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GoodGod!

January, 2019

Meet
the Gods: The Wise Men

Merry meet.

This
month’s column is not about gods. Rather it’s about saints, or,
more correctly, magi, the pagan astrologers who came to worship
Jesus. The word magic came from magi because they dabbled in the dark
arts and were referred to as sorcerers, wizards and magicians.

Tradition
refers to three wise men, but nowhere is a specific number stated; in
Eastern Christianity often there are twelve. They came “from the
east,” which most likely is now Iran. That means they could have
traveled more than 800 miles. The Christmas story has them arriving
twelve days later, but some traditions have the visit occurring as
much as two winters later. (This could explain why Herod commanded
all boys up to the age of two be killed.)

These
Zoroastrian priests, as part of their religion, had great knowledge
of astrology – others say astronomy. According to the Gospel
Matthew, these wise men were guided to look for the “king of the
Jews” by a miraculous stellar event: the Star of Bethlehem. They
brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As
part of their religion, these traveling missionaries paid particular
attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for
their knowledge of the sky, which at that time was highly regarded as
a science. As Christianity became the religion of the Romans, the
magi were no longer respected, and neither were the Jews.

No
names for the three appear in the New Testament. Legends, however,
give them a variety of different names. Melchior, also spelled
Melichior, was a Persian king, or some say scholar. Caspar, Gaspar or
Jaspar was a king of India. Balthazar, also known as Balthasar and
Balthassar, was a Babylonian scholar or an Arabian king.

Many
sources do no consider them respected kings. Rather, the magi were
uncouth and labeled as sinners because of their stargazing, sorcery
and divination. Still, Catholics and Orthodox Christians celebrate
the festival of The Three Kings, the Epiphany, on January 6. In
Germany, they have become the patron saints of travelers; their feast
day is July 23.

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.

Story Series: Hedge Wizard

September, 2018

Part 1


(Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash)

Chapter 1, Part 2

Flight through the Forest

As we flew over the treetops, with the great starry dome overhead, I seemed to be flying upside down over an ocean filled with innumerable lights. The blue child led me deep into the forest, and at one point slowed down to allow me to catch up with him. Then he locked elbows and flew with me, and suddenly all was changed. The trees glowed with light of many colors, like lamps of blue, green, red and violet, each type of tree a different hue. Some trees throbbed with light, while others gave off a steady sheen. In places I saw what looked like columns of light erupting from the trees up into the sky and eventually disappearing in distance. Elsewhere, shafts of light descended suddenly from the sky and fused with particular trees. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks and poplars. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child.

Some noise in the forest woke me up at this moment. It was early morning, just around dawn. I went back to sleep and had no dreams I recalled.

At breakfast the Hægtessa seemed pleased and rested. She said she’d had the best sleep in years, for it’s tiring at times to fly with the blue child or other dryads in the forest. At least when you get up to my age,” she smiled. “But while you’re young it’s great fun, and you gradually become acquainted with the deeper forest.”

Dawn can go home tomorrow,” she continued as an afterthought. “Try again tonight with the Blue Child. See if you can get inside the Great Oak. Tell me what happened tomorrow at breakfast. If you find you like doing this, and don’t mind learning herb-lore from me, you can be hedge wizard when I am gone. But think it over; you have plenty of time to consider it.

But the times you go home,” she added, in turning, “don’t speak of your experiences here. Just say you are learning herb-lore from me. That will provide enough reason for them to ostracize you. No point in giving them more.”

* * * * *

On the following night once again I was flying with the Blue Child through the night forest. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child. Blue light was all around us.

We rested inside a recess in the oak’s trunk. Not far from us was the figure of an old man sleeping. He seemed carved from wood, or else turning into wood. On his face was an expression of contentment and rest.

Who is that?” I asked the Blue Child. “My Dad,” he answered. “He is falling asleep into the tree. Dad, Dad,” he called softly. The old man’s eyelids fluttered, scattering small splinters. He looked with love at the Blue Child. “Dad, this is Bird-brow. He is taking his first flight.”

The old man’s voice came resonantly from his lips, which hardly moved. “Welcome, Bird-brow,” he said. “The gods bless you.”

And you, Sir,” I replied. “But what is happening to you?”

Oh, I am dying. It is time to return to the Tree, our Mother. My son will serve Her in my stead.”

In the garth, where I live,” I said, “to die is an occasion for sorrow.”

Not among us,” the old man said, smiling. “For we do not die entirely so long as the Tree lives. And She has lived here in the Forest a very long time.”

You can still go upstairs if you’d rather, Dad,” said the Blue Child.

No, Son. My place is here with our Mother, the Oak. But you should go upstairs to tell the Bright Ones I will stay here and subside into wood.”

The Blue Child turned to me. “Rest here awhile. I will return soon.”

The blue light grew around us and seemed to lift the Blue Child. He rose on a column of light and rushed out of the crown of the Tree, up into the sky. He was suddenly gone. I looked at the old man inquiringly.

You must pardon me,” he said, closing his eyes once again. “I am becoming very sleepy.”

I moved outside the trunk up into the lower branches of the Oak. Around me the elms were glowing green, the larches a paler shade of the same color. Here and there in the haunted forest columns of light shot up into the sky and disappeared; once in a while a column descended from the sky and passed into a tree from above, and the tree took on its color and glowed softly.

After some time had passed, a shaft of blue light descended from the sky and the Blue Child was back. “Now we must scout out the Hægtessa’s herbs,” he said. “the old beds have dried up.”

But where were you?” I asked him, as we resumed out flight.

In our star. Every tree in the forest has a star. Ours is there.” And he pointed almost directly up, to the top of the sky. “You must return with the Haegtessa in the morning and help her pick herbs.” Once again we entered the oak.

But where are the herbs?” I asked. “The trees will find them,” he said, and then called out softly “Dad…Dad.”

The old face appeared once more in the wood. “Yes, Son, what is it? I was drifting off.”

The Haegtessa needs more herbs, Dad. The old beds have dried up. We must find the closest bed of wild herbs for her.”

Right away,” said the face, and disappeared into the wood.

Where has he gone?” I asked the Blue Child. “Down into the roots,“he said. “The roots of the great oak extend far on every side and touch the roots of trees growing around us. They in turn touch the roots of their neighbors, and so on. The search for the wild herbs is even now traveling far afield, along the roots through the Deep Forest.”

Presently the old face of the Oak Father appeared once more in the wood. Little splinters flew from his eyelids and lips as he smiled and said “Tell the Hægtessa the way to the herbs has been charted. If she comes here to the Great Oak she can follow the trail with her staff” “Thank you, Oak Father,” I said, and promptly awoke in the crystal room.

At breakfast the Hægtessa was radiant. “You’ve done well, Bird-Brow,” she said. “The Blue Child and the Oak Father both like you. That is important.”

I told her what the Oak Father said. “I know,” she said, “I have done this before, many times. What he said was for your benefit. We must go together today, since you may be doing this next time.”

After breakfast she said farewell to my mother and little Dawn. “She has recovered. Keep her quiet and well-rested for a few days. Bird-Brow is going with me today on an expedition. He will return home tonight.”

The Hægtessa put on her voluminous white robe and took her carved oaken staff from her cabinet. “Take this sack with you, Bird-Brow,” she said. “We will bring back some herbs for replanting in my field.”

I had flown with the Blue Child to the Great Oak and knew vaguely how to get there in the body, but the Hægtessa knew the way very well, and in about half an hour we mounted the hill leading to the tree. It was a quiet, blue morning, punctuated with light birdsong.

The Hægtessa grounded her staff near the base of the oak. “Grasp my staff, Bird-Brow” she said. I grasped its head and felt a tingling coming up the staff from the ground. She knew I felt it, and took it back. “Now follow along. We have a journey to make.”

She walked to the next tree, a smaller, younger oak, and then beyond it to a birch, feeling the ground with her staff with every step. In this way we went down hill and up hill for about half an hour. Coming to a shallow stream, we forded it, the Hægtessa feeling the trail along the stream bottom with her staff, and picking up the trail again among the trees on the other side. The land sloped uphill from the other bank, until we reached a plateau at the edge of a cliff. Far below I could see the field of herbs. Passing to the left along the cliff, we came to a mild grassy slope downhill, and followed it down to the herb beds.

The field of herbs was the size of two yards placed side by side. Beyond them the forest continued on a shallow rise. “The herbs have come here from many places in the forest,” said the Hægtessa. “They are our partners. It is our job to protect them, to pick the weeds from among them and ring them about with guardian plants like marigolds. Some we will gather up and replant in my garden. These will be of use, like the feverfew I gave little Dawn, but once replanted, the herbs have less potency. Here, in this field, is where they retain their full magic.” She showed me how to tell weeds from herbs, and we replanted a few marigolds along the margins.

You must come here with the Blue Child, Bird-Brow,” she said, “perhaps once a week, to see if all is well. You must also come here at times in the body to dress and protect the field, and gather a few herbs for replanting. That is, if you want to.”

She looked at me carefully. “I am old, Bird-Brow,” she said. “I cannot make the journey here often. If you wish to be hedge wizard after me, you must start now to help with the fields.”

I will, gladly,” I said. “But what of my father and the boar hunt? I have never been asked to be on it before, because I was too young. He is counting on me to be with him.”

Some problems have no easy solution, Bird-Brow,” she said.

When I visited the herb field and pitched my tent, all was quiet. In the night I saw one herb light up within, and in it I could see the Hægtessa preparing herbs. She looked very old and tired, and suddenly I knew I would disappoint my father and remain here with her. When next I slept in the crystal room, the Blue Child flew in and said I had chosen wisely. She would not live much longer. In the morning I told her of my decision to remain with her and learn her herb-lore. She smiled and took me into her garden, pointing out the herbs which had been replanted. “These can be used in healing, Bird-Brow. But they must be boosted with wild herbs from the field.” Back in her house, she showed me how to prepare the herbs, cutting them and mixing them with the wild herbs. They seemed to quicken into new life when mixed with their wild counterparts.

At night, I flew with the Blue Child to the wild herb field, but instead of returning to the Hægtessa’s house we flew together over the wheat fields to the Hall. There was a lamp lit inside the Hall, watched over by the Hall-Sun, a young, vigorous woman with straw-colored hair. I was surprised to see my father there with her. “He won’t come, Hall-Sun.” he said sadly. I had hoped to show him hunting. The Hægtessa has bewitched him to her service.”

He can still come along to the boar-hunt,” the Hall-Sun said. “He can fly with the hunters and the Blue Child.” And she nodded to my companion.

That night the boar-hunters ran through a long tunnel in the Hedge, carrying torches. My father led them. The great wild boar had been reported in these parts, and each hunter was armed with bow, arrows and spear. I hovered over my father and the Blue Child and I flew on ahead to scout out the quarry and report its whereabouts to the hunters. Once or twice I saved my father from the boar by warning him of its murderous attack. I think he was aware of my protection and thanked me. He showed me how he stalked the boar and in this way I learned about hunting. The Hall-Sun watched me closely and I was taken by her fresh beauty. She seemed sprung from the earth, like harvest wheat. Her gaze seemed to reprove me for not being with my father on the hunt. But then I thought of the Hægtessa and her difficulties, and when I did, the Hall-Sun nodded approvingly.

End of part one

Story Series: Hedge Wizard

August, 2018

Part 1

(Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash)

Chapter 1

1. A Visit to the Hægtessa

I remember when little Dawn had a fever and had trouble sleeping, I went with Mother across the harvested fields to visit the Hægtessa. The green wall of the Hedge, tiny in the distance, grew and threw open its arms as we approached. On all sides it stretched, shutting out the Forest, except where the river ran by, downhill on the right, where the fishing lodge straddled the bank. I knew that far to the left, the hunters’ tunnel passed under the hedge.

Beyond the Hedge I could see the tops of many trees, outliers of the Forest. The Forest went on and on, they said, forever. No one went very far into it except the hunters. The Hægtessa, whose name meant ‘hedge-rider,’ went a little way in at times to gather herbs.

As we approached her house, Mother cautioned me to remain quiet unless spoken to. The Hægtessa, it was said, lived a very quiet life and disliked noise.

Her house ran right through the Hedge to the other side, and thus had two fronts, each barely extending beyond the Hedge itself. Her magic accommodated the Hedge to her house, neatly fitting it without impinging on it in the least.

I had never been in her house. I had been up to the Hedge, and down to the fishing-lodge by the river, and seen the gabled front of her house from a distance, but never herself. But now she came out.

But when the Hægtessa emerged, she was a kindly-looking middle-aged woman, getting a little stout. She was dressed in a simple farm smock and apron.

I’ve been working in the garden” she said to me, answering my thought. The morning sun peeped over the roof of the forest, and I squinted. She looked at me curiously, then turned to my mother.

Hello, Mopsy,” she said, using my mother’s little girl name.”What can I do for you?”

It’s Dawn, here,” said Mother. “She is hot and can’t sleep. I think her head hurts.”

The Hægtessa took Dawn in her arms. “She needs feverfew and a few other herbs,” she said. “Step in.”

We went up three steps and were inside her house, which seemed carved rather than built. A wide room stretched on both sides. Ahead were more steps, leading past cabinets of herbs and instruments up through the middle of the house. There were no windows to right or left.

Her magic keeps the hedge from bothering the house,” I thought. “But why the hump in the middle?”

Once again she answered my thought. “The roots of the hedge pass under the middle of my house. Else there would be two hedges.”

*

The Hægtessa ascended the inner steps and took several herbs from the shelves. She took dried leaves of feverfew and mixed them with fresh leaves. Then she prepared two or three other herbs.

When she brought the tea down, I saw a circular stairway at the back of her herb-closet. Past it steps probably started down to the forest side of her house.

We have to wait and see how she takes the herbs,” she said. “Please make yourselves comfortable. I will brew another tea.”

We sat on her cushioned carved benches and waited, while Mother applied a cool rag to Dawn’s head from time to time.

The Haegtessa kept us company. She talked about her need for an apprentice, “I’m not as young now as I once was.” She was running out of some herbs and needed help locating new gardens in the forest.

Somewhat later she felt Dawn’s head and said she felt a little cooler, but she needed to stay there for a night or two until her head was back to normal. She fixed up a bed for Mother in the room with Dawn, then turned to me.

Perhaps you’d like to sleep in the loft?” she asked, pointing to the circular stairs. “Come and see.” I followed her up the stairs. At the top, the gabled room was on the right. On the left a door opened into a circular chamber, roofed with crystal. I had heard of the dream chamber, but thought it was just a story.

In the center of the room was a wide, comfortable looking bed. Some treetops could be seen at the rim of the dome, but otherwise it was all sky.

Do you think you’d like to sleep here?” she asked.

Oh, yes,” I said. “Yes, thanks.”

That is well, Bird-brow; I give you that name in place of your boyhood name Hops. For outside, when you squinted, I saw a bird’s head, perhaps a robin’s, in the wrinkles between your brows. So I know you will profit from a night spent up here.”

The first night the dream chamber was filled with a blue light, whitened a while by the moon. I lay entranced by the starry sky and don’t know when I dropped off. Just before I woke I seemed to see a bluish figure flying around the room. It was a boy, a little smaller than I am, but I awoke before I could see more or speak to him.

At breakfast the Hægtessa was jovial. Dawn was much improved, and Mother had finally gotten some much-needed sleep. We had milk and meat and some fruit I had never seen before, juicy with a red pith. “One more night and Dawn will be well,” she said. “Did you sleep well in the chamber, Bird-brow?”

Why do you call him that?” asked Mother. “His name is Hops.”

He is growing fast, and has grown much overnight. See, already he is nearly eight years in stature. And I name him Bird-brow.”

Mother said nothing, but shifted a little uneasily in her chair. We knew that a hedge-witch has the right to assign a name to someone, and that name is not without meaning.

During the morning the Hægtessa took me out over the stair-hill and through the forest side of her house to the herb garden just outside the forest-door. Just beyond it was the blasted heath where the advancing trees of the forest had been cut down and the grass and seeds underneath them burnt brown. We picked herbs that day and she showed me how to store them in jars and prepare tinctures and other medicines.

At sunset a hunter came by with a brace of conies. “Have you heard that the great boar hunt is being prepared?” he asked me. “Your father is organizing it. Will you be with him?” I said certainly. He skinned them and stayed to supper with us, then went off again into the forest.

That night I dropped off to sleep swiftly, and before long the light of a star shone brighter, and the blue child flew or slid down the trail of light, landing at the foot of my bed.

Come, Bird-brow,” the blue child said. “You are asleep, so you can fly,” and we both flew through the crystal and out into the night of the forest.

To Be Continued…

Interview with Astrid Brown: A Psychic Affair

July, 2018

Astrid Brown: A Psychic Affair

Astrid Brown is a medium, a psychic, and an incredibly prolific author. Her most recent offering, A Psychic Affair, blends the mysteries of psychic development with the romance genre, exploring how long-distance relationships can develop not only through the words and messages we send, but through a true, psychic connection. The story is interwoven with poetry and descriptions of how certain aspects of psychic development work, creating something Astrid describes as a ‘hybrid’; a cross-genre concept that will appeal to romance fans and students of the psychic world alike.

Astrid was kind enough to give us some of her time, and here’s what she had to say to PaganPagesOrg.

Mabh Savage: What was the inspiration for the book, A Psychic Affair?

Astrid Brown: I was writing a psychic development book at the time, and I created a website to explain psychic phenomena as I found myself having to explain how we work, and how clients can help themselves. I still add to this site/blog: http://www.astridestella.info . So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be an idea to write a novel about a medium, and explain psychic phenomena at the same time?’

I had endless problems with publishers as they don’t like hybrids, but want one genre, and not a cross genre as this one is.

MS: What led this decision to craft the book as a hybrid between an educational volume on psychic development, and a romance?

AB: I wanted to write a novel but felt I had to explain how mediums work, and explain the phenomena; after all, ‘Maryann’ and ‘Annie’ are mediums

MS: Was the book based on events in your own life at all?

AB: I have used my life experiences to write the book. I was a lecturer (I no longer do this) focusing on writing and doing readings. Of course I am a medium, so I made ‘Maryann’ one. Some of the characters are based on people I’ve met in my life.

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

AB: I would say its aimed at people who are interested in the paranormal and psychics, and readers who are open minded.

MS: You’ve written thirty books or so in the last ten years. How do you find the time, and how do you balance writing with your day to day life?

AB: I make the time for I love writing. Often the best time for me to write is the early hours of the morning. I get tremendous links with spirit at this time, and they encourage and influence my work. It’s not a job to me; it’s a pleasure. for there is no point in writing if you don’t enjoy it. Lastly, I want to let people know how amazing the Universe and spirit are.

MS: What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

AB: Don’t give up. You will get many rejections; JK Rowling had 20 rejections from publishers before she had Harry Potter accepted. Your first books may not be that good but keep at it and you will improve. What is important though is spelling and grammar and don’t rely on Spell Check it makes mistakes. Everything happens at the right time and no experience is ever wasted.

MS: How long have you worked with developing your psychic abilities?

AB: All of my life.

MS: When did you first discover your psychic abilities, or your ability to work with spirit?

AB: From birth. I think my earliest memories of psychic phenomena were when I was a baby, and as I was growing up, I played with spirit children, so it developed from then. I was giving readings when I was school age. I might also say my grandmother who lived with us was a medium in the Spiritualist Church.

MS: What’s the most beneficial thing you find about your psychic talents and awareness?

AB: Helping others and bringing them comfort and reassurance, especially if they are bereaved.

MS: And what’s the most challenging?

AB: Explaining to people I am not a fortune teller but a Medium. I cannot conjure up specific loved ones from the other side. If they have a message they will come forward. I am also restricted by divine timing in that there is no concept of time in the spirit realms, so I don’t always get specific dates. Sometimes it’s not possible to do a reading on someone; they maybe inadvertently blocking me and they need to be relaxed. Sometimes spirit will come forward and they will not recognise who it is and for to continue the reading I need them to accept, or be open minded so I can continue the link.

MS: Was it a natural development to move from nursing into holistic therapies?

AB: I began moving to holistic therapies when I had my own children. They were my guinea pigs, but it was actually a very small homeopathic book I came across in the supermarket one day. I bought it, I don’t know why, I guess I was directed by spirit and I was fascinated by it, I wanted to know more and more. This led onto other energy systems of healing such as Bach Flower Remedies and Aromatherapy, so I studied and trained in aromatherapy and reflexology, therapeutic massage, Indian head massage, and crystal therapy. When I attended parapsychology college to improve my mediumship I studied spiritual healing. Then I decided to train as a beauty therapist to gain more clients, eventually becoming a college lecturer, teaching anatomy and physiology, and beauty therapy. I also introduced holistic therapies to the college and trained many students who now work in spas around the world.

MS: Without spoiling the story for prospective readers, the way it ends suggests there may be more to come. Will there be another book for Maryann and John?

AB: This was my intention, to write another, as I left an opening at the end of the book. If the book sells, well I will write another about Maryann and John.

MS: And are you working on any other novels at the moment?

AB: I’m always writing something, I am currently writing something completely different from my normal genre at the moment and a collection of short stories. I write poetry all the time, much of which is channelled from spirit, so it comes in very fast to me, often writing a poem in 2 minutes. Whilst I am writing I am not aware of what my fingers are typing. I do my best psychic readings this way either on messenger or emails.

Thanks for talking to us! Astrid can be found at her website: http://www.astridestella.info where there is a wealth of information about holistic wellbeing and mediumship.

She is also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Astrid.Brown/ and Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/astrid_brown (U.S.A.)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00AIOQR2I (UK)

 

A Psychic Affair

 

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

February, 2018

Sheela-Na-Gig

(Photo Credit: knowth.com)

What better representation of the Goddess for February than Sheel-Na-Gig?

All over Europe, primarily Ireland and England, adorning castles, churches, sacred sites, you will find carvings in stone of the beautiful Sheela-Na-Gig, a big smile on her face, squatting knees apart, exposing her powerful vulva. It is believed that these carvings were done during the Neolithic and Paleolithic eras. There is still and old energy that lies within these carvings.

While many find Her akin to a gargoyle, or a figure of lust. Many women, though, believe her to be an ancient fertility figure and a representation of the Mother Goddess.

The term “gyg”, in Norse, means giantess or a deified female, aka Goddess. It is thought that these carvings were meant for protection and to ward off evil, which goes a long way toward understanding their appearance on ancient churches.

(Photo Credit: www.beyond-the-pale.org/uk)

The vulva is a holy symbol of birth and life; representing regenerative powers of an Earth Mother/Goddess. The vulva of Sheela-Na-Gig is in the shape of a triangle, another hint that She is a representation of the Goddess. The triangle is a symbol of the three aspects of the Goddess – Maiden, Mother and Crone – the full cycle of a woman’s life (yes, I am not including all of the new additions of Queen, etc.)

It is thought that graves were built in the shape of the Goddess and that Her vagina was the passageway to regeneration and rebirth.

I believe that it is most likely unknown how many of these carvings there are, but this link will give you an idea of those that are in Ireland: http://www.irelands-sheelanagigs.org/

This article researches those in Southern England: http://www.sheelanagig.org/wordpress/category/southern-england/

(Photo Credit: www.atlasobscura.com)

Some of these carvings may be seen as lying on their side or upside-down, which indicates re-use of the stone which originally held the Sheela-Na-Gig carving.

Many of these carvings were taken down and destroyed with the growth of the church, as well as the beginning and rise of patriarchy. It is believed by many that these carvings of Sheela-Na-Gig gave rise to the demonization of women, and of women being portrayed as an ugly hag or crone.

While there are women who find these carvings grotesque and obscene, women who “know”, see Her as an invitation from the Goddess to explore and delve into their own divine feminine. She is the gateway to new adventures, new projects and new paths.

Sheela-Na-Gig is the invitation, the gateway and the re-birth of women who have the courage to really see Her, choose to delve into Her Mysteries and be reborn, knowing of their own Goddess power within and without.

With the fast and rampant rise of patriarchy, women were reduced to nothing but one who serves at home for their spouse, and as sex objects, which is how many see Sheela-Na-Gig. With this reduction of the powerful force of women and the Goddess, women lost their power.

We, as women, need to remove ourselves from the yoke of patriarchy. The time is now for women to rise up and reclaim the power of the Goddess and the power that is held within them; rise up and proclaim “THIS is our power”.

(Photo Credit: www.beyond-the-pale.org/uk

***

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 Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, 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 [email protected]

For Amazon information Click Image Below

 

Hypnobirthing: The Final Result

February, 2018

(Image from http://www.kickscount.org.uk/hypnobirthing-hypno-hypyes/)

 

I promised that I would write a follow up to my first article about hypnobirthing, and truly expected to be doing this in the weeks directly following the birth. I realise, in retrospect, how foolish this was, as the sleep deprivation immediately following the birth of any new-born is quite debilitating!

Now I am approaching something akin to a routine (sort of; not really…) I’ve decided to come back to you to let you know how the techniques I discussed previously actually worked in a real-life labour situation.

Early Labour

My early labour wasn’t ‘as standard’ because I had to be induced, due to various issues including high blood pressure and pain from SPD. I had some mementos with me to make the delivery space my own; a charm woven by a family member; a rock from the beach; a shell. I wanted to remind myself of all the little things that matter to me, and my trinkets from nature always help to calm me. Plus, the element of water seemed appropriate for a birthing time; cleansing, renewing, and a reminder of the womb.

I was in the antenatal ward waiting to have my waters broken for around 18 hours, and during this time I re-listened to my birthing tracks, and tried to focus on what I would be visualising once the labour started. The visualisations we had worked on focused on removing yourself to a place in nature; a favourite place that would be calming and safe, although my midwife was keen to stress that you might forever after associate that place with labour!

Latent

So this is the early stage, you know the bit they always tell you lasts for hours and hours, mild contractions and so forth. They always tell you it goes a bit faster when you’re induced, but they fully expect to have to put you on an oxytocin drip to help things along, as well as breaking your waters. My labour this time went so fast that the drip was never needed. My waters were broken by two midwives at around 4.30am. The first midwife couldn’t quite manage it, as the baby’s head was so tight up against my cervix, they couldn’t get the ‘hook’ into a good position. A more experienced midwife took over and, ‘pop!’, painless but gushy, it was all over. For now. Within an hour, I was experiencing contractions.

I focused on the techniques I had been taught; travel to a favourite place, be there in your mind, be calm… and three, two one… relax. I breathed through the tension and found that although each fourth contraction or so was stronger, I could manage it the same way, and I was impressed how well I was coping.

Active

I was taken down to the delivery suite at 7.30am, and was already feeling like the contractions were very strong and very close together, however I kept zoning out, breathing, and above all just trying to focus on what I had learnt and not all the niggling anxieties that were floating around such as:

  • I’m needle phobic, what if I need to have the drip?
  • What if the pain gets too much?
  • What if I need to have an epidural? (Epidurals can be particularly problematic with SPD sufferers as you can over extend your pelvis and be in agony later on.)
  • I’m so tired; I can’t do this!

The relaxation techniques certainly helped, but nothing could take my mind completely away from these fears.

I was examined, and the midwife was surprised when she told me I was already six centimetres dilated; another midwife said I didn’t look like I was labouring at all! This was one of the impacts, and you have to be careful with this: you don’t look like you’re in as much pain as you really are. Because you’re focusing on breathing and taking your mind somewhere else, it can appear to medical professionals as if you’re not as far along as you are. You can appear calm and at ease, nut that’s because you’re keeping your mind quiet while letting your body do all the work!

Transitional

This is where I let go and lost focus. The baby’s head seemed to be pushing against my tailbone, which was agonizing, and I literally forgot to breath. The midwives had to tell me again and again to keep breathing. I was terrified. In hindsight, I think the reason I struggled at this point is because, as mentioned in the previous article, I had not been able to get to all the sessions on hypnobirthing due to ill health, so had not had the relaxation technique as ingrained into me as I would have liked. Also, the baby was coming so fast that I had very little time to recover from a contraction before it was all happening again!

Second Stage

The second stage of labour is where the baby has left the cervix and is on the way to meet us! It was literally seconds for me. It was traumatic, ridiculous, to the point that three midwives shoved a huge, soft mat under me in case the baby shot out, so it wouldn’t bounce! I’m not even joking. It hurt so much, but this baby was coming fast. Sophie, the main midwife, popped out to refill my water bottle as I was so thirsty, and when she came back in the head was out. Seconds later, the baby was born and they were passing her through my legs so I could see the gender. My little girl. Ember. Unbelievable. What a rush of emotion. A pure moment of magic.

Needless to say that during this few minutes of madness my hypnobirthing techniques did not get a look in, except perhaps that having been so calm and collected during early labour probably meant I had more energy at this point, which of course was a big bonus.

Third Stage

I had the injection to help hurry the placenta along; yeah, my needle phobia wilted in the face of wanting this to be over now, thank you very much. I still winced and cringed when they stabbed me though. One of the most bizarre experiences of my life was wandering around the delivery suite carefully clutching my own and Ember’s umbilical cord like a really gross string of pearls. There was the worry they were going to have to catheterise me and drain my bladder as the placenta wasn’t shifting. I focused, relaxed once more, and managed to expel it. Once last triumph for hypnobirthing, as by this point I was really exhausted!

If you’ve lasted this long through what has been, I accept, a pretty graphic description of giving birth, I hope you’ve gained some insights into the benefits of hypnobirthing. I only heard about it a couple of months before Ember was born, and boy am I glad I did. Yeah, there was still pain. Yeah, I had to stay in for observation, and I wasn’t magically recovered from my pre-pregnancy ailments. In fact, I was only allowed to go home on the basis that I was visited and monitored daily, and I wasn’t discharged from care for a good few weeks. But I can say that the labour was fast; there were no major interventions, and I didn’t have to have stitches, which I was really surprised about. I’ve also occasionally used the relaxation techniques since, to help me sleep, and on top of that, I’ve discovered I find it easier to meditate now, as if I’ve permanently trained my mind to relax more.

If you, or a partner, family member or friend are expecting a little one, it may well be worth asking a medical professional about being referred for guidance on hypnobirthing techniques. There are videos and testimonials online, but I found the guidance I received from my specialist midwife was the best. Whatever techniques you may decide to use, I wish you a safe and special labour, and joy in meeting your new arrival.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

For Amazon information, click images below.

Children’s Book Review: My Name is Isis The Egyptian Goddess By Susan Morgaine

December, 2017

My Name is Isis

The Egyptian Goddess

Author Susan Morgaine

Illustrator Arna Baartz

Publisher a girl god

Copyright 2017

Length 47 pages

Ms. Morgaine has written a beautiful book for children. It is very basic book, one that would be good for a parent to read to child(ren) at bed time. Or to be read out loud at festivals in the children’s tent. The words just seem to flow of the page. It is a book that even a child that is just learning to read would have an easy time with. The words even allow the reader to picture the Protectress that is the Goddess Isis.

The art work is beautiful soothing colors. They are just beautifully done and just flow with the words on the page. Arna’s art work is so colorful and almost otherworldly. It will help to keep young eyes focused on the book and allow them to meet Isis on their terms in ways that they would understand.

Together both artist and writer seem to have found a flow that allowed them to sync what they both envisioned in a seamless manner. There seems to just be a symmetry in the way everything just works to complement both minds that worked on this book.

I think Pagan families will find this book is one that becomes a family heirloom. I can see parents being happy to use “My Name is Isis The Egyptian Goddess” to introduce their children to their maternal Goddess.

 

 

For Amazon information, click image below.


***

About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at:  https://www.facebook.com/NumerologistDawnBorries/.

A Gathering of Sorcerers

September, 2017

The tale-finder had traced the story as far as a small tavern in a remote village. Quaffing his ale, he greeted the other guests and, after a customary exchange of pleasantries, asked if anyone present had heard the story Hob told of a midnight gathering of sorcerers. There was some chuckling, and then a giant of a man sitting in the corner replied that he knew the tale, or knew of it.

It isn’t much of a story,” he began. “This farmhand Hob, in some stead over the river, was about to head home for the evening when the Mistress of the farm stopped by and asked him if he would wait on some guests who were due to arrive later that night. She said he could enjoy a full supper after they had eaten, and all he had to do was pour water and ale for them, then serve them food when they called for it. For the rest, he was to stay out of the way and not pry, but remain within earshot. He would get extra wages for it. She said that usually she tended them when they came, but she had to go see to a sick sister over the ridge.

Hob agreed, and along about ten or eleven in the evening they arrived heavily cloaked on horseback. He took their steeds to the barn while they settled themselves comfortably in the straw-strewn main room of the farmhouse. There were about a dozen present, plus one who sat a little apart. He was taller and thinner than the others, and evidently in charge of the meeting.

Hob brought them well-water and ale, and then retired to an adjoining room, shutting the door between. Being an inquisitive sort of fellow, though, and telling himself he had to listen for their meal-call, he left the door ajar by a little crack and sat close by.

The room was quiet for a time, then the leader spoke softly. Hob could just see him through the crack.

“ ‘Gentlemen, are you all comfortable?’ There were several grunts of assent. ‘Have you all found your places? Have you removed your heads?’

When he heard that, Hob felt a chill. He wanted very much to widen the door-crack to see if their heads were off, but did not dare.

The leader said ‘Very well, now my head is off.’ A great fear fell on Hob as he saw the leader sitting in his place with his head in his hands. His neck was not bloodied, and his voice seemed to be coming from the hole in his shoulders. He couldn’t see the other sorcerers but assumed they looked the same.

At one point, everyone stood up and began pacing in a circle round the room. Their heads, apparently, were set aside somewhere safe where they would not be kicked or tripped over accidentally. As the pacing continued, the headless sorcerers seemed to rise slightly until they were circling together two or three inches off the ground. Peering through the crack, Hob saw them pass by one at a time, each without a head on his shoulders! At the same time, an enormous buzzing noise started filling the room, and energy throbbed so strongly that it pushed Hob’s door fully closed, without, however making a sound. Hob was deathly afraid the headless sorcerers would discover him spying on them, and take off his head, but they took no notice and, from the sound, apparently continued circling a while longer. Finally they stopped, and it would seem that each resumed his seat, since it grew quiet once again. The throbbing had ceased.

Hob was afraid they would call for food with their heads off, but presently the leader said ‘Gentlemen, you may now replace your heads and lose your places.’ They then called for him to bring in the food. As soon as he had done so, he withdrew and, not waiting to gather the dishes later, much less eat the leavings of such uncanny creatures, quietly left the farmhouse and tore off across the fields as though the night-hag were after him!”

All the guests roared with laughter, a little nervously, and complimented the giant on his narration. The tale-finder thanked him and bought everyone a round, but secretly he felt disappointed, since he had had the tale in this form before. He thought perhaps he hadn’t gotten any closer to its place of origin.

After a while, he asked the giant where he had heard the story. The narrator answered, somewhat shortly, that it was in general circulation.

Is this Hob still about?” he asked the room. Someone remarked that he had died in his grandfather’s time, but it was known that he never returned to that farm, not even to collect his wages. He decided the Mistress must be a hægtessa 1 to play hostess to such beings, and he shortly left the district. But before he left, he told his story to a bard, a loremaster in the hills this side of the river, who passed it on to his successor, and in this way it got around.

The tale-finder asked where he might find this bard or his current successor, and after some grumbling, especially from the giant, someone gave him directions. He explained then diplomatically that his work involved hunting down the oldest form of such tales. He doubted he would ever hear the story told better than it was told tonight, he added. With that, the giant grinned and everyone relaxed. They drank another round of ale, and then the tale-finder rose and bidding them all good evening, went to his bed in the loft above the tavern.

In the morning he rose early, paid the innkeeper, saddled his horse and rode into the hills. He had no trouble finding the cot of the bard, and by lunchtime was seated across a rude table from him. This was not indeed the man Hob had told, but his second successor. The tale-finder repeated the story as the giant had told it and waited for the bard to make comments.

He said nothing for a while, but smiled and snorted a bit. “Yes,” he said at last, “that is the popular version, but it is not what Hob told old White Hawk. He said that after the leader of the group had told everyone to take his head off, and had said that now his head was off, Hob was surprised to see his head was still there, securely on his shoulders. But you should have surmised this,” he added, raising an eyebrow, “else why would he have bothered to tell the others his head was off? Or why would he have asked them if they had removed their own heads, since with his on he could obviously have seen if they were headless?”

He took a bite of bread, shrugged, and added “But of course, really headless sorcerers make a better tale.”

And the circling?” asked the tale-finder, “the rising into the air?”

The bard smiled wryly. “That is a subtler matter. It is possible they became lighter, and perhaps they even floated a bit in their pacing. I don’t think Hob exaggerated that very much.”

And what of the strange buzzing that filled the room?”

That you would have to experience for yourself,” he said. “But I don’t think it was heard with the ears. It was, perhaps, more like a pressure.” He nodded and rose. Lunch and the interview were over.

The tale-finder thanked him for his information and hospitality. He felt more confused than ever, though. As he turned to say good-bye at the door, the bard thought of something else. He brought a bucket of well-water and held it up to the tale-finder’s chest. “It is customary in these parts,” he said, “for us to share a drink of water before parting. But before I dip the ladle, look into the bucket. Tell me what you see.”

The tale-finder looked and saw his weather-worn face looking up at him. “My face, my head,” he said. The bard pulled the bucket away. “And now,” he said, smiling, “where is your head?” The tale-finder felt his forehead and cheeks and said, “Well, here it is, only I can’t see it.”

Exactly,” the bard answered. But do you usually notice that you can’t see it? If you don’t, you reside in your thoughts. You have lost your place in the room. Do you understand?”

The tale-finder’s mouth fell open. “So that’s it?”

That’s it.” They shared a farewell drink of water, and the tale-finder went on his way.

1 A hedge-rider, i.e., a witch.

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

January, 2017

ACHLYS

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

goddess

(Photo: Pinterest)

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

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

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

goddess

(Photo: ninecircles.co)

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

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

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

(Wikepedia)

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

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

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

goddess

(Photo: Pinterest)

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

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

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

(Theoi.com)

goddess

(Photo: paleothea.com by Hein Lass)

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

MagickalArts

September, 2016

This month the MagickalArts has an offering of flash fiction. Enjoy!

Tessie’s Gift

magickalarts

Tessie was a sprite. Not just any sprite, mind you but one who could craft the most pleasant of magicks. Her magick was one of bestowing gifts to those who would otherwise remain in need and despair. She was able to command all of the elements; something quite unusual as all of the other sprites were only able to weave their magick with one. Her favorite magick was gently coaxing the winds to do her bidding and she loved watching a golden haired child named Sasha dancing with the gentle breezes Tessie created in the fields.

 

Sasha was a gentle and sweet child whose life was filled with sorrow and pain. Her parents had never wanted her; a fact they made known to her every day. She was scolded for being too quiet and beaten for making too much noise. She ate what was left of the scraps that had been fed first to the cows and pigs as their selling and butchering was the source of the parent’s livelihood.  Even Sasha’s clothing was made from the remnants of old burlap feed bags.

 

Despite the hardships and unloving home Sasha was grateful for what was given to her and snuggled in closely each night, stroking and speaking softly to the animals whose home she shared. Her most treasured companion was a pig named Piper. She told Piper all of her secrets and he grunted happily as she sang him to sleep each night. It had been Tessie who had long ago whispered into Piper’s ear and told him to look after Sasha because she needed to be loved more than anything.

 

One cold morning, Sasha awoke to see Piper being taken off to the slaughterhouse. She begged her Mother and pleaded with her Father, tears streaming down her face and body shivering from the cold. Both pushed her aside and told her she would have no supper that evening for creating such a fuss. Her heart had been broken.   

 

That night Tessie stole into the pens and found Sasha sobbing and sitting alone in the space where her beloved Piper had been. Tessie called out to Sasha and the sobbing momentarily stopped as Sasha looked around. Tessie breathed out a gentle burst of air stirring the dirt up towards Sasha’s tear streaked face and Sasha’s eyes widened in seeing this tiny sprite.  She lowered her head for a closer look and smiled returning Tessie’s loving gaze.

 

Tessie told Sasha that she had been watching her for some time and that such a sweet and gentle child should have a loving home and parents. Sasha said that it was not so bad and that her parents tried as best they could. Tessie told Sasha that she knew of a family that would love and cherish her and as a gift for her kindness, the guardian of the dancing winds would take her to a new home. Sasha’s eyes lit up in excitement and she told Tessie that she would gladly go because this would make it so much easier for her real parents if she were not always underfoot.

 

And, so that night it was agreed that the sprite who could craft the most pleasant of magicks would take Sasha to the loving home she deserved. Tessie told Sasha to lay down and placed an enchanted flower in her hand. Sasha yawned and fell into a heavy and deep sleep.

 

Tessie called to the guardians of the winds and bid them come to her. The air thickened and a gentle woosh of wind spiraled around Tessie. She whispered into the very center of the wind and watched as the sleeping Sasha was gently lifted upwards. Tessie spoke softly to the winds and with each word Sasha was lifted higher, still soundly sleeping and gently cradled in a pocket of airy bedding.

 

The next morning, Sasha stretched and yawned opening sleep filled eyes.  The bedding underneath was soft and smelled of freshly washed linen. Light streamed in through sparkling clean windows lighting up a lavender painted room. She sat up, looking around in disbelief and her eye was drawn to the single periwinkle colored Forget-Me-Not on the pillow next to her. Carefully, she picked it up and vowed that she would never forget Tessie and her gift.  She brought the flower up to her nose and gently inhaled its sweetness as the sound of a loving voice called her downstairs for breakfast. And, what of Tessie? Her story is just beginning.

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