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GoodGod!

November 1st, 2017

Meet the Gods: Vishnu

 

(art by Samantha Sullivan)

 

Merry meet.

Vishnu (pronounced Vish-nuu) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is one of the Hindu trinity along with Brahma and Shiva. Brahma is the creator of the universe; Vishnu is the preserver, protector and keeper of the universe; Shiva is the destroyer.

It is said that during troubled times when the world is threatened by evil and chaos, Vishnu returns to restore righteousness. So far, he has reincarnated nine times: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parasurama (fierce man/hunter), Rama (greatest warrior/perfect man), Krishna (mentally advanced man) and Balarama (Lord Buddha).

Each incarnation Vishnu’s avatar – as a person, an animal or a combination of both – was what was most needed at the time. Myths, legends and stories are associated with each. He rids the earth of irreligious and sinful monarchs, kills a demon, raised the earth up out of the sea, sent a ship to save a sage and his collection of animals from a giant flood so they could repopulate the earth, and held a mountain on his back for 1,000 years while the gods and the demons used a serpent to churn up the ocean of milk to create the nectar of eternal life.

It is believed Vishnu will come one more time as Kalki (eternity or mighty warrior) near the end of the present age of decline in which we are currently living, a time thought to be near the end of this world. He will come – riding a white horse and carrying a fiery sword – to rid the world of oppression by unrighteous rulers and heralding the start of a new golden age.

Vishnu is portrayed with a human body, often with blue skin, and four arms. In his hands he carries four objects representing the things for which he is responsible.

The conch shell in his upper left hand produces Om, the primeval sound of creation. His blows call beings of conscienceless to listen to their inner voice nudging them to seek the truth, and leave the darkness of a material life for a higher reality.

In his upper right hand is the chakra or discus, symbolizing awareness and the universal mind. Called Sudarshan, the disc shows the path to a higher awareness. It destroys ignorance.

A lotus flower in his lower left hand represents a glorious existence and liberation.

The mace, a symbol of mental and physical strength and cosmic knowledge, is held in his lower right hand. It is called Kaumodaki, meaning that which captivates the mind, and is associated with time, which is the destroyer of all things; thus it also related to Kali. When pictured as a deity, it is viewed as a female with two hands, held together in a position of prayer or respect.

The garland of victory Vishnu wears has five rows of flowers that represent the five senses and his mastery of them in the whole universe.

The god is typically seen in two positions. The first is with him standing on a lotus flower with his consort, Lakshmi, close by. He is also portrayed reclining on a serpent, surrounded by the Milky Ocean with Lakshmi massaging his feet.

Vishnu rides on the king of birds, Garuda, an eagle. He is particularly associated with light and especially with the Sun.

Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as ‘the preserver, protector’ whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces,” according to Wikipedia.

He is said to expand into everything, permeating all objects and life forms. He maintains the cosmos and he overcomes all. Vishnu represents the goodness that sustains everything, giving shelter and a place to rest, and reaching that is the goal of all living creatures.

According to “Vishnu: Everything You Need To Know,” written by Ambaa Choate for Patheos.com in 2014, “He maintains the world and so he is very popular for worship. A branch of Hinduism views Vishnu as the ultimate Lord of all. That branch is called Vaishnava. Many people who follow Vishnu in particular are highly devotional, hence … lose themselves in singing Hare Krishna; Hare Rama! Those are manifestations of Vishnu, the God who comes to earth and takes physical bodies to help the world. Because of his avatars (human forms) he is someone that you can really personally relate to more than a distant view of God.”

Because he cares for all life on earth, worshiping him – as himself or any of his avatars – helps with protection, prosperity and wisdom.

Vishnu’s day is Thursday. On that day, people wear yellow, offer yellow flowers to Vishnu, and often fast or eat only one meal consisting of only yellow foods,

His birthday, typically in late August, is Krishna Janmashtami, the largest Vishnu holiday.

Krishna “accepts any offering given in devotion to him, whether it be a leaf, a flower, or a single drop of water. He cares more about the intention of a prayer than getting it ‘right,’” Choate wrote.

A ritual presented in the article for invisible protection against enemies or evil instructs that it be done on a Friday night after 11 p.m. and repeated the next 10 nights while remaining celibate the whole time.

Each time, you are to begin by bathing and putting on clean white clothing. Place a white cloth over a wooden bench and on it put a small mound of uncooked white rice on which is placed a Sudrashan Yantra, which is a protection talisman. Sit facing east on a white mat in front of the bench. Look at the yantra and imagine yourself in its center, protected from all evil. Chant “Om Namo Narayanaya Namah,” which means, “I bow to the name of Narayana.”

Offer the yantra white flowers, grains of rice, incense and a ghee lamp.

End by chanting eleven rounds of “Aum Sudarshan Chakraay Mam Sarv Kaarya Vijayam Dehi Dehi Aum Hum Phat.”

An article on the astri-vani,com blog notes you can pray to Vishnu: or any of his avatars

People whose Moon and Venus are strong will be attracted to Krishna. People whose Jupiter is strong will be attracted to Ram.

The article instructs you to pray only after taking shower and cleaning your teeth. Your clothes should ideally be yellow and clean. Always apply a tilak (a mark worn by a Hindu on the forehead) of yellow sandalwood or a mixture of turmeric and sandalwood.

Don’t touch or be near the Vishnu idol when you’re angry, have ego, are greedy, or full of lust.

To get a wallpaper of Vishnu, visit http://www.bhmpics.com/lord_vishnu-desktop-wallpapers.html.

I also found a 32-minute YouTube devotional video of the 1,008 Names of Lord Vishnu:

 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd7u99hz6nU[/embedyt]

 

It might provide some mood music, or frame your own practice to honor Vishnu. My thought was to listen to it while envisioning myself safe in the center of this Sudarshan Yantra.

 

 

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.

Meet the Gods: Green Man

Greenman1

As pagans celebrate Beltane, the world is turning green, so it’s easy to understand why pagans turn to Green Man. He is the head or face seen in many forms, always made from or surrounded by leaves – sometimes with vines or branches coming from his mouth or ears.

His is found on pagan altars in the woods; on the walls of Christian churches in England, France and Germany; and in secular buildings.

Beltane celebrates life as spring reaches its peak. Earth energies are strong and bursting with potential. Fertility is abundant.

The Green Man, as the young Oak King also known as Jack-in-the-Green, falls in love and couples with the Maiden goddess, also called the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen and Flora. She becomes pregnant. Together, this God of Vegetation and Goddess of Spring become symbols of the sacred marriage, the coming together of earth and sky.

To honor Green Man is to live in harmony with nature. To celebrate him is to recognize the gifts of the earth. Just breathe, and know the oxygen made by trees and plants you are inhaling is a gift of magic from Green Man. Plants, leafy branches, acorns and a bowl of earth are among the symbols used to represent Green Man. Patchouli incense, and the essential oils of oak moss, sweet birch and cinnamon are also among his correspondences.

It was common in the days of old, to offer sacrifices to Green Man. That’s the reason I like that the large cement face I have of him has finger-like leaves that form a bowl into it I can place offerings, as well my desires. I also turn to him when I seek guidance to lead a life that respects sustainability. He is sustaining, offering renewal of spirit and body. You leave happy and lighter after spending time with him.

You can find him roaming the forest. Sometimes he is seen with horns. He’s the spirit of vegetation and his energy is in all that is green and grows. His wisdom is that of the wheel of the year. He is born at Yule, mates at Beltane, reaches his peak at the Summer Solstice, then sacrifices himself over three harvests to sustain us though the winter. The eternal cycle offers deep wisdom as well as change.

Greenman2

Lest you think there is only one Green Man, I wanted to show you the first Green Man to sit on my altar – a plastic barbaric figure. The witch who reintroduced me to the craft by way of the Goddess gave it to me. In addition to being green and a man, it represented the Celtic and Nordic mythology to which I was drawn.

May Green Man bless you with abundance.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Meet the Gods: Tyr

 

 

 

 

Merry meet.

 

This month we get to know Tyr (pronounced like “tier” or “tear”). Despite being the god of honor and justice, and showing courage by sacrificing his hand to save the gods and uphold the law, he came to be considered one of the lesser gods.

 

According to “Norse Mythology for Smart People,” more than any other god, Tyr presided over matters of law and justice, but was also a Norse god of war. At one time, he is thought to have been one of the three most important gods, along with Odin and Thor.

 

Mars, the Roman’s principal war god, was a remake of Tyr. Being connected to Mars centuries ago indicates Tyr was significant. The connection continues today with Tuesday, which comes from the Day of Tyr (also Tiw).

 

According to a story written by Brandon L. Parsons in 2015, “Tyr actually didn’t begin life as a Norse god, but started off as a god of the grizzled war-like Germanic tribes that lived in the deep, dark forests of ancient northern Europe. Back in those days, he went as Tiwaz; it wasn’t until much later that the Norse up in Scandinavia adopted him as one of their own and give him the name Tyr.

 

Tyr is shown to be the son of Odin, the one-eyed Allfather, the head dude of the Norse pantheon. If one goes back to the beginning, it might even be possible that at one time, Tyr was the head of the gods and was later overtaken by Odin in popularity and had to take a back-seat in all of the stories.”

 

 

 

 

The name of the rune that looks like an arrow pointed upwards is Tiwaz, from the god Tiwaz, later called Tyr. The rune denotes victory and honor.

 

While considered a war god, Tyr’s primary role was upholding the law and assuring justice.

 

He was courageous and sometimes thought to be the boldest to the Norse gods.

 

The one surviving tale to feature him prominently comes from “The Binding of Fenrir” (also known as Fenris) – a giant immortal wolf who would consume everything, including gods. No chains would hold him, so, according to Parsons’ story, the gods turned to dwarves who used their magic to make what looked like a silk ribbon – using the sound of a cat’s footsteps, a woman’s beard and bear sinews, among other things – but was unbreakable.

 

Suspecting trickery, Fenris refused to allow it to be placed on him unless one of the gods agreed to put his hand into his fang-filled mouth. Only the courageous Tyr accepted the challenge. Upon realizing he could not get free, Fenris bit off Tyr’s hand.

 

Much later, Fenris later goes on to swallow Odin whole, and Tyr kills and was killed by Hel’s guard dog, Garm.

 

While it may seem odd that the god of war was also the god of law and justice, Norse Mythology for Smart People” notes, “For the ancient Germanic peoples, war and law were profoundly related to each other – even indissolubly intertwined.” Words would be used in place of swords in a metaphorical battle, with the victor being the side the gods felt was most just.

 

Tyr might be a god you would want to call upon in legal matters and other battles. Like the Norse warriors who provided him with plenty of fresh meat, red blood and his favorite alcoholic drink – mead – to give them an extra edge, you can do something similar with offerings. They often carved his rune on their weapons for added power and you can do the same with your tools.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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