Archive for February, 2012


Goddess Lilith

“Lilith” by zummerfish

“Lilith’s themes are freedom, courage, playfulness, passion, pleasure and sexuality.  Her symbol is an apple.  In Hebrew legends, Lilith is a dangerously beautiful Goddess who refused to subordinate Herself to Adam, feeling She was created as an equal. This makes Lilith perhaps the first true liberationist, and She resolves to make modern life similarly equal for all people. She also boldly instructs us to stand up for what we believe in, unbridled and courageous, no matter the cost. According to legend, Lilith was turned away from paradise for Her ‘crime’, and She has been depicted in art as a demon.

Leap Year occurs every four years to keep our calendar in sync with the solar year. Customarily, women break loose today, asking men out or proposing marriage. In today’s liberal society, actions like this aren’t overly surprising. Nonetheless, Lilith charges us with the duty of ever seeking after equality, not just for women but for all of earth’s people. If there’s someone you’ve wronged with presupposition or prejudice, make amends today.

To internalize Lilith’s fairness, bravery, or exuberant lustiness, eat an apple today. Quite literally take a bite out of life, and enjoy some daring activity to its fullest without fear or guilt.

 Like Lilith, you are the master of your destiny!”

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

Lilith is depicted on a Babylonian clay plaque from 2000-1600 BCE as beautiful winged woman with bird’s feet and claws.

“Lilith dates back to the bird-serpent Goddess of antiquity. In Sumeria, She was portrayed as having both the wings and claws of a bird. Some reliefs show Her lower half as being the body of a serpent or She is shown as a serpent with the head and breasts of a woman.

There are many possibilities as to Her early Goddess names: Belil-ili, Belili, Lillake, or Ninlil.

She was a Goddess of agriculture as well as the “hand of Inanna”. She was said to dwell in the trunk of the Huluppu-tree:

‘Then a serpent who could not be charmed
Made its nest in the roots of the huluppu-tree.
The Anzu-bird set his young in the branches of the tree.
And the dark maid Lilith built her home in the trunk.’

Lilith also helped women in childbirth and nursed infants.

Recent translations of Her name are varied and range from ‘screech owl’, lilah which is darkness or night in Hebrew, to Lilitu which is said to be the Babylonian word for ‘evil night-spirit.’

Her symbols are the crossroad, owl, serpent, tree, and dark moon.

The Hebrew Lilith

“Lilith” by Notvitruvian

When Jewish patriarchy overtook the land, they made Lilith evil in order to stop the people from worshipping Her.

In Kabbalistic tradition, Lilith was made the first wife of Adam. Some sources say that Lilith was Adam’s spirit wife. Other sources claim that Lilith was fashioned from the earth at either the same time as Adam or before Adam. This made Lilith Adam’s equal.

As Adam’s equal, Lilith refused to lie on Her back while Adam took the dominant position in sex (missionary style). Lilith believed that they should make love as equals (the beast with two backs). Adam was adamantly against this, wanting his wife to be submissive, and Lilith left the Garden of Eden.

God then supposedly gave Adam Eve, a docile woman of the flesh.

Eventually, Lilith was portrayed as the foe of Eve. It was Lilith in serpent form who seduced Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge. No doubt the first wife wanted the second wife to see what a jerk Adam was and that Lilith also wanted Eve to open her eyes and come into the fulness of herself, her womanhood.

When both Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, Adam endured a period of celibacy as penance. During this time, Lilith was said to have caused nocturnal emissions from Adam (night hag). She collected his semen and impregnated Herself with it, giving birth to demons.  These children of Lilith were called Lilin or Lilim, ‘night-demons.’

The Goddess who once protected mothers and infants was now portrayed as a demoness who caused abortions and murdered infants in their sleep. The Jewish people believed that when a baby laughed or smiled in its sleep, it was being entertained by Lilith, and the parents would quickly bop the infant on the nose to distract the infant from the Goddess. It was also believed that She came to children in the form of an owl and drank their blood.

Despite the Jewish attempts to erradicate this ancient Goddess, She can still be found in Her truer, albeit symbolic, form in their literature:

‘During a protracted and dangerous confinement take earth from the crossroads, write upon it the five first verses of this Psalm, and lay it upon the abdomen of the parturient; allow it to remain until the birth is accomplished, but no longer. . .’ (The Complete Edition of the 6th and 7th Books of Moses: or Moses’ Magical Spirit Art).

Lilith and Sexuality

“Lilith’s Lair” by LourdesLaVeau

Lilith, as ‘hand of Inanna,’ would gather men from the streets and lead them to the temples of the sacred prostitutes. Later, as the first wife of Adam, She refused to lie beneath Adam and be his submissive. Instead She chose to have sex with “evil” spirits and beget more demons. (Who could blame Her?)

Lilith was comfortable with Her sexuality, something that frightened the Jewish patriarch who believed that merely having sex for pleasure was a form of abortion. In recent times, Lilith has morphed into the succubus and incubus or the night hag who sits on the chests of men and causes them to have perverse dreams so that they will ejaculate. She could take the form of either a man or a woman:

‘. . .who appear to mankind, to men in the likeness of women, and to women in the likeness of men, and with men they lie by night and by day.’

Men fear Lilith because She knows the power of Her sexuality and She knows that Her sexuality has power over men. Like Circe, She turns men into beasts or pigs by opening the doorways to their deep and primal sexual desires. Such desires are forbidden by the Jewish and Christian cults.

Women, who are like the submissive Eve, also fear Lilith because of the power She holds. But, as has been shown in the myth of the garden of Eden, Lilith is not an enemy of womankind. She holds the ancient fruit of knowledge, the secrets of our deepest sexual nature, and She is willing to offer this fruit to us.

Lilith as Vampire

“Bewitched” by Picked-Jester

As the mother of all demons, Lilith has recently been linked to either giving birth to the first vampires or being the first vampire.

This fallacy is linked to past Jewish superstitions in that Lilith drank the blood of children while in the form of an owl.

In a Rabbinical frenzy to drive Lilith’s worshippers away from the Goddess, they made up lies such as this which contradicted Her earlier functions as a protectress and helper of birthing mothers and infants.” [1]

“Lilith” by Valerhon

For your listening enjoyment, I had to add this song into this entry that I came across a few days ago.  This song is amazing, written by a talented artist named Zefora, and dedicated to Lilith.

Sources:

Yetter, Eliza. Sacred Spiral, “Lilith As Goddess”  (When you click on the link, it will bring you to her page where she has posted her citations/selected bibliography.)

Suggested Links:

All Things yOni, “Lilith

Enkidu, Leah. Shrine, “Return of the Holy Prostitute“.

Jewish and Christian Literature, “Lilith

Kocharyan, Lilith. Lilith’s World, “Goddess Lilith

Leitch, Aaron. Aaron Leitch Homepage, “Lilith

Monaghan, Patricia. Goddesses in World Culture, “Lilith: The Primordial Female“. (55 – 67).

Saradwyn. Order of the White Moon, “Lilith“.

Took, Thalia. A-Musing-Grace Gallery, “Lilith

Wikipedia, “Lilith

So, this week, I’ve begun Module 2.  In this module, we are able to start putting items back on our altars, but only three.  This was very intriguing because I had a dream several nights ago that I had started setting my altar back up.  I was told by some anonymous authority that I could only put the bare essentials on it.  In my dream, I placed my little well that holds a little container of water from the well at Kildare, Ireland; my Brighid statue and a candle holder on it.  So, when I read Module 2, I got a little chuckle and a chill…Was there any doubt then what three items that I would place back on my altar?

I was going to place my ceramic cream colored domed tealight candle holder back on it, but opted to go with my incense holder instead because it could double as a tealight holder and a incense holder. Interestingly enough, tonight is also my shift for flamekeeping with the Tuatha de Brighid, so my “day” flamekeeping candle is on there as well until my shift is over tomorrow night.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about who to place on my “Guru Board”.  I believe that it is pretty much complete at this point.  I’ve listed a lot of people; but all of these people have an influence on my outlook on life and the development of my spiritual life.

Click here to visit my “Guru Board” on Pinterest.

"Light Goddess" by Mi9

“Luonnotar’s themes are creativity, tradition, fertility and beginnings.  Her symbols are eggs, the East Wind and poetry.  A Finno-Ugric creatrix, Luonnotar closes the month of February with an abundance of creative, fertile energy. Her name means ‘daughter of earth’, and according to legend She nurtured the cosmic eggs from which the sun, moon and stars developed. In the Kalevala, Luonnotar is metaphorically represented as the refreshing east wind – the wind of beginnings. She also created the first bard, Väinämöinen.

The Kalevala is the epic poem of more than twenty thousand verses that recounts the history and lore of the Finnish people. Luonnotar appears in the creation stanzas, empowering the entire ballad with Her energy. If there’s anything in your life that needs an inventive approach or ingenious nudge, stand in an easterly wind today and let Luonnotar’s power restore your personal muse. If the wind doesn’t cooperate, stand instead in the breeze created by a fan facing west!

To generate fertility or internalize a little extra resourcefulness as a coping mechanism in any area of your life, make eggs part of a meal today. Cook them sunny-side-up for a ‘sunny’ disposition, over easy to motivate transitions, or hard boiled to strengthen your backbone!”

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

“In the beginning, there was only the Goddess Luonnotar, whose name means ‘Daughter of Nature’. She was becoming bored of being alone in the void of emptiness, so She let herself fall into the primal ocean where She floated aimlessly. The breath of the wind gently caressed Her, and the waters of the sea made her fertile. As she floated, a duck swam by looking for a dry place to build her nest and lay her eggs. She came upon the Goddess floating in the ocean, and perceived her knee to be a small island. The duck climbed up onto Luonnotar’s knee and laid 3 of her eggs, on which she sat for 3 days. On the end of the third day, Luonnotar felt a horrible burning pain on her knee, and jerked it up violently, tossing the 3 eggs and the duck back into the sea. The eggs did not break, but rather turned into beautiful things. The lower half of the eggs became the bountiful Earth, bringing plants and animals into existence. The upper part of the eggs became the sky, the speckled parts becoming the starry heavens, the dark patches becoming the clouds in the sky and the yolks joining to become the sun. Luonnotar completed the work of creation by causing springs of water to well up, nourishing the Earth. She also dug trenches, flattened out the ground and planted the first seeds of life so that the planet could flourish.” [1]

"Luonnotar" by Lisa Hunt

In another version, Luonnotar “floated for centuries on the primordial ocean, until one day an eagle landed on Her knee and built a nest. Luonnotar sat and watched the bird eagerly, happy for something to finally be happening after centuries of loneliness and boredom. She became too excited, however, and upset the nest, and the eggs fell and broke. The broken shells of the eggs formed the heavens and the earth. The yolks became the sun, the whites the moon, and scattered fragments of the eggs transformed into the stars. Afterward, Luonnotar fashioned the continents from the eggs that made up the land, and divided the seas.” [2]

“A Goddess similar to Azer-Ava, Luonnotar was occasionally seen as a triple Goddess.  She had three sons, all culture-heros (VäinämöinenLemminkäinen and Ilmarinen representing poetry, magic and smithcraft respectively).  She was sometimes dual-sexed, with Her alternative name, Ilmater, sometimes described Her masculine name.  When part of the Goddess-trinity, Luonnotar is connected with Udutar and Terhetär, sisters who live together sifting mist through a sieve to cause disease.  In some traditions, Luonnotar gave birth to the world’s first woman, Kave, who in turn gave birth to humanity; yet at times, Kave is used as a title of Luonnatar.  Her connection to the dual Goddesses Suvetar, daughter of summer and Etelätär, daughter of the wind, is unclear, although both are invoked with titles resembling those of Luonnotar.” (Patricia Monaghan, Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, p. 364).

Sources:

The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science and Art, Vol. 42.

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. “Luonnotar“. Greenwood, 2009.

Blessed Shrine of Isis. Finnish Mythology

1. On the whole, I can honestly say that my spiritual exploration hasn’t been bad – no negative experiences (i.e. like growing up in an IFB cult or anything). I haven’t had any negative experiences with Catholicism (well, except for my First Confession…that was a little scary and intimidating…). Nothing bad in the Methodist church. My experience with the Episcopalian church was wonderful – one could not ask for a better reverend. The reverend at the Episcopalian church was an amazing and an intelligent person whom I respected very much and still look back on with fondness in my heart.  In fact, his wife was a reverend too and occasionally made a guest appearance there to lead service.  That rocked!  The only thing I found lacking was a deity that I could relate to. That’s what sent me back to the Catholic church – in search of the Feminine Divine that I thought I would find in Mother Mary.

I had been a solitary Pagan for a little while before I came out and started participating in rituals and classes with the the first “Wiccan-based eclectic Pagan” coven I found in Central TX . That was positive…until around Mabon/Samhain 2007. There were some  internal issues going on, some personality conflicts and personal struggles going on that led to an almost complete breakdown of the coven.  I still remained friends with some of my coven mates and consider one of them to be a Sister. Did some things with the Fort Hood Open Circle. A really great group of people and I’m thankful for them and other circles like them for being there, but it just wasn’t for me. Again, very eclectic, a lot of people coming from different traditions and again, some internal issues and drama.  I am a Virgo – you’ll have to forgive me.  I very much like organization and order.

 

2. My first experience with the local CUUPS in Anchorage was back at Lughnasadh 2009. It was a Discordian/Chaos Magic  open ritual.  Again, think about that for a minute and then think about what I said in the previous paragraph.  Virgo – perfectionist, loves organization and order…Well, life got a little hectic for me as I was pregnant with my second child with a 10 month old at home.  It wouldn’t be until Imbolc 2011 that I would finally venture back out again into the Anchorage Pagan community. I knew from my previous experience that there were a great group of people there, though I still a little nervous.  The Imbolc open ritual was a full out ADF Druid High Day Ritual and that rocked my world!  I met a very awesome woman who organized a Goddess Circle for women that was totally awesome – just what I needed at the time – time away with some rockin’ women who shared my love of the Goddess…how I miss them…

With Christianity, my problem wasn’t so much with the people as it was with the institution. I remember as a little girl, laying in bed at night listening to the Christian station, crying my eyes out begging God to forgive me for my sins, to make me a better person, not send me to burn eternally in Hell and to love me.  After all, we all know how sinful 8 year olds little girls can be.  As I got older, it was the utter lack of recognizing a feminine deity that I knew deep down in the very essence of my being was there. She was just no where to be found in Christianity. As for the beginnings of my Pagan path in a group setting – it was awesome at first until the personality and internal issues and conflicts arose. FHOC was very eclectic; it had to be as there were people from all different traditions and levels or points on their paths. My Anchorage CUUPS experience was great because it was  a bit more organized and  my first experience with Druidry just really really called to me.

 

"The Pythian Anomaly" by Catalyst Design

3. If I had to choose one thing to call G-d, I’d call G-d “Goddess”. I have been known to use “The Divine”, “Creator”, and “Great Spirit” when I’d been asked to say blessings for meals during my time as a Chaplain’s Assistant in the Army. I guess it would depend on the situation and the company I was in. I kind of have a problem with the word “God” because it just reminds me too much of Christianity. I also like the term Godde (singular) or Goddes (plural) – a little something I picked up from the Tuatha de Brighid Druid group as it includes both the God(s) and Goddess(es). But I truly prefer Goddess because I can connect and relate better to Her. She is closer than the “Ultimate Being” (not really sure what else to call it) that I feel is out there, somewhere…composed of both male and female energies – a continuum of spiritual energy if you will; just pure energy that is completely and utterly intangible.

 

kali

4. I have experienced Deity from everything from little feelings, inner voices and nudges (not physical), to overwhelming feelings of complete and utter rage to divine love that made my heart swell and bring me to tears. I have had “physical” contact with Deity (the Goddess) in a few dreams which I experienced pure unadulterated love – every cell of my body was filled and resonated with light, love and pure ecstatic joy. Since I’ve learned what I’ve needed to learn so far in Ereshkigal’s realm, I’ve not felt the rage anymore.

Was it the Goddess in the rage?  Part of me wants to say no, but part of me knows that She was – lest we forget about the warrior Goddesses who are associated with such emotions…

The least I would need on my altar would be my statue of Brighid, a candle, incense holder and well to hold water. The other added little trinkets (i.e. bell, amethyst, Brighid’s cross, etc.) are added bonuses because they are associated with Her, were given to me or I made them.

"Laka" by Kristine Provenza

“Laka’s themes are tradition, heritage, weather and arts.  Her symbols are lei flowers, dance and the color yellow.

Laka is the Hawaiian Goddess of Hula, through which the myths, legends and histories of the Hawaiian people are kept intact. Today She charges us with the sacred duty of collecting the treasures of our personal legacies and recording them for sharing with future generations.

In stories, Laka is the sister of Pele (the volcano Goddess) and a nature Goddess who can be invoked for rain. Artistic renditions show Her wearing yellow garments, bedecked with flowers and always dancing.

The cherry blossoms of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Hawaii are spiritual, not real, symbolizing the power of tradition among the predominantly Japanese community. On this day people gather together and honor their heritage by participating in martial arts, Japanese dances, weaving and arts competitions. So, if there’s any art or craft you learned from an elder in your family, take the time to display that craft or work on it today to commemorate Laka’s attributes.

If possible, get together with members of your family and begin creating a family journal that will record all the important events in your lives. Cover the journal with yellow paper dabbed with fragrant oil to invoke tending care on the sacred documents.”

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

“Laka is most well known as the Goddess of the hula and the forest. Even today, in very traditional hula halaus, an altar or offering is prepared in honor of Laka with a very specific succession of plants.” [1]  After the dance, “the altar is dismantled and ever leaf is taken to the ocean or a deep stream as a way to honor Laka further.

She is also known as the Goddess of the wild woods and over all vegetation.  Plants sacred to Her are: maile, Lama, hala pepe,`ie `ie, ki, `ôhia lehua, and palai.  The maile flowers are commonly used to make Lei, which are draped over the neck.  As vegetation Goddess, She is associated with the nourishing elements of light and rain.  Rain connects Laka to Her husband, Lono, the fertility god who descended to earth on a Rainbow to marry Her.” [2]

“In some traditions of Hawaii the hula was brought to the islands by a brother and sister, both named Laka. Although prayers are addressed to Laka in many hula performances, few, if any, hulas are ever dedicated to her. Because of many stories connecting Laka to impregnation and fruitfulness, Beckwith calls Her ‘the Goddess of love.’ The name laka means “gentle, docile, attracted to, to attract,” and there are old chants asking Laka to attract not only love, but wealth. Of very different origin, She was nevertheless incorporated into the Pele religion. Due to Her associations with the forest She represents the element of plants.” [3]

Sources:

Flidai. The Goddess Tree, “Laka, Polynesian Fertility Goddess“.

King, Serge Kahili. Hawaiian Huna Village, “Hawaiian Goddesses“.

Please also visit these sites for some great information on Laka’s background and associations:

Lakainapali, Tracy. Hawaiian Huna Village “Hula: The Soul of Hawaii“.

Powers That Be, “Hawaiian Goddess Laka“.

Retro Glyhs, “Laka“.

Goddess Oba

Obá

“Ọba’s themes are protection, manifestation, movement, energy, restoration and flexibility. Her symbols is water.  Ọba, is the Nigerian and Santarian Goddess of rivers, which figuratively represents the flow of time and life. Turn to Her for assistance in learning how to ‘go with the flow’, or when you need to inspire some movement in sluggish projects or goals.

Kuomboka is a holiday in Zambia that literally translates as ‘getting out of the water’. Due to the annual flood cycle, people must make their way to higher ground around this date. So consider what type of figurative hot water you’ve gotten into lately.  Ọba stands ready to get you onto safer footing.

To encourage Her aid, take a glass half filled with hot water, then slowly pour in cold water op to the rim, saying:

 ‘By Ọba’s coursing water, let <…..> improve
to higher and safer ground, my spirit move.’

Drink the water to internalize the energy.

Ọba can abide in any body of flowing water, including your tap or shower. When you get washed up or do the dishes today, invoke her energy by uttering this chant (mentally or verbally):

‘Ọba, flow <……> blessings  bestow
Pour, pour, pour <……> restore, restore, restore.’

Let Ọba’s spiritual waters refresh your energy and your magic.”

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

"Three Yoruban Women" by Consuelo Gamboa

Ọba is the Yoruba Goddess of rivers. She was the daughter of Yemaja and one of the consorts of Sàngó. Ọba represents the power of the flowing waters. The waters of the River Ọba bear Her name. She forms a triad with Her sisters Ọṣhun and Oya and provides the life-giving waters that are needed as drinking water and for irrigation. Ọba is venerated as a Goddess of love in Brazil but considered a guardian of prostitutes in parts of Africa.

Ọba is the heroine of a sad story that began with Her rivalry with Ọṣhun and Her efforts to obtain the exclusive love of their common husband.  According to legend, Shango was the lover of Ọṣhun, but the husband of Ọba and Oya. Ọṣhun was his favorite because She was the best cook of the three. Ọba, jealous because She was the first and legitimate wife, asked Ọṣhun how She kept Shango so happy.

Ọṣhun, filled with resentment because Ọba’s children would inherit the kingdom, told Ọba that many years ago She had cut off a piece of Her ear, dried it into a powder, and sprinkled some on Shango’s food.  This, She said, is what made him desire Her more than the others.  So, Ọba went home and sliced off Her ear, stirring it into Shango’s food. When Shango began eating, he glanced down he saw an ear floating in the stew. Thinking that Ọba was trying to poison him, he drove Her from the house.  Grieving, She fell to earth and became the Ọba River which intersects with the Oṣun river at turbulent rapids, a symbol of the rivalry between the two wives where She is still worshipped today.” [1]

"Water goddess" by rmj7

“Ọba migrated with Her people when they were brought to Cuba.  When Ọba possesses a dancer, she wears a scarf that hides one ear and must be kept from any dancer who embodies Ọṣhun because of the rivalry between the two.  Ọba is syncretized with Saints Catherine and Rita” (Patricia Monaghan, Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, p. 41), Saint Joan of Arc and Saint Martha (Nathaniel Samuel Murrell, Afro-Caribbean Religoins: An Introduction to Their Historical, Cultural, and Sacred Traditions p. 174)

ASSOCIATIONS

Sacred number: 8
Day of the week: Sunday or Friday
Colors: pink, pink and blue, pink belted or accented with red and white
Domain: marriage, loyalty, fidelity, female honor with regard to wife and motherhood, bonding
Symbols: interlocking wedding rings or circles, head scarves in Her colors that cover the ears and neck (khimar style), the double swords (two machetes or gubasas) with attached scarves, the hooded cape, the baby sling, red and white hearts, red and white roses or other flowers, pink flowers. [2]

Visit Orisha Online Altar, Oba to learn more about Her associations, offerings and altar set up.

Goddess Asherah

“Lioness” by Karl Bang

“Asherah’s themes are kindness, love, divination and foresight.  Her symbols are lions, lilies, a tree or a pole.  Asherah, a Canaanite Goddess of moral strength, offers to lend support and insight when we are faced with inequality or overwhelming odds. In art, She is often depicted simply as an upright post supporting the temple. This is a fitting representation, since Her name means ‘straight’.

Traditionally, Asherah is a mother figure often invoked at planting time, embodying a kind of benevolent, fertile energy that can reinforce just efforts and good intentions. Beyond this She is also an oracular Goddess, specifically for predicting the future.

In Israel, Ta’anit Ester commemorates Esther‘s strength and compassion in pleading with King Ahasuerus to save her people held captive in Persia. It is a time of prayer when one looks to the divine to instill similar positive attributes within us. For help in this quest, we turn to Asherah with this simple prayer:

‘Lady, make me an instrument of kindness and mercy
Let my words be gentle and true
My actions motivated by insight and fairness
Where there is prejudice
Let me share your vision
Where there is uncertainty
Let me share your vision
Where there is disharmony
Let me show love
Amen.’

Plant a tree today to remember Asherah, and tend it often. As you do, you tend attributes in your heart.”
(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Ashera” by Hrana Janto

Asherah was the great Canaanite Mother Goddess since about the 13th century BCE and is arguably the most important Goddess in the Canaanite pantheon.  Like Anat, She is a was well-documented Goddess of the northwest Semitic pantheon.  We have long known Asherah from the immense library of thirteenth-century cuneiform tablets found in Syria at the site of Ugarit.  She is the Shekinah, consort and beloved of Yahweh; God-the-Mother.  Her sacred pillars or poles once stood right beside Yahweh’s altar, embracing it.  Moses and Aaron both carried one of these Asherah “poles” as a sacred staff of power.  The Children of Israel were once dramatically healed simply by gazing at the staff with serpents suspended from it.  This symbol, the snakes* and the staff, has become the modern universal symbol for doctors and healers.

According to the 13th century cuneiform tablets found in Syria at the site of Ugarit, She is the wife of El in Ugaritic mythology, known as Elat (the feminine form of El; compare Allat); a fertility Goddess and the wooden cult symbol that represented Her. As El’s first wife, She was said to have birthed 70 sons. All gods of the myths were born to Asherah and El, with the exception of Baʿal, whose parentage is uncertain. El had 2 wives but it was Asherah alone who nursed the newly born gods. Seeing as She had birthed so many children it is only normal that She was worshipped as the true fertility Goddess, force of life and nature. She manifests in domestic herds and flocks, in groves of trees and in the nurturing waters. Her powers and her presence were invoked not only during planting time but also during childbirth.  She is the Goddess who is also called Athirau-Yammi: “She Who Walks on (or in) the Sea.”  She was the chief Goddess of Tyre in the 15th century BCE, and bore the appellation Qudshu, “holiness.”

“Asherah” by Sandra M. Stanton

“She was often portrayed with a lion or ibex on either side as in the bottom register of the Canaanite ritual stand from Taanach, late 10th century BCE in the tree trunk on the right. A Tree of Life with 3 pairs of branches, an ibex and a lion on either side can be seen two registers above. Later, after patriarchal systems prevailed, Her name came to mean grove or trees. As a Goddess worshipped in Her own right in the ancient Hebrew religion, She was associated with all that was symbolized by the Tree of Life. In making the first Menorah, the ancient Hebrews were instructed to have three branches coming out of either side of a central stand with an almond shaped cup and a flower at the end of each one, resembling an almond tree. Among the trees considered to be the Tree of Life, the almond tree was highly regarded as it was the first to flower in spring, even before leafing out. The progression from Asherah, to the Tree of Life to the Menorah is revealed in the 4th century CE Roman gold glass base in the tree branches depicting a Menorah with a lion on either side. Asherah is wearing a necklace from Deir el-Balah, 14th-13th century BCE with an ibex-headed pendant from Ashod, 4th century BCE.” [1]

Food for Thought – “The Hebrew name used for God in Genesis is Elohim, a derivative of El. Many people find the passage in Genesis that says, “Let us make humankind in our own image” a little confusing. If there is only one true God, then who was he talking to? Some have said he was talking to the Holy Spirit, another aspect of Elohim, which is also seen as a male type or at least, as a non-gender. Others have asserted that he was talking to Eloah, the female aspect of Elohim. The world Elohim is actually plural, so that implies there is more than one “Being” involved in Elohim. Since there were only two kinds of people created, male and female, one could probably assume that man was made in the El’s image while woman was made in Eloah’s image. Thus, we were all, male and female, made in Elohim’s image, encompassing both the male and female aspect of God.” [2]

“Asherah” by Sami Edelstein

“There are more than 40 references to Asherah in the Old Testament.  Asherah appears as a Goddess by the side of Baʿal, whose consort She evidently became, at least among the Canaanites of the south.  We remember that, according to the Bible itself, in the ninth century BCE Asherah was officially worshipped in Israel; Her cult was matronized by Jezebel who, supposedly, imported it from her native Phoenician homeland. However, most biblical references to the name point obviously to some cult object of wood, which might be cut down and burned, possibly the Goddesses’ image (1 Kings 15:13, 2 King 21:7). Her prophets are mentioned (1 Kings 18:19), and the vessels used in Her service referred to (2 Kings 23:4). The existence of numerous symbols, in each of which the Goddess was believed to be immanent, led to the creation of numerous forms of Her person, which were described as Asherim.  In reference to the Tree of Life of which She is associated with, an object called an Asherah was a sacred pole carved out of the terebinth tree and placed next to the altars of Yahweh, thus worshipping both the mother and the father at once. Her own specific places of worship were on hilltops, (called  “High Places” in the Bible), and in forests and groves. Through Her association with trees, She was seen as the part of Elohim who brought fertility, new growth, successful crops and watched over nature. Along with life in nature, She was also seen as the Bread of Life for the Hebrew people. Hebrew women would make special loaves of Asherah bread, which would be blessed, then ritually eaten. Some scholars say this is the precursor of the communion wafer.  These practices and the cult objects themselves were utterly detestible to faithful worshippers of Yahweh (1 Kings 15:13).” [3]

“After Abraham was called by Yahweh and recruited some followers, he had a difficult time cutting out Asherah and the other regional gods. However, as time progressed in the Old Testament, the temptation to worship other gods lessened, while the blatant worship of Asherah along side of Yahweh continued.  It was difficult for the religious leaders in early Judaism to suppress Asherah because of a universally desire to recognize a nurturing, compassionate, Mother Goddess.

“Come with Me” by HandmaidenPhi

Hebrew women had a closer attachment to Her, seeing as how they did not play much of a role in their religion. Of course, there were some great women such as Esther, Deborah, and Rebecca, but women playing a part in early Judaism was definitely the exception instead of the rule. In archaeological sites that date back to Biblical times, small statues of Asherah are found in what would likely be bedrooms and kitchen areas. It is widely accepted that although the religious leaders frowned on the worship of Asherah, the common people, mainly women, would still have small figures of Asherah in their households.  This should not come as a surprise, since women of that time had a considerably lower status than they do today, and since there were no priestesses for them to go to for support, they had to find their own faith. What could Yahweh know about childbirth without epidurals? How could they pray to him for relief of menstrual pain in a time before Ibuprofen? What did Yahweh know about being beaten by a husband or raped by a neighbor?

There were no Battered Women’s Shelters then, or anti depressants for post-partum depression. It would not make sense for them to pray to a male god for female issues. I’m sure that if there was ever a society that had only one Deity and it was a Goddess, the men might feel strange praying to a Goddess to cure him of impotence or premature ejaculation.

It would appear that Hebrew men slightly understood this dilemma that their wives and sisters faced and they were more lenient on Asherah worship than they were of Ba’al worship or other gods. An interesting, but little known fact about the Temple of Jerusalem is that an Asherah statue was housed there for two-thirds of the time that the Temple stood during Biblical times. Apparently, one of the wives of Solomon brought it with her when she married him, and he allowed it to remain in the Temple for quite some time; and he was viewed as the wisest man who ever lived! Also, when Elijah wanted to prove the power of God or Yahweh, he called out the 450 priests of Ba’al and the 400 priestesses of Asherah. Although he was there to disprove both Ba’al and Asherah, he focused on the priests of Ba’al and derided them during their prayers, eventually killing them all, but he does nothing to the priestesses of Asherah.” [4]

“Other traces in the Bible either angrily acknowledge Her worship as Goddess (II Kings 14.13, for instance, where another royal lady is involved), or else demote Her from Goddess to a sacred tree or pole set up near an altar (II Kings 13.6, 17.16; Deuteronomy 16.21 and more). The authors of the biblical text attack Asherah relentlessly. They praise Asa, king of Judah (911-870 BCE), for removing his mother Ma’acah from official duties after “she had an abominable image made for Asherah” (I Kings 15.13, II Chronicles 15.6). They condemn the long-reigning Manas’seh of Judah (698-642) for doing “what was evil in the sight of the Lord” in “making an Asherah” (II Kings 21.7).

And they trumpet the achievements of Josiah (639-609), including the destruction of offerings made to Asherah at the temple in Jerusalem, the abolition of “the Asherah from the house of the Lord,” and demolition of a shrine there in which women “did weaving for Asherah” (II Kings 23).  These passages reflect both the popularity of Asherah’s worship and efforts to stamp out Her cult during in the Iron Age. But it was only in the succeeding Persian period, after the fall of Judah in 586 BCE and the exile in Babylon, that Asherah virtually disappeared.

“Tree of Life” by Willow Arlenea

Ultimately, the campaign to eliminate the Goddess has failed. “Asherah was buried long ago by the Establishment,” declares respected biblical scholar William H. Dever. “Now, archaeology has excavated her.” Dever is quite certain that he knows who the Asherah of ancient Israel and of the biblical texts is–She is the wife or consort of Yahweh, the one god of Israel. Many of his colleagues would agree.” [5]

ASSOCIATIONS:

Pantheon: Canaanite

Element: Fire

Sphere of Influence: Sex and love

Preferred Colors: Green, red

Animals Associated With: Lions, serpents

Best Day to Work With: Friday

Strongest Around: Ostara

Associated Planet: Venus   [6]

*A word about snakes:  The Serpent, though a frightening symbol because of its ability to bring death, stood also for ancient wisdom and immortality.  (Note that it hung out in the Tree of Knowledge and preached a doctrine of immortality, “ye shall NOT surely die.”) Many early societies revered the snake and used it to symbolize different ideas.  In much the same way, today we revere the Lion or other ferocious big-cats even though they’re dangerous.  An early American symbol used the snake as a statement of power, a warning, saying, “Don’t tread on me!”

Sources:

Amenahem, Bathia.The Mother Goddess: As She Appears in Cultures Around the World, Judaism“.

Archeology, The Lost Goddess of Israel.

A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Athirat“.

The Esoteric Seminary, “The Hebrew Goddess“.

The Goddess in World Mythology, “Asherah“.

Order of the White Moon, “Asherah by Medussa“.

PaganNews.com, Asherah“.

Suggested Links:

Monaghan, Patricia. Goddesses in World Culture, “Asherah: Hidden Goddess of the Bible“. (p. 39 – 54).

Goddess Kali

“Kali” by Lisa Iris

“Kali’s themes are rebirth, cycles, joy, courage, hope, cleansing and change.  Her symbols are flowers, dance, iron, swords, peacock feathers and honey.  Kali, a Hindu Goddess whose name means ‘time’, is the genetrix of natural forces that either build or destroy. Even in destruction, however, She reminds us that good really can come of bad situations. If you find your hopes and dreams have been crushed, Kali can change the cycle and produce life out of nothingness. Where there is sorrow, She dances to bring joy. Where there is fear, She dances in courage.

During the Festival of Shiva, or Maha Shivratri, Hindus gather at Shiva’s temples to honor this celestial dance of creation, and Kali dances with them in spirit. Beforehand, they fast and bathe in holy waters for purification. Doing similarly (in your tub or shower) will purge your body and soul of negative influences. Add some flower petals or sweet perfume tot the bath to invoke Kali’s power.

To invoke Kali’s assistance in bringing new life to stagnant projects or ruined goals, leave her an offering of honey or flowers, and make this Kali amulet: Take any black cloth and wrap it around a flower dabbed with a drop of honey, saying:

 ‘Kali, turn, dance, and change
Fate rearrange
End the devastation and strife
what was dead return to life.’

Carry this with you until the situation changes, then bury it with thankfulness.”

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

Who can comprehend the Divine Paradox of Mother Kali?  Fierce, black in color, large, shimmering eyes, destructive, triumphantly smiling amidst the slaughter of billions of demons, wearing a necklace of skulls and a skirt of severed arms, glowing effulgently like the moon in the night sky, holding the head of a demon, a Trident that flashes like lightning and a knife etched with sacred mantras and infused with Divine Shakti, Kali stands peaceful and content, suffused with the fragrances of jasmine, rose and sandalwood!

Goddess Kali

Goddess Kali is equated with the eternal night, is the transcendent power of time, and is the consort of the god Shiva. It is believed that its Shiva who destroys the world, and Kali is the power or energy with which Shiva acts. Therefore, Kali is Shiva’s Shakti, without which Shiva could not act. Frequently, those not comprehending Her many roles in life call Kali the Goddess of death and destruction.  It is partly correct to say Kali is a Goddess of death, but She brings the death of the ego as the illusory self-centered view of reality. Nowhere in the Hindu stories is She seen killing anything but demons nor is She associated specifically with the process of human dying like the Hindu god Yama (who really is the god of death). It is true that both Kali and Shiva are said to inhabit cremation grounds and devotees often go to these places to meditate. This is not to worship death but rather it is to overcome the I-am-the-body idea by reinforcing the awareness that the body is a temporary condition. Shiva and Kali are said to inhabit these places because it is our attachment to the body that gives rise to the ego. Shiva and Kali grant liberation by removing the illusion of the ego. Thus we are the eternal I AM and not the body. This is underscored by the scene of the cremation grounds.

According to Hindu myth, The Goddess Kali is an incarnation of Parvati. She assumed this form in order to vanquish the demon Raktabija, whose name means “the seed of blood”. The gods could not kill the demon Raktabija because he had received from Brahma the boon of being born anew a one thousand times more powerful than before, each time a drop of his blood was shed. Every drop of his blood that touched the ground transformed itself into another and more powerful Raktabija. Within a few minutes of striking this demon the entire battlefield covered with millions of Raktabija clones. In despair, the gods turned to Shiva. But Shiva was lost in meditation at the time and the gods were afraid to disturb him. Hence they pleaded with his consort Parvati for Her assistance.

“Kali” by maigo-no-kirin

The Goddess immediately set out to do battle with this dreaded demon in the form of Kali or “the Black One”. Her eyes were red, Her complexion was dark, Her features gaunt, Her hair unbound, and Her teeth sharp like fangs. As Kali came in to do battle, Raktabija experienced fear for the first time in his demonic heart. Kali ordered the gods to attack Raktabija. She then spread Her tongue to cover the battlefield preventing even a single drop of Raktabija’s blood from falling on the group. Thus, She prevented Raktabija from reproducing himself and the gods were able to slay the demon. Another form of the legend says that Kali pierced Raktabija with a spear, and at once stuck Her lips to the wound to drink all the blood as it gushed out of the body, thus preventing Raktabija from reproducing himself.

Drunk on Raktabija’s blood, Kali ran across the cosmos killing anyone who dared cross Her path. She adorned herself with the heads, limbs and entrails of her victim. The gods were witnessing the balance of the universe being shattered. As a last resort they had to rouse Shiva from his meditation. To pacify Her, Shiva threw himself under Her feet. This stopped the Goddess. She calmed down, embraced Her husband, shed Her ferocious form to became Gauri, “the Fair one”.

Kali intends Her bloody deeds and destruction for the protection of the good. She may get carried away by Her gruesome acts but She is not evil. Kali’s destructive energies on the highest level are seen as a vehicle of salvation and ultimate transformation.  She destroys only to recreate, and what She destroys is sin, ignorance and decay. The Goddess Kali is represented as black in color. Black in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit is kaala –the feminine form is kali – so She is Kali, the black one. Black is a symbol of The Infinite and the seed stage of all colors. The Goddess Kali remains in a state of inconceivable darkness that transcends words and mind. Within Her blackness is the dazzling brilliance of illumination. Kali’s blackness symbolizes Her all-embracing, comprehensive nature, because black is the color in which all the colors merge; black absorbs and dissolves them.

Kali’s nudity has powerful meaning. In many instances She is described as garbed in space or sky clad. In Her absolute, primordial nakedness She is free from all covering of illusion. She is Nature (Prakriti in Sanskrit), stripped of ‘clothes’. It symbolizes that She is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the effects of maya (illusion). Her nudity is said to represent totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya. Kali is the bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away.

“Kali” by Dazy-Girl

She is full-breasted; Her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. Her disheveled hair forms a curtain of illusion, the fabric of space – time which organizes matter out of the chaotic sea of quantum-foam. Her garland of fifty human heads, each representing one of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, symbolizes the repository of knowledge and wisdom. She wears a girdle of severed human hands – hands that are the principal instruments of work and so signify the action of karma. Thus the binding effects of this karma have been overcome, severed, as it were, by devotion to Kali. She has blessed the devotee by cutting him free from the cycle of karma. Her white teeth are symbolic of purity (Sans. Sattva), and Her lolling tongue which is red dramatically depicts the fact that She consumes all things and denotes the act of tasting or enjoying what society regards as forbidden (i.e. Her indiscriminate enjoyment of all the world’s “flavors”).

Kali’s four arms represent the complete circle of creation and destruction, which is contained within her. She represents the inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. Her right hands, making the mudras of “fear not” and conferring boons, represent the creative aspect of Kali, while the left hands, holding a bloodied sword and a severed head represent Her destructive aspect. The bloodied sword and severed head symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge. The sword is the sword of knowledge, that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the severed head). Kali opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having cut the eight bonds that bind human beings. Finally Her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which She is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present and future. This attribute is also the origin of the name Kali, which is the feminine form of ‘Kala’, the Sanskrit term for Time.

Kali is considered to be the most fully realized of all the Dark Goddesses, a great and powerful black earth Mother Goddess capable of terrible destruction and represents the most powerful form of the female forces in the Universe. Worship of the Goddess Kali is largely an attempt to appease Her and avert Her wrath. Her followers gave her offerings of blood and flesh, which was important in Her worship, just as blood sacrifice was important in worship of the early Biblical God, who commanded that the blood must be poured on his alters (Exodus 29:16) for the remission of sins (Numbers 18:9).  As mistress of blood, She presides over the mysteries of both life and death.  Regardless, Her followers still found Her to be a powerful warrior Goddess and found Her greatest strength to be that of a protector.

Kali is not always thought of as a Dark Goddess.  Despite Kali’s origins in battle, She evolved to a full-fledged symbol of Mother Nature in Her creative, nurturing and devouring aspects. Some groups of people, unfamiliar with the precepts of Hinduism, see Kali as a satanic demon probably because of tales of her being worshipped by dacoits and other such people indulging evil acts. By not understanding the story behind Mother Kali it is easy to misinterpret Her iconography. In the same way one could say that Christianity is a religion of death, destruction and cannibalism in which the practitioners drink the blood of Jesus and eat his flesh.  Of course, we know this is not the proper understanding of the communion ritual. Rather, She is referred to as a great and loving primordial Mother Goddess in the Hindu tantric tradition. In this aspect, as Mother Goddess, She is referred to as Kali Ma, meaning Kali Mother, and millions of Hindus revere Her as such.

Of all the forms of Devi, She is the most compassionate because She provides moksha or liberation to Her children. She is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer. They are the destroyers of unreality. The ego sees Mother Kali and trembles with fear because the ego sees in Her its own eventual demise. A person who is attached to his or her ego will not be receptive to Mother Kali and she will appear in a fearsome form. A mature soul who engages in spiritual practice to remove the illusion of the ego sees Mother Kali as very sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with incomprehensible love for Her children.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Bijjam Snaps, The Story of Kali

The Buddha Garden, The Hindu Goddess Kali

Dolls of India, Kali the Goddess: Gentle Mother…Fierce Warrior

Exotic India, Mother Goddess as Kali – The Feminine Force in Indian Art

Infinite Goddess – Embracing the Divine Mother, Kali Goddess

Mythical-Folk, Kali Ma

Rise of Womanhood, Goddess of Destruction

Sathya Sai Baba, Hindu Gods & Goddesses in India – Hinduism, Mother Kali – Goddess Kalika Devi

 

 

Suggested Links:

Kila. Matrifocus: Cross-Quartly for the Godess Woman, “Reconciling Kali and Gauri: Goddess Thealogy and the Art of Peace“.

Pirera, Anna. Goddess Gallery, “Kali“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Kali: chaotic kindess“.

Stolan, Mihai. Liveonlineyoga.com, “Yoga of the Ten Great Cosmic Powers“.

"New Moon Goddess" by Montserrat

During the Dark Moon is the time to commune and heal with the Dark Mother or the Crone.  It is a time to dive down deep into the dark abyss within ourselves and deal with that which has wounded us. It’s all part of the great cycle of birth, death and rebirth – it’s how we heal ourselves.  “As a culture and a society, we have been taught to fear the darkness, the unknown and death.  We have forgotten the purpose of the Dark Phase and have no idea how to navigate its terrain.  We are consumed with fear, panic and anxiety  when we think about physical death of the body, our planet, a relationship, a way of life, an addiction, an identity or even a belief system.  Because of our  lack of understanding of such times and lacking the proper guidance in order to deal with them as they arise, we end up more dependent on chemical addictions or engage in self abusive behaviors to deal with the feelings of grief, depression, anxiety, and anger” (George, Demetra, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, p. 266).

As the Goddess stirs and awakens from Her long slumber, we are finally being given the opportunity to reclaim all of Her, both light and dark aspects and everything in-between.  The Dark Goddess is not to be rejected, denied or feared.  She is to be acknowledged, respected and listened to – for its Her knowledge and wisdom that guided our ancestors through the dark times and it is Her wisdom and guidance that will guide us through ours to come, as individuals, societies and as a species.

Only within the last century as the Goddess has slowly stirred from Her Dark Phase have we had incredible breakthroughs in realizing the power of the mind.  As Demetra George has pointed out, it is thanks to people like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (a personal favorite of mine) that we have been able to comprehend the workings of the unconscious and our Shadow Selves (p. 276).  Many therapeutic techniques have been “discovered” in Eastern philosophy and medicine as well as Aboriginal shamanic teachings.  Techniques, such as dream analysis, allows people to explore the depths of the unconscious and understand  the workings and wisdom of the Shadow Self and the Dark Mother, especially when dealing with nigthmares.

"Behold, The Night Mare" by Zephyri

“Nightmares represent our innermost fears.  They suggest that we have emotional fears and issues that need to be confronted.  The monsters and other terrifying and disturbing images that haunt these disturbing dreams are thought to come from a universally shared mythology recognized by all cultures.  The word ‘nightmare’ itself comes from Gaelic mythology – the night ‘mare’ is the horse Goddess Rhiannon, and connected with the Underworld, dreams and the moon.

Nightmares occur very frequently in childhood as children struggle more than adults to deal with powerful emotions, such as rage and other strong emotions.  During the night, children’s vivid imaginations recreate these feelings as forceful dream images.  Children have difficulty coping with nightmares because they have trouble differentiating between dreams and reality.  A child’s mind has limited reasoning capacity as it is still developing.  This affects their perception of the world and can cause inner conflict.  If left unresolved, these childhood fears can cause very muddled thoughts and feelings that linger into adulthood.  At any time, an incident could trigger this old memory, reeling the psyche of the adult into a nightmare scenario.

"Sleep-walking" by Leah Praytor

It is important to note that bad dreams can have physical causes as well as mental ones.  If your body comes under stress, due to high temperature for example, it can give rise to hallucinations as you sleep.  Nightmares can even induce sleepwalking by increasing the flow of adrenaline and producing the “fight or flight” response in the sleeper (I suffered chronic sleepwalking during Basic Training and through my early years while on Active Duty).  Hormonal fluctuations too can have an effect on our dreams.

Hormonal changes upset the balance of the body’s chemistry and in a dream, this upheaval is encoded through disturbing scenes.

Some psychologists believe that people who have nightmares have not fully integrated or understood physical sensations in relation to real-life situations.  Teenagers often have intense dreams reflective of the emerging sexual drives they have difficulty translating when awake.

Anyone at anytime could experience an inexplicable trauma which can resurface without warning.  These could be forgotten childhood traumas reawakened in adulthood.  They could be experiences of going to war. Recurring nightmares are caused by unresolved emotional issues that are deeply entrenched in the sleeper’s mind.  An entire dream can recur, which is identical each time or disguised using different dream symbols.  Its purpose is to get our attention…” (Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Soul, Interpreting Your Dreams).

Through journeying to the Underworld to the Dark Mother, we can uncover the meaning of such dreams.  There are methods you can use to confront and gain insight from your nightmares.  As Demetra George states, “You need to cross the logical threshold of the consciousness and travel across a terrain of your psyche that is normally hidden from your conscious awareness and one which we cannot comprehend with our conscious mind.  The dark sphere of the human psyche contains all that lies beneath the surface of consciousness” (p. 279).

"Nightmare 1" by eliXile

The following is summary, found in Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Soul – “Interpreting Your Dreams”.  These are questions to ask yourself to assist you in decoding your dreams.  First, look at the imagery of the dream.  The imagery of dreams can be interpreted in two different ways: Literal – information found in your dreams is seen to have a direct parallel to your everyday life; and Symbolic – information in dreams is “coded” in an unusual way. What was the theme and time?  The time you had the dream indicates how relevant  it is to the everyday world.  The nearer to the waking hour, the more accurately the events reflect problems in your waking life.

Was it light and spacious or dark and claustrophobic?  Where did the dream take place?  On land? At sea? Water represents emotions, land represents money and self-worth.  Air relates to the intellect.  To find yourself underground suggests a search for lost treasure.

What happened?  Where did it happen?  Is it a place you know from the past or is it unknown?  This can give you clues about personal insecurity or issues about your childhood or present circumstances.  Were you a participant in the dream or were you viewing form afar?  This will tell you how intimately you are involved in the situation in the real world.

What was the form you took in this dream?  Were you someone who exhibited unwanted or underdeveloped traits?  This would be your Shadow Personality manifesting.  What stage of life where you at in your dream?  Were you male or female?  Dreaming of being the opposite sex may indicate an imbalance of the opposite sex’s qualities. Did you take the form of an animal?  Perhaps you you’re struggling with your so-called “animal instincts” or baser instincts.

Who was in your dream?  Were they people you recognized or were they strangers? Family, friends and acquaintances may highlight a particular deficiency within your own character, mirroring back and making you aware of an unfavorable trait.  Were there any animals?  Did they remind you of anyone you know?  Often animals stand in as representatives for a situation or a person.  In this way, our subconscious can explore our true feelings about a person or event without interference form everyday prejudices.

"Is This a Nightmare?" by XxshadowxphobiaxX

What were the colors of certain objects in your dream?  What was the mood of the dream?  Dream situations in which you feel scared, tense or fearful are often reflections of a dangerous or overwhelming situation that is brewing around you.  Such sinister moods can be revealing of great anxieties you are experiencing in real life.  Threatening moods in your dream can be illustrated in the dreamscape as nighttime scenes or overcast skies.  Alternatively, there may be just be an underlying feeling of impending doom.  Blurred or hidden details in a dream suggest that you have confused feelings which, if unheeded, could lead to many troubles and worries in business.  If the truth is hidden in your dream, this may be indicated by a cloudy atmosphere in your mind.

Look at the symbols in your dreams and try to examine what, if any, are linked with a childhood situation or just a sense of helplessness.  Your dream could also be caused by a sense of guilt or disgust of being in a situation in which you did not want to participate.  Ask yourself, were you physically, mentally or emotionally terrorized?

If you’re not already keeping a dream diary, start one NOW! A dream diary is like any other collection of information that is gathered and put into order.  It builds up into a reference of information about your personal responses to your own life experiences.  Keeping a dream diary helps you understand yourself, enabling you to make informed decisions about how to fulfill life’s journey.  By keeping a dream diary, you are putting snippets of the jigsaw puzzle that represents your life into a book so that you can piece them together in order to help you heal.

Note the date, time of awaking, main theme, characters and objects, action, atmosphere, special comments, previous history and real-life connections.  Note connections between the main characters in the dream; the significance of characters and previous history with the characters; dream atmosphere and the message if one was given. (Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Soul, Interpreting Your Dreams)

"Ereshkigal" by kundrys-inner-world

As Demetra George makes it quite clear, “the home of the soul, the Dark Phase  is the place where we hold the residual memories of the sum or our past, in this and previous lifetimes. Here, we find the wounds of the soul that are crying out to be healed.  It is here where we hold our repressed traumatic memories and rejected aspects of our selves.” (p. 279).  Nightmares have a constructive purpose and may point the way towards resolving a difficult situation from our past. Our passage through the Dark Phase offers us the opportunity to heal these wounds, and in the process we can discover the hidden wealth of the unconscious.  It is only going into the Dark Phase of inner space and coming to peace with our memories and resolving our issues that a way opens towards healing and the nightmares stop. During this essential healing process, we can discover who we truly are and come to know the Dark Mother and the lessons She has to teach us.

Sources:

Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Spirit, “Interpreting Your Dreams”. International Masters Publishers

George, Demetra. Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess.  HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.

Goddess Minerva

“A Song for Athena” by Elfin-Grrl

“Minerva’s themes are earth and home.  Her symbols are owls, snakes, olive trees and geraniums.  This Etruscan/Italic Goddess blended the odd attributes of being a patroness of household tasks, including arts and crafts, and also being the patroness of protection and of war. Today She joins in pre-spring festivities by helping people prepare their lands for sowing and embracing the figurative lands of our hearts, homes and spirits with Her positive energy.

In ancient times, this was a day to bless one’s land and borders. Gifts of corn*, honey and wine were given to the earth and its spirits to keep the property safe and fertile throughout the year. In modern times, this equates to a Minerva-centered house blessing.

Begin by putting on some spiritually uplifting music. Burn geranium-scented incense if possible; otherwise, any pantry spice will do. Take this into every room of your home, always moving clockwise to promote positive growing energy. As you get to each room, repeat this incantation:

‘Minerva, protect this sacred space
And all who live within
By your power and my will
The magic now begins!’

Wear a geranium today to commemorate Minerva and welcome Her energy into your life.”

* 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.

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

Minerva (EtruscanMenrva) was the Roman Goddess whom Romans from the 2nd century BCE onwards equated with the Greek Goddess Athena. She was the virgin Goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, dyeing, crafts, the arts, science, and magic.  She is also believed to be the inventor of numbers and instruments.  She is often depicted with Her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva“, which symbolizes Her ties to wisdom.

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess Meneswā ‘She who measures’, the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, Menerwā, thereby calling Her Menrva.  Menrva was part of a holy triad with Tinia and Uni, equivalent to the Roman Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva. Extrapolating from Her Roman nature, it is assumed that in Etruscan mythology, Minerva was the Goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of Her father, Jupiter. It is possible that such a Goddess was “imported” to both Greece and Italy from beliefs originating in the Near East during the extreme antiquity. The very few extant Lemnian inscriptions suggest that the Etruscans may have originated in Asia Minor, in which case subsequent syncretism between Greek Athena and Italic Minerva may have been all the easier.

As Minerva Medica, She was the Goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, She was worshipped at Luceria in Apulia where votive gifts and arms said to be those of Diomedes were preserved in Her temple.

“Athena” by InertiaK

Her worship as a Goddess of war encroached upon that of Mars. The erection of a temple to Her by Pompey out of the spoils of his Eastern conquests shows that by then She had been identified with the Greek Athena Nike, bestower of victory. Under the emperor Domitian, who claimed Her special protection, the worship of Minerva attained its greatest vogue in Rome. [1]

In Fasti III, Ovid called Her the “Goddess of a thousand works.” Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did She take on the warlike character shared by Athena. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in Britain, for example, She was conflated with the local wisdom Goddess Sulis.

The Romans celebrated Her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day which is called, in the neuter plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, an artisans’ holiday. A lesser version, the Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the flute-players, who were particularly useful to religion.

In 207 BCE, a guild of poets and actors was formed to meet and make votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on the Aventine hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.

Minerva was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, at the Temple of Minerva Medica, and at the “Delubrum Minervae” a temple founded around 50 BCE by Pompey on the site now occupied by the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva facing the present-day Piazza della Minerva. [2]

Visit Roman Empire & Colosseum, Myths About the Roman Goddess Minerva and Theoi Greek Mythology, Athena Myths sites to read Her myths and stories.  Also see Roman Myth Index, Minerva, Roman Mythology Index.

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