Tag Archive: war


Goddess Anahita

(This is another of the several Goddesses that Patricia Telesco makes a second entry on in her book.  You can view my previous entry on Anahita here.)

“Inanna” by Lisa Hunt

“Anahita’s themes are honor, love, fertility, pleasure and cleansing. Her symbols are water, lunar objects and colors and green branches.  Anahita is the Zoroastrian moon Goddess who shines upon the darkness in our lives, replacing loneliness with true love, barrenness with fertility and impotence with pleasurable unions. She is the Lady of Heaven, the flowing force of the cosmos, whose name means ‘Pure’. A traditional offering for Anahita is green branches, which represent Her life-giving power.

Today marks the birthday of Zoroaster, the founder of a religious sect that influenced the Magi of the Bible. Amidst Zoroaster’s pantheon we find this Goddess, radiating with the beautiful things of life, but only after a good ‘house cleansing’. Honor Her by washing your floors with pine-scented cleanser (i.e. green branches so her energies can purify the sacred space of home.) Afterward, light a white candle to represent Anahita’s presence therein. Add a simple invocation like this one:

‘Lady of Purity, Lady of Light, be welcome in my home and my heart.’

Purify yourself, too, so that Anahita’s passion can flow unhindered. Take a ritual bath, adding any woodsy aromatic to the water. As you wash up, say,

‘Anahita, carry the darkness away,
so my body and spirit may revel in your pleasures,
giving and receiving them equally.’

Then spend time with your loved one, letting nature take its course.”

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

“Morning Star” by Mahmoud Farshchian

Patricia Monaghan tells us that Anahita was called the “‘Immaculate one’, also called Ardvi Sura Anahita (‘humid, strong, immaculate one’), She was one of the ruling deities of the Persian Empire. Anahita embodied the physical and metaphoric qualities of water, the fertilizing force that flowed from Her supernatural fountain in the stars.  By extension She ruled semen – which flows forth and fertilizes  – and thus human generation as well as all other forms of earthly propagation.

A 4th century BCE depiction of Anahita, radiant and mounted on a lion, being worshipped by Artaxerxes II.

She originated in Babylonia, whence She traveled to Egypt to appear as an armed and mounted Goddess.  Her worship spread east as well; She became the most popular Persian deity, worshiped, it is said, even by the great god Ahura Mazda himself.  Nevertheless, Zoroaster did his best to ignore Anahita, although later writings reveal that the sage was specifically commanded by his male god to honor Her.

“Persian Pride” by Hojatollah Shakiba

In this tall and powerful maiden, Her people saw the image of both the mother and the warrior; She was a protective mother to Her people, generously nurturing them while fiercely defending them from enemies.  In statuary, Anahita was the ‘golden mother’, arrayed in golden kerchief, square gold earrings, and a jeweled diadem, wrapped in a gold embroidered cloak adorned with thirty otter skins. She was also described as driving through our world in a chariot drawn by four white horses that signify wind, rain, clouds, and hail.

‘Great Lady Anahita, glory and life-giver of our nation, mother of sobriety and benefactor of mankind,’ the Armenians called out to their beloved Goddess.  They honored Her with offerings of green branches and white heifers brought to Her sanctuaries.  They may have offered themselves as well; the traveler Strabo said that sacramental promiscuity was part of the honor due this rule of reproduction who ‘purifies the seed of males and the womb and milk of females.’

 

Healer, mother, and protector of Her people, She was worshipped throughout the Persian Empire for many centuries.  To the west She was said to be identical to Anat; the Greeks contended She was Aphrodite, when they did not claim She was Athena” (p. 45).

 

 

 

Sources:

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

 

 

Suggested Links:

Avesta — Zoroastrian Archives, “Angels in Zoroastrianism“.

Enkidu, Leah. Shrine, “Return of the Holy Prostitute“.

Iranpoliticsclub.net, “Persian Mythology, Gods and Goddesses“.

Langdon, S. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, January 1924, Vol. 56, Issue 01, “The Babylonian and Persian Sacaea1

Lindemans, Micha F. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Anahita“.

Milo. TeenWitch.com, “Anaitis Anahita“.

Nabarz, Payam. Iranian.com, “Anahita – Lady of Persia“.

Skakti156. Shaktiwomyn.com, “52 Goddesses – Week 1 – The Goddess Anahita“.

Wikipedia, “Anahita“.

Goddess Freyja

“Freyja” by Lisa Iris

“Freyja’s themes are devotion, strength, the sun, magic and passion. Her symbols are lions and strawberries.  In Nordic tradition, Freyja’s name means ‘lady’. Generally speaking, it is Her domain to care for matters of the heart. In mythology, Freyja is stunningly beautiful, a mistress to the gods and She appears driving a chariot pulled by cats. When saddened, Freyja cries gold tears, and She wears a shining golden necklace (alluding to some solar associations). Many people in northern climes credit Her for teaching magic to mankind.

In astrology, people born under the sign of Leo are energetic and filled with Freyja’s solar aspect. And, like Freyja, they are ardent, dynamic lovers. If your love life needs a pick-me-up, Freyja’s your Goddess to call on. Start with a bowl if strawberries and melted chocolate that you feed to your lover. Remember to nibble passionately while noting into Freyja’s sacred food! This will digest Freyja’s energy for lovemaking. Of you’re single, eat a few berries at breakfast to internalize self-love so more loving opportunities come your way.

To improve love in other areas of your life (the love of friends, live for a job or project, etc.), wear gold-toned clothing or jewelry today to emphasize Freyja’s solar powers. This will give you more tenacity, focus and esteem for whatever you’re putting your hands and heart into.”

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

“Freyja” by Kris Waldherr

In Norse mythology, Freyja is a Goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot driven by two cats, owns the boar Hildisvíni, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by Her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Along with Her brother Freyr, Her father Njörðr, and Her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), She is a member of the Vanir. Stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freja, Freyia, Frøya, and Freia.

“Norse Goddess Freja” by zoozee

Freyja rules over Her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin‘s hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr is Her hall, Sessrúmnir. Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use Her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make Her their wife. Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names. Freyja has numerous names, including GefnHörnMardöllSýrValfreyja, and Vanadís.

Freyja is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century; in several Sagas of Icelanders; in the short story Sörla þáttr; in the poetry of skalds; and into the modern age in Scandinavian folklore, as well as the name for Friday in many Germanic languages.

“Freyja” by Lindowyn

Scholars have theorized about whether or not Freyja and the Goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single Goddess common among the Germanic peoples; about Her connection to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain; and Her relation to other Goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the Goddesses GefjonSkaðiÞorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and IrpaMenglöð, and the 1st century BCE “Isis” of the Suebi. Freyja’s name appears in numerous place names in Scandinavia, with a high concentration in southern Sweden. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore Her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.” [1]

“Valkyrie” by TheBastardSon

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “far from the ancient Near East, home of the lustful warrior Anat, we find a Goddess who is virtually Her double: a Scandinavian mistress of all the gods who was also the ruler of death. Leader of the Valkyries, war’s corpse-maidens, this Goddess was also the one to whom love prayers were most effectively addressed.

The Goddess who gave Her name to the sixth day of our week, Freya was one form of the ‘large-wombed earth,’ another version of which Her people called Frigg the heavenly matron. Here was how Freya appeared to Her worshipers: the most beautiful of all Goddesses, She wore a feathered cloak over Her magical amber necklace as She rode through the sky in a chariot drawn by cats, or sometimes on a huge golden-bristled boar who may have been Her own brother, the fertility god Frey.

“Freyja” by mari-na

When Freya was in Asgard, the home of the deities, She lived on Folkvangr (‘people’s plain’) in a vast palace called Sessrumnir (‘rich in seats’). She needed such a huge palace to hold the spirit hordes She claimed on the battlefields, for the first choice of the dead was Hers, with leftovers falling to Odin. Like Persephone, the Greek death queen, Freya was also the spirit of the earth’s fertility; like Persephone too, Freya was absent from earth during autumn and winter, a departure that caused the leaves to fall and the earth to wear a mourning cloak of snow. And like Hecate, an alternate form of Persephone, Freya was the Goddess of magic, the one who first brought the power of sorcery to the people of the north.

“Freya” by Hrana Janto

Despite Her connection with death, Freya was never a terrifying Goddess, for the Scandinavians knew She was the essence of sexuality. Utterly promiscuous, She took all the gods as Her lovers – including the wicked Loki, who mated with Her in the form of a flea – but Her special favorite was her brother Frey, recalling Anat’s selection of Her brother Baʿal  as playmate. But Freya had a husband, too, an aspect of Odin named Odr; he was the father of Her daughter Hnossa (‘jewel’). When Odr left home to wander the earth, Freya shed tears of amber. But She soon followed Odr, assuming various names as She sought him: here She was Mardol, the beauty of light on water, there Horn, the linen-woman; sometimes She was Syr, the sow, other times Gefn, the generous one. But always She was ‘mistress,’ for that is the meaning of Her own name, and a particularly appropriate double entendre it proves in Her case” (p. 127 – 128).

 

 

ASSOCIATIONS:

General: Aurora borealis (the Northern Lights), snow, spindle, spinning wheel, wheel of fortune, sword, the full moon, floral bouquets, romantic music, and the day Friday (named in Her honor).

Animals: Geese, cats, pigs, falcons, cuckoos, sparrows, and horses.

Plants: Apple, alder, birch, bramble, cypress, elder, feverfew, mint, mistletoe, mugwort, rose, tansy, thyme, vervain, yarrow, and valerian.

Perfumes/Scents: Rose, sandalwood, cypress, myrtle, vervain.

Gems and Metals: Amber, rose quartz, ruby, citrine, pink tourmaline, emerald, red jasper, jade, malachite, moonstone, silver, gold, copper.

Colors: Red, black, silver, white, and green.     [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

Goddessgift.com, “Goddess Symbols: Freya“.

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

Wikipedia, “Freyja“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Ashtarcommandcrew.net, “Goddess Knowledge and Wisdom – Freyja“.

Blue, Nazarri. Order of the White Moon, “Freya“.

BraveHeart Women, “Goddess Freya“.

Daily Goddess, “Freya – Sexuality“.

Goddess-Guide.com, “Freya“.

Goddessgift.com, “The Goddess Freya“.

Heathwitch. Order of the White Moon, “Freyja: Lady of Magic, Sexuality and Battle“.

Jordsvin. Jordsvin’s Norse Heathen Pages, “Some Observations on the Goddess Freya“.

Kaldera, Raven. Northernpaganism.org, “Freya’s Shrine“.

Krasskova, Galina. Exploring the Northern Tradition, “Freya (Fréo)” (p. 93 – 96).

Krasskova, Galina. Gangleri’s Grove, “Deity of the Month Guest Contribution: A Lesson from Freya“.

Krasskova, Galina. Gangleri’s Grove, “A Ritual for Freya and Frey“.

LadyRavenMoonshadow. Sacredmistsblog.com, “Goddess of the Week: Freya“.

Maris. Marispai.huginnpress.com, “M is for Mardöll“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Freya: get back to your passion to get your passion back“.

Squidoo.com, “Freya“.

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

Valkyrietower.com, “Freyja – Goddess of Fertility“.

Wikipedia, “List of names of Freyja“.

Goddess Bellona

“Bellona – Goddess of War” by ~Anaxi

“Bellona’s themes are protection, victory, communication and strength. Her symbols are swords (or athame) and spears.  She who kindles the fire of the sun and the fire in the bellies of warriors, Bellona is both a mother and a battle Goddess, being the female equivalent of Mars with a distinct diplomatic twist. Those who call upon Bellona receive strategy, tactfulness and a keen sense of how to handle explosive situations effectively.

In ancient Rome, today was known as Tubilustrium in which Romans spent the day ritually cleansing their trumpets for battle and honoring the people who make the trumpets. In this part of the world, a horn not only signaled a charge but invoked the Goddess’s attention. So, for what personal battle(s) do you need to sound Bellona’s horn today? Find a horn with which to do just that (perhaps a kazoo or a piece of construction paper rolled to look like a megaphone). Shout your battle plans to Bellona so She can respond with all Her resources to help you.

If you use a sword, athame (sacred knife) or wand in magic, today is an excellent time to take out that tool and invoke Bellona’s blessing upon it. Oil and sharpen the blade, polish the wood, then hold it in your hand as if it were a weapon, say,

‘Bellona, see this implement of magic, which as any, has two edges – for boon and bane. May only goodness flow through this tool, and may I ever remain aware of the responsibility for its use. So be it.'”

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

Painting by Howard David Johnson

According to Patricia Monaghan, “Often described as a feminine shadow of the god Mars, Bellona was actually much more, for Her domain included the entire arena of conflict, diplomatic as well as military.  Ever Her name shows Her importance, for the Latin word for war, bellum, derives from Her name.

In the temple of this serpent-haired Goddess who bore a bloody lash, the Romans began and ended their military campaigns.  Before Bellona’s temple, Her priests began war by raising a ceremonial spear and hurling it into a section of ground that symbolized enemy territory.  When the war was finished, it was in Bellona’s temple that the Senate determined the best reward for the victorious generals.  And during peacetime, the Senate used Bellona’s temple to receive the ambassadors of countries in conflict with Rome.

When Roman divinities began to be identified with those of the countries Rome conquered, Bellona found Herself assimilating the Cappadocian Goddess Mah, a late form of the Sumerian Mami.  Both symbolized territorial sovereignty and both represented the armed conflict necessary to defend claims to rulership.  The Roman Goddess was called Mah-Bellona in the later days of the Roman Empire.  She was associated as well with Erinys (Furies) and with Discordia.” (p. 68)

Digital artwork by *Alayna

Thalia Took has this to say about Bellona: “Bellona is the Roman Goddess of War, closely associated with Mars, the Roman War-God. She is invariably His companion, although She can be called His wife, daughter, sister, or charioteer. Her origins are probably Sabine (an ancient tribe from the lands north-east of Rome), and the Claudii, a Sabine family, are credited with instituting Her worship. Her temple was built in the Campus Martius, the low-lying field by the Tiber consecrated to Mars, located outside of the city walls. The area around Her temple was considered to symbolize foreign soil, and there the Senate met with ambassadors, received victorious generals, and there war was officially declared. Besides Her temple was the columna bellica, or war column, representing the boundary of Rome. To declare war a javelin was thrown over the column by one of the fetialis, a type of priest involved in diplomacy, and this act symbolized the attack on a foreign land.

Bellona was believed to inspire a warlike frenzy and enthusiasm (much like that of the Norse berserkers), and Her earliest sacrifices are said to have been human. The worship of the Anatolian Goddess Ma, who is of a similarly martial nature, was brought to Rome by Sulla where She was assimilated to Bellona, and called Ma-Bellona. Her priests were called the Bellonarii, and during the rites to Ma-Bellona they mutilated their own arms and legs, collecting the blood to either drink or offer to the Goddess to invoke the war fury. In later times this act was toned down to become merely symbolic. These rites took place on the 24th of March and so accordingly that day was called the dies sanguinis (“day of blood”).

Bellona had several shrines and temples in Rome, though most are known only from inscriptions referencing them, as well as a temple in Ostia, the port city of Rome. In 48 BCE, a shrine to Ma-Bellona was accidentally destroyed when the demolition of the temples of Isis and Serapis in Rome was undertaken; within the ruins of the shrine were found jars containing human flesh, said to be evidence of the orgiastic nature of Ma-Bellona’s worship and to link it with the Egyptian religions, though how I’m not sure, unless perhaps the jars were functioning as the so-called canopic jars that housed the internal organs of the dead in Egyptian funerary practice.

Bellona is usually shown in a plumed helmet and armor, armed with sword and spear and carrying a shield; sometimes She carries a torch with a blood-red flame. She is described as loud and active, barking orders or war-cries, Her weapons clanging as She runs. She is credited with inspiring violence, starting wars, and goading soldiers into battle; Virgil described Her as carrying a bloodstained scourge or whip. She was believed to make wars and battles go well for those who invoked Her. Her name comes from the Latin for war, bellum, and Her original feast day was June the 3rd.

She is identified with Nerio and Vacum (both Goddesses of Sabine origin, like Bellona). Ma, or Ma-Bellona is a Goddess of Cappadocian origin (a region in Anatolia, modern Turkey) who was identified with the Italian Bellona, and for whom a separate temple was built in Rome.

“Bellona” by ~jeffsimpsonkh

Also called: Bellola, Duellona (from an earlier Latin word for war, duellum); Bellona Pulvinensis; Bellona Insulensis, from a shrine on the Tiber island. She is described as ‘dark Bellona, with bloody hand’, by Publius Statius (court poet to the Emperor Diocletian). Dollars to donuts She is the namesake of the ever-grouchy and rather hostile B’Elanna Torres from (Star Trek) Voyager.” [1]

Sources:

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

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Dictionary, “Bellona“.

Suggested Links:

Bar, Tala. Bewildering Stories, “Goddesses of War“.

Gangale, Thomas. The Temple of Bellona, “Bellona“.

Roman Myth Index, “Bellona“.

Theoi Greek Mythology, “ENYO: Greek Goddess of War“.

Wikipedia, “Bellona (goddess)

Wikipedia, “Temple of Bellona (Rome)“.

Goddess Macha

“Macha’s themes are victory, success, protection, fertility and fire. Her symbols are red items, the acorn and the crow.  Macha means ‘mighty one.’ Macha used Her potency to clear the land for wheat, giving Her associations with fertility. She also used Her might to protect the Celts’ lands agains invaders, thereby becoming a war Goddess and guardian. Art shows Her dressed in red (color abhorrent to evil) and with blazing red hair, forever chasing off any malevolence that threatens Her children’s success.

Bonfire Night in Scotland takes place around May 22 and is a festival that originally had strong pagan overtones, the fires being lit specifically for ritual offerings that pleased the Gods and Goddesses and invoked their blessings. Additionally, the bright, red fire looked much like Macha’s streaming red hair, and thus it banished any evil spirits from the earth. So don any red-colored clothing today, or maybe temporarily dye your hair red to commemorate this Goddess and draw Her protective energies to your side. Eating red foods (like red peppers) is another alternative for internalizing Macha’s victorious power and overcoming any obstacle standing in your way.

Or, find some acorns and keep them in a Macha fetish bag (any natural-fiber drawstring bag). Anytime you want her power to manifest, simply plant the acorn and express your wish to it. Macha’s potential is in the acorn, ready to sprout!”

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

The Morrigan

“Macha (pronounced MOCK-uh) is an Irish war Goddess, strongly linked to the land. Several Goddesses or heroines bear Her name, but She is generally thought of as one aspect of the triple death-Goddess the Mórrígan (the “Great Queen” or “Phantom Queen”), consisting of Macha ‘Raven’, Badb ‘Scald Crow’ or ‘Boiling’, and Nemain ‘Battle Fury’. Macha is associated with both horses and crows.

The Mórrígan is both sex and battle Goddess, and Her personality is usually described as both war-like and alluring. She is known to be a prophetess: the Washer at the Ford is said to be one aspect of Her, who appears to those about to die. She is commonly shown washing bloody clothes at a river ford; when approached, She tells the enquirer the clothes are theirs. Like the bean sidhe (banshee), who She is believed related to, She is an omen of death.

As Goddess of the land, the Mórrígan are said to be cognate with Ana or Danu, and Macha is said to be one of the Tuatha de Danann.

Three other aspects of Macha feature in Irish folklore, which likely derive from a common Goddess, as they are all said to have a mother named Ernmas (also considered to be the mother to Ériu, Banba, and Fódla, sacred names for Ireland). One Macha, a seeress, was the wife of Nemed ‘Sacred’, who invaded Ireland and fought the Fomorians in Irish legend. Emain Macha, a bronze-age hill fort in Northern Ireland, and legendary capital of Ulster, is said to have been named for Her.

The second Macha, titled Mong Ruadh (“red-haired”), was a warrior and Queen, who overpowered Her rivals and forced them to build Emain Macha for Her.

“Curse of Macha” by Stephen Reid

The third Macha, and probably the most well-known, was said to be the wife of Crunniuc. Like many supernatural lovers, She warns him to tell no one of Her existence; but he boasts to the king of Ulster that his wife can outrun the fastest chariot. The king then seizes the very pregnant Macha and forces Her to run a race, against Her protests. In spite of this, She does win, and as She crosses the finish line She gives birth. In Her dying pain and anger She curses the men of Ulster to nine times nine generations, that in their time of worst peril they should suffer the pain of childbirth.” [1]

The Goddesses of Ireland and their “fall” as Christianity spread into Ireland

“The Goddess was a ‘dual-natured female figure, beautiful and hag-like by turns in whose gift was great power’.  The Goddesses were especially depicted in three’s, such as Eriu, Banba, and Fotla, all Goddesses of sovereignty. In the 11th century, Ireland was often called Eire (a form of Eriu) and also called ‘the island of Banba of the women’. Goddesses were often hybridized by Roman and Greek influences, but this did not seem to obscure the native elements. For example, Julius Caesar likened one Celtic Goddess to Minerva, a classical deity. In fact, some Celtic Goddesses seemed to share certain of their characteristics. However, there were no Celtic Goddesses of love. There were Goddesses more often associated with fertility and the natural cycle of life, including death. Perhaps most importantly, the Goddesses represented creativity especially as it related to giving life, in all its aspects.

The female warrior Goddesses respect for death, as a natural part of life, which seemed in translate into ‘real’ life as well. This is best seen in the symbolic marriage between the king and the Goddess of sovereignty. This union was to ‘ensure fertility for the land and for his people in the year to come.’

“Triple Goddess” by Amy Swagman

The role of the Goddess in Celtic Ireland was important in to the inter-relatedness with human woman: ‘Since the source of life was so integrally associated with women, it would seem to follow that the origins of life were female. At times of joy or moments of pain, humans would turn to the Goddess who was honored in Her many guises’ (Condren). It would not seem strange then to worship a female deity and consequently treat her female subjects with respect and honor. Descent was also often traced through the mother and a strong emphasis was placed on the mother relationship. However, conservative scholars are quick to point out that the power did not entirely rest on women, rather the focus appears to be on women. Life was of tremendous value in what appears to be the most natural, physical sense. Hence the importance of the woman, Goddess or human.

‘Women were highly honored, female symbolism formed the most sacred images in the religious cosmos, and the relationship with motherhood was the central elements of the social fabric the society was held together by common allegiance to the customs of the tribe loosely organized around the traditions of the Goddess’ (Condren).

What appears to have dismantled this society was the warrior culture and the spread of Christianity into Ireland. The story of Macha is an instructive example of the ‘fall’ of the Celtic Goddess and in some sense the fall of the Celtic woman. Macha (Ulster Epona, the horse Goddess) marries Crunnchua mac Angnoman a rich widower. The two prosper together until one day, Crunnchua wishes to go to the annual assembly of the Ulsterman. Macha pleads with him not to go, but Crunnchua insists. While at the assembly, Crunnchua witnesses a horse race. Those in attendance with him, including the king himself, declare that none can run faster than these horses. Crunnchua knows that his wife can outrun these horses with no problem and decides to challenge the declaration. The king, angered at Crunnchua’s arrogance insists that Crunnchua bring Macha to them for a match. Macha comes reluctantly, but before doing so, pleads, ‘Help me, for a mother bore each of you. Give me, oh, King, but a short delay until I am delivered.’ Macha is pregnant.

“Macha” by Caroline Bradley

This request and the king’s subsequent refusal are striking reminders of the changes that took place not only in the Irish sagas such as this one, but also the changes in the societies that ‘authored’ such work that became, significantly, myth. The king’s ultimate responsibility was to allow the ‘creativity of women to prosper.’ Kings were to promise that no one would die in childbirth, food should grow plentifully, and the traditional dyeing (a woman’s art) would not fail. These promises were related to the ‘needs and concerns of women, and unless the king could be seen to take care of the cultural and fertility needs of the clan, symbolized by these women’s activities, the king would be overthrown’. The king as evidenced in this story, violated the promises he made and instead of being overthrown, is permitted to continue his reign with no apparent resistance from his constituents. This portrayal of Macha is actually the last of three major cycles. In the first She is a brilliant, strong mother-Goddess. In the second She is a helpless (but wise) wife, and the third She is relegated to an existence of shame and forced to abandon Her life-giving gifts, adapting to the new warrior ethos. This is how She had traditionally become associated with the three war-Goddess spiral, joining Badb and Morrigan. The appearance of the war-Goddess appears to develop as a result of the change in Celtic society to one of violence and paradoxically, Christianity.

“Gift of Peace to a War Goddess” by Portia St.Luke

Macha evolves into a warrior-Goddess as the simultaneously the status of women decline in societies constantly under attack, where emphasis is placed on death and bloodlust rather than on life and respect for death. With this, men began to feel threatened by women as well, by any force seen as competition. Importantly another aspect of the decline of Macha (and other Goddesses) was the Christian clerics who began to satirize the Goddesses because their patriarchal system of beliefs stood in direct contrast especially to the worship of a female deity. Goddesses were becoming as violent as the society that ‘created’ them. They were raped, murdered and often died in child birth.

Peter Berresford Ellis in his book, Celtic Women, Women in Celtic Society and Literature, concurs with Condren that Goddesses in literature were often raped, died in childbirth and their status was destroyed by the symbolism of the rape.

The Goddesses, however, gave birth to great men who would in turn become great warriors. Indeed, ‘the famous warrior society triumphed over the culture of the wise women’. Several sources consulted point to the war-Goddess as a symbolic adaptation to the culture who called on Her to wreak death and destruction. The war-Goddess is often portrayed too with a voracious sexual appetite. Ellis quotes Moyra Caldecott:

‘Her twin appetites for sexual gratification and for bringing about violent death are a travesty of the very necessary and natural forces of creation and destruction that keep the universe functioning and imbalance of which brings about disaster’. [2]

Wow…After reading this excerpt from the University of Idaho’s site, it all made so much more sense and brought it all home for me.  I had read in several books that stated that many peaceful agricultural societies worshipped a mother Goddess type deity(ies) who presided mainly over life cycles, vegetation, and agriculture; that it wasn’t until the invasions of the violent war-faring Indo-Europeans that “swept through Old Europe, the Middle East and India bring[ing] their priests, warriors and male gods of war and mountains” [3] with them that the Goddesses started becoming less important, more subservient and taking on more violent and warlike qualities.  Truly, this is not limited to the Celtic culture – look at Inanna for example; or Minerva who evolved from an Italic moon Goddess, into an Etruscan virgin Goddess of poetry, medicine, widsdom, commerce, weaving, dyeing, crafts, the arts, science and magic and later, the Romanized Goddess became associated with war.  Venus who originally was a vegetation Goddess and patroness of gardens and vineyards who had no original myths of Her own became associated with love, fertility and even war under the name Venus Victrix, the Goddess of victory in war.  And let us not forget how Goddesses like Inanna, Asherah and Lilith were demonized by the Abrahamic patriarchal religions for refusing to submit to them and their “all powerful” male deity.

“Morrigan” by Michael C. Hayes

I think it only appropriate to conclude with some words from Jani Farrell-Roberts, “Women often had to fight in the wars. They needed a Goddess of the Battlefield as did the men (thus their talk of heads being ‘the mast of Macha’) – and so grew the myth of the Morrigan into which the kinder harvest Goddess Macha was subsumed as part of a triple Goddess with Her two sisters, Badb and Morrigan. In Britain She was probably Morgan. The Morrigan however came to be hated by men who dreaded the female power She represented – so men tended to depict Her as a hag – or as three hags (perhaps as reflected in Shakespeare‘s Macbeth).

But in the old sagas Her role is much more that of the healer of the wounded and of the taker of the spirits of the dead into the next world. For example, Macha is depicted in these myths as the Sacred Cow whose milk is an antidote to the poison of weapons. She had become the Mother on the Battlefield.” [4]

ASSOCIATIONS:

Pantheon: Celtic

Element: Earth

Sphere of Influence: Protection and sex

Preferred Colors: Red, black

Associated Symbol: Raven

Animals Associated with: Raven, crow

Best Day to Work with: Monday

Strongest Around: Lughnasadh

Suitable Offerings: Acorns

Associated Planet: Moon      [5]

 

 

And now, a tribute to the great Goddess Macha and Her stories…

 

 
Sources:

Eisler, Riane. Iowa State University, “The Chalice and Blade“.

Farrell-Roberts, Jani. The Web Inquirer, “Macha, Brighid, the Ancient Goddess of Ireland“.

PaganNews.com, “Macha“.

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

University of Idaho, “Celtic Women: Myth and Symbol“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Aisling. Order of the White Moon, “Macha“.

AncientWorlds, “Epona“.

Bar, Tala. Bewildering Stories, “Goddesses of War“.

Jones, Mary. Maryjones.us, “Macha“.

Shee-Eire.com, “Macha“.

Skye, Michelle. Goddess Afoot!: Practicing Magic with Celtic & Norse Goddesses, “Macha” (p. 166 – 181).

Wikipedia, “Macha“.

Goddess Anahita

“Ishtar” by Lisa Iris

“Anahita’s themes are spring, relationships, equality, fertility and sexuality.  Her symbols are green branches and water.  This Babylon Goddess of fertility embraces the attributes of fruitful, warm waters that flow from the celestial realms into our lives, especially as the earth is renewed. Her name translates as ‘humid immaculate one’, and art shows Her a a strong maiden who creates life and pours blessings. During the height of Babylonian civilization, She was also the patroness of civic prostitutes.

Sacaea – this day marked the Babylonian new year, during which time heaven and earth were considered married. Therefore, this is an excellent date to plan a wedding, hand fasting, or engagement, or just to spend time with someone you hold dear. Bring them a small green branch from a tree to extend Anahita’s love and equality into your relationship.

Traditional roles are often reversed today to emphasize fairness between people. So, if you’re normally passive in your interactions, become a little more aggressive. As you do, feel how Anahita’s passion and energy flow through you.

To increase passion or sexual confidence, take a warm bath before meeting your partner. Perhaps add some lusty aromatics to the water (cinnamon, vanilla, mint or violet) to put you in the right fame of mind. Let Anahita’s waters stimulate your skin and your interest, then enjoy!”

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

“Anahita” by Vaezi

One of the earliest of the Great Mothers, Anahita was the ancient Persian Goddess of water, fertility, and patroness of women, as well as a Goddess of war.  She embodied the physical and metaphorical qualities of water, especially the fertilizing flow of water from the fountain in the stars; thus She ruled over all the waters – rivers, streams, lakes, and the sea, as well as the life-giving fluids of mankind, such as semen and mother’s milk. Rivers and lakes were sacred to Her, as they were thought to be the waters of birth. She is depicted as a beautiful young virgin with full breasts. She is dressed in golden robes complete with jewels and a halo crown or diamond tiara, sometimes carrying a water pitcher. Her name means “the immaculate one” and She was viewed as the “Golden Mother” and also as a warrior maiden. The dove and the peacock are Her sacred animals. Anahita is sometimes regarded as the consort of Mithra.

 Anahita She was very popular and is one of the forms of the ‘Great Goddess’ which appears in many ancient eastern religions (such as the Syrian/Phoenician Goddess Anath).  She originated in Babylon and spread throughout Asia Minor, India and to Kemet (ancient Egypt), where She was depicted as an armed and mounted Goddess. The Greeks associated Anahita with Athena, Aphrodite and even Artemis.

In the Middle East, She was associated with Anat. Worship of Anahita spread to Armenia, Persia, and various parts of western Asia. Zoroaster was specifically commanded by his male god to honor Her. When Persia conquered Babylonia (in the 6th century BCE), Anahita began to show some similarities with the Goddess Ishtar. She was identified with the planet Venus, showing how She was possibly descended from Ishtar, the chief Goddess of the region in the pre-lndo-European era. Anahita was also the patroness of women and the Goddess of war who rides in a chariot drawn by four white horses representing wind, rain, clouds, and hail.

Statue of Anahita riding a chariot in Fouman-Gilan, Iran. Chariots figure prominently in Indo-Iranian mythology. Chariots are also important in Hindu and Persion mythologies, in which deities are portrayed as charioteers.

Her cult included the practice of temple prostitution. During the reign of King Artaxerxes (436-358 BCE) many temples were erected in Her honor; in Soesa, Ecbatana, and in Babylon.  Ritual prostitution occurred in Her temples in order to “purify the seed of males and the womb and milk of females,” according to Strabo. Armenians called out to Anahita “Great Lady Anahita, glory and life-giver of our nation, mother of sobriety, and benefactor of humanity.”

“Anahita” by Trashcn

Along with Mithra and Verethragna,  She lost much of Her power during Zoroastrian period but She did not completely disappear.  She became known as an important Yazata (‘adorable ones’, a created spiritual being, worthy of being honored or praised; ever trying to help people, and protect us from evil), Aredvi Sura Anahitaliterally meaning ‘strong, immaculate Anahita’, female Yazad personifying water; also known as Aban Yazad. She resides in the starry regions. Her hymn is preserved in Yasht 5.

 

 

 

Sources:

Avesta — Zoroastrian Archives, “Angels in Zoroastrianism“.

Langdon, S. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, January 1924, Vol. 56, Issue 01, “The Babylonian and Persian Sacaea1

Lindemans, Micha F. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Anahita“.

Milo. TeenWitch.com, “Anaitis Anahita“.

Wikipedia, “Anahita“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Enkidu, Leah. Shrine, “Return of the Holy Prostitute“.

Iranpoliticsclub.net, “Persian Mythology, Gods and Goddesses“.


Goddess Minerva

“A Song for Athena” by Elfin-Grrl

“Minerva’s themes are earth and home.  Her symbols are owls, snakes, olive trees and geraniums.  This Etruscan/Italic Goddess blended the odd attributes of being a patroness of household tasks, including arts and crafts, and also being the patroness of protection and of war. Today She joins in pre-spring festivities by helping people prepare their lands for sowing and embracing the figurative lands of our hearts, homes and spirits with Her positive energy.

In ancient times, this was a day to bless one’s land and borders. Gifts of corn*, honey and wine were given to the earth and its spirits to keep the property safe and fertile throughout the year. In modern times, this equates to a Minerva-centered house blessing.

Begin by putting on some spiritually uplifting music. Burn geranium-scented incense if possible; otherwise, any pantry spice will do. Take this into every room of your home, always moving clockwise to promote positive growing energy. As you get to each room, repeat this incantation:

‘Minerva, protect this sacred space
And all who live within
By your power and my will
The magic now begins!’

Wear a geranium today to commemorate Minerva and welcome Her energy into your life.”

* 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.

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

Minerva (EtruscanMenrva) was the Roman Goddess whom Romans from the 2nd century BCE onwards equated with the Greek Goddess Athena. She was the virgin Goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, dyeing, crafts, the arts, science, and magic.  She is also believed to be the inventor of numbers and instruments.  She is often depicted with Her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva“, which symbolizes Her ties to wisdom.

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess Meneswā ‘She who measures’, the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, Menerwā, thereby calling Her Menrva.  Menrva was part of a holy triad with Tinia and Uni, equivalent to the Roman Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva. Extrapolating from Her Roman nature, it is assumed that in Etruscan mythology, Minerva was the Goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of Her father, Jupiter. It is possible that such a Goddess was “imported” to both Greece and Italy from beliefs originating in the Near East during the extreme antiquity. The very few extant Lemnian inscriptions suggest that the Etruscans may have originated in Asia Minor, in which case subsequent syncretism between Greek Athena and Italic Minerva may have been all the easier.

As Minerva Medica, She was the Goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, She was worshipped at Luceria in Apulia where votive gifts and arms said to be those of Diomedes were preserved in Her temple.

“Athena” by InertiaK

Her worship as a Goddess of war encroached upon that of Mars. The erection of a temple to Her by Pompey out of the spoils of his Eastern conquests shows that by then She had been identified with the Greek Athena Nike, bestower of victory. Under the emperor Domitian, who claimed Her special protection, the worship of Minerva attained its greatest vogue in Rome. [1]

In Fasti III, Ovid called Her the “Goddess of a thousand works.” Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did She take on the warlike character shared by Athena. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in Britain, for example, She was conflated with the local wisdom Goddess Sulis.

The Romans celebrated Her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day which is called, in the neuter plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, an artisans’ holiday. A lesser version, the Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the flute-players, who were particularly useful to religion.

In 207 BCE, a guild of poets and actors was formed to meet and make votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on the Aventine hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.

Minerva was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, at the Temple of Minerva Medica, and at the “Delubrum Minervae” a temple founded around 50 BCE by Pompey on the site now occupied by the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva facing the present-day Piazza della Minerva. [2]

Visit Roman Empire & Colosseum, Myths About the Roman Goddess Minerva and Theoi Greek Mythology, Athena Myths sites to read Her myths and stories.  Also see Roman Myth Index, Minerva, Roman Mythology Index.

Goddess Banba

Banba is the Celtic Goddess of the spirit of Ireland. She is one of the Tuatha de Danaan.

“Banba’s themes are protection. Her symbol is soil. A Celtic war goddess, Banba extends safety to those who follow her, wielding magic in their support. In Irish tradition, she protected the land from invaders. As a reward for her sorcery’s assistance, Banba’s name became linked with ancient poetic designations for parts of Ireland. Interestingly enough, Banba translates as ‘unploughed land’, meaning it is left safe and untouched to grow fertile.
Considering crime and other societal problems, a little extra protection from Banba seems like something we could all use year-round. Think of your home and possessions as the ‘land’ she guards. Gather a pinch of dirt from near your residence, take it inside, and keep it in a special spot. Light a candle (white is good) near this anytime you feel you need Banba’s diligent sheltering.

On this day the Scots burn a pole attached to a barrel of tar (a Clavie) and take it around town to banish evil influences, especially magical ones. The Clavie’s remaining ashes are gathered by people as an anti-curse amulet. In keeping with this custom, burn a small bit of wood (perhaps oak) on a safe fire source. As it burns, recite an incantation like this:
‘Banba, burn away negativity, burn away mal-intent
Let the energy return from where it was sent.’

Keep the ashes as an anti-negativity talisman.”

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

For more information on Banba and her sisters Eriu and Fodla who make up their powerful triad, click here.

There are claims that this Banba may have been worshipped as Macha which would’ve given her associations with war as claimed by Seathrún Céitinn.

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