Linda Hogan Quotes
“Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark. It is winter and there is smoke from the fires. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
“There are ways in, journeys to the center of life, through time; through air, matter, dream and thought. The ways are not always mapped or charted, but sometimes being lost, if there is such a thing, is the sweetest place to be. And always, in this search, a person might find that she is already there, at the center of the world. It may be a broken world, but it is glorious nonetheless.”
“John Hay, in The Immortal Wilderness, has written: 'There are occasions when you can hear the mysterious language of the Earth, in water, or coming through the trees, emanating from the mosses, seeping through the undercurrents of the soil, but you have to be willing to wait and receive.' Sometimes I hear it talking. The light of the sunflower was one language, but there are others more audible. Once, in the redwood forest, I heard a beat, something like a drum or a heart coming from the ground and trees and wind. That underground current stirred a kind of knowing inside me, a kinship and longing, a dream barely remembered that disappeared back to the body....
Tonight, I walk. I am watching the sky. I think of the people who came before me and how they knew the placement of the stars in the sky, watching the moving sun long and hard enough to witness how a certain angle of light touched a stone only once a year. Without written records, they knew the gods of every night, the small, fine details of the world around them and the immensity above them.
Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating....It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
It was the night
a comet with its silver tail
fell through darkness
to earth's eroded field,
the night I found
starved in metal trap,
from pain's hard bite,
its belly swollen with unborn young.
In our astronomy
the Great Wolf
lived in the sky.
It was the mother of all women
and howled her daughter's names
into the winds of night.
But the new people,
whatever stepped inside their shadow,
they would kill,
whatever crossed their path,
they came to fear.
In their science,
Wolf as not the mother.
Wolf was not wind.
They did not learn healing
from her song.
In their stories
Wolf was the devil, falling
down an empty,
with yellow eyes
that had seen their failings
and knew that they could kill the earth,
that they would kill each other.
I threw the fallen stone back to sky
and falling stars
and watched it all come down
to ruined earth again.
Sky would not take back
what it had done.
That night, sky was a wilderness so close
the eerie light of heaven
and storming hands of sun
reached down the swollen belly
and dried up nipples of a hungry world.
I saw the trapper's shadow
and it had four legs.”
“A woman once described a friend of hers as being such a keen listener that even the trees leaned toward her, as if they were speaking their innermost secrets into her listening ears. Over the years I’ve envisioned that woman’s silence, a hearing full and open enough that the world told her its stories. The green leaves turned toward her, whispering tales of soft breezes and the murmurs of leaf against leaf.”
“What finally turned me back toward the older traditions of my own [Chickasaw] and other Native peoples was the inhumanity of the Western world, the places--both inside and out--where the culture's knowledge and language don't go, and the despair, even desperation, it has spawned. We live, I see now, by different stories, the Western mind and the indigenous. In the older, more mature cultures where people still live within the kinship circles of animals and human beings there is a connection with animals, not only as food, but as 'powers,' a word which can be taken to mean states of being, gifts, or capabilities.
I've found, too, that the ancient intellectual traditions are not merely about belief, as some would say. Belief is not a strong enough word. They are more than that: They are part of lived experience, the on-going experience of people rooted in centuries-old knowledge that is held deep and strong, knowledge about the natural laws of Earth, from the beginning of creation, and the magnificent terrestrial intelligence still at work, an intelligence now newly called ecology by the Western science that tells us what our oldest tribal stories maintain--the human animal is a relatively new creation here; animal and plant presences were here before us; and we are truly the younger sisters and brothers of the other animal species, not quite as well developed as we thought we were. It is through our relationships with animals and plants that we maintain a way of living, a cultural ethics shaped from an ancient understanding of the world, and this is remembered in stories that are the deepest reflections of our shared lives on Earth.
That we held, and still hold, treaties with the animals and plant species is a known part of tribal culture. The relationship between human people and animals is still alive and resonant in the world, the ancient tellings carried on by a constellation of stories, songs, and ceremonies, all shaped by lived knowledge of the world and its many interwoven, unending relationships. These stories and ceremonies keep open the bridge between one kind of intelligence and another, one species and another.
(from her essay "First People")”
“Once when I was younger I went out and sat under the sky and looked up and asked it to take me back. What I should have done was gone to the swamp and bog and ask them to bring me back because, if anything is, mud and marsh are the origins of life. Now i think of the storm that made chaos, that the storm opened a door. It tried to make over a world the way it wanted it to be. At school I learned that storms create life, that lightning, with its nitrogen, is a beginning; bacteria and enzymes grow new life from decay out of darkness and water. It's into this that I want to fall, into swamp and mud and sludge and it seems like falling is the natural way of things; gravity needs no fuel, no wings. It needs only stillness and waiting and time.”
“Perhaps there are events and things that work as a doorway into a mythical world, the world of first people, all the way back to the creation of the universe and the small quickenings of earth, the first stirrings of human beings at the beginnings of time. Our elders believe this to be so, that it is possible to wind a way backwards to the start of things, and in doing so find a form of sacred reason, different from ordinary reason, that is linked to forces of nature. In this kind of mind, like in the feather, is the power of sky and thunder and sun, and many have had alliances and partnerships with it, a way of thought older than measured time, less primitive than the rational present. Others have tried for centuries to understand the world by science and intellect but have not yet done so, not yet understood animals, finite earth, or even their own minds and behavior. The more they seek to learn the world, the closer they come to the spiritual, the magical origins of creation.
There is a still place, a gap between the worlds, spoken by the tribal knowings of thousands of years. In it are silent flyings that stand aside from human struggles and the designs of our own makings. At times, when we are silent enough, still enough, we take a step into such mystery, the place of spirit, and mystery, we must remember, by its very nature does not wish to be known.”
“[T]he old stories of human relationships with animals can't be discounted. They are not primitive; they are primal. They reflect insights that came from considerable and elaborate systems of knowledge, intellectual traditions and ways of living that were tried, tested, and found true over many thousands of years and on all continents.
But perhaps the truest story is with the animals themselves because we have found our exemplary ways through them, both in the older world and in the present time, both physically and spiritually. According to the traditions of the Seneca animal society, there were medicine animals in ancient times that entered into relationships with people. The animals themselves taught ceremonies that were to be performed in their names, saying they would provide help for humans if this relationship was kept. We have followed them, not only in the way the early European voyagers and prenavigators did, by following the migrations of whales in order to know their location, or by releasing birds from cages on their sailing vessels and following them towards land, but in ways more subtle and even more sustaining. In a discussion of the Wolf Dance of the Northwest, artists Bill Holm and William Reid said that 'It is often done by a woman or a group of women. The dance is supposed to come from the wolves. There are different versions of its origin and different songs, but the words say something like, 'Your name is widely known among the wolves. You are honored by the wolves.'
In another recent account, a Northern Cheyenne ceremonialist said that after years spent recovering from removals and genocide, indigenous peoples are learning their lost songs back from the wolves who retained them during the grief-filled times, as thought the wolves, even though threatened in their own numbers, have had compassion for the people....
It seems we have always found our way across unknown lands, physical and spiritual, with the assistance of the animals. Our cultures are shaped around them and we are judged by the ways in which we treat them. For us, the animals are understood to be our equals. They are still our teachers. They are our helpers and healers. They have been our guardians and we have been theirs. We have asked for, and sometimes been given, if we've lived well enough, carefully enough, their extraordinary powers of endurance and vision, which we have added to our own knowledge, powers and gifts when we are not strong enough for the tasks required of us. We have deep obligations to them. Without other animals, we are made less.
(from her essay "First People")”
“Perhaps it was the word "God" that was inviting to me, a word I thought I knew too much about. The one who had tortured Job, who had Abraham lift the ax to his son, who, disguised as a whale, had swallowed Jonah. I know now that the name does not refer to any deity, but means simply to call out and pray, to summon.”
“I've been good at this world, the one that hits you when you are born and makes you cry right from the start, so that crying is your first language. I've learned what I was supposed to learn, bu now it comes to me that in doing so I've unlearned other things. I've lost my sense; I cannot sense things. Yes, we are a shambles. And maybe Ama found the way; she found it when all the paths were washed away by rivers from the sky, when all the buildings were blown down by the breath of a God. For just one day, that one day, she found a way out of that shambles, a way around it. And it's this I want to find. But now she has no path back, no way to return even if she wanted to be here in this America. She will always live away from this world, in something of a twilight that is not one thing or the other, one time or the next. She lives in a point, a small point, between two weighted things and it is always rocking this scale, back and forth.”
“Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life, our work, the solution to the mystery that we are. There are already so many holes in the universe that will never again be filled, and each of them forces us to question why we permitted such loss, such tearing away at the fabric of life, and how we will live with our planet in the future.”
“Not only are there before and after, but there are also beginnings and returns. Not only is there the creation of the humans, formed of corn or clay, with a breath of wind or a god, but there are mythic destinies. Sometimes myth is formed by the body and what happens to it, especially in the realm of pain, depth, and birth. Phantoms of generations past are in our bodies. These explain us to ourselves.”
- Date of birth: July 16, 1947
- Born: in Denver, Colorado, The United States.
- Description: Linda K. Hogan (born 1947 Denver) is a Native American poet, storyteller, academic, playwright, novelist, environmentalist and writer of short stories. She is currently the Chickasaw Nation's Writer in Residence.
Linda Hogan is Chickasaw. Her father is a Chickasaw from a recognized historical family and Linda's uncle, Wesley Henderson, helped form the White Buffalo Council in Denver during the 1950s. It was to help other Indian people coming to the city because of The Relocation Act, which encouraged migration for work and other opportunities. He had a strong influence on her and she grew up relating strongly to both her Chickasaw family in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and to a mixed Indian community in the Denver area. At other times, her family traveled because of the military.
Her first university teaching position was in American Indian Studies and American Studies at the University of Minnesota. After writing her first book, Calling Myself Home, she continued to write poetry. Her work has both a historical and political focus, but is lyrical. Her most recent books are The Book of Medicines (1993) and Rounding the Human Corners. (2008) She is also a novelist and essayist. Her work centers on the world of Native peoples, from both her own indigenous perspective and that of others. She was a full professor of Creative Writing at the University of Colorado and then taught the last two years in the University's Ethnic Studies Department. She currently is the Writer in Residence for her own Chickasaw Nation.
Essayist, novelist, and poet, Hogan has published works in many different backgrounds and forms. Her concentration is on environmental themes. She has acted as a consultant in bringing together Native tribal representatives and feminist themes, particularly allying them to her Native ancestry. Her work, whether fiction or non-fiction, expresses an indigenous understanding of the world.
She has written essays and poems on a variety of subjects, both fictional and nonfictional, biographical and from research. Hogan has also written historical novels. Her work studies the historical wrongs done to Native Americans and the American environment since the European colonization of North America.
Hogan was a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Oklahoma. She is the (inaugural) Writer-in-Residence for the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. In October 2011, she instructed a writing workshop through the Abiquiu Workshops in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
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