goddesses

Book Review: QUEEN UP! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down by Angela Kaufman

May, 2018

Book Review – QUEEN UP! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down: Unleash the Power of Your Inner Tarot Queen by Angela Kaufman

In our current atmosphere of #Time’sUp and #MeToo, this is the perfect book to come along. The Queens that are spoken of in this book are the Queens of the Tarot, but it also fits in with so many, adding the term “Queen” to the three-fold aspect of the Goddess.

The author uses the archetypal energies of the four Queens in the Tarot, each representing a different element, to help us to meet, and work with, our Inner Queen(s), using a tarot deck and our intuition.

Ms. Kaufman tells the “Legend of the 4 Queens”, leaving us with four divine decrees, being: “all things are energy”, “energy is changeable” energy contains elements of its opposite”, and “energy can be accessed at will through the power of intention, thus anything required to succeed can be found within”.

Each Queen has her own section with self-reflective questions, exercises, meditations, and ritual, complete with her own correspondences.

Ms. Kaufman describes how each of us can call on our own Queen(s), with a detailed ritual on how to “Queen Up!”, with tips on how to bring these energies into our daily lives.

The book concludes with a 52-week guide to Queening Up, which also comes with an Inner Queen Intuitive Log.

While the techniques mentioned may sound familiar to those who have done Goddess-oriented inner work, or intentional spellwork, they are presented here in a manner befitting a Queen.

This book is very encouraging and supportive to any woman who would follow it as an uplifting guide on their path to empowerment. I would definitely recommend this book, and I plan on returning to it as part of my own inner work!

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About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

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MagickalArts

March, 2018

(en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses-The Love of Erato

This the Fourth posting of the (en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses Series

During a weekend in Boston with my daughter while she was at the Boston Conservatory, we went to the Museum of Fine s. We came to one of the hallways and I looked up and saw a beautiful dome painting of the Nine Muses and Apollo by John Singer Sargeant. As I scanned the image I imagined what type of energy would be in abundance as the Muses danced in free abandon around Apollo, God of the Sun. I thought about the sensuality of this energy and the grace and ease with which it appeared each was connected to the other. The feeling was one of being totally lost in the moment, carried by the urge to create, to move and to inspire. I thought about the tales I had read of the lives of the Muses and the Gods and Goddesses and the common thread of pure passion that flowed through even the most desperate of tales. After all, is it not passion, whether it be positive or negative that fuels the will to live. All of the emotions- jealousy, love, anger, mercy, joy and more, have all come into being because of what we see, what we experience and how we translate these emotions into how we live and ultimately how and who we love. 

Painting: Apollo and the Muses John Singer Sargeant (Museum of Fine s, Boston.1921)

I also realized that passion is the motivation that guided my life as a dancer. Passion is what has motivated me in parenting and sharing my life with my husband of 37 years. Passion is what drives me to write, to teach and to make magick. And, through all of these acts of creation, desire and drive, the Muse Erato has been gently guiding me on her path of inspiration.

The Muse, Erato is given the title of Muse of Erotic poetry and Mime. Her name means “the lovely” or “beloved” and is derived from the Greek word, Eros meaning “intimate love.” This derivation connects her to the Greek God, Eros whose nature was to stimulate sexual desire and attraction. As a Muse, her work of inspiration is not simply through poetry and lyrical verse, but ore specifically, erotic poetry that stimulates the senses and charms the attendees into romantic liaison. 

The Greek Epic poet, Apollonius Rhodius calls upon the gifts of Erato to aid in the writing of the journey of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. The passion of youth and the desire to conquer all worlds and any obstacle for the object of their desire flows through many of the epic tales and in the Argonautica we read the author’s invocation to Erato to infuse his epic with her gifts….

“The poet invokes Erato as he begins the tale of the love of Jason and Medea:] Come, Erato, come lovely Mousa (Muse), stand by me and take up the tale. How did Medea’s passion help Iason (Jason) to bring back the fleece to Iolkos (Iolcus).” 1.

Everything related to Love, the eroticism of love and the passion that inspires love is attributed to the gifts of the Muse Erato. Hers is the inspiration found in the wooing of the beloved by song, the flowering gifts of the natural world and the gentle caresses that lead to passion’s act. In this way she whispers in the ears of the would-be suitors and lovers, providing the inspiration that will draw their beloved to them…

For the name of each Mousa (Muse), they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her: . . . Erato, because she makes those who are instructed by her men who are desired and worthy to be loved.” 2.

In the Orphic Hymn to the Muses, Erato is invoked as one who is alluring and seductive in her gifts. Her visage enough to cast the spell of longing…

“Daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus . . . Kleio (Clio), and Erato who charms the sight, with thee, Euterpe, ministering delight: Thalia flourishing, Polymnia famed, Melpomene from skill in music named: Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), Ourania (Urania) heavenly bright.”3.

In art, Erato is depicted holding a Lyre or a garland of roses and myrtle representing the sweet music of a lover’s song and the fragrant rose and myrtle offered as token of a lover’s heart. She was considered the mistress of hymeneal song, playing her Lyre and crafting the poetry of the nuptials of young lovers and the consummate act of their union that followed. 

She is also depicted holding a golden arrow from the bow of the God, Eros as reminder of the sexual desire and attraction that are part of the process of passion and romantic love. In the painting below by Charles Meynier, there is a sense of the Muse being inspired herself as she sits in the setting of the natural world and the God Eros stands intimately at her shoulder. She writes her poems of erotic love with the tip of an arrow from Eros’ quiver, water reflecting the heart’s desire at their feet and flowers readied to seed the lover’s pursuit. I am particularly fond of this painting and the many layers that are extracted each time you look at it. For me, this is the reminder of how complicated, yet simple and profound matters of the heart truly are. 

Painting: Charles Meynier (Cleveland Museum of . 1789)

During the Age of the Renaissance we see Erato’s influence strongly present in the ballads of the troubadours, the bards, artists and writers. Another attribution of gift was given to Erato and she came to be known as the Allegory of . This title was directly related to the painting by Filippino Lippe entitled The Allegory of -Erato. In this form she is depicted with various instruments, white swans at her feet and a lyre. It is thought that this image was the artist’s statement of the intimate and all encompassing nature of complicated relationships and the various passions that drive them. 

Painting: Filippino Lipp (Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, Germany. 1500C)

The painting shows the Muse Erato leading a swan by a golden leash. The swan, an attribute of Apollo, may be associated with a as well; its symbolic role is based on the fact that it miraculously sang before its death; thus the concept of the swan song.”

The addition of a stream or water in the paintings of her refers to the idea that the Muses were originally nymphs of streams that had the power to inspire creativity, before these attributes were assigned to human like beings. And, we still associate the images of swans and being serenaded as gestures of love and romantic admiration. 

So, next you see one you hope to make a lover, or passionately embark down a new trail of experience call to Erato to inspire the way and fan the fires of your desire. Honor her gifts in allowing the need to interact and share all the dynamics of your emotions. Consider the pleasure of make-up sex after a heated argument that you thought would surely have no resolution. Or, the desire to beat your personal best, after achieving a sought after goal that you have given your all and devoted yourself to pursuing. These are the poems of love’s achievement that are written in your life’s story as the arrows of Eros guided by Erato’s penning hit their mark.

 

In Honor of Erato

Heart beats wildly with
Each approaching step
As anticipation of loving union
Creates images of satisfied longing.

Breath comes in shallow flow
As my lover pulls me near and
Skin tingles in response to whispered
Words of love that are heated by desire.

Breath hot and sweet
Comes in rapid wave as
Lover’s hand gently caress
Arch of porcelain white neck.

Finger gently traces line
Of butterfly wings in
Hollowed dampness of throat
Moving lightly with desire over
Flushed skin of silky breast.

Fingers trembling as passion
Rises wrap around base
Of delicate waist and curve
Of arched lower back.

Thighs warm and strong
As knees weaken from
Passion’s greedy lips
Pressed insistently against mine.

And at once our passion pulls
Us into its gift of life desirous
Of the touch of another and the
Promise that this union holds.

 

 

The next post will focus on the Muse, Terpsichore and her Gifts of Dance.

References:

1. Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica (Greek Epic C3rd B.C.).

2. Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History (Greek History C1st BC).

3. Orphic Hymn 76 to the Muses (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.).

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

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The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

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A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

You can Follow Robin Through the Following Sites:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/robin.fennelly

Instagram:

#themagickalpen

Online Teachings:

Teachings on the Path

Bandcamp Recorded Pathworkings:

Teachings on the Path with Robin

Youtube:

Robin Fennelly

 

 

 

Elements of a Personal Cult

May, 2016

There is a sense in which the favorite deity has already chosen the devotee, and an early step in establishing a devotional relationship is to examine any unusual dreams or waking experiences that seem to be messages from someone. Think back through your past, looking for experiences that preceded important turning points in your attitude and approach to life. The experiences themselves need not have been unusual in any obvious sense, making their influence on us all the more mysterious. I can remember one morning long ago when I was up at dawn walking to breakfast. I had had a personal disappointment the night before, when suddenly a bright-eyed old lady, the only other person around, looked at me as she walked vigorously by and said “We’re the only ones up!” I am unable to account for why that event has stuck in my memory, but my life seemed to take a different direction after that; I felt healed where I had felt injured within, and my attitude changed to hope from despair.

In some ways a devotee is like a fan of a movie star or rock musician, in a state of enthusiastic identification. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about a Scythian (the Scythians lived in what is now southern Russia) named Anacharsis who traveled widely and came to adopt Greek religious customs. This fellow was a devotee of the Mother of the gods, and when he was back in Scythia, as it was a sacred occasion, he celebrated the mysteries of the goddess in a clearing in the forest, pinning the sacred pictures to his clothes and dancing around ecstatically. A Scythian got wind of him and reported to his local king, who declared he would not tolerate Greek religious ceremonies in his realm and ordered the devotee killed with an arrow. 1

Like a fan, a devotee will put up pictures or an idol of his deity. He will study his deity’s myths and celebrate or mourn them as appropriate, following whatever rituals still survive. He will celebrate the birth of his god or goddess on the appropriate date. He will follow the preferences of his deity if these are recorded in the myths. For instance, in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the goddess comes to Eleusis and is offered a drink of wine, but declines it in favor of kykeion, which was a sort of barley-water flavored with mint. 2 A devotee of this goddess will therefore abstain from alcohol, at least during his re-enactment of the wanderings of Demeter in search of her daughter Persephone, drinking kykeion instead as a sort of communion with the divine. 3

Thus through prayers, offerings, examination of dreams and omens, ritual enactment of myths, assumption of the deity’s preferences and perception of the deity in nature, the devotee seeks to be as close to his god or goddess as possible. The key practice, however, is repetition of the divine name, often with the deity’s titles included. The Hindus call this japam; it might be called a way of taking the color of the deity, coloring one’s own experience with his or her divine presence. That japam was performed in the West as well can be seen from Jesus’ preaching against praying “as the heathen do; for they think that by much repetition they will the more readily be heard.” This of course is a misunderstanding of the purpose and results of japam. Japam is performed at set times, 4 as well as at random moments when the mind is idle. During the set periods, a devotee will often make use of a string of beads or dried seeds as a way of ensuring that a certain number of repetitions are done without bothering the mind with counting. Hindus call these beads rudraksha, and it is so effective an instrument that Catholics have adopted it in the rosary, and even muslims make use of it. Among witches it was known as a ‘witch’s ladder’. 5

Herodotus’ tale of Anacharsis is a cautionary one, and in general pagans thought little of excessive devotion to a single deity, or even to deities in general. Euripides’ play Hippolytos warns against devotion to emis at the neglect of Aphrodite, while his play The Bacchae warns against the rejection of the worship of Dionysos and thus of ecstatic religion per se. Here, as always, the Greeks believed in pursuing a balance, in the latter case a balance between religious sobriety and religious intoxication. So whichever god or goddess takes your fancy, be careful to set limits to your devotion. One way to ensure this is to have second and third favorites among the gods, practicing minor devotions to those deities as well as generally attending to all gods, demigods, and spirits. This was common in antiquity, with devotions to one’s special god or goddess balanced out by devotions to family or clan deities or a patron deity of one’s trade. 6

Nor should the pagan devotee expect to be always especially devoted to the same god or goddess. It was a practice since late Sumerian times 7 to switch allegiance to another chosen deity if one felt betrayed or somehow let down by the old one. But even if there has been no let-down, our needs shift as we go through life and Aphrodite will understand if a middle-aged man turns his attention at some point to Hermes or Demeter. In that case, the pious pagan made a special offering to the god or goddess being left behind, signifying a voluntary surrender of his or her divine gifts. Thus, young girls entering on puberty hung up their girdles in the temple of emis; perhaps that is where the expression ‘better hang it up’ originated!

Reflecting on my own practice, I have identified five elements that must be present in any fully developed relationship with a pagan deity. These could be called the deity’s

(1) locus, (2) signs, (3) myth, (4) discipline, and (5) occasion for prayer.

The locus is the external dwelling or vehicle of the deity, whether outside or inside. Some deities, like the sun god or goddess, have a single locus (the sun, obviously); others have a generic locus, such as the oak tree for Cernunnos or Thorr and other cognate deities. These would be outdoor loci, whereas an idol or shrine would serve as an indoor locus. The traditional indoor locus for Thorr (judging from 17th century accounts of Lappish religious practice) was the house pillar, which held an iron nail at shoulder height; the head of the household would sit next to the pillar and grasp the nail during thunderstorms, to feel the power of the god. The locus, whether indoor or outdoor, would be the proper place to pray to the god and leave offerings. In case of a generic locus such as an oak tree, the worshipper should select that oak (if any) that seems to contain the most power and direct his or her devotions to it on a regular basis.

The signs of a deity are more ephemeral, being omens or communications from him or her to the worshipper. These can be external (weather signs, sacred birds) or internal (dreams, sudden inspirations, moods). The reading of bird-omens was common among the ancients, the raven for instance being associated with Othinn and Bran, and the dove with Aphrodite.

Dreams were commonly channels of communication with one’s partner god or goddess, and can still be used as such by anyone attentive to dreams and their figures. They are also effective ways to talk with the dead.

Internal psychological events were regularly regarded by the ancients as links to deity, especially at times of crisis. Thus, when Achilles is about to draw sword in wrath against Agamemnon, Athena restrains him; a moment of sober restraint, putting off retribution till the right moment, was regarded as an epiphany of that goddess, as was saying the right thing at the right time, or being inspired with a winning stratagem. Another example would be the sudden quiet that sometimes descends on a gathering, which caused the Greeks to say “Hermes is in the room,” an expression later changed by the Church to “an angel has passed through the room.”

The myth of a god or goddess is often linked to the calendar, and provides special sacred occasions for worshipping a deity and celebrating his or her exploits. Cernunnos, worshipped by Celtic witches as the year-god, has a myth tied very closely to the change of the seasons, with special celebrations at the winter and summer solstices, when he changes his aspect from the god of the waning to the god of the waxing year, and vice versa. The Greek deities each had a ‘birthday’ celebrated on a particular day of the lunar month; some deities’ births were celebrated on the same day. The festive or sacred occasion is a sort of locus in time. Some deities’ myths, such as that of the sun in Tuscan witchcraft, also involved the worshipper’s view or his or her own destiny. The Tuscan witch expects to reincarnate on Earth until reaching a certain stage of spiritual evolution, at which point he or she will go to the astral world of the sun and there be transformed into a being of light, possessing a ‘stellar’ body. 8

The gifts of a god or goddess generally depend on a certain ongoing discipline on the part of the worshipper who hopes to receive them. No amount of worship and offerings to Aphrodite will win her gifts without attention to personal attractiveness, for instance. And if a pagan is already committed to a certain discipline, finding the appropriate deity to serve as its sponsor is an effective way to integrate him or her into one’s religious life. Thus, as Cernunnos is depicted shamanistically on the Gundestrup cauldron, I have dedicated my own shamanic practices to that god, and thank him whenever I am reminded to do them.

Finally, the occasions for prayer and offerings to one’s chosen deity will depend on the other elements and whether they are all present in one’s life. If one’s god or goddess has a locus like an oak-tree, being by the oak-tree will provide an occasion for devotion. The same is true of a special date in the calendrical myth of that deity. Lacking a spatial locus and at other times than festivals, one may select a time of day appropriate to the bodily or mental occasion to pray. For instance, if the devotee holds communication with the deity through dreams, praying just before going to sleep will be an obvious choice, as will praying when awakening in the morning. Occasions when one or more signs of the deity are evident will also serve, such as sudden windfalls for Hermes or inexplicable moments of panic in the woods around noon for Pan.

In addition to elements pertaining to the object of a personal cult, the attitude or posture of the devotee will enter into the character of the cult as a whole. I myself lack an ecstatic devotional temperament, and my relationship to my personal deity is one of pupil to master. From antiquity, the Hindus have recognized five different attitudes one can take towards one’s personal deity, depending on temperament. These are called ?anta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhur.

?anta, a characteristic attitude among the sages of ancient India, is the serene attitude. It does not involve intense feelings of love, and for that reason is rejected by the more devotional Hindus as genuine; but it might suit many of us nowadays, and in any case is a logical starting-point for anyone choosing a personal god or goddess. For this attitude, it is enough to know (and bear in mind) that the god or goddess is there.

Dasya is the attitude of a servant towards his (or her) master (or mistress). This is an appropriate attitude for someone who feels a need to accomplish some great work or task for the personal deity, such as organizing a coven, and also comes closest to my own attitude of pupil.

Sakhya is the attitude of friendship. One sits before the idol as one sits with a friend, just hanging out. This is also an appropriate view to take nowadays, as we may not feel love for our deity but may come to like him or her, especially over time.

Vatsalya is the attitude of a mother towards her child. It could also apply to a father or other parent figure. It is protective and nurturing, and perhaps entered into cults of the infant Hermes and Zeus, the latter especially in Crete. One can imagine it being the attitude of a pagan towards little idols and fetishes.

Madhur is the attitude a man or woman has for his or her paramour; it is said to contain the other four attitudes. It is not necessarily sexual (that would be hazardous with the Olympians) but is definitely romantic or, in cases of deities of the same sex as the devotee, is like hero- or heroine-worship. This was no doubt the attitude of Hippolytos towards emis, and of Anacharsis towards the Mother of the gods. As we have seen, this last attitude can run into trouble if not kept moderate. 9

I hope these observations prove useful to those who wish to bring one or more deities more fully and intimately into their lives. And one note more: it goes without saying that pagans, being polytheists, will not have time or energy for building cults of devotion to all the gods and demigods in their pantheon. In this matter we do not differ from the pagans of antiquity!

Bibliography:

ATHANASSAKIS, Apostolos N., trans., The Homeric Hymns, Baltimore and London, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

GUPTA, Mahendranath, or ‘M’, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, New York, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1952.

HERODOTUS, The History, trans. By David Grene, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1987.

NIKHILANADA, Swami, trans., The Upanishads, in four volumes. Reference is to Volume 2. New York, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1952.

1 Herodotus, The History 3: 76 – 77, p. 308.

2 Some scholars also believe the kykeion contained hallucinogenic herbs or fungi, at least during initiation into the mysteries at Eleusis.

3 Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 205, p. 7. See bibliography.

4 Japam may be done mentally, or silently with the lips moving, or aloud.

5 The witch likewise will practice chanting spells, such as the cord-spell, perhaps adding an invocation of the Lady.

6 Scholars have noted that ancient Mesopotamians often prayed to deities other than those whose name formed part of their own given name, suggesting that they began in life attending to a family deity and later took up with one they chose themselves.

7 Around 2000 BCE.

8 A similar myth can be found in the Hindu Prasna Upanishad I:9 – 10, pp. 158-9. See Bibliography.

.

9 The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 115.

Friendship with the Gods

May, 2016

I have called this ‘friendship’ with the gods rather than ‘devotion,’ because pagan religion does not require us to fake emotions the way the biblical religions do. As many of us know, Jews and Christians are commanded “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul, and all thy mind, and all thy strength.” Was a more impossible commandment ever given? The pagan gods of nature, unlike Yahweh, “in whom we live, move and have our being,” do not compass us round about. They arise from chaos at the beginning of a world cycle and build a new world out of matter in the chaotic state. “Chaos,” which later biblical theologians have mistranslated as a void, meant in Hebrew (and other ancient languages) a devastation, the world left over from its destruction at the end of the previous cosmic cycle.

So the gods build a new world around themselves and live in it as their cosmic house. They create animals, plants, men, and other beings, of gross and of subtle matter (spirit), to share their habitation with them. This is not creation out of nothing; indeed, the idea of something coming from nothing was at first absent from, and later repugnant to, the ancient mind. In the still largely pagan Genesis, Yahweh creates Adam out of the dust of the ground and breathes into him his breath-soul, in Hebrew his nephesh, made out of subtle or elemental air. Odin, Vili, and Ve create the first man and woman out of an ash and elm tree, respectively, found along the shore of the primeval sea.

Thus the gods are our neighbors, as well as, in a sense, our parents and elder brothers and sisters. They inhabit the cosmic world of time and space with us. They live a very long time, but not forever. They perhaps inhabit a higher dimension as well as ours (there is no reason why our cosmic home should not have more dimensions), but they do not inhabit eternity. They are not transcendent in any absolute sense. They are wise, powerful, and generally benevolent; but they are not all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. They are persons like us, if incomparably older and more sublime and powerful.

This means that if I want to become acquainted with some of the gods, I must put myself forward and greet them respectfully, as if for the first time, for it will be the first time, at least for this incarnation. And the same rules of social intercourse that hold between humans hold between humans and gods. To take an 18th century parallel, it is like a country farmer calling on the local squire for the first time. This gives us a clue to how best to approach the gods.

If you were a country squire and a local farmer approached you for the first time, fell on his face and begged for mercy, how would you feel about it? Chances are you would not like it, and neither do the gods. Though, as we know, a few gods here and there do like it, for they are after slaves rather than friends and neighbors. But let us leave them to their slaves and focus on the pleasant gods of paganism.

The story of the Pharisee’s prayer in the New Testament, contrasting the praying of a Hellenized Jew with the groveling of a more orthodox Jewish publican (tax farmer), is informative for neo-pagans inquiring into the right way to approach the gods. The Pharisee, though a monotheist, has learned the temple etiquette of the Greeks. He stands before the altar in an attitude of self-respect and thanks his god for having made him the way he is. He mentions his alms-giving, his fasting, and his other accomplishments. The gospel account presents him as self-satisfied and vain, but notice that he takes no credit for his virtues but instead thanks his god for having granted them to him. Nearby, the wretched publican (who oppresses the poor as a tax farmer) is groveling in the dirt and imploring mercy from his god. The Pharisee notices him and adds thanks to his god that he did not make him like that; in so doing, he is not blaming the publican but assuming he cannot help himself: Yahweh has made him as he is, and the Pharisee thanks Yahweh for making him a different sort of person.

The European pagans, except when in dire extremity from plague or famine, approached their gods in this manner, for they wished to be friends with their gods above all. They also generally prayed when in a light-hearted mood, and this was no doubt very important the first time they made contact with a deity. You would not wish to be friends with someone who pulled a long face the first time he met you. The idea is not to fake cheerfulness, but to wait until you are light-hearted and cheerful before making first contact with a god; and most of your interactions with a deity should be conducted in the same way. After all, the most common reason for prayer is to thank the gods, and in order to do this sincerely we must feel thankful. They are sensitive to our feelings as well as our words, and if we thank them while feeling depressed or deprived they will know it.

Pick two or three deities to start, not all of them great gods, but on different levels. It is good to start with household deities like the threshold and hearth guardians. Then add in the sun and moon, and possibly the night. Night is a great goddess, akin to chaos and fate, and we should salute her when darkness falls. She is the origin and final destiny of men and gods, and it is good to connect with her. We cannot ask her for favors (she is implacable), but a positive relation to her helps us to accept those things in our lives which are fated.

Make a little altar or two to your new friends, and include incense, a candle, a bowl of water, and possibly a dish of salt and/or grain (afterwards distribute these to plants and animals). Light the candle and then address the deity. The usual tradition is that the deity is not present until the candle is lit; it is like putting through a call on the phone. This is convenient, for you would not like the deity to watch you twenty-four hours a day, and the deity wouldn’t like it, either. They have other things to do. This is a big difference with the biblical god, who watches us like a hawk day and night and never sleeps. The gods sleep, and wake, eat and drink and laugh and make love, just as we do.

If you spend time occasionally with your gods you will get a sense of an ongoing friendship with them. They will become part of your personal history, and you will have a small share in theirs, which is their myth. Please don’t think you have to visit with them every day. Give them a break!

They do not seek to become your all-in-all; they are content to check in with you occasionally. But if you ask them for a favor, you must thank them after it is granted. And here you will receive a pleasant surprise. If you do not lame your prayer by adding the words ‘if it is your will,’ you will often find your request granted, though not always in the way you anticipate. Do not ever say ‘thy will be done’! This is one more example of a back-handed compliment paid by biblical worshippers. Of course the god or goddess will do as he or she wishes; you don’t have to remind them that they have free will! Nor need you reassure them of your friendship and continued loyalty if for some reason they cannot, or will not, grant you your request. These practices contain veiled insults to them.

As you continue in your friendships with gods and demigods (daimones, the local deities of house and field), you may find your friendly feelings blossoming into something like love and devotion. That is all right, but it is best to keep it light in your prayers to them. Don’t embarrass them by professing love, for they know how you feel anyhow (when the candle is lit and you are praying to them) and the gap between god and human cannot be bridged in any case; and to put yourself forward in this way would be presumptuous, to say the least. Be content to be good friends.

If you are a good neighbor to your gods, they will reciprocate.

Book Review: Ariadne’s Thread by Laura Perry

December, 2015

Ariadne’s Thread by Laura Perry

AriadnesThread

The myths of ancient Crete, her people, and their gods twine through our minds like the snakes around the priestess’s arms in those ancient temples. They call to us across the millennia, asking us to remember. In answer to that call, Ariadne’s Thread provides a window into the spirituality, culture and daily life of the Minoan people, and commemorates the richness of a world in which women and men worked and worshiped as equals. In these pages, the glory of Crete once again springs to life; the history, the culture, and most of all, the intense spirituality of these fascinating people and their gods can inspire and transform our modern ways of thinking, worshiping and being. The ruined temples and mansions of ancient Crete may crumble along the coastline of this tiny island, but Ariadne’s thread still leads us into the labyrinth and safely back out again.”

The tagline on the Moon site is The Minoan world comes alive through seasonal rituals and rites of passage, honoring Ariadne and her Labyrinth.” This immediately resonates with me as (as you may know) I am fascinated with the impact ancient culture has on modern people, in ways both large and small.

From the outset I am thrilled by the passion Laura shows for her subject. Clearly the Minoans have inspired her from an early age, and it’s wonderful to see that fascination nurtured and blooming into the magical relationship she describes.

Crete comes alive for me; Laura’s description of the island belies the fact that all this information comes from research rather than first-hand experience. Laura covers all the pertinent studies relating to the Minoans and while presenting all the possible facts, is keen to stress the most likely ones as her picture of how the Minoans lived and the key points in their society. This is an intelligent and open minded approach which sits well with me. As does the focus on the everyday Minoan and not just the priest/priestess; after all, ultimately we are the ‘common folk’, so reaching back through time we may find more links to our ancestors by focusing on everyday life: the mundane as well as the magical.

The magical though does play a huge part in this book. We hear about the Minoan pantheon; some are familiar but certainly for me, there is a great deal to learn and Laura keeps me turning the pages to do just that. I was astonished at the range of gods and goddesses included here! There are also the meanings of symbols, animals and how Minoan ceremony works within the Wheel of the Year. In the ritual work section, she is careful to explain the whys and wherefores of using certain symbols or not; the approach is inclusive with a hefty dose of common sense.

Rarely have I read a book that goes into so much detail about the spirituality and mythology surrounding one particular culture. The explanations of the symbolism of the Labyrinth are surprising and enlightening. Laura also looks at the similarities and differences between Ariadne and her ‘equivalents’ in other cultures, including mainstream religion. This book is truly comprehensive but what is more impressive is that it’s also fascinating and entertaining. If you are interested in ancient culture at all, you will adore this. If not, you would still get a kick out of the beautiful descriptive paragraphs and analytical style.

Ariadne’s Thread is a permanent addition to my ‘regular reads’ library and a triumph in what I consider the most necessary task of Pagan books: making it relevant. The thread Laura spins weaves all the way through time and is never broken. We can follow it either way, each page a new spool to turn.

*****/5

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

November, 2015

Goddesses of Giving Thanks and the Harvest

Festivals of thanks and the harvest have been, and are, celebrated the world over, and have been for hundreds of years. The harvest has always been associated with the Goddess of Earth and Fertility. She is and always will be the Source of all Creation.

Chicomecoatl

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The Aztec Goddess of Maize (corn), she is dressed in flowers, carrying ripened ears of corn and a shield in the form of the sun. She is sometimes shown with a corncob engraved with the words, forgiving strength. She is the Goddess representing the mother aspect of the corn, while Xilonen is the Goddess representing the maiden aspect.

(Photo Credit: museumsyndicate.com)

Demeter

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Demeter was the Greek Goddess of the Harvest, who was the source of the Earths growth. When Persephone, her daughter, disappears and cannot be found, Demeter starts to look for her. As she searches in vain, her energy no longer feeds the earth; plants start to wilt and change color, heralding the first Autumn. When Persephone returned and Demeter reunited with her beloved daughter, Spring returned and the Earth was reborn. She is most often portrayed with sheaves of grain.

(Photo credit: timeless myths.com)

Pomona

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As the Roman agricultural Goddess, Pomona cultivated and protected Her fruit trees and gardens. She was celebrated in a November 1st festival with nuts and fruits. Her sacred grove was known as Pomonal.

(Photo Credit: talesbeyondbelief.com)

Selu/Corn Mother

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Selu and Corn Mother are just two of the many names used by Native Americans to call their Harvest Goddess. Selu is the Cherokee First Woman and Corn Mother. To feed her people, she planted her heart within the Earth, and from this, corn grew.

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The name of Corn Mother is given to the Goddess of the Arikara Tribe. Born of the corn, She was the protector of Her people. As the spirit of the corn, She taught the tribe to farm.

(Photo Credit: angelfire.com) (Photo Credit: redbubble.com)

Ceres

Ceres

This Roman Goddess is the growth of the Earth. She assured that the crops were successful and harvested in abundance. She was often paried with Tellus, as the Earth Herself. Her festival was held in August at the harvest.

(Photo Credit: etsy.com)

Feronia

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This Goddess lived a solitary life in the orchards and fields of Italy. Feronia was a fire Goddess, watching over the fires deep within the Earth that helped the crops to grow and flourish. Her festival was also held in November when the Earths first fruits and plants were most abundant.

(Photo Credit: sacred-texts.com)

May you all be blessed with an abundance of love, joy and happiness during this month of thanks and gratitude.

)O(

Resources:

goddessgift.net

native-languages.org

The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

She Who is all – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

August, 2015

Summer/Sun Goddesses

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Aurora (Greek)/ Eos (Roman)

Her name, which means “light”, is the Goddess of Dawn. She rode her chariot, bringing light across the sky. It is said that She had strong sexual urges, kidnapping men for her own uses. She brought forth hope in every new day, and it is said that Her tears create the dew of the morning.

Hemera

Hemera

A Greek Goddess of the Day. Her mother, the Goddess Nyx, brought darkness each night and each day, Hemera would brighten the world once again with her morning greeting.

Aestas

Aestas

While there is not much known about this Goddess, She stands with Phoebes, the Sun-God. Her name means summer or summer heat and She is depicted standing naked with only wheat sheaves in Her hair. She reminds us to enjoy the abundance and glory of summer.

Aditi

Aditi

The Hindu Goddess and keeper of all light, Aditi illuminates life as we know it. She has no mother and had no birth. She exists for and from all time. It is said that She birthed a large egg, that moved into the sky and became the sun.

Hathor

Hathor

The Egyptian Goddess of the sky, She is still worshipped today. She is the “Mother of the Sun”, and is depicted with a solar disk on Her headdress. Many festivals are held in Her honor, but on New Year’s Day, Her image was brought out of the Temple at Dendera to catch the rays of the newborn sunlight. “She is the body in which the soul resides”.

Aine

Aine

The Sun Goddess of Ireland, Her name means brightness, joy, radiance and glow; She brings us the power of the sun and the abundance of summer. She was honored at mid-summer at the top of Her Hill on Cnoc Aine. It is said that She gave the gift of grain to the people of Ireland. She could assume the shape of a red mare, at will.

Ameratsu

Ameratsu

A Japanese Shinto Goddess, She is honored as the ruler of all other deities. As the guardian of Her people, Her name means,”great shining in heaven”. Her emblem, the rising sun, is on the flag of Japan. She is worshipped at the Shinto Grand Shrine of Ise in Japan.

I wish you all the joy and abundance of summer, and the blessings of each Summer Goddess.

She Who is all – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

July, 2015

Healing Goddesses

 

Like so many others this week, I am saddened and devastated by the recent racist murders in South Carolina, US. In memory and honor of those whose lives were taken and in hopes that this country, and this world can begin to heal the hatreds that tear it apart, this month’s Goddess column will be on just a few of the Healing Goddesses, whom I ask to please look kindly upon us all.

 

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COVENTINA – The British Goddess of springs and wells, she was also a Goddess of abundance and inspiration. Her sacred well, located in Northumberland, is considered a sacred healing site.

 

 

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ANAITA – While there is not much information on her, Anaita was an Italian Goddess of the Oscan tribe, a Goddess of witchcraft and healing. It is said that she is the originator of herbal charms.

 

 

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AKESO – The daughter of Askelpios, the God of Medicine and Epione, the Goddess of Pain Relief, Akeso is the Greek Goddess of healing and curing, which is the meaning of her name. She is also associated with the moon.

 

 

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SULIS (OR SUL) – Another British Goddess of Healing, Sulis oversees the sacred wells and springs, all of which bring healing and blessings. Her most sacred site is the healing hot springs at Bath, where thousands still gather for Her annual Festival.

 

 

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AIRMED – She is of the Tuatha De Danaan, the Irish race of Gods and Goddesses, founded by the Mother Goddess, Danu. Airmed healed those who fell in battle. It is said that the healing herbs of the world fell from her eyes as she wept of her dying brother’s body.

 

 

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AJA – A powerful healer of the Orisha, her name means “wild wind”. It is said that she is the one who taught all of the worlds’ healer.

 

 

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ISIS – The Egyptian Goddess Isis, THE Goddess of Ten Thousand Names; her worship has circled the world. While stories abound of Isis and Her magic, Her powers of healing are foremost in the story of her searching and finding the dismembered pieces of her beloved Osiris’ body, killed and scattered by their brother, Set. She searched the world over to resurrect him.

Another story of Her healing powers, She cured Ra of a snake bite, although truth be told She sent the snake and blackmailed him for the name of his power before She cured him.

May we be healed. May we have peace. May we all be blessed  )O(

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

April, 2015

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Ostara/Eostre

Ostara is the Goddess of Spring and of the Dawn. Her name, which in German, means “movement toward the rising sun”, is also used by some for the Spring Equinox.

Legend has it that Ostara found an injured bird. In order to save its’ life, she transformed it into a rabbit. The transformation was successful in that the rabbit survived, but it was not quite complete, as this rabbit could lay eggs as if it were still a bird. In gratitude, the rabbit would decorate its’ eggs and leave them for the Goddess.

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In Anglo-Saxon, her name is Eostre or Eastre. Her name has lived on in the holiday of Easter, another Spring holiday, which is also about resurrection and rebirth, if not of the Earth, but of hope and renewal. In this way, the Goddess Ostara is celebrated from the Spring Equinox until Easter.

This Goddess is about the returning light and warmth; and the Earths abundance as it is reawakened and reborn. Eggs, rabbits, flowers – all symbols of fertility – all first signs of spring – are sacred to Her.

Ostara’s symbols also became the symbols of Easter, which came much later.

Rituals to Ostara would include seeds, what you wish to grow and sow; planting a garden; coloring eggs and leaving them outside for the animals who are coming out of hibernation; taking a mindful walk, noticing the Earth as she begins to come out of her slumber, breathing in the freshness of the air, listening to the songs of the birds and the buzz of insects, feeling the sunshine.

May you all be blessed by Ostara this Spring!

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MoonOwl Observations

November, 2014

The Goddess Brigit

Brigit is the goddess of communication, fertility and war. She is also responsible for fire, wisdom and protecting the flocks. The ancient Brigit was in one of her three forms the goddess of Smithcraft. She also ruled poetry and inspiration, carrying a cauldron. Her third identity was as a goddess of healing and medicine. She is Celtic and she lives in the garden between two towers of learning. Her sacred animal is the fox, which is the embodiment of alert intelligence. She is also referred to as Bigid, Brigantia and Bridgit and is commonly called ‘the exalted one’ or ‘the bright one’. This triple goddess of the Celtic Irish appeared as Brigantia in England, Bride in Scotland and Brigandu in Celtic France

Her holy day is Imbolc, the important spring holiday celebrating ewes coming in to milk. This is a symbol of rebirth and fertility. Imbolc also is a time when a wife or husband can walk out of their marriage. The Irish said that Brigit brought to humanity a number of useful things, including whistling and keening ( the mournful song of the bereaved Irishwoman)

There are parallels between Brigit and St. Brigid, who blinded herself in order to avoid an arranged marriage and became a nun. She also tended a fire that was said to burn for hundreds of days, just as the goddess was associated with the ritual fires of purification. The ancient worship of the goddess continued at her sacred shrine in kildare, where 19 virgins tended the undying fire and where, on the 20th day of each cycle was tened by Brigit herself.The Christians ‘converted’ the goddess along with her people, calling Brigit the human daughter of a Druid and claiming she was baptized by the great patriarch St. Patrick.

Brigit was the wife of Bres, and she bore him 3 sons, she often appears as an alternative for her mother Anu, which suggests that they were probably different aspects of the same mother goddess. She has inspiring beauty and fiery qualities who was identified with the earth herself and with the soil’s fertility. Not much is left of one of the greatest of all Celtic goddess’, but her brass shoe was one of the most sacred objects that could be imagined, a divinity so intensely related to the feminine force that no man was allowed to pass beyond the hedge surrounding her sanctuary.

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