Tag Archive: snow


“Depending on where you live, you may be seeing snowfall long before Yule arrives. Take a moment to appreciate its beauty, both as it falls and once it covers the ground.

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From the reaches of the north,
a place of cold blue beauty,
comes to us the first winter storm.
Wind whipping, flakes flying,
the snow has fallen upon the earth,
keeping us close,
keeping us together,
wrapped up as everything sleeps
beneath a blanket of white.” ~ Patti Wigington

 

 

 

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yuleprayers/qt/SnowPrayer.htm

Goddess Hertha

"Incense Fire" by *Zingaia

“Incense Fire” by *Zingaia, based on Jean Delville’s drawing, “Parsifal”.

“Hertha’s themes are rebirth, kinship, health, longevity and tradition. Her symbols are dormant trees and snow. In ancient times, on this day people venerated Hertha, the Teutonic Goddess of fertility, domesticated animals, magic and nature. In Germanic tradition, Hertha descended through the smoke of any fire today and brought gifts, much like an early Santa Claus figure (giving Her solar associations too). Her connection to nature has survived in the name for our planet: Earth.

Yule takes its designation from a Old English word meaning ‘wheel’, representing the turning of time’s wheel back toward the sun. In early times, this festival included parties for various sun Gods and Goddesses; it eventually was translated into the celebration of Christ’s birth. Any light source or burning incense can symbolize Hertha’s presence today.

Besides this, look to the world’s traditions for magical ways of making your celebration special. For example, Swedes eat a rice pudding with one lucky almond; whoever gets the nut receives good fortune. Russians toss grain into people’s homes for providence as they carol. Armenians make a wish on the Yule log when ignited and sometimes make divinations by the cider patterns made afterward. Bohemians cut apples in half. If there’s a perfect star in the center and it has plump seeds, it portends joy and good health. Finally, kiss someone under the mistletoe for a long, happy relationship.”

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

“Nerthus” by Lisa Hunt

“Nerthus” by Lisa Hunt

According to Wikipedia, Hertha is another name for the ancient Germanic earth Goddess, Nerthus (click on Her name to be taken to that entry).  In addition to that information presented in Nerthus’ entry, Patricia Monaghan wrote that “no legends survive of the Germanic Goddess from whom we get our word for earth.  It is known, however, that She was worshiped into historic times, when plows were carried in Christian Shrovetide processions in honor of the earth’s fertility.   Hertha was also frequently invoked by medieval witches as their special patron” (p. 152).

 

 

 

 

Sources:

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

 

 

Suggested Links:

Asatru Religion, “Goddess Nerthus Or Eartha Or Jordh“.

Encyclopedia Mythica, “Nerthus“.

GardenStone. Goddess Holle: In Search of a Germanic Goddess.

Krasskova, Galina . Northern Tradition Paganism, “Who is Nerthus?

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nerthus” at p. 488.

Mystic Wicks, “Nerthus {Goddess of the Week}“.

PaganNews.com, “Nerthus“.

Reaves, William P. Boudicca’s Bard, “Nerthus: Toward an Identification“.

Twilightmists.tripod.com. “Hertha, Ertha, Nerthus“.

Wikipedia, “Nerthus“.

Williamson, George S. The Longing for Myth in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche.

Goddess Cailleach Bheur

"The Cailleach Bhuer" by ~AltaraTheDark

“The Cailleach Bhuer” by ~AltaraTheDark

“Cailleach Bheur’s themes are balance, cycles, rebirth, overcoming and winter. Her symbols are snow and blue items. In Scottish traditions, this is a blue faced crone Goddess who blusters with power throughout the winter months. She brings the snow and cold until the wheel of time turns toward spring on Beltane (May Day).

Just as darkness seems to be winning, the Crone Goddess stirs in the earth’s womb and inspires hope. She knows that the time for rebirth as a young woman will come in spring, when She will fertilize the earth. For now, however, the first step is renewing the sun, whose light will begin to get stronger.

Since this Goddess is one of cold honesty, wear something blue today to encourage personal reserve, control, and truth with yourself throughout the day.

In keeping with the themes of the Winter Solstice, you could try this mini-ritual:

In the morning, cover your altar or a table with a yellow cloth (maybe a napkin or placemat) to represent the sun. Place a blue candle in a central location on the table, along with a bowl of snow to represent Cailleach Bheur and winter. As the candle burns with the light of the sun, the wax shrinks and this Goddess’s snows melt, giving away once more to the power of warmth and light.

Keep the remnant was and re-melt it for any spells in which you need a cooler head. Pour the water from the snow outside to rejoin the Goddess.”

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

 IMG_2234

Well, the Cailleach has appropriately blessed us with Her presence yesterday and overnight here in Upstate New York!  Now, it’s beginning to look like a real North Country holiday season!  It was quite inspiring while researching Her and I was able to find a TON of great info that I listed in the “Suggested Links” at the bottom for you to browse through at your own leisure.

"Cailleach" by Mairin-Taj Caya

“Cailleach” by Mairin-Taj Caya

Patricia Monaghan had this to write about Cailleach: “Her name, pronounced correctly, sounds like clearing her throat, but ‘coyluck’ is a near approximation.  One of the world’s Great Goddesses, She went by many names: Cailleach Bheur or Carlin in Scotland; Cally Berry in northern Ireland; Cailleach ny Groamch on the Isle of Man; Black Annis in Britain; the Hag of Beare or Digne in Ireland.  She was vastly ancient; the Irish Triads say: ‘The three great ages: the age of the yew tree, the age of the eagle, the age of the Hag of Beare.’  She could endlessly renew Her youth.  All the men She loved – and they were countless – died of old age as She went on, returning to the prime of life, finding another pretty young one with whom to share youth.

"The Cailleach Bheure" by Jill Smith

“The Cailleach Bheure” by Jill Smith

She had one eye in the middle of a blue-black face, an eye of preternatural keenness.  She had red teeth and matted hair ‘white as an apron covered with hoarfrost.’  Over it She wore a kerchief and over Her gray clothing, a faded plaid shawl. She owned a farm and hired workers for six months with the stipulation that none would  be paid who could not outwork Her.  Looking at the hunched old thing, many a man fell for the trick and paid with his life, dying of overwork while trying to keep the pace She set.  So strong was She that She carried boulders in Her apron; the ones She dropped became mountain ranges.

She controlled the season and the weather; She was the cosmic Goddess of earth and sky, moon and sun.  Beacuse She does not appear in the written myths of Ireland and Scotland, but only in ancient tales and place names, it is presumed that She was the Goddess of the pre-Celtic settlers of the islands off Europe.  She was so powerful and beloved that even when newcomers imported their own divinities, the Cailleach was remembered” (p. 77 – 78).

Cailleach rules the dark half of the year, from Samhain to Beltane, while Her young and fresh counterpart, Brighid or Bride, is the queen of the summer months.  At least one tradition views Bride and the Cailleach as being one and the same, with the Cailleach drinking from the Well of Youth at the beginning of each spring, whereby She is transformed into the youthful Bride. However most traditions in Scotland have them firmly pitted against each other as two differing personalities.  She is sometimes portrayed riding on the back of a speeding wolf, bearing a hammer or a wand made of human flesh. [1] [2]

“Alternate names: Cailleach Bheur, Cailleach Uragaig, Cailleach Beinne Bric (‘Old Woman of the Speckled Mountain’), Cailleach Mor (‘Great Old Woman’) (Scotland); Cailleach Bheirre, Cailleach Bolus, Cailleach Corca Duibhe (Ireland); Caillagh ny Groamagh, Caillagh ny Gueshag (Isle of Man).” [3]

I would really like to share a neat short film with you that Grey Catsidhe had shared with our Druid group back in November entitled “An Cailleach Bheara“.  Click on the picture below to be taken to the Irish Film Board (ifb) site.

cailleach

I also really enjoy and respect the work that rainbowpagan2 on YouTube does, so I wanted to share this video as well.

 

 

 

Sources:

Firedragon, Tansy/Rachel Patterson. Tansyfiredragon.blogspot.com, “Cailleach and Bride“.

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

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “The Cailleach, Celtic Crone Goddess of Winter“.

Wigington, Patti. Paganwiccan.about.com, “Cailleach, the Ruler of Winter“.

 

 

 

Suggested Links:

Firetree.net, “Cailleach“.

Forest, Danu. Danuforest.co.uk, “The Cailleach, the old woman of winter“.

McHardy, Stuart. Goddess Alive! Goddess Celebration and Research, “The Goddess in the Landscape of Scotland“.

Mysterious Britain & Ireland, “The Caillech Bheur“.

PaganPages.org, “Cailleach“.

Shaw, Judith. Feminismandreligion.com, “Cailleach, the Queen of Winter“.

Shee-Eire.com, “Cailleach Beara“.

Sparrow. Journey Around the Wheel of Life, “Cailleach“.

Tairis.co.uk, “Bride and the Cailleach“.

The Suppressed History Archives, “Crone“.

Wikipedia, “Cailleach“.

Woodfield, Stephanie. Darkgoddessmusings.blogspot.com, “Bride and Cailleach: Drinking from the Well of Youth“.

WolfWinds, Silver. Order of the White Moon, “Cailleach“.

Goddess Skaði

“The Winter Queen” by ~Jolien-Rosanne

“Skaði’s themes are protection, banishing, communications, insight and winter. Her symbols are white crystals or clothing. In Northern tradition, Skaði is the spirit of the north wind, who is blowing powerfully over the Earth now. She is the Goddess of winter and wears white fur, crystal armor, and a bow and arrow for hunting. Hers is the power of communication – of announcing new insights and perceptions as they awaken within.

In the festival of Blowing of the Midwinter Horn, which dates back two thousand years, farmers around the country take out Birchwood horns today and blow them to scare away evil influences and announce Skaði’s presence.

To encourage Her communicative powers in your own life, stand outside and breathe deeply a cool, northerly wind today, letting the air empower your speech. Or carry a pumice stone wrapped in white cloth with you throughout the day (if you can’t find one, cut out a white paper snowflake instead and write Skaði’s name on it). This keeps the Goddess with you in all your discourse.
At home, find a horn (perhaps a kazoo or noise maker). Follow the Dutch custom of blowing this once in all four cardinal directions to send protection throughout your living space. Afterward, put your four white decorations (candles, stones) close to the directional points. This welcomes Skaði’s insight and open discussions therein.”

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

“Winter Goddess of the North” by ~IndigoDesigns

Patricia Monaghan tells us that Skaði (pronounced “SKAHD-ee”) was “the Goddess for whom Scandinavia was named [who] dwelled high in the snow-covered mountains; Her favorite occupations were skiing and snowshoeing through Her domain.  But when the gods caused the death of Her father, Thjassi, Skaði armed Herself and traveled to their home at Asgard, intent on vengeance.  Even alone, She was more than a match for the gods, and they were forced to make peace with Her.

Skaði demanded two things: that they make Her laugh and that She be allowed to choose a mate from among them.  The first condition was accomplished by the trickster Loki, who tied his testicles to the beard of a billy goat.  It was a contest of screeching, until the rope snapped and Loki landed, screaming in pain, on Skaði’s knee.  She laughed.

Next, all the gods lined up, and Skaði’s eyes were masked.  She intended to select Her mate simply by examine his legs from the knees down.  When She’d found the strongest – thinking them to be the beautiful Balder’s legs  – She flung off Her mask and found She’d picked the sea god Njörðr.  So She went off to live in the god’s ocean home.

“Skadi” by ~Tygerson

She was miserable there.  ‘I couldn’t sleep a wink,’ Skaði said in a famous eddic poem, ‘on the bed of the sea, for the calling of gulls and mews.’  The couple moved to Thrymheim, Skaði’s mountain palace, but the water god was as unhappy there as Skaði had been in the water.  Thereupon they agreed on an equitable dissolution, and Skaði took a new mate, more suitable to Her lifestyle: Ullr, the god of skis” (Monaghan, p. 283); though Galina Krasskova states that there’s nothing to support Skaði and Ullr coming together as a Divine couple in lore (p. 87).

“Her name is either identical with the Old Norse common noun skaði, ‘harm,’ or comes from another Germanic root preserved in the Gothic word skadus and the Old English sceadu, both of which mean ‘shadow.’” [1]  She is associated with the rune Isa.

Isa – Ice, cold, freezing. Lack of change. Stagnation. Lack of emotion. Storing binding. Bridge across danger.

Skaði is my favorite winter Goddess to work with.  Last year, I put this video together as an offering in Her honor.  It is set to the song “Wake Skadi” by Hagalaz Runedance (I LOVE the drumming!)  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Krasskova, Galina. Exploring the Northern Tradition, “Skaði (Sceadu)” (p. 86 -87).

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

Runevisionreadingbycassandraisa.blogspot.com, “Isa – The Goddess Skadi“.

Turville-Petre. Myth and Religion of the North: the Religion of Ancient Scandinavia.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Agaliha. Mysticwicks.com, “Skadi {Goddess of the Week}“.

Andrews, Tamra. Dictionary of Nature Myths, “Njord“.

Baird, Anne. Paganpages.org, “Skadi, Goddess of Winter“.

Frostdottir, Isa. The Huntress Within: Finding Skadi.

Goddesscards.com, “Skadi – The Goddess of Winter“.

Kaldera, Raven. Northernpaganism.org, “Snow Queen: A Song for Skadi“.

Kaldera, Raven. Northernpaganism.org, “Who is Ullr?

Lindow, John. Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs.

People.tribe.net, “Skadi – Goddess of Winter“.

Sidhe, Fiana. Matrifocus.com, “Goddess in the Wheel of the Year“.

Skye, Michelle. Goddess Afoot!: Practicing Magic With Celtic and Norse Goddesses.

Swampy. Dutchie.org, “Goddess Skadi“.

Wikipedia, “Skaði“.

Goddess Marazanna

“Marazanna’s themes are spring, weather, protection, winter, death, rebirth, cycles, change and growth.  Her symbols are dolls (poppets) and water (including ice and snow).  The Polish Goddess for whom this holiday is named represents an odd combination of winter, death and the fruit field’s growth and fertility. As such, She oversees the transitions we wish to make in our lives.

Marzanna is a Polish spring festival which an effigy of Marzanna is tossed into a river to overcome Her wintery nature and ensure that there will be no floods that year. This tradition is likely an antecedent of ancient river sacrifices made to appease the water spirits. Following suit, resolutely throw a biodegradable image of something you wish to overcome this season into any moving water source (even your toilet!). Let Marzenna carry it away, slowly breaking down that negative energy and replacing it with personal growth. Burying an image has the same effect.

To invoke Marzenna’s protection until next winter, write your name and birth date on a piece of paper and freeze it in an ice cube.

Keep the cube in a safe place in the back of your freezer to keep yourself surrounded by Marzenna’s safe barrier. Melt the ice cube later in the year if you need a boost of spring’s revitalizing energy.”

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

“Witch .Marzanna” by smokepaint

“Marazanna is a Slavic Goddess associated with death, winter and nightmares. Some sources equate her with the Latvian Goddess Māra, who takes a person’s body after their death. Some medieval Christian sources such as the Mater Verborum also compare Her to the Greek Goddess Hecate, associating Her with sorcery. The Polish chronicler Jan Długosz (15th cent.) likened Her to Ceres, the Roman Goddess of agriculture.” [1] “In pre-Christian times, She was also associated with the harvest.  She was worshipped as the Mother and Goddess of corn and held in very special reverence.  She appears as an old woman dressed in white who becomes a hag when winter hits and slowly dies off.  She is sometimes associated with Witchcraft and divination.” [2]

The tradition of burning or drowning an effigy of Marzanna to celebrate the end of winter is a folk custom that survives in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  This folk custom falls always around the date of 20/21 March – at the vernal equinox when the Spring begins. The female straw effigy of Marzanna can vary in size – it may be a small puppet or a life-size dummy. The doll is set on fire, drowned in a river or both. The ritual is a symbolic farewell to Winter and the dark days that it involved. It shows joy of rebirth of Spring and victory over death. It was believed that the ritual would ensure good harvest. Destroying the effigy of evil Goddess was believed also to remove all the effects brought by Her. According to the custom the straw effigy was placed on a stick and covered with linen. She was also decorated with ribbons and necklaces. Village children would march with Marzanna – and branches of juniper in their hands – around the whole village. They would drown the Marzanna doll in every river (or generally every water – let it be river, pond or puddle) on the way. In the evening Marzanna effigy would be given to the village youth that would take her out of village and (in the light of burning juniper twigs) they would set a doll on fire and drown in the river. There were of course many superstitions connected with that custom. One could not touch Marzanna after it had been drowned in the river (as he would be in danger of losing the hand), looking back on the way back could bring serious disease and stumbling or falling down could predict death within the next year.

Christianity would forbid this Slavic custom. In 1420 Polish clergy was advised not to allow the villagers to celebrate ‘drowning of Marzanna’. When that would not help, the priests would invent their own habit to replace Marzanna custom with it. On Wednesday preceding Easter holidays an effigy of Judas would be thrown down from church tower. But that would not help either to forget about ‘Drowning of Marzanna’ habit.

Nowadays the ritual is kept within schools and kindergartens. During field trips children perform with their teachers ‘Drowning of Marzanna’ to prepare warm welcome to Spring.” [3]

“‘It concerns the ‘drowning of Marzanna’, a large figure of a woman made from various rags and bits of clothing which is thrown into a river on the first day of the spring calendar. Along the way, she is dipped into every puddle and pond … Very often she is burned along with herbs before being drowned and a twin custom is to decorate a pine tree with flowers and colored baubles to be carried through the village by the girls. There are of course many superstitions associated with the ceremony: you can’t touch Marzanna once she’s in the water, you can’t look back at her, and if you fall on your way home you’re in big trouble. One, or a combination of any of these can bring the usual dose of sickness and plague.’  —Tom Galvin, “Drowning Your Sorrows in Spring”, Warsaw Voice 13.544, March 28, 1999″ [4]

Sources:

Stella. Gods and Goddesses, “Goddess Marzanna“.

Swiech, Barbara. BellaOnline: The Voice of Women, “Slavic goddess and Spring“.

Wikipedia, “Marazanna“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Rolek, Barbara. About.com, “The Drowning of Marzanna or Frost Maiden – Topienie Marzanny“.

Svätoslava. Slavorum: Perserving Slavic Heritage,Burning Morena“. (Fabulous background information, photos and videos about Burning of Morena).

Goddess Oniata

"One with Nature" by Lee Bogle

“Oniata’s themes are recreation and good sportsmanship.  Her symbols are early-blooming flowers and snow.  Oniata, an Iroquois Goddess, embodies what it means to be a good sport. According to legend She came to live with the Iroquois, who found Her beauty distracting, so much so that men left their families just to catch a glimpse of her radiance. When Oniata found out about this, rather than getting angry with the men, She left the earth. The only trace of Her beauty She left behind was the sprouting of spring flowers peeking out from melting snow.

Plant some early blooming seeds today so that when they blossom, Oniata’s good humor and temperament can also bloom in your life.

In Ottawa, Canada, people take this opportunity to enjoy the last remnants of winter by celebrating Winterlude and participating various sporting activities (especially skating) and by making snow sculptures. Try the latter activity yourself; perhaps create a flower out of packed snow to honor and welcome Oniata.

If you live in a warm climate, you can blend up some ice cubes to a snowy consistency for sculpting, and make it into a snow cone afterward to internalize the energy!

Or, consider going to an ice rink for a little rest and relaxation. Return outside and appreciate any flowers nearby. Oniata lives in their fragrance and loveliness.”

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

“Onatah (pronounced ‘oh-nah-TAH’) is the Iroquois Goddess of corn. She is the beloved daughter of Eithinoha, or Mother Earth. Her name actually means ‘Earth’s daughter’ or ‘of the earth.’ The Iroquois people are originally from what is now New York State. Along with beans and squash, corn was a major staple of their diet.

The story of Onatah is an interesting one. One day, Onatah was kidnapped by the Lord of the Underworld. Her mother became frantic, searching all over for Her. But She couldn’t find Her. She had no help, because the sun god was hibernating for the winter. While Onatah was missing, the crops failed to grow. When the sun god finally woke up, he joined the search and figured out where She was. He heated the ground until it split open, and Onatah was able to escape. With Onatah back, the earth flourished again.

But the spirits of the Underworld missed Onatah, and when the sun god fell asleep again, they recaptured Her. And so the story continues every year, over and over again. When Onatah is in the Underworld, nothing can grow. Spring will only come when She is rescued again.

Does this story sound a tad familiar? Reminiscent of a myth regarding a certain bride of Hades? Well, yes, it does sound remarkably like the story of Persephone and Hades. It stands to reason that every culture that lived in an area with four seasons probably has a story like this. Onatah’s is simply a variation of a theme.” [1]

“Another legend says that men, attracted by Oniata’s loveliness, fought over Her.  When the Iroquois women complained, Oniata explained that She never wished for men’s attentions.  To ensure that the men would return to their families, She left the earth, leaving behind only spring wildflowers.” [2]

Click here to read The Story of Oniata found in The Legends of the Iroquois as told by “The Cornplanter” © 1902.

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