickness befell the land. Righteous rage consumed the streets, all while that nameless creature we’d still call Earth twirled away from its own birthing bed to the sound of its own heart-drum.

Joy wants a dance.

The council of hags kept drumming, all the while, and I laid down to become food. I hummed with them as long as I could while my skin thinned, while my lips pulled back from my teeth, while my tongue turned to a strip of leather, while my eyes became dust, while my hair was wrapped by thirsty roots and squeaking critters burrowed under my spine. My heart kept beating, and the council kept singing. I felt the new world spinning around me, and I whispered prayers to the wild children singing their own truths in the streets.

Revolution wants poetry.

A hundred years passed, and I was already nothing more than a lone, tiny heart, no bigger than a plum stripped of its skin, and the hags sang on and on, these doulas of death who sang me into the long sleep, who might sing me to life someday. For now, I am here. I am here becoming dirt while the nameless bewilderment of possibility dances away from my deathbed. I am here, sightless and surrounded by the bone-hags who have seen this all before.

More-than-human eyes want the long vision.

  • Author Posts
Danielle is a heathen visionary, Aquarian mischief-maker, and word-witch. The author of Woman Most Wild and The Holy Wild., she teaches internationally and has facilitated circles, embodiment trainings, communal spell-work, and seasonal rituals since 2007. She is the founder of The Hag School, the lead teacher for the Flame-Tender Teacher Training, and believes in the emerging power of wild collectives and sudden circles of curious dreamers, cunning witches, and rebellious artists in healing our ailing world. As an Irish-American, Danielle’s witchcraft is deeply rooted in Celtic philosophy and Irish mythology. She believes fervently in the role of ancestral healing, embodiment, and animism in fracturing the longstanding systems supporting white-body supremacy and environmental unconsciousness, is committed to centering the voices and teachings of POC and LGBTQIA+ folks in her work as founder of Living Mandala, LLC and The Hag School and supports organizations and initiatives that do the same. Parent to two beloved wildlings and partner to a potter, Danielle fills her world with nature, family, and intentional awe. Find her praying under pine trees, wandering through the haunted places, and whispering to her grandmothers’ ghosts.
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Danielle is a heathen visionary, Aquarian mischief-maker, and word-witch. The author of Woman Most Wild and The Holy Wild., she teaches internationally and has facilitated circles, embodiment trainings, communal spell-work, and seasonal rituals since 2007. She is the founder of The Hag School, the lead teacher for the Flame-Tender Teacher Training, and believes in the emerging power of wild collectives and sudden circles of curious dreamers, cunning witches, and rebellious artists in healing our ailing world. As an Irish-American, Danielle’s witchcraft is deeply rooted in Celtic philosophy and Irish mythology. She believes fervently in the role of ancestral healing, embodiment, and animism in fracturing the longstanding systems supporting white-body supremacy and environmental unconsciousness, is committed to centering the voices and teachings of POC and LGBTQIA+ folks in her work as founder of Living Mandala, LLC and The Hag School and supports organizations and initiatives that do the same. Parent to two beloved wildlings and partner to a potter, Danielle fills her world with nature, family, and intentional awe. Find her praying under pine trees, wandering through the haunted places, and whispering to her grandmothers’ ghosts.

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