Tag Archive: ocean


Goddess Doris

“Goddess of The Sea” by xxstarslayerxx

“Doris’ themes are abundance, providence and water. Her symbols are seawater, plants and animals (especially fish).  The daughter of Oceanus, this Grecian sea Goddess is associated with sea’s gifts and its wealth. She joins in today’s festivities by bringing an abundance of seafood to nourish the body, as well as spiritual sustenance to fulfill our souls.

The Fairhope Jubilee takes place in Mobile Bay, Alabama, sometime in August when there’s an overcast sky, an easterly wind and a rising tide. When these three factors are in place an odd phenomenon occurs: bottom-dwelling fish get trapped between the shore and low-oxygen water. So people rush out with any containers they can find and gather up Doris’s plenty! For us, this equates to gathering up the sea’s plenty, figuratively, perhaps by having fish for dinner. Remember to thank Doris as you eat so that you internalize her providence.

To make a Doris charm that will draw abundance into any area of your life in need, find a seashell, a tumbled sea stone or something similar that comes from the ocean. Place the token in seawater for three hours by a waxing moon so that abundance will grow like the moon. Bless it, saying,

‘Doris, by this gift from your seas, draw abundance and wealth to me.
Like a wave upon high tide, let your blessings here abide.’

Carry the token regularly.”

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

“Sea Goddess” by russhorseman

Patricia Monaghan tells us that Doris is “an ancient, probable pre-Hellenic Goddess of the waters, She may have been the ancestor Goddess of the Dorians.  She was the mother of the Nereids and, possibly, Thetis” (p. 106).

According to Wikipedia, “Doris, an Oceanid, was a sea nymph in Greek mythology, whose name represented the bounty of the sea. She was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys and the wife of Nereus. She was also aunt to Atlas, the titan who was made to carry the sky upon his shoulders, whose mother Clymene was a sister of Doris. Doris was mother to the fifty Nereids, including Thetis, who was the mother of Achilles, and AmphitritePoseidon‘s wife, and grandmother of Triton.” [1]

 

 

 

 

Sources:

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

Wikipedia, “Doris (mythology)“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Crystalinks.com, “Amphibious Gods“.

Mythography.com, “Doris in Greek Mythology“.

Theoi Greek Mythology, “Doris“.

Theoi Greek Mythology, “Nereids“.

Wikipedia, “Oceanid“.

Wikipedia, “Nereid“.

Old Woman of the Sea

“Nereid” by Sussi1

“The Old Woman of the Sea’s themes are water, recreation, rest and art. Her symbols are sand, saltwater and sea creatures.  Among the Native Americans of California, this simple designation says it all. This Goddess is a primordial being whose essence and power is linked with the ocean and all that dwells within. Old Woman of the Sea washes into our lives today with waves of refreshment and relaxation. She is also a powerful helpmate for all water-related magic.

Sandcastle-building competitions began in Imperial Beach, California in 1981. Many of the artistically crafted sculptures feature sea creatures and other water themes. Alongside the festival, all manner of community activities take place, including children’s competitions, feasting and live music. So, stop by a gardening store and get yourself a little sand! Mix up some saltwater to mold and shape it. As you do, listen to some watery music and focus on the Old Woman of the Sea. Try to capture her image in the sand and as you do, you will capture her magical power in your heart.

If you live anywhere near a beach, today’s a perfect time to practice sand and water magic. Write a symbol in the sand describing what you hope to achieve, then let the tide carry it to the Old Woman for an answer. Or, step into the surf and let the goddess draw away your tension and anxiety into her watery depths.”

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

“The Crone” by Sunny Strasburg

“Old Woman of the Sea is the Salinan Goddess of water, particularly the ocean and its power. The Salinan tribes of California told a flood story as follows: At the beginning of the world, Eagle was chief among the animals. Old Woman of the Sea was jealous of his power and plotted against him.

One day, She came on to the land with Her basket, which held the sea. She poured the water out, covering almost all of the land—everything was covered except for the top of one mountain, where all the animals gathered. Eagle asked Puma to give him some of his whiskers, from which he made a lariat. Eagle lassoed the basket away from Old Woman of the Sea. Without Her basket, Old Woman of the Sea died and the water stopped rising. Eagle then had Kingfisher dive down into the water and fetch some mud, from which he formed the world.

Eagle then formed humans out of elderberry branches; when he breathed on them, they came to life and became the Salinan people.” [1]

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Old Woman of the Sea“.

 

Suggested Links:

Smith, Evans Lansing & Nathan Robert Brown. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Mythology, “Eagle, Cunning Defender of Creation (Salinan)“.

Westfall, Vern A. The Many Faces of Creation: A History of Man’s Search for His Place and Purpose in the Universe, “A Salinan Indian Myth” (p. 45).

Goddess Sedna

“Sedna” by Hrana Janto

“Sedna’s themes are are thankfulness, providence, nature and abundance. Her symbols are water, an eye and fish.  The mother of the sea, which is sometimes called the ‘eating place’ in northern climates, Sedna is a very important figure in Alaskan mythology as the provider of nourishment for both the body and soul. In narratives, Sedna gave birth to fish, seals, polar bears and whales – the life sustaining animals in this region. Artistic renderings show Her as having one eye that sees all things in Her domain.

At this time of year, fisherman in Alaska dance through town giving out whale meat. According to custom, this dance propitiates the spirits of the food-providing whales who have died in the previous year. It also ensures an abundance of food in the year ahead. Adapting this a bit, abstain from your favorite meat product today and ask for Sedna’s blessing on the animals who provide your food year-round. Vegetarians can forgo their favorite staple and ask Sedna to bless the Earth’s greenery instead! Eating fish, however, is perfectly suited to the occasion, as it will fill you with Sedna’s nourishment. Remember to eat thankfully!

To keep a small token in your home that will continually draw Sedna’s blessing to you, get a goldfish and name it after Her! Each time you feed the fish you’re symbolically giving an offering to the Goddess. When you have a need, whisper it to the fish so Sedna hears you.”

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

Sedna from the Goddess Guidance Oracle Deck

Patricia Monaghan tells us Sedna’s sad story: “Beside the Arctic Ocean, there once lived an old widower and his daughter, Sedna, a woman so beautiful that all the Eskimo men sought to live with Her. But She found none to Her liking and refused all offers. One day, a seabird came to Her and promised Her a soft life in a warm hut full of bearskins and fish. Sedna flew away with him.

The bird had lied. Sedna found Her home a stinking nest. She sat, sadly regretting Her rejection of the handsome human men. And that was what She told Her father, when She listed Her complaints when he visited Her a year later.

Anguta (‘man with something to cut’) put his daughter in his kayak to bring Her back to the human world. Perhaps he killed the bird husband first, perhaps he just stole the bird’s wife, but in either case the vengeance of the bird people followed him. The rising sea threatened the escaping humans with death. On they struggled, until Anguta realized that flight was hopeless.

“Sedna” by Lisa Hunt

He shoved Sedna overboard to drown. Desperate for life, She grabbed the kayak with a fierce grip. Her father cut off Her fingers. She flung Her mutilated arms over the skin boat’s sides. Anguta cut them off, shoving his oar into Sedna’s eye before She sank into the icy water.

At the bottom of the sea, She lived thereafter as queen of the deep, mistress of death and life, ‘old food dish,’ who provided for the people. Her amputated fingers and arms became the fish and marine mammals, and She alone decided how many could be slaughtered for food. She was willing to provide for the people if they accepted Her rules: for three days after their death, the souls of Her animals would remain with their bodies, watching for violation of Sedna’s demands. Then they returned to the Goddess, bearing information about the conduct of Her people. Should Her laws be broken, Sedna’s hand would begin to ache, and She would punish humans with sickness, starvation, and storms. Only if a shaman traveled to Her country, Adlivun, and assuaged Her pains would the sea mammals return to the hunters, which, if the people acted righteously, they did willingly.

“Sedna” by Susan Seddon Boulet

In Adlivun in a huge house of stone and whale ribs, Sedna dragged along the ground with one leg bent beneath Her. A horrible dog guarded Her, said by some to be Her husband. Anguta himself lived there too; some versions of the myth say that, hoping the seabirds would think Sedna dead, he allowed Her back into the kayak and returned home. But She hated him thereafter and cursed Her dogs to eat his hands and feet; the earth opened and swallowed them. In any case, Anguta served Sedna by grabbing dead human souls with his maimed hand and bringing them home. These dead lived in a region near Sedna’s home through which shamans had to pass to reach the Goddess. There was also an abyss, in which an ice wheel turned slowly and perpetually; then a caldron full of boiling seals blocked the way; finally, the horrible dog stood before Sedna’s door, guarding the knife-thin passageway to Her home. Should the shaman pass all these dangers and ease Sedna’s aching hands, the Goddess permitted him to return, bearing the news that Old Woman had forgiven Her people, that the seals would again seek the hunter, that the people would no longer starve” (p. 275-276).

“Sedna is widely worshipped among the Inuit peoples of the polar regions and has many forms and names: Ai-Willi-Ay-O or Aiviliajog; Kannakapfaluk, Arnakapfaluk (‘Big Bad Woman’) of the Copper Inuit; Idiragijenget for the Central Inuit. She is called Ikalu nappa in Her form as half-woman, half-fish; Meghetaghna in Siberia; Nerchevik in Labrador; and Nerrivik (‘Food Dish’) or Nivikkaa (‘Woman Thrown Backward Over The Edge’) in Greenland. For the Iglulik Inuit of Baffin Island She is Uiniyumayuituq or Unigumisuitok, ‘The One Who Did Not Want a Husband” [1].  Other names include Sanna, Nuliajuq, and Arnarquagssaq. [2]

“Sedna Transformed” by Susan Seddon Boulet

Charlotte Kuchinsky writes, “There seems to be no clear picture of whether the Goddess was evil or good or perhaps somewhere in between. She was definitely respected by the Inuit, but some feared Her while others cherished Her, which makes for an interesting dichotomy.

Many believe that the story of Sedna is an allegory to teach mankind that it is sometimes necessary to delve into places where we would prefer not to go. However, if we have faith and are worthy, the outcome will be positive and rich with the rewards of life.

Others believe that the story is a reminder that all of us have negative qualities that we must learn to control. However, such qualities do not immediately negate our being deserving of love and respect.

“Sedna” by Erika Brandner

I believe either is an important message to remember. All human beings have fears that hold us back and keep us from achieving all of which we are capable. I also believe that all human life deserves respect and that everyone needs the healing power of love.” [3]

I can sympathize with Sedna; I know and can understand all too well Her sadness, Her grief, Her sorrows, Her regrets, Her bitterness, Her anger, Her frustration, Her pain and fits of rage…I’ve been very much in tune with those same feelings, emotions and energies myself these past few days.  That does not make Her evil though.  Like Her, I did not die as result of my ordeals, I live to tell my tales; and like Her, yes, they’ve mentally and emotionally mutilated me, hurt me, and have made me bitter and angry, and still do lead to occasional bouts of rage when I feel threatened or wronged; or that my boundaries and limits have been breached.

“It is Her occasional anger with humans which brings about violent storms and destructive winds when She feels that Her rules have been broken or She has been wronged.  When this happens the Inuit tribal shaman is required to take a shaman’s journey to the bottom of the ocean to speak to the Goddess. The shaman will often transform into a fish and then he or she will swim down to the bottom of the ocean to appease Sedna. Often, the shaman will comb the tangles out of Sedna’s hair and put it into braids [and massage and work the knots and tension out of Her aching muscles], since, fingerless, She is unable to. As innocuous as this sounds, because Sedna is so volatile and often hostile, this is considered the most dangerous journey an Inuit shaman can ever be called upon to make.” [4]

“Pana” by Lisa Hunt

To me, She is comparable to Ereshkigal and a strong Dark Goddess to work with if one were brave enough to descend to the icy depths of the watery Underworld and confront their own mutilations.  Questions to ask yourself: “In what ways have the painful incidents in your life taught you about your own Divine nature? How has personal loss or suffering helped you set your own personal code of ethical conduct? In what ways can your anger be of benefit or harm?

And, from the shaman’s perspective, under what circumstances, if any, can you imagine that you would be willing to face danger and even risk your life for the greater good? What would that look like to you?” [5]

 

 

Sources:

Beth. Beth Owl’s Daughter, “The Goddess Sedna“.

Kuchinsky, Charlotte. Yahoo! Voices, “Understanding the Moral Behind the Inuit Goddess Sedna“.

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

Native-languages.org, “Legendary Native American Figures – Sedna“.

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

 

Suggested Links:

Balladeer. Balladeer’s Blog, “The Top 12 Deities From Inuit Mythology“.

Bianca. Order of the White Moon, “Sedna: Goddess of the Icy Sea“.

Goddessgift.com, “Sedna, Inuit Goddess of the Deep Sea“.

Rainewalker.com, “Sedna’s Gifts“.

Sutton, Brenda. Mythicjourneys.org, “Sedna of the Sea“.

Talk With the Goddess, “Goddess Card June 8th – Goddess Sedna“.

Temple of Sedna, “Sedna the Goddess“.

Wikipedia, “Sedna (mythology)“.

Willowroot, Abby. Spiralgoddess.com, “Sedna of the North“.

Wave Maidens

“Nereidi” by Margherita Fascione

“The Wave Maidens’ themes are providence, protection (from water), charity, fertility, peace, cycles and water. Their symbols are fish and sea items.  These northern Teutonic Goddesses number nine and rule over the waves, being the joint mothers of the god Heimdel. In mythology, the Wave Maidens live at the bottom of the sea, watching over the World Mill that continually turns with the season to bring the earth and Her people fertility and harmony.

In Iceland, fishermen honor the Wave Maidens today by taking a well-deserved day off and enjoying sports, foods and dances, the proceeds from which support fishermen’s retirement homes. If you’re a fish lover, this translates into abstaining from fish today as a way of thanking the Wave Maidens for their ongoing providence.

If you live near a region where you can get to a lake or ocean, consider stopping by for a moment today and getting the Wave Maidens yourself.

Pick up a bit of sand and carry it with you to generate a better understanding of personal cycles and those of the earth. Or, gather a shell, a bit of driftwood, or a tumbled stone to promote the Wave Maidens’ flowing harmony in and around your life.

In terms of clothing, think sea-blue or green and something that’s loose, to help you physically flow as easily as the Wave Maidens through life’s circumstances.”

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

“In Norse mythology, the Wave Maidens (also known as the Billow Maidens) are the nine daughters of Rán and Ægir, the Goddess and god of the sea.  According to Patricia Monaghan, these maidens were Scandinavian giantresses.  They were portrayed as beautiful maidens dressed in white robes and veils and always helped their father, brew the beer for the gods.  Their names are poetic terms for the many different characteristics of the ocean waves:

Their names were:
(Poetic Edda)
– Angeyja (“Sorrow-Whelmer”)
– Atla (“Fury”)
– Eistla (“Foamer”)
– Eyrgjafa (“Sand-Strewer”)
– Gjalp (“Yelper”)
– Greip ( “Griper”)
– Iarnsaxe (“Iron-Sword”)
– Imd ( “Dusk”)
– Ulfrun (“She-Wolf”)

 

Or (Prose Edda):
– Bylgja (“Billow”)
– Blodughadda (“Bloody Hair”)
– Drofn (“Foam-Fleck”, “Comber” or “Foaming Sea”)
– Dufa (“The Pitching One” or “Dipping”)
– Hefring (“Riser”)
– Himinglaeva (“That through which one can see the heaven”, or maybe something like “Heaven-Clear”)
– Hrönn (“Welling Wave”)
– Kolga (“The Cool One” poetical term for wave)
– Udr (“Frothing Wave”)

In later times they were identified with Mermaids.” [1]

“Mermaid” by Alena Lazareva

“The sailors are always eager to establish a good rapport with these beautiful maidens of the oceans because, it is said that if they succeed, they can be assured a safe and uneventful voyage with these powerful Goddesses protecting and guiding them.  On the other hand, if the sailors fail to gain their approval, they can expect gale winds and a raging tempest that will most likely cause their death at sea. And while it is true that these lovely Goddesses prefer fun and positive workings, be assured that they will not hesitate to set upon their enemies with all the fury the seas can possess.

By Odin, they were the mothers of Heimdall, who guarded the rainbow Bifröst.  According to the tale, in the course of a walk along the shoreline, Odin beheld the nine beautiful wave maidens as they slept on the white sand and he married all nine of them at once.  In time, they simultaneously gave birth to Heimdall, the White God who stood guard over the entrance of the fortress of the gods.

 

Nine Wave Maidens Lyrics

Nine wave maidens
Giant beauties
Soundly asleep on Midgard sands

Someone is walking
Hungry eyes gazing
The guard of the sky beholding their pride

Calling the waves
Playing in the shallows
What will they want
A seafarer’s heart
Come rain, come shine
The patience never breaking
Oh how they blind a traveler’s heart

Atla, Sindur, Egia, Ulfrun
Never profound
Never alone

Heimdall born was he of mother’s nine
Heimdall son is he of sisters nine

Calling the waves

Playing in the shallows
What will they want
A seafarer’s heart
Come rain, come shine
The patience unbreakable
Oh how they blind a traveler’s eye

Calling nine waves
Singing in the shadows
What else do they haunt than a lonely man’s heart” [2]

Sources:

Cybersamurai.net, “AegirsDaughters (The Billow Maidens)“.

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

MXTODIS123. An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “The Wave Maidens“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Northern Tradition Paganism, “Nine Sisters: Hail to the Gods of the Northern Seas!

Wikipedia, “Daughters of Ægir“.

Whale Goddess

“Whale Goddess’ themes are nature, meditation, rebirth and movement.  Her symbols are water and whales.  In Arabic tradition, the Whale Goddess swallowed Jonah, giving him time to consider his life and actions, seriously before his figurative rebirth. Let’s hope She doesn’t have to got that far to get our attention this month (or anytime, for that matter).

In some stories the earth rests on this Goddess’s back, and earthquakes result when She gets upset and shakes Her tail. Symbolically, when your life seems on shaky ground, consider what this Goddess is trying to tell you!

Around this time of year in Northern California, people examine the coastline with renewed interest and anticipation. They’re watching the annual whale migration  – a breathtaking sight. Since many of us cannot experience this firsthand, consider the whale as a magical symbol instead. The gods ride whales to carry messages to the mortal world. Witches ride them to bear their magic on the water. In both instances the whale carries something – either to your heart or toward a goal. Use this image in meditations for movement, and consider if whales show up in your dreams tonight.

If possible, visit an aquarium and watch whale there. Or send a donation to an accredited facility to give something back to the Whale Goddess and Her children.”

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

During my search on the World Wide Web, I couldn’t find any other information equating the whale in the Book of Jonah to an actual Goddess; however, the comparison is an intriguing theory to ponder on.  So, I decided to focus on whale mythology from around the world:

SOUTH AMERICA

“Mamacocha

Goddess of the ocean, Her name literally means “mother ocean.” She is a source of health and provider of food. She is sometimes shown as a whale Goddess. To the Q’eros, many of whom will never even experience the ocean, She represents the largest expression of the living energy of water. Smaller water deities that inhabit lakes rivers and streams are known as Phasi Runa.” [1]

“CHINA

Yu-kiang

The ancient Chinese believed that a strange mythological figure, Yu-kiang, held sway over the sea. This dragon-riding water deity had the body of a fish but the hands and feet of a human being. It was not a true fish, however, but a kuan, a huge whale several thousand li long that came from the Northern Sea. Sometimes the monstrous kuan got angry, and when it did it turned into a gigantic bird (p’eng), whipping up terrible storms as it emerged aborve the ocean surface (M. Soymi, in P. Grimal, 1963)

ALASKA

"Sedna's Love" by Tammara

Sedna

In Inuit mythology, Sedna was the Goddess of the sea and the whale was her most magnificent subject. In one story, Sedna was a winsome girl who had spurned all of Her suitors and married a bird. Outraged, Her father killed Her husband and took Her home in a boat. On the way back he threw Her overboard. She clung to the umiak, so he had to chop off Her fingers, one by one.

Sedna turned into the huge voracious deity of the Lower World and ruled over all the creatures that dwell in the sea. Each of Her severed fingers turned into a different animal: a right whale, a narwhal, a beluga, a seal, and so forth.

Big Raven

The whale also appears in Inuit myths about the beginning of the world. One of the chief characters in their creation myths is Big Raven, a deity in human form. One day, Big Raven came upon a stranded whale and asked the Great Spirit to help him get the creature back out to sea. The Great Spirit told him of a place in the forest where moonlight fell a special way. There he would find mushrooms that, if eaten, would give him the strength to drag the whale into the water unassisted. Big Raven did as he was told, rescued the whale, and thereby safegarded the order of the world.

CANADA

"tlingit killer whale" by AhlanNatsihlane

Natsihlane

The Tlingit people of northern Canada tell the story of Natsihlane. Natsihlane was a good hunter, and his brother-in-law was jealous of him. One day, the two of them went ashore on a far distant land, but the brother-in-law went off and left him behind. Natsihlane fell asleep and was awakened by a big gull. He heard it say that the sea lion chief wished to see him and that he had been sent to fetch him. Knowing that there was strong medicine at work, Natsihlane climbed on the back of a sea lion that swam until it reached a great rock beside the cliff.

The rock opened, and the Tlingit hunter found himself inside a great house in which the sea lions were assembled.

‘This is my son,’ the chief of the sea lions said to him. ‘He has been wounded by a harpoon. Help him, and I will help you get back to your homeland.’ Natsihlane removed the harpoon and tended to his wounds. The chief thanked him and gave him a magic sea-lion stomach filled with air to use a boat.

When the hunter woke up on the beach, he heard an inner voice speaking to him. He went into the forest and carved eight big fish from spruce branches. He said some medicine words over them and ordered them to jump into the water. They sprang into the sea at his command, but lay lifeless on the surface. Natsihlane then cut eight more fish from the red cedar, but they would not live, either.

Then he carved eight fish from yellow cedar and painted each fish with a white stripe across the head and a circle on the dorsal fin. He sang his most powerful spirit song and commanded the fish to leap into the water. They did so and soon grew into great black whales. They obeyed his orders. He asked them to swim out and see to it that his brother-in-law was drowned. They did as he requested, after which he called them out of the water. They formed a line on the shore. ‘I made you to get revenge,’ he told them. ‘That was a bad thing to do. From now on, you must never again harm any human being.’

 

ICELAND

Heimskringla

‘The best-known whale in Icelandic legend is the one said in Snorri Surluson‘s ‘Heimskringla‘ to have been sent there by a Danish king, who was angry because the Icelanders had made libelous verse about him. He considered sending an army to Iceland, but first he sent a magician disguised as a whale to spy for him. The journey was fruitless because everywhere the magician he was frustrated by the country’s guardian spirits.’

According to another legend, ‘a man threw a stone at a fin whale and hit the blowhole, causing the whale to burst. This deed was condemed and the man was told not to go to sea for twenty years. In the nineteenth year he could no longer resist the desire to return to sea. He went fishing – and a whale came and killed him.’ Whales can forgive a crime, but only if it had been properly atoned for.

 

AFRICA

King Sulemani

In one East African legend a whale teaches a king a lesson in humility.

‘One day, when all the people, spirits and animals in his kingdom had eaten their fill, Sulemani prayed to God that He might permit him to feed all the created beings on earth … But God wished to show him that all human enterprise must have an end in the very size of the encounter it has sought so fervently to face. It pleased God to raise to the surface of the sea a fish such as fishermen had never seen. In the learned books it is described as a whale, but it was much bigger. It rose up from the water like an island, like a mountain. It ate and ate, until there was not a single bag of corn left. The whale raised its voice and roared: ‘Oh king, I am still hungry, Feed me!’ Sulemani asked the big fish if there were more fishes of its size in the sea, to which the sea-monster replied: ‘Of my tribe there are seventy thousand.’ At these words, King Sulemani prostrated himself upon the ground and prayed to God: ‘Forgive me, Lord, for my foolish desire to feed Thy creation.’ King Sulemani thanked the creature for teaching him a lesson. From then on, he no longer tried to take over God’s job of feeding all His creatures.” (translated from the Swahili by Jan Knapper)

 

THE BIBLE

Leviathan

It is clear that God invested the huge, monstrous whale with tremedous power, including the power to strike fear into the hearts and minds of men. Nowhere does the whale’s terrifying prescence inspire more lyricism and hyperbole than in the Holy Scriptures.

The first creature God releases into the waters is the whale. ‘And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that have life … And God created the great whales, and every living creature that moveth.’

The biblical whale par excellence is the stupendous Leviathan – symbol of evil, focal point of all human fears, embodiment of unmitigated power – that the Lord created on the fifth day of Creation as a warning to mankind. From then on ‘Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him,’ whenever pride and the temptation to sin well up in the sons of Adam. Its gaping mouth is terrible to behold; nothing can equal its strength; its heart harder than stone.

Leviathan is mentioned again in Fourth Esdras, a Jewish apocalyptic work usually included in the Apocrypha. ‘On the fifth day thou didst command the seventh part, where the water had been gathered together, to bring forth living creatures, birds, and fishes … Then thou didst keep in existance two living creatures; the name of one thou didst call Behemoth and the name of the other Leviathan … But to Leviathan thou didst give the seventh part, the watery part.’

Jonah

The biblical story of Jonah in the whale, begins when the Almightly instructs Jonah (from Hebrew for “dove”) to prophesy against the wickedness of the city of Nineveh. Fearing the reaction of the lewd, luxury-loving Assyrians, he balked at the mission, rushed to Joppa, and stole away on a boat bound for Tarhish. But he had spoken ill of the Lord and doubted his Infinite Wisdom, so he never reached his destination.

The ship ran into a terrific storm. Believing it to be a sign from the Almighty, the crew threw Jonah overboard at the prophet’s request. As the water swirled around him and death seemed at hand, Jonah asked God to have mercy on him. The Lord, hearing His name uttered in prayer, sent a Great Fish from the depths to swallow him. After three days and three nights the whale ‘vomited out Jonah upon dry land.’ The prophet had been taught a lesson in unconditional obedience.

EARLY STORIES

The Whale-Island

One of the favorite imaginings of whale chroniclers, was of the living island, the animal island, the whale-island. The notion of a sleeping whale, with its dark rocklike back, being mistaken for an uncharted island is as old as maritime literature itself.

An early reference of such an occurance, comes from the Physiologus (Greek, second century), a collection of anecdotes dealing mainly with natural history.

‘There is a certain whale in the sea called the aspidoceleon, that is exceedingly large like an island … Ignorant sailors tie thier ships to the beast as to an island and plant thier anchors and stakes in it. They light their cooking fires on the whale, but when it feels the heat it urinates and plunges into the depths, sinking all the ships.’

Sinbad

The whale is recounted in this episode of the voyages of Sinbad, translated from the Arabic by N. J. Dawood.

‘We came at length to a little island as fair as the Garden of Eden. The passengers went ashore and set to work to light a fire. Some busied themselves with cooking and washing, some fell to eating and drinking and making merry …

Whilst we were thus engaged we suddenly heard the captain cry out to us from the ship: ‘All aboard quickly! Abandon everything and run for your lives! The mercy of Allah be upon you, for this is no island but a giganitic whale floating on the bosom of the sea, on whose back the sands have settled and trees have grown since the world was young! When you lit the fire, it felt the heat and stirred. Make haste, I say, or soon the whale will plunge into the sea and you will all be lost!’

Some reached the ship in safety, but others did not; for suddenly the island shook beneath our feet and, submerged by mountainous waves, sank with all that stood upon it to the bottom of the roaring ocean.’

Pinocchio

One of the key episodes in The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi (pseudonym of Carlo Lorenzini, 1826-90) takes place in the belly of a sea monster, a creature Collodi describes as a ‘gigantic Dog-fish,’ an Attila of fish and fishermen” that is ‘more than a kilometer long, not counting its tail.’ Readers soon realise that it must be a whale, as the creature breathes through its lungs … and suffers from asthma!

The Dog-fish ‘sucked Pinocchio in as he would have sucked a hen’s egg.’  When the marionette reaches the monster’s stomach, he meets up with a philosophical tuna that assures him, ‘When one is born a Tunny it is more dignified to die in the water than in oil.’ Then Pinocchio thinks he sees a light. It is the glow of a candle held by – can it be? – Gepetto, his father! the old carpenter had survived inside the whale ‘for almost two years,’ living on supplies from the ship the beast had inadvertently swallowed. Dragging, then carrying his father, Pinocchio makes his way to the tongue of the Dog-fish, which one would mistake for ‘a lane in the park.’ They manage to get past the giant fish’s ‘three rows of teeth’ because it ‘suffered very much from asthma’ and had to sleep with its mouth open.

Micromégas

In 1752, Voltaire (1694-1778) wrote Micromégas in which whales served as living proof of man’s colosal conceit. When Micromégas, the super-giant from Sirius, and an average-sized giant from Saturn reach Earth, they assume that a planet so ridiculously small could not possibly harbor living things. Then, using diamonds as magnifying glasses, they manage to spot a whale. Later, they have to squint and strain their eyes to make out a boatload of philosophers.

‘After a long time, the inhabitants of Saturn saw something almost imperceptable in the Baltic Sea: it was a whale. Very adroitly he picked it up with his little finger and, placing it on his thumbnail, showed it to the Sirian, who started laughing at the extreme smallness of the inhabitants of our globe. The Saturnian, satisfied that our world was inhabited after all, assumed immediately that all inhabitants were whales.'” [2]

Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville, first published in 1851. It is considered to be one of the Great American Novels and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab has one purpose on this voyage: to seek out a specific whale—Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg, which now drives Ahab to take revenge. [3]

 

"Whale Song" by Griffblut

As a totem, the whale can teach us a great deal about ourselves. “The Whale Totem symbolizes, the power of the Sea, deep intuition, ancient knowledge, strength and grace and mystical communication. Whales have been the inspiration of many songs, myths, books, poems, paintings, drawings and movies. The Whale is the worlds largest mammal they are very family orientated like their land counterpart the Elephant. Whales can be found in oceans all over the world. They belong to the same family as dolphins and porpoises and possess the same ability as their smaller cousins to communicate with each other through sounds, vibrations and songs.

The Exceptional Whale Totem possesses the following virtues:
Deeper consciousness, ancient energy and vibrations, family values, happiness and harmony, beauty, balance, beauty, social skills, increased powers of communication, affection, energy, grace, charm, charisma, and intelligence.

The Whale animal totem is a strong spirit indeed and its magical properties are one of the most influential of all animal totems. Strength, friendship, virtue, cooperation, and so much more can be integrated into the spirit of the possessor of this magical pearl and the Whale totem.” [4]

Please also check out Avia Venefica’s site, Whats-Your-Sign.com, “Whale Totem Meaning” for a fabulous in depth look at the whale as a totem.

 

Sources:

Goddess-Guide.com, “List of the Inka Goddesses

HippyMom.com, “Whale Totem

Wikipedia, “Moby-Dick

World Transformation, “Whale Mythology From Around the World

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“.

Goddess Iemanja

“Iemanja’s themes are foresight, divination and psychic abilities.  Her symbol is water.  In Brazil, Iemanja is considered the ocean’s spirit. Every drop of saltwater bears Her imprint and calls us back to Iemanja, our ancient mother and home. As a water elemental, Iemanja gives Her followers vision, inspiration and the ability to flow smoothly through life’s torrential times.

At daybreak on this day, mediums in Brazil begin singing and dancing to summon the spirit of Iemanja, who provides glimpses of the year ahead. Worshipers take offerings carved with wishes to rivers or to the ocean. Here, Iemanja’s spirit accepts the gifts and the magic of the wish begins. To follow this custom, take any small natural token and toss it in moving water with your wish; the water should be flowing toward you if you wish to bring energy and flowing away from you if you want to carry away problems.

In keeping with today’s theme, soak in a mild saltwater bath to cleanse away any unwanted energy and heighten your senses. Then try your favorite divination tool. Pray to Iemanja beforehand to bless your efforts. See what messages she has for you, especially on emotionally charged matters (water equates with emotions in metaphysical traditions).

Finally, to honor Iemanja, wear ocean-blue clothing today, carry a blue-toned stone (like lace agate of lapis), put a seashell or coral in your pocket, dance in the rain (if the weather cooperates), or play in your sprinkler. Rediscover the element of water.”

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

Iemanjá is also known as Yemanjá or Janaína in Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda religions.

The Umbanda religion worships Iemanjá as one of the seven orixás of the African Pantheon. She is the Queen of the Ocean, the patron deity of the fishermen and the survivors of shipwrecks, the feminine principle of creation and the spirit of moonlight. A syncretism happens between the Catholic Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of the Seafaring) and the orixá Iemanjá of the African Mythology. Sometimes, a feast can honor both.

In Salvador, Bahia, Iemanjá is celebrated by Candomblé on the very same day consecrated by the Catholic Church to Our Lady of Seafaring (Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes). Every February 2, thousands of people line up at dawn to leave their offerings at her shrine in Rio Vermelho.

 

Gifts for Iemanjá usually include flowers and objects of female vanity (perfume, jewelry, combs, lipsticks, mirrors). These are gathered in large baskets and taken out to the sea by local fishermen. Afterwards a massive street party ensues.

Iemanjá is also celebrated every December 8 in Salvador, Bahia. The Festa da Conceição da Praia (Feast to Our Lady of Conception of the church at the beach) is a city holiday dedicated to the Catholic saint and also to Iemanjá. Another feast occurs on this day in the Pedra Furada, Monte Serrat in Salvador, Bahia, called the Gift to Iemanjá, when fishermen celebrate their devotion to the Queen of the Ocean.

Outside Bahia State, Iemanjá is celebrated mainly by followers of the Umbanda religion.

 

On New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, millions of cariocas, of all religions, dressed in white gather on Copacabana beach to greet the New Year, watch fireworks, and throw (white) flowers and other offerings into the sea for the Goddess in the hopes that she will grant them their requests for the coming year. Some send their gifts to Iemanjá in wooden toy boats. Paintings of Iemanjá are sold in Rio shops, next to paintings of Jesus and other Catholic saints. They portray Her as a woman rising out of the sea. Small offerings of flowers and floating candles are left in the sea on many nights at Copacabana.

In São Paulo State, Iemanjá is celebrated in the two first weekends of December on the shores of Praia Grande city. During these days many vehicles garnished with Iemanjá icons and colors (white and blue) roam from the São Paulo mountains to the sea littoral, some of them traveling hundreds of miles. Thousands of people rally near Iemanjá’s statue in Praia Grande beach.

 

In Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul State, on February 2, the image of Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes is carried to the port of Pelotas. Before the closing of the Catholic feast, the boats stop and host the Umbanda followers that carry the image of Iemanjá, in a syncretic meeting that is watched by thousand of people on the shore.

 

 

 

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