Jill Hammer

Miriam Points to the Well

The well is real.

Sometimes it is visible.
Sometimes you can hear it or smell it
touch its rivulets,
pulse with its heart.

Sometimes it comes up in a field
where people have been praying
for the ingathering of witches

or dribbles in drumbeats
down the hands of a drummer-priestess

or hides in an elixir-bottle
a healer filled up, to ease suffering.

Sometimes it flows through a song
crafted to rise and rise and rise
or curls inside an amulet for descent

or washes the dead
and the newly born
or tickles the feet of the lonely

or sparkles under a full moon
as it carries a boat to its destination.

Sometimes it comes up behind you
in a desert where your lip has split from thirst.

Sometimes it cascades out of lovers
or rests with deceptive quiet in scribes’ inkbottles,

or bursts out from weak spots
in a story, and pours new stories.

Sometimes it makes patterns in the sand
for diviners to read,
and sometimes it enters a dream and wets everything,

waters trees that grow up and become forests,
turns somersaults to make exiles laugh,
joins hands that have not known joining.

Sometimes it encircles and protects
and sometimes it fills the voice impossibly
so that speaking shatters walls.

And then sometimes it vanishes
and cannot be found even when we need it.
That, too, is real.

If you have not known the well,
hold still.
Any moment may show it to you.

If you have known the well,
it is movement forever,
a circle dance equal to the stars’ spiral,

a sky deepening beneath the feet,
a sea parting within the world.



Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, and the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute.  A ritualist, liturgist, poet, dreamworker, and scholar, Rabbi Hammer is the author of a number of books, including The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for all SeasonsSisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical WomenThe Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (with Taya Shere), and The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries.  Her forthcoming book is titled Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation., and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah. She is the translator of Siddur haKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook, and The Romemu Siddur.  She lives in Manhattan with her wife and daughter.