world

Gael Song

December, 2018

Midwinter and Christmas Spirit Magic

 

(Image from http://visitstonehenge.com/)

As nearly everyone knows, light seeds of what will manifest during the coming year, are sent by the spirit world down hur’s sword of light to the base of everyone’s spine on Midwinter dawn. I can usually feel a sizzling at the base of my spine that day, when I first step out of my little cottage into the daylight. But there’s much more that follows after, which no one at all seems to recognize. As a light healer, reading energies, it’s easy for me to see these. And so, this month, I want to write about what I’ve observed over many years. Those hurian light seeds of the year ahead settle down into the energetic soil of everyone’s womb (both men and women have inner female and male structures inside in light), where they remain for three days, while the Goddess decides the exact form and timing the new impulses of light will take over the year to come. The dark cosmic sea, keeper of all things unborn, floods every person’s abdomen as well. One could call it the unconscious, for it is.

Always, there’s one central thrust of growth for each person over the year to come, growth that will involve facing specific fears or outer challenges meant to build a brand new part of the self within. This new gift or talent is always divine, a small piece of each person’s self-of-light or highest destiny that will eventually emerge during everyone’s final lifetime on earth. This divine self was seeded into us at the very moment of our creation into light, long, long, ago, on the Creator Sun, the highest light structure in the seventh heaven, so say my druid guides. You could think of this new self-of-light that grows into fulness each year as each person’s own divine child of that cycle, too. That’s how my guides speak of it, anyway. Our own divine qualities always reflect the Creators, too, the White Tara and Oghama, Goddess and God.

So, after three days in the cosmic sea, the first structures of the year’s divine child emerge from everyone’s abdominal unconscious and move into each person’s high heart or thymus. The thymus is the inner child heart, where our divine children anchor in most strongly. This happens on Christmas dawn. This child within looks like an infant-of-light, and I find this time most magical, for I can always feel the soft loving-kindness essence of the divine children filling my spirit on that morning. Even amid the bustle of cooking for visiting relatives, I try to find a few moments of quiet to sense what this impulse of growth for the year ahead may bring for me. And this divine infant is one of twelve parts of our inner spirits that everyone has, all twelve with specific vibrations, regencies of the spirit, and directives in life. You could call these twelve parts of everyone’s spirit their personality, too. These twelve parts of our inner spirits exactly match the twelve gods and goddesses of the Creator Sun as well.

And always this emergence of the divine child inside everyone releases a bright beam of hope, a ray of clear diamond light. It will see that, during this first druid moon of the year, the Birch moon, some memory or long-cherished desire will be brought to each person’s attention. This is the first hint of what will manifest for each of us at the end of the coming year, something we’ve long wished for. And this promise of fulfillment stirs up desire from our depths to face and heal whatever fears may be in its way, so this dream will definitely come to be at the end of the year.

Over the year ahead then, this impulse get fleshed out as we push against the thorns and briars in our paths. On Imbolc, the little girl part of each person’s spirit emerges from this abdominal sea. On the Vernal Equinox, the toddler boy emerges. Then the feminine virgin on Bealtaine, the masculine virgin at Midsummer. The inner god and goddess are active during the Oak (May/June) and Apple (July/August) moons, not the solstice/equinox/cross-quarter-day festivals. The inner mother part of our spirits arises at Lughnasa, the inner father at the Autumnal Equinox, the feminine grandmother at Samhein, and finally, the inner grandfather at Midwinter. This is when our new divine part of self is finally complete, fully born into all twelve parts of our inner selves-of-light. It’s the realization of our sweet dream of the year before.

May your own divine child for the year to come be utterly miraculous, bringing an end to want, perhaps, a special destiny, a love like no other. I always hope for the beginning of real peace, unity between peoples, an end to war and privation in the places of most intense global suffering. But these are dreams that will take us all to achieve. For now, it’s enough to feel that sword of light and let it lead you all year long. Let’s walk this road together into the awakening of everyone’s divinity, all of us a shining star in our own personal areas of endeavor. May this season of magic be the very best you’ve ever had!

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About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to hurian Fulfillment on Amazon

Tarot Talk

November, 2018

Four of Coins

(The Four of Coins card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Pentacles, and remind ourselves of what happens when we have begun to find success within the physical world.

The Four of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Pentacles. As we have already discovered, these two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation. We have other useful things to consider, too, such as symbolism, astrology, and more.

The traditional image of the Four of Pentacles is of a well-dressed person wearing a crown and sitting on a throne, with a pentacle under each foot, a pentacle above the crown, and a pentacle held firmly with both arms. Behind the seated person is the skyline of what appears to be a well-organized and prosperous city; above is a blue and cloud-free sky. Most versions of the Four of Pentacles are similar: four Pentacles being guarded, although there is no indication exactly what they are being guarded from.

The suit of Pentacles (or Coins, Stones or Disks) corresponds with the element of Earth, and of the physical body, physical manifestation, and wealth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins or disks on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards as well as trees, flowers and green, verdant growth, all of which will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Earth itself.

In its natural state, Earth is cool and dry, and it binds or shapes the other elements. Earth is of the physical or physically formed or manifested world, and of nurturing, health, finances and security, and the wisdom associated with living simply and being well-grounded. Earth is the element of form and substance; it is connected to material world security (and even wealth), and to our physical bodies and physical senses, and the pleasures and pains they bring. Earth represents the nurturing and serene side of Nature, and it represents the tangible end result of our labors. Earth is about security and stillness, and knowing what to expect; it is about strength, discipline, and physical manifestation of all kinds, and about enjoying the fruits of our labors. Earthy energies are fertile, practical, and slow to change.

You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Earth to our daily lives, our physical bodies, our careers and our finances, our families, and the natural world around us. These things are all the main correspondences of the element of Earth, the suit of Pentacles, and of course, our Four of Pentacles.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, or suspicious of or averse to change.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience abundance, good luck and comfort (the Ace of Pentacles), the power to deal with change in a balanced and beneficial manner (the Two of Pentacles), and the ability to practice our skills with talent, dedication and a focus on details (the Three of Pentacles). The Four of Pentacles offers a glimpse of the success that comes with a long-term application of luck, skill and dedication, and an awareness of just how much we have to lose once that success begins to manifest.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Pentacles offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Pentacles represents our Sun when it is in the astrological sign of Capricorn.

In astrology, The Sun corresponds with our sun, the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve. The sun provides our Earth with the heat and light necessary for life as we know it. The arc that the sun travels in every year, rising and setting in a slightly different place each day, is a reflection of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, which is particularly applicable with our Four of Pentacles and the astrological sign of Capricorn (an Earth sign). The sun is thought to represent the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health and vitality, or simply the “life force.” In Chinese astrology, the sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle. In Indian astrology, the sun is called Surya and represents the soul, ego, vitality kingship, highly placed persons, government and the archetype of The Father.

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a Cardinal Earth sign ruled by Saturn. Capricorn people are stable, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. They are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals. The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality, the voice of reason in a chaotic world. A Capricorn person may seem unfriendly, but remember the image of this astrological sign has a fish’s tail. The emotions are there, just hidden within that inhibited exterior. As far as material wealth is concerned, Capricorn approaches finances with prudence, planning, and discipline, and thus, there are not many Capricorns who are lacking in physical-world resources.

If the Sun is about the Self, and Capricorn, an Earth sign ruled by Saturn, is about resources and reality, then when our Sun is in Capricorn, there can be a strong focus to deal with and master the more tangible aspects of life and living. We are talking about ambition here, but also responsibility. These energies are not about going forth into the unknown, but rather they are about working hard and making the most out of the resources at hand, solving challenges through focus and endurance. The Sun in Capricorn is about being admired for accomplishments, as well as dependability, creativity, discipline and a sense of humor.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

In The Naked Tarot (the awesome book I reviewed this month; check it out!), the Four of Coins is described as someone who is poor-minded rather than someone who is actually deprived, a perfect description of the personality of this card. Janet Boyer’s description of the Four of Coins as actually about withholding and stockpiling to the point of being paralyzed by what we have accumulated, is spot-on. The personifications of King Midas and Ebenezer Scrooge fit well with the message of the Four of Coins, as does the health issue of constipation.

The Wild Unknown Four of Pentacles shows four Pentacles, each connected to the others by belts or straps. We can almost hear the hum of those belts as they turn, creating lots of energy but only allowing each Pentacle to turn in one direction, in only certain ways. The image shows the benefits of the energy of this card, as well as the restrictive nature of the devices which not allow things to grow or evolve in new ways. This card is about valuing the things we have right now and protecting them to the point that they are stifled. Keeping things as they are, holding tightly to those possessions we value, prevents us from using them to create new things. But the support offered by structure and a strong foundation can just as easily grow into a prison.

The image on the Thoth Tarot Four of Disks, called “Power,” looks like a fortress with four square watchtowers, surrounded by a moat that can only be crossed at one place. The Four of Disks represents assured material gain in the form of dominion, rank, and earthly power that have been obtained but are leading to no further growth. After all, a fortress offers useful protection but if our enemies surround us with strength and focus of their own, a siege becomes a long and painful process.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Pentacles shows the traditional image for this card, and tells of a need to focus on growth opportunities closer to home, and of acquiring new possessions and guarding them, maybe to the point of over identifying with them. The card hints at a tendency to parade our wealth in front of others and warns of the danger of ostentation.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Coins shows a man dressed in a manner that indicates material wealth and success achieved through effort. Despite his outward appearance of power and security, the man grasps four golden coins to his chest in a very insecure way, and looks at us out of the side of his eyes as if saying “these are not the Coins you are looking for; move on!” Saving for a rainy day is a prudent thing to do, however the fear of losing our physical possessions can easily overcome our ability to enjoy them.

The message here is pretty clear: yes, managing our resources in order to make certain that our physical-world needs are seen to is smart. The ability to provide for oneself takes training, effort and perseverance, but constantly questioning ourselves as to whether or not we have enough ends up blinding us to the true pleasure of personal satisfaction and comfort, and the joy of sharing our own bounty with our loved-ones. These kinds of connections are valuable too, and they are also necessary for our sense of worth and our joy of living.

This process of holding tightly is well and good for a little bit; it allows us to gather ourselves in order to take the next leap. However, realizing that eventually the process of holding tightly will begin to prevent the very leap for which we are preparing is a necessary realization for that leap to actually happen.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

The Gilded Tarot Deck on Amazon

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Sacred Place, Sacred Space – Book Review of “Spiritual Places” By Sarah Baxter

October, 2018

Book Review of “Spiritual Places” By Sarah Baxter

As someone who loves to read and write about the sacred places across America and the world, this book is an absolute gem!

The book encompasses the world, from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypy to Mount Olympus in Greece, from the Isle of Iona and Avebury in the United Kingdom to Shwedagon Paya in Myanmar.

Some are specific places in these different countries, but others, like Kyoto and The Ganges, are termed spiritual in their entirety.

Each individual sacred place is given it’s own section. The writing is beautiful, and vivid, as in this opening paragraph from the section on the “Isle of Iona”:

“It’s just the spot to commune with the heavens.

Gazing westwards of this tiny isle – a flimsy drop

of green in a gust-frenzied sea – you might believe

there’s nothing else in the world. Nature is all

encompassing and elemental: silvery sands,

swelling surf, a scatter of rocks and skerries

disappearing to an infinite horizon.”

I can almost see the island, feel the droplets from the sea on my face, smell it in the air.

This is how Ms. Baxter writes. The individual sections describe the beauty and sacredness of each, explaining the history and the landscape, with details such as how you enter, what your surroundings are.

Places such as Mount Olympus give the early history of the Gods, before describing what such a place looks and feels like.

The illustrations by Harry and Zanna Goldhawk are charming and delightful, a perfect complement to Ms. Baxter’s writings.

The top of the cover has the words “Inspired Traveller’s Guide”. This book is definitely inspiring and will whisk you away to spiritual places the world over, and maybe help you decide your next vacation.

Spiritual Places (Inspired Traveller’s Guides)

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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

My Name is Isis (Volume 4)

Goddess in the Flesh

August, 2018

It is almost impossible to meet every beauty standard. It is almost impossible for the beauty, diet and medical industries to “approve” of your body, skin, hair and eyes. In a world that deliberately shifts the “should’s” and shames that attacks and blames, loving yourself is an act of rebellion.

What is reviled in one country is celebrated in another. From skinny shaming to fat-hating what stays the same is the entitlement of male-gaze, the disgust and ownership of the female form. The idea that women are objects for public consumption is at the root of both modesty and pornography.

My mum was a fat hater and a fat-shamer. So was my dad. This meant that while I was “not pretty” I had the good grace to be thin and clever. I prized this things because both came easily to me. I can’t tell if I was an exercise addict, someone who coped with anxiety through exercise, or just very active. I would roll at of bed at dawn and do 30 sit-ups, until about the age of 17. Exercise makes me feel good, helps me focus and is something I really enjoy, though I can’t do much, if any, these days. I didn’t diet, far from it I ate a huge amount, but as a dancer I knew plenty of girls who ate tissue to not be hungry. Girls who didn’t eat for half of the school week to be “thin enough” to go out on a Friday. Fat was a mystery to me. A softness I was scared of. Still find frightening on occasion.

Fat was “weakness” and was far too vulnerable to the rough grabbing hands. No I wanted to be hard, strong and never weak. Of course I hated myself plenty. My wonky nose, crocked teeth, my ginger curly hair. Once I stopped dancing I grew breasts quickly. They came as something of a shock to me. I went from a B to a D cup in a very short time and they had their perks I was sort of mystified by this fleshier body.

As I got older, and then had children my weight was the first thing my mum would comment about.

You look fat, and not the jolly kind.”

Oh you lost weight, your face looks better.”

You are thin enough now, much skinnier you’ll look ill.”

Of course my mum was a much better feminist than I was because I had “given myself over to the yoke of motherhood” instead of doing something “more important”. My feminism was “too soft” and far too feminine and far too fat for her.

I have been all different sizes, shapes and tones and while I was more desired by men when I was thinner and more toned I have rarely been happy with myself. Rarely felt self-love or safety in my skin. I fear the toxic seep of this self-loathing for my daughter. I wonder what seeds I have sown accidentally. I have been working on loving myself for years and sometimes I feel I get there.

So how do we create real change? How do we dismantle huge industries that promote self-loathing as self-care? How do we dare to be soft when it hurts so much? How do we find our strength in body, spirit and mind? I think we must make Goddess figurines. Thousands of them, millions. Ones that are like us, as we are, not as we wish to be. Some with huge voluptuous breasts or none to speak of. Some with long legs, or no legs. With curly coils, or no hair. With lines and scars. With powerful thighs and big arses. So that we know our flesh is powerful and beautiful and important. That we are worthy, fat, scarred, skinny and all. For in reclaiming our image as beautiful, as sacred art maybe we will love ourselves just a little bit more.

Goddesses of Sorcery

April, 2014

The Goddess Can Change the World

Recently I participated in the International Women’s week at Vanier College in Montreal. My talk was called “The Goddess Returns” and I spoke about a very important issue: how Goddess spirituality can decrease violence against women by empowering women.

My talk was held in a large classroom with fifty-plus young people expectantly waiting to see a Witch (maybe with a big pointy hat and black cat!) arrive to tell them about the Goddess.  I did not bring the hat and the cat but I did bring a lot of thought-provoking ideas! I started the talk by asking the students to imagine what God might look like. Then I talked about the different ways that God is perceived in the different main stream religions. I would like to share some of my talk with you.

The Goddess Returns

    When most people think of God, they think of a masculine figure or energy. They use the pronoun ‘he’. If you are a Christian or Jew and believe the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, you may read that man is made in God’s image. The King James Bible says in Genesis: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  Most people forget the last bit: male AND female…..So what the bible alludes to the idea that God is both male and female. But Christians and Jews still think of God as “he”.

Islam teaches that no one is like Allah.  Quran verse 42:11 says that: Allah is the creator of the heavens and the earth and there is nothing like him. But they still refer to Allah as ‘he’. Some Muslims say that Allah is the same God that is worshipped by Abraham.

Buddhism does not believe in God in the same way, they believe in Buddha. Being human, the Buddha had a human body like any ordinary person. There is also nothing in the teachings of the Buddha that suggest how to find God or worship the god’s of India, (where he came from) although the Buddha himself was a theist (believed in gods), his teachings are non-theistic.

The Buddha was more concerned with the human condition: Birth, Sickness, Old age, and Death. The Buddhist path is about coming to a place of acceptance with these painful aspects of life, and not suffering through them.

The Buddha is not thought of as a god in Buddhism and is not prayed to. He is looked up to and respected as a great teacher.  He was a human being who found his perfection in Nirvana. Because of his Nirvana, the Buddha was perfectly moral, perfectly ethical, and ended his suffering forever.

Does that mean that every Buddhist in the world is an atheist?

No! A lot of Buddhists believe in God, a lot of Buddhists don’t believe in God… And a lot of Buddhists just don’t know. All three points of view are OK if you’re Buddhist because the end of suffering is more important than God in Buddhism. (1)  

Hinduism believes in one universal soul called Brahman that manifests into the world as many forms, mainly Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, a triad of Gods. Goddesses can also be manifestations of Brahman.

    Wicca has a different view point and emphasis than Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Wicca is a spiritually that comes from the British Isles and while it is a modern religion, has its roots in antiquity. So Wicca as we know it today all started in the 1950’s when a man called Gerald Gardner decided that Witchcraft should be brought out of the broom closet! Since then Wicca has become the fastest growing religion in North America today. I think one of the reasons is because the people of the world are ready to re-connect with the Divine Feminine, their Divine Mother, the Goddess.

The thread that runs through every Wiccan Tradition is the belief that God/Goddess is immanent: present within nature. Judeo-Abrahamic Religions believe God is transcendental (outside creation), Taoist religions (ex. Buddhism and Hinduism) believe that the world is “maya” (an illusion), but Wiccans believe that God/dess is immanent and the world is sacred. This means that we believe all life is Sacred including plants, animals, the planet and YOU!

The Students Meet the Goddess

    At this point in my talk I had the students close their eyes and relax. I invited the Goddess to enter the room and I felt her calming and gentle presence! The energy in the room had changed! I asked them to return to the picture of God they had imagined at the beginning of the talk and then to imagine a beautiful woman glowing with light standing beside the God image. Then I asked them to imagine this Divine Lady stepping forward and coming beside them, then to feel her putting her arm around them and holding them. I was surprised to see the deep peace and happiness on their faces!

    Sharing their experiences some of the students were shocked that they actually felt a warm arm around them. Some saw the God and Goddess as their parents. One boy said that his Goddess didn’t have a head! I think this is very significant because it shows how our modern society has removed the face of the goddess from our lives. It was a wonderful experience for me as a speaker and for the group.

Next I talked about the impact of Goddess Spirituality on the world.

What would happen if you believed that God was female?

If when I said the word God you not only saw a male figure but you saw the Great Mother standing beside Him how would that change you? If you as a woman realized that not only are you sacred but that you were actually made in the image of the Goddess would you feel empowered?

An empowered woman is not afraid to stand up for her rights. She is confident and strong. She raises her sons and daughters to respect others, because she does not have to prove to others that she is strong, she knows she is. If women were empowered perhaps the violence and inequality against women would change.

I would like to propose that Goddess spirituality empowers women and that the boys raised by empowered women grow up to be men who see women as equals and treat them with respect. This theory is backed up by many feminist studies and scholars. Since Wicca is the only religion in the world where the Goddess is seen as the main Deity, perhaps this is why it is growing so quickly, as people react against the gulf between genders.

Violence against women

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states that “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women” and that “violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men“.

In North America, specifically in our beautiful city of Montreal, the inequality against women is not as evident as it may be in other countries. However all over the globe, violence and discrimination against women and girls violates their human rights and severely compromises young people’s sexual and reproductive health. Harmful practices, including female genital cutting/mutilation, femicide, gender-based violence, and early marriage, damage girls’ physical being and self-worth by reinforcing gender-based marginalization and inequality. Gender inequalities and biases pervade cultures worldwide, preventing women and girls from fully realizing their rights to reproductive health and equality. Even here one in four women has experienced violence related to sex and gender!

    Here are some very frightening statistics about violence against women. How can we change this? The only way is to change society from within each home and within each heart. Goddess spirituality and empowered women can do this! Let the Goddess return to the world!

Discrimination against women and girls often begins at conception, especially in parts of India and South Asia.

  • In parts of India and South Asia, there is a strong preference for having sons. Girls can be perceived as a financial burden for the family due to small income contributions and costly dowry demands.

  • In India, pre-natal sex selection and infanticide accounted for the pre-natal termination and death of half a million girls per year over the last 20 years.1

  • In the Republic of Korea, 30 percent of pregnancies identified as female fetuses were terminated. Contrastingly, over 90 percent of pregnancies identified as male fetuses resulted in normal birth.

  • According to China’s 2000 census, the ratio of newborn girls to boys was 100:119. The biological standard is 100:103.


The rate of femicide (murder of women and girls) has significantly escalated over the last few years. 

  • In Mexico, the high murder and disappearance rate of young women in Ciudad Juarez has received international attention for the last ten years, with an alarming recent resurgence.

  • In Guatemala, the number of femicides has risen steadily from 303 in 2001 to 722 in 2007, with the majority of the victims between ages 16 and 30. A U.N. report found that femicides are inadequately investigated in Guatemala.

  • Throughout the region, inadequate record-keeping around domestic violence and the victim’s relationship to the murderer results in a problem of underreporting of gender-based deaths.

In Canada hundreds of Aboriginal women go missing each year and these disappearances and deaths are seldom news! (See the work of Ann Marie Pierce).


“Dowry deaths” are responsible for the murders of thousands of women every year, especially in South Asia.

  • If a bride cannot meet the financial demand of her dowry, she is often subject to torture, harassment and death by the groom’s family.

  • UNFPA estimates that 5,000 women worldwide are burnt to death in murders disguised as ‘kitchen accidents’ each year because their dowry was considered insufficient.

  • In India and Pakistan, thousands of women are victims of dowry deaths.3 In India alone, there were almost 7,000 dowry deaths in 2005, with the majority of victims aged 15-34.


“Honor killings” continue to take place in Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf Countries 9

  • Honor killings occur when women are put to death for an act that is perceived as bringing shame to their families; this can mean killing as punishment for adultery or even for being the victim of rape.

  • In Pakistan nearly 500 women a year are the victims of honor killings.1

  • In a study of female deaths in Egypt, 47 percent of female rape victims were then killed because of the dishonor the rape was thought to bring to the family.

  • In 2002, 315 women and girls in Bangladesh endured another form of violence against women, acid attacks. In 2005, even after the introduction of more serious punishments for the crime, over 200 women were attacked.


Physical and sexual abuse of girls is a serious concern across all regions.

  • In Nigeria, a treatment center reported that 15 percent of female patients requiring treatment for sexually transmitted infections were under the age of five. An additional six percent were between the ages of six and fifteen.

  • In South Africa, one in four men report having had sex with a woman against her will by the time he was 18 years old.

  • Research conducted among young women in sub-saharan Africa found that partner violence and the fear of abuse stopped girls from saying “no” to sex and jeopardized condom use.

  • According to the Jamaica Reproductive Health Survey, approximately 20.3 percent of young women 15-19 years old report having been forced to have sexual intercourse at some point during their life. Overall, one-fifth of Jamaican women have experienced forced sexual intercourse.

  • A 2009 report released by the Colombian Inspector General’s Office showed that in Colombia, at least 27,000 women and girls experienced intimate partner violence last year – with 74 percent of these being “underage girls.”

  • In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 percent of young women experience intimate partner violence.15


Female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/M) causes serious injury to millions of young women every year

  • FGC is the removal of all or part of the young woman’s genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is most prevalent in parts of West, East, and Northeast Africa, though also practiced in Asia, the Middle East and the immigrant populations of North America and Europe.

  • FGC/M is practiced for sociocultural and economic reasons. Family honor, the insurance of virginity until marriage, and social integration are often used as justifications for the procedure.

  • Between 100 and 140 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation worldwide and 3 million girls are at risk of the procedure each year in Africa.

  • A 2005 study found that in Egypt some 97 percent of women age 15-49 had undergone FGM. In Mali, 92 percent of women age 15-49 had undergone FGC/M in 2006; Burkina Faso, 77 percent; and North Sudan, 90 percent.18


Child marriage continues to put young girls at great risk for too-early pregnancy and other sexual and reproductive health issues.

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, more than 30 percent of young women between 15 and 19 are married.

  • In Nepal, 40 percent of girls are married by age 15.

  • In 2005, the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey concluded that in Ethiopia 62 percent of young women aged 20-49 married before age 18.

  • Worldwide, approximately 14 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year.

  • Early pregnancy and childbirth have severe consequences for adolescent mothers including complications at birth, obstetric fistula and death, often linked to unsafe abortions.



Cross-Generational Sex Poses Numerous Risks to Young Women

  • Particularly in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, socioeconomic pressures force many unmarried 15-19 year old women to engage in sexual activity with a male partner at least 10 years her senior in exchange for material goods, money or higher social status.

  • Based on 2006 Demographic and Health Surveys, among young women ages 15-19, 21 percent in Nigeria, 7.5 percent in Lesotho, and 9.5 in Uganda reported they had recently engaged in high-risk sex with a partner 10 or more years their senior.

  • Girls and young women involved in cross-generational sex have a severely reduced capacity to negotiate condom use, putting them at high risk for HIV infection. As such, young women 15-24 years old are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than young men age 15-24.

References:

  1. Quote by Kusala Bhikshu, a well-known Buddhist monk, at a talk given at a high school in Los Angeles

  2. Further reading:

UN General Assembly, 61st Session. Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Women. Accessed from http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/vaw/violenceagainstwomenstudydoc.pdf on January 28, 2010
UNFPA.
UNFPA State Of World Population 2005. Chapter 7. Accessed from http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2005/english/ch7/index.htm on January 28, 2010
Viachova A, Biason L, editors.
Women in an Insecure World. Geneva, September 2005. Accessed from http://www.dcaf.ch/women/pb_women_ex_sum.pdf on January 28, 2010
UNFPA.
Femicide. Accessed from http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:2zPSBS-54v8J:www.unfpa.org/16days/documents/pl_femicide_factsheet.doc+femicide&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari on August 20, 2009
NPR. “Juarez: A City on the Edge.” June 21, 2004. Accessed from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1966988 January 28, 2010
United Nations General Assembly.
Follow-Up to Country Recommendations: Guatemala. Accessed from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/11session/A.HRC.11.2.Add.7.pdf on January 28, 2010
United Nations Development Fund for Women. “Fact Sheet: Violence Against Women Worldwide.” Accessed from http://www.unifem.org/campaigns/sayno/docs/SayNOunite_FactSheet_VAWworldwide.pdf on January 28, 2010
Garcia-Moreno, Claudia. “Gender Inequality and Fire-Related Deaths in India.” The Lancet 2009; 373 (9671):1230-1231.
United Nations Development fund for Women. “Violence against women: Facts and Figures.” Accessed from http://www.unifem.org/attachments/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures_violence_against_women_2007.pdf on January 28, 2010
0Nazrullah M et al. “The epidemiological patterns of honour killing of women in Pakistan.” European Journal of Public Health. 2009. Accessed from http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/ckp021v1 on January 28, 2010.
BBC. “Fall in Bangladesh Acid Attacks.” 2009: April 25. Accessed from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5133410.stm on January 28, 2010
Moore AM et al. “Coerced First Sex among Adolescent Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa: Prevalence and Context.”
African Journal of Reproductive Health, 2007. 11(3): 62-82. Accessed from http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2367148 on January 28, 2010.
Thomas, T. “The Facts: Reproductive and Sexual Health in Jamaica.” Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth, 2006.
Procuradua General de la Nacion. “Procuraduría General de la Nación revela preocupante situación de violencia intrafamiliar y violencia sexual en Colombia.” Accessed from http://www.procuraduria.gov.co/html/noticias_2009/noticias_358.html on January 28, 2010
Varia, S. “Dating Violence Among Adolescents.” Advocates for Youth, Washington, DC , 2006. Accessed from http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=417&Itemid=177 on January 28, 2010
UNFPA. “Gender Equality: Calling for an End to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.” Accessed from http://unfpa.org/gender/practices1.htm on January 28, 2010

PRB. “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Data and Trends.” 2008. Accessed from http://prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2008/fgm2008.aspx on January 28, 2010
UNICEF. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. 2005. Accessed from http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/FGM-C_final_10_October.pdf on January 28, 2010
Jarallah, Yara. “Marriage Patterns in Palestine, Unlike Rest of MENA.” Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, 2008.
EGLDAM. “Old beyond Imaginings: Ethiopia and Harmful Traditional Practices,” 2003. Accessed from http://nctpe-fgm.net/downloads/obi.doc on August 1, 2009. 

UNFPA. “Gender Equality: Giving Special Attention to Girls and Adolescents.” Accessed from http://www.unfpa.org/gender/girls.htm  on January 28, 2010
USAID. “Cross Generational Sex: Risks and Opportunities.” Accessed from http://www.igwg.org/igwg_media/crossgensex.pdf on January 28, 2010.
Tostan, “Abandoning Female Genital Cutting.” Accessed from http://www.tostan.org/web/page/586/sectionid/547/pagelevel/3/interior.asp on January 28, 2010
USAID. Issue Brief: Preventing Child Marriage: Protecting Girls Health. 2009. Accessed from http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/pop/news/issue_briefs/prev_child_marriage.pdf on January 28, 2010
Population Reference Bureau. Combating Cross-Generational Sex in Uganda. 2009. Accessed from http://prb.org/articles/2009/crossgenerationalsex.aspx?p=1 on January 28, 2009

Tarot Talk

September, 2009

The World (21)

The-World

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”  ~Dr. Viktor E(mil) Frankl

Image Description:

The Rider-Waite deck depicts a nude woman dancing in mid air between an oval wreath of laurels. A long, loose sash is flowing around her body, and she holds a double ended wand in each hand. The four corners outside the wreath are each adorned by a creature: bull, lion, eagle and angel/man.

Symbols:

Laurels: Victory, attainment of a goal

Bull: Taurus and the element earth

Lion: Leo and the element of fire

Eagle: Scorpio and the element of Water

Angel/Man
: Aquarius and the element of Air

Oval Wreath: Unity and eternity, the mystery of creation, potential realized

Wands: The powers of involution and evolution

Key Words:

Achievement, Accomplishment, Success, Fulfillment, Completion

Fool’s Journey:

The Fool’s success is at hand. With a sense of accomplishment, he takes the final step on the path into the light that marks the completion of his journey. To his bemusement he finds himself back where he had began, on the very same cliff he had once stood upon at a time when he was young and foolish. However now he sees his position very differently. The cliff is not nearly as high in the light of his achievements. With a knowing smile, the Fool steps off the cliff… and soars. He flies higher and higher until the world is a tiny speck in the universe, fading into the stars and planets to create a whole. His fulfillment is now complete.

Lesson:

To learn how to

Meaning:

A major part of achieving happiness and fulfillment is finding a sense of completeness – the awareness that we have everything we need, and that all of the significant elements of our lives are working together in harmony. Anytime we successfully reach this all important goal, we feel as if the World and everything in it is ours to enjoy.

In readings, the World suggests we have reached a time when we are able to enjoy success in our accomplishments and goals. When all is well in our world we can experience internal and external harmony, as well as a feeling of blissful oneness with ourselves and our place in the universe. Knowing where we belong provides a deep sense of peace and well-being.

The World can signify the successful completion of a cycle or stage of existence, the triumphant end to a long-term project, or a sign that a pleasing conclusion is in sight. This card simply reinforces the idea that our hard work, knowledge, wisdom, and patience will yield fruitful results in the end. When we accomplish our greatest goals, the world truly becomes a beautiful place.