October 16, 2012

Blodeuwedd: Flower Faced Goddess of Wales

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , at 10:53 pm by Babs

Blodeuwedd (blod-oo-eeth) is the Welsh flower face virgin Goddess of spring and was made of flower buds, her beauty disguising a personification of the blood-hungry soil waiting to be fortified with the lifeblood of the sacred king.  Her totemic form was an owl, the same bird of wisdom and lunar mysteries that accompanied or represented ancient Goddesses like Athena and Lilith.  Owls were almost invariably associated with witches in medieval folklore.  She was also the Nine fold Goddess of the western isles of paradise, otherwise known as Morgan, the virgin blending into the crone of death.  She said: “Nine powers in me combined, Nine buds of plant and tree.  Long and white are my fingers, as the ninth wave of the sea.” (The White Goddess, Graves., p. 41-42).

Blodeuwedd was created out of flowers by Gwydion to wed Llew Llaw Gyffes.  She betrayed Llew, either because she had no soul, being non-human, or because she resented being his chattel, or because the triplet of one woman and two men must play itself out in Welsh myth and Llew Llaw Gyffes must die.  At any rate, she fell in love with Goronwy and, wishing to be rid of Llew, she tricked out of him the clearly supernatural and ritual manner in which only he could be killed: neither by day nor night, indoors nor out-of-doors, riding nor walking, clothed nor naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made.  She asked him to explain this, and he did: he could be killed only if it were twilight, wrapped in a fish net, with one foot on a cauldron and the other on a goat, and if the weapon had been forged during sacred hours when such work was forbidden.  Blodeuwedd convinced him to demonstrate how impossible such a position was to achieve by chance, and when he was in it, her lover Goronwy leapt out and struck.  Llew was transformed into an eagle and eventually restored to human form, after which he killed Goronwy.  Blodeuwedd was transformed into an owl, to haunt the night in loneliness and sorry, shunned by all other birds.  (from Encyclopedia Mystica Online circa 2006)

The Myth of Blodeuwedd

Llew Llaw Gyffes, the son of Arianrhod, and Gwydion, the brother of Arianrhod, went unto Math the son of Mathonwy, and complained until him most bitterly of Arianrhod.  Gwydion showed him also how he had procured arms for the youth.  “Well,” said Math, “we will seek by charms and illusion, to form a wife for him out of flowers.”  So they took the blossoms of the oak, the broom, and the meadow-sweet, and produced from them a maiden, the fairest and most graceful that man ever saw.  They baptized her, and gave her the name of Blodeuwedd.  After she had become his bride, and they had feasted, said Gwydion, “It is not easy for a man to maintain himself without possessions.”  “Of a truth,” sad Math, “I will give the young man the best Cantrev to hold.”  “Lord,” said he, “what Cantrev is that?”  “The Cantrev of Dinodig,” he answered.  Now it is called as this day Elvionydd and Ardudwy.  The place in the Cantrev where he dwelt was a palace in a spot called Mur y Castell, on the confines of Ardudwy.  There dwelt he and reigned, and both he and his sway were beloved by all.

One day he went forth to Caer Dathyl, to visit Math the son of Mathonwy.  On the day that he set out for Caer Dathyl, Blodeuwedd walked in the court.  She heard the sound of a horn.  After the sound of the horn, a tired stag went by, with dogs and huntsmen following it.  After the dogs and the huntsmen there came a crowd of men on foot.  “Send a youth,” said she, “to ask who yonder the host may be.”  So a youth went, and inquired whom they were.  “Gronw Pebyr is this, the lord of Penllyn,” said they.  This the youth told her.  Gronw Pebyr pursued the stag, and by the river Cynvael he overtook the stag and killed it.  With flaying the stag and baiting his dogs, he was there until the night began to close in upon him.  As the day departed and the night drew near, he came to the gate of the Court.  “Verify,” said Blodeuwedd, “the Chieftain will speak ill of us if we let him at this hour depart to another land without inviting him in.”  “Yes, truly, lady,”  said they, “it will be most fitting to invite him.”  Then went messengers to meet him and bid him in.  He accepted her bidding gladly, and came to the Court, and Blodeuwedd went to meet hm and greeted him, and bade him welcome.  “Lady,” said he, “Heaven repay thee thy kindness.” When they had made their greetings, they went to sit down.  Blodeuwedd looked upon him, and from the moment that she looked on him she became filled with his love.  He gazed on her, and the same thought came unto him as unto her, so that he could not conceal from her that he loved her, but he declared unto her that he did so.  Thereupon she was very joyful.  All their discourse that night was concerning the affection and love that they felt one for the other, and which in no longer space than one evening had arisen.  That  evening passed they in each other’s company.  The next day he sought to depart, but she said, “I pray thee gogo not from me today.”  That night he tarried also.  That night they consulted by what means they might always be together.  “There is none other counsel,” said he, “but that thou strive to learn from Llew Llaw Gyffes in what manner he will meet his death.  This must thou do under the semblance of solicitude concerning him.”  The next day Gronw sought to depart.  “Verily,’ said she, “I will counsel thee not to go from me today.”  “At thy instance will I not go,” said he, “albeit, I must say, there is a danger that the chief who owns the palace may return home.”  “Tomorrow, ” answered she, “will I indeed permit thee to go forth.”  The next day he sought to go, and she hindered him not.  “Be mindful,” said Gronw, “of what I have said unto thee, and converse with him fully, that under the guise of the dalliance of love find out by what means he may come to his death.”  That night Llew Llaw Gyffes returned to his home.  The day they spent in discourse, and minstrelsy, and feasting.  At night they went to rest and he spoke to Blodeuwedd once, and he spoke to her a second time.  But, for all this, he could not get from her one word.  “What aileth thee,” said he, “art thou well?”  “I was thinking,” said she, “of that which thou didst never think of reward thy care for me,” said he, “but until Heaven take me I shall not easily be slain.”  “For the sake of Heaven, and for mine, show me how thou mightiest be slain.  My memory in guarding is better than thine.”  “I will tell thee gladly,” said he.  “Not easily can I be slain, except by a wound.  And the spear wherewith I am struck must be a year in the forming.  Nothing must be done towards it except during the sacrifice on Sundays.”  “Is this certain?” asked she.  “It is in truth,” he answered.  “I cannot be slain within a house, or without I cannot be slain on horseback nor on foot.”  “Verily,” said she, “in what manner then canst thou be slain?”  “I will tell thee,” said he.  “By making a bath for me by the side of a river, and by putting a roof over the cauldron, and thatching it well and tightly, and bringing a buck, and putting it beside the cauldron.  Then if I place one foot on the buck’s back, and the other on the edge of the cauldron, whosoever strikes me thus will cause my death.”  “Well,” said she,  “I thank Heaven that it will be easy to avoid this.”

No sooner had she held this discourse than she sent to Gronw Pebyr.  Gronw toiled at making the spear, and in a twelvemonth it was ready.  That very day he caused her to be informed thou didst tell me formerly can be true; wilt thous show me in what manner thou couldst stand at once upon the edge of a cauldron and upon a buck, if I prepare the bath for thee?”  “I will show thee,” said he.  Then she sent unto Gronw, and bade him be in ambush on the hill that is now called Brun Kyvergyr, on the bank of the river Cynvael.  She caused also to be collected all the goats that were in the Cantrev, and had them brought to the other side of the river, opposite Bryn Kyvergyr.  The next day she spoke thus, “Lord,” said she, “I have caused the roof and the bath to be prepared,  and lo!  They are ready.”  “Well,” said Llew, “we will go gladly to look at them.”  The day after they came and looked at the bath.  “Wilt thou go into the bath, lord?” said she.  “Willingly will I go in,” he answered.  So into the bath he went and he anointed himself.  “Lord,” said she, “behold the animals which thou didst speak of as being called bucks.”  “Well,” said he, “cause one of them to be caught and brought here.”  The buck was brought.  Then Llew rose out of the bath, and put on his trousers, and he placed one foot on the edge of the bath and the other on the buck’s back.  Thereupon Gronw rose up from the hill that is called Bryn Cyvergyr, and he rested on one knee, and flung the poisoned dart and struck him on the side, so that the shaft started out, but the head of the dart remained in.  Then he flew up in the form of an eagle and gave a fearful scream.  And thenceforth was he no more seen.

As soon as he departed Gronw and Blodeuwedd went together unto the palace that night.  The next day Gronw arose and took possession of Ardudwy.  After he had overcome the land, he ruled over it, so that Ardudwy and Penllyn were both under his sway.  These tidings reached Math, the son of Mathonwy.  Heaviness and grief came upon Math, and much more upon Gwydion than upon him.  “Lord,” said Gwydion, “I shall never rest until I have tidings of my nephew.”  “Verily,” said Math, “may Heaven be thy strength.”  Gwydion set forth and began to go forward.  He went through Gwynedd and Powys to the confines.  When he had done so, he went into Arvon, and came to the house of a vassal, in Maenawr Penardd.  He alighted at the house, and stayed there that night.  The man of the house and his household came in, and last of all came the swineherd.  Said the man of the house to the swineherd, “Well, youth, hath thy sow come in tonight?”  “She hath,” said he, “and is this instant returned to the pigs.”  “Where doth this sow go to?” said Gwydion.  “Every day, when the sty is opened, she goeth forth and none can catch sight of her, neither is it known whither she goeth more than if she sank into the earth.”  “Wilt though grant unto me,” said Gwydion, “not to open the sty, until I am beside the sty with thee.”  “This will I do, right gladly,” he answered.  That night they went to rest; and as soon as the swineherd saw the light of day, he awoke Gwydion.  Gwydion arose, dressed himself, and went with the swineherd and stood beside the sty.  Then the swineherd opened the sty.  As soon as he opened it, she leaped forth, and set off with great speed.  Gwydion followed her, and she went against the course of a river, and made for a brook, which is now called Nant y Llew.  There she halted and began feeding.  Gwydion came under the tree, and looked what it might be that the sow was feeding on.  He said that she was eating putrid flesh and vermin.  Then looked he up to the top of the tree, and as he looked he beheld on the top of the tree and eagle, and when the eagle shook itself, there fell vermin and putrid flesh from off it, and these the sow devoured.  It seemed to him that the eagle was Llew.  He sang an Englyn:

“Oak that grows between th two banks;

Darkened is the sky and hill!

Shall I not tell him by his wounds,

That this is Llew?”

Upon this the eagle came down until he reached the center of the tree.  Gwydion sang another Englyn:

“Oak that grows in upland ground,

Is it not wetted by therein?

Has it not been drenched

By nine score tempests?

It bears in its branches Llew Llaw Gyffes!”

Then the eagle came down until he was on the lowest branch of the tree, and thereupon this Englyn did Gwydion sing:

“Oak that grows beneath the steep;

Stately and majestic is its aspect!

Shall I not speak it?

That Llew will come to my lap?”

The eagle came down upon Gwydion’s knee, and Gwydion struck him with his magic wand, so that he returned to his own form.  No one ever saw a more piteous sight, for he was nothing but skin and bone.  Then he went unto Caer Dathyl, and there were brought until him good physicians that were in Gwynedd, and before the end of the year he was quite healed.  “Lord,” said he unto Math the son of Mathonwy, “it is fall time now that I have retribution of him by whom I have suffered all this woe.”  “Truly,” said Math, “he will never be able to maintain himself in the possession of that which is thy right.”  “Well,” said Llew, “the sooner I have my right, the better shall I be pleased.”

Then they called together the whole of Gwynedd, and set forth to Ardudwy.  Gwydion went on before and proceeded to Mur y Castell.  When Blodeuwedd hear that he was coming, she took her maidens with her, and fled to the mountain.  They passed through the river Cynvael, and went towards a court that there was upon the mountain.  They passed through the river Cynvael, and went with their faces looking backwards, so that unawares they fell into the lake.  They were all drowned except Blodeuwedd herself, and Gwydion overtook her.  He said unto her, “I will not slay thee, but I will do unto thee worse than that.  For I will turn thee into a bird; and because of the shame thou has done unto Llew Llaw Gyffes, thou shalt never show thy face in the light of day henceforth; and that through fear of all the other birds.  for it shall be their nature to attack thee, always called Blodeuwedd.”  Even today the word “Blodeuwedd” means owl in the Welsh language.

The Gronw Pebyr withdrew unto Penllyn, and he dispatched thence an embassy.  The messengers he sent asked Llew Llaw Gyffes if he would take land, or domain, or gold, or silver for the injury he had received.  “I will not, by my confession to Heaven,” said he.  “Behold this is the least that I will accept from him; that he come to the spot where I was when he wounded me with the dart, and that I stand where he did, and that with a dart I take my aim at him.  This is the very least that I will accept.”  This was told unto Gronw Pebyr.  “Verily,” said he, “is it needful for me to do thus? My faithful warriors, and my household, and by foster-brothers, is there not one among you who will stand the blow in my stead?”  “There is not,” answered they.  Because of their refusal to suffer one stroke for their lord, they are called the third disloyal tribe een unto this day.  “Well,” said he, “I will meet it.”  Then they tow went forth to the banks of the river Cynvael and Gronw stood in the place where Llew Llaw Gyffes was when he struck him, and Llew in the place where Gronw was.  Then said Gronw Pebyr unto Llew, “Since it was through the wiles of a woman that I did unto thee as I have done, I adjure thee by Heaven to let me place between me and the blow, the slab though seest yonder on the river’s bank.”  “Verily,” said Llew, “I will not refuse thee this,”  “Ah,” said he, “may Heaven reward thee.”  So Gronw took the slab and placed it between him and the blow.  Then Llew flung the dart at him, and it pierced the slab and went through Gronw likewise, so that it pierced through his back.  Thus was Gronw Pebyr slain.  There is still the slab on the bank of the river Cynvael, in Ardudwy, having the hole through it.  Therefore it is even now called Llech Gronw.  a second time did Llew Llaw Gyffes take possession of the land, and prosperously did he govern it.  And as the story relates, he was lord after this over Gwynedd.

Invocation to Blodeuwedd – by Kirk S. Thomas

 Come, Lady who was never born,

Come, Lady of the wild.

Come, She who is  called Flower-Face,

For nature is beguiled.

But Gwidion and Math, You know,

Lleu’s sadness would dispel.

From Broom and Oak and Meadow Sweet

They worked Their mighty spell.

Their magic swirled, the spell unfurled,

And worked just as it should.

The flowers were no longer here –

In beauty there You stood!

O come to us, sweet Blodeuwedd!

The winter’s chill abates.

‘Tis summer now, and love is nigh;

Your fair-haired God awaits!

The legend of Blodeuwedd is also the story of Llew’s struggle for his kingship which was averted and made more difficult by the Goddess Arianrhod, who tried Her best to prevent Llew, Her son, his birth-right due to the shame brought upon Her by his companions.

In short, Arianrhod stated that he would not receive a name, unless it be from Her’ he would not receive his arms, unless it be from Her, and, he could never marry a mortal woman.  Thus, he could not become king unless it be through Her auspices.  In order to assure that Llew would survive long enough to attain his kingship, some magick was given to him in the form of the circumstances of his death.

As has been typical of the Celts, his death could only be accomplished through a set of very unlikely and almost preposterous circumstances.  He could not be killed indoors or out, on horse or on foot, and the spearhead capable of killing him had to be cast during a sacred period of time.  Arianrhod was tricked into giving Llew his name and his arms but the larger problem of having a wife, which would assert his right to the land, was accomplished through the magick of his cousins, Math and Gwydion, who created Blodeuwedd from the flowers of the Oak, Broom and meadow-sweet.

Due to the nature of Her birth, Blodeuwedd – whose name means either “Flower Face” or the ancient name for the Owl and represents the Earth in full bloom. Through their marriage, Llew’s requirement of marrying the land and thus, his Sovereignty is completed.

One day, Llew goes hunting, leaving Blodeuwedd along with Her ladies in the castle.  A young huntsman, Gronw, later seeks shelter and he and Blodeuwedd experience love at first sight.  Wanting nothing more than to be together, Gronw persuades Blodeuwedd to discover the improbable circumstances surrounding Llew’s death, an act he would help to accomplish.  This plan made, Gronw departs from Blodeuwedd and they remain separate for a long period of time, during which Blodeuwedd feigns anxiety concerning Llew’s death.

Eventually, Her pleading persuades Llew to demonstrate these very circumstances in order to allay Her fears by showing Her his death could not be easily accomplished.

they prepare a bath on a riverbank, covering it with a thatched root, being neither indoors nor out.  As Llew stands with one foot upon the edge of the tub and the other upon the back of a goat, Gronw throws the specially made spear, hitting Llew in the side.  Llew immediately turns into an eagle and flies off, later discovered and nursed back to health by his cousins, Math and Gwydion.  When the two lovers are found, Gronw is killed and Blodeuwedd turned into an owl.

Due to the very circumstances of Her birth, the actions of Blodeuwedd may be seen in a more sympathetic light.  She was created from the flowers of a very powerful tree – the Oak – and from flowers of an explicitly healing nature, in order to give power to Llew and to be able to continually heal and renew him.  She is never asked whether She loves him or desires to marry him.  She was created for his purposes, solely to assure his right to rule the land.  Her own desires are impossible to achieve while Llew lives and She is often seen as the epitome of non-assertive femininity, fickleness and the faithless wife, using the passion of two men for Her to seal the doom of both.  In truth Her supposed treachery creates the very conditions to enable Llew to experience the ritual death and rebirth commonly required of the Druidic priesthood, thus ensuring his kingship.

Blodeuwedd is seen as a part of his hard and difficult destiny.  Throughout Celtic legend, otherworldly women are created and utilized to represent the Land, which is definitely feminine in nature.  Owl, the totemic representation of Blodeuwedd, signifies the complete transformation of the initiate as represented by Llew’s virtual death and subsequent healing.  She is signified by the trans-personal and universal energies into well-defined life force.  She is also the Maiden Goddess of initiation ceremonies and is known as the Nine-fold Goddess of the Western Isles of Paradise.  Flowers, the wisdom of innocence, Lunar Mysteries and initiation are Her provinces.

Correspondences:

  • Aspect: Maiden
  • Alignment: Air
  • Moon Phases: New/ Waxing
  • Moon Times: Moon after Imbolc to Beltane Moon
  • Totem: The Owl
  • Symbol: Nine Flowers used to create her: The Bean, Burdock, Meadow-sweet, Primrose, Nettle, Hawthorn, Oak and Chestnut.
  • Lunar Mysteries
  • Initiation

 Facts about Blodeuwedd

 In the Avalonian Cycle of Healing Blodeuwedd is the Guardian of the Station of Emergence.  Her lesson is reclaiming the True Self.  When working with Her Blodeuwedd asks us “Who are you?”  Through Her you will gain clarity and wisdom.  She is very accessible through meditation.  She holds the Station of Beltane, a portal time, just like dawn, which is Her time of day.  Honor her with an essence of her flowers.

Nine Blossoms of Blodeuwedd

  • Bean – a white blossom sacred to the Goddess and we must seek Her blessings in this creation.
  • Broom – a yellow blossom to purify and protect.
  • Burdock – a bright purple blossom to ward off evil spirits.
  • Meadow-sweet – Tiny yellow flowers for a gentle and loving nature.
  • Primrose – to attract love.
  • Nettle – to arouse his desire and her passion.
  • Hawthorn – to insure she is chaste and not wanton and bring happiness to him.
  • Oak – for vigor in his lovemaking and for many children.
  • Chestnut – for true and lasting love.

October 11, 2012

Eostre: Goddess of Spring

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:43 pm by Babs

The Goddess’ Wheel of the Year: a seasonal ritual drama:

Tired of the emphasis on the heterosexual relationship between The Goddess and the Gods in most ritual drama cycles which celebrate the seasonal Wheel of the Year, some covens have created a mythic cycle which focuses exclusively on different faces of the Goddess and, sometimes the interplay between her different aspects.  Over a year they discussed which Goddesses and their myths were associated with each festival.  From these they selected stories which lent themselves to ritual drama and created a “script” for that festival’s ritual, with one or more women being honored to carry (literally, to be possessed by) the Goddess.  They were also inspired by the wealth of ancient sites in West Cornwall, England in which to enact these sacred dramas.  In part of the series for the Spring Equinox ritual, they dedicated to Persephone, Brigid and Eostre.

Starting the ritual before sunrise, so as to go from dark to light, as in the turning from the dark to the light half of the year,  the altar was set with a red cloth, a red egg, red flowers, daffodils, and a hare figurine.  They then marked out a seven-turn Cretan Labyrinth on the ground with white flour.

After purification and blessing one another, quarters were called and the circle cast.  The Goddess was invoked first into the woman portraying Persephone, who was dressed in dark red and wore dark lipstick, a labrys necklace and a crimson cowl, all symbolizing the passion, power and fertility aspects of the Dark Queen of the Dead.  Persephone walks on down the path (disappearing into the underworld).  The remaining women then invoked the maiden Goddess Brigid into the next woman who was dressed all in white.

Brigid and the women called Persephone up from the underworld, using drums and percussion to build energy, and chanting “Persephone, return to the earth, return, return.” Persephone comes up from the underworld, carrying a bowl of menstrual blood, red flowers and red candles.  She motioned to the young virgin Brigid and to the women to sit.

Persephone proceeded to initiate Brigid into womanhood.  She showed Brigid the menstrual mystery with a white flower which she dipped into the bowl of menstrual blood.  Then, taking the bowl, she marked Brigid’s forehead with the blood.  She gave Brigid an extended version of the five-fold kiss, awakening her sexuality and her power by kissing her lips, shoulders, biceps, heart, breasts, hands, womb, yoni, knees, and feet and saying a blessing on each.

Persephone sings “The Barge of Heaven” (A reclaiming chant, based on Inanna’s hymn of praise to her own vulva from the Enuma Enlil tablets of ancient Sumer) all the way through once.  Then she teaches it to Brigid line by line in a call and response style.  She paints Brigid’s little fingernails scarlet, put her own labrys around Brigid’s neck, and leads her to the entrance of the labyrinth.  There Persephone un-plaits Brigid’s hair, gives her a red flower, and passes aspect by kissing her passionately on the mouth.  Persephone then leaves Brigid the bowl of menstrual blood to meditate upon , and briefly initiates the women, by giving them each a sexual kiss and a red flower.  Persephone then departs and puts down aspect, to return to be another of the women.

When she feels ready, Brigid walks the labyrinth.  At the center she transforms into the Springtime Goddess Eostre, removing her white clothes, stroking, exploring and celebrating her newly aroused body.  She then puts on beautiful red clothes and the daffodil and carnation crown which she found in the center of the labyrinth.

Eostre danced out of the labyrinth and blessed the women with springtime life-lust.  One by one, they then walked the labyrinth, putting on red clothes and flower crowns at the center.  Each emerged to dancing, drums, rattles and general celebration, and Eostre blessed each one, cutting off any red cords worn for protection through the winter.

Power is then raised by chanting: “She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes” (By Starhawk with Lauren Liebling), and “We are the power in everyone, we are the dance of the Moon and Sun, we are the hope that never hides, we are the turning of the tide.”

Eostre then presides over a feast of red fizzy wine, red grape juice and red food, such as carrot and beetroot salad, velvety red beetroot soup and strawberries.

The Vernal Equinox

As the newly reborn sun races across the sky; the days become longer, the air warmer and once again, life begins to return to the land.  Twice a year, day and night become equal in length.  To the elders of the Old Way, these times, equinoxes, were markers in which seeds would be planted and then harvested.  The first of these, the Spring or Vernal Equinox occurs on or about March 21st.  Eostre (pronounced Es-tra) was an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring to whom offerings of cakes and colored eggs were made at the Vernal Equinox.

Rabbits were sacred to her, especially white rabbits, and she was believed to have taken the form of a rabbit.  She was the goddess of the East, of Rebirth and of Spring.  The ancient goddess not only marked the passage of time but also symbolized new life and fertility, was the key symbol of this celebration which was also  known as Ostara.  Legend has it that the goddess was saved by a bird whose wings had become frozen by the cold of winter.  This process turned the bird into a hare.  Yet this was no ordinary cottontail; this long-eared rabbit could also lay eggs!  The main symbols for Easter are the egg, for new life or beginnings, and the rabbit/ hare, for fertility.

Celebrating the Vernal Equinox

While the Vernal Equinox was an important point of passage in the year, the actual method of marking the festival varied from village to village and people to people.  Rituals and invocations for abundance in the new crops being planted would often be held during the new moon closest to the Equinox (traditionally a good time to plant).  In some places this was also the time when promises were made between lovers for the Handfasting Ceremony that would come at Midsummer.  In a very real sense the ceremony was an expression of hope and trust in the new lives that would blossom in the warmth of summer.

Even the latter-day celebration (comparatively speaking) of Easter acknowledged the significance of the Vernal Equinox.  The Council of Nice decreed in 325 A.D. that “Easter was to fall upon the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox.”  This time of equality between day and night has been, and continues to be, a timekeeper, marking our passage from darkness and cold to warmth and light.

Relationship to Easter

As Christianity spread across Europe and Britain, these older symbols became incorporated into the new faith’s holiday of Easter, even the name seems to have been a variant of the Goddess whose festival was originally celebrated with the arrival of spring.  The old rites honoring the planting of new seeds, the fertility of the land and its people, and the hope of the new life arising in the world were replaced by solemn displays commemorating Christ and Christian beliefs.

Colored Eggs

The Easter egg takes us back to some of the oldest known civilizations on earth where the symbol of an egg played an important part in mythical accounts of the creation of the world.  According to myth, heaven and earth were formed from the two halves of a mysterious World-Egg.  The Easter egg is associated with this World-Egg, the original germ from which all life proceeds, and whose shell is the firmament.  So there is a heathen connection between the egg and the ideas or feelings of birth, new life and creation.

Easter eggs do have a very long ancestry.  In their modern chocolate or cardboard form they date only from the later years of the last century, but giving real eggs, colored or gilded at Easter and also at the pre-Christian spring celebrations are infinitely older.

At the time of the Vernal Equinox, eggs were used for the creation of talismans and were also ritually eaten.  There is little doubt that clutches of eggs laid by many different kinds of birds in the spring were a welcome dietary supplement to early hunter/ gatherers after the sparseness of winter.  It’s also possible that gathering a variety of eggs from nests of birds by our ancestors gave rise to two customs still popular today – the Easter egg hunt and coloring eggs in imitation of the various pastel colors of the eggs of wild birds.  It is also believed by some that humankind first got the idea for weaving baskets from watching birds weave nests.

Long before the Christian era, eggs were regarded as symbols of continuing life and resurrection.  The ancient Persians and Greeks exchanged them at their spring festivals when all things in nature revived after the winter.  To the early pagans converted to “Christianity” under Emperor Constantine’s rule, eggs seemed the obvious symbols of the Lord’s resurrection and were therefore considered “holy” and appropriate gifts at Easter time.  Pope Paul V appointed a pryer in which the eggs were “blessed.”  The eggs cold then be eaten in thankfulness to God on account of the resurrection of the Lord.  The custom of coloring eggs at Easter continued from paganism with only a change of dedication.  These eggs are often red.  Scarlet eggs were given in the spring by pagan peoples centuries before the birth of Christ.  It is probably the favorite color because, like the egg itself, it is an emblem of life.

In the Ukraine, women dye eggs in brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges.  These eggs are called krashanka, and they are eaten to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun and the return of the seasons of plenty.  These krashanka were closely associated with a race of “spirits” called “Kindly Ones” who dwelt in darkness of the banks of the rivers of the world.  On Eostre’s Day, the red shells of the krashanka were thrown into the rivers so that they wold eventually arrive on the banks of this distant island, bringing with them the message that the Sun and the Season of Rebirth have returned.  Another custom was to place a krashanka on the fresh grave of a loved one assuring rebirth and return.

The Ukraine did not accept Christianity as its official religion until 988 C.E. and at that time the Pagan population refused to give up this Pagan art, so eventually the Church had to accept it, give its blessing, and call them Easter eggs.  There is an ancient legend in the Ukraine that tells of a demon monster that would devour the world.  This monster is chained, and as it strains and pulls, the links of its chains strengthened in proportion to the number of  pysanky that were made and exchanged that season.

A more decorative form of colored eggs the pysanky.  The word “pysanky” comes from the root word psaty “to write”, because signs are written on the surface of the egg in a rich language of symbols almost endless in number and variation.  The pysanky were powerful amulets that helped to maintain the balance between dark and light, death and rebirth, and for fertility and prosperity on the personal level.  They were made and exchanged between friends and family during the springtime season of rebirth.

The Easter Rabbit

The hare is the true Easter beast, not the rabbit.  He was sacred to the Spring-Goddess, Eostre.  Hares were sacrificed to her.  The hare was an emblem of fertility, renewal, and return of spring to the heathen.  The egg, in modern American folklore, is the production of the rabbit or the hare.  The story is that this hare was once a bird whom Eostre changed into a four-footed creature.

Hot-Cross Buns

Eating hot-cross buns is one of the Good Friday customs that has taken root in America.  They are pagan in origin, for the Anglo-Saxon savages consumed cakes as part of the jollity that attended the welcoming of spring.  Early missionaries from Rome despaired of breaking them of the habit, and got around the difficulty by blessing the cakes, drawing a cross upon them.  But the cross was a pagan symbol long before the crucifixion. Bread and cakes were sometimes marked with it in pre-Christian times.  Two small loaves each with a cross on them were discovered under the ruins of Herculaneum, a city overwhelmed by volcanic ash in 79 C.E. It is probable that the crosses here had a pagan meaning like those which appeared on cakes associated with the worship of Diana.

Eostre Stats:

Goddess of fertility and new beginnings, we take this opportunity to embrace Eostre’s passion for new life and let our own lives take the new direction we have wanted for so long.

Suggested Mantra: Fresh Start

Suggested Affirmations:

  • I live life without fear
  • My creativity is energized
  • I feel absolutely supercharged
  • Today is my chance to be healthy
  • My vital energy resurfaces naturally
  • I embrace life in its absolute fullness
  • I find my path following my inclinations
  • My whole being reaches for the new dawn

Essence: Ishtar 100% pure essential oil blend.  The Sacral Chakra, located in the abdomen, lower back, and sexual organs, is related to creativity, emotions and sexuality.  It connects us to others through feeling, desire, sensation, and movement.  Linked to the reproductive area of the female body, creativity is heightened when this chakra is awakened.

When to use: Use this bland of five 100% pure essential oils to super-charge and connect with your feminine grace and creativity.  Enjoy being the nurturing mother, inspired companion, playful bed partner, wild woman, wise advisor, artful communicator and insightful leader.  Use when invoking such goddesses as Aphrodite, Bast, Baubo, Ceres, Eostre, Hathor, Iambe, IxChel and Yemaya.

Ingredients: Ylang ylang (used for its anti-depressant qualities) Sweet Orange and Grapefruit (to relieve anxiety) and Patchouli (for its calming effect.  These ingredients work together to lead the user to the center of their creativity and personal power.

Gemstones: Carnelian, Coral, Agate, Brown Jasper (orange stones)

More about Eostre

Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn, from whom “East” and “Easter” got their names.  As the fertility goddess of the Northern European peoples, her legend was manipulated by the invading Romans – newly Christianized, the merged Eostre’s spring legend to coincide with the time of Christ’s resurrection.

She is also goddess Ostara, the maiden, in German mythology, celebrated when night and day are equal and balanced (the spring equinox for the norther hemisphere).  Interestingly, the word “estrus” (referring to an animal in heat) is also derived from Eostre as her consort was a rabbit with an extraordinarily high libido!

October 9, 2012

Akna: The Inuit Mother Goddess

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , at 4:37 am by Babs

Akna (AHK-nah: Female):  If your cat is an especially attentive mother, always keeping a watchful gaze of concern on her restless kittens, you might want to consider this name.  To the Eskimos, Akna was the goddess of childbirth and motherhood.  In fact her name means “Mother.”  Akna also appears as a fertility and mother goddess of the Maya.

From Wikipedia: Inuit mythology has many similarities to the religions of other polar regions.  Inuit traditional religious practice could be very briefly summarized as a form of Shamanism based on animist principles.

In some respects, Inuit mythology stretches the common conception of what the term “mythology” means.  Unlike Greek mythology, for example, at least a few people have believed in it, without interruption, from the distant past up to and including the present time.  While the dominant religious system of the Inuit today is Christianity, many Inuit do still hold to at least some element of their traditional religious beliefs.  Some see the Inuit as having adapted traditional beliefs for the greater or lesser to Christianity, while others would argue that it is rather the reverse that is true: The Inuit have adapted Christianity to their worldview.

Inuit traditional cosmology is not religion in the usual theological sense, and is similar to what most people think of as mythology only in that it is a narrative about the world and the place of people init.  In the words of the Inuit writer Rachel Attituq Qisualik: “The Inuit cosmos is ruled by no one.  There are no divine mother and father figures.  There are no wind gods and solar creators.  There are no eternal punishments in the hereafter, as there are no punishments for children or adults in the here and now.”

Indeed, the traditional stories, rituals and taboos of the Inuit are so tied into the fearful and precautionary culture required by their harsh environment that it begs the question whether they qualify as beliefs at all, much less religion.  As Knud Rasmussen’s Inuit guide told him when asked about Inuit religious beliefs “We don’t believe, we fear.”  Living in a varied and irregular world, the Inuit traditionally did not worship anything, but they feared much.

The Inuit believed that all things had a form of spirit or soul (in Inuktitut: anirniq – breath; plural anirniit), just like humans.  These spirits were held to persist after death – a common myth present in practically all human societies.  However, the belief in the pervasiveness of spirits – the rood of Inuit myth structure – has consequences.  According to the customary Inuit saying “The great peril of our existence lies in the fact that our diet consists entirely of souls.”  By believing that all things – including animals – have souls like those of humans, killing an animal is little different from killing a person.  Once the anirniq of the dead – animal or human – is liberated, it is free to take revenge.  The spirit of the dead can only be placated by obedience to custom, avoiding taboos, and performing the right rituals.

The harshness and randomness of life in the arctic ensured that Inuit lived constantly in fear of unseen forces.  A run of bad luck could kill and begging potentially angry and vengeful but unseen powers for the necessities of day-to-day survival is a common consequence of a precarious existence even in modern society.  For the Inuit, to offend an anirniq was to risk extinction.  The principal role of the shaman in Inuit society was to advise and remind people of the rituals and taboos they needed to obey to placate the spirits, since he was held to be able to see and contact them.

The anirniit were seen to be a part of the sila – the sky or air around them – and were merely borrowed from it.  Although each person’s anirniq was individual, shaped by the life and body it inhabited, at the same time it was part of a larger whole.  This enabled Inuit to borrow the powers or characteristics of an anirniq by taking its name.  Furthermore, the spirits of a single class of thing – be it sea mammals, polar bears, or plants – were in some sense held to be the same, and could be invoked through a sort of keeper or master who was connected in some fashion with that class of thing.  In some cases, it is the anirniq of a human or animal who became a figure of respect or influence over animals things through some action, recounted in a traditional tale.  In other cases, it is a tuurngaq, as described below.

Since the arrival of Christianity among the Inuit, anirniq has become the accepted word for a Soul in the Christian sense.  This is the root word for a number of other Christian terms: anirnisiaq means Angel and God is rendered as anirnialuk – the great spirit.

Some spirits were by nature unconnected to physical bodies.  These figures were called tuurngait (singular tuurngaq) and were regarded as evil and monstrous, responsible for bad hunts and broken tools.  They could also possess humans, as recounted in the story of Atanarjuat.  Shamen could fight or exorcise them, or they could be held at bay by rituals; but they could also be caught and enslaved by shamen, who could then turn them against free tuurngait.  Tuurngaq has, with the inclusion of Christianity, taken on the additional meaning of Demon in the Christian belief system.

The shaman (Inuktitut: angakuq, sometimes spelled angakok; plural angakuit) of a community of Inuit was not the leader, but rather a sort of healer and psychotherapist, who tended wounds and offered advice, as well as involving the spirits to assist people in their lives, or as often as not fighting them off.  His or her role was to see, interpret and exhort the subtle and unseen.  Shamen were not trained – they were held to be born with the ability and to show it as they matured.  Rhythmic drums, chants and dances were often used in the performance of the shaman’s duties.  The function of the shaman has largely disappeared in Christianized Inuit society.

The Inuit simply did not have gods, although one often sees names from Inuit mythic traditions called gods in non-Inuit media, including Wikipedia.  what they had were the kinds of figures found in horror stories – mean, invisible, vengeful, arbitrary, powerful beings that were either particularly powerful tuurngait or human or animal anirniit turned into feared entities by some tale of abuse or  horror.

Inuit mythological tradition was only written down in recent years, and often two different stories would circulate about the same mythical figure, or alternately the same story would use different names in different areas.  Europeans further complicated this by mangling Inuktitut names as they transcribed them.  Thus, the entities below may appear under many other names, or their stories may be very different from teller to teller.

Akna in Space:

Venus and Earth are the only planets in our solar system that have mountain belts.  The highland massif of Ishtar Terra in the norther hemisphere of Venus includes a huge plateau, named Lakshmi Planum.  It is about the size of Africa, rises 3.5 thousand meters above the surrounding terrain, and is bordered by the Akna, Danu, Freyja and Maxwell mountains, each about one million meters in extent.  Maxwell Montes stands 11 thousand meters above the mean radius.  The Akna named for the Inuit Mother Goddess and the Yucatan Goddess of Birth,Freyja named for the Norse mother of Odin and Danu named for the Norse mother of Odin.  Maxwell is named after the British physicist James Clerk Maxwell, while Cleopatra is the Egyptian queen who had affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.  The Blackfoot Indian woman Sacagawea, guided the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Northwest, and Claudine Collette was a French novelist.

October 4, 2012

Lilith – The First Feminist Goddess

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , , at 9:59 pm by Babs

The many legends of Lilith – “My name thou knowest not, and yet shall know, and know too late.  But, know thou this indeed: joy is my sister.  Sister I, to death.”  Lilith’s legend stems from many cultures including Babylonian, Sumerian and Hebrew.

Of these she is most well-known for her role in Hebrew writings.  This Sumerian and Hebrew Goddess, once honored for her wisdom, freedom, courage, playfulness, passion, pleasure and sexuality in pre 2300 BCE, was portrayed as a demon by Levite priests at the dawn of patriarchy.  Her liberationalist attitude and assertive behavior was threatening to the emerging patriarchal society, and led to her expulsion from Eden to be replaced by the more subservient Eve.  But let’s piece together the story.

Hebrew Tradition:

It is said that Lilith was the twin sister of Adam and dwelt with him in the Garden at Paradise.  Adam was created from dust, so the story goes, and She was created just as Adam was therefore claiming to be his equal.  Adam was king of Eden and Lilith wished to be co-ruler with him, but the Lord of Light permitted it not.  Lilith was beautiful and wise and soon She wearied of her brother, Adam, who was less wise than she.  When Adam wanted to lie with her She wanted to know why she must submit and be on the bottom.  This shows She was in full control of her own sexuality.  Lilith refused to bear children from Adam.  The Lord of Light was angered and turned Lilith out of Paradise.  In som translations she fled and in others she left willingly.  Regardless of hour her exit was made, She gives up paradise before submitting to a man.

Later, She went to Yahweh (god) and tricked him into giving his sacred name, his name of power.  Because Lilith now had power over Yahweh, she demanded he give her wings and she flew to the desert. (Isis???) Adam begged Yahweh to send Lilith back to him and Yahweh sent the three angels Senoi.  Sansenoi and Samangloph to find her and bring her back.  They found her on the banks of the Read Sea, copulating with demons, and giving birth to hundreds of demon children.  She refused to return and was told that she would lose a hundred of her children every day if she did not, but still she refused.

Slight variations in Hebrew legend show She was cursed to give birth to one hundred demon children a day who were then killed because she would not return.  Parentage of the demon children also vacillates… from a demon to Adam himself which will be explained in a moment.  Her revenge for this curse (either the killing of her children or the giving birth to demons or then seeing them killed) is also varied.  One version has Her taking revenge by stealing or killing human children.

In another version She is the snake of the garden who tempted Eve.  Yet another revolves around her replacement… Eve.  You know the story, Adam and Eve fell from favor with Yahweh (which may or may not have had something to do with Lilith in the form of a snake) and Adam decided upon celibacy.  Then Lilith took her revenge every night by coming to him as a succubae, capturing his semen and making demon babies.  For this reason Lilith is believed in Jewish folklore to be a succubus, a sexual vampire or demon who came to men at night and caused wet dreams.  The Queen of Sheba, portrayed in some legends as a seductive temptress or sorceress, is associated with Lilith in Jewish tradition.

It is also said that Samuel, an angel of the Lord of Light and a son of god, fell in love with Lilith.  To Samuel, Lilith bore three half-god half-human children, all called the nephilim.  Their wisdom, power and beauty were so great that the children of Darkness were afraid of them and called them monstrous names to defile them.  Lilith would not be defiled.  From her beloved Samuel she learned the wisdom of the Lord of Light and became the first with.  She lived as a daughter of the night mother, calling the people to dance and be youths by the light of the moon.  Her symbol was the night owl, and those who followed her called her Arionrhod.  The children of Darkness trembled and barred their doors at night seeking to protect them lest Lilith take them and teach them the ways of the wise ones, the witches of old.

Lilith is the archetype for the woman who refuses to be dominated by man.  She is a largely misunderstood archetype who has been called Poetess of Darkness, Imp of Impetuosity, and Occasional Serpent of Seduction.  She is deeply committed to her personal freedom and keeps her moral strength alive.  Some stories says she is a demon, others a fallen angel.  She has a mysterious power that is permanent, direct and instinctual.  To be cast out for not obeying your husband is enough to make you a snake or a demon in the history of the Jewish people.

her name means “Screech Owl” or “Night Creature.”  She is mentioned in the Bible as the Hebrew god, Yahweh, threatens the destruction of Edom (a land located to the south and east of the dead Sea) He describes what will happen after it is laid waste: “… The night creature shall rest there and find for herself a place of rest” (Book of Isaiah Chapter 34 verse 14).  Like in the Inanna legend, Lilith’s presence symbolizes a dark time of fear or desolation.  She is the focus of misogyny which is defined as the hatred of women and Robin Morgan went to far as to say. “Every organized patriarchal religion worked overtime to contribute its own brand of misogyny.”  Curious to also note history is written by the victors (here I am referring to the patriarchal society_ and you will note that Lilith has been edited out of the final version of the creation story and Eve is the root of all sin.

Sumerian Tradition:

Lilith is the first feminist Goddess, dating to 2300 BCE or earlier.  The earliest representation of Lilith seem to be a great winged Bird Goddess, a wind spirit, or one associated with the Sumerian, Ninlil, Goddess of the Grain, and wife to Enlil.  This powerful dark-mother goddess is referred to as a demon by Levite priests who wrote the Bible, likely due to her assertive behavior at a time when patriarchy was new.  As the “hand of Inanna”, Lilith was notorious for bringing men from the street and fields of war to Inanna’s temple for holy sexual rites, in which the intention was to civilize the people.  The sacred sexual customs were, in fact, considered the greatest gift of Inanna.

For the Sumerians, She was the original wife of Adam, with whom She claimed equality because they were created together in the image of Elohin (a word for “god” which had feminine as well as masculine linguistic roots).  In her hands She holds the rod and ring of Sumerian royal authority (or glyph of 100,000).  Lilith wears a stepped crown or turban and is accompanied by the bird of wisdom and the king of beasts.

In Sumerian/ Babylonian myth Lilith is a demon-goddess, called “The Dark maid” or “Maiden of Desolation”.  She is associated with owls and is the creature of the night depicted on a Babylonian clay plaque from 2000 – 16000 BCE as beautiful winged woman with bird’s feet and claws.

As a young woman, Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love and war, plants a sacred huluppu tree from which She hopes to make Her throne (representing Her power as an adult woman) and bed (representing Her full sexuality).  But Lilith, along with the serpent and the lion-faced anzu bird, eventually drives Lilith out and Inanna is then able to claim Her throne and bed.

Sumerian myth has Lilith as Eve’s dark sister and first wife of Adam and she became representative of all that is dark, wild, and intensely creative and free in human nature, existing beyond the reach of society’s boundaries or control.

According to the Farrars, “Lilith was not her original name, which appears to have been lost.  She acquired it by identification with the Sumerian “night hag” Lilitu.  As such, she is the ‘screech-owl’ or ‘night monster’ of Isaiah xxiv:14.”

They go on to say, “So much for the blackening process.  Lilith (whatever her own name was), is clearly a concept much older than Eve.  Whether she was the First Woman, co-equal with the First Man – or father back than that, the uncreated Primordial Mother who gave birth to the First Man (or the first Male God) and then mated with him – she was totally unacceptable to emerging Hebrew patriarchy.  So Eve was invented – created by a male God out of Adam’s male body, as complete a reversal of the natural order as Zeus’s giving birth to Athene by swallowing her pregnant mother, Metis.”

In recent times, Lilith is revered as a strong woman, confident in her sexual powers, who refused to be subordinate to the husband she was given to, who left Paradise willingly rather than submit to a man.

Lilith in a reading indicates tension and its underlying dark fears that must be faced.  Sexuality is a strong undercurrent in this situation and needs to be recognized.

Various legends of Lilith saw her as a threat to children, possibly in revenge for the killing of her own demon babies.  Patricia Monaghan says, “Lilith threatened children as well, for she has power over all infants in their first week… Mothers could protect their children however, by hanging an amulet marked “Sen Sam San” for the protective angels Sensenoi, Samangalaph, and Senoi” – around the child’s neck.

“Because she liked her victims smiling she tickled the infant’s fee.  It giggled, thereupon Lilith strangled it.  mothers were also wary of kites, pelicans, owls, jackals, wildcats and wolves, all disguises favored by Lilith, who went as well by 40 other names and represented a terrifying power that the Sumerians called Lamasthu, the Greeks Lamia, and other people Gilou, Kishimogin, or Baba Yaga.”

Summary:

Suggested mantra: Equality

Suggested Affirmations:

  • I forgive
  • I welcome forgiveness
  • I am free from judgment
  • I deserve to be free from guilt
  • I am creating the life I love
  • I am tolerant of unenlightened people
  • My vital energy resurfaces naturally
  • I am honest and truthful in all I say and do

Essense: Goddessence essential old blend relates to the Solar Plexus Chakra is known as the power chakra.  It rules our personal power, metabolism, and is where intuition is manifested on the physical plane.  When healthy, this chakra brings us energy, a strong sense of self, spontaneity, and non-dominating power.

If you are doubting the strength of her gifts and abilities, recharge and revitalize your personal power and send of intention with this blend of seven 100% pure essential oils.  Take charge of your life with such goddesses as Bodicea, Caffeina, Lilith, Pallas, and Pele.

Ingredients for a Solar Plexus Chakra oil blend would include lemon grass and eucalyptus oils which are used to cleanse and decongest the chakra and me ready for the energies of rosewood (used for its restorative qualities) peppermint to promote a pleasant sense of stimulation, bergamot to uplift, and lime and lemon myrtle to promote clarity, assertiveness and self-confidence.

Gemstones: Amber, Tiger Eye, Garnet, Bloodstone, Tourmaline, Smoky Quartz

More about Lilith:

In Western tradition, she was the original partner of Adam, created equally together in the image of Elohin.

Lilith’s cameo appearance as the first wife of Adam in the Garden of Eden (but dumped him when he whined just a bit too much), was followed by her appearance as the paramour of lascivious spirits in the Red Sea or the bride of Samuel the Devil (both causes of slander and libel), then as the Queen of Sheba and Sermargard (i.e. men such as Solomon the Wise do not do stupid things; they are bewitched by seductive women!), and as the Consort of God Himself in fifteenth century Cabbalism (the latter which was just one more justification for The Albigensian Crusade).  But her greatest role seems likely to be as handmaiden to The Great Goddess, Inanna.

As Adam’s first wife, however, Lilith really got into trouble with patriarchy.  She had the audacity to want to be treated as Adam’s equal.  According to Hebrew mythology, the Babylonian Talmud, the Zohar, and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, Lilith refused to lie below Adam, and thus set the archetypal example for later feminists.  God allegedly threatened her by decreeing if she did not submit to Adam, that “one hundred of her children would die every day.”  Lilith chose exile, which really got Adam’s goat!  Despite being ostensibly happy about having Lilith out of his life (and later blessed with a subservient, if not occasionally misguided Eve), Adam apparently never gave up resenting Lilith for having chosen exile to being with him.  Not a lot has changed in thousands upon thousands of years: A woman deciding her life is better alone than with a particular man is still the greatest of insult to that male.

The male patriarchal traditions, therefore portrayed the situation as one in which the first woman on Earth, who was created equal to man and a free spirit to boot, would be condemned to survive for eternity as a she-devil, mating with demons and devils and bearing monsters instead of human children.  “This image was to serve as a threat and warning to any woman who might consider leaving her husband or defying male authority.”

But it was all to no avail.  For now Lilith, as the sexiest aspect of the Dark Goddess, at a time in The Great Cycle known as the Dark of the Moon, is back, stirring up trouble, and reminding us all of “a time in the ancient past when women were honored and praised for initiating and fully expressing their personal freedom and sexual passion.”  And if you think she’s not fully capable of raising havoc with the patriarchy, consider the classic portrait of Lilith by Hon John Collier, 1887. (above)

In addition to the good news that “Frodo Lives”, Lilith is also present; if only as an archetype within every male and female, a primal, instinctive feminine sexuality.  Lilith’s type is the free and unrestrained animating, pulsating, transforming sexuality that evokes the original orgiastic aspect of The Great Goddess.  She is that part for which the masculine both fears and longs for – the woman who runs with the wolves!  Lilith is the woman who refuses to nurture men, and thereby threatens their survival.

As the Goddess of the Dark Moon, Lilith “ruthlessly destroys all that is not our true individuality or appropriate life path.  She will not lead us to our goal by revealing what it is, but rather by eliminating everything that it is not.  The black aspect of Lilith closes all the wrong doors that face us.”

“The blank Lilith in us will accept nothing less than our true individuality, not in the sense of separateness, but in the sense of who we intrinsically are.  When we are secure in acknowledging and expressing our true self, we do not falsify ourselves in order to be accepted by others.”  “Consensus does not require the kind of compromise that pressures us to give up our essential values while mediating with another person.”

In all respects, Lilith’s charging to the forefront during the Processional Cycle’s Dark of the Moon, is the good news.  It’s also a slight taste of what is to arrive with the ultimate Return of the Goddess in the very near future.  Say, maybe around 2012 C.E.  Are you ready??

October 2, 2012

Isis: Egyptian Goddess of Magic

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , at 3:36 am by Babs

Isis, the Egyptian goddess of rebirth remains one of the most familiar images of empowered and utter femininity.  The Goddess Isis was the first daughter of Geb, God of the Earth, and Nut, the Goddess of the Overarching Sky.  Isis was born on the first day between the first years of creation, and was adored by her human followers.

Unlike the other Egyptian goddesses, Isis spent time among her people, teaching women how to grind corn and make bread, spin flax, weave cloth and how to tame men enough to live with them (an art form on which many of us would welcome a refresher course!).  Isis taught her people the skills of reading and agriculture and was worshipped as the Goddess of medicine and wisdom.

More than any other of the ancient Egyptian goddesses, Isis embodied the characteristics of all the lesser goddesses that preceded her.  Isis became the model on which future generations of female deities in other cultures were to be based.  As the personification of the “complete female”, Isis was called “The One Who is All”, Isis Panthea (Isis the All Goddess), and the “Lady of Ten Thousand Names”.

The Goddess Isis, a moon goddess, gave birth to Horus the God of the Sun.  Together, Isis and Horus created and sustained all life and were the saviors of their people.  Isis became the most powerful fo the gods and goddesses in the ancient world.  Ra, the God of the Sun, originally had the greatest power.  But Ra was uncaring, and the people of the world suffered greatly during his reign.  Isis tricked him by mixing some of his saliva with mud to creat a poisonous snake that bit him causing him great suffering which she then offered to cure.  He eventually agreed.  She then informed Ra, that for the cure to work, she would have to speak his secret name (which was the source of his power over life and death).  Reluctantly, he whispered it to her.  When Isis uttered his secret name while performing her magic, Ra was healed.  But the Goddess then possessed his powers of life and death and quickly became the most powerful of the Egyptian gods and goddesses using her great powers to the benefit of the people.

Isis was called the Mother of Life but she was also known as the Crone of Death.  Her immense powers earned her the titles of “The Giver of Life” and “Goddess of Magic”.  Her best known story illustrates why she is simultaneously known as the creation goddess and a goddess of destruction.  She was the Goddess of the Earth in ancient Egypt and loved her brother Osiris.  When they married, Osiris became the first King of Earth.  Their brother Set, immensely jealous of their powers, murdered Osiris so he could usurp the throne.  Set did this by tricking Osiris into stepping into a beautiful box made of cedar, ebony, and ivory that he had ordered built to fit only Osiris.  Set then sealed it up to become a coffin and threw it into the river.  The river carried the box out to sea where it washed up in another country, resting in the upper boughs of a tamarisk tree where the waters receded.  As time passed, the branches covered the box, encapsulating the God in his coffin in the trunk of the tree.  In a state of inconsolable grief, Isis tore her robes to shreds and cut off her beautiful black hair.  When she finally regained her emotional balance, Isis set out to search for the body of her beloved Osiris so that she might bury him properly.

The search took Isis to Phoenicia where she met Queen Astarte.  Astarte didn’t recognize the goddess and hired her as a nursemaid to the infant prince.  Fond of the young boy, Isis decided to bestow immortality on him.  As she was holding the royal infant over the fire as part of the ritual, the Queen entered the room.  Seeing her son smoldering in the middle of the fire, Astarte instinctively (but naively) grabbed the child out of the flames, undoing the magic of Isis that would have made her son a god.  When the Queen demanded an explanation, Isis revealed her identity and told Astarte of her quest to recover her husband’s body.  As she listened to the story, Astarte realized that the body was hidden in the fragrant tree in the center of the palace and told Isis where to find it.

Sheltering his broken body in her arms, the Goddess Isis carried the body of Osiris back to Egypt for proper burial.  There she hid it in the swamps on the delta of the Nile River.  Unfortunately, Set came across the box one night when he was out hunting.  Infuriated by this turn of events, and determined not to be outdone, he murdered Osiris once again… this time hacking his body into 14 pieces and throwing them in different directions knowing that they would be eaten by the crocodiles.  The Goddess Isis searched and searched, accompanied by seven scorpions that assisted and protected her.  Each time she found new pieces she rejoined them to re-form his body.

But Isis could only recover thirteen of the pieces.  The fourteenth, his penis, had been swallowed by a crab, so she fashioned one from gold and wax.  Then inventing the rites of embalming, and speaking some words of magic, Isis brought her husband back to life.  Magically, Isis then conceived a child with Osiris, and gave birth to Horus, who later became the Sun God.  Assured that having the infant would now relieve Isis’ grief, Osiris was free to descend to become Kin of the Underworld, ruling over the dead and the sleeping.  His spirit, however, frequently returned to be with Isis and the young Horus who both remained under his watchful and loving eye.

There are many other variations of this myth… in some Isis found the body of Osiris in Byblos, fashioned his penis out of clay.  In others the Goddess consumed the dismembered parts she found and brought Osiris back to life, reincarnating him as her son Horus.  In one of the most beautiful renditions, Isis turns into a sparrow hawk and hovers over the body of Osiris, fanning life back into him with her long wings.  Regardless of the differences, each version speaks fo the power over life and death that the Goddess Isis symbolizes as well as the deep mysteries of the feminine ability to create and to bring life from that which is lifeless.

To this day the celebration of the flooding of the Nile each year is called “The Night of the Drop” by Muslims for it used to be named “The Night of the Tear Drop” a remembrance of the extent of Isis’ lamentation of the death of Osiris, her tears so plentiful they caused the Nile to overflow.

They Egyptian goddess Isis played an important role in the development of modern religions, although her influence has been largely forgotten.  She was worshipped throughout the Greco-Roman world.  During the fourth century when Christianity was making its foothold in the Roman Empire, her worshippers founded the first Madonna cults in order to keep her influence alive.  Some early Christians even called themselves Pastophori meaning the “pastors” originated.  The influence of Isis is still seen in the Christian icons of the faithful wife and loving mother.  Indeed, the ancient images of Isis nursing the infant Horus inspired the style of portraits of mother and child for centuries, included those of the “Madonna and Child” found in religious art.

The power of the Goddess Isis in the “public arena” was also profound.  Her role as a guid to the Underworld was often portrayed with winged arms outstretched in a protective position.  The image of the wings of Isis was incorporated into the Egyptian throne on which the Pharaohs would sit, the wings of Isis protecting them.

The ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis has many gifts to share with modern women.  Isis embodies the strengths of the feminine, the capacity to feel deeply about relationships, the act of creation, and the source of sustenance and protection.  At times Isis could be a clever trickster empowered by her feminine wiles rather than her logic or brute strength, but it is also the Goddess Isis who shows us how we can use our personal gifts to create the life we desire rather than simply opposing that which we do not like.  The myths of Isis and Osiris caution us about the need for occasional renewal and reconnection in our relationships.  Isis also reminds us to acknowledge and accept the depths of our emotions.

Isis as a Dark Goddess (author unknown)

“Isis” is the Latinized name of the Egyptian Goddess known as Eset or Ast or Aset (which is represented in hieroglyphs by the phonetic sign for “throne”), however, for the sake of convenience the name Isis will be used to refer to Her throughout this essay.  I thought it would be worthy to note that I, myself, am not a devotee of Isis (I am more drawn to Her more enigmatic sister, Nephthys, and Her nephew, Anubis), but I have completed research on Isis in Egyptian mythology.  This essay is intended to draw attention to the shadow side of Isis which has been virtually neglected by many of the works of Neo-Pagans with which I have come in contact.  I have had the desire to write about Isis in this contact for many years, and I even began such essays addressing this topic previously, but they never came to fruition because of time constraints.  Finally, with the time given to me on my winter break from college, I was able to write.

The Goddess Isis has been revered in varying forms since practically the dawn of history, and now Her worship is again being revived by modern Pagans.  In pre-dynastic Egypt, Isis was worshipped as an independent deity in the city of Sebennytos prior to being incorporated into the Osirian myths, and Her worship continued in Egypt on the island of Philae into the sixth century AD, which was well into the Christian era.  She became highly popular with the Greeks and Romans who discovered Her when they acquired Egypt as part of their expansive empires.  As Her cult grew, it “eventually spread beyond Egypt, to Syria, Palestine, Greece, and throughout the whole Roman Empire.”  She absorbed many of the attributes of other Goddesses, much like the Egyptian God Amen before Her absorbed the role and powers of other Gods.  In this process, Isis became an almost Universal Goddess figure – the Celestial Queen of Gods and men.

Since the New Kingdom, but particularly in the first century BC, she increasingly assumed positions and functions formerly associated with Hathor, so that far beyond Egypt’s boundaries she eventually becomes the “goddess of all goddesses.”  Her specific traits as an Egyptian Goddess, which even before Her journey across the Mediterranean were already changing, and the shadowy aspect of Her nature dulled and finally washed away as She evolved into a Goddess of Many Names.  It is as a Goddess of Myriad Names and Faces that most now know Her, and She has come to be viewed in equally as beneficient Goddess of which all other Goddesses are aspects.  This Universal Isis lacks depth and form because She has been deprived of the Dark aspect the original Isis possessed.  It is time to acknowledge Her role as a Dark Goddess.

Isis is generally depicted as the quintessential mother Goddess: kind, compassionate, loving, and always benevolent.  Isis as the Egyptian equivalent of the Catholic Mary.  The perception of Isis as a mother Goddess is indeed valid, but although some might find evidence to support the idea that She is the perpetual Deity of light and love, this hardly even begins to either define or classify Isis.  To categorize Her as the typical mother Goddess would be to tell half the story.

It is often forgotten that nurturing is not the only aspect of being a mother.  When describing the mother aspect of the Goddess (Isis included) Pagans generally focus on Her as a gentle caretaker, rarely is the mother’s role of protecting Her children recognize. For the purpose of protecting offspring, a strength and ferociousness is required that is normally not associated with the mother aspect of the Goddess.

The Egyptians could be assured of Her capacity to be aggressive and downright ruthless in the protection of Her loved ones through myth.  Upon the untimely death of Osiris, the sovereignty of Egypt was to be held by his brother (and murderer) Set to whom it would be given because Osiris had no known male heirs.  However, Isis animated the corpse of Osiris and conceived Horus (a.k.a. Horus the Younger, Hor-sa-Aset, Harpokrates, etc.).  It was not long before Set discovered that Isis had a child and that there was a potential threat to His position as pharaoh, and once He found out He devised all manner of plans to rid Himself of Horus.  While still a small child, Horus was bitten by Set in the form of a poisonous snake, and in Her grief and anger over the state of Her son, Isis literally halted the sun’s passage through the sky.  This caused abysmal darkness to fall on Egypt, and the life of the entire planet was endangered until a cure for the poison was found.  As Horus grew, the feud between uncle and nephew deepened until the other Gods had to intervene in order to solve the matter without excessive destruction.  At one point, due to the savagery of fighting, Isis did on Her son’s behalf (this included spearing Her own brother Set while He was in the form of a hippopotamus), the Gods refused to admit Her onto an island where the Divine tribunal agreed to meet to settle the matter of Egypt’s rulership.  Determined to defend Her son at any cost, She disguised Herself as an old woman so that the ferryman would allow Her passage onto the island.  When She got there, She took the widow of a cowherd, and that a stranger had come and usurped the inheritance Her husband left despite the fact that She had borne the cowherd a son, who would be the rightful heir.  Set was taken by the story of the attractive woman and declared that Her son should receive his rightful inheritance, this condemning Himself for stealing the rightful inheritance of Horus.  Isis then transformed into a kite (some say a vulture) and yelled “You have judged yourself with your own words!”

In nature the mother’s role as defender and guardian of new life is manifested in the very biological traits they possess, for in much of the animal kingdom the female is comparatively larger than the male.  This observation is especially true of diurnal raptors, birds of prey that are primarily active during the daylight hours, because “in almost all species, females are larger than males – noticeably so in some species.”  The Goddess Isis was  commonly known to appear as a kite, a raptor that closely resembles a falcon.  After re-assembling the dismembered corpse of Osiris which had been scattered throughout Egypt by Set, Isis took the form of a kite and gave the breath of life to Her husband/ brother with the great sweep of Her wings.  It was also in this form that Isis conceived Horus once She revived Osiris.  She is frequently shown in both fully kite form as well as in human form with wings of a kite.  The winged Isis along with a winged Nephthys, Selket (Serket), and Neith are poised at each of the four corners of many a sarcophagi and canopic chest in order to guard the bodily remains of the deceased, which in Egyptian funerary belief holds the key to a pleasant afterlife.  Thus represented on such containers, Isis’ protective qualities are invoked for eternity.

Isis is, in fact, a mother Goddess, hug Her scope extends further than the common vision of what a mother Goddess should be to include insidious cleverness and righteous anger.

Isis’ more intense, darker side can also be highlighted in Her status as the Mistress of Magic, the Great Enchantress, and the magic implied in this case does not involve visualizing white light or harmonizing chakras.  Egyptian myth actually reveals that Isis was once a mortal woman albeit with significant magical ability (heka) since She was instructed by the God Thoth in the ways of magic.  The myth continues further saying that Isis was not content with the sphere of mankind and sought a position among the Gods.  In this distant past, the sun God Ra regularly roamed the earth to admire His own craftmanship and to enjoy the beauty of His creation.  Using Ra’s own spittle and some soil, Isis molded a poisonous snake and placed it on the ground near a road Ra was known to frequent.  Ra was bitten by this snake as He strode through Egypt, and as a result He became quite ill.  He called upon all of the Gods to find a cure for the pain which flowed through His body like liquid flame and crippled Him, but They did not succeed.  With the situation becoming ever more critical, Isis finally came forward and assured Ra that She was capable of healing Him.  For suck healing to take place, however, She required the knowledge of Ra’s secret name, which was none other than the closely guarded key to His true power.  At first Ra hesitated and told Isis that He was “Kheperi in greater intensity through His limbs, He yielded.  Thus Isis obtained the knowledge of Ra’s secret name, relieved Ra of His anguish, and claimed Her status as a Goddess.

Such devious cunning, brazen tenacity and potent energy are traits hardly emanated from the Isis that is generally portrayed – soft, gently, and with a slight smile on Her lips.  Egyptian myth illustrates that She most certainly has a darker, more powerful aspect, and this is the aspect that completes Her.

Correspondences:

  • Animal: Man, Woman, Unicorn, Sphinx, Ram, Owl, Lion, Eagle
  • Color: Emerald, Turquoise
  • Day: Wednesday, Friday
  • Festivals: Advent of Aset – January 2nd, July 17th, October 30th through November 2nd
  • Flower: Amaranth, Cypress, Willow, Lily, Ivy, Snowdrop
  • Gems: Ruby, Star Ruby, Turquoise, Sapphire, Pearl, Amethyst, Peridot, Beryl, Moonstone, Lapis Lazuli, Dark Aquamarine (Indigo- colored stones), Malachite
  • Minerals: Phosphorus, Silver, Sulphate
  • Perfume: Musk, Myrrh, Civert, Cedar, Dragon’s Blood, Narcissus, Onycha
  • Tarot: Twos, Threes, Fours, Tens, The Emperor, The Hermit, The Hanged Man
  • Weapon: Lingam, Inner Robe of Concealment, Yoni, Magic Circle

Isis’ esoteric attributes include intuition and perception.  She is related to the third eye chakra, the center of illumination and insight.  She is the embodiment of the feminine as a vessel for divine expression.

Suggested Mantra: Sensuality

Suggested Affirmations:

  • I radiate with wisdom
  • I know the answers
  • My wisdom is reality; all else is illusion
  • I trust my wisdom and insight
  • I trust in my higher self
  • I hear and honor my intuition
  • I have the courage to follow my instincts

More about Isis:

Isis is the Egyptian High Priestess, ruling with love and calm patience.  She provides equilibrium and guidance through our journey.  To open the door to Isis opens the door to love, love fosters the development of inner wisdom, as a budding flower blossoms into a glorious flower that takes people’s breath away.

Her Modern Energy

Isis’ relationship with the third eye, the psychic eye, brings us a powerful skill to cultivate our trust in our own psychic wisdom.  We have all talked about our “gut instinct” at some stage in our lives… Isis lets us embellish on this inner wisdom through divine power.

Isis Divination:

Whatever the tool you use to channel the divine ower, whether it be crystals, cards, runes, pendulums, tea leaves, psychometry (to name a few), use Isis’ powerful, easy presence to understand images or impressions presented to you.  Let Isis open the psychic creation of the Inner Goddess in yourself.

One easy way to channel divine power is to take three differently colored stones of roughly equal size, for example: 1) quartz 2) tiger eye and 3) lapis lazuli.  Holding the stones in your closed palm, tough your palm to your third eye and let the “yes/no” question you need answered float into your mind.  Proceed to ask the question out loud as you throw the 3 stones onto a gentle surface.

Look at how the stones land.  If the tiger eye (red_ lands closest to the quartz, the answer is no.  If the lapis lazuli (blue) lands near the quartz, the answer is yes.  Does this answer make you feel uncomfortable?  If you feel that the answer given to you is wrong, this is your intuition telling you the real answer.  Trust in your inner wisdom to interpret the answers and allow Isis to work with you to open the psychic creation of the Inner Goddess in yourself.

Another way of channeling your intuition, is to use a pendulum, and ask “yes” or “no” questions.  Firstly, ask three questions: 1) What is yes?  2) What is no? 3) May I ask some questions at this time?  If you can feel the presence of Isis, proceed to ask the questions you need to ask, and trust in your inner wisdom to interpret the answers.

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