When I was studying in Jerusalem, my room wasn't much bigger than the bed itself. There simply wasn't space for an altar, but I felt lost without one.

Fortunately, at one of the museums I found a postcard of a Phoenician goddess figurine. I tucked it into the corner of the mirror on the wall, and voilĂ : instant altar. One 3 by 5 inch postcard was all it took.

Later I found a copy of the same pregnant goddess in an antiquities shop down by the King David Hotel. (Mass-produced and hence affordable to the ancients, they remain so today, even for those of us on student budgets.) How many people come to Jerusalem to buy idols? the shopkeeper joked as he wrapped her up.

She sits now underneath the Yule tree, pensive, her hand on her great belly. Soon.

The animals have gathered around Her, waiting. Over the years, I've collected them from all over the world: Minoan bull, Egyptian cat, Lakota pipestone turtle. A jade Chinese pig, a bronze archaic Greek snake, netsuke rabbit, otter, and octopus. Siberian fish carved from mammoth tusk. And all the rest, their numbers growing year by year.


With the great-bellied Lady, the animals wait. We all wait.

Midwinter morning the amber Sun-egg will be unwrapped and take its place in the center.

But not yet.

For now, we wait.