Tag Archive: underworld


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“.

Lara

“Lake of Eternal Blood” by TheChild13

“Lara’s themes are peace, death and protection.  Her symbols are roses, violets, wine and crossroads.  Lara, whose name means ‘mother of the dead’, was the guardian of ancestral spirits in whose care is the home, the family and by extensions, the community. According to tradition, crossroads are sacred spots for Lara, being the meeting of two roads, symbolic of an area where the temporal world and spirit world ‘cross’ over one another.

In Rome, Parentalia was part of a weeklong observance dedicated to one’s ancestors. So, pull out the scrapbooks, discuss your family tree and fondly remember those who have been a part of your family history. If possible, light a white candle in one of your windows to greet the ancestors and Lara. Or, leave an empty chair at your diner table tonight with some of the deceased’s favorite foods in the empty place at the table to welcome them and Lara into your home.

This is also a time to visit grave sites, leaving roses, violets, wine and other gifts for the deceased. These actions propitiate the spirits and ensure the family of ongoing harmony through the year.

Finally, Romans settled any arguments with family members or friends today, so follow their example. If you can, arrange to meet the person with whom you’ve argued at a crossroads, so that your two minds can ‘meet in the middle’. Scatter rose or violet petals when you meet to inspire Lara’s warmth.”

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

“River Nymph” by Selene Blackthorn

Lara, (also known as Larunda, Larunde and Mater Larum) was a naiad or a nymph and was the daughter of the river Almo.  The only known mythography attached to Lara is little, late and poetic coming to us from Ovid’s Fasti. Lara was was famous for both beauty and loquacity (a trait Her parents attempted to curb).

“Blood and Roses” by SamBriggs

She was incapable of keeping secrets, and so revealed to Jupiter‘s wife Juno his affair with Juturna (Lara’s fellow nymph, and the wife of Janus); hence Her name is connected with lalein. For betraying his trust, Jupiter cut out Lara’s tongue and ordered Mercury, the psychopomp, to take Her to Avernus, the gateway to the Underworld and realm of Pluto. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to Her on the way; this act has also been interpreted as a rape. Lara thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods, who were as silent and speechless as She was. However, She had to stay in a hidden cottage in the woods so that Jupiter would not find Her.

Larunda is likely identical with Dea Muta “the mute one” and Dea Tacita “the silent one”, nymphs or minor Goddesses. [1][2][3]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Took, Thalia. Thaliatook.com, “Acca Larentia“.

Wikipedia, “Larunda“.

Wikipedia, “Mother of the Lares“.

Goddess Iyatiku

"Corn Dawn Mother" by Marti Fenton

“Iyatiku’s themes are Earth, the harvest, providence, health and weather.  Her symbols are corn, beans, seeds and soil. Iyatiku is the Pueblo corn and underworld Goddess who protects not only future crops but the future in general by safeguarding children. During the early months of the year, Iyatiku extends arms of compassion to embrace us with nurturing support, just as the earth nurtures seeds.

If you have a garden, today is an excellent time to dance on the land and invoke Iyatiku’s blessings on your crops or flowers. The Pueblo and Hopi Indians have spirit dancers waltz around the land to instill the crops with energy through sacred movements.

The Hopi also plant beans on top of underground ritual rooms called kivas, which house Iyatiku’s nurturing energy. When children go into kivas for rites of passage, they emerge as adults thanks to the Goddess’s care and guidance within.

Using this symbolism to foster maturity or any other of Iyatiku’s attributes today, go today to some place close to the earth, taking a bean with you. Plant the bean, then sit on top of the ground covered with a blanket (a mock cave/ womb/ kiva). Meditate here, focusing on the bean, the rich earth below you and the earth’s generative energy. Allow Iyatiku to meet you in this sacred space and begin manifesting what you most need.”

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

Iyatiku is the corn Goddess of the Keresan Puebloes. From shipap, Her underground realm, mankind first ermerged, from there infants today are born and tither go the dead. To provide food for them, She plants bits of her heart in fields to the north, west, south, and east. Later the pieces of Iyatiku’s heart grow into fields of corn. The Cochiti Puebloes regard Mesewi as the hero who had led the ancestors of the tribe out of shipap. [1]

Click here for further information on Her titles and variants.

Goddess Proserpina

"the Kore" by guterrez

“Proserpina’s themes are divination, protection and purification. Her symbols are candles, corn (corn is the name for whatever cereal grain is in common use. The Roman cereal crops were wheat and barley, and they also used millet) and pomegranates.  In ancient Roman mythology, Ceres (an earth and vegetation Goddess) sought her daughter Proserpina, in the Underworld where Pluto held Her captive. During this time nothing grew on the earth. As she searched, Ceres illuminated the darkness of Pluto’s realm with candles, this indicates a time of soul-searching, of finding any dark corners in our spiritual lives and filling them with purity and light. In works of arts, Proserpina is depicted as a young, lovely corn Goddess. In Greek stories She’s known as Persephone.

In magical traditions, people light candles in the Yule log today, giving strength to the sun and chasing away some of the figurative dark clouds that winter left behind. If candles aren’t prudent, turn on every light in the house for a few minutes for a similar effect. Do not burn the Yule log, however, keeping it intact protects your home from mischief.

Another traditional activity for Candlemas is weather divination, which we commonly recognize on this day as Groundhog Day.

So, get up and look out the window! Poor weather portends a beautiful spring and a mild, enjoyable summer. Snow today foretells twelve more snowfalls before April 22 (Saint George’s Eve).”

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

Proserpina is an ancient goddess whose story is the basis of a myth of Springtime. She is the Roman equivalent of Persephone. She was subsumed by the cult of Libera, an ancient fertility goddess, wife of Liber.

Her name comes from proserpere meaning to emerge. She is a life-death-rebirth deity.

She was the daughter of Ceres and Jupiter, and was described as a very enchanting young girl.Venus, in order to bring love to Pluto, sent her son Amor to hit Pluto with one of his arrows. Proserpina was in Sicily, the land over which She was Matron, at the fountain of Aretusa near Enna, where She was playing with some nymphs and collecting flowers on the banks of Lake Peregusa, when Pluto came out from the volcano Etna with four black horses.

"Rape of Persephone" by James Childs

Notably, Pluto was also Her uncle, being Jupiter’s (and Ceres’s) brother. He abducted Her in order to marry Her and live with Her in the Underworld, of which he was the ruler.  She is therefore Queen of the Underworld.

Her mother Ceres, the Goddess of cereals or of the Earth, vainly went looking for Her in any corner of the Earth, but wasn’t able to find anything but a small belt that was floating upon a little lake (made with the tears of the nymphs).

"Demeter - Painful Mother" by Umina

In desperation Ceres angrily stopped the growth of fruits and vegetables, bestowing a malediction on Sicily. Ceres refused to go back to Mount Olympus and started walking on the Earth, making a desert at every step.

Worried, Jupiter sent Mercury to order Pluto (Jupiter’s brother) to free Proserpina.

Pluto obeyed, but before letting Her go, he made Her eat six pomegranate seeds (a symbol of fidelity in marriage) so She would have to live six months of each year with him, and stay the rest with Her mother. So this is the reason for Springtime: when Proserpina comes back to Her mother, Ceres decorates the Earth with welcoming flowers, but when in Fall She has to go back to the Underworld, nature loses any color.

For more information on Proserpina and Her myths and stories, visit Proserpina, Goddess of Sicily and Myths About the Roman Goddess Proserpina.

Spider Woman

"Spider Woman" by Susan Seddon Boulet

“Spider Woman’s themes are magical charms and growth.  Her symbols are spiders and woven items.  Spider Woman appears in the myths of the south-western Native Americans as a resourceful helper who spins magical charms and each person’s fate. No matter what problems or obstacles you face, Spider Woman creates the right network of energy to put you on the road toward accomplishment.

In metaphysical traditions, all life is seen as a network within which each individual is one strand. Spider Woman reveals the power and purpose of each strand psychically and keeps you aware of those important connections in your life. To augment this, get a Native American dream catcher, which looks like a web, and hang it over your bed so Spider Woman can reveal her lessons while you sleep. Or, carry a woven item with you today. It will strengthen your relationship with this ancient helpmate and extend positive energy for success in all you do.

 In Mexico, the Native Americans perform the Hikuli dance today, searching for peyote for their religious rites. As part of this ceremony, worshippers dance to reach altered states of awareness, honor the ancestors and help crops to grow. So, if your schedule allows, put on some music and boogie! Visualize a web as you move, and empower your future path with the sacred energies of Spider Woman’s dance.”

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

“Grandmother Spider is an important Goddess amongst the many Native American tribes.  They call Her the “Great Teacher” and “The Creator of Life”.  She has also been called ‘Spider Woman’ which is a metaphor for She who creates from a central source. Her webs represents the matrix of our societies.  She is the guardian of everything that exists on Earth and uses Her magickal power to weave the fabric of time.  Although She can occasionally be destructive, She is almost always portrayed the beneficent Goddess who created everything that there is with Her thoughts and dreams.  It is She who brought the sun and the fire; She taught pottery, weaving, and the making of ceremonial magic.  She created the Moon.

Her legends are a part of the creation mythology for several southwestern tribes including the Hopi, Pueblo, and Navajo.  One myth says that in the beginning of time only two beings were in existence…Tawa, the Sun God, who held all the powers from above, and Grandmother Spider, the Earth Goddess, with all the powers from below.

It was Tawa who imagined all of the creatures of Earth and Grandmother spider who turned these thoughts into living things.  And, for every person She created, She spun a fine line of spider silk that She attached to their heads so they would always be connected to Her and have access to Her wisdom and Her teachings. And for as long as they kept the doorway from the top of their heads open, to let the spider silk in, they would be protected by Her.” [1]

The legend of Spider Woman in the Americas goes back to Pre-Columbian times. In fact, as far back as the Maya, Olmec, and pre-Toltec civilizations. Teotihuacan is an archaeological site in Mexico, and early city there, that existed from about 200 BCE until the 7th or 8th century CE (AD).  The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan (or Teotihuacan Spider Woman) is thought to have been a Goddess of the underworld, darkness, the earth, water, war, and possibly even creation itself. To the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, the jaguar, the owl, and especially the spider were considered creatures of darkness, often found in caves and during the night. The fact that the Great Goddess is frequently depicted with all of these creatures further supports the idea of her underworld connections.  However, we know Her to be a goddess of both creation and destruction. It is possible that Coatlicue is a later version of this Spider Woman. Coatlicue is the Aztec Goddess who gave birth to the Sun and the Stars, and is the patron goddess of women who die in childbirth. She is also the giver of death, by Her knife that cuts the cords or strand of the Web that ties one to the Web of Life. She gives life, and She takes life. [2]

In many murals, the Great Goddess is shown with many of the scurrying arachnids in the background, on her clothing, or hanging from her arms. It has been concluded that the figures in these murals represented a vegetation and fertility Goddess that was a predecessor of the much later Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal. The Great Goddess is often seen with shields decorated with spider webs, further suggesting her relationship with warfare. Her nosepiece is the single most recognizable adornment of the deity, finalizing her transformation into the arachnid-like goddess.

Mural from the Tepantitla compound showing what has been identified as an aspect of the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, from a reproduction in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

In the Tepantitla and Tetitla murals, the Great Goddess wears a frame headdress that includes the face of a green bird, generally identified as an owl or quetzal.  She is shown among several spiders and with a yellow body coloration, further distinguishing Her from other Mesoamerican deities. Her single most distinguishing feature is a nosepiece consisting of a rectangular bar with three circles. Immediately below this bar hang three or five “fangs”. The outer fangs curl away from the center, while the middle fang points down.

In the depiction from the Tepantitla compound, the Great Goddess appears with vegetation growing out of her head, perhaps a world tree or hallucinogenic morning glory vines.  Spiders and butterflies appear on the vegetation and water drips from its branches and flows from the hands of the Great Goddess. Water also appears to be flowing from her lower body. It was these many representations of water that led Caso to declare this to be a representation of the rain god, Tlaloc. [3]

If you’re interested in researching Spider Woman further, I highly suggest visiting Michelle Phillip’s site, Sacred Spirituality and read Spider Woman and Spider Symbolism.  It packed full of great information, how Spider Woman has had an impact on her life, links to Spider Woman’s many stories and Native American lore.

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