diety

Review: 2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

December, 2018

Review:

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

Rockpool Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925682-13-7

List Price: $21.95 USD / £16.99 GBP

The 2019 Lunar and Seasonal Diary is a beautiful, spiral-bound calendar, richly illustrated with pleasing sepia color pages. As one would expect, it tracks the waxing and waning of the moon and the lunar eclipses of the coming year. It also provides the astrological house of each new and full moon and features the eight annual festivals of the wheel of the year.

I reviewed the Northern Hemisphere edition of the Seasonal Diary. Both Stacey DeMarco and Rockpool Publishing are based in Australia, which is why special care is made to tie the festivals to the seasons themselves instead of calendar dates. After all, our calendars follow the reality of the Earth and her seasons, not the other way around.

Especially well fitted to the new pagan, the diary has a well written introduction the hows and whys of spellcraft and the basics of working with crystals. The moon phases are introduced, as well as the elements, directions and the wheel of the year – not enough to complicate things, but enough guidance to use the daily and monthly prompts that follow. Each month features a specific deity, as well as an appropriate ritual or spell, drawing inspiration from traditions as varied as Slavic, Celtic, Hindu, Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Shinto. I think the selection is broad enough to be interesting for almost any pagan.

I found the Lunar & Seasonal Diary a beautiful resource to keep me connected to the monthly rhythms of the earth. Each month begins with a page questioning “What am I devoted to?” – asking us to simultaneously reflect on what we have been wrapped up in the month just past as well as what we would aspire towards in the month ahead. Prompts are given for important dates and goals to focus on and manifest in the month ahead.

This monthly return to focus seems a positively recharging reset to our frame of reference, especially during those stressful times when we’re just happy to it through one calendar page to the next. It reminds us to recall what we are working for in the first place, reminding us that the daily grind is a process and not an end in itself. This monthly taking-stock can allow you to stay open to the living world around you, to stay fast with what is truly important to you, or to shift your focus and goals each month, working on different aspects of your life just as the energy of the earth changes through different phases around you.

With the space for taking notes, prompts for both reflective and aspirational record keeping, I think this is a great notebook for any pagan who sees the value of the occasional ritual to keep one in tune with the seasons, and it especially shines for those new to the pagan path.

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary: Northern Hemisphere on Amazon

The Grove

June, 2010

Hera

HeraDrawing

Temperatures rise & the days lengthen. June brings with it the scent of jasmine on a warm breeze. The month bears the name of the Roman goddess Juno. I, like the Greeks of old, know her by another name. Hera is the child of titans Cronus &

Rhea.  From early on their relationship didn’t run smoothly.  Initially she refused his attempts until wily Zeus thought to transform himself into a cuckoo. When she held the shivering, miserable-looking bird to her breast he took his true form & ravished her. In her shame she had no choice but to marry him.

Hera was venerated as a mighty goddess by her own right in the ancient world. She was respected as a patroness of women & protector of marriage. She was honoured every four years at Olympia, where there was a festival held in her name. However, it is inevitable that she be defined by her relationship to Zeus. Tales of his extramatiral exploits are numerous, to say the least. Perhaps she can be forgiven for striking back from time to time.

Once Zeus fell for the charms of the Lybian queen Lamia. One version of myth says how Hera killed Lamia’s children & grief turned her into a monster.  She was cursed with the inability to close her eyes so that she would not be able to escape the image of her dead babes. Zeus softened the blow by allowing her to be able to take her eyes out to rest. Lamia grew envious of other mothers & ate their children.

Hera almost caught Zeus out once. Zeus turned the hapless Io into a white heifer.  However, she wasn’t completely fooled & demanded that Zeus give her the creature as a gift. Hera left Io to the care of  many-eyed Argus to keep her separated from Zeus. The king of the gods ordered Hermes to kill Argus. When Hera learned of this she placed all his eyes into the plumage of the peacock. Ever notice the eye-like pattern in its tail?

Hera’s parenting skills aren’t fantastic. Her marriage to Zeus yielded a small few minor goddesses, including Hebe goddess of youth, as well as war-god Ares. Homer’s account states that she is also the mother of the lame smithy-god Hephaetus. Hera became jealous of how Zeus produced Athena without her, so she managed to give birth to a child on her own. However she was so offended by the baby’s physical imperfections that she threw him from the heights of My Olympus. Hephaestus later got revenge on his mum for her rejection by crafting a throne for her which would not let her get up after she sat on it. The other Olympians begged him to free her but he refused until Dionysus got him drunk. Hephaestus was taken back to Olympus thrown over a mule. He eventually released Hera after being bribed with the offer of  Aphrodite for his wife.

Hera often comes across as the archetypal wicked stepmother. Consider her treatment of the hero Herakles, Alcemene’s son with Zeus. To be fair it would be hard for any woman to cope with knowing her husband spawned an offspring with another. Hera took her hurt & jealousy to extremes from the start. When Alcemene was pregnant with Heracles, Hera tried to prevent her giving birth by tying her rival’s legs into knots. The servant Galanthis tricked Hera by saying she’s already given birth. When Herakles was a newborn, Hera sent two serpents to kill him. The baby strangled both creatures & was found happily playing with their limp bodies.

The image of a wife left at home alone & crying in in the dark whilst hubby has his fun is all too easy to see, be it god or mortal. No doubt Hera may have a ‘human’ side where she weeps or gives way to darker emotions like sorrow or fury. Many have difficulty looking past the image of an angry, shrieking shrew. There is more to her than this, however. She possesses a deep, abiding strength & more patience than she’s often given credit for. It must take a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to endure the scandals & constant emotional drama life with a philandering partner of this magnitude would put her through. Hers is an enduring love. She must truly feel deeply for Zeus if she has remained by his side no matter what their life together has thrown at her.

Hera teaches us to acknowledge the flaws in others even if we can’t always accept them. Imperfection is inevitable; even the gods themselves have quirks or weaknesses. Don’t try to love someone because they are perfect; instead love them for who they are, warts & all. The flip side to this is that Hera urges us to develop

self-respect. It is no less loving to speak out with all the dignity of a queen if a situation or behaviour in another becomes unbearable.

Sure, she is the queen of heaven & mother of all. There’s no disputing that in many ways Hera is the ultimate wife. However, remember that she renews her virginity yearly by bathing in the sacred spring of Canathus at Argos. Family life doesn’t mean one must give up his or her identity. Certainly marriage doesn’t, & shouldn’t, require either partner to become a creature bent perfectly to suit the other’s will. In renewing herself on a regular basis she constantly reclaims the part of herself she holds most dear. Whilst her methods might lack in tact at times, Hera lives by her own terms.  For better or worse, she is herself.