myth

GoodGod!

August, 2018

Meet the Gods: Dionysos

Merry meet.

This month we get to know Dionysos, the Olympian god of the grape harvest, wine and wine making as well as the god of ritual madness, wild frenzy, festivity and pleasure. He is also called Bacchus.

He was usually accompanied by Satyrs (lustful, drunken woodland deities who were part human and part horse or goat) and Mainades (frenzied female devotees).

The thyrsos (a staff topped with a pinecone), a crown of ivy, fruiting grapevines, a drinking cup and a panther are all associated with him. Frequently represented in ancient art, he was first shown as a mature, bearded adult wearing an ivy wreath and a long robe that was sometimes draped with the skin of a fawn or a feline. In later times, he was depicted as youthful and beardless, effeminate, and partially or entirely nude.As such he is among the most versatile and elusive Greek gods.

According to mythagora.com, Dionysos’ life began with intrigue and disaster. “Zeus was attracted to the lovely princess of Thebes but his appreciation of Thyone did not escape the notice of his sister/wife, Hera. The vengeful goddess dared not interfere overtly with Zeus’s affairs but she was a master of subtlety. When it became obvious that Thyone was pregnant, Hera enchanted Thyone and induced her ask Zeus to come to her in his radiant splendor. Zeus was flattered and revealed himself to Thyone in all his flaming glory … she was utterly consumed by the flames.

Zeus’s son Hermes rescued Thyone’s premature child from the conflagration that consumed Thyone’s mortal body and gave the babe to a woman named Makris, daughter of Aristaios, on the island of Euboia. Makris did what she could to sooth the child but Hera was quick to realize what had happened … she drove Makris from her home. Zeus took the infant from Makris and sewed it into his thigh so that it might have his protection.”

Dionysos later journeys to the underworld, gets his mother and takes “her to Olympus where Zeus transformed into the goddess Thyone,” according to the Theo Greek Mythology website.

When Dionysos and his companions as were traveling through the Land of Thrakian, the king drove them into the sea. “As punishment,” the website states, “the god inflicted him with madness causing him to murder his wife and son and mutilate himself with an axe.

When King Pentheus of Thebes refused to accept Dionysos’ divinity, Dionysos retaliated by driving the king’s daughters into a crazed frenzy and they tore him apart limb from limb, Theo Greek Mythology states.

Another myth shared on the website tells of Dionysos traveling through the Aegean Sea when he was captured by a band of Tyrrhenian pirates who planned to sell him into slavery. “The god infested their ship with phantoms of creeping vines and wild beasts, and in terror the men leapt overboard and were transformed into dolphins.”

Dionysos married princess Ariadne of Krete (Crete) whom he found abandoned by Theseus on an island.


He traveled as far as India, and upon his return to Greece, those who welcomed him adopted his rituals. His followers also wore or carried pinecone-topped staffs, ivy crowns and drinking cups. Dionysos punished those who rejected him with madness or physical afflictions, or he would turn them into animals. Over time, drinking wine became his sacrament, even to the point of drunkenness.

According to N.S. Gill’s article on Thoughtco.com, “Dionysos is a patron of the theater and an agricultural/fertility god. … Writers often contrast Dionysus with his half-brother Apollo. Where Apollo personifies the cerebral aspects of mankind, Dionysus represents the libido and gratification.”

Despite being the creator and god of wine, the ritual madness associated with Dionysus did not involve alcohol or drugs. “Their wild dancing and estate ecstatic behaviour were interpreted as ‘madness’ only by the uninitiated,” according to the Ancient World Project at the University of Michigan.

Greek theater is said to come from the worship of Dionysus in Athens. The Theater of Dionysus held 17,000. Plays were performed honoring Dionysus as god of wine. It’s said that tragedies dramatized his negative and destructive traits while comedies incorporated innocence, humor and his many festivals

When you incorporate wine into your celebrations, rituals, or for cakes and ale, honoring Dionysus can bring fertility and gratification.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:


Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

June, 2018

The Goddess Nu Kua

(Photo Credit – acutonics.com)

Nu Kua is the Creatrix Goddess of Ancient China.

When the heavens and earth were separated, there were no human beings. Nu Kua was bored and lonely and so made the first humans out of clay made from mud from the Yellow River. Her breath and Yin became the first women; Her breath and Yang became the first men. The first of these were fashioned, and molded, with her hands. However, as she found how tedious and time-consuming this was, she began to drop a rope into the river’s clay and to allow droplets to form and to fall from the rope. Hence, those that were molded became the nobles and those who were unmolded became the peasants.

She is said to have the body of a woman from the waist up, and the body of a serpent/snake/dragon from the waist down. There are also myths of her having the body of a Tortoise.

(Photo Credit: goddesses-and-gods.blogspot.com)

 

(Photo Credit: opednews.com)

As the myth goes, the monster, Kung-Kung, during a great battle, flattened the mountains, tore a hole in the sky, and tilted the Earth.

Nu Kua came to restore order. She melted five sacred, colored stones and repaired the sky. She took control of water, enabling the rains to fall when and where necessary and put out fires. She put the seasons in the right order.

(Photo Credit: flickr.com)

She replaced the pillars of heaven with the legs of a great turtle/tortoise so that they would not collapse; Dragons on these pillars guard the path of the sun and the moon.

She corrected problems on Earth by quelling the problems of human chaos, by establishing marriage, ensuring that children would be raised correctly.

After restoring order, Nu Kua retreated to her domain, the sky, wearing a compass to symbolize order.

She has dominion over marital relations and fertility. It is said that she responds to prayers directed toward her.

Nu Kua represents order and its’ restoration, is a calming influence in stressful situations and also helps with a positive attitude after negative events.

*******************************

Order

There is a Way

and I am that Way

the Way of Nature that moves in all things

In the beginning

I created the universal pattern

the Way things are

the Way things flow

the Way things need to be

Then

I sequenced the seasons

harmonized the hillsides

organized the oceans

till all was auspiciously arranged

I am the natural order of things

I am the Way

(From The Goddess Oracle

by Amy Sophia Marashinsky & Hrana Janto)

(Photo Credit: The Goddess Oracle

by Amy Sophia Marashinsky & Hrana Janto)

Goddess Blessings!!

***

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

My Name is Isis: The Egyptian Goddess

The Holy Grail

May, 2018

What is the Grail to you?!

The Grail stands as a beacon of hope and wholeness in the midst of the Wasteland created by modern Western materialism.  The potency of this symbol beckoning us back to living in harmony with both ourselves and the land around us is a myth very much of our time.  It speaks directly to wholeness and connection and reminds us that to bring the Wasteland back to fertility and lush abundance we must return to the Source that nourishes it.

Our modern Society and education systems gives us few really useful tools to take with us on the great journey of Life.  We need knowledge and understandings that we can directly apply to the challenges and traumas we face, that enable us to emerge empowered and strong, not weak and victimised. The Lost Wisdom of the Grail telesummit brings together a wide variety of Wisdom Keepers who are working to help humanity overcome the challenges it currently faces and envision a future where all are valued and flourish.

– Saira Salmon, https://www.sairasalmon.com/

Recently I received an invitation to be one of the speakers on a Telesummit in May 2018, titled The Lost Wisdom of the Grail, (https://www.sairasalmon.com/grail/) hosted by Saira Salmon. She has organised this summit from a strong personal connection to the Grail teachings and Grail mythology.

Saira’s question to me was: “How and where does the concept of the Grail appear in your shamanic work and classes?” This was a very exciting question to engage with!  My immediate response was to request a dream on this subject from my spirit team.


The dream that came was about “the wounded masculine” – linking it to the hurian tale of The Fisher King. In the dream I had to make my way to this wounded male figure (first I could not even see if it was a toddler or grown man). When I got there I realized that he was my father/son/husband/male friends all in one. The dream was asking me to reflect on where I need to heal my inner masculine (born a woman) to arrive at a healthier relationship of masculine and feminine in our world. (The external world is always an expression of our internal world!)

Over the centuries many scholars and mystics have arrived at different definitions of what the Holy Grail is or was. For me personally the crucial question is: what is the Holy Grail to you?!


For me, first and last, the Grail is a CRUCIBLE – a sacred container of transformation and transmutation – the big question is: are we willing to make ourselves a crucible (sacred chalice or Holy Grail)?!

For much of 2016 and 2017 I was working intensely with a mysterious figure who called herself The Poison Mother.  She came to me in Sweden and became one of my key allies over time. I made an art video about our work together by the same name:

The Poison Mother


As our work unfolded she told me that was familiar with her under a different name:  Norse goddess Sigyn (wife of the trickster god Loki). Her big question to me (to all of us!) is: am I willing to make myself a crucible for transmutation in the world? This means rather than avoiding “toxic situations” actually choosing to be there and using myself as a chalice (or Holy Grail) to be an agent of change in service to our collective consciousness evolving.


In ancient Sumeria this sacred marriage (or Hieros Gamos) was the central idea at the heart of their religion.  I just finished an art video exploring this mystery today:

The Sacred Marriage in The Great Below


Another Grail in Norse cosmology is the cup that the Valkyrie holds out to the warrior in the moment of death. She is also known as the “The Maiden with the Mead” and she is a supernatural being (a goddess!) and Mistress of Initiation. (I invite you to check out the work of author Maria Kvilhaug (http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/?page_id=35) who wrote a PhD dissertation on this subject!) This cup is said to hold the mead and her offering accompanies a sacred marriage between the Maiden and the “Hero” of the tale. He faces fierce trials and a descent into the Realm of the Dead to earn this privilege.

It is my belief that profound mystery rites of initiation involving women and feminine power are found at the very heart of Norse cosmology (more commonly perceived as quite a male-god dominated tradition!) The same thing is true for many other cosmologies that map an Other World. The details might be culture-specific but the concept and mystery teachings are very similar.

My personal intention is to call together groups of powerful talented people and harness the group power to retrieve those ancient mysteries and initiations! – If that works speaks to you – please check out my 2-year Seiðmaðr & Seiðkona 2-year program in Sweden (starting Summer 2019):

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=224450


For the Celtic peoples this ritual was about the sacred marriage of the king to the goddess of the land (Sovereignty). Without this marriage the land becomes a barren waste land (and look at what we are doing to the Earth and her creatures – we need to revive this mystery teaching!
This is the core of the shamanic teaching I am doing – putting ancient mystery teachings back into practice in the modern world with modern groups of people working in spirit-led ways, using the process of direct revelation).

When we lose these wisdom traditions our inner world becomes barren. Our external world becomes a wasteland, dominated by conflict, pollution and a lack of respect for all sentient beings. This way of being in the world brings dis-ease and disharmony with the great Web of Life (or Web of Wyrd in Norse cosmology).

Another question Saira put to me was: what is the Grail in terms of spiritual work with young people? In this context for me The Holy Grail is the safe sacred space – container – for young people to develop their own spiritual toolkit in partnership with their spirit allies. In our culture we make sure that children are looked after in the physical/social/emotional realm but often we leave them rudderless when it comes to the spiritual dimension. I obviously wrote a whole book about this (Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life) but to sum it up in just a few words… our children and young people need:

  • A viable spiritual toolkit to help them navigate the challenges life throws at them

  • Safe sacred space with kindred spirits – if their innate psychic /healing/shamanic abilities are to be nurtured

  • Rites of Passage offered by the Elders of our Communities – safe experiences of initiation and stepping through developmental portals in order to become fully-fledged adults who do not fear death.

Therefore The Grail is directly linked to a rich inner life, to sacred space held by elders and wisdom keepers, to a sacred marriage within ourselves but also between the archetypal figures of King and Sovereignty (Goddess of the Land)!


Are you willing to be a crucible for change and transmutation in our world?!

If this material speaks to you: please make sure to register for the Grail Summit and tune in. Expert speakers from all over the world will share their unique take on this material! And this summit is FREE!!

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where Meets Shamanism will be published in December 2018.

Click Image for Amazon Information

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  

(Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

Book Review: The Crane Bag by Joanna van der Hoeven

August, 2017

THE CRANE BAG

By Joanna van der Hoeven

 

I read this slim volume on a two-hour ferry crossing between Dover and Dunkirk!

This morning I woke up (in our house set in the forest in Sweden) to the call of two cranes in the field in front of our house. It seems that today is the day for writing my review of this book. The cranes themselves say so!

This book is not actually about cranes though it does start with a Celtic crane myth. It is really a brief introduction to ritual tools and practices from the Druid tradition. “Held deeply within Celtic mythology, the crane bag is both a symbol of sovereignty, as well as an item containing the ritual tools of the Druid. With proper use, it can further the Druid in working with the tides of nature, finding his or her own place in the environment. Living in balance, harmony and peace” (- From the back cover).

This is a useful book for complete beginners taking their first steps in exploring Druidry. It will help you find out if this tradition is for you or not. If you want to delve deeper there are other books on the market (some by this same author but also by other authors) and if not, there is no harm done as this is a small and affordable book.

The author takes us through all the basics, from “What is ritual?” to why we may choose to carry staff and drum, as well as a bowl, knife, candles and incense in our crane bag. Having described the tools she takes us through the elements of Druid ritual: the Call for Peace, Casting the Circle, honouring the Spirits of Place and Three Worlds, the directions and ancestors and so forth.

I like the way she emphasizes the need to source our equipment in an environmentally conscious and sound way. She points out that a number of items can often be found in charity shops ( recycling is always preferable to using Mother Earth’s precious resources to make new items). She also explains how making tools for others is a sacred art for craftspeople (like drum makers). As a teacher of sacred art I agree completely!

The book opens with the story of how the Crane Bag came to be and introduces the legendary Celtic characters Aoife and Iuchra. It is a sad tale in many ways. She ends by asking: what happened to Iuchra and Ilbhreac (the male hero in this tale) and says that is a tale for another day. I had fully expected her to return to this question in the final chapter and answer it – but she doesn’t. To me this is an opportunity missed. A truly satisfactory story (or book) ties up loose ends, if only on the final page…

Other than that: this makes great summer reading for anyone keen to know a little bit more about Druids and their craft.

 

 

Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, July 2017

 

***

About the author

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in August 2016.  

 

 

She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

 

 

GoodGod!

April, 2017

Meet the Gods: Tricksters

Merry meet.

Given the tradition of April Fool’s jokes, this month’s column is about tricksters – those who play tricks on others, pay no heed to rules or authority, and care not for conventional behavior. They are generally smart or possess knowledge others don’t. They can be playful or harsh – either way, they are disruptive. Some can change their appearance.

Tricksters are often characters in stories and myths originating in many cultures, including Coyote, Raven, Crow, Rabbit, Spider, Bear and Raccoon. They often serve as messengers between the earth plane and other realms.

Some of them, however, are gods.

Loki is one of the most notable. In Norse mythology, he is a shapeshifter, appearing as a falcon and as a mare who gives birth to Odin’s shamanic horse with eight legs, Sleipnir. Originally a friend of the gods, they grew to dislike him and his tricks.

In the Polynesian culture, M?ui’s exploits and trickery are famous – among them, pulling up islands from the ocean floor with his magical fish hook, rising the sky and making the sun shine longer.

Hermes, a god of transitions and boundaries, plays the trickster in some Greek myths. He is cunning, invented lying and is the patron of travelers and thieves. As a child, it’s said he was able to steal cattle from Apollo by putting tree bark on their hooves to disguise their tracks. Hermes moves easily between men and gods, so he is also the one who escorts the souls of the dead to the afterlife.

god

(This image appears in the lid of a wooden box I bought at a tag sale.)

In some Native American cultures, Kokopelli not only represents the spirit of music and dance, as a fertility god, he rules over agriculture and presides over childbirth. The hunched-over flute player is known for his mischief. One story tells of him playing his flute while everyone in the village sang and danced all night; then, in the morning, every maiden was pregnant.

For help shifting your reality, try calling on a trickster god. He can help change the thoughts and words in the story you tell so that you create something that has been eluding you.

Tricksters can be great teachers – one lesson might be that laughter can defuse a tense situation.

And, if you believe it takes a thief to catch a thief, a trickster might make a good ally if someone is stealing from you.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Good God!

February, 2017

GoodGod!

Meet the Gods: Februus

god

(Image by Samantha Sullivan)

Merry meet.

February is named for Februus, the Roman God of Purification. He lived in the underworld and became known as the King of the Underworld, but then his name became so intertwined with Pluto, eventually it became another name for Pluto, the God of the Underworld who judged the dead. (The Greek called him Hades. He is the one who abducted Persephone.)

According Wikipedia, “He was also worshipped under the same name by the Etruscans as the god of purification, and also the underworld. For the Etruscans, Februus was also the god of riches (money/gold) and death, both connected to the underworld in the same natural manner as with the better-known Roman god Pluto.”

Februus was taken from the Sabine people of the Apennines by the Romans who conquered them. In the old Roman religion, Februus meant “purifier.” To get on this god’s good side, they held a festival in his honor, and then named February after him.

One source theorizes that he may have been named in honor of the more ancient Februa, the name of a spring purification festival held on the 15th of the month. It was celebrated with washing and ritual purification. In the Roman calendar, February was the last month of the year as well as the beginning of spring. Thus, the sense of “spring cleaning” emerges with this festival. Februus could be the personification of the festival, Februa, that was marked by sacrifice and atonement, and offerings to the gods.

February would be a good time to invoke Februus as part of your practice.

During the month, might choose to invoke Februus as part of your practice should you decide to purge what you no longer need for your highest good and greatest joy, cleaning out things or thoughts that are cluttering your life. Or, if you were looking for access to the underworld, he could be your key.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

She who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

February, 2017

LIBERTAS

As I write this, it is the day after the presidential inauguration of 2017, and the day of the Women’s March(es) across the country and around the world. Millions of people, the majority of them women, took to the streets to protest what many see as a threat to the personal freedom of many communities, not only in the US, but everywhere around the globe. They see a threat to justice. They see a threat to liberty and freedom. They are afraid, and rightfully so. With this in mind, it seems a perfect time to speak of Libertas.

Libertas was a Roman Goddess; her name is the Latin word of Freedom.

She symbolized independence, freedom from restraint, and personal and societal freedoms. Her Greek name is Eleutheria. She was, and is, the personification of Liberty and Freedom.

Goddess1

(Photo Credit: insightfulvision.com)

She is depicted wearing a long, flowing gown and holding a rod, called a vindicta, and a cap, called a pilleus, which were two of Her symbols. She sometimes is shown wearing a crown of laurel leaves and with a cat at Her feet.

The reason behind Her symbols was that, within Roman society, when a slave was given his freedom, her/his head was shaved, they were tapped with the vindicta, and given a pilleus. Appropriately enough, She was honored and worshipped by all freed women and men.

Her first temple, located on Aventine HIll was ordered by the Tribune, Tiberius Gracchas and was dedicated in 238 BCE. There is smaller shrine to her located at Cicero’s home on Palantine HIll, and there is a small statue of her inside the Roman Forum. Many Roman coins and seals of the time bear Her image.

Libertas’ likeness was used many times and in many places around the world to symbolize Liberty and Freedom.

Columbia was used as a poetic name for the United States and was one of the names of its’ female personification. She became a symbol in the 1700’s when Paul Revere created an obelisk using Her image to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act. It is believed that the name, Columbia, originated from Christopher Columbus. It is from Her that the name District of Columbia was born.

Goddess2

(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

In France, She became Marianne, standing for reason and liberty, and a symbol of the French Revolution in the 1780’s-90’s. The Great Seal of France bears Her likeness.

Goddess3

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

It was this Great Seal of France that became the inspiration for Frederic Bartholdi, when he designed and built the Statue of Liberty, the most visual and the most famous of all depictions of Libertas, because make no mistake, the Statue of Liberty *IS* the Goddess Libertas.

Even though She was a gift from France to the US, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom, liberty and justice to the entire world. Her original name was “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

This Libertas statue wears a crown of seven solar rays, which represent the seven continents and the seven seas. This crown is similar to that of Ishtar, the Babylonian Goddess, who crown was ringed with 8 stars. She holds the Flame of Freedom, or the Torch of Enlightenment in Her right hand. Her gown is remarkably similar to the original Roman Libertas. Her feet are surrounded by broken chains to symbolize Freedom.

Goddess4

(Photo Credit: everymanempire.com)

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886. The era’s suffragettes, in a boat riding around Liberty island, proclaimed Her their symbol in their demand for the right to vote.

As a symbol of light and liberty, of freedom from tyrants and any tyranny, Her likeness abounds — on state flags, on the state seals of Virginia and New Jersey, on stamps, on both coins and paper money. She stands upon the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. When students demonstrated in Beijing, China in 1989, the Statue of Liberty as Libertas, became the Goddess of Democracy.

Many Pagans, Wiccans and Witches, invoke Libertas, in her guise as the Statue of Liberty, in their personal rituals for freedom and liberation from any form of tyranny.

Circle Sanctuary (circlesanctuary.org), located in Wisconsin, is a well-known Pagan church and community, which offers workshops, rituals, gatherings and more. Their religious freedom network is called “The Lady Liberty League”, and has done much for freedom of religion for all Pagans.

The Festival of Libertas is celebrated on April 13th, and, of course, the Statue of Liberty is celebrated on July 4th. Both of these are set aside to honor Her.

Goddess5

(Photo Credit: evilyoshida.com)

One way to honor Her is to stand up for personal freedoms, your own and others’; work against injustice, wherever you find it; fight for what you believe in, in whatever way you can, such as protesting, marching, writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Carry that work into the rest of the year, for liberty and freedom is hard won, but easily lost.

In personal work, place Her likeness on your altar as either Libertas, or in Her guise as the Statue of Liberty. You may ask for Her help in liberation from an addiction, from a hated job, from an unhealthy relationship, in whatever you personally feel that you need freedom from.

May we all continue to have the Liberty, Freedom and Justice that we hold so dear and is so important in a democracy.

GoodGod!

January, 2017

GoodGod!

Meet the Gods: Janus

goodgod

(Image by Samantha Sullivan)

Merry meet.

January is named for Janus, the Roman God of Gates and Doors. His name comes from the Latin word ianua, which means door. Gates and doors divide two places. Going through them, you leave one space and enter another. That makes it fitting that Janus presides over New Years Day, when we close the door on one year and open the door to another.

The god Saturn bestowed upon Janus the ability to see into the future as well as the past, thus it is appropriate that he is depicted as having two faces one looking behind looking at what has happened and one looking forward to see what will happen in the future. While the term “two-faced” is meant to be derogatory, there is great wisdom in being able to see both directions simultaneously.

Originally, one of Janusfaces was bearded and the other was clean-shaven, perhaps to indicate youth and maturity, but as time passed, he was most often depicted with a beard on each face. The faces are not always identical. Sometimes he holds a key in his right hand.

He is the guardian of entrances and exits, and as such, the Romans considered him the God of Beginnings. Originally, he was honored on the first day of every month, in addition to being worshipped at the beginning of the planting season, and again at the beginning of the harvest season. Respect was also paid to him at times of birth and marriage. As the god, too, of bridges and passageways, which also symbolize beginnings and ends, Janus represents transition, such as the time between youth and adulthood. Romans prayed to him for advice, especially in respect to new enterprises. He can also be turned to when choices need to be made. One source mentioned his role as the porter of heaven.

While there were no temples built in his name, there was an arched passageway with massive gates that could be closed (but rarely were, because the Romans were always engaged in war, and it was believed Janus left through the gates with the army to preside over its welfare). All the gates of cities were dedicated to him.

Knowing this, you may turn to him on wisdom as you ponder 2016 and look ahead to 2017; you might dedicate your front door or the door to your sacred space to him; or call upon him in times of beginnings.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

January, 2017

ACHLYS

Achlys (pronounced Akh-Loos) is the name, and personification, of Eternal Night.

goddess

(Photo: Pinterest)

She is also known as Mist of Death, which is another meaning of Her name. It describes the mist that fell before one’s eyes before dying. As such, Her likeness was borne upon the Shield of Hercules.

She is a pale, thin Goddess with long sharp fingernails, which she will use as claws, which in turn explains Her bloody cheeks. Her teeth are as fangs. She is covered in dust, as She roams the world. Her incessant crying gives her the name of the Goddess of Misery and Sadness.

One of Her myths is that She is the only being to precede Chaos, and that the entire world came from her. This makes Her a primordial, creative being, akin to Shakti, in the Hindu world.

goddess

(Photo: ninecircles.co)

She is the Mistress of Poisons, who could create poisonous flowers by just summoning them, and not a few of Her potions could turn humans into animals.

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 143 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic 5th century AD):

“[Hera spies the nurses of the infant god Dionysos:] Hera, who turns her all-seeing eye to every place, saw from on high the everchanging shape of Lyaios [Dionysos], and knew all. Then she was angry with the guardians of Bromios. She procured from Thessalian Akhlys (Achlys, Death-Mist) treacherous flowers of the field, and shed a sleep of enchantment over their heads; she distilled poisoned drugs over their hair, she smeared a subtle magical ointment over their faces ,and changed their earlier human shape. Then they took the form of a creature with long ears, and a horse’s tail sticking out straight from the loins and flogging the flanks of its shaggy-crested owner; from the temples cow’s horns sprouted out, their eyes widened under the horned forehead, the hair ran across their heads in tuft, long white teeth grew out of their jaws, a strange kind of mane grew of itself, covering their necks with rough hair, and ran down from the loins to feet underneath.”

(Wikepedia)

Goddess myths don’t always make sense. As we know, Goddess stories and myths from around the worlds can become confused; names are similar, some Goddesses become combined with other Goddesses. It is no different here.

To contradict the origin myth of Achlys, it is also said she that she was one of the Keres/Ceres, the female death spirits, who were the daughters of Nyx, whose name means “night”, similar to Achlys’ Eternal Night.

The Keres’ names were Moros, meaning *Doom*, Ker meaning *Violent Death*, Hypnos meaning *Sleep* and Theoneiroi meaning *Dreams*. The description of the Keres being dark and mysterious beings with sharp teeth and claws, wearing bloody garments is similar enough to that of Achyls to let you think that She was one of their number. The Keres hovered over battlefields searching for wounded and dying men, as they relished the violent and cruel deaths that battle and murder wrought. Perhaps Achylis joined them, dropping the Mist of Death before the eyes of these men, before the Keres would take their bodies and souls.

goddess

(Photo: Pinterest)

As this quote shows, it is believed, too, that the Keres were released into the world by the opening of Pandora’s box; this would have included Achylis:

Hesiod, Works and Days 90 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :

“For ere this [the opening of Pandora’s jar] the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills (kakoi) and hard toil (ponoi) and heavy sickness (nosoi) which bring the Keres (Fates) upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly. But the woman took off the great lid of the jar (pithos) with her hands and scattered all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Elpis (Hope) remained there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the great jar, and did not fly out at the door; for ere that, the lid of the jar stopped her, by the will of Aigis-holding Zeus who gathers the clouds. But the rest, countless plagues (lugra), wander amongst men; for earth is full of evils and the sea is full. Of themselves diseases (nosoi) come upon men continually by day and by night, bringing mischief to mortals silently; for wise Zeus took away speech from them. So is there no way to escape the will of Zeus.”

(Theoi.com)

goddess

(Photo: paleothea.com by Hein Lass)

Whatever Her true myth and origins, there is no doubt that Achlys is one of the many Dark Goddesses. While we may wish to turn our head, the wise know that without the Dark, there is no Light; without Death, there is no Life.

GoodGod!

December, 2016

GoodGod!

Meet the Gods: The Horned God

goodgod

(PHOTO: Holly King

The Holly King by Raven Willowhawk)

Merry meet.

The Horned God roams the forests – wild, loving and protecting the Goddess and her children. He is the oldest of the Gods and perhaps the most common depiction of masculine divinity. Many pagans believe that the Horned God is the Lord of Death, ruling the underworld or Summerland, and is therefore the one to comfort and console the dead as they await rebirth.

Since ancient times, the Horned God has been associated with fertility, the forest, the field and the hunt. He is known by such names as Cernunnos, Pan, Herne, Dionysus and the God of the Wicca.

In some pagan traditions, the Horned God is seen as being comprised of the Oak King and the Holly King – twins, each who reigns for half the year, looses the battle between them and retreats for the next six months to nurse his wounds, reflect and gather his strength.

At the Winter Solstice (Yule), the Oak King conquers the Holly King, reigning until the sun is at its fullest on Summer Solstice (Litha). At that time, the Holly King returns to battle with the now old Oak King, defeating him, and ruling over the half of the year going into darkness. The Holly King represents death and darkness that have ruled since Samhain. It’s a time of reflection, or recognizing lessons, and the chance for rebirth. The Horned God is born as the baby Oak King, bringing a promise of new life. The traditional Yule log – which is made from oak from the previous year and adorned with evergreens symbolic of the Holly King – is burned to symbolize the birth of both the son and the sun.

As the wheel turns, the dueling repeats.

In some traditions, the exchange of power occurs on the equinoxes with their most potent points aligning with the solstices.

On Imbolc, the Horned God is said to lead a wild hunt

Both kings are portrayed as forest creatures, with the Holly King often looking like a woodsy Saint Nicholas, sometimes driving a team of eight stags. One of my favorite depictions of the Holly King was done by Raven Willowhawk. The Oak King is seen as the King of the Forest, often similar in appearance as the Green Man. Each exists as part of the horned God, so both have horns or antlers.

In my practice, I honor the role of both the Holly King and the Oak King at both the Summer and Winter Solstices, each taking turns symbolizing death and rebirth. I have both holly and oak leaves or acorns on my altar.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

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