Archive for January, 2012


Goddess Sarasvati

“Goddess Saraswati”

“Sarasvati’s themes are learning, wisdom and communication.  Her symbols are white flowers (especially Lotus), marigolds and swans. A Hindu Goddess of eloquence and intelligence, Sarasvati extends a refreshing drink from her well of knowledge to complete the month with aptitude. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati invented all sciences, arts and writing. In works of arts she is depicted as white-skinned and graceful, riding on a swan or sitting on an open lotus blossom.

Today is an excellent time to embark on any course of study or to reinforce your learning in a specific area. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati’s festival is held on or around this date. During the celebration, students gather in the Katmandu Valley (Nepal) bearing gifts for the Goddess, who visits here today. Traditional offerings at the temples include lotus and marigold blossoms and incense, while students often bring pens or books to invoke Sarasvati’s aid with their studies.

Adapting this a bit, try dabbing your personal tools or educational books with a little lotus oil, and burn any sweet-scented incense to improve your awareness (rosemary is a good choice).

To generate Sarasvati’s assistance in matters of communication, find a white flower and remove its petals. Place these in any moving water source, saying something like:

‘Sarasvati, let my words bear gentle beauty and truth
falling lightly on other’s ears
even as these petals to the water.’

Let the water (which also represents this Goddess) carry your wish.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Patricia Monaghan wrote: “As every Hindu god must have a Shakti, or enlivening female force, to function, so Brahma the creator needed Sarasvati for the world to come into being. She is not only the water Goddesses, one of the trinity that also includes Ganga and Yamuna, but She is also the Goddess of eloquence, which pours forth like a flooding river.

Inventor of all the arts and sciences, patron of all intellectual endeavors, Sarasvati is the very prototype of the female artist. She invented writing so that the songs She inspired could be recorded; She created music so the elegance of her being could be praised. In her identity as Vach, Goddess of speech, She caused all words to come into being, including religious writings. Sometimes it is said that She is the rival of Laksmi, Goddess of material wealth; if anyone has the favor of one Goddess, the other will turn away so that no one is ever blessed with both Sarasvati’s genius and Laksmi’s blessing” (p. 273).

Saraswati, known as Sraosha in Zoroastrianism is the guardian of earth. Sraosha (“obedience”) is also the wife and messenger of Ahura Mazda, and her role as the “Teacher of Daena”, Daena being the hypostasis of both “Conscience” and “Religion”. She also guides the souls of the deceased to find their way to the afterlife. Her symbolic animal is the peacock, whose crowing calls the pious to their religious duties. She is also called Druga for fighting off Drug (Drug, the name for female demon in ancient Veda, from the Sanskrit root druh “to be hostile”). The name Druga is made of Sanskrit dru or dur “with difficulty” and gā or jā (“come”, “go”). Saraswati is known as a guardian deity in Buddhism who upholds the teachings of Gautama Buddha by offering protection and assistance to practitioners. She is known in Burmese as Thurathadi or Tipitaka Medaw, Chinese as Biàncáitiān (辯才天), in Thai as Surasawadee (สุรัสวดี) and in Japanese as Benzaiten (弁才天/弁財天). In the East Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa: Saraswati is considered to be a daughter of Lord Shiva and Durga along with her sister Lakshmi and her brothers Ganesha and Karthikeya. [1]

It is believed that Goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. [2]

“Sarasvati is one of the many faces refelceted in the image of the Divine Mother.  Called the Goddess of the Word, Sarasvati means “the one who gives the essence (Sara) or our own Self (Swa).”  She is also known as the Goddess of Learning and is the consort (wife) of the Hindu God Brahma (the Creator).

Considered knowledge itself personified as a feminine deity, Sarasvati is closely identified with culture, language, speech, wisdom, intellect, creativity and inspiration.  She contains all forms within Her, pervades all creation and is the power of intellegence and thought.” [3]  She is the Goddess of eloquence, and words pour from Her like a sweetly flowing river. One myth of this Goddess is that She is a jealous rival of the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and that pursuing wealth alone will assure that Sarasvati’s gifts will desert you.

“She holds in her four hands a vina instrument, an akshamala (prayer beads) in the right hand, and a pustaka (book) in the left, which represents the knowledge of all sciences. Holding the book or scriptures in one hand also indicates that this knowledge alone can bring us to the Truth. The vina shows the beauty of learning the fine arts. Playing her vina, she tunes the mind and intellect with her knowledge, and thus the seeker can be in harmony with the universe. The prayer beads represent all spiritual sciences, like meditation and japa (chanting the holy names of God), and, being held in the right hand, that it is more important than the secular knowledge contained in the book in her left hand. Her four arms represent her unrestricted power in the four directions. She also represents creativity, or the combination of power and intelligence, the basis of creativity.” [4]

The following popular ‘pranam mantra’ or Sanskrit prayer, Saraswati devotees utter with utmost devotion eulogizes the goddess of knowledge and arts:

Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney |

Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey |
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey ||

The beautiful human form of Saraswati comes to the fore in this English translation of the Saraswati hymn:

“May Goddess Saraswati,
who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;
who is adorned in radiant white attire,
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
and whose throne is a white lotus;
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”
[5]

I had to throw this in.  Looking at the Hindu Sarasvati, Goddess of learning and the creative arts, She bears some striking resemblances to Brigit, as well as some important differences. Click here to read further in exploring  the image of Sarasvati as She appears in the Vedas and is developed in later Hinduism, compared images of  Brigit.

Sources:

Das, Subhamoy. About.com, “Saraswati: Goddess of Knowledge & Arts“.

Knapp, Stephen. Stephen-knapp.com, “Sarasvati, the Goddess of Learning“.

Prophet, Elizabeth & Mark L. Sacredwind.com, “Sarasvati“.

Wikipedia, “Saraswati“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Faerywillow. Thegoddesstree.com, “Sarasvati“.

Wood, Hilaire. Brigitsforge.co.uk, “Sarasvati, Brigit and the Sacred Word“.

Yarber, Angela. Feminismandreligion.com, “Painting Saraswati By Angela Yarber“.

Bridget’s Song

So, here is a little video I put together earlier today in honor of Imbolc, but a few days away and of course, the Goddess Brighid; one of my most favorite and beloved Goddesses.

The song in this video is set to “Bridget’s Song” by Celia and can be purchased at Celia Online.

“nature Goddess” by katmary

“Pax’s theme is peace.  Her symbols are white items, corn (corn is the name for whatever cereal grain is in common use. The Roman cereal crops were wheat and barley, and they also used millet), cornucopias and olive branches.  Pax is the Roman Goddess of peace; She urges us to keep harmony among one another as a sacred commodity throughout the year. On coins, Pax appears youthful and often bears an olive branch to extend the hand of truce or a cornucopia, indicating that there is an abundance of peace for those who truly seek it.

Remember Pax by wearing or carrying something white today and offering to make amends with someone with whom you’ve had an argument.

Alternatively, make a funnel from a piece of white paper (like a cornucopia). Leave this somewhere predominant. Each time you have an angry or discordant thought, toss a coin into the funnel. At the end of the day donate these coins (plus a few dollars) to a charity that promotes peace.

Roman custom dictated that the images of all leaders were to be placed at Pax’s feet on this day, the Festival of Pax, as if to invoke her amicable energy in their interactions. This isn’t a bad idea for modern leaders, either! Take any pictures you have of world leaders (check newspapers and magazines). If you can’t find pictures, write their names on white paper instead. Put these in a pile before a white candle. As you light the candle, say something like this:

‘Pax, let peace fill their hearts
Let all hatred depart
Peace be between me and thee
and all those I meet.'”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

There is no better known Goddess of peace than Pax (peace) a Roman Goddess who was the personification and spirit of tranquility and peace;  She corresponds to the Greek Goddess, Eirene.   She was the daughter of Jupiterthe King of the godsand Iustitia, the Goddess of Justice.  She is depicted as a rather youthful looking woman–sometimes seated and sometimes standing– wearing white robes and a crown of laurel; She holds a cornucopia, and an olive branch or staff Her hand.   She bestows contentment and joy…and is invoked during barters  and negotiations.
It was under the rule of Augustus that  She was finally recognized as a Goddess proper, and a minor sanctuary, the Templum Pacis, was built for Her, and the Roman emperors, including Augustus and Vespasian, used her image on their coins to honor her and to maintain peace in the empire.  A festival in her honor was celebrated on January 3rd.
Although not a very recognized Goddess in ancient days, Pax is as synonymous with peace now as She was back in the days of the Roman empire.  We should invoke Her to pray for peace and to keep our nation from wars.  And, be sure to ask for Her help in self-understanding and self-acceptance.  In many church services the kiss of peace is given and thus, in spirit only, the Goddess is invoked. [1]

Spider Woman

"Spider Woman" by Susan Seddon Boulet

“Spider Woman’s themes are magical charms and growth.  Her symbols are spiders and woven items.  Spider Woman appears in the myths of the south-western Native Americans as a resourceful helper who spins magical charms and each person’s fate. No matter what problems or obstacles you face, Spider Woman creates the right network of energy to put you on the road toward accomplishment.

In metaphysical traditions, all life is seen as a network within which each individual is one strand. Spider Woman reveals the power and purpose of each strand psychically and keeps you aware of those important connections in your life. To augment this, get a Native American dream catcher, which looks like a web, and hang it over your bed so Spider Woman can reveal her lessons while you sleep. Or, carry a woven item with you today. It will strengthen your relationship with this ancient helpmate and extend positive energy for success in all you do.

 In Mexico, the Native Americans perform the Hikuli dance today, searching for peyote for their religious rites. As part of this ceremony, worshippers dance to reach altered states of awareness, honor the ancestors and help crops to grow. So, if your schedule allows, put on some music and boogie! Visualize a web as you move, and empower your future path with the sacred energies of Spider Woman’s dance.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Grandmother Spider is an important Goddess amongst the many Native American tribes.  They call Her the “Great Teacher” and “The Creator of Life”.  She has also been called ‘Spider Woman’ which is a metaphor for She who creates from a central source. Her webs represents the matrix of our societies.  She is the guardian of everything that exists on Earth and uses Her magickal power to weave the fabric of time.  Although She can occasionally be destructive, She is almost always portrayed the beneficent Goddess who created everything that there is with Her thoughts and dreams.  It is She who brought the sun and the fire; She taught pottery, weaving, and the making of ceremonial magic.  She created the Moon.

Her legends are a part of the creation mythology for several southwestern tribes including the Hopi, Pueblo, and Navajo.  One myth says that in the beginning of time only two beings were in existence…Tawa, the Sun God, who held all the powers from above, and Grandmother Spider, the Earth Goddess, with all the powers from below.

It was Tawa who imagined all of the creatures of Earth and Grandmother spider who turned these thoughts into living things.  And, for every person She created, She spun a fine line of spider silk that She attached to their heads so they would always be connected to Her and have access to Her wisdom and Her teachings. And for as long as they kept the doorway from the top of their heads open, to let the spider silk in, they would be protected by Her.” [1]

The legend of Spider Woman in the Americas goes back to Pre-Columbian times. In fact, as far back as the Maya, Olmec, and pre-Toltec civilizations. Teotihuacan is an archaeological site in Mexico, and early city there, that existed from about 200 BCE until the 7th or 8th century CE (AD).  The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan (or Teotihuacan Spider Woman) is thought to have been a Goddess of the underworld, darkness, the earth, water, war, and possibly even creation itself. To the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, the jaguar, the owl, and especially the spider were considered creatures of darkness, often found in caves and during the night. The fact that the Great Goddess is frequently depicted with all of these creatures further supports the idea of her underworld connections.  However, we know Her to be a goddess of both creation and destruction. It is possible that Coatlicue is a later version of this Spider Woman. Coatlicue is the Aztec Goddess who gave birth to the Sun and the Stars, and is the patron goddess of women who die in childbirth. She is also the giver of death, by Her knife that cuts the cords or strand of the Web that ties one to the Web of Life. She gives life, and She takes life. [2]

In many murals, the Great Goddess is shown with many of the scurrying arachnids in the background, on her clothing, or hanging from her arms. It has been concluded that the figures in these murals represented a vegetation and fertility Goddess that was a predecessor of the much later Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal. The Great Goddess is often seen with shields decorated with spider webs, further suggesting her relationship with warfare. Her nosepiece is the single most recognizable adornment of the deity, finalizing her transformation into the arachnid-like goddess.

Mural from the Tepantitla compound showing what has been identified as an aspect of the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, from a reproduction in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

In the Tepantitla and Tetitla murals, the Great Goddess wears a frame headdress that includes the face of a green bird, generally identified as an owl or quetzal.  She is shown among several spiders and with a yellow body coloration, further distinguishing Her from other Mesoamerican deities. Her single most distinguishing feature is a nosepiece consisting of a rectangular bar with three circles. Immediately below this bar hang three or five “fangs”. The outer fangs curl away from the center, while the middle fang points down.

In the depiction from the Tepantitla compound, the Great Goddess appears with vegetation growing out of her head, perhaps a world tree or hallucinogenic morning glory vines.  Spiders and butterflies appear on the vegetation and water drips from its branches and flows from the hands of the Great Goddess. Water also appears to be flowing from her lower body. It was these many representations of water that led Caso to declare this to be a representation of the rain god, Tlaloc. [3]

If you’re interested in researching Spider Woman further, I highly suggest visiting Michelle Phillip’s site, Sacred Spirituality and read Spider Woman and Spider Symbolism.  It packed full of great information, how Spider Woman has had an impact on her life, links to Spider Woman’s many stories and Native American lore.

Goddess Fulla

“Fulla’s themes are abundance, protection, cycles and magic.  Her symbols are gold-colored items and hair.  The Teutonic sister of Frigg, Fulla visits us with fulfilment this year, just as her name – which means ‘fullness’ – implies. In legends, Fulla had long golden hair bound by a golden band. She guarded her sister’s enchanted casket of slippers, giving her an additional association as a protectress of magical tools.

In metaphysical traditions, hair is sometimes used in spells to empower them. In this case, to evoke Fulla’s protection over your magical tools, use a piece of your own hair. Pull one strand and adhere it in some manner to any tool that you want guarded from undesired energies. As you attach the hair, say words like:

‘Full, safeguard this <…………..>
even as you mindfully guarded Frigg’s treasures.’

If the hair ever falls off, re-create the spell.

The festival of Up-Hella-Aa has ancient origins and closely resembles Viking funeral rites, except that it’s meant for the season of winter! People on the Shetland Islands gather to watch the burning of a longship. The fire’s golden flame lights the way for spring’s and Fulla’s abundance. It also expels evil spirits.

In keeping with this custom, light as many lamps or candles as you can in your home, ideally yellow ones, and leave them on for a while to cast out any lingering darkness.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

In Germanic mythology, Fulla (Old Norse, possibly “bountiful”) or Volla (Old High German)  is Frigg’s handmaiden and messenger. She is a virgin Goddess who is hardly mentioned in lore or in detail.  The only detail that I have found is that She has long hair that was worn loose with a golden band adorning her crown. This golden ring was a gift given to her by Nanna and Baldr. Based on her long loose hair and the presence of this golden band, she is believed to be a Goddess of fertility, although she is not one of the Vanir.

“Frigg and Fulla” by Ludwig Pietsch

Fulla is also guardian of Frigg’s little box, which contains all of her jewelry. Fulla was also in charge of protecting Frigg’s golden shoes, and was entrusted with all of Frigg’s secrets. Fulla and Frigg are sisters.

In a moment of inmense need, Fulla once invented an excuse to keep Frigg protected from the wrath of Her husband Odin. Fulla had conjured up a dwarf to enchant the guards with a spell so she could shatter Odin’s statue. Frigg stole all the gold from this monument that had been built in Odins’ honor. With this precious metal at hand, She ordered a dwarf to forge a necklace out of it. It is no secret to all in Asgard that Frigg has a passion for jewelry. [1]

Fulla is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in skaldic poetry.  Volla is attested in the “Horse Cure” Merseburg Incantation, recorded anonymously in the 10th century in Old High German, in which she assists in healing the wounded foal of Phol and is referred to as Frigg’s sister. Scholars have proposed theories about the implications of the Goddess. [2]

There is a lovely prayer in the Gisla saga Surssonar offered by the hero shortly before his death:
“My Fulla, fair faced, the goddess of stones
Who gladdens me much, shall hear of her friend
Standing straight, unafraid in the rain of spears.” (Galina Krasskova, Exploring the Northern Tradition: A Guide to Gods, Lore, Rites and Celebrations from the Norse, German and Anglo-Saxon Traditions).

 

Suggested Links:

Paxson, Diana L. Hrafnar.org, “Beloved“.

Brighid Turns the Wheel

As it has always done, and will continue to do, the Wheel turns. Yule is over, the old year is dead and gone. Though you can’t see it, new life stirs. Of course, it may not feel like it in Upstate New York right now as I look out my window at all the snow coming down. But the days are growing noticeably longer and we know that change is taking place all around us, no matter how small. The Bright One is with us. You can’t help but feel Her presence and Her warmth – Her spark urging and drawing us to awaken from our midwinter slumber.

“Spring” by by Ruth Sanderson

Traditionally, Brighid presides over Imbolc and for good reason. She is the Maiden in which new life rejoices. We invite Brighid into our homes and lives to help us purify and clear out that which no serves us or is needed from the year prior with Her fire and watery aspects. We ask Her to assist us in divination at the crossroads so that we may know which direction or path to take in the hopes that our efforts will yield a successful and bountiful harvest in the year to come. We call upon Her as midwife to help us take the steps we need to take, no matter how small, to transform our hopes and that which we dreamed of during our long winter’s slumber into reality. As She did so delicately with me, She calls us to come forth and to seek healing if we need it; to guide us to those with warm hearts and strong hands to help us emerge from the winter within our souls and face the challenges and lessons that lie ahead.

“Luna Meets Brigid at Imbolc” by Wendy Andrew

Ostara is a very powerful time to take the steps, whether physically, mentally or magically, to attune to the earth’s balancing energies and rebalance what needs balancing in your life. It is time to clean out (if we haven’t already started doing so) to make room for new growth and facilitate creativity. Also take this time to make ready your “tools” (magical and mundane) you’ll need and prepare the “seeds” (spiritual and physical) you plan sew so that they may have enough time to grow and properly come into bloom. I believe it wouldn’t be at all inappropriate to call upon Brighid during this time to lend Her assistance in our efforts as creativity and blacksmithing are both included in Her many fortes.

“Brighid’s Walk” by Helen Nelson-Reed

Beltane is a time to revel in the creative heat of the Bel-fires that act as a catalyst for all kinds of sacred fertility and growth. The fires revitalize and renew us. The Goddess Brighid being a Goddess of forge-fires and the fire of inspiration was no stranger, I’m sure, to the fever-fire of passion. As such, Bel, Lugh or Oghma would make appropriate Consorts for Her if She so chooses. This sacred union between the God and Goddess is sacred to us because fertility is sacred. Without the sacred act of the union, there would be no fertility; there would be no life.

“The Beltane season is a time of fertility, not only for people but for the land as well. In the early spring, many of us who follow earth-based spiritual paths begin planning our gardens for the coming season. The very act of planting, of beginning new life from seed, is a ritual and a magical act in itself. To cultivate something in the black soil, see it sprout and then bloom, is to watch a magical working unfold before our very eyes. The plant cycle is intrinsically tied to so many earth-based belief systems that it should come as no surprise that the magic of the garden is one well worth looking into.” (Wigington, Patti, Magical Gardening Around the World)

Next, the Wheel turns to Litha, or Midsummer. Like Ostara, it has been questioned as to whether or not Midsummer has always been celebrated by our ancient ancestors or whether the solar festivals (the solstices and equinoxes) were actually added later and imported from the Middle East. Regardless of the origins, many Neo-Pagans do choose to celebrate Litha every year in June. “This is a time of year of brightness and warmth. The power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent, and the earth is fertile with the bounty of growing life. Flowers surround us with bright colors and seductive fragrances drawing the bees in to ensure fertility and reproduction of the species; which in turn provides us with sweet honey. All the seeds have been planted and the crops are growing in their fields with the heat of the sun, but may require water to keep them alive.” (Wigington, Patti, Litha History – Celebrating the Summer Solstice)

I draw associations here between Brighid’s fiery and watery aspects and the need for balance between the hot, blazing and fiery sun and the need for cool, replenishing and healing water. We also observe the balance between light and the darkness, both in the physical world and within ourselves. Take the time to appreciate and love all the beauty and blessings that have blossomed in your life over the course of the year thus far. There is so much beauty not only in the world and in nature, but also within ourselves. Find it, find your confidence and love. Celebrate it, dance joyously in the sun’s warm and healing rays as this is one of the most cherished duties we have as children of the Goddess.

“Brigid” by Lisa Iris

What does that mean for us? No such great festivals bind us together today as they did thousands of years ago to promote survival. However, we can learn from them that connection is vital for a happy and complete life. Coming together for ritual confirms, builds and strengthens Community. This is also a good time to focus on preparing one’s family and home with some magic around the hearth and home.

“Decide which events, goals or relationships no longer serve your highest and best, make preparations to remove them from your life.” [1] Throw symbols of them into Brighid’s fire. Now is also the time to finish long-standing projects by the fall. It would also be a good time to bless the tools of your trade in order to bring a richer harvest next year. Again, Brighid being a Hearth Goddess and Goddess of blacksmithing would be more than willing to lend Her assistance if asked in both of these tasks.

“Brigid” by Nefaeria

The autumn is the season of death; it is a time of transformation. When things are stripped away from us or we feel the need to clean out that which is no longer needed, giving up old habits and attitudes that no longer fit us, we ask Brighid to help us understand the wisdom of transformation. She helps us when we seem to have nothing left or are in pain of loss. She helps us understand that when something is truly finished and no longer useful to our soul’s purpose, we can find ourselves happy at the change. We are renewed. This is the hope hidden within the apparent darkness of transformation.

“Brigid: Bardic Spirit” by Lindowyn

The veil between the worlds is at it’s thinnest, as it was at Beltane. This is a time to remember and honor all who have crossed over and all that has died. We recall with a sharp pang of memory, the loves so full of promise, the ideas that seemed to gleam, the plans that called to us. We move on, eventually past broken hearts and shattered dreams, stronger for the losses we have endured. But to live most fully, we must make time to grieve the pain of these losses, to give time to the sorrows as well as the joys of life. This is a time that we turn to Brighid to light our way through the darkness to receive warmth and healing at Her hearth. We become still and quiet to acquire or gain any wisdom and knowledge that She has to bestow. We watch as she works and hammers away deep in Her forges, shaping and tempering strong tools from crude metal, transformed by fire and water.

“Brigid of the Forge” by Lindowyn

The Wheel turns to Yule. The cold and darkness of winter has been long and hard. The daylight does not seem to diminish or grow as though at a standstill. We seem to be holding our breath, waiting for change. The soul holds still like this, just before great change occurs. It is a silence so profound that it seems as though time has stopped. In this magical moment, we have the chance to set in motion great changes, great happenings. This is the moment when the seeds of new life, new growth, must be planted.

“Promise of Imbolc” by Adrian Welch

The Winter Solstice, or Yule, was an incredibly sacred time to our ancestors. They recognized and celebrated the “rebirth” of the sun, for they knew that they had made it and the sun was returning. They knew that the worst was over. “Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider. Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun. The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration. The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.” (Akasha, The Winter Solstice – Yule Lore)

How we yearn for the light in the dark times of winter. Even knowing how important rest is to ourselves and to our planet, how happily we greet the dawn and the spring! Brighid’s flame shines like the flame of a new light and it pierces the darkness and shines into our spirits. Even to this day, we celebrate, laugh and tell stories and seek out companionship during the darkness of winter. Mythically, our role in the cosmic drama is important, for without laughter the sun will not return. So in this dark time, let us all laugh as loudly and as long as possible. For as the ancients knew, the worst is over and we will survive…just to do it all again next year!

“Maiden Goddess” by Wendy Andrew

Brighid Bright 

by Autumn Sky

Brighid my Mother
nurture me
so that I may nurture and nourish
Brighid my Maiden
make me fertile, sensuous, feminine
so that I may know the power of my female form
Brighid my Crone
make me quiet
so that I may know the patience
to grow wise with time
Brighid my Blacksmith
forge me strong and true
so that I may stand tall and solid
Brighid my Poet
give me eloquence and a moon-graced tongue
so that my words may find their way
to open eyes, hearts, and minds
Brighid my Healer
wash me clean in health
so that I may touch and heal
myself, my land, my people
Brighid my Warrior
imbue me with courage and dignity
so that I may fight an honest fight
for respect, equality, and freedom
for all minds, hearts, souls, and bodies

Brighid my multifaceted star
no matter how cloudy the night sky
a spot of clarity
all sides combine
one bright one shines
to give me what I need
one woman, one heart, one soul, one mind
but with her on my side
I am so much more
every step a new door
to who I can be
because she makes it so
I can be free to be
who deep down I know
is the woman i have always been


“Demeter” by Michele lee-Phelan

“Ceres’s themes are fertility, earth, harvest and growth.  Her symbols are grains (especially corn), poppies and bread.  Ceres, the Roman Goddess of corn, returns our attention to the land today to begin preparing for spring’s crop plantings. At the same time, Ceres reminds us to plant some figurative seeds of character now so they will mature throughout this year. Ceres’s name translates as ‘create’. Ceres is truly the creator and mistress of our morning feast table, having lent her name to modern breakfast cereals, which shows her affiliation with essential food crops.

For growing energy and earth awareness, eat any grain-based food today. Ideal choices include corn bread, corn flakes, puffed wheat, buttered corn or corn chowder.

 If you are a gardener, or even if you just enjoy a few houseplants, today is the perfect time to tend the soil. The Romans took time out from their other duties and spent an entire week around this date blessing the land. They invoked Ceres as the essential vegetable spirit for aid after the seeds were laid into the ground.

While we may not be able to spend a week doing likewise, a few minutes of caring for the earth is well worth the time. Put any seeds you plan to plant on an altar or in another special spot. Visualize a yellow-golden light filling and fertilizing them. Leave them here to absorb Ceres’s energy until your traditional planting season begins.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Ceres was the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain and the love a mother bears for her child.  She was the daughter of Saturn and Ops, the sister of Jupiter, and the mother of Proserpine.  Ceres was a kind and benevolent goddess to the Romans and they had a common expression “fit for Ceres,” which meant splendid.

She was beloved for her service to mankind in giving them the gift of the harvest, the reward for cultivation of the soil. Also known as the Greek goddess Demeter, Ceres was the goddess of the harvest and was credited with teaching humans how to grow, preserve, and prepare grain and corn. She was thought to be responsible for the fertility of the land.

“Art Nouveau – Demeter” by Sterendenn

Ceres was the only one of the gods who was involved on a day-to-day basis and whose worship became particularly associated with the plebeian class, or the common folk, who dominated the corn trade (“corn” is the name for whatever cereal grain is in common use. The Roman cereal crops were wheat and barley, and they also used millet). While others gods occasionally “dabbled” in human affairs when it suited their personal interests, or came to the aid of “special” mortals they favored, the goddess Ceres was truly the nurturer of mankind.

She had twelve minor gods who assisted her, and were in charge of specific aspects of farming: Vervactor who ploughed fallow land; Reparator who prepared fallow land; Imporcitor who plowed with wide furrows (whose name comes from the Latin imporcare, to put into furrows); Insitor who sowed seeds; Obarator who traced the first plowing; Occator who harrowed; Sarritor who dug; Subruncinator who weeded; Messor who harvested; Conuector (Convector) who carted the grain; Conditor who stored the grain; and Promitor who distributed the grain. [1]

Ceres was worshipped at Her temple on the Aventine Hill, one of the Seven Hills of ancient Rome.  Her primary festival was the Cerealia or Ludi Ceriales (“games of Ceres”), instituted in the 3rd century B.C.E. and held annually on April 12 to April 19.  Another special time for Ceres was Ambarvalia, a Roman agricultural fertility rite where She was personified and celebrated by women in secret rituals, held at the end of May.  Little is known about the rituals of Cerelean worship; one of the few customs which has been recorded was the peculiar practice of tying lighted brands to the tails of foxes which were then let loose in the Circus Maximus. [2]

The Romans explained the turning of the seasons with the following story:  Ceres was the sister of Jupiter, and Proserpine was their daughter.  Proserpine was kidnapped by Pluto, god of the underworld, to be his bride.  By the time Ceres followed Her daughter, she was gone into the earth.  Making matters worse, Ceres learned that Pluto had been given Jupiter’s approval to be the husband of his daughter.  Ceres was so angry that she went to live in the world of men, disguised as an old woman, and stopped all the plants and crops from growing, causing a famine.  Jupiter and the other gods tried to get her to change Her mind but She was adamant.  Jupiter eventually realized that he had to get Proserpine back from the underworld, and sent for her.  Unfortunately, Pluto secretly gave her food before she left, and once one had eaten in the underworld one could not forever leave.  Proserpine was therefore forced to return to the underworld for four months every year.  She comes out in spring and spends the time until autumn with Ceres, but has to go back to the underworld in the winter.  Her parting from Ceres every fall is why plants lose their leaves, seeds lie dormant under the ground, and nothing grows until spring when Proserpine is reunited with her mother. [3]

Additional Sources:

Goddess Jun Ti

18 Arms of Cundi Bodhisattva

“Jun Ti’s themes are long life, fertility, wisdom and tradition.  Her symbols are dragons, sun and moon, the numbers 3 and 18.

This Chinese Buddhist Goddess oversees all matters of life generously. In works of art she is depicted as living on Polaris, the star around which all things revolve, including each individual’s fate. She has three eyes for wise discernment, eighteen arms holding weapons with to protect Her people, and a dragon’s head that symbolizes Her power and wisdom.

Jun Ti can help you live a more fulfilled life this year be overseeing your fortune and well-being. To encourage Her assistance, think silver and gold (or white and yellow) – the colors of the moon and the sun. Wear items is these hues, or perhaps have a glass of milk followed by pineapple juice in the morning to drink fully of her attributes!

On or around this day, the Chinese take to the streets with new year festivities that last two weeks. Eating various rice-based dishes today encourages fertility, respect and long life, while wearing new shoes brings Jun Ti’s luck. It is also customary to be on one’s best behavior and honor the ancestors throughout the day for good fortune. The climax of festivities is a dragon parade, the beast, Jun Ti’s sacred animal, being associated with ancient knowledge and tradition. So, find a way to commemorate your personal of family customs today to draw Jun Ti’s attention and blessing.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

While researching Jun Ti this evening, as with many of the East Asian Goddesses I research, I ran across several variations of Her name to include Jun DiZhunti/Zhuenti, Chun Ti, Chandi, Cundi, Cundi Guan Yin and Juntei Kannon.  I also found some associations with the Taoist Goddess Dou Mu Yuan JunKwan YinAvalokiteśvara and Marici.

Cundi is immensely popular in East Asian Buddhism. While Cundi is less well known in the Tibetan Vajrayāna Buddhist community, she is revered in the Chinese and Japanese Buddhist Esoteric sects. In China, she is known as Zhǔntí Púsà (準提菩薩, “Cundi Bodhisattva”) or Zhǔntí Fómǔ (準提佛母, “Cundi Buddha-Mother”), while in Japan she is known as Juntei Kannon (准胝観音, “Cundi Avalokitasvara”). She is recognized as one of the many forms Guan Yin – the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A Bodhisattva is anyone who vows to cultivate Wisdom and Compassion to save sentient beings from suffering.

The word ‘Cundi’ literally means ‘extremely pure’. Due to Her status as the Mother of all the Lotus Deities in Tantrism, so She has the epithet of Mother Buddha, Cundi Mother Buddha is also called the Seven Koti Mother Buddha, which means that She is the Mother of Seven Billion Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

The cult of Cundi probably originated from Mahayana Buddhism’s absorption of some elements of Indian religion in which the Mahayanists accepted the Goddess Chandi as a bodhisattva (just as many Chinese deities were eventually absorbed into the pantheon of Chinese Buddhism and declared by Chinese Buddhists to be “Dharma protectors”). Perhaps the original intended audience of the Maha Cundi Dharani Sutra were devotees of Chandi who believed in the efficacy of magic spells and as an upaya, a text that would appeal to them and encoded with Buddhist teachings was composed. The Dharma is infinitely accommodating and can be expressed in different ways to people of different levels and perceptions.

Cundi can be seen as a personification of the Enlightened Mind of Compassionate Wisdom. Her devotees revere her as “The Mother of Seven Million Buddhas”. This is perhaps a poetic way of saying that the Reality which Cundi represents is the Source of All Enlightenment. Each one of Cundi’s eighteen arms represent a particular quality of enlightenment such as the unflagging zeal to save sentient beings and perfect knowledge of the past, present and future. Each one of her hands are either forming a mudra or holding an instrument symbolizing an activity characteristic of an enlightened being. For example in one of her arms, Cundi holds an axe which signifies the elimination of evil. Another of Cundi’s arms form the Abhaya Mudrā which signifies the bestowing fearlessness to Her devotees.

Jun Ti

A production of Lucky Thanka

The Symbolism and Meaning of the Eighteen Arms of Cundi
Cundi is depicted seated with eighteen arms, all wielding implements that symbolize skillful means of the Dharma or Tantra.  The symbolism of each arm is as follows:
1. The original 2 hands forming the root Mudra of Expounding the Dharma represents the fluency of elucidating all Dharma.
2. The hand holding the wondrous precious banner represents the ability to build a most magnificent, great monastery.
3. The hand forming the Fearless Mudra represents the ability to deliver sentient beings away from all terror and fears.
4. The hand holding a lotus flower represents the purification of the six senses which, untainted, are as pure as the lotus flower.
5. The hand holding a sword of wisdom represents the severing of the entanglements of afflictions and the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance.
6. The hand holding an empowerment vase represents the flowing of nectar to nurture all sentient beings so that they may receive the empowerment of the buddhas.
7. The hand holding a wonderful jewelled headdress represents the wish to be linked to wonderful dharma art.
8. The hand holding a vajra lasso represents the ability to attract all into the yoga tantra.
9. The hand holding a wonderful celestial fruit represents the accomplishment of the fruition of enlightenment, and the extensive cultivation of good karma.
10. The hand holding an eight-spoke wheel represents the constant turning of the great dharma wheel, radiating its magnificent lights over the three lower realms.
11. The hand holding a battle axe represents the elimination of all evil practices and the severing of attachment to oneself and others.
12. The hand holding a large dharma shell represents the expounding of pure Dharma which shakes the universe.
13. The hand holding a vajra hook represents the skill to magnetize and attract all phenomena within one’s view.
14. The hand holding a wish-fulfilling vase represents the function of manifesting all treasures and scriptures at will.
15. The hand holding a vajra represents the collective convergence of support given by the eight classes of celestial beings and dragons. It also represents the subjugation of stubborn sentient beings.
16. The hand holding a wisdom sutra represents the self-cognition of knowing the profound and wonderful truth without any guidance from a teacher.
17. The hand holding a mani or wish-fulfilling pearl represents the vibrant and luminous state of mind which is flawless, pure and perfect.
18. The two original hands, beginning with the first hand, are held in the Dharma Expounding Mudra. Hence, the eighteen arms.

Some images of Cundi Bodhisattva depict different gestures, such as forming the root mudra or holding mala beads. The meaning remains the same, regardless. Her eighteen arms also represent the eighteen merits of attaining Buddhahood, as described in an appendix to the Cundī Dhāraṇī Sūtra or that of Cundi Bodhisattva.

 Details of Cundi’s iconography can be found here.

Additional Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cundi_(Buddhism)
http://cundimantra.weebly.com/
http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/chinese-mythology.php?deity=JUN-DI
http://www.meditationexpert.com/meditation-techniques/m_buddhist_zhunti_meditation_opens_your_heart_chakra_for_enlightenment.htm
http://www.taoistsecret.com/taoistgod.html#17
http://www.thangka-art.blogspot.com/view/classic
http://theyoungpolytheistic.blogspot.com/2011/07/gods-and-goddesses-jun-di.html

“The Mother of Ten Thousands Things’s theme is luck.  Her symbol is any lucky token.  This Goddess represents the unknowable and uncontrollable things we face daily. In Indo-Chinese tradition, she is part of the Universe’s ebb and flow, ever changing and ever the same. Turn to her when you feel as if ten thousand things in your life were up in the air.

Take out any item that you associate with good fortune. Name it after the one area of your life in which you need more luck (naming something designates its purpose and powers). Hold the token to the night sky (symbolic of the Universe’s vastness), saying something like this:

“Mother, see this symbol of my need
Empower it with your fortunate influence to fill my year with < ….. >
< fill in with the name of your token >”

Carry this with you as often as possible to manifest that energy in your life.

Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, is filled with ceremonies for luck over several days, including an offering to the Goddess and ancestors to give fortune a boost. Eating rice today invokes the spirit of prosperity. Or you can try a traditional divinatory activity instead. Make note of the name of the first person you meet today. If the name has an auspicious meaning (check a baby-name book), your meeting presages a wonderful year filled with the Mother’s serendipity.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

The ten thousand things is a Chinese expression used to mean the indefinite multitude of all forms and beings in manifest existence.

Thus, it denotes the fecundity of the all-creative maya – the boundless abundance of Our Mother God, and also the world of multiplicity, change and flux as opposed to the unitary transcendence of the Spirit.  Thus, the expression ten thousand things represents not only all the possible productions of space and time, but the full extent of space and time themselves: and thus the total creation of Our Mother God. [1]

“Source of the ten thousand things in Taoist philosophy, She holds creation in Her womb.  She is non-dual consciousness, who encompasses emptimess and form; yin and yang; happiness and sorrow; heaven and earth; creation and destruction; birth and death.  Through Her, all things come to be; in Her, life bears fruition.  She is pristine awareness, undefiled mind and sinless purity.” (Beverly Lanzetta, “Radical Wisdom: A Feminist Mystical Theology“)

“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.” (Laozi, “Tao Te Ching” Ch. 1 as translated by Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English [1972])

Desire, the Mother of Ten Thousand Things” by Beth Mitchum is a neat blog to read, inspired by the Mother Herself.

Goddess Nokomis

“Nokomis’s themes are prosperity, luck and providence.  Her symbols are golden items and corn. In Algonquin tradition, Nokomis is an earth Goddess, the ‘grandmother’ who supplies us with the earth’s riches and gives nourishment to humankind in times of need. When people are hungry, Nokomis provides food. When there is no food to be found, she offers to let us consume her spirit, thereby continuing the cycle of life.

Today marks the anniversary of the discovery of gold in California and the resulting expansion westward in the United States. In keeping with this prosperous, fortunate theme, wear or carry something gold today to bring a little more of Nokomis’s abundance your way.

For financial improvements, especially if you have any pressing bills, eat corn (any type) today. Before consuming it pray to Nokomis, saying something like:

‘Grandmother, see the sincerity of my need
Go to your storehouse and dispense < ….. >
< fill in the minimum amount you need to get by >
So that I might meet my obligations.’

Eating the corn internalizes the energy of the prayer so opportunities to make money start manifesting.

If you are pressed for time, grab a kernel of un-popped popcorn and put it in your wallet or purse to keep Nokomis’s prosperity (and your cash) where it’s needed most.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Nokomis (pronounced “noh-KOO-mis,”) means “grandmother,” This name is used in traditional stories that also feature a character named Nanabozho, and it is believed that Longfellow’s poem “The Song of Hiawatha” is partially inspired by this mythology.

In Ojibwe tradition, Nokomis is an important character in both the poem and the original stories. She is the daughter of the moon and fell down to earth, which is why the meaning of this name is sometimes listed as “daughter of the moon.” Eventually She bears a daughter named Wenonah, who allows herself to be seduced by Mudjekeewis (the spirit of the West Wind) despite her mother’s warnings. Mudjekeewis abandons her, and Wenonah dies while giving birth to Hiawatha. Nokomis raises and educates her grandson. [1][2]

“Nokomis is the Algonquin name for the Goddess called Eithinoha by the Iroquois.  Eithinoha ruled the earth and its produce and she created the food for the people and animals.  She had a daughter, Oniata, the corn maiden.  When Oniata was wandering through the land, looking for dew, an evil spirit abducted her and held her under the earth; but the sun found her and led her back to the surface.  Another legend says that men, attracted by Oniata’s loveliness, fought over her.  When the Iroquois women complained, Oniata explained that she never wished for men’s attentions.  To ensure that the men would return to their families, she left the earth, leaving behind only spring wildflowers.

“Changing Woman” by Susan Seddon Boulet

The Menominee described Nokomis, also known as Masâkamek’okiu, as grandmother of the trickster rabbit, Mánabus.  A number of variants of Her story were told, with the daughter typically dying while birthing twins or triplets, only one of whom survived.  Overwhelmed by grief, Nokomis put the surviving baby under a bowl, later finding a rabbit that She raised as her grandchild.  In one story, Nokomis’s daughter became pregnant by the wind while gathering wild potatoes, after which she gave birth to Mánabus, a wolf named Múhwase, and a sharp flint stone that cut the girl in two. Nokomis punished the flint by throwing it away, but raised the other children.  Another version said the Goddess found under her food dish, Pikâkamik’okiu, who grew into a woman instantly. Impregnated by four invisible beings, Pikâkamik’okiu died, ripped apart by delivery.  Nokomis found no solace from her grief until she laid down her food dish, from which the trickster rabbit was born.

Among the Penobscot, Nok-a-mi was a primal woman, who appeared at time’s beginning, already bowed with age.  The next woman to appear was Nee-gar-oose, who brought love and color to the universe and who became the mother of all people.  After a time, she became downcast because her children were hungry.  So she asked Her husband to kill her and bury her with a certain ritual.  The man did as he was told.  Seven days later, he retuned to find that, from his wife’s body, the first corn and tobacco had sprung up.” (Patricia Monaghan, “Encyclopedia of Goddess and Heroines”)

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