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GoodGod!

February 1st, 2018

Meet the Gods: Pan

(art by Samantha Sullivan)

 

Merry meet.

A man with the legs and horns of a goat, Pan was the Greek god of the wild and of hunting. He looks after shepherds, their flocks and the woods. He stirs up panic – a word derived from his name –because, one story goes, if his secluded afternoon naps were disturbed, his angry shout inspired panic.

Pan is also associated with sexuality. He chases nymphs, dancing with them in an effort to seduce them, but is always turned down.

One legend tells that he tried to seduce a beautiful wood nymph named Syrinx, daughter of the river god. To avoid him, she ran away, seeking refuge among her sisters. Pan followed, so her sisters turned her into a reed. When the wind blew, there was an enchanting melody. Not knowing which reed was Syrinx, he took seven (or nine) and placed them side by side in decreasing length to make the instrument named Syrinx for his beloved. Pan is typically seen playing them. The flute-like instrument is also known as panpipes.

Stories were told about other nymphs he pursued: Pitys, who was turned into a pine tree to escape him, and Echo who scorned the love of any man. There are different stories about her, one being that Pan had his followers kill her and scatter pieces of her on the earth. Gaia, the goddess of the earth, is said to have absorbed those pieces and now, Echo’s voice remains, repeating the last words of others. In another versions, Echo and Pan had two children.

Pan’s father is thought to be Zeus, Dionysus, Hermes, or Apollo while his mother may have been Aphrodite, Dryope, Hybris or a nymph named Dryope. Whomever his parents were, there is agreement that he was born in Arcadia, a rustic mountain district that was culturally different from the rest of Greece. It was because he was from that area that he became recognized as the god of fields, pastures, groves and wooded glens, and it is because of this that Pan is associated with spring and fertility.

He is notorious for his sexual powers and is often depicted with a phallus.

The Greeks also considered him to be the god of theatrical criticism and impromptus. His greatest conquest was Selene, the goddess of the moon. He hid his goat features by wrapping himself in a sheepskin so he was able to lure her down from the sky and into the forest where he seduced her.

Pan was worshiped in the woods, caves, grottoes and the wild. With two exceptions, no temples were built to honor him.

Pan could be a god you call for help with matters of fertility or to connect to the wild. It would be best to call him from a wooded area, or somewhere outdoors. Call to him with a wind instrument – be it a flute or a whistle – or by singing a series of notes known as the Lydian mode. Offer him milk and honey.

I would advise you only summon him for a genuine need and never for the fun of it.

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: Hades

 

(art by Samantha Sullivan)

 

Merry meet.

 

As the wheel turns to Samhain, it is natural turn to deities of the dark, of the underworld. This month we get to know Hades.

 

A god with a place that shares his name, Hades is thought to be the god of death – in the Greek pantheon, that was Thanatos. Rather, Hades invites all to join him in his kingdom, the underworld. Hades is not hell, it’s the place all who die go.

 

Wanting a bride, Hades is said to have asked Zeus for one of his daughters and was offered Persephone. On one of his rare trips to the world above ground, he kidnapped her, driving his chariot deep into earth to return to his underworld.

 

Her mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, mourned and the crops died and the trees dropped their leaves. Learning that the kidnapping was the idea of her brother, Zeus, Demeter complained. Zeus asked Hades to let Persephone go. However, during her time below the surface, she had eaten seeds from the pomegranate, the food of the dead. Although she was reunited with her mother, having eaten the pomegranate seeds required her to spend time each year in the underworld. And each year she descends and each year Demeter mourns and each year the crops die and the leaves fall.

 

Hades came to rule the underworld after killing his father, titan Cronus. As one story goes, Cronus feared a son of his would overthrow him as he had overthrown his own father and so Cronus swallowed each of his sons as they were born. After being tricked into vomiting, the siblings emerged to battle and beat their father. The brothers drew lots to divide up the cosmos that was now theirs. Zeus got the sky, Poseidon got the sea and Hades got the underworld.

Its darkness makes him invisible. (Some stories credit his invisibility to the helmet he wears.) He is often depicted with an evil smile, wearing a black robe made of souls. He holds a bird-tipped scepter that can cause earthquakes. Hades appointed Cerberus – a three-headed dog – to guard the underworld, never allowing in anyone who was not supposed to be there.

 

As the god of the dead, Hades oversees the entire population of those who have died, accounting for his fairly constant foul mood. He punishes those who were evil and provides bliss to the heroes.

 

In his position, he defends the right of the dead to funerals and presides over those rites. He is one you can invoke for help when faced with making funeral plans.

 

 

 

The Greeks were afraid of death and would not mention the names Hades or Persephone for fear of invoking death. Death was scary, desolate and dark. In the Greek world, neither Hades nor Persephone were evil deities. The Christian pantheon, however, turned Hades into hell and the god into the devil.

 

Hades is also considered god of the world’s hidden wealth – from fertile soil for growing crops to minerals mined from the earth.

 

Demeter, Hestia and Hera were his sisters.

 

At Samhain, Hades is a god to recognize and honor. In the old times, animal sacrifices were common, with the blood being poured in a hole to be sure it reached the underworld. Today, you may choose a candle that represents Hades to you; red, white and black are all common choices. An offering might be a wine, cakes, honey and meat. Best, perhaps, that offerings be left outside in a hole for him. A song, poetry or a key are also appropriate offerings.

 

Hades can be asked to call forth the ghosts of the dead, and what better time then when the veil is thin?

 

To get his attention, numerous sources suggest beating or stomping on the ground, or yelling.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

 

 

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: Boreas

 

 

Merry meet.

When the wind would blow and the windows or the screen door would startle her dog, my aunt would say, “That’s Maria,” referring to Kingston Trio song from the ’60s, “They Call The Wind Maria.”

When you hear the cold north wind blow this winter, you can call it Boreas, the Greek god of the cold north wind and the bringer of winter. His name meant “North Wind” or “Devouring One” and is the source of the adjective boreal, meaning of, relating to, or located in the northern region.

Like Maria, he will wail, whine, blow the stars around and set the clouds a-flying. The lyrics continue, “Maria makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin’.”

The same can be said for Boreas, only without the banjo, guitars and matching outfits.

He was the son of Astraeus and Eos; Hesperus, Zephyrus, and Notus were his brothers. Boreas lived in a cave on Mount Haemus in Thrace. Beyond his land was a northern land known as Hyperborea that was said to be a place where people with extraordinarily long lifespans lived in complete happiness.

Some legends have him the father of Cleopatra and the Goddess of Snow, Chione; along with the Boreades, a pair of winged heroes; three giant Hyperborean priests and 12 horses.

 

 

According to Myths and Mortals (Greek Mythology) – Wind Gods on wattpad.com, Boreas is closely associated with horses – as were the winds from all directions – and is said to have taken the form of a stallion and fathered 12 colts that could “run across a field of grain without trampling the plants,”

Boreas is depicted as very strong, with an equally strong temper. “He was frequently shown as a winged old man with shaggy hair and beard, holding a conch shell and wearing a billowing cloak,” according to wattpad.com.

Often he is shown with winged human feet. His wings are purple. Another representation depicts him as a face with puffed cheeks blowing cold winds, in keeping with the belief he’d sweep down from the cold mountains of Thrace, his icy breath freezing the air and bringing snow.

Legends say the people prayed to him and sent winds that destroyed ships that were to attack the Athens, and that he assisted the Megalopolitans against the Spartans who honored him at Megalopolis with an annual festival, according to the “Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.”

As the Athenians of ancient times, commanded by an oracle, prayed to Boreas to be saved from attack, today’s pagans can call upon the North Wind to blow something away, keeping it from harming you. You could also recognize his arrival with the Solstice and presence during winter, thanking him for his cold that brings the world rest and offers a time of reflection, wisdom, visions and insight.

Instead of making sacrifices to honor him, an offering would be more appropriate – perhaps snowflakes cut from folded paper, or a snow globe. And when you feel him against your face, thank him for his gifts.

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.

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