Tag Archive: crescent moon


Goddess Tanat

“Tanit, Ibicenco Godess” by Dominique Sanson

“Tanat’s themes are unity, joy and luck.  Her symbols are flowers and triangles.  In Cornwall, Tanat is the mother Goddess of fertility who has given all Her attention to nursing spring into its fullness. She also staunchly protects Her children (nature and people) so that our spirits can come to know similar fulfillment.

The Furry Dance is an ancient festival that rejoices in Tanat’s fine work manifested in spring’s warmth and beauty. To bring this Goddess’s lucky energy into your life, it’s customary to dance with a partner. In fact, the more people you can get dancing, the more fortunate the energy! Usually this is done on the streets throughout a town as a show of regional unity, but when propriety won’t allow such a display, just dance around a room together instead. Don’t worry about the steps – just do what feels right.

Wearing something with floral or triangular motifs (guys, wear a necktie, and gals, pull out a square scarf and fold it in half crosswise) activates Tanat’s happiness in your life and in any region where you have the token on today. As you don the item, say:

‘Liberate happiness in and around
by Tanat’s blossoming power
joy will be found!’

Or, if you want to use the same thing to generate unity and harmony, use this incantation:

 ‘Harmony and unity
Tanat’s blessings come to me!’

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

“Temple of Tanit” by hold-steady

According to Edain McCoy, the Goddess “Tanit (Cornish) [was] a Phoenician moon and fertility Goddess.  Many scholars and mythologists believe She came into the Celtic pantheon as Dana or Dôn, both mother Goddesses.  Tanit was worshiped as Tanat in Cornwall on Beltaine.” [1]  As I couldn’t find any other information on the Celtic Tanat, I will continue this entry on the Phoenician-Carthaginian Goddess Tanit.

“Tanit” by suburbanbeatnik

“Tanit, or Tanith, is the Great Goddess of Carthage, worshipped there as its chief Deity as ‘the Lady of Carthage’. She is a Sky Goddess who ruled over the Sun, Stars, and Moon; and as a Mother Goddess She was invoked for fertility. The palm tree is Hers, as the desert version of the Tree of Life; and as symbolic of the life-force of the Earth the serpent is Hers as well—in fact Her name means ‘Serpent Lady’. She is identified with both Ashtart (Astarte) and Athirat, and Her other symbols include the dove, grapes and the pomegranate (both symbolic of fruitfulness and fertility), the crescent moon, and, like Ashtart, the lion.

Carthage was a city of the Phoenician colony in northern Africa, not far from the modern city of Tunis in Tunisia. Carthage, the Roman rendition of the Phoenician name Karthadasht, which means ‘New Town’, was founded in around the 9th century BCE, by Dido (‘Giver’ or ‘Grantor [of prayers]’, or alternately ‘Wanderer’) or Elissa (from the Phoenician Elishat), the daughter of the King of Tyre in Roman legend. Dido, however, being also used as an epithet of the Phoenician Moon-Goddess, is probably to be considered an aspect of or alternate name for Tanit, the patron Goddess of Carthage. Worship of Tanit dates to the 5th century BCE, and it is unsure whether Tanit was a local deity adapted by the Phoenician colonists or a version of Ashtart/Athirat they had brought with them from Phoenicia.

With Her consort Ba’al-Hammon, the God of the Sky, She watched over and protected Carthage. As a protective Deity She had some martial aspects, and like Ashtart could be depicted riding a lion holding a spear or long sceptre. In Carthage She was said to have an Oracle; perhaps this is connected to Her role as Star-Goddess.

The Sign of the Goddess Tanit. Carthage. c. 5th century BCE to 2nd century CE

Tanit has Her own abstract symbol, peculiarly Hers (and accordingly called the ‘symbol of Tanit’): a triangle with a circle at the top, with a horizontal line between the two; sometimes two additional vertical bars come from the ends of the horizontal. This has been interpreted as either a stylization of an altar, or a woman or Goddess in a long dress, Her arms upraised in an attitude of worship or blessing.

From Carthage (modern Tunisia), north Africa 1st century CE

Some stelae do show a more realistic depiction of the Goddess in this attitude, so my money is on it as an abstract depiction of a woman. This symbol is found all over Carthage, though there is only one example of it in Phoenicia itself.

Carthage was at once time the great enemy of Rome, and three bitter wars were fought between the two powers over the course of more than a hundred years in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE. The Romans eventually were the victors, and in their hatred utterly destroyed the city; according to tradition the city was razed and the site plowed with salt so that nothing would ever grow there again.

The utter destruction of the city notwithstanding, remains of a sanctuary to Tanit and Ba’al-Hammon have been found, with a children’s cemetery adjacent. The Carthaginians and Phoenicians had a reputation for the sacrifice of children, though many of the accounts of it come from peoples who were not unbiased, such as the Hebrews or the Romans. In Phoenicia, the Hebrews claimed that the Phoenicians burned children to their God ‘Moloch‘ (of whom there is little to no other evidence) by burning them alive.

            

In Carthage, the great children’s cemetery has been taken as indication of child sacrifice to both Ba’al-Hammon and Tanit, for many of the stelae above the remains are inscribed to those Deities. The cemetery was named in modern times the Tophet, from a Biblical word for ‘Hell’, referring to the place in Jerusalem where the children were allegedly given to Moloch. Much of the evidence for infanticide among the Phoenicians is questionable at best; the accounts from the Bible and Rabbinical tradition especially are subject to mistranslations and biases. Among other ancient writers the idea of child sacrifice among the Phoenicians is not mentioned, even though some of them were avowed enemies of Phoenicia. This issue is still being debated on both sides; my take on it (which is of course subject to my own bias) is to seriously doubt that children were sacrificed, and to attribute most of the stories to propaganda, repeated by different enemy cultures (especially the Romans). Why would people sacrifice children to an otherwise benevolent Mother Goddess? And given the number of remains that have been found—20,000 urns dating from 400-200 BCE—what civilization is going to kill that many of its own children? I suspect that the graves found in the so-called ‘Tophet’ of Carthage are simply the remains of children who died naturally in a time when infant mortality was much higher than in modern times, and during which several wars were fought—tough times when it might be expected less children would survive. That the stelae are inscribed to Tanit and Ba’al-Hammon is not surprising; it does not mean that they were sacrificed to those Deities, rather that they were committed to the safekeeping of the Goddess and God after death.

“Lucina” by Sandra M. Stanton

The Romans, despite their hatred for the Carthaginians, identified Tanit with their Juno Lucina, an aspect of their Great Goddess as Mother and Patroness of Childbirth, a Light-Goddess who brings forth children into the day. As Tanit was also a Goddess of the Sky, the Romans named Her Dea Caelestis, ‘the Heavenly Goddess’, or Virgo Caelestis, ‘the Heavenly Virgin’.

In Roman legend, Hannibal, the great general of Carthage, raided a temple of Juno Lucina, near Crotona, a city in southern Italy originally founded by the Greeks (therefore technically the temple is to Hera Lacinia). This temple was famous for having a column of solid gold; Hannibal, to test the story, drilled into the column. Finding that it was indeed solid, he decided he would take it as plunder. That night, however, he dreamt that the Goddess warned him not to despoil Her temple, telling him that She’d destroy his remaining eye if he did. In Juno Lacinia Hannibal recognized his own hometown Goddess, Tanit, so left the column unmolested in the temple. From the filings of the column he had a golden cow cast, which was then placed on the top of the column.

4th century BCE Carthaginian coin featuring the Goddess Tanit.

On coins of the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE She is occasionally depicted riding a lion and holding a lance; generally She is shown in portrait form wearing a diadem or crown, with wheat sheaves bound in Her hair as a wreath, the crescent moon behind.

Tanit’s worship was spread from Carthage to SpainMalta and Sardinia, especially by soldiers. The temple on the acropolis of Selinus in Sicily may be Hers, for examples of Her symbol have been found there. Under Her name Virgo Caelestis, Tanit/Juno had a shrine in Rome on the north side of the Capitoline Hill.

“Tanit” by Monica Sjöö

Tanit’s statue was brought to Rome by the young Emperor Elagabalus, who reigned 218-222 CE, and who was notoriously reviled as a depraved pervert (he was quite obviously gay, though who knows how much of his legend is true and how much is exaggerated). He was murdered at age 18 in a latrine, his body dragged through the streets before being thrown into the Tiber like a common criminal. He was, however, also a big fan of the eastern Deities, and gets his name from his worship of the Sun-God Elagabal. He had a great temple to Elagabal built in Rome, and installed the statue of Tanit there, calling Her Caelestis.Also called: Tanith, Tent, Thinit, Tinnit, Rat-tanit; Tanis is the Greek version of Her name. She was called ‘Lady of Carthage’, ‘Lady of the Sanctuary’, and ‘the Face of Ba’al’. The Romans called Her Dea Caelestis, ‘the Heavenly Goddess’, Virgo Caelestis ‘the Heavenly Virgin’, and Caelestis Afrorum Dea, ‘the African/Carthaginian Heavenly Goddess’, as well as the assimilated name Juno Caelestis.

She was identified with Aphrodite, Demeter, and Artemis by the Greeks and with Juno by the Romans, especially their Juno Lucina, Goddess of Light and Childbirth. The Romans also associated Her with the Magna Mater, the Great Mother, Rhea or Kybele. [2]

Sources:

McCoy, Edain. Celtic Women’s Spirituality: Accessing the Cauldron of Life, “Tanit“.

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Directory, “Tanit“.

Suggested Links:

Sheldon, Natasha. Archeology@Suite 101, “The Trophet of Carthage: Site of Human Sacrifice to Baal and Tanit or a Children’s Graveyard?

Sjöö, Monica. Goddess Alive!The Mysteries of Tanit – 1: The Phoenicians in Spain“.

Sjöö, Monica. Goddess Alive! The Mysteries of Tanit – 2: Tanit of Ibiza“.

Wikipedia, “Tanit“.

Goddess Ala

“Ala’s themes are luck, harvest, joy, cleansing, death and cycles.  Her symbols are yams and the crescent moon.  This West African earth-Goddess represents the full cycle of earth’s seasons from birth to death, gently reminding us that spring is transitory – so enjoy it now! Serious crimes are an abhorrence to Ala, and the spirits of the dead go to Her womb to find rest. Votive candles are a suitable offering for this Goddess figure.

When you get up this morning, light any candle to welcome both Ala and spring. If possible, include yams in your dinner meal to internalize the joy and good fortune Ala brings with the warmer weather. Bless your yams by putting your hands (palms down) over them, focusing on your goals, and saying:

‘Ala, be welcome
In this your sacred food, place the energy of happiness,
luck and protection for the months ahead. So be it.’

The people of Ghana believe in celebrating the new year over thirteen days instead of one. During this time they dance to banish evil, honor their dead ancestors, encourage serendipity, and petition Ala for a good harvest season. Ala’s shrines and other sacred places are bathed on the last day of festivities to  wash away the old, along with bad memories. For us this equates to dusting off our altars, bathing any god or Goddess images we have, and generally cleansing away old energies so Ala can refresh us.”

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

"Ala" by saiaii

Ala (also known as AniAnaAle, and Ali in varying Igbo dialects) is the Earth Mother Goddess; female Alusi (deity) of the earth, morality, death, and fertility in Odinani. She is the most important Alusi in the Igbo pantheon. The Igbo people of Nigeria call Her the mother of all things, but She is both the fertile earth and the empty field after the harvest. She is present at the beginning of the cycle of life, making children grow in their mother’s womb, and She is there at the end of the cycle, to receive the souls of the dead into Her own womb.  Her name literally translates to ‘Ground’ in the Igbo language, denoting Her powers over the earth and Her status as the ground itself. Ala is considered the highest Alusi in the Igbo pantheon and was the first Alusi, daughter of Chukwu, the supreme god. Ala’s husband is Amadioha, the sky god.

As the Goddess of morality, Ala is involved in judging human actions and is in charge of Igbo law and customs known as ‘Omenala‘. Taboos and crimes among Igbo communities that are against the standard of Ala are called nsọ Ala. Army ants, who serve the Goddess, attack those who break such rules.  But first, they appear in nightmares so that the wrongdoer might rectify his behavior.  All ground is considered ‘Holy land’ as it is Ala herself. With human fertility, Ala is credited for the productivity of land. Ala’s messenger and living agent on earth is the python (Igbo: éké), it is and animal especially revered in many Igbo communities. [1][2]

 

 

 

“Ala’s shrine is at the center of a village, people offer sacrifices at planting, first fruits, and harvest.  In the Owerri region, building called Mbari honor the Goddess.  They are never occupied, the ritual of building being more important than the structure.  The square Mbari are filled with painted figures of Ala, who balances a child on Her knees while she brandishes a sword and is surrounded by the images of other gods and animals.  Due to poverty and war, Mbari are built less frequently and are smaller than in the past.” [3]

 

 

Please visit Sisters in Celebration to read a beautiful earth healing ritual to Ala.

 

 

 

Sources:

37thState Blog, “Ala – Igbo Earth Mother Goddess“.

Monaghan, Patricia.  Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Ala“.

Wikipedia, “Ala (Odinani)“.

 

Suggested Links:

Freya. Goddess School, “Ala“.

Goddess-Guide.com, “Fertility Goddesses and Goddesses of Pregnancy and Childbirth“.

Wise. Odinani: The Sacred Arts & Sciences of the Igbo People, “Honoring Your Ancestors“.

 

 

Goddess Yemaja

“Yemaja’s themes are providence, blessing, luck and fertility.  Her symbols are fish, the color blue and the crescent moon.  Yemaja, the Nigerian Goddess of flowering water, bears a name that literally means ‘fish mother!’ As such, Yemaja generates providence and fertility, especially on the physical plane. In legends She gave birth to eleven deities, the sun, the moon, and two streams of water that formed a lake. In art she’s often shown as a mermaid or a crescent moon, and Her favorite color is blue.

The name for the day is definitely fishy. Not surprisingly, new year festivities in Nigeria mark the beginning of the fishing season. Having a teeming net today portends prosperity for the rest of the season. So, what is it that you hope to catch today? Cast out your spiritual line to Yemaja for help in meeting or exceeding any goal.

To bite into a little luck, follow the example of Nigerian children. They make candies in fish shapes before this event, then dunk for them. The one to retrieve the most gets the most good fortune. Check out your local supermarket’s bulk candy section. Ours carries gummy fish that work very well for this activity.

Consider including some type of fish in your menu today (even canned tuna will do the trick). Eat it to internalize good luck and a little of Yemaja’s blessings.”

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

“Yemaya” by Sandra M. Stanton

Yemaya is the Yoruban Orisha, a very powerful nature spirit or Goddess of the living Ocean, considered the Mother of All. She is the source of all the waters, including the rivers of Western Africa, especially the River Ogun. Her name is a contraction of Yey Omo Eja, which means “Mother Whose Children are the Fish”. As all life is thought to have begun in the Sea, all life is held to have begun with Yemaya. She is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all Her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent Her wealth.She does not easily lose Her temper, but when angered She can be quite destructive and violent, as the Sea in a storm.

In Her myth, it is said that she was brutally raped by Her son. After this She fled to a mountaintop and cursed Her son until he died. In Her sorrows She decided to take Her own life. As She died She gave birth to fourteen powerful orisha, when Her water broke it created a great flood which made the seven seas.

Yemaya was brought to the New World with the African diaspora and She is now worshipped in many cultures besides Her original Africa. In Brazilian Candomblé, where She is known as Yemanja or Imanje, She is the Sea Mother who brings fish to the fishermen, and the crescent moon is Her sign. As Yemanja Afodo, also of Brazil, She protects boats travelling on the Sea and grants safe passage. In Haitian Vodou She is worshipped as a Moon-Goddess, and is believed to protect mothers and their children. She is associated with the mermaid-spirits of Lasirenn (Herself a form of Erzulie) who brings seduction and wealth, and Labalenn, Her sister the whale.

Yemaya rules over the surface of the ocean, where life is concentrated. She is associated with the Orisha Olokin (who is variously described as female, male, or hermaphrodite) who represents the depths of the Ocean and the unconscious, and together They form a balance. She is the sister and wife of Aganju, the god of the soil, and the mother of Oya, Goddess of the winds.

Our Lady of Regla in Brazil may be linked to Her, and She is equated elsewhere in the Americas with the Virgin Mary  as the Great Mother. In parts of Brazil She is honored as the Ocean Goddess at the summer solstice, while in the north east of the country Her festival is held on February 2nd (a day that is also associated with Her daughter Oya, as well as being the feast day of the Celtic Bride), with offerings of blue and white flowers cast into the Sea.

Yemaya’s colors are blue, turquoise and white, and She is said to wear a dress with seven skirts that represent the seven seas. Her symbols are shells, especially cowrie shells. Since She is often  depicted as a mermaid as well so this too is a symbol of Her. Sacred to Her are peacocks, with their beautiful blue/green iridescence, and ducks. The number seven is sacred to Her, also for the seven seas.

“Yamana” by Lisa Iris

Yemaya represents the ebb and flow of life much like the flow of the ocean. Yemaya can bring forth life, but just like the ocean she can also cause great destruction, and change. She teaches us to move freely through the waves of change and cycles of life.

On your altar to Yemaya, have water, salt water if you have access to it. Shells, representations of sea life, crystals of turquoise and white quartz, colors of the ocean, a mermaid and a picture or statue of the Goddess.

Alternate spellings: Yemanja, Yemojá, Yemonja, Yemalla, Yemana, Ymoja, Iamanje, Iemonja, Imanje

Epithets: Achabba, in Her strict aspect; Oqqutte in Her violent aspect: Atarmagwa, the wealthy queen of the sea; Olokun or Olokum as Goddess of dreams

Also called: Mama Watta, “Mother of the Waters” [1] [2]

Symbols and Correspondences:

General: Ocean, rivers, mermaids, the Virgin Mary, New Year’s Eve, February 2, the North Star, half moon, rivers, dreams, pound cake, boats and ships, fans, sacred dance, the number 7

Animals: Fish, ducks, doves, peacocks, feathers, chickens, snakes, and all sea creatures

Plants: Oranges, tropical flowers, yams, grain, seaweed, other plants that grow in the ocean

Perfumes/scents: Scented soaps, raspberry, cinnamon, balsam

Gems and metals: Silver, pearls, mother of pearl, coral, moonstone, crystal quartz, turquoise, and any blue gem or bead

Colors: Sky blue, silver, white, green, and especially a blue dress with full skirt of 7 layers to represent ocean waves or the seven seas. [3]

Sources:

Goddessgift.com, “Goddess Symbols and Sacred Objects of Yemaya“.

Suggested Links:

Alvarado, Denise & Doktor Snake. The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, “Yemayá (Yemoja, Iemanja)“.

Goddessgift.com, “Yemaya, Goddess of the Ocean and the New Year“.

Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits.

Luckymojo.com, “The Seven African Powers“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heriones, “Yemaya“.

Tzeenj, Rafh. Spiralnature.com, “Yemaya“.

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