May 28, 2013

Nicevenn: Goddess of Samhain

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , , , , at 8:58 pm by Babs

NicevennThe Middle Ages of Western Europe are commonly dated from the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century until the rise of national monarchies, the start of European overseas exploration, the humanist revival, and the Protestant Reformation starting in 1517.  These various changes all mark the beginning of the Early Modern period that preceded the Industrial Revolution.

The Middle Ages are commonly referred to as the medieval period or simply medieval (sometimes spelled “mediaeval”).  Arguably the biggest milestone in history from which a true end to the Middle Ages can be dated is Humanism.  It is a broad category of active ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities – particularly rationality, common history, experience, and belief.  Humanism is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems, and is also incorporated into some religious schools of thought.

Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests.  In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, humanism rejects transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith, the supernatural, or divinely revealed texts.  Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of human nature, suggesting that solutions to our social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.

Before the demise of much of faith related ideals in existence long before the rise of monotheism there was paganism and folklore.  Celtic folklore has a long and rich history and for this time of year the Celts celebrated Samhain.  The Samhain celebration survived in several guises as a festival dedicated to the dead. In Ireland and Scotland, the Feile na Marbh, the “festival of the dead” took place on Samhain.

Samhain Eve, in Irish and Scots Gaelic, Oidhche Shamhna, is one of the principal festivals of the Celtic calendar, and is thought to fall on or around the 31st of October.  It represents the final harvest.  In modern Ireland and Scotland, the name by which represents the final harvest.  In modern Ireland and Scotland, the name by which Halloween is known in the Gaelic language is still “Oiche/Oidhche Shamhna”.

Bonfires played a large part in the festivities.  Even into Christian times, villagers cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames, cattle having a prominent place in the pre-Christian Gaelic world.  The English word ‘bonfire’ derives from these “bone fires,” but the Gaelic has no such parallel.  With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires.  Each family then solemnly lit its hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together.

According to Irish mythology, during that night the great shield of Scathach was lowered, allowing the barriers between the worlds to fade and the forces of chaos to invade the realms of order, the material world joining with the world of the dead.  At this time the spirits of the dead and those yet to be born walked amongst the living.  The dead could return to the places where they had lived and food and entertainment were provided in their honor.  In the three days preceding Samhain, the Sun God Lugh, maimed at Lughnassadh (August 1st), dies by the hand of his Tanaiste (counterpart or heir), the Lord of Misrule.  Lugh traverses the boundaries of the worlds on the first day of Samhain.  His Tanist is a miser and, though shining brightly in the winter skies, he gives no warmth and does not temper the breath of the Crone, Cailleach Bheare, the north wind.

In parts of western Brittany, Samhain is still heralded by the baking of kornigou, cakes baked in the shape of antlers to commemorate the god of winter shedding his “cuckhold” horns as he returns to his kingdom in the Otherworld.

The Romans identified Samhain with their own feast of the dead, the Lemuria.  This however, was observed in the days leading up to May 13th.

With Christianization, the festival in November (not the Roman festival in May) became All Hallows’ Day on November 1st followed by All Souls’ Day, on November 2nd, after which the night of October 31st was called All Hallows Eve, and the remnants festival dedicated to the dead eventually morphed into the secular holiday known as Halloween.

Nicevenn, also known as Dame Habonde, Abundia, Satia, Bensozie, Zobiana, Nicheven or Herodiana is a Scottish Witch Goddess from the Middle Ages.

According to Scottish myth Nicevenn is a crone witch goddess who rides through the night with her followers on Samhain.  Her name can be translated as “Divine” or “Brilliant.”  She is equated with the Roman Goddess Diana.  Tradition places her night according to the old (Julian) calendar, on November 10th.  In modern times she is called an evil faery.

Nicevenn has been called the Scottish Mother.  Her direction is center.  One would call on her to manage Winter, Witchcraft, Divination, Ghosts, Magic, Peace and Protection.  She rules over all Samhain rituals and her symbols are Gourds and Pumpkins. Unfortunately she has no known totem animal.

May 21, 2013

Damona: The Divine Cow Goddess

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , , at 9:04 am by Babs

Damona was a Gaulish goddess known from a number of Burgundian inscriptions where she is generally partnered with Apollo and Borvo.  At Alise-Sainte-Reine she is associated with Apollo Moritasgus, at Bourbonne-les-Baines she is associated with Apollo and Borvo, Whereas at Bourbon-Lancy she is associated with Borvo and Bormo.  Both Apollo and Borvo are associated with healing spring sanctuaries and Damona may have been the goddess of the waters.

Alise-Sainte-Reine, ancient Alesia the center to Apollo and Damona who presided over the restorative powers of a pool in which pilgrims bathed in the hope of curing their ailments.  All that remains of Damona’s image at this shrine is a stone head crowned with ears of corn and a hand with a serpent coiled around it.  At Bourbonne-Lancy the inscription to Damona directly associates her with the curative sleep undergone by pilgrims to her shrine; in the hope that within the dream they would be visited by the goddess and be cured.

The association of Damona with the cow and the presence of corn ears on her statue strongly suggest a fertility component to her cult.  The serpent may be symbolic of her function as a healer; rebirth being associated with the sloughing of the snake’s skin.

Unusually, at Aignay-le-Duc Damona was associated with the indigenous deity, Albius.  Within the votive pit in which the inscription was found there was a fragment of sculpture depicting the head of a serpent and a human arm entwined within its coils.  Very similar imagery to that found at Alise-Sainte-Raine.  Other inscriptions found at Bourbonne-les-Baines and Rivieres, Charente show that Damona could be invoked alone, in the absence of a male consort.

As the Healer Goddess of Gaule, She is depicted with a crown of corn ears and a serpent curled around her hand.  Inscriptions link her with the practice of incubation, wherein pilgrims sleep at healing shrines and receive cures through dreams.  Her consorts are Borvo: (boiling, masses of sea water) and Albius: (tree).  In Ireland she is a sacred cow related to dawn.  She guards the clouds.

Animal worship pure and simple had declined among the Celts of historuic times, and animals were now regarded maily as symbols or attributes of divinities.  The older cult had been connected with the pastoral stage in which the animals were divine, or with the agricultural stage in which the animals were divine, or with the agricultural stage in which they represented the corn-spirit, and perhaps with totemism.

May 15, 2013

Eingana: Snake Goddess of Primordial Dreamtime

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , at 4:07 am by Babs

The Australian natives call her, Mother Eingana, the world-creator, the birth mother, maker of all water, land, animals, and kangaroos.  This huge snake goddess still lives, they say, in the Dreamtime, rising up occasionally to create yet more life.  This primordial snake had no vagina as her offspring grew inside her, the goddess swelled up.  Eventually, tortured with the pregnancy, Eingana began to roll around and around.  The god Barraiya saw her agony and speared her near the anus so that birth could take place as all creatures now give birth.  She is also the death mother.  They say Eingana holds a sinew of life attached to each of her creatures and when she lets go, that life stops.  If she herself should die, they say everything would cease to exist.

Bieingana – The Aboriginal Story of Creation

“The first being we call Eingana.  We call Eingana our Mother.  Eingana made everything: water, rocks, trees, black fellows; she made all the birds, flying foxes, kangaroos, and emus.  Everything Eingana had inside herself in that first time.

Eingana is snake.  She swallowed all the black fellows.  She took them, inside herself, down under the water.  Eingana came out, she was big with everything inside her.  She came out of Gaieingung, the big waterhole near Bamboo Creek.  Eingana was rolling about, every way, on the ground.  She was groaning and calling out.  She was making a big noise with all the black fellows, everything, inside her belly.

One old man named Barraiya had been traveling a long was.  All the way he had heard Eingana crying out, rolling about and moaning.

 Barraiya sneaked up.  He say Eingana.  He saw the big snake rolling and twisting about, moaning and calling out.  Barraiya hooked up his stone-spear.  He watched the big snake.  He saw where he must spear her.  Barraiya speared her underneath, near the anus.  All blood came out of that spear-wound and all the black fellows came out after the blood.

Kandagun the dingo chased after all those black fellows.  He chased after them and split them up into different tribes and languages.  When Kandagun chased the black fellows, some flew away as birds, some bounded away as kangaroos, some raced away as emus, some became flying foxes, porcupines, snakes, everything, to get away from Kandagun.

That first time, before Barraiya speared Eingana, nothing and no one could be born as they are now.  Eingana had to spew everything out of her mouth.  Black fellows had to spew everything.  Children could not be born as they are now.  That is why Barraiya had to spear Eingana.

The old man Barraiya had been traveling from the east across to the west.  After he speared Eingana, the old man went back to his place Barraiyawim.  There he painted himself on a rock.  He turned into the blue winged kookaburra.  Eingana made the big Boolmoon River, she made the Flying Fox River and the Roper River.  Every river she made.  We have water now.  That’s why we are alive.

Eingana made Bolong the Rainbow Snake.  In the first time when Eingana swallowed the black fellows, she spewed them out and these black fellows became birds, they became Bonorong the brolga, Janaran the jabiroo, Baruk the diver, Eingana spewed out black fellows who became Koopoo the kangaroo, Kandagun the dingo, Balwan the hoanna, Nabininbulgai the flying fox.  All these birds, animals, all these things, Eingana took back.  She talked: “I think that all you fellows have to follow me, you have to go my way.”  Eingana took them all back.  She swallowed them again.  She let them go in the water as snakes, as Bolong the Rainbow Snake.

No one can see Eingana.  She stays in the mild water.  She has a hole there.  In the rain-time, when the flood water comes, Eingana stands up out of the middle of the flood water.  Eingana looks out at the country.  She lets go all the birds, snakes, animals, children belonging to us; Eingana lets all these things go out of her.

Eingana floats along on the flood water.  She stands up and looks out at the country.  She lets every kind of life, belonging to her, go.  When the flood water goes down Eingana goes back to her camp again.  She comes back no more.  No matter cold weather or hot weather, she does not come out.  Next rain-time she comes out and lets go everything  that belongs to her: snakes, birds, dingoes, kangaroos, black fellows, everything.

Eingana keeps hold of a string, a sinew called Toon.  This string is a mystical umbilical cord and is joined to the big sinew of any kind of life, behind the heel. Eingana keeps hold of that string all the time.  Because we call her mother, you see.  When we die Eingana lets that string go (cuts the cord).  I die.  I die forever.  My spirit, Malikngor, follows the way of Bolong.

It might be that I die in another place.  That one, Malikngor, my spirit, goes back to my country, where I was born.  Everyone’s spirit does this.  Eingana gives back spirit to man and woman all the time.  She gives them this spirit in children.  Eingana gives spirit a little bit first time to lubra (woman), them more and more.  You cannot find this spirit yourself.  That one Eingana, or Bolong, has to help you.

If Eingana die, everything would die.  There would be no more kangaroos, birds, black fellows, anything.  There would be no more water, everything would die.”

Another snake goddess of the Aborigines in Australia is Julunggul.  She is called also Kungpipi, Kalwadi, and Her ritual name is Mumuna.  She is a rainbow snake goddess capable of assuming male, neuter, or androgynous form as well.  She is embodied in the pearls, crystals, the ocean, waterfalls, and the deep pools where She lives.  She is eternally pregnant which is a parallel with Eingana.  She is a goddess of initiation (a second birth to the Aboriginies) and puberty.  At initiation young boys were symbolically swallowed and regurgitated out as young men.  In Her legend She came to Arnhem Land in Australia in Dreamtime from a sinking land.  Another similarity with Eingana is seen wither in the legend of the Wawalag Sisters would violate a taboo concerning menstrual blood near Her lair.  For this She continually eats and vomits forth the Sisters in Dreamtime.

May 8, 2013

Akibimi: Japanese Goddess of Autumn

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , at 11:00 pm by Babs

Akibimi is the Yuriban deity of autumn.  Little is known about her, as archaeological evidence of her past worship is extremely rare.  Her sphere of influence encompasses the autumn season, changing leaves, wind, and the first frost.  She often goes by the epithet of “Lady of the Leaves”.  Akibimi-san, the westernmost of Yuriba’s mountains, is named after her.

Common Mythology:

Few myths of Akibimi have been preserved in the modern era and none exist in written form, having been transmitted orally through a few of the island’s older residents.  According to a popular origin story she is physically embodied within the mountain of Akibimi-san.  The myth tells the story of how Akibimi used her power over autumn and the coming frost to create a frost bridge, which the deities Engetsu and Chikyuu used to reach each other and share their love once a year.  Yet when Engetsu’s separation from Chikyuu grew too painful she gathered with the other two goddesses at the apex of the ice bridge.  All three ultimately fell from the bridge, with Chikyuu ultimately using her poers to embrace the falling Engetsu and Akibimi, saving their lives by transforming them into mountains as they hit the earth.  A continuation of this myth tells that Akibimi found herself powerless in the form of the mountain, and in the absence of her powers eternal spring covered the earth. One day a dryad named Momiji stumbled upon the mountain and, realizing that the beauty of the earth cold not be appreciated without the slumber brought on by Akibimi’s powers, offered to free the autumn.  To this end Momiji climbed up onto Akibimi’s head and set down roots, and through her autumn once more fell on the world.

Associations:

Akibimi seems to be associated with any of the colors of autumn leaves, and is also strongly tied to the first frost, which is a time of particular power for her.  Japanese Maples grow heavily on the slopes of her mountain, suggesting that she has a strong connection with that particular type of tree.  Given the myth of Momiji she appears to have some sort of association with dryads and it has been hypothesized that the Shunyannichuan spring is somehow tied to her.  The puzzling method of locating the spring suggests that Akibimi is associated with riddles.

Akibimi is closely associated with Fuyuzora and is often portrayed as Zansho’s lover.  She is considered a dear friend of Amanohara and of Chikyuu.

Akibimi’s association with Fuyuzora is almost motherly.  Lore of the goddess claims that with autumn laid across the earth Akibimi wished to lay herself to rest, and so she laid down a frost across the land.  From the first frost Fuyuzora was born, much to Akibimi’s surprise.  Fuyuzora offered to stand watch over the earth while Akibimi slept, but Akibimi saw that Fuyuzora was cold and callous, and she thus took her to Amanohara and asked the Lady of the Winds to watch over Fuyuzora for her.  However, Fuyuzora and Amanohara became friends, revealing the Lady of the Winder’s playful side to Akibimi and ensuring her that she cold trust her.  Followers of Akibimi believe that the first frost is Akibimi’s last act before she sleeps, serving as a call to Fuyuzora to arrive for the winter.

According to one myth, before Akibimi came to the world eternal summer reigned.  As the summer dragged on Zansho grew tired of maintaining it, but she forced herself to continue for fear of the death that would reign in the absence of summer.  Eventually Akibimi appeared to Zansho and convinced her that by letting the world – and herself – sleep, the summer would be infinitely more beautiful when the world awakened after autumn and winter passed.  Though she resisted at first, Zansho eventually relented and allowed Akibimi to lay her gently to rest on a bed of leaves, with songbirds singing her to sleep.  Local belief claims that at the end of every summer Akibimi comes to repeat this process.

Teachings:

Little is known about the worship of Akibimi.  In the modern era her only known follower is Moriko, a dryad who appears to serve as a priestess to the goddess.  She has made some effort to relate information about Akibimi through stories.  Though many of Akibimi’s specific philosophies are unknown, the embracing of loss has been well-preserved.  Followers of Akibimi believed that the negative aspects of life were to be celebrated along with the positive, for only through them did the good truly shine.  For instance, in mythology Momiji reveals that though Akibimi and autumn were sealed away she took no joy in spring, and Akibimi responds that “It is only in lumber that one can appreciate the waking world.  It is only in change that one can appreciate the ground.”  This is further emphasized by the association of Akibimi with the first frost.  Scholars have thus concluded that the teachings of Akibimi embraced such things as loss and death as natural.  By this method of thinking autumn and winter are not to be feared because they allow one to appreciate spring and summer.

The followers of Akibimi view death as a natural extension of life, with the certainty of death allowing one to appreciate what life they were given.  They believe in reincarnation rather than an afterlife.

Tradition suggests that the day of the first frost is a holy day in the cult of Akibimi.  A few tales handed down through time tell of impromptu rituals on that day, referred to as Slumber, though what these rituals entailed as unknown.

Temples:

The ruins of a small temple dedicated to Akibimi have been found on the mountain’s slope.  Though they are badly weathered, the foundation and the remaining stonework show that it bears a superficial resemblance to the round “tholos” style of temple, a rarity for the Lilian civilization.  A large Japanese maple  in closer proximity to the temple than the others appears particularly ancient and has drawn occasional attention.  While scholars have been reluctant to draw any direct connection between the ruins and Akibimi, the association was recently revealed by Moriko.

While the Isolated Shrine does lie on the slopes of Abimimi-san, it appears to be tied to the local druidic religion, having no specific attachment to Akibimi.  Modern thought explains the absence of other temples to Akibimi by suggesting that the cult of the goddess favored sacred groves rather than constructed temples.

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