Friday, October 31, 2008

Blessed Samhain

Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and the Dead are within arm's length, as it were, is traditionally an excellent time for divination; and so I thought I'd post this particular card layout of mine, as it's appropriate for readings done tonight.

Death Spread

This spread is for dealing with change and recognizing your initial reactions to it.

Shuffle the deck and lay out the cards per the diagram above.

Card 1: This card is the change, the Death. This is the sun setting, the inevitable force that cannot be stopped or slowed.

Cards 2, 3 and 4: These cards represent things that have died, aspects of yourself that are gone or have been cut off. They can represent your innocence, ignorance, blind faith, control, or something in its bloom. Name them.

Card 5: This card represents the person you were before, that which you no longer are.

Card 6: This card represents you in response to the change, ways to mourn or sorrow to acknowledge before you can go on. Also acceptance or ways toward acceptance.

Now, if you're below the equator and actually celebrating Beltaine today, (lucky you! It's my very favoritest holiday ever, O yes it is!) you'll probably want this spread instead; and for those of you who are curious, here's the link to my Tarot page, where you'll find plenty of other card layouts, including one for each Major Arcana card. You're bound to find something that fits your situation on this night of introspection and retrospection.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Goddess of the Week

This week's Goddess card is Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed in Islamic legend. She is, properly, a historic figure around Whom a certain amount of saintly or divine qualities have accrued; and She is much revered in Islam, especially in Shi'ite tradition.

She was the only one of Mohammed's children to have surviving offspring; and the Fatimid Dynasty of the 10th-12th centuries claimed descent from Her (there are now, by some accounts, millions of people who trace their lineage back to Her). She is famous for passionately fighting for both Her husband's claim to the caliphate, and for Her own right to inherit Her father's property after his death. She died young, after suffering a miscarriage, a few months after Her father.

She spent Her last days mourning both Her father and Her two sons, who had been killed by a rival faction. She is known for Her tears and Her compassion, and it is said She will intercede on the behalf of women sinners on the Day of Judgment.

The hamsa, which in Arabic means "five" is a hand-shaped charm common to both Jewish and Islamic culture which is associated with Her, and so sometimes called "the Hand of Fatima." It is said to protect against the evil eye and likely predates both religions.

She has many titles, especially among the Shi'ites; and some of them are more than a little suspicious when viewed through a, hmm, Goddessy lens, shall we say. She is called the Mistress of Waters, and is said to have been able to perform miracles, one of which involved the use of Her "luminous veil" which resulted in the conversion to Islam of an entire clan of Jewish people. One of Her most common titles is al-Zahra, "The Luminous One;" another is Umm Abiha, "Mother of Her Father," both of which point towards Divinity; and reverence of Her may have ties with worship of an earlier Moon Goddess, though it is hard to say.

Now, this week is the week that includes Samhain, the end of one cycle and the beginning of another; and after all the darkness of the past few readings I thought this card offered some real hope. I have depicted Fatima here as a compassionate healer, about to use those famous hands of Hers. And in researching this post I found out that the hamsa (chamsa in Hebrew) amulet has been adopted by some Middle Eastern peace activists as a symbol of common ground between Muslims and Jews.

So with that as theme, I'd like to think this coming week will see calmness and understanding settling among people; or, given that the US elections are very close now and that now is not usually the time for the campaigns to be ratcheting down the rhetoric, perhaps She is calling for us to be voices of peace, healing and understanding, especially towards our Muslim compatriots, who have been directly and indirectly dissed an awful lot recently, what with the pot-shots being taken at Barack Obama of the middle name Hussein.

When I asked Her What do You have to say to the world at this time? She said:

Remember peace and understanding. The wheel is heavy, and turned by Fate now; events are large. You will be in need of cool heads and voices of reason and understanding; be that voice.

Well, that sounds to me like things are not necessarily going to get any calmer in the near future, unfortunately (though I am not surprised); the best we can do now I guess is try to be a calming influence.

What do you think?

On the Twenty-Seventh Day of Hallowe'en

I've up and donated a framed tile, much like the one shown here, to be given away as part of Mrs. B's Thirty One Days of Hallowe'en Contest. It's slated to be given away on the 27th, Monday. So get on over there and enter on Monday! For that matter get on over there and enter today; she gives away a couple of sweet things every day, up until Hallowe'en.

The tile is from my Cat and Cauldron store, and the thing measures six inches square; the tile inside is just over four inches square. If you win, I'll send you the tile in whatever design you like; it doesn't have to be Athena. There are plenty of Goddesses and Gods to choose from; still, if you don't see the one you like on a tile (as they require different graphics than most of the other products I haven't done all of them yet), just let me know and I'll Photoshop it up.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Forwarding Kindness

From Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, Mrs. B (of the famous 31 Days of Hallowe'en contest, in which she gives away a prize or two a day; there are still nine days left to win something, so get on over there and play!) is participating in a Pay it Forward meme. This one is a bit different from the "Random Six Things" meme, or the "Something You Don't Know About Me" meme or the "What's Your Soap-Opera Name" meme in that the condition is forwarding acts of kindness to others. Which is, in general, a good thing to be doing anyway, but if we can all give the Wheel a little bit of an extra spin in that direction perhaps we can get a kind of "kindness momentum" going.

Now, first of all, you have to have a blog to participate in this. The rules, or guidelines for those of us who dislike rules (that would include me):

Three people sign up in comments, and those three receive some sort of kindness from me. Those three people then blog about it at their place and offer the same to the first three people who sign up, who blog about it at their place, and offer kindnesses to the next three, &c., &c., &c., until the Kindness Revolution is unstoppable due to Newton's Second Law, where f=ma.

Now the act of kindness can be whatever you like; it can be a little gift you mail to someone, or it can be something more intangible; whatever fits your circumstances, budget, or personality. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant, certainly; just something to put a smile on a stranger's face.

So what I'm going to give to the first three people who sign up below is a three-card reading with my Goddess Oracle Deck. Leave your email and a link to your blog; I will give the reading via email after your own Pay It Forward post is up at your place. Oh and in your blog post link back to this post, if you could.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ravings of a Frustrated Wannabe Scholar

I was a scholar in a past life, I really think I was; but in this one I'm just an artist. I make no bones (I think) about not being a proper expert in any of this Goddess stuff, by which I mean, one with degrees and a dissertation behind her; really, I am just a (very) interested amateur when you come down to it.

So this week, in researching the Goddess Ceres for The Book To Go With The Goddess Oracle Deck (for which I really should attempt to come up with a catchier title), I came across Barbette Stanley Spaeth's book The Roman Goddess Ceres. Which book, alas, is not available at my famously crappy local university library (and, as I am not a student there I do not have access to inter-library loan); so I've been reading what I can of it on Google Books. And I only got to page two before I hit this passage:

Ceres’ name also links her with several ancient Italic divinities, such as Kerrí, Keri Arentikai, Regina Pia Cerria Iovia, and Anceta Ceria. These divinities were worshipped by the Osco-Umbrians or Sabellian-Umbrians, peoples of the central and southern regions of Italy.

And my head just about exploded. These are Goddesses, obscure Goddesses, about Whom I've only ever found a diabolically mysterious mention there and here; and I am fiercely, fiercely jealous of the access to material proper scholars have. I mean, it's true, I have to rely on others' work, and that in English to boot, as I can't read things for myself in Latin or Greek, or even French or the German that every freakin' work on the Etruscans seems to have been written in; so I have a few limitations. But damn. She just tosses these names around like it's the Red Sox lineup for the year.

Yeah, jealous, a bit.

But excited too, in a way I suppose only a fanatic, or a Goddess worshipper who leans towards the nerdy side of things can get; because, OhmyGod! more Obscure Goddesses for the collection, as it were. And I find myself in an odd state, one that I've been in a lot lately for some reason: a kind of blocked or unfocused inspiration.

It's very strange. I have been quite inspired, I mean on fire! about my various projects; yet the way it's playing out in me is that I am so inspired and so excited I can't actually sit still long enough to get anything done. I am full of plans and dreams and ideas but am having a terrible time just doing the damned stuff. I'm not usually like this; not, I mean, that I've ever been any good with discipline, I suppose.

It's not even quite a question of not knowing where to start; I've had that problem all my life and have some ways around that by now. It's that when I sit down to do one thing, I find myself passionately thinking about something else I'd like to do; but if I start on that something else comes up. It's like my inspiration is misfiring, or isn't timed correctly. I need the psychic equivalent of one of those strobe light thingies for your car engine.

Any ideas?


Tag! I'm It!

Oh, well, okay. Les règles (the rules, for those of you not amused by my mildly pretentious use of French):

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

The person who ran up behind me, slapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Tag!": shamrockwitch, in the last post.

Six random things about me? Well, let's see, since I'm choosing them they are inherently not random, really, but I'll try to make them interesting:

1. I am allergic to pigs. Not pork, pigs. They make me all kinds of sneezy and itchy. I found out about this my freshman year of Art School, when someone brought in a cute li'l piglet in a rather heavy-handed (and typically freshman) statement on the virtues of vegetarianism; I had to go home early because my eyes almost swole shut. I've been an avowed carnivore ever since, damned things.

2. I have an awful lot of hobbies, which I suppose is neither random nor particularly surprising for an artsy sort such as myself; the one that has taken hold of me right now in a grievously fierce way is natural dyeing, to wit:

That's a shot of the pile of little skeins of wool I've dyed since this hobby swooped down upon me at the end of the summer; I wanted to see how many colors I could come up with, so opted for a whole bunch of little skeins that didn't require a lot of dyestuff but would still give me a useful amount. So they are about the size of what you'd get for crewel-work. That's only about half of them, though, as the other half are reserved for being overdyed with indigo, when I get the vat going, which I will start on when the stuff I ordered comes in.

I can sit for hours, really, and rearrange the little skeins. I'm not sure quite what I'm going to do with them all yet, maybe weave something. But they are so beautiful, and really, are purely about making color right now, which is fascinating me.

Oh, and as an example of just how crazy I am about dyeing, I have a pan of dried black beans soaking right now. I mean, yes, I am going to make chili with them later; but the real reason I got them was to see if the rumors are true and the soaking water (which turns a nice violet-black) can be used as dye.

3. I long, long, long, to relocate to the UK someday. When I was in England and Wales a couple years ago I felt pulled to the land almost overwhelmingly; perhaps it's something to do with living in New England that makes Old England feel like home, I don't know. But I have to be there, eventually. Not that I know just how to make that happen, yet, and there are rather a lot of things I am in the middle of right now. But someday.

4. I consistently pin out at 98-100% introverted when I take those Myers-Brigg style personality tests. I'm not surprised, I suppose, as it makes sense to me, but, according to most people, shouldn't I be living in a cave or something?

5. I went through a wicked Duran Duran phase in my High School years, even though I knew that Led Zeppelin was the One True Band. Do not fear, I have come to my senses since then, though my guilty pleasure of late is the Monkees and I am not ashamed to admit it.

6. I send Groundhog Day cards every year, to the bafflement of my friends and relatives (yes, apparently even the artsy ones on my mother's side). It started because I felt really, really stupid going and buying Yule/Christmas cards when I knew I could make my own really pretty ones (never mind the fact that I'd want specifically Pagan cards to send out); but who has time in early December to be doing that? So after several years of not getting around to it I hit on the idea of Groundhog Day cards. I have the whole month of January to come up with the art, it's ridiculously silly, and by February 2nd we could all use a mid-winter pick-me-up. And it confuses the Hel out of the relatives, heh heh. What's not to love?

Okay, those are my six. Now it's my turn to tag six people, and I will do so in a moment, but I am going to change the rules a bit: out of your six things, one of them must have something to do with your dreams, and another must describe a way you have been kind to yourself recently. The other four, go to town!

So, Tag! You're It:

Mama Kelly of Two Witches Blog (though Lady Rose is welcome to participate if she likes); beweaver over at Weaving the Web; Inanna at At The End Of Desire; Evn (of course; you didn't seriously think I wouldn't, did you?) at Lover of Strife; Anne at The Gods Are Bored (though I imagine she has long since been tagged with this, what is it called, a meme, I want to hear her talk about her dreams); and Angela-Eloise over at Blogickal.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Goddess of the Week

So I shuffled the cards, as thoroughly and as obsessively as usual, while asking, What do You Goddesses have to say to the world this week? And Ariadne came up.

After I stopped laughing, I very nearly made myself pick another card. I had quite specifically asked, What do You have to say to the world? But picking Ariadne was just so obvious and perfect a reading for me. And I mean obvious as in dope-slap in the back of the head obvious. The short version being that in my dreams and visions lately the theme of the Labyrinth has been coming up over and over; and I know I've just set one foot over the threshold of the place and am beginning some kind of major journey deep within. I am aware of this, quite consciously.

So when I pulled Ariadne, Who is after all the Mistress of the Labyrinth in Greek myth, I had to stop and ask the cards, Really? Are you sure? For the world, not just for me, right?

But they said yes.

So then.

I suppose that one way to look at it is that I, like everyone else, am influenced by the seasons and the themes of the world; and it's true, the season of the beginning of the journey into the dark is upon us (well, if you're in the north, anyway). Because that's what I had been thinking, that Samhain was the point mythologically when one first enters the Labyrinth; while Yule was that dark, still centerpoint, and Imbolc in early February when we step back out into the light.

I should probably start with some information about Ariadne Herself, eh? She's of Minoan Cretan origins, though the legends are Greek. In them, She is a mortal princess, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, who gives aid to the hero Theseus, (though he doesn't deserve it, really) by giving him a magical ball of thread that helps him to navigate his way through the Labyrinth. He and a group of Athenian maidens and youths (i.e., children) have been condemned to be eaten alive by the Minotaur, who lives somewhere inside it. Theseus, being the hero, finds the Minotaur and kills him; and Ariadne escapes with him to Sea.

Where he abandons Her first chance he gets, though She had helped him out of love; in some stories then, the God Dionysos comes upon Her and marries Her, and She becomes immortal.

Now, really, these stories point to an older layer, one of underlying divinity for Ariadne; and She may in fact be a form of a Minoan Great Goddess. She is old, certainly.

So getting this card at this time may simply be a statement of the time of the year, of endings and beginnings and the journey into the dark. But what I'm also getting, quite strongly, is the idea of loving someone who does not deserve it, and coming to the realization that one deserves better. On a personal scale I suspect we are all too familiar with that dynamic; but this is a reading for the world. Perhaps, just perhaps, we humans are on the verge of waking up and realizing we can do better by each other, or that greed and intolerance do not deserve our love; though my cynical side of course wonders if it's not the Earth Herself making the realization. If so, oh ho are we in trouble. Either way, I suspect it will be a long journey, one requiring a lot of soul-searching and attention to details, and a bit of Divine Guidance.

What does She say?

Now is a time to get to the root of things; this time is unlike any other. It is an opportunity; use it. It will take care, patience, and will be hard work, but understanding must be thorough. Ask for guidance; you will receive it. And when others ask you for it, give it. The bee dances before the hive; She instructs others. Tell others, help others, and be as specific as you can.

Sounds like preparation for a journey into the Labyrinth to me. What do you think?

To read more about Her go here; to read Her tale, here.

Edited to add: here, this will help. It's a link to the World Wide Labyrinth Locater. Type in where you are, and it will come up with a list of labyrinths in your locale that you can visit and walk if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Writing Update

Well I finished up the Sibyl entry just now, which was a little tricky as she's not really a Goddess, and not really a single person, more a type or title; but that sews up the Greeks. Now, on to the Romans, starting with Ceres.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Goddess of the Week

This week after shuffling and asking of the Goddesses, What do You have to say to the world at this time? the Cailleach came up.

She is Celtic, and is known as the Blue-Faced Hag; Her name means "the Veiled One." She is a Goddess of winter and the cold earth, and there are many variations to Her in the British Isles, usually with strong ties to the land and to the season of winter. As Samhain is the beginning of the dark half of the year in Celtic tradition, picking Her at this time seemed appropriate, if a little early.

She is commonly called a "hag", though the word cailleach is used in both modern Irish and Scots Gaelic to mean "old woman;" but the word itself has connotations of widow and nun as well. So She is someone drawn into Herself, celibate.

It is sometimes said that She starts the winter as an old woman and slowly becomes younger until by springtime She is a beautiful maiden; or that She imprisons a young woman in a mountainside over the winter, and releases her in the spring. Unsurprisingly as a Celtic Goddess of Winter She is connected with ancestors and the dead, and the descendants of the Cailleach Bheirre were peoples and races.

But She is also associated with the preparations for winter; and the last sheaf of grain harvested was traditionally called the cailleach, the old woman of the fields. This sheaf was saved over the winter, and in the spring it was fed to the horses or cattle, or shaken over the fields in hope for an abundant harvest. In the Isle of Lewis the cailleach was dressed as a woman whose apron pockets were filled with cheese and bread and a sickle.

The economic situation this past week has been fairly dark; and it is hard not to see this card as predicting a rather bleak outcome. And, sure enough, when I asked Her what She had to say She said:

Old, old bones. Old, old cold. Ice and cold and fear; the cold wind howls from the north. A time of leanness and starvation. The reindeer digs beneath the snow to find the lichen; the fox starves; no meat on anyone's bones. The veil is thin, thinner, thinnest. Winter comes. Save your seeds.

And I am reminded of this phrase: the conservation of energy. There is a time of leanness coming, one that parallels the winter. Draw in your harvest, and do what it takes to preserve it and make it last. Hard times are coming.

Though as this is a card for the next week, perhaps it simply speaks of how the future will look in that week. This card may represent our fears of hard times more than actual coming hard times. It is hard to tell, as I, too, am caught in that fear. I think calmness and patience, and preparation, just in case, are advised.

For more information on the Cailleach, go here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Evn over at Lover of Strife, inspired by Anne Johnson at The Gods Are Bored, is holding a casting contest:

Strifemongers, pick your favorite myth, choose the most appropriate actors to play the Gods who appear in it, and post your submissions in the comments section. Entries will be accepted until next Tuesday, at which time I'll announce my top three casting directors (assuming more than three people enter), each of whom will win an actual prize.

Why am I mentioning this here? Because Evn has decided that the prizes are to be products from my Cat and Cauldron store: third prize is the Goddess magnet of your choice, second place the Goddess mug of your choice, and first prize whichever organic Goddess tee-shirt you choose.

So go on over there and enter!

UPDATE: Winners announced here. Congrats!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Three Card Reading Idea

I had an inspiration for a variation on the standard three card reading today. Rather than reading the positions as, say, Past, Present, Future, or, Maiden, Mother, Crone, one could string them together as if in a sentence: Subject, Verb, Object.

I tried this with my deck and came up with some interesting results:

Uma, Erzulie, White Tara: Loss desires compassion.

Oya, Gaea, al-'Uzza: Change grows from strife.

Hel, Aida-Wedo, the Virgin Mary: Balance encompasses wonder.

Gwenhwyfer, Danu, Sibyl: Beauty thrives on mystery.

Athene, Sophia, Tlazolteotl: Wisdom knows temptation.

Faerie, Ganga, Inanna: The seasons dance seductively.

Laverna, Sif, Sunna: Time thieves beauty and glory.

Ho Hsien-Ku, Kali, Isis: Openness destroys sorrow.

The Cailleach, Nut, Pomona: Every winter is pregnant with autumn.

Sengen, Chalchiuhtlicue, Kelaeno: Water and wind will wear down the mountain.

These were all off-the-cuff, saying pretty much the first thing to come to mind; it would be interesting to take the same three cards and see how many different sentences you could come up with. You could also switch them around into different positions to explore their meanings further.

I am definitely a fan of the Mary Greer method of exhausting a reading by combining and recombining the cards in as many ways as you can come up with. It's a good way to get to the depths of the thing.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Goddess of the Week

So a week has passed already, and it is time to pick another Goddess for a reading from my Goddess Oracle Deck.

This time Kirke came up.

She's Greek and accounted a sorceress; the famous wanderer Odysseus had a bit of a run-in with Her, in which She transformed his sailor-men into swine, as it was Her habit to change any men who set foot on Her island into beasts. Her knowledge of herbs was legendary, and She was versed in many of the more powerful forms of magic, including necromancy, for She gave Odysseus detailed instructions on how to contact the late seer Tiresias.

So this is a card of transformation; all the legends of Kirke, even the Roman ones (where She is called Circe and is usually standing in for a local sorceress-type Goddess), have Her changing people into animals or birds. So it's transformation of a primal kind, one that goes back to the root of things.

It would seem that this week some kind of powerful magic is swirling about; and change is in the air. Now, that's not very surprising given that it's autumn, a season that brings quite dramatic change; but I'm tempted to interpret this in light of the political situation with the US elections coming up, and the possibility of change it brings.

Kirke's magic, though, does tend towards, if not the chaotic, then the amoral at least; but power is power, and it is up to the holder of it to choose what to make with it.

So I asked what She had to tell the world now, and this is what She said:

Fight for change. Stand your ground. You have the power. Now! Now is the time. Change everything you touch. Let it happen. Make it happen! The balance can be tipped, but the time is now. You have the power.

Now is the time. It would seem to be a good week for magic, then, or casting spells, especially of a transformative kind; either for yourself, or for the greater community. It is said the job of a Witch is to turn the Wheel; this week especially there is a good deal of movement already underway, which can be both fueled and ridden. Make the most of it.

What do you think of Kirke's appearance this week?

For more information about Kirke, go here; for Her Tale, here. For the article on Dea Marica, a Roman Goddess associated with Kirke, here.