And ye shall be free from slavery
Yesterday in the New Coven Lilith was talking about her studies at University. She is almost finished a bachelor’s degree in World Religions and is feeling confused about all the religions. “Which one is the right one?” she asks. We discussed henotheism, a term which is often applied to Wicca and means the worship of one god while acknowledging the existence of other gods. Wiccans may call themselves henotheistic because they generally worship one Deity pair in one pantheon as their main Deities, while respecting other religion’s God-forms. For example, we may honour Anu and Cernunnos in our Circles but we still respect Shiva and Shakti (Hindu Gods) and other Gods from alternative religious paths.
It got me thinking about my reasons for being Wiccan. For many Witches it is the great personal freedom within our belief system that calls to us. We have the freedom to think for ourselves and to create our own connection with the Divine. It’s not through a Priest that we get the Word of God! That is neither done nor recommended. The training in authentic Wiccan Traditions, and that includes honest and well-written self-teaching books, leads the Seeker to find this connection through ritual, meditation, contemplation and other spiritual and magickal work. In Wicca, even though there is structured training, there are no “commandments” or “thou- shalt-nots.” Most Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede: An it harm none do as ye will, but it is not a rule, rather a guideline on how to live life.
What is slavery?
Slavery is the opposite of the Wiccan Rede. Rather than do as you will it is “do as I will”. Slavery is defined as forced labor or confinement including sexual slavery where the person is considered to be a “thing” and property of the master. According to the United Nations there are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. (1) There are other types of slavery, which are subtler such as the abuse of women and children, elder abuse, and any situation where a vulnerable person is manipulated and coerced to serve another person against their will. Religious indoctrination leading to hate, elitism and mental, emotional, financial and physical control is also a type of slavery of the soul.
Hera Goddess against Slavery (2)
Some people invoke Hera as the Goddess who protects marriages but those who do have little understanding of her story. Historically Hera was known in Greece many generations before the patriarchal tribes of the north brought their sky-god Zeus. She was the main Deity worshiped there and thought to be the ruler of earth and all its dwellers. She was particularly the goddess of women and their sexuality and did not have a consort by her side. Hera was seen as a triple goddess with maiden, mother and crone aspects. As the maiden she was called Parthenia and seen as a virgin, not because she had no intercourse, but because she had no children and was therefore free of responsibility. As the Mother she was called Teleia (perfect one) and seen as the earth in summer and the mother in the prime of her life. Her third aspect was known as Theira (crone), the woman who has passed through child-bearing and lives again to herself. In honour of the three phases of Hera, the ancient residents of Greece celebrated the Heraea, a competitive festival that dates to earlier times than the Olympics. In this festival women came to a field near Hera’s town of Argos for the 160 yard dash. They ran bare-breasted and with hair unbound in three age groups to honor the goddess’s three stages. There were three winners, each receiving identical olive crowns and each winner—young, mature and old—had the right to leave a statuette of herself in Hera’s shrine.
Because Hera’s religion was too strong to destroy, a marriage of convenience was forged between Zeus and Hera. Her favorite bird was a cuckoo and Zeus transformed himself into one and flew bedraggled into her lap. She held the poor bird to her breast where he became himself again and raped her. Shamed by the violation she agreed to become his wife. Later on she organized a failed revolt against him and Zeus chained her in the heavens to punish her until she promised never to challenge his authority again. Much of the rest of her story involves her efforts to sabotage Zeus’s happiness by thwarting his chasing of other women and goddesses. This story can be seen as a symbolic progression of the destruction of Goddess religions and the downfall of the rights of women.
If you feel that you are in a situation, physical, mental or spiritual, where you are being held captive, Hera is the Goddess that will help you regain your freedom. Since she is the ruler of all the dwellers on earth she can also be called upon to protect men, animals and the land, for she is the Mother of All and her love is poured out upon the earth.
Titles: Queen of Heaven, Queen of the Gods, Holy Mother, Creatrix, Goddess of Women, Protectoress of Married Women
Rules Over: womanly power, feminism,
Tarot Card: the empress
Days of the Moon: 10 -12
Month: May 16 – June 12
Holy Day: August 20th
Herbs: orris, myrrh
Flowers: poppy, lily, apple blossom
Trees: oak, willow, apple, pear
Fruits: apple, pomegranate
Animals: cow, peacock, cuckoo, lion
Elements: air, earth, water
Colors: white, gold, blue, green
Symbols: crown, lotus staff, apple scepter, tree pillar
Offerings: apples, pomegranates, lilies, poppies, myrrh, orris, any white flower
Suggested Mantra: wholeness
Suggested Affirmation: “I alone define who I am”
Similar Goddesses: Juno, Inanna, Danu (Anu), Frigga, Europa, Rhea
References and Appendices:
- 1. The following statistics are from the UN GIFT (Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking): http://www.ungift.org/
- 2. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines Patricia Monaghan, Dutton Publishing Co. Inc 1981. Llewellyn edition 1990, pages 152-154
- 3. http://www.orderwhitemoon.org/goddess/Hera/
- The Victims
- The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age
- An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year
- 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries)
- 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 per cent are women and girls
- 32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, of whom 56 per cent are women and girls
- Many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education
- The Traffickers
- 52% of those recruiting victims are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women
- In 54% of cases the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of cases the recruiter was known to victim
- The majority of suspects involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process is occurring
- The Profits
- Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are US$ 31.6 billion
- Of this:
- US$ 15.5 billion – 49% – is generated in industrialized economies
- US$ 9.7 billion – 30.6% is generated in Asia and the Pacific
- US$ 1.3 billion – 4.1% is generated in Latin America and the Caribbean
- US$ 1.6 billion – 5% is generated in sub-Saharan Africa
- US$ 1.5 billion – 4.7% is generated in the Middle East and North Africa
- In 2006 there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions throughout the world
- This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted in 2006