Tag Archive: forest items


Goddess Fauna

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“Fauna” by Katrina Sesum

“Fauna’s themes are fertility, nature and divination. Her symbols are all forest items.  In Roman mythology, Fauna is the consort to Faunus, whom this date venerates. With Faunus, She protects the woodlands and plants that live there. While Her role in stories seems minor, Fauna’s power lives on in botanical terminology, Her name having been given to vegetation.

Faunus was a woodland god like Pan, who sends messages through the forests for those who know nature’s omens and signs. If at all possible, go to a natural location today (even a park or a quiet tree in your neighborhood will do) with a small libation of wine or milk, both of which are customary. Pour this on the ground, focusing on your intention to learn more about nature’s messages to us. Then spend at least twenty minutes observing.

Take notes as you do. Do the trees’ leaves seem to talk? Do they move in a specific way? Are birds taking flight? Where do they go? Do any drop feathers on the ground? Do any animals appear unexpectedly? If so, what does the creature do, and where does it go? All these things, and other similar experiences, can carry a sign meant to help you today or in the days ahead.”

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

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“Fauna” by Charlie Terrell

Thalia Took writes a very in-depth piece on Fauna that I’d like to share with you; she writes: “Fauna is an old Roman Goddess of Prophecy and Fruitfulness, with ties to the forest and fields and the animals found there. She is closely related to the God Faunus; She is variously His wife, sister, or daughter. Her name, like Faunus’s, is from the Latin faveo, ‘to befriend, support, or back up’, from which we get our ‘favor’; an alternate etymology is from fari, ‘to speak, talk, or say’, referring to Their powers of prophecy. Her name then could be variously translated as ‘She Who Favors’, ‘the Friendly One’, ‘the Speaker’, or even ‘She Who Has Your Back’. She was identified with the prophetic Goddess Fatua, again meaning, ‘the Speaker’, but with additional meanings of ‘She Who Speaks Prophecy’, or ‘the Oracle’.

Fauna’s origins are in Latium, the land of the Latins, the people of the area around Rome, and She is closely associated with them. According to yet another of the Roman stories glorifying the city’s origins, Fauna was one of the Hyperborians, who were believed to live far in the north (hyperboreas in the Greek literally means ‘beyond the North Wind’), and said to worship Apollo. She hooked up with the hero Hercules and as a result gave birth to a son Latinus, later a king of the Latins, and therefore a mythical ancestor of the Roman people and a claim to the famous blood of Hercules. Faunus was Her second husband, Whom She married after Hercules left Her (per his usual modus operandi). Other stories reverse that, making Faunus Her original husband, and then make Her relationship with Hercules an extramarital affair. Still other stories name Faunus as the father of Latinus, by the river nymph Marica, Who was Herself identified with Aphrodite, the Greek Love Goddess.

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“Courtesan” by *OtherworldCreations

In a similar vein, Fauna was sometimes judged to be a prostitute or courtesan; though this seems to be a late tale and may simply be a reaction to Her as a Goddess of Fertility. Her husband Faunus was sometimes said to be the same as the God Inuus, a God of sex, intercourse, and fertility, Whose name is supposedly from a Latin verb inire, ‘to copulate’; and since She is supposed to be the female equivalent of Faunus, that would make Her a Goddess of sex and copulation as well. Faunus was sometimes said to be the God for Whom the Lupercalia, a very old festival of purification and renewed fertility with strong sexual overtones, was celebrated; and two Faunalia, rural festivals of feasting and dancing, were celebrated to Them, on the Ides of February (the 13th, and in the old lunar calendar, the full moon) and the 5th of December.

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Art by Jonathon Earl Bowser

In other legends however, Fauna is known for Her chastity and modesty; She was said to never leave Her grove or let a man look upon Her, and no man was allowed in Her temple. These tales are associated with the Bona Dea, ‘the Good Goddess’, said to be a cult name of Fauna. The Bona Dea, called so because Her true name was considered too sacred to be spoken aloud, is a Goddess of women and healing Whose worship was exclusive to women, men being forbidden to participate in Her rites. Perhaps Her virginity or chastity was a way of explaining why She would not allow men in Her rituals, and was the Roman way of rationalizing a Goddess Who was purely concerned with women.

Far more is known of Faunus than Fauna; His tales may perhaps shed some light on Her attributes and personality. Faunus was a very popular and ancient God Who protected and watched over livestock and Who haunted fields and the forest. As a prophetic God, He used both dreams and His own disembodied voice to reveal the future, and had a shrine in Tivoli at the grove of Albunea where prophetic dreaming was practiced. Their father was usually said to be the prophetic God Picus; though Their mother is not mentioned, Picus was famous for His devotion to Canens, a forest nymph known for Her beautiful singing voice.

Though myth is not necessarily that straightforward about things, Canens and Faunus do have a bit in common as They were both known as ‘the Voice of the Woods’. Canens in turn is associated with the witch Kirke, as Kirke was also enamoured of Picus, though She couldn’t steal Him away from Canens; and Latinus is sometimes said to be the son of Kirke and the famous Greek traveller and all-around tricksy guy Odysseus, or his son Telemakhos.

In some legends told of the Bona Dea, Faunus does not treat Her well at all; in one, She is His daughter; He lusts after Her, and when She rejects Him, He gets Her drunk and beats Her with sticks of myrtle, and then rapes Her as a serpent. In another, He beats Her to death, again with myrtle branches, for the crime of drinking. These legends seem to have been created to explain why both myrtle and wine played a part in the rites of the Bona Dea; they also emphasize Faunus’s wild, untamed and dangerous nature. The names Fauna and Faunus ‘the Friendly One(s)’ may well have been placating names, to keep the worshipper on Their good sides, much like the fairies of Celtic lore are called ‘the Good Folk’, so as to prevent any harm they might do. Fauna and Faunus were known to travel with an entourage of fauns (yes, like Mr. Tumnus, though without the Christian/Aslanic associations), wild and mischevious spirits of the countryside, equated with the satyrs of the Greeks, and believed to cause nightmares. Faunus Himself was identified with the Greek Pan, the Wild God par excellence.

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“Fauna of a wood” by ~Selenaart

It would seem, then, that Fauna represents the thin line separating the wild from the untamed, as Goddess of both the dark mysterious forest and the cultivated fields, and Her very name is now used to refer to the animal kingdom, the fauna, (as opposed to the plant kingdom, called flora). As the Bona Dea was worshipped exclusively by women, Fauna is a Goddess of the wild sexuality of women, specifically sexual intercourse itself as an expression of the Life Force, and also of fertility (the latter was after all, until modern times and the invention of reliable contraception, a common result of the former). She brings prophecy through dreams and the voices of the wild places, and Her association with dreams and nightmares again connects to humanity’s dark and untamed nature. Several of the other Goddesses She is connected with were known as sorceresses and healers, such as Kirke and the Bona Dea (and by extension Angitia), which would make magic and healing another of Her attributes. All these Goddesses—The Bona Dea (and so majestic Maia as well) Angitia, Albunea, Canens, Marica, and even Kirke, whichever native Goddess She stands in for—can perhaps be thought of a constellation of related Goddesses of wild, magical, and sexual natures, possibly originally springing from the same source.” [1]

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“Fauna” by ~Bizenghast

According to Judika Illes, “In addition to secret, mystic rites, Fauna was also very publicly a Goddess of physical healing.  The sick were tended to in Her temple’s garden of medicinal herbs, essentially a sacred hospital.  In Rome, snakes were associated with healing in general, but especially with women’s reproductive health.  Snakes, Fauna’s sacred creature, were housed in Her temple gardens.

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“Fatidica” by Lord Leighton

Iconography: Fauna is portrayed seated upon a throne, holding a cornucopia.

Creature: Snake

Element: Earth

Day: December 4th commemorates the anniversary of Her Mystery.

Offerings: There is controversy as to whether wine is forbidden from Fauna’s rites.  One theory is that, because wine was once taboo for Roman women, any wine brought into Fauna’s temple was euphemistically called ‘milk’.  Alternatively, the legend goes that wine and myrtle were banned because Faunus once got drunk and beat Fauna with a myrtle branch.  That may be a euphemism for the myth in which Faunus rapes his daughter (who may also be his consort).” [2]

Alternate spellings: Faula; Fatuai seems to be Her Oscan name.

Also called: Fatua, Fatuella; She was called Damia at Tarentum (a city originally founded by Greek colonists), a name that refers to the secret sacrifice made to the Bona Dea.” [3]

Sources:

Illes, Judika. The Encyclopedia of Spirits, “Fauna“.

Took, Thalia. Thaliatook.com, “Fauna“.

Suggested Links:

Ladyoftheabyss. Witchesofthecraft.com, “Earth Goddesses – FAUNA“.

Took, Thalia. Thaliatook.com, “The Bona Dea“.

Wikipedia, “Fauna (goddess)“.

The Weisse Frauen

“Healer – Priestess-Elf serie” by `Eireen

“The Weisse Frauen’s themes are banishing, blessing, joy, protection, fertility and divination. Their symbols are any sacred symbol, forest items and the color white. Known as the ‘White Women’ of the German forests, these Goddesses are said to have been worshipped by ancient pagans and witches where they live – in the woods. In later times, people looked to them to predict the future, help with matters of fertility, and protect the land.

The unique festival of Kermesse dates back to pagan worship of the grove Goddess (and pagan gatherings in the woodlands). Traditionally, some type of sacred symbol is dug up and carried around town to renew blessings and happiness in all who see it. The ritual also banishes evil influences.

To follow this custom, plant a white stone or token in a flowerpot, garden, or lawn this year and next year dig it up temporarily to release White Women’s power. At the end of the day, return the token to the earth so they can protect your home or land and fill every corner of it with magic. Repeat this annually to continue the cycle!

Wear something white today to invite the Weisse Frauen’s protection on the figurative land of your spirit, and spend some time in the company of trees at some point. Meditate on the pagans, who weaved magic in such places, and on these Goddesses, who empowered the spells. As you do, listen closely to the voices of the trees and see if they have a message for you.”

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

“In German folklore, theWeiße Frauen, or Weisse Frauen (meaning White Women) are elven-like spirits that may have derived from Germanic paganism in the form of legends of light elves (Old Norse: Ljósálfar). They are described as beautiful and enchanted creatures who appear at noon and can be seen sitting in the sunshine brushing their hair or bathing in a brook. They may be guarding treasure or haunting castles. They entreat mortals to break their spell, but this is always unsuccessful. The mythology dates back at least to the Middle Ages and was known in the present-day area of Germany.

The association with the color white and their appearance in sunlight is thought by Jacob Grimm to stem from the original Old Norse and Teutonic mythology of alven (elves), specifically the bright Ljósálfar. These ‘light elves’ lived in Álfheim (part of heaven) under the fertility god Freyr.   As mythology evolved, elves no longer lived in Álfheim (part of heaven) but lived on earth in nature. The White Women also may represent ancient beliefs in ancestral spirits or older native Goddesses and nature spirits. Jacob Grimm noted in particular they might come from Holda, ‘Berhta, white by her very name’ and Ostara. According to Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology and to the Mythology of All Races Series, the enchantment under which they suffer ‘may be a symbol of the ban laid by Christianity on the divinities of the older faith.’  Similar in name to the Witte Wieven of Dutch mythology, the Weisse Frauen may have come from the Germanic belief in disen or land wights and alven.” [1]

Patricia Monaghan writes: “The ‘white women’ of Germany and other northern European locations were said to be Goddess-worshipping witches who disappeared ages ago into the woods.  They lived deep in the forests where they helped lost travelers, foretold the future and helped the earth produce its fruit by their ritual dances.  Some say they were the ghosts of old Goddesses, enchanted by Christianity, seeking magic to release them into fuller life again” (p. 315).

Jacob Grimm notes the image of the Weisse Frauen basking in the sun and bathing ‘melts into the notion of a water-holde [i.e. Holda] and nixe‘. The Weisse Frauen also have counterparts in both name and characterization in neighboring countries: In the Netherlands known as the Witte Wieven, and in France known as the Dames blanches.

There are also many legends in German Folklore regarding ‘Weisse Frauen’, which are actually equivalent to the legends of White Ladies; ghosts of the United Kingdom.”

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Weisse Frauen”

Wikipedia, “Weisse Frauen“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Arrowsmith, Nancy. Field Guide to the Little People, “White Ladies” (p. 15).

Bell, William. Skaespeare’s Puck, and his folkslore, “Weisse Frauen, Belief In” (p.58).

O’Keeffe, Christine. Tartanplace.com, “Christine’s Faery List: Baobhan Sìth“.

Sacred-texts.com, “The Fairy Mythology: Celts and Cymry: France“.

Wikipedia, “Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar“.

Goddess Diana

“Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt” by violscraper

“Diana’s themes are fertility, children, providence, abundance and harvest. Her symbols are the moon, water, forest items and the sun.  This Roman Goddess embodies the moon’s fertility and watery aspects along with the sun’s protective and nurtuirng power over the forests and its creatures. On this day she was celebrated in Rome and She will be remembered in our hearts as the huntress who helps us capture the spiritual ‘food’ we need.

Starting on August 13, the Romans had a weeklong festival for Diana, praying to Her for the harvest’s bounty and to turn damaging storms away. The traditional place to leave an offering of fruit or vines for Her is in the forest, or at a crossroads. As you do, if any stone or leaf catches your eye, pick it up and carry it as a charm that will keep Diana’s power with you that entire day. Come night, release the gift to flowing water or back to the earth with a prayer of thanks and a wish for one of Diana’s atttributes that you wish to develop in your life.

It is also customary to light some fire source to honor Her on August 15 or anytime during the festivities. Afterward, to generate this Goddess’s physical or figurative fertility within you, follow Roman convention and wash your hair with specially prepared water (water to which a little milk is added so that it looks white, like the moon). If you have children, doing this for them incurs Diana’s protection over their lives.”

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

“Artemis” by Howard David Johnson

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “today we confuse Diana with the Greek Artemis, seeing both in the familiar picture of the lightly clad, bow-bearing Goddess who rides the moon or strides through the forest with Her nymphs.  And in later Roman times, Diana was indeed so pictured, but only after the original Italian Goddess was assimilated into the powerful figure of Artemis, the Goddess of the conquered Greeks.

“Moon Goddess” by Josephine Wall

Diana was originally queen of the open sky, worshiped only outdoors, where Her domain stretched overhead.  Possibly She was ruler of the sun as well as the moon, for the early Italians had no sun god and had to adopt Apollo for that role.  Diana’s name comes from the word for ‘light’; probably She was the original Italian ruler of the sun.

She ruled on earth as well, as bestower of sovereignty and granter of conception; thus She was sometimes called the threefold Diana Trivia.  With two other deities She made up another trinity: Egeria the water nymph [one of the Camenae], Her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the mysterious woodland god.  The three lived together in the famous Wood of Nemi near Aricia, where runaway slaves competed for mistletoe – the Golden Bough that would give them a fighting chance for the position of Diana’s priest.  Not a job a modern man would covet, the priesthood meant continual vigilance against the next contender for the post, and ultimately death at a successful rival’s hand.

“Diana” by Lotta-Lotos

This fatal kingship was one of the few roles men could play in worship of Diana.  Otherwise, the sky queen was entirely a woman’s Goddess.  On Her feast day, August 15 – today the Catholic feast day of Mary’s assumption into heaven – processions of women would journey to Aricia to offer thanks in Diana’s grove for Her help that year and to implore Her continuing aid.  The hunting dogs who accompanied them were crowned but kept leased so as not to disturb the wild creatures who lived under Diana’s sky.  Eventually Diana worship moved closer to the population center, to the Aventine Hill in Rome itself, where women continued to flock to Her shrine for ritual hair-washing and invocations for aid in childbed” (p. 103 – 104).

Thalia Took tells us that “the Romans recognized three aspects of Her–as the Moon-Goddess, they called Her Luna; as an underworld deity of magic, Hekate; and as the huntress-Goddess, Diana.”

“Mother Nature” by Rozairo

Interestingly enough, Thalia Took also tells us that “in Gaul, She was identified with Nemetona, ‘Goddess of the Sacred Grove’, and considered the consort of Mars“.  This makes sense, as Diana Nemorensis (“of the Grove”) had Her temple in a forest on the Lake Nemi‘s shores and was the Goddess of wild places who loved forests. [1]

“Diana” by Maltshakes

 

ASSOCIATIONS: (Goddess symbols of Artemis, but I would think would be appropriate for Diana as well)

General: Crescent moon (new moon), bow and arrow, sandals, clouds, three pillars, and blue sky.

Animals: Dogs, guinea fowl, elephant, horses, bear, dove, deer, and bee.

Plants: Anemones, flowering almond, hazel, ranunculus, honeysuckle, thistle, laurel, and fir tree.

Perfumes/Scents: Jasmine, aloe, ginseng, lemon verbena, and camphor.

Gems and Minerals: Moonstone, pearl, quartz, crystal, silver, turquoise, iron, aluminum, and diamonds.

Colors: Silver, white, red, green, and turquoise.              [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

Goddessgift.com, “Symbols of Artemis”.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Diana”.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Diana“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Covenofthegoddess.com, “Goddess Diana“.

Encyclopedia.com, “Diana“.

Fischer-Hansen & Birte Poulsen. From Artemis to Diana: The Goddess of Man and Beast (Acta Hyperborea).

Goddess-guide.com, “The Roman Goddess Diana“.

GrayWolf, Danu. Order of the White Moon, “Diana“.

Greek-gods-and-goddesses.com, “The Roman Goddess Diana“.

Grimassi, Raven. Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft, “Lady of the Lake” & “Lake Nemi

Journal of a Poet, “Artemis/Diana, Goddess of the Moon“.

Leland, Charles Godfrey. Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches.

Monaghan, Patricia. Matrifocus.com, “Trivia: Goddess of the Crossroads“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Artemis: out with the old – peaceful warrior“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Diana: go wild!“.

Roman-colosseum.info, “Myths about the Roman Goddess Diana“.

Richardson, Adele & Laurel Bowman. Diana.

Tate, Karen. Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations.

Thewhitegoddess.co.uk, Diana – Goddess of the Hunt“.

Wikipedia, “Diana (mythology)“.

Wikipedia, “Diana Nemorensis“.

Wikipedia, “Rex Nemorensis“.

V. Goddessschool.com, “Diana ‘Queen of Heaven’“.

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