Sunday, February 28, 2010

Goddess of the Week

Just shy of a year ago, on March 7th last, Gaea came up as card of the week. I considered it auspicious then, and I consider it so now, as She is a Goddess of fruitfulness, growth, and creativity; and as we ascend inevitably towards Spring in the north, Her appearance heralds the approaching growing season, as we, like Persephone, come out into the light.

She is Greek, and Her name means 'Earth'; She is the eldest of the Gods, sprung directly from primeval Khaos. She alone created the Heavens (Ouranos), the Mountains (the Ourea), and the Seas (Pontos); then with Ouranos She gave birth to the Titanes, and many other Deities besides. Her children are legion; They include Time (Khronos), Memory (Mnemosyne, Who would be mother of the Muses), Necessity (Ananke), the Fates (the Moirai), and many, many, more.

Gaea is also mother to innumerable monsters (such as the 'unmanageable' Ekhidna), Whom She loved and defended just as fiercely as Her more beautiful children; She knows They are an integral part of the whole, all necessary, and so all loved.

This week then promises to be very fruitful and creative. Things will start to come together, and momentum will build; and luxuriant growth will be all around. Now, I know, 'growth' is often a euphemism for painful experiences and the hard-won lessons learned from them; in this case I think we are talking about a genuinely gentle and good sort of growth. This is the kind of growth that feels like the first good, long, satisfying stretch after a season of hibernation. We are waking up, and starting to see signs of spring, up here at least; and probably the best advice I can give is to watch and observe the Earth at this time. That's good and grounding advice at any time, I know; but this week especially there are profound truths to be seen.

In the southern hemisphere it is perhaps a little more literal, in that it is fast approaching the autumnal equinox and the beginning of the harvest season; look around you to see what is coming to ripeness at this time.

Either way, this is a time of luxury, of lushness and richness, for Gaea is above all bountiful. Inspiration is everywhere, if you will look; and the life-force is strong and unstoppable. It is all a dense tangle of green.

What does She say?

Devote yourself to green.

I am everything. Everything you do involves me. Everywhere you go you rest on a part of My Body.

The problem lies in where and when you forget this. Remember this, and you will solve half your problems. Really. It is quite simple.

You are all My children, monsters and angels, creation and destruction. I am ever moving, ever changing, ever growing--and ever collapsing, ever rotting away to something else.

How do you honor Me? Simple things. Wear green. Pick flowers. Paint. Put your hands in the soil. Look up at the sky. Watch the Sun go down. And be at home.

References (of course!) from

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Look

Well that was not how I was planning on spending my Saturday afternoon. I figured that since I had to start the template from scratch I might as well give the blog a whole new look while I was at it. So here it is, in a late winter color scheme of fallow gold and shadowy blues, just in time for spring, ha. (Though I'm not sure I'm convinced about that masthead, it'll do for now.) The back background is a close-up of a mandala I made the other day from a photo of last year's dried-up bean vines and poles, of all things. Here's the original:

I may change it all on a whim next week.

Temporary Technical Difficulties

As you can see I accidentally bollixed up the template (as if anyone bollixes anything up on purpose). I played with the xhtml for a bit, but it's finicky; and since it's late I'm going to bed. It'll have to wait till tomorrow when my brain is (hopefully) working.

In the meantime, please stand by.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Goddess of the Week

The Taoist Goddess Ho Hsien-ku ("Immortal Woman He", also transliterated as He Xiangu) makes Her second appearance here as Goddess of the Week; last time was more than a year ago, the week of the American election in November 2008.

She is considered one of the Eight Immortals, Pa hsien or Ba Xian, an eclectic group of Deities Who were born mortal but Who each achieved immortality. Ho Hsien-ku was said to come by Hers by following an instruction She received in a dream to eat powdered mica or pearl; this She did upon waking, in time finding She had no need of regular food.

She was often shown with a lotus-flower, as I have depicted Her here; She can also be shown with a bamboo ladle filled with good things, mushrooms and peaches and bamboo or pine twigs. These are all things associated with good health and immortality, Her lotus flower in Taoist thinking representing spiritual unfolding and the heart. She is in some respects a healing Goddess, especially healing through plants or herbs: before She ascended to the heavens She was said to spend Her days gathering fruit and herbs to give to Her mother.

The Eight Immortals are said to bring good luck, prosperity, and longevity; and not surprisingly They are a very popular subject in art, often depicted in the act of crossing the Sea or having other adventures. They generally look like They are having a rollicking good time!

Sounds, then, like this week is blessed; fortune, prosperity, and health will all be on the upswing. Herbs, food, fruit--good, simple things may well be the key to healing at this time. Simple is I think the key. Make sure you are treating yourself well, and be aware it may well be something so simple it has been overlooked.

This may also be about hope, and fun, and adventure, and about bringing your individual strengths and skills to help solve a problem.

It sounds like a very excellent time to start a new project.

What does She say?

Coax your heart open. Let it blossom and unfold, gently, as the sun warms you. Gently, that is key. In your own time, and as the most gentle of reactions. Let your heart fall open, just a little.

Remember to be gentle with yourself.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Goddess of the Week

Nut, the ancient Egyptian sky Goddess, is this week's Goddess pick; this is Her first appearance here. As sky mother, She is said to swallow the Sun every night, and give birth to Him every morning. She was commonly depicted as blue-bodied (or in a blue dress) spangled with golden stars. She is in myth one of an older generation of Deities, and one of the Heliopolitan Ennead, a group of nine Deities Who feature in the creation myths local to the ancient city of Heliopolis (ancient Iunu).

In the Heliopolitan legends, the creator God Atum ('the All') emerged from the primeval waters of Nun; he then gave 'birth' to two more Deities, either by sneezing or masturbating (though it's interesting to note that in the latter case certain priestesses were known by the epithet of 'The Hand of the God', meaning, there just isn't any way to get around the fact that birth requires some kind of female presence); these two Deities were the God Shu (the air God, 'Dry' or 'Parched') and the Goddess Tefnut (the moisture Goddess, Whose name means just that, 'Moisture'). These two coupled, and as a result Tefnut gave birth to Geb (the earth God) and Nut (the sky Goddess, Who is named after a type of water-vase, perhaps representing the uterus).

Now, Geb and Nut loved each other very much, and they spent much of their time coupling. But the sun-God Re feared being overthrown by a new generation of Deities; so He had Geb and Nut forcibly separated by Their father Shu, the air. So Nut was lifted away from Geb (yes, She was on top) to become the arch of the sky. Geb, for His part, was inconsolable (He always struck me as rather a sweetie). But for Re that wasn't enough: paranoid like many despots are, He forbid Nut from giving birth at all.

Well, that wasn't going to work, certainly not for Nut, nor for the harmonious workings of the Universe; and so Thoth (Egyptian Tehuti), the God of wisdom, gambled with the Moon and won five new days to add to the year, which at that time was measured in twelve nice even months of thirty days each. So Nut was finally able to give birth to five major Gods of the Egyptian pantheon, Osiris (Au Sar, the God of resurrection), Isis (Au Set, Goddess of power), Nephthys (Nebet-het), Set (God of chaos and the desert), and the elder Horus (Heru, the falcon God).

Nut was regarded as a universal protective mother Goddess. Besides being the mother of Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Seth, and Horus the elder, She was in some ways considered the mother of the Sun, since She gave birth to Him every morning. Likewise She was sometimes thought to be the mother of the stars, as She (complementarily) swallowed them at daybreak, giving birth to them at evening. In this role She was compared to a sow, which are known for having large litters, as well as for sometimes eating their young.

This card this week then indicates a period of waiting, of a plan coming to fruition. It will come in its own time, like daybreak and babies do, and there is no use hurrying it. Prepare as best you can, and try to be patient as you keep on keeping on; but go easy on yourself, too, and give yourself what you need as you midwife this thing into the world. Trust, also, that it will work out fine, though you will probably want to keep alert and on your toes to your and its needs.

This could just be me up here in New England, but I am also connecting this with a certain impatience, one that is manifesting as When the Hel is Spring going to be here already? (Though I imagine that certain folks in the mid-Atlantic area are right there with me.) The answer, of course, is in due time.

So patience, then, and learning to appreciate and love the moment we are still in, is a big part of the lesson. This waiting time has its own beauty and wisdom, and it is still worth it to slow down, look it in the eye, and see what we can see.

Even if you're just too damned sick of snow.

Not that She gets much snow down in Egypt, I mean. What does She say, then?

Children. Go play. I am Light and Dark and Rhythm and Time, and I will take care of all of that. You need not worry. Do your own thing; believe it or not it is all in good hands, and the Wheel will turn whether there is a single Witch in the world or not; not, that is, that you are not a part of this splendid world, or that you do not belong here, or that you do not co-create the vibrancy and beauty of it all. But sometimes you just worry too much. Go play.

And kiss Geb for me.

She says that with such kindness.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Goddess of the Week

This week's Goddess is the Norse grain Goddess Sif. This is the third time She has come up, having last appeared in October, and before that, as close to an exact year ago as possible, on last February 7th.

Sif was famed for Her beauty and Her long golden hair; She is usually taken to be a Goddess of the grain because of this. By an unnamed first husband She had a son, Ullr, the God of winter and skiing, Who inherited Her beauty; Her second husband was Thor, the thunder God. She was said to be a prophetess.

She is mainly known for the tale in which Loki, the troublemaker of the Gods, sneaked into Her chamber one night as She slept and cut off all Her hair. When She woke She was extremely upset; and it didn't take even Thor very long to figure out Who was behind it. So He set to threatening Loki, Who promised a replacement head of hair; this He got from the dwarves with a bit of conniving. They made it out of actual gold; but when given to Sif it magically grew to Her head just like real hair.

Her story can be seen as an allegory of the golden grain that is cut at its peak of ripeness and beauty.

There is a rumor floating about that She once had an affair with Loki; however as this rumor was also started by the selfsame Loki take it for what that's worth.

So. We have a Goddess associated with autumn or late summer, the harvest-time, showing up the first week of February, just like she did a year ago. I mean fair enough, Her showing up in October; that makes sense as far as harvests go. But now? And a year ago exactly, too?

Well, She is the mother of Winter, after all, Her son being Ullr, Whose name means 'Glory'. But that's up here, in Her north. In the southern hemisphere they have just passed Lughnasadh, the first of the harvest-festivals; perhaps Her presence this week is a reminder that as one part increases another decreases, the whole being held in perfect, living, balance.

So, then, look to the hidden, the corresponding equal and opposite reaction to what is going on with you, the negative space surrounding you, the invisible piece that completes. It is there, or the shadow of it is there; see if you can't get a good look at it, now. It is important to recognizing the wholeness of the situation and yourself, and for feeling supported. What feels like it is missing now? It is there, though not where you might look for it.

Sif is literally the mother of glory. What glorious work is being birthed by you right now? What glorious things surround you that you have perhaps not acknowledged? The sun is getting noticeably stronger now, up here in the north; and sunlight on snow can be dazzlingly bright. The darkness is beginning to lose its grip, though the cold will certainly be around a space longer, at least up here in New England. Still, it is the time of the year when we can first make out the light at the end of the tunnel.

Use your inner sight to see if you can make out these shadowy forms the light is now beginning to shine upon. Peer deep within the winter to see the seeds of spring.

She is canny, and shrouded in white:

The world begins in ice, in cold, in winter. I am winter's mother; how old does that make me then?

I See it all because I am older than it all. I see the unseen, the spark struck off ice to make fire, the living warmth within the animal, the woman hidden within the tree, the family gathered around the fire. All waiting to emerge, to come into being. In time.

But first, winter.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And Another Poem for Bride

Funny, I had a terrible time choosing poems for this, the Fifth Annual Brighid in the Blogosphere Poetry Reading. I don't know much about poetry, and truth be told I don't get them most of the time, or at least I can't explain them. I suppose that is not the salient point, though--I know that some poetry gives me a chill, or brings tears to my eyes, even if I don't know why.

And so when I finally chose some poems for Bride here and posted them, I then shut the browser off (with some relief) and went to play a bit in Photoshop; but not until I put iTunes on. And there it was, this bit of prayerful exuberance:

Dame Fortune, by Andy Partridge

Jump for joy
Jump for joy

Dame Fortune smile
Ring my bell, lift your skirts
Pour down some fortune on me
Dame Fortune smile
Knock my door, doff your cap
Deliver milk for my tea

I've been throwing low numbers
On the dice of life
All the cards I turn scowl at me
Like my ex-wife

When nighttime falls
I'll need your net
To catch those brick-bats in

Dame Fortune smile
At my lottery, lass
Please won't you empty my bin

Dame Fortune smile
Tear a square from your dress
Give my front windows a clean
Dame Fortune smile
Let me borrow your bike
Bring home the bacon and beans

I've been pulling low numbers
From the hat of dreams
Drowning in the pools by simply
Picking rotten teams

When nighttime falls
We'll fix it up
I'll loan your safety pin

Dame Fortune smile
When they're spitting at me
Please bring all my washing in

I thank you

There it is, a bona fide invocation to old Fortuna, cleverly disguised as a pop song. I do love that man. You can hear him smiling as he sings.

(Hey, Hecate said song lyrics were okay. So there!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sappho for Bride's Day

Three poems, or fragments of poems, by Sappho, as another contribution to the Fifth Annual Brighid in the Blogosphere Poetry Reading. The last is to Aphrodite. From the Mary Barnard translation.


I have a small
daughter called
Cleis, who is

like a golden
I wouldn't
take all Croesus'
kingdom with love
thrown in, for her


I have no embroidered
headband from Sardis to
give you, Cleis, such as
I wore
and my mother
always said that in her
day a purple ribbon
looped in the hair was thought
to be high style indeed

but we were dark:
a girl
whose hair is yellower than
torchlight should wear no
headdress but fresh flowers


Leave Crete and come to us
waiting where the grove is
pleasantest, by precincts

sacred to you; incense
smokes on the altar, cold
streams murmur though the

apple branches, a young
rose thicket shades the ground
and quivering leaves pour

down deep sleep; in meadows
where horses have grown sleek
among spring flowers, dill

scents the air. Queen! Cyprian!
Fill our gold cups with love
stirred into clear nectar

For Bride

A traditional Gaelic verse to Bride, Who drives out the Cailleach, the Old Woman of Winter:

Chuir Bride miar ’s an abhuinn
La na Feill Bride
Is dh’ fhalbh mathair ghuir an fhuachd
Is nigh i basan anns an abhuinn
La na Feill Padruig
Is dh’ fhalbh mathair ghin an fhuachd

Bride put her finger in the river
On the Feast Day of Bride
And away went the mother who hatches the cold
And she bathed her palms in the river
On the Feast Day of Patrick
And away went the mother who breeds the cold

From the Carmina Gadelica, for the 5th annual Brighid in the Blogosphere Poetry Reading.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Goddess of the Week

Well here we are again, with Mary Magdalene, Who came up for the first time just three weeks ago; between Her and the permutations of Faerie, we seem to be caught in some kind of eddy.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Mary Magdalene was one of the disciples of Jesus, much beloved of Him and the first to see Him after His resurrection. She was often confused with Mary of Bethany and various other Marys of the Bible, so that it is a little hard to make out Her original story. In some traditions, Mary Magdalene is the one Who anointed Jesus with costly spikenard; in others, that was Mary of Bethany.

Mary Magdalene has accumulated a fair bit of extra-biblical legends, including one that had Her, two other Marys, and their servant Sarah arriving in the south of France. After converting all of Provence, Mary Magdalene retired to a cave in the hills near Marseille, where She lived as a hermit for thirty years until Her death. The cave is now called la Sainte-Baume ('the Holy Cave'), and is a pilgrimage site.

I guess the message this week is to keep digging, keep meandering, keep contemplating. Dig deeper, rework, practice variations on a theme; there is something there of great value that cannot be found in a surface search. Stay with this. It will prove rewarding.

It is still the season of darkness, though Imbolc is a holiday of finally being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel; this card this week I think reminds us that there are after all six more weeks of winter. There is still time to reflect, dream, and prepare the soil for the seeds we will plant. Do not be in too much of a hurry to quit the dark.

Pay attention to your dreams this week; to the spring welling up in the high, dark, cave. Look into those dark places, and see what is old and what is new there. Brush the leaf-mould aside and find the shoots of springtime's flowers, coming up at last into the air and the light.

She says:

I am the woman with the alabastron, the vase that holds the oil to anoint the new Dead. Something is newly dead. Bless it; let it go. Bury it, close it up in the Earth. It will be renewed. When it reemerges, tend to it. You will know how; this is women's work and craft, something deep in our bones. Act as priestess as it crosses and recrosses between that world and this. Watch with your eyes open.

And be yourself blessed.

I think it comes down to helping the Wheel turn. What do you think?