Magazine Challenge – Treasure Found!

I’ve started my reading/culling/clipping/saving process on my magazine stack and uncovered a couple of winners! Of course, I love all of my magazines, but these two magazines I had not seen before. So I found myself new treasure!

CiQ5n_5XIAA-5WoThe first magazine is called Project Calm and it has lifestyle, yoga, creativity, mindfulness, etc. as its focus. The only bummer is that there is only one issue! I’m not sure they will publish another.

wk8-cover-300x385The second magazine is called Womankind and is a very cool feminist, psychology, creativity, world view kind of magazine. I spent a lot of time reading it and am now looking for back issues! Inside this issue of Womankind I discovered this Egyptian photographer named Lubna Abdelaziz. I am blown away by her images.

Lubna Abdelaziz photo

Candidates for “Word for the Year”

“A COMPLETE DICTIONARY OF SYNONYMS AND ANTONYMS”

1898, Copyright by BY SAMUEL FALLOWS

Words and Some Synonyms!

Able, Strong, powerful, clever, skillful, talented, capable.
Abundance, Plenty, copiousness, sufficiency, plentitude.
Accept, Welcome, admit, recognize, acknowledge.
Accomplish, Execute, perfect, perform, fulfill, do.
Active, Nimble, agile, lively, brisk, busy.
Adapt, Fit, accommodate, adjust, conform, attune.
Admire, Wonder, gaze, approve, appreciate.
Adventurous, Bold, brave, daring, enterprising.
Alive, Quick, living, breathing, vivacious.
Allow, Concede, allot, tolerate, authorize, yield.
Amazement, Astonishment, awe, wonder, surprise.
Art, Aptitude, readiness, adroitness, skill, calling.
Aspiration, Longing, desire, aim, wish, ambition.
Astute, Crafty, shrewd, knowing, sharp, keen.
Attention, Observation, notice, watchfulness, study.
Attract, Influence, incline, tempt, entice.
Audacity, Boldness, rashness, recklessness.
Authentic, Genuine, real, original, true.
Author, Creator, producer, inventor, originator.
Balance, Weigh, poise, neutralize, equalize, adjust.
Beauty, Loveliness, grace, adornment, embellishment.
Belief, Faith, trust, conviction, creed.
Belonging, Related, connected.
Bless, Felicitate, endow, enrich, thank.
Bliss, Blessedness, joy, ecstasy, rapture.
Bloom, Blossom, bud, flower, beauty.
Bold, Courageous, fearless, adventurous, intrepid.
Calm, Smooth, pacify, compose, still.
Challenge, Defy, summon, dare, investigate,
Champion, Hero, warrior, defender, protector.
Cheerful, Lively, bright, happy, joyful.
Cherish, Foster, nurse, promote, nurture.
Collect, Collate, gather, congregate, assemble.
Commit, Perpetrate, execute, do, allocate.
Communicate, Reveal, disclose, divulge, impart.
Community, Association, society, brother/sisterhood.
Compassion, Pity, sympathy, tenderness, commiseration.
Confident, Positive, assured, sure, certain.
Connection, Union, association, affinity, kindred.
Courage, Bravery, boldness, valor, fortitude.
Create, Form, produce, make, compose.
Curiosity, Inquisitiveness, interest.
Dare, Venture, brave, risk, defy, challenge.
Decipher, interpret, solve, unravel, explain, unfold.
Deep, Profound, subterranean, mysterious.
Delight, Enjoyment, pleasure, happiness, joy.
Design, Contemplate, purpose, intend, plan.
Destiny, Fate, decree, lot, fortune, predestination.
Devotion, Piety, devoutness, dedication.
Discover, Find, invent, unearth, detect.
Dream, Trance, vision, fancy, reverie, hallucination.
Duty, Obligation, responsibility, allegiance, service.
Dwell, Stop, stay, rest, inhabit, abide.
Ease, Enjoyment, comfort, tranquility, contentment.
Embody, Express, incorporate, integrate.
Embrace, Clasp, comprehend, hug, contain.
Empower, Enable, encourage, authorize.
Engage, Promise, undertake, adopt, involve.
Enlighten, Illumine, instruct, illuminate, inform, teach.
Enliven, Wake, quicken, invigorate, inspirit, animate.
Enough, Sufficient, ample, plenty, abundance.
Eternal, Infinite, endless, everlasting, perpetual.
Excavate, Dig, hollow, trench, discover.
Fair, Open, clear, spotless, reasonable, just.
Faithful, True, loyal, consistent.
Fierce, Wild, savage, fiery.
Flexible, Pliant, lithe, supple, yielding.
Flourish, Prosper, thrive, brandish, wave.
Flow, Stream, issue, progress, glide.
Flowing, Copious, abundant, exuberant, easy.
Focus, Center, stand-point, convergence, nucleus.
Fortitude, Courage, endurance, braveness.
Free, Detached, permitted, clear.
Gallant, Brave, chivalrous, intrepid, courteous.
Genuine, Authentic, true, real, pure, natural.
Grace, Favor, beauty, kindness, mercy.
Gracious, Affable, courteous, civil, gentle.
Gratitude, Thankfulness, gratefulness.
Grounded, Rooted, established, prepared.
Grow, Increase, expand, enlarge, become.
Guardian, Keeper, protector, warder.
Guide, Lead, direct, conduct,influence.
Hallow, Consecrate, venerate, reverence, dedicate.
Happy, Delighted, joyous, merry, blissful.
Hardy, Inured, robust, strong, vigorous.
Haven, rest, refuge, shelter, home, port.
Healthy, Vigorous, sound, robust, wholesome.
Holy, Sacred, consecrated, saintly, devout.
Honesty, Integrity, fairness, sincerity, honor.
Honor, Respect, reverence, dignity, esteem.
Hope, Anticipation, longing, desire, expectation.
Imagine, Conceive, understand, fancy.
Indulge, Pamper, cherish, bask.
Inspire, Animate, inspirit, inflame, encourage.
Integrate, Complete, consolidate, incorporate, unite.
Integrity, Uprightness, honor, honesty, candor.
Instinctive, Natural, spontaneous, intuitive, impulsive.
Journey, Travel, excursion, tour, voyage, trip.
Joy, Gladness, delight, happiness, merriment.
Just, Exact, true, fair, equitable.
Kind, Benevolent, tender, gentle.
Knowing, Shrewd, discerning, sharp, acute.
Leader, Chief, director, guide, pioneer, head.
Learn, Acquire, attain, glean, understand.
Light, Radiance, gleam, bright, brilliance.
Look, See, behold, contemplate, observe.
Love, Affection, attachment, passion, devotion.
Loyal, Faithful, allegiant, true, constant.
Lucky, Fortunate, auspicious, favorable.
Magic, Enchantment, sorcery.
Manifest, Visible, conspicuous, clear.
Memory, Remembrance, reminiscence, recollection.
Mercy, Compassion, clemency, forgiveness.
Mindful, Regardful, attentive, thoughtful, careful.
Minister, n. Servant, delegate, ambassador, priest.
Minister, v. Attend, subserve, supply.
Movement, Motion, move, change of place.
Muse, Reflect, ponder, dream, think, meditate.
Mystery, Enigma, puzzle, secrecy, veil.
Nature, Essence, creation, constitution.
Nourish, Nurture, fed, cherish, support.
Observe, Remark, mark, watch, perceive.
Omen, Augury, sign, portent.
Open, Accessible, free, available.
Organize, Shape, adjust, arrange.
Origin, Source, spring, beginning.
Paradox, Contradiction, enigma, mystery, ambiguity.
Passion, Emotion, desire, warmth, feeling.
Patience, Endurance, perseverance.
Peace, Quiet, tranquility, calm, harmony.
Perceive, Discern, observe, see.
Persevere, Persist, insist, steadfast.
Play, Sport, pastime, amusement, frolic.
Pleasure, Enjoyment, sensuality, indulgent.
Possible, Feasible, likely, potential.
Power, Capability, strength, force, dominion.
Practice, Usage, habit, action.
Pray, Beg, beseech, entreat, supplicate.
Presence, Nearness, influence, closeness.
Prosperity, Success, good fortune, well-being.
Protection, Shelter, defense, security, refuge.
Purpose, Intention, design, mind, meaning.
Radiance, Brightness, splendor, brilliance.
Reach, Extend, stretch, obtain, attain.
Receive, Take, accept, admit, hold.
Reclaim, Recover, regain, rescue, restore.
Rejoice, Delight, glory, joy, revel.
Renew, Renew, refresh, rejuvenate.
Respect, Notice, regard, honor, venerate, esteem.
Reveal, Unveil, disclose, show, expose.
Reverence, Honor, awe, adoration, devotion.
Sacred, Holy, divine, hallowed, consecrated.
Sanctuary, Shrine, refuge, security, protection.
See, Perceive, look, view.
Seek, Search, inquire, pursue, investigate.
Serve, Obey, minister, help, tend.
Shelter, Shield, conceal, cover, protect.
Shine, Beam, brighten, glow, sparkle, excel.
Soar, Rise, mount, aspire, ascend, uprise.
Solitude, Seclusion, retirement, wilderness, privacy.
Source, Rise, origin, spring, fountain, beginning.
Spirit, Life, soul, essence.
Steadfast, Firm, rooted, grounded, resolute.
Strength, Force, vigor, power, intensity.
Success, Achievement, luck, prosperity, victory.
Support, Bear, uphold, sustain, nurture.
Teach, Impart, tell, instruct, train.
Thrive, Prosper, flourish, grow, succeed.
Travel, Journey, wander, pilgrimage, voyage.
Trust, Faith, confidence, reliance, belief.
Truth, Veracity, fidelity, faithfulness, accuracy.
Unique, Sole, matchless, singular, uncommon.
Unity, Oneness, conjunction, agreement.
Value, Appreciate, esteem, treasure, appraise.
Visionary, Fanciful, dreamy, imaginary.
Welcome, Grateful, pleasant, agreeable.
Whimsical, Capricious, fanciful, fantastic, quaint.
Whole, Total, entire, complete, perfect.
Wisdom, Knowledge, learning, enlightenment.
Wonder, Amazement, astonishment, admiration, miracle.

Tending the Flame – 2002-2003

I have a thing (apparently) for writing newsletters. In the summer of 2002, I caught the bug again and began planning a new newsletter. This time, I wasn’t alone. In April of 2002 I went on a spiritual tour of Ireland, led by friend, Kathleen Verigin. On this tour was Tayna Wylder, Rhiannon Griffiths and Amber Rose Dullea. The trip to Ireland really inspired me and I called together these women, plus Jewelie Randall, to discuss writing a newsletter.

This is the result of our collaboration. I so loved this group of women, and as always, writing really helped to clarify my mind and provide an outlet for my thoughts and ideas.

You know what I am up to now, but here is what everyone else is up to!

Kathleen Verigin http://www.anamcaraconnections.com

Tayna Wylder http://starconserve.com/

Rhiannon Griffiths https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kindred-Spirit-Ceremonials/323615357665924

Amber Rose Dullea http://www.thrivingwithpain.com/

Jewelie Randall http://florapdx.com/

 

Tending Jan 2003

Tending March 2003

Tending Nov 2002

tending may 2003

tending july 2003

tending sept 2003

tending nov 2003

Mariposa Revisited

This is my first official post to Scarlet Pastiche, and I have decided to post the writing I did for my newsletter, Mariposa. This newsletter ran from Fall 1998 to Fall 1999. I had this passion (still do!) for mythology, esoteric topics, mystical topics and women’s spirituality. I also love looking for how ideas might be connected so I wrote a newsletter exploring how arcane ideas might relate to each other.

I designed the newsletter in Pagemaker 4, which meant it was easier to remove the text into Open Office instead of trying to redesign the newsletter itself. Thus, I have posted the text below without graphics. The information is good, but not very pretty!

September 1998

What does the harvest have to do with the number seven? Both are associated with the month of September, which is a time of transition—the end of summer, the beginning of autumn; the time of the harvest and of preparing the land for next year’s crop. September, which is from the Latin for seven, was once the seventh month of the year and thus marked the transition from the first half of the year which celebrated new life and abundance to the second half of the year which celebrated death and regeneration.

Harvest: Endings and Beginnings

The Harvest has traditionally been associated with September and the Autumn Equinox which marks the beginning of the dying of the light and the onset of winter. The life/death/life cycle of nature is much in evidence during this time of transition. The Eleusinian Mysteries, which were celebrated in ancient Greece in September, honored Demeter and Persephone in their aspect of goddesses of the grain.

Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough discussed in great depth the many rituals related to the Corn-Spirit. One such ritual involved the cutting of the last stand of grain. Much ceremony and superstition was attached to this last cutting as it was thought to influence the next year’s crops. Often the last sheaf of grain was made into a doll or puppet which was known by many names including Corn Maiden, Oats-Bride and Old Grandmother. Depending on the culture, the grain personified part (or sometimes the whole) cycle of life from budding new life (the Corn Maiden) to fertility (the Oats-Bride) to maturity (Old Grandmother).

In Europe, the Autumn Equinox signaled the coming of the winds which were used to separate the chaff from the wheat. This process was called winnowing. The notion of separating what is unnecessary from what is necessary—winnowing— is a key task learned by the fairytale heroine, Vasilisa. In one version of the Russian fairytale Vasilisa is imprisoned by the Baba Yaga and must perform a variety of tasks before she can leave. One such task was to separate the mildewed corn from the good corn and the poppy seed from the dirt. Clarissa Pinkola Estés suggested that Vasilisa was learning “… to separate this from that to know the difference between things of like kind—such as real love from false love, or nourishing life from spoiled life…” In other words, Vasilisa was learning discernment. She was separating the chaff from the wheat, the unnecessary from the necessary.

Goddesses of the Grain

Autumn and Spring bring the grain goddesses to our attention. Selu, the Green Corn Woman, is honored by the Cherokee tribe, though there are many native Americans tribes that celebrate a corn girl/woman/mother. Selu has many stories but the basic story is this: Selu was an old woman who lived with her two sons in a hut on the edge of the forest. The sons would bring home small game to eat but it wasn’t enough. Selu said she would make this delicious new food called corn. Selu went into the shed next to the hut and when she returned she held a bowl full of yellow seeds. She cooked them and after supper her sons agreed that they were delicious. The sons wanted to know where the corn came from but Selu told them they must never try to find out.

One day, the sons began to wonder again about the mystery of the corn so they spied on Selu while she was in the shed getting the corn. The sons saw her run her hands up and down her body and watched as kernels of corn fell off her body and into the bowl on the ground. The sons were horrified and that night at supper they did not eat the corn. Selu knew what they had done but she was not angry. She told them that since they had broken their word to her, she must die, and then they were to drag her through the field and wherever they dragged her corn would grow the next year. Selu then gave the sons instruction for tending the corn thus ensuring future harvests.

This story has many variations but the basics are the same: Selu gave corn from her body, her sons betrayed their word to her, Selu died and anointed the land, Selu told her sons how to continue to have good crops.

What is your relationship with Mother Nature? Is she a friend or foe? Is this the relationship you desire with her? If not, what steps can you take to change it?

Take a grain of dried corn and place it on your altar. This grain represents not only what you have just reaped but is also the beginning of new life that will sustain you next year. Is there a project or idea that needs some time to lie fallow before it is planted and then bears fruit?

Sevens in the Tarot Deck

At its simplest, the sevens in Tarot deal with making choices. These cards are action cards calling upon you to make a decision. Each week in September take one of the sevens and place it on your altar (or tape it to your mirror so that each morning you will gaze upon it and a reflection of yourself simultaneously). Spend the week contemplating what that card could symbolize in your life.

7 of Wands — Are you holding on to roles that no longer speak to who you currently are? Is there some attribute that you would like to develop or a new role you would like to try on?

7 of Swords — Is there a belief that no longer serves you? Do you communicate in a manner that is not effective? Would you like to adopt a new belief? Or strive for clearer communication?

7 of Cups — Is there a relationship that needs work? Would you like to end or change a relationship that is no longer working for you? What about starting a new relationship with someone that you have wanted to get to know better.

7 of Pentacles — Does your material/physical world meet your needs? Do you like your job? Are you happy with your home? Do you like your lifestyle? Is a change needed in your material or physical world?

The Chariot is the considered the seventh card of the Major Arcana which represent major archetypes in our lives. The most typical image of the Chariot card is of a man driving a chariot led by two horses (of different colors) pulling in opposite directions. The Chariot is about mastering your inner processes. The horses represents different parts of yourself that are struggling for control. The Chariot driver’s task is to contain and guide the struggling horses (impulses).

Seven Card Tarot Spread

What would the act of winnowing bring you? What might be unnecessary in your life that you need to slough off? Hold your tarot cards in your hands and meditate for a few minutes on your situation. Then silently shuffle your deck seven times. From the top of the deck layout seven cards from left to right. The first two cards represent your present, the next two cards represent the future and the seventh card is the wild card. Something unexpected an idea maybe a caution.

Transcendental Seven

Let us contemplate September’s association with seven. In a solar calendar, the seventh month begins the second half of the year. In a lunar calendar (13 moons) the seventh moon sits on the cusp with six moons falling on either side of it. Seven straddles the cusp of endings and beginnings, fruition and seed. September is the end of summer and the beginning of fall—the end of the growing season (culminating with the harvest) and the beginning of the collection of seeds for next year’s harvest.

Seven is associated with movement. There are seven days in a week which are in turn linked to the seven planets visible in the sky (in antiquity the Sun and Moon were considered planets). The weeks and planets both move cyclically demonstrating seven’s quality of embracing both endings and beginnings. The musical octave also demonstrates this property. The octave consists of eight notes except the eighth note is in fact the first note at a different frequency.

Seven is also a number of synthesis combining the masculine three with the feminine four and thus embodying life. Sevens abound in most religions. In Christian theology, God took seven days to create the world. There are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church as well as seven branches the Jewish candelabrum known as a menorah.

The rainbow is one of the best known examples of the mystical seven. From red to violet it represents the spectrum of color and thus is complete. The rainbow is a synthesis of the masculine sun with the feminine rain. It also connects the heavens to the earth and in some cultures was considered to be a bridge to the gods.

Get a rainbow-colored candle (or 7 candles representing the 7 colors) and light it (them) each morning for seven days. Imagine you are connected to the earth and the heavens like the rainbow, a perfect balance between feminine and masculine.

Try to carry this feeling through the day.

Many religious paths of initiation are sevenfold. The Sioux have seven sacred rites as illuminated by Black Elk and the ancient Mithras cult had seven rites of initiation. The Hindu mystics celebrate the seven chakras which are seats of power within the body. The Sumerian goddess Inanna descended into the underworld and had to forfeit her worldly possessions (seven of them) one article at a time until she stood naked (vulnerable) at the eight gate. The dance of the seven veils was based on this rite of initiation.

Find a piece of sensuous music that moves you. Drape yourself in seven veils (or handkerchiefs). Imagine you are Inanna having to let go of your material attachments in order to gain spiritual insight. Dance to the music and take off one veil at a time naming the specific worldly possession that you giving up. After you have removed all seven veils bow prostrate on the floor and ask for guidance. See what comes to you.

Art as a Message From the Soul

Gather 2-3 old magazines, scissors, glue, and a piece of construction paper. Focusing on the concept of winnowing, silently go through the magazines cutting or tearing those images that catch your eye. Try not to analyze or censor yourself. Once you’ve finished, sort through the images and pick 7 that speak to you the most. Once again try not to analyze your choices. Arrange, and glue, the images on the paper in a manner that pleases you. Put the collage away for at least a day and then pull out your collage and study it. What does your collage say about what is necessary and what is not in your life? Notice colors, shapes and composition of your collage.

Alternative collage: In addition to images, also cut out words. Use seven of each.

Seven and the Moon

From full to waning to new (or dark) to waxing the moon is constantly showing us a slightly different face. But every 7 days the moon has a distinctive face. In September the full moon falls on September 6 in Pisces—a water sign. The moon wanes to last quarter on September 12 in the air sign Gemini. The moon turns dark (new moon) on September 20 in Virgo—an earth sign. The moon then begins to wax towards the first quarter on September 28 in the fire sign Sagittarius. These four astrological signs are equally distanced on the astrological wheel and are considered to be mutable signs, that is CHANGE is a keyword to remember while working with these energies.

Bibliography

Awiakta, Marilou. Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother’s Wisdom. Golden; CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1993.

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

Frazer, James George. The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1922.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948.

Henes, Donna. Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles & Celebrations. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996.

Schimmel, Annemarie. The Mystery of Numbers. New York: Oxford Press, 1993.

 

——————————————————————————————-

October 1998

Finding the sacred connection in our fast paced world can be challenging these days. Most of us are working on information overload and its easy to dismiss an eight-petaled lotus blossom as just another pretty flower rather than seeing it as an ancient symbol of luck that has a rich history of meaning. And then to take it a step further and connect the lotus with the eight-legged spider which is a sign of good fortune in China. And then to connect the spider to Halloween which falls in Scorpio, the eighth astrological sign. Or to connect the spider to Grandmother Spider, the Hopi creatrix of all life.

Regeneration, which means to be reborn, is a theme central to this time of year. In this issue we will explore some of the symbols of regeneration associated with October—the festival of Samhain (All Hallows Eve, Halloween), spiders and serpents, the number 8, the eighth tarot card – Justice, and Scorpio and Pluto.

Celebrating the Dead: October 31

In the Northwest, October brings the Arctic winds, the changing colors of the leaves and the shortening of daylight as Mother Earth prepared her bed for winter. As the leaves perform their annual transformation from green to yellow to orange to red, they mirror our own process of “being reborn.” If we are lucky, we too grow, die and are reborn thousands of times in our lifetime.

Halloween, once known as All Hallows Eve and Samhain, is a festival honoring the death aspect of regeneration. Samhain was one of two fire festivals (the other being Beltane or May Eve) in Europe. In some villages huge bonfires were built lighting the way back home for the dead. Once the bonfire had died down villagers would leap over the flames ritually renewing themselves in the purifying fire. Divination was a popular activity at Samhain since it was thought that the veil between this world and the next was thinnest at this time and thus was favorable to contacting the spirits for information.

As October 31 approaches and with it the turning of the leaves and the return to standard time, consider trying a new divination technique. Borrow a friend’s tarot deck or make a set of runes. Have you ever tried a pendulum or scrying in a mirror? Let the magic of the season engage you!

Samhain Altar

Samhain is a remembrance of the dead and a celebration of the regenerative powers of life. Place pictures or mementos of deceased loved ones that you would like to honor on the altar. But you don’t need to limit it to people you know. Maybe you’d like to invoke a quality that you need. For example, placing a picture of Joan of Arc on the altar might represent courage and adventure, qualities you might like to strengthen in yourself.

Other items for the altar might include autumn produce like gourds, apples, pomegranates, nuts, vines and dried corn cobs. Use the color orange to invite abundance and creativity. You can also place symbols of divination on the altar. Candles are important as Samhain is a fire festival and not everyone can have a bonfire in their backyard! The idea is to create a welcoming place for the spirits of the dead. If you are concerned with opening yourself to unintentional negativity, smudge (with incense or a smudging stick of cedar, sage or sweetgrass) your home and ask the Spirit to protect your home so that only light and goodness can dwell within during this holiday time.

Webs and Wheels

The Spider is intimately associated with Halloween. The Spider spins the web of life and thus is connected to those goddesses associated with weaving — the Fates, Athena, Ix Chel and Grandmother Spider. The web is also suggestive of the eight-spoked wheel of law in Buddhism and the wiccan wheel of the year which marks the eight major festivals. Both webs and wheels are composed of circles with connecting straight lines — the circles representing perfection and infinity and the lines denoting movement from one point to the next as well as connection. Therefore webs and wheels are symbols of infinity, movement and connectedness.

The perfect and infinite circle is also seen in the uroboro — the serpent eating its own tail. The uroboro is a symbol of alchemy—the mystical science of transformation. The serpent eats itself, thus constantly in a state of transformation.

Web Mandala

A mandala is a circle which contains spiritual and/or healing symbols. Get a piece of paper (the bigger the better) and draw a circle on it at least 18 inches in diameter. Put a small circle (about 1 inch in diameter) in the center of the larger circle. This small circle is you! Using a pen, divide the circle in quarters and then each quarter into halves until you get 8 roughly equal “pie” pieces. Now label each piece the following: family, health, play, work, spirituality, friends, service/community, and creativity. Using an orange (in honor of October, though any color will do!) marker/pencil, color out from the small circle in each pie piece to denote how much time/energy you devote to each area. The closer to the smaller circle means the less time you spend on that activity.

Once you filled in all the pie pieces look at the pattern you’ve created. Are you in balance? Where do the people in your life fit in this wheel? What are their connections to you and to each other? Do you feel like your life is compartmentalized—separate and rarely touching? Is there a way to bring more connection among the people and activities in you life?

Serpent Energy

Spiders and serpents, both associated with the number eight, are also associated with the Goddess. They are symbols of great power—of transformation, of healing and of wisdom. Serpent imagery denoting wisdom and healing can be found in ancient Egyptian and Indian cultures. Ua Zit, the Cobra Goddess of ancient Egypt was preserved as the serpent “present on the foreheads of other Egyptian deities.” The serpent was seen emerging/or merging with the third eye representing wisdom. In Indian culture the third eye was located in the 6th chakra or circle of energy. The Indians still believe that the energy (known as kundalini energy) that spirals up through the body is considered to be feminine Serpent power.

Even though serpents are often seen as phallic symbols, both spiders and serpents are most often associated with the feminine. Isn’t it interesting that these feminine symbols of power are two of the most feared creatures in our culture. Why are spiders and serpents so feared? One reason might be because they are cold-blooded creatures and thus seem alien to us. Mysterious and sometimes dangerous, they project our shadow selves (the unacknowledged parts of ourselves).

But their association with the feminine leads me to think that spiders and serpents are also feared because women’s power is feared in our culture. Women are revered as creators of life and are reviled as destroyers (Eve, Medusa, the Siren, the Bitch.) And this creator/destroyer dichotomy is at the crux of our uneasiness, even distaste of these creatures. We, for the most part, reject the Destroyer inside us and therefore are uneasy when confronted with this aspect in other people or creatures. We are afraid we will be destroyed if we allow this part of us to surface. Destroy means to tear down which is an essential part of transformation. Just as the uroboro consumes itself, we too must be able to tear down the structures in our lives that keep us from moving forward so that we can regenerate and begin anew.

Serpent Scrub

Nurturing our bodies is as important as nurturing the mind and the soul. Like serpents we too shed our skin, though only a cell at a time. To help along this process we can use an abrasive scrub to slough off the dead cells. Here’s a recipe for a basic body scrub that will leave your skin silky smooth.

1 cup kosher or sea salts

½ cup almond oil (any mild oil)

Combine the ingredients in a container. After you’ve completed your cleansing routine in the shower, take a handful of the scrub and gently massage your body (not your face). Rinse thoroughly then dry off as usual. You can add a drop of essential oil to the scrub for an aromatic delight but be sure to try some on a small patch of skin before using on your whole body to ensure you are not sensitive to the mixture. Enjoy!

Lucky 8: A Number of Regeneration

I have become fascinated with the mysticism of numbers. I never thought of the origins of them — the symbolic meanings imbued in them since their earliest use. That was why I was so surprised to discover that Pythagoras (father of trigonometry and the theorem of right triangles) was also a mystic who believed in the sacred meaning of numbers and thought that everything (including life) could be represented numerically. The Druids also shared a belief in the sacredness of numbers. The Druids’ calendar was based on lunar months and it was discovered that the lunar calendar and solar calendar were in sinc every 8 years.

More than just a symbol of luck, eight is also a symbol of regeneration. Buddha preached an eight fold path to enlightenment while the Muslims believe there are 8 paradises. Jesus was resurrected on the eighth day of the Passion thus connecting eight with resurrection and eternal life. One symbol that illustrates this connection is the caduceus, symbol of healing which shows two serpents forming a figure-eight intertwined around a rod. Serpents, who shed their skins, are the essence of regeneration.

The Eight: A Book Recommendation

If you are looking for great book filled with mysticism, adventure, two strong heroines and a touch of romance, I highly recommend Katherine Nevilles’ The Eight. The story, set simultaneously in France during the French Revolution and New York and Algeria in the early 1970’s, is a highly enjoyable and thought provoking novel about the magic of numbers, chess, human behavior and music.

Tarot Card—Justice

Justice is usually the eighth card of the Major Arcana of the tarot deck and she is often portrayed as Athena with her upright sword and scales. Like Pluto, Scorpio and the Serpent—Justice is about regeneration. Sallie Nichols, author of Jung and Tarot, says “The sword represents the golden power of discrimination which enables us to pierce through layers of confusion and false images to reveal a central truth.” Justice also symbolizes harmony—the balancing of opposites. This once again suggests the Serpent in the form of the caduceus. Interestingly, Athena is sometimes portrayed with a serpent on her shield.

Put Justice on your altar (or someplace prominent) and study her this month. Where do need her sword of discrimination? Or her scales of balance?

The Power of Diving Deep: Pluto

Both Pluto, named after the god of the Underworld, and Scorpio are intimately connected with transformation and regeneration. Scorpio’s passion for knowing and Pluto’s passion for getting to the essence of something are a large part of the sometimes painful, sometimes exhilarating transformative process. The eighth house, once known as the House of Death, is home to Scorpio and Pluto. This house represents the occult and the instinctual self — sex, desire, and death.

Scorpio, through being a water sign, is associated with the serpent. It represents the unconscious, a deep level of knowing and the instinctual self. Scorpio, the eighth astrological sign, has a bit of a reputation. Often thought of as moody and intense, those with a Scorpion/Pluto influence spend time diving deep into the unconscious—their own as well as the collective unconscious. Steven Forrest describes Scorpio’s goal to live with intensity burning away all pretense and to bring the unconscious into consciousness.

Pluto, the planetary ruler of Scorpio, orbits the sun completely every 248 years which means whole generations are born with Pluto in one sign (since it spends 12-30 years in each sign). Though you share Pluto in a sign with millions of others, where Pluto falls in your chart (i.e. what house it is in) tells you where that Pluto energy exerts (or buries) itself. Liz Greene described Pluto’s affect as “confrontations with power and powerlessness, loss and frustrated desire and the potential healing that arises from the acceptance of Necessity…” —and Oh, how difficult it is to accept Necessity, the handmaiden of Fate. Accepting Necessity means accepting that things happen beyond our control and we can rail against the Fates, but in the end, acceptance is the only thing that moves us forward.

Is there someplace in your life that you “rail against the Fates?” Do you accept Necessity or do you refuse to answer the door when she knocks?

Charting the Stars

If you have never had your astrological chart done, contact your local new age bookstore and ask them about their astrological services. If you already have a natal chart pay particular attention this month to the placement of Pluto and Scorpio. In October, Pluto is slowly making its way through the early degrees of Sagittarius. Wherever Pluto is found in the natal chart is where you are presented with Necessity performing her services for the Fates.

Moon Magic

The moon, which has 8 phases, is linked to the serpent in that the serpent hibernates (new moon) and sheds its skin to be reborn (full moon). This month as the moon shows you her many faces meditate on the transformative energy of the serpent. The Full Moon occurs on October 5 in Aries, a fire sign of great energy and new beginnings. The Last Quarter Moon occurs on October 12 in Cancer, a water sign of nurturing and healing. The New Moon occurs on October 20 in Libra, an air sign of balance and harmony. And the First Quarter Moon occurs on October 28 in Capricorn, an earth sign of responsibility and integrity.

 Bibliography

Campbell, Joseph. The Mythic Image. New Jersey: Princeton Unversity Press. 1974.

Forrest, Steven. The Inner Sky. New York: Bantam Books, 1984.

Frazer, James George. The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1922.

Greene, Liz. The Astrology of Fate. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995.

Nichols, Sallie. Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1980.

Schimmel, Annemarie. The Mystery of Numbers. New York: Oxford Press, 1993.

Stone, Merlin. Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.

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November 1998

November, from the word novem meaning nine, is a wonderful time to go inward to reflect on your inner landscape. The sleeping of the outside world will provide little distraction to this journey. This is an opportunity to explore inspiration—which literally means “in-breath.”

As I was thinking about this issue of MARIPOSA and the concept of inspiration, the Greek Muses, goddesses of the arts, caught my attention. Inspiration was the Muses main function while other myths said inspiration often came on the wind, which was ruled by Cardea. Researching the Muses led me to their mother, Mnemosyne (Memory), and from there the activities spiraled out from these magical women.

The Muses

The Muses were the daughters of Mnemosyne and the god Zeus, and thus were goddesses themselves. The Muses were originally three in number, as were many other goddesses such as the Fates, the Furies, the Graces and the Goddess, who was often represented threefold (maiden, mother, crone; past, present, future; life, death, rebirth.) The three Muses were comprised of Calliope, which meant beautiful face and who was the goddess of the full moon; Erato, or “beloved one” who was also known as the Oak Queen; and Urania, or “heavenly one”, who ruled the stars.

These three goddesses were the source of inspiration (particularly artistic) to mortals. Therefore appealing to the stars, doing a ritual at the full moon or in an oak grove, or engaging in a passionate act could all be ways to invoke the Muses.

Later, the three Muses split into nine and became the handmaidens of Apollo who became the ruler of arts and science. They gained in numbers but their power and status was diminished. The nine Muses were: Calliope, who now ruled epic poetry; Clio who oversaw history; Euterpe, who ruled lyric poetry; Melpomene, who ruled tragedy; Terpsichore who ruled choral dancing; Erato who ruled erotic poetry and mime; Polyhymnia who ruled sacred poetry; Urania who ruled astronomy; and Thalia who ruled comedy.

The Muses lived on Mount Helicon whose name was derived from helice, meaning willow. The willow tree was sacred to the moon goddess as well as the Muses. The words “witch,” “wicked” and “wicker” were all derived from the ancient word for willow. The willow was considered to be a tree of enchantment and was often used in divination. Because of the connection between willows and the Muses, the tree was held sacred to poets who would go to willow trees seeking inspiration.

Full Moon Ritual

Consider doing a ritual at the full moon in honor of Calliope, “the beautiful face.” If possible do this ritual outside in view of the full moon. Light a white candle and kneel before it. Raising your face to the moon, invoke Calliope.

“Calliope, daughter of memory,

Your beautiful face shines down upon me

Filling me with the strength to step fully into my life

Bless me with beauty

Bless me with wisdom

Bless me with love.”

Then make an offering to Calliope (flowers, salt, cornmeal, herbs etc.) Sit quietly and allow her to speak to you, possibly offering inspiration! Thank her for her presence, blow out the candle and leave your offering to her and the night.

Inspiration

Inspiration, which means “in-breath,” is the provenance of the Muses. So when you ask for inspiration, you are asking for the divine to breath into you—filling your soul with spiritual food. While breathing sustains physical life, inspiration sustains creative life.

Inspiration was used for prophecy and poetry. Prophecy was thought to be the earliest form of poetry and was often obtained through ecstatic states—halucinogens, dancing, fasting, and meditation. This form of inspiration will be explored further in December’s issue of MARIPOSA.

The wind was thought to bring artistic inspiration. Poets would often go to sacred groves of trees (an oak grove in honor of the Oak Queen, Erato or willow grove sacred to all the Muses) to listen to the wind. The wind is considered to be all-knowing and all-seeing by many cultures who also believe spirits are carried on the wind. So the wind is not only a source of inspiration but also a vehicle for the spirits.

The wind was ruled by the Latin goddess, Cardea who was said to live in a castle behind the north wind. Cardea which meant “hinge” was said to rule over the Celestial Hinge around which the millstone of the Universe revolved. So the cardinal signs (“cardinal” came from Cardea) of the zodiac mark the hinges of the year. Aries and Libra marking the equinoxes and Cancer and Capricorn marking the solstices.

Wind and breath take their form from air which is represented by the air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) and is associated with the direction of East – new beginnings. The Native American author, Sun Bear associates the East with rebirth and spring, and says that those who are under the influence of the East can be like “messengers of truth.”

As Cardea’s north winds blow around you this winter, breathe fully, and imagine inspiration filling you enabling you to be a “messenger of truth.”

Calling the Wind

Go into nature — your backyard, a local park. If you can find a grove of trees (oak and willow are highly favored) go sit among them. Center yourself with eyes closed. Open your senses and listen for the wind. Say a prayer (perhaps to Cardea or the Muses) asking for inspiration. Breathe deeply imagining you are breathing in the divine. Journal what you hear (and what you sense). And don’t forget to say thanks!

The In-Breath

This month, especially as the holidays approach and you begin to feel the tightness in your chest that comes from stress and rushing, observe your breath. Take time to inhale deeply, fully and slowly. Imagine the divine filling you with everything you need. You can say a mantra “I breathe in the divine, and I let go of stress.”

I Ching

The I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination system, is made up of 64 (8 x 8) combinations of broken and unbroken horizontal lines. Six lines make a hexagram and each grouping of 8 is named after an element (air, breath, water, sea, earth, mountain, fire, thunder). Consider meditating on hexagram #37 (Breath, Wind, Spirit). This hexagram is breath over breath — a doubling which also indicates that a repeating of words would be fortuitous. This month, each time you pray for something, ask twice. See what happens!

Mnemosyne: Memory

Mnemosyne was the mother of the Muses and the Greek goddess of memory. Mnemosyne or Memory is a powerful goddess. She can remind you of the first time you heard your baby’s heartbeat and she can remind you of the spanking you received for lying. Memory can bring to mind experiences through your senses as well. The smell of burning leaves, a certain song, the feel of holding hands are all ways Memory makes her presence known to you.

The idea that Memory was a goddess indicates the importance of memory—personal, collective and ancestral. Memory anchors us to our place in the world. Who we are is a fusing of our memories and our beliefs and values. Memory connects us to our past, to other people and to places. It is the foundation of our personality and it shapes our soul.

The flip side of memory is forgetting. What effect does forgetting – purposeful or accidental, temporary or permanent – have on our personality and soul? If memory shapes us then what does forgetting do? One Jewish myth suggests that the indention above a person’s lip is caused by an angel’s kiss of forgetting past lives before one is born. So maybe forgetting can be a way we allow ourselves to learn or relearn life lessons. Losing your car keys can be a message to slow down and pay attention. What about forgetting or suppressing painful memories? Forgetting can also be a protective mechanism—a boon from Memory.

Mnemosyne is also the goddess of story-telling. It is in the telling of the story that she is invoked. The ancient Greeks thought of Mnemosyne as a voice speaking to them, holding together the myths and stories of their lives and culture.

Ginette Paris raises the intriguing notion that memory is the basis of an oral tradition. Before the written word, the only way to transmit knowledge and history was orally, which had its foundation in memory. Memory kept the connections between people, events and history and then passed them down to future generations. With the invention of the written word, Memory began to lose her place of prominence. Information can now be stored and found in books so Memory is no longer as important as it was. Memory has slowly gone to sleep as the written word has spread.

The advent of computers has made Mnemosyne even more endangered. Where Mnemosyne differs from linear or computer memory is in her association with two other goddesses Aletheia (Truth) and Deception. Mnemosyne is a mythmaker who needs Truth and Deception to provide the knowledge and mystery that makes myths so powerful and enduring. Computers cannot tolerate ambiguity, but Mnemosyne requires it. Ambiguity, knowledge and illusion allow myths and stories to change and evolve over time—essential for the growth of a culture. These traits are essential not only to Mnemosyne but also to the arts—the domain of the Muses.

Becoming a Storyteller

Awake Mnemosyne from her slumber by becoming a storyteller. Call an old friend and talk about old times. Next time you have a family dinner ask everyone to share a favorite memory. Become conscious of what stories you are telling. Are these the stories that you want to define your life? If not, which stories do you want to keep alive? Keeping and telling the stories and myths of your family and community is a sacred task and makes you a handmaiden of Mnemosyne. Blessings upon you!

The Lure of Cinnamon

Mary Greer wrote a fascinating book (The Essence of Magic) synthesizing tarot, astrology and aromatherapy. Odor is the most powerful trigger of memory and Greer suggests using cinnamon to stimulate memories. Cinnamon is also the essential oil associated with the Ace of Wands tarot card. The Ace of Wands signifies a beginning, as do all the Aces, while the suit of Wands corresponds with the element of fire and represents creativity, inspiration and passion. Why not get some cinnamon (sticks, ground, or essential oil) and savor the fragrance of it. What does it evoke for you?

Another suggestion is to place the Ace of Wands on your altar to act as a focus for your creativity. Is there something creative you have been longing to do? Let the Ace of Wands inspire you to action!

A Gathering of Women: The Power of Nine

While nine has many meanings—a cat has nine lives, cloud nine, dressed to the nines—I am interested in the association of nine with women. Nine priestesses were said to tend the flame of the Irish goddess Brigit. Nine handmaidens stirred Cerridwen’s cauldron, and there are stories about nine Valkyries and nine swan maidens.

While Robert Graves argues that the Muses lost power (and came under the control of Apollo) when they grew from three to nine, I would suggest they reinforced the archetype of the “women’s circle” for lack of a better term. Three is the sacred number of the goddess indicating her triple nature—maiden, mother, crone. The amplification of three to nine (three times itself) I think is a number of power for women gathered together to do ritual work. This gathering of women has no name, an idea I find curious. Coven, which means meeting, could be a term used to describe this group, though coven is typically associated with witchcraft and is not gender-specific. This archetype of women’s power deserves a name. Any ideas?

Gather together a group of nine women and do a ritual. Is there power in the number? Do you feel powerful in community that size? Can you imagine the nine of you as priestesses tending the flame, stirring the cauldron?

Moon Magic

The moon travels through the sky, each quarter moon in a different element and sign. Consider honoring the elements as the moon shows her different faces to you. The full moon is November 3 in the earth sign, Taurus; the Last Quarter moon is November 10 in the fire sign, Leo; the New Moon is November 18 in the water sign, Scorpio; and the First Quarter moon is November 26 in the air sign, Aquarius.

Bibliography

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948.

Greer, Mary. The Essence of Magic: Tarot, Ritual, and Aromatherapy. North Hollywood, CA: Newcastle Publishing, 1993.

Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother.

Paris, Ginette. Pagan Grace. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, 1990.

Stone, Merlin. Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.

Sun Bear, Wabun Wind, and Crysalis Mulligan. Dancing with theWheel: The Medicine Wheel Workbook. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.

Walker, Barbara G. The I Ching of the Goddess. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1986.

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December 1998

The days are growing shorter and the nights longer as we approach the Winter Solstice (December 21), the longest night of the year. Many cultures celebrate the rebirth of the light at this time, and with the phrase “as above, so below” people too have been playing out the drama of rebirth — literally and figuratively for thousands of years. The cauldron, representing the womb of the Goddess, is one symbol of rebirth. However the cauldron is more than just a symbol of regeneration, it is also a source of inspiration.

In last month’s MARIPOSA, we explored inspiration, meaning “in-breath,” in the context of artistic endeavors. The Muses, Mnemosyne (Memory) and the wind were thought to bring inspiration to poets and artists. Now we focus on the other form of inspiration which is akin to being “possessed” by the divine—seeking divine guidance through ecstatic methods—singing, dancing, hallucinogens and praying.

The Power of the Priestess

The Goddess had power in the ancient world—more so than mortal women. Both the moon and the earth were considered feminine and associated with the Goddess as were other symbols including the crescent, cauldron and spiral. From Vestal Virgins to the early nuns of Saint Brigid, women were once in religious service to the divine feminine. Even in civilizations that were oppressive to women, the job of priestess held power. The Delphi Oracle was one such High Priestess who wielded considerable power. Her initiation and education must have been rigorous as evidenced by the high esteem that many philosophers held her, though the knowledge of the initiation rites has long been obscured.

Not only did the temples provide guidance and prophecy but they were also schools. When Emperor Justinian closed the temples and the schools of philosophy in Greece in the sixth century, it meant “no more educated women in Greece for well over a thousand years, ergo, no more priestesses.” (Goodrich, 1989)

The job of priestess was lost over the years, until one of the only vocations that remained for women who wanted to serve the divine was that of nun. Today the vocation of priestess is making a comeback. The Covenant of the Goddess is a legally recognized church of the goddess. For more information on their training programs you can send a SASE plus $2 to COG, P.O. Box 1226W, Berkely,CA, 94701 or e-mail them at info@cog.org.

The Myth of Psyche

Norma Goodrich suggests that the myth of Psyche is actually describing the initiation of an Oracle since it was forbidden to directly pass on the knowledge of the these rites to the uninitiated. The myth of Psyche was written in the Golden Ass by Apuleius, an African priest of Asclepius. The trials and hardships endured by Psyche to win back her husband’s love show that women had as arduous an initiation as male heroes. Consider reading the tale of Psyche with this idea in mind. Can you see the tasks given to Psyche by Aphrodite to be initiation rites? What about the Russian tale of Vasilisa and the Baba Yaga? Could this also be a secret story of initiation?

The High Priestess Tarot Card

The High Priestess tarot card is associated with the number two and represents intuition, independence and personal truth. Mary Greer likens the High Priestess card to Esther Harding’s description of the virgin goddess: “… she is one-in-herself, does what she does – not because of any desire to please, not to be liked, or to be approved, even by herself; not because of any desire to gain power over another…but because what she does is true.”

The High Priestess card could be the Delphi Oracle or it could be you! Place the card someplace prominent (on your bathroom mirror or altar, etc.) this month. What would it be like to be a High Priestess? Give your imagination free reign to explore this archtype of feminine power!

The Women of Prophecy

Prophecy from inspiration was the main function of oracles and sibyls, who were High Priestesses of their religions. The Oracle at Delphi (commonly called “The Pythia” after the giant Python that was thought to be the source of her prophecy) was arguably the most famous of the ancient oracles, and the temple at Delphi was considered to be the seat of Hellenic religion. One of her best known philosophies or mottos is still known today—“Know thyself,” which was carved above the temple at Delphi. Amid great ritual, including the inhaling or chewing of laurel leaves, the Oracle prophesied obscure and often challenging messages from an underground chamber.

Worshippers also had to go through a ritual preparation in order to be heard by the Oracle. Under the direction of the Oracle’s priests, the worshipper had to fast, go through purification rites, go into isolation, dress in ritual garments, proceed to the temple, make an acceptable offering and utter his/her question personally to the High Priestess.

The Cumaean Sibyl was considered to be the High Priestess of Rome. Sibyl was actually a title not a name, and the Sibyls were priestesses of the dead, worshipping Persephone, Hecate or other goddesses of the dead. Sibyls were located in many towns but the Sibyl in Cumae was perhaps the most well known. It was she who told the Romans, when Hannibal was attempting the conquest of Rome, to seek out the black stone of the Asian goddess, Cybele, and bring it back to Rome for protection. It was also the Cumaean Sibyl who is the largest of the five women priestesses portrayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Oracles and Sibyls provided only some of the prophecy and divination popular in the ancient world. Goddesses of divination were also goddesses of water, childbirth or death. Water is influenced by the moon and thus a primal symbol of the Goddess, while birth and death are on the cusps of life which was also thought to be under the auspices of the Goddess. Goddesses who exemplified this included the Nereids, sea goddesses who could foretell shipwrecks. Postvorta was a goddess of childbirth who would prophesy the newborn’s future, and Carmenta, also a goddess of childbirth, would sing her prophecies. Astarte and Hecate are but two goddesses that had human sacrifices done in their names.

Shamans

Shamans, who are often the healers and wise men and women of their tribes, often engage in rituals similar to the oracles and sibyls. Shamans, however, seek guidance from the spirit world, unlike the oracles and sibyls of the ancient world who sought prophecy from the gods/goddesses. Praying, chanting, dancing and inhaling or ingesting sacred herbs are tools often used by shamans to enter a trance state in order to communicate with the spirit world.

Indigenous shamanic techniques have been studied and a curricula has been created to teach the core techniques (those techniques common to many cultures). The Foundation for Shamanic Studies is one such place that offers courses in shamanic techniques. For more information on courses taught near you contact FSS at (415)380-8282 or e-mail them at: info@shamanism.org.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

Prophetesses foretold the future as well as communicated with the spirit world. Divination has been a popular pastime for thousands of years, and techniques range from counting apple blossom petals to tossing pebbles into wells. Patricia Telesco has written a book, FutureTelling, on the different divination techniques used throughout the ages. Consider trying a divination technique that is new to you. One suggestion is scrying, which is “gazing upon…surfaces in search of prophetic patterns.” The scryer focuses on the surface of an object until they are in a trance state, and then they analyze whatever images come to them. Mirrors, flames, blank computer screens, crystal balls and bowls of water are all tools that can be used in scrying.

The Cauldron as the Sacred Womb

The cauldron is an ancient symbol of the womb and in particular the womb of Mother Earth. The cauldron, receptive, containing, nurturing, is an ancient symbol of the womb. The cauldron figures prominently in many myths. Men were literally reborn from the cauldron in Norse, Indian, Greek, Welsh, and Christian myths. The other function of the cauldron was to impart wisdom as was the case when the Norse God Odin received the runes from the cauldron and in the myth of the Welsh goddess, Cerridwen, who made a magic brew in her cauldron to bring wisdom to her son, Afagdu. For a year, Cerridwen added herbs and magical ingredients carefully timed to the motions of the stars. Cerridwen stirring the cauldron is illustrative of women’s caretaking roles in the act of creation, and also highlights the common thread running through these myths is the concept of man being reborn from woman.

The cauldron contains herbs and sometimes blood. Blood was often used in sacrificial magic. Blood and the breath are the essence of life which is why a blood sacrifice was often used to get inspiration or divine guidance. The priests of the Asian goddess, Cybele, had a ritual of rebirth that worshippers could undertake once in their lifetime. Worshippers would lie in an earthen pit (womb) and an ox would be sacrificed over them drenching them in blood. The act of communion in the Christian faith also acknowledges the importance of blood in the drinking of the wine. And in many Native American tribes, a woman’s monthly bleeding was considered to be a time of great power.

Creating Your Own Magic Brew

Though this does not contain the same ingredients as Cerridwen’s cauldron, the process is still magical! This idea was inspired by Kate M. who makes wonderfully magical bath salts this way.

Take a clear jar that holds at least a quart and add 2-3 cups of Epsom salts. The new moon is about beginnings so add an herb, flower or other item at each new moon. Suggestions include: lavender, roses, sage, rosemary, pinecones, seeds, pods, seashells, acorns. Think of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) and use your intuition. If you are not sure if an ingredient is appropriate, consult an herb book. Mix the ingredients each time you add to them and ask the spirits to bless your concoction. You can do this process for 13 moons as Cerridwen did, or you can use your intuition to determine when to begin using your brew. Scoop out a 1/4 or 1/3 cup into a muslin or cheesecloth bag and close it up. Take a bath with it and enjoy! This makes an excellent present!

Red and the 1st Chakra

Blood is the lifeforce and thus its rich red color is associated with the Goddess. Red signifies life, passion, heat, and energy. Red is also associated with the 1st chakra located at the base of the spine. Caroline Myss describes the 1st chakra as representing our tribal identity and beliefs – how we interact and are influenced by our community.

This month pay attention to the color red and your 1st chakra. Do you like red? Do you wear red clothes or have red in your home? Contemplate your feelings about red as an expression of your emotions. Also pay attention to your 1st chakra – your tribal power. The 1st chakra is where energy enters your body. Is it unblocked? Do you have issues with your tribe? Consider doing the exercises in Caroline Myss’ book, Anatomy of the Spirit, on the 1st chakra.

Moon Magic

The moon has long had an intimate relationship with the Goddess. Priestesses tended the sacred fire, symbolic of the fertility of the Goddess, and cared for the water supply, which was under the domain of the Moon Goddess.

As the moon travels across the sky, imagine you are a Priestess of the Moon Goddess. At the full moon (Dec. 3 in Gemini) do a ritual with water outside under the light of the moon. One suggestion is fill a goblet (womb symbol!) with water and ask for a blessing from the Moon Goddess and let that image fill you as you drink the water.

At the new moon (Dec. 18 in Sagittarius) celebrate the sacred flame of the Moon Goddess. Do a ritual for the Moon Goddess using candles or a fire in your fireplace. Imagine the long legacy of priestesses tending the sacred flame – a symbolic of keeping the divine spark alive in all of us. Light candles or throw dried herbs on the fire and thank the Moon Goddess for her illumination even on this darkest night.

Winter Solstice Ritual

The Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) is the longest night of the year and is another great opportunity to celebrate the returning of the light with a candle or fire ritual. The winter Solstice is also a good time to honor the “dark night of the soul,” a time when a person is in a period of crisis that can lead to growth. Mercury is conjunct Pluto in Sagittarius on the Winter Solstice. This would be a great time to speak (Mercury) from your soul about transformation and the breaking of old patterns (Pluto). Have a gathering with soul friends and take advantage of this time to connect with one another.

Bibliography

Goodrich, Norma Lorre, Priestesses. New York: Harper Collins, 1989.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948.

Greer, Mary K. Tarot Constellations; Patterns of Personal Destiny. North Hollywood, CA.: Newcastle Publishing Co., 1987.

Harding, M. Esther. Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern. New York: Harper Colophon, 1971.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, MN : Llewellyn, 1997.

Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of the Spirit. New York: Harmony Books, 1996.

Telesco, Patricia. FutureTelling. Feedom, CA.: Crossing Press, 1998.

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February 1999

February comes from the god Februare meaning to purify which explains why the Romans dedicated this last month of their year to communal purification. Purification was performed for sanitary reasons as well as spiritual reasons. The saying “cleanliness is next to godliness” was probably derived from these practices. Spiritual purification has been a part of many rituals for thousands of years. Plutarch wrote of the ancient Greeks that they “think that some sort of initiations and purifications will help: once purified, they believe, they will go on playing and dancing in Hades in places full of brightness, pure air and light.” (Burkert, 1987)

Fasts and ritual bathing are forms of purification that many religions observe. From Lent to Yom Kippur to Ramadan, some form of fasting are still observed today. Fasts were also followed in ancient Greece at the Festival of Thesmophoria and the Eleusinian Mysteries as well as the festivals of Isis. Fasts were often done prior to harvest to prepare “the body for the subsequent sacramental meal between the god and community.” (Gaster, 1975) The ancient Greeks would also bathe in the sea prior to the festival at Eleusis. The micvah, or ritual bath, is still utilized by Orthodox Jews while Christians utilize the baptismal fount to ritually cleanse their followers.

Fasting as well as other forms of abstinence were considered to be for periods that were “out of regular time” as if in suspended animation. February is like that. The doorway between the winter and the spring. This betwixt and between is “an alteration in the predictable flow of life accompanied by an alteration in the flow of our own consciousness.” (Cowan, 1997)

Winter is usually a time of hibernation centered around the hearth so February, being the end of winter, is an ideal time to prepare for spring. Purification of the body was for the benefits of cleansing as well as for spiritual reasons. Imagine the whole month of February as “out of time.” A time of purification — readying for the spring and new growth. Now would be a good time to focus on an across-the-board spring cleaning from your physical body to your physical environment.

Healing Goddesses

Many gods and goddesses had purification rites that were performed by their followers. Fasting, bathing and ritual sacrifices were designed to purge the follower of their sins and make then clean so as to be able to participate in the festivities (such as the Eleusinian Mysteries). With so many deities “requiring” elaborate rituals it is no wonder that gods and goddesses specific to healing and purification arose.

The Egyptian goddess, Isis, not only had purification rites associated with her worship but she was also a goddess of healing and herbs. DeTraci Regula, author of The Mysteries of Isis, suggests using the herb hyssop, which is said to restore inner balance, in a purification bath.

Goddesses of healing were often associated with water or fire. The Irish goddess, Brigit, who’s festival day is February 2, is still known for her healing waters and her perpetual flame which was extinguished by church degree in 1220 C.E. Hindus believed that bathing in the river Ganges, sacred to the goddess, Ganga, would wash away their sins. British goddess Sul (a.k.a. Minerva Medica) healed with waters but her waters were warm like hot springs, and like Brigit, she was also associated with fire.

Purification by fire was practiced by worshippers of the Siberian “mother fire,” Tu-Njami and the near eastern goddess, Gula. The Aztecs, recognizing the healing powers of dance, fire and nature, worshipped Toci (who was invoked in sweatbaths) at festivals where they danced eight days with arms full of flowers. What a wondrous sight that must have been! While Toci used dance for healing, the Navaho heroine, Glispa, brought the healing beauty chant to her people.

Cleansing the Body

Hearty soups, warm bread and filling grains mark the typical winter diet. The body is usually more sedentary as inclement weather and short days encourage people to stay close to home. With the arrival of spring we emerge from our homes ready to be more active and eat lighter. February is a transition period following the hectic, heavy holidays and preceding the active, growing spring. Readying your body for this turning of the wheel is the task for this month. Consider a cleansing diet — one that would detoxify and bring your body into balance. There are many books on purification that can be found at your local library or bookstore in the health section. If you don’t want to adopt a formal diet consider drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, decreasing refined foods (like white bread and sugar) and decreasing foods that contain artificial colors and additives.

Altar to Your Body

Call upon Carna, the Roman goddess of food and the body to aid you in your cleansing project. If changing your diet is a challenge, make a ritual out of it. If you agree with the adage that your body is a temple, then Carna could be the goddess in residence. Set up an altar to Carna in your kitchen. A red altar cloth, candles and food offerings would honor Carna.

“Resplendent Carna, Goddess of Earthly Substance

Bless this food that I might be nourished and sustained

Bless this body that I might be strong of heart and spirit

Bless the Great Mother that she may continue to provide for us

and that we will do the same for her

So is the circle—endless and complete

Blessed Be”

Purifying Plants

The Green Witch Herbal by Barbara Griggs is a wonderful book of herbal remedies for body and home. An English Ivy plant can neutralize benzene (found in tobacco smoke, plastic and inks) and a spider plant does the same for formaldehyde (found in new carpeting, plywood and natural gas.)

Many herbs, such as lavender, have antiseptic and antibacterial qualities that are good for cleansing. Mary Greer, author of The Essence of Magic: Tarot, Ritual and Aromatherapy, says lavender—from the Latin meaning “to wash”—cleanses old karmic patterns and emotional conflicts. Try this combination found in The Green Witch Herbal: mix in a plant mister — 2-3 drops of clary sage, lavender and geranium essential oils and water. Spray around the house especially in the room of the person who is ill.

If you have never grown herbs, consider growing some this spring. Call upon the Celtic goddess Airmed, whose specialty is herbs, as you work with these magical plants!

Spring Cleaning

Cleaning your home can be therapeutic. Though often not a favorite task, cleaning has a way of focusing the mind. February is a perfect time to de-clutter your home — opening it up to new possibilities. Donate items you no longer use to a local charity. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used an item in a year — get rid of it! De-cluttering is the first step in turning your home into a sacred space. If you need extra “help” cleaning, call upon the Scandinavian wisewoman, Groa, who oversaw housekeeping as well as healing.

After cleaning out the clutter, the next step would be to clear the space of psychic clutter. Karen Kingston, author of Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, calls space clearing “the art of cleansing and consecrating spaces.” Just as tartar builds up on your teeth, energy builds up in your environment. Do you have an area of your home in which you don’t feel comfortable? A corner that seems musty even though its clean? Maybe the energy is stuck. Karen Kingston recommends space clearing to enhance feng shui (the Chinese art of placement); to clear stuck-ness and energy from previous tenants; to improve spiritual development; for healing as well as other reasons.

The process of space clearing involves clearing out the stagnant energy, purifying the space, shielding the space and then filling the space with intention and love. Check out Karen’s book for a detailed explanation of this process.

Consider purifying your home using the elements of fire, earth, air and water. Candles and fireplaces represent fire while flowers and stones represent earth energy. Incense represents air energy while holy water and baths represent water. Consider designing a ritual using the four elements to purify your home. You could place a lit candle, a stone, a small bowl of holy water and lit stick of incense on a tray and carry it from room to room asking the spirits to bless your home. Or you could set up a small altar in the doorways to each room and then perform a simple blessing in the doorway of the main entrance of your home. Be sure to pour the used water down a drain to insure the energy that was gathered in the water is moved out of your home!

Betwixt and Between

Tom Cowan, author of Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life, describes betwixt and between as the space between objects and is akin to being out of time. Between today and tomorrow, the edge of the tide, a rock on the ground. The often infinitesimal space is where transformation occurs and is magical. Standing on the edge of a body of water is particularly magical because not only are you betwixt and between but you are also at a junction of three elements — earth, water and air.

The following divination technique uses the magic of betwixt and between and was taught by Tom Cowan during a workshop on Celtic Shamanism. Find a location that is betwixt and between — a doorway, an intersection (watch out for cars!), the edge of a sidewalk. Have a question in mind and keep your eyes down or closed. Face east and ask “where am I coming from?” Ask the spirits to let you know when to look up or open your eyes. Write down the first thing that catches your attention — it can be a sight, sound, smell or feeling (like the wind.) Turn right (south) and with eyes closed ask “What powers do I have?” Turn right (west) and ask “Where am I going?” Turn right (north) and ask “Who am I?” Remember to close your eyes, ask the question then open your eyes when the spirits tell you to and write down the first thing that catches your attention.

Inner Work with Tarot

There really isn’t any one tarot card that signifies purification, instead there are several cards that reflect aspects of the purification process. The Temperance card represents balance which is one of the functions of purification. Purifying ourselves whether through fasting or cleansing allows us to return to balance. The Death card represents letting go — of the past, of anger, of denial, etc. The old self “dies” and the “new” self is born. The Hermit card indicates the need to turn within. Contemplation is often part of the spiritual purification process.

These three cards offer great opportunity to focus on the different aspects of purification. Whichever card or cards you choose, consider creating an affirmation to support your inner work. “I live in balance.” or “I balance my family and my career.” Remember to keep the affirmations in the present.

Consider doing the following spread to gain clarity and insight as you work with the Hermit/Crone, Death and Temperance cards. Remove the focus card (Hermit/Crone, Death or Temperance) and place it face up in front of you. Shuffle the remaining cards and select three cards. Place them face up left to right below the focus card. The first card is what quality you are trying to transform and cards 2 and 3 are tools that can be used to aid in this transformation. If the Hermit is your focus card, then card 1 might be what you need to reflect upon for transformation. If Death is your focus card then Card 1 might be what you need to let go and if Temperance is your focus card, then card 1 might be where or in what you need balance.

Moon Magic

Further emphasizing the between time feeling of February is the fact that there is no full moon in February (the full moons are January 31 and March 1). Psychologically this lack of brightness signifies a time for reflection—centering your work this month around the dark and new moon. The New Moon in Aquarius is Monday, February 15 which places the dark moon at February 12, 13 and 14. The dark moon would be a great time to work with the Hermit and Death tarot cards while the new moon is about beginnings.

The new moon in Aquarius is about individuality. Steven Forrest calls Aquarius’ goal “the uncompromising expression of self.” Is there a part of your self that you hide from others? Maybe you have a wicked sense of humor that your co-workers are unaware of? Consider creating a ritual at the new moon to develop this expression of all of yourself.

Bibliography

Cowan, Tom. Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life. Freedom, CA:Crossing Press, 1997.

Gaster, Theodor, Thespis:Ritual, Myth and Drama in the Ancient Near East. New York: Gordian Press, 1975.

Kingston, Karen. Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui. New York: Broadway Books, 1997.

George, Demetra. Mysteries of the Dark Moon. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, MN : Llewellyn, 1997.

Noble, Vicki. Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.

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New Moon in Pisces      March-April 1999

Mother Earth is awakening from her winter slumber and as the seeds of new life begin to germinate, so too do we begin to see new possibilities in our own lives. MARIPOSA is experiencing its own new growth as I change our calendar to a lunar rather than a solar one. This issue marks the first “new moon” issue, as my desire to “plant seeds” in the imagination of my readers is best served at the new moon. My intention is to finish each issue of MARIPOSA 5-7 days prior to the new moon so that the issue will be out in stores or in your mailbox (if you are a subscriber!) by the new moon.

The new moon is in Pisces on March 17 and sets the tone for this lunar cycle. Douglas Bloch and Demetra George (Astrology for Yourself) describe Pisces goal as the “need to commit myself to a dream or ideal and work toward its realization.” This goal is very appropriate to the energy of spring and it is little wonder that the fire sign Aries follows Pisces on the zodiac wheel. Aries energy begins March 20—the Spring Equinox. Spend these last days of Pisces and winter dreaming of future possibilities because Aries will call you to action. Are you ready?

“Mother Earth

lies in the world’s

midst rounded like an

egg and all Blessings are there inside her as in a honeycomb.”

Petronius as quoted in Donna Hene’s Celestially Auspicious Occasions

Spring Equinox and the Egg

The Spring Equinox, which marks the sun’s movement into the fire sign Aries, heralds increasing light and warmth — necessary ingredients for new growth. Seeds have been held in the earth and liberally nourished with water and now it is time for the next element — fire — to further their process of growth.

The egg has long been a symbol of rebirth for it is full of potentiality. In many cultures the world itself was born from an egg. In Greek Orphic tradition, Mother Night laid a silver egg from which the earth emerged. The Egyptian goddess Hathor, transformed into a goose, laid a golden egg which became the sun, and in a Chinese myth humanity was born of an egg dropped by Tien, the great cosmic principle. (Henes, 1996)

The egg is also emblem for the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring called Eostre, from which the word “estrus” is derived. A women’s estrus cycle is her fertility/hormonal cycle. It is thought by many scholars that the word and festival of Easter is taken from Eostre and her Germanic counterpart, Ostara.

Red, the color of life, blood and passion, was a popular choice for egg dying in Ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. (Henes, 1996) Some eastern European countries still dye eggs red to symbolize rebirth, egg gifts and decorations were prominent at the Spring Equinox and later at Easter, eggs were decorated, given as tokens, used in rituals and eaten all in celebration of new beginnings.

Egg Rattle Ritual

Dye raw egg(s) red. Beet juice can be used for a natural pink dye (the longer you leave it in the dye bath, the darker the color.) Heat (warm not hot, you don’t want to cook the egg!) one cup of beet juice and two tablespoons of vinegar, lower eggs into dye bath and leave until desired color is achieved.You can also use one of the many commercial egg dyes.

Poke a small hole at each end of the egg and blow the egg out of its shell. Rinse egg and let thoroughly dry. Enlarge one of the holes to the size of a pencil eraser. Fill the egg with bird seed or flower seed and plug hole with modeling clay. Meditate on what new seeds you want to plant this year. Do you want to speak your truth? Eat more nutritionally? Expand your business? Take our egg rattle, put on some music you can dance to, and dance your request. Shake, rattle and roll, putting your energy into the seeds in the rattle. When you feel ready go outside and throw your egg hard preferably against a hard surface so that the egg breaks spilling its seed over the ground. Say a prayer restating your wishes and then ground yourself by eating something or laying on the ground imagining extra energy flowing off of you into the earth.

Egg Divination

Whether you celebrate the Spring Equinox, Easter or some other spring festival, this egg divination is another fun way to play with eggs! Hard boil eggs and dye them using colors that have symbolic meaning. Here are some suggested color meanings:

White – innocence, truth

light blue – emotions, connection

dark blue – psychic awareness, the unconscious

green – growth, nature

yellow – joy, energy

orange – courage, strength, sexuality

red – passion, new life

silver – lunar energy

gold – solar energy

After you dye/color your eggs and let them dry, you can paint (or use markers) symbols on each egg to further enhance its meaning. Animals, plants, lunar and solar images, and religious symbols are just a few suggestions. Place finished eggs in a bowl and during your party (or by yourself) have each guest close their eyes and choose an egg. You can all have fun interpreting the symbols and their meanings for the lucky recipient!

Hare Raising Stories

Hares, larger than their cousins the rabbit, are sacred in the spring, though the connection has long been blurred. Why do we have the Easter Bunny who distributes eggs? Rabbits and eggs are associated with fertility and thus spring, so there is one connection. Surprisingly, the hare is a symbol of transformation through fire — a very “spring” activity. Buddha was said to have been a hare who leaped into the fire and emerged, unscathed, as the moon. This connection with the moon is also seen in China where “the hare itself derives its origin from the ritual essence of the moon, and is therefore at all times subject to its influence,” (Layard, 1988). The hare was considered to be the servant of ChangO and along with the phoenix (who was transformed by fire like the Buddha/hare) and the unicorn were considered “harbingers of peace and prosperity.”

In Egypt, the hieroglyphic for the verb “to be” is a hare. The etymology of the word “hare” seems to mean “leap up,” “opening” or “rising” which is another clue to the hare’s connection with spring. The connections of fertility and rebirth between dawn, east, spring, eggs and hare are apparent. Fire (the sun) is reborn in the east each day rising up (like the hare) from the horizon. The yolk of an egg is round and yellow like the sun and egg itself contains all the potential of new life.

Bunny Pancakes

This is a particularly fun activity to do with children. What a great way to honor the Hare (as servant to ChangO, as emblem of Aphrodite, or as the hare-headed Egyptian goddess, Unnut) then to cook (transform by fire) pancakes. Add one grated apple (a symbol of regeneration) and one teaspoon of cinnamon to your pancake mix for an extra punch. Interestingly, Arabian priests created a myth that cinnamon came from the nest of the phoenix. (Greer 1993)

Or try this recipe: 2 cups flour; 2 tsp baking powder; 1/4 tsp salt; 2 cups milk; 2 eggs; 1/3 cup oil; 1 grated apple; 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients. Add grated apple last.

Cook pancakes in the shape of bunny — one large circle, with a smaller circle on top, two long ears and a little circle to the right or left of the large circle for the tail. You can use raisins or chocolate chips for the eyes and dust it with powdered sugar to give it a nice bunny appearance. Bon Appetite!

Dawn Goddesses

Sunrise and sunset were magical times when the sun and the moon passed one another on their journey. In some myths the sun and the moon fought for prominence in a continual dance of light and dark. The dawn goddesses are catalyst of light. The Greek goddess Eos, drove her chariot across the sky, dragging light behind her. Ushas, a Hindu goddess, would appear each morning her glowing breasts filling the world with light. Dawn goddesses were often portrayed as nymphs — young, sexual and independent. They represented the qualities associated with the East, birthplace of the Sun.

Dawn Ritual

Welcome dawn with a ritual. Spring Equinox (March 20, sunrise at 6:14 AM) would be an ideal day to perform this ritual, but any morning will work. If you can go into nature somewhere that you will have an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon (though on your patio in your backyard is fine too!) Set up a simple altar decorating it with solar images and colors. Center yourself, light a central white candle, and then slowly light three yellow candles from the white candle while saying the invocation.

Rise, O Glorious Dawn

Aurora, Eos, Ushas

Fill our world with light

Bring us the warmth of the sun

Fire our imaginations and germinate the seeds of our new day

Rise, Rise, Rise!

Use your arms to encourage the sun to rise. Dance and chant using your energy to welcome the birth of the sun. Here is a chant by Cynthia Crossen, found in Songs for Earthlings.

Fire, Fire, Fire

Kindle my spirit, Fire

In your flames naught remains

but Fire, Fire, Fire

You can modify this ritual for a sunset invocation to Hesperide, goddess of the sunset, or to Hemera, who is light of day. Whether you are welcoming the sun, rejoicing in the light of the sun, or bidding farewell to the sun, ritual is a powerful way to connect to the light.

Rising Sun Tarot Spread

The Ace of Wands which represents the beginning of a new project is the focus card for this time period. Try this spread if you are having difficulty deciding which new direction to take. Place the Ace of Wands on the table then shuffle and cut the deck to your satisfaction. You will be choosing/ dealing seven cars placing them from left to right in an arc (to form a half-circle) over the Ace of Wands. Card #4 should be directly over the Ace of Wands.

Card #1 represents your new project.

Card #2 and #3 represent things that will help or hinder you.

Card #4 is something unexpected about the situation/project.

Cards #5 and #6 are short-term outcomes

Card #7 is long-term outcome.

Take time to study the cards. Is there a preponderance of one suit? Are there any Major Arcana? Does the spread seem positive or negative to you? Allow yourself time to sit with the images. If you would like to focus on a person card, choose the Empress who represents fertility. She can take the place of the Ace of Wands in the above spread.

Full Moon Ritual

The full moon is on March 31 in Libra. This is the second full moon of the solar month of March and thus is a Blue Moon. That makes two Blue Moons in one year—a very unusual occurrence! The air sign, Libra, is symbolically represented by scales which connote balance and justice. This full moon would be a good time to do a ritual with your mate or friends. A group ritual revolving around being in balance with each other fits the Libra energy of this full moon. Create an altar full of beauty (because Libra, ruled by Venus, has a strong sense of aesthetics), put on beautiful, evocative music and meditate on what you need to do to be in balance with the other person/people in this ritual. After the meditation discuss your feelings with the group. This would be a great time to recommit yourselves to each other. Share hugs, raise a glass to each other and to Venus!

Bibliography

Bloch, Douglas and Demetra George. Astrology for Yourself. Oakland: Wingbow Press, 1987.

Greer, Mary. The Essence of Magic. North Hollywood: Newcastle Publishing, 1993.

Henes, Donna. Celestially Auspicious Occasions. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1996.

Layard, John. The Lady of the Hare. Boston: Shambhale, 1988.

Middleton, Julie Forest. Songs for Earthlings. Philadelphia: Emerald Earth Publishing, 1998.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997.

Noble, Vicki. Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.

Starhawk et al. Circle Round. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.

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New Moon in Aries       April-May 1999

Will…the ability to control one’s own actions is the essence of Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. The sun has been in Aries since March 20 (Spring Equinox) while the moon turns new in Aries on April 15…tax day! April 15 ends tax season for most of us, a season that we spend in reflection of the previous year’s prosperity and growth. The New Moon signals a time of new beginnings so why not use that Aries energy on April 15 to set some goals for your financial self this year.

New Moon Ritual

Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity was also called Padma, the lotus goddess. The lotus being a symbol of spiritual enlightenment shows that Lakshmi was associated with spiritual riches as well as monetary riches.

You can work with this new moon to create prosperity in your life. Prosperity can come in the form of money, business contacts, new friends and more time. Create an altar to Lakshmi and include lots of green (to symbolize luck and wealth), orange (abundance, vitality) and yellow (abundance, fire). Decorate the altar with items of beauty and include jewelry, stones and crystals.

Take a fabric square, scarf or small pouch and lay it on the altar. Gather a collection of coins and crystals and also place them on the altar. Light your candles and invoke Lakshmi. Ask her to cleanse your items (the pouch, coins, crystals) and then to infuse them with the energy of prosperity.

Silver (gold) coins bring to me

abundance, luck and prosperity

Say this 3 times (or in sets of 3) until you feel like the coins are charged. (Work with “3’s” this cycle as 3 is the number of synthesis which moves us beyond dualism and is considered to be very magical.) Place the coins in the pouch and leave on the altar for 3 days, chanting over it at least 3 times a day. After 3 full days of chanting (charging) your pouch you can now carry your talisman to attract prosperity to you.

Interestingly, the moon goes void-of-course at the same time (9:22 PM) that it turns new. Void-of-course is the last aspect the moon makes to another planet before entering a new sign. The New Moon, when the moon conjuncts the sun, is the last aspect the moon makes before going into Taurus at 4:07 AM on April 16. Most astrologers view void-of-course as an inauspicious time to begin new projects. So if you are going to do new moon work, do it before 9:22 PM on the 15th or after 4:07 AM on the 16th.

After the initial burst of Aries energy we move into the Earth energy of Taurus, the Bull. Taurus, ruled by the planet Venus, loves the sensual pleasure of working in the earth. The sun in Taurus (April 20 – May 21) is prime gardening time as the seeds that have been planted in early spring are beginning to sprout. Trees are leafing out, flowers blooming…signs of fertility abound. May is named after the Roman goddess, Maia, which means “Mother.” This New Moon cycle of Aries into Taurus is ripe for exploring your creativity and abundance.

The fire festival Beltane falls during this Venusian lovefest with nature. Beltane (a.k.a. May Eve) and its popular adaptation May Day, celebrates the fertility of Mother Earth. Reenactment of the sacred union between the Goddess and her consort was one of the elements celebrated at Beltane. Dancing around the maypole, jumping the Beltane fire (for protection) and drinking woodruff wine are activities still common today but their original meanings have been put aside. The maypole, symbolic of the phallus, was hung with ribbons symbolizing the strands of life. Dancers circled around the maypole interweaving the ribbons echoing the ancient rites of death and resurrection of Cybele and Attis (in those rites the pole represented Attis and the celebrants wove the red and white ribbons around the pole to resurrect Attis).(Campanelli, 1995)

While we still find May Queens at May Day festivals the May King (sometimes called the Jack-of-the-Green) is usually absent. The May King represented the god of vegetation who mated with the Earth Mother/Mother Earth to ensure good crops. Thus Beltane used sympathetic magic (the principle of like attracts like) with the May Queen and May King engaging in the procreative act to symbolize and ensure the fertility of the land. Most May Day festivals have been “sanitized” of their sexual elements leaving a merry celebration of Spring but without the deeper level of meaning.

Flower Goddesses

In Rome they celebrated Floralia at this time of year. The goddess of flowers, Flora, was venerated by prostitutes who thought Flora protected all forms of beauty including love-making. The Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal (like Flora) celebrated all forms of fertility and was associated with sexual license and flowers. She was sometimes called “the flower of the rich plume” and her flower was the marigold. The Welsh goddess Blodewedd was magically created from nine different types of wildflowers including primrose and meadowsweet. The Greek nymph Clytie was the spirit of the sunflower while Spes, who’s flower was the poppy, was the spirit left in Pandora’s box. (Monaghan, 1998)

Flowers have long held special meaning in rituals and ceremonies. Symbolizing beauty, fertility and the natural world, flowers were ingested, made into perfumes and used for decoration. The Victorians took the art of flowers to a new height assigning meaning to flowers and plants. Patricia Telesco, author of A Victorian Grimoire, lists primrose, periwinkle, violet, apples, strawberry and tomatoes as flowers associated with the planet Venus.

Consider planting one of these plants on May 1 for Flora. Primrose was thought to signify “consistency,” violet “steadfastness” and periwinkle “friendship” — all very Taurean traits.

Making Flower Oils

Another idea is to make an effleurage which is a method for making essential oils from flowers. Get a glass jar, fresh flower petals and a light vegetable oil such as almond oil. Fill the jar with petals and cover them with the oil. Place the jar in a sunny spot and leave for 24 hours. Using a strainer, remove all the plant matter, add fresh petals and let sit for another 24 hours. Do this process for 3 days and then after the last straining of the oil, add a drop or two of glycerine to stabilize the scent. You can know use this oil to annoint candles, yourself or you can mix it with vodka (shaking it every day for seven days before using to blend the oil and alcohol) to make a cologne. If you ever wished you could “bottle” your garden, here’s one of way of doing it! By the way, this would make a great Mother’s Day gift!

Sacred Salad

As you celebrate this fertile time of year, why not make a sacred salad using the language of plants? This combination of plants has a decidely “sexual” theme! Lettuce is for tranquility, carrots for sex, radishes for strength, cucumber for fertility, onion for endurance, dandelion for wishes, top with edible flowers such as nasturtium, borage and calendula for beauty. Invoke Gaia and/or Flora to bless your meal. You are partaking of the Goddess’ bounty, so enjoy! (By the way, really enjoying the texture and taste of food is a very Taurean trait!)

Empress Tarot Card

The Empress represents the union of the previous two tarot cards – the Magician and the High Priestess. The Empress is the essence of creativity and fertility — the Great Mother. The Empress is the goddess incarnated into the physical body. For many women being fully in their bodies is difficult as we live in a culture that glorifies the thinking function above the feeling function. The Empress challenges to inhabit our bodies fully, engaging all of our senses and reveling in living.

Spend this moon cycle focusing on the Empress card. Set up an altar of beauty dedicated to Venus. Place upon it offerings of flowers, perfumes, beautiful objects, tinkling bells … gifts that will stimulate your senses. Place the Empress card in a place of honor and each day ask for her blessing that you might inhabit your body totally with love and joy. Then make a point of repeating the following mantra (or a similar one that speaks to you) throughout the day. “I am the goddess incarnate.”

Flower Spread

Take the Empress card and lay it on the table. Meditate on what project you would like to take out of the ether and manifest in physical reality. Is there something you have been thinking about but haven’t taken any concrete actions to make happen? Once you feel focused, shuffle the remaining cards 3 times and turn over the top card and place it above the Empress. This is the seed that wants to sprout. Turn over two more cards placing one on each side of the first card. (You are forming a circle around the Empress card.) These two cards represent challenges (or hidden gifts) to this fledgling sprout. Deal three more cards completing the circle under the Empress. These three cards represent tools or opportunities that will help this seed blossom.

Traditionally in tarot spreads there are outcome cards, but not in this spread. This spread is focused on manifesting not on outcomes. For this Taurus energy, the importance is in the “doing” not necessarily the final product. Use the Aries energy to get started and the Taurean energy to sustain you then you can use the Gemini energy to fine-tune your project. For now just enjoy the “doing!”

Aromatherapy

Mary Greer, author of The Essence of Magic, associates the Empress tarot card with the essential oils ylang-ylang, vanilla and rose. These scents are highly evocative especially ylang-ylang, a wonderfully exotic/erotic fragrance sacred to the Japanese goddess, Amatarasu—a sun goddess often worshipped in the spring. Vanilla originally came from an orchid associated with an Aztec goddess and is thought “to open us to subconscious sensuality.” The rose has had a long history representing love and beauty. The Victorians thought the rose symbolized love while Mary Greer likens it to “sexual unfolding in all its stages.”

Full Moon in Scorpio

This full moon will be filled with intense energy as the full Moon conjuncts Mars in Scorpio opposite the Sun conjuncting Saturn in Taurus. One way to view this is the soul (moon) and energy/drive (Mars) are opposing ego (Sun) and discipline (Saturn). The watery, emotional Scorpio is at odds (in opposition) to the earthy, physical Taurus. This is a great time to practice balance! The Taurean state of “being” is in contention with the Scorpio state of “knowing everything.” What a great opportunity to dive deep into the watery abyss that Scorpio loves and do some exploring. You can harness that Taurus stability to keep you anchored.

Consider a meditation to visit Selkhet, the scorpion goddess of the Egyptian pantheon. If you struggle with issues of power, visiting a goddess of death and transformation could be just the ticket! Ask her for a talisman that you can wear/carry when dealing with power issues or powerful people. Confronting your fear and receiving its gifts can be a powerful mediation. If you received a talesman in your meditation consider sculpting it out of clay. This Taurean activity will help ground you and help manifest the power of the talisman.

Bibliography

Campanelli, Pauline. Wheel of the Year. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1995.

Cox, Janice. Natural Beauty at Home. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995

Greer, Mary. The Essence of Magic. North Hollywood: Newcastle Publishing, 1993.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997.

Noble, Vicki. Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.

Telesco, Patricia. A Victorian Grimoire. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1994.

Telesco, Patricia. 365 Goddess. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998.

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New Moon in Taurus    May – June 1999

The New Moon in Taurus cycle (May 15-June 12) falls between two of the seasonal festivals: Beltaine and Summer Solstice. Animals are born, flowers are blooming and fields have been planted. The natural world has come vibrantly alive and we begin to spend more time outdoors. What is your relationship with the natural world? Your relationship to your environment, particularly to animals, is a clue to your relationship to your own instinctual nature.

Animals and the Goddess

In the ancient world, reproduction, life and death wasn’t well understood. Humans learned from watching the natural world, thus animals and plants became sacred. In earliest time animals were worshipped directly as divine. The Eqyptian cat goddess, Bast, and the Babylonian serpent goddess, Tiamat, are examples of deities who were wholly animals. China also had many deities that were animals such as the sacred lion, Shih (Johnson, 1994). Deities in Egypt were often portrayed as part animal/part human. Sekhmet was a goddess with a lion’s head while Uadgit was part cobra.

As humans evolved so did their concept of self and their world. As humans began to conceive of a deity who might be like them, animals took on another role. Buffie Johnson, author of Lady of the Beasts, describes it as animals “…embody the deity herself, defining her personality and exemplifying her power. Her sacred animals act in the myths as guides and soul carriers…” This marks a shift away from wholly embodied animal deities. Eventually deities were associated with animals and then finally little if no connection at all remained between deities and the natural world. This disconnection with animals and the natural world has led to our own disconnection to our instinctual life.

Thus we have wholly embodied animal deities like Bast, part animal/part human deities like Atargatis (part woman/part fish), human-like deities with animal companions and finally human-like deities who could shapeshift into animals. The Celtic goddess, Epona, could change into a mare. The Scandinavian goddesses, the Valkyrie, transformed themselves into ravens to collect the dead. Witches were thought to shapeshift into animals which was why cats and hares were sometimes burned to death. This shapeshifting was a major component of Celtic myth as evidenced in the myth of the hero Gwion and the goddess/witch Cerridwen who both changed into a variety of animals as Cerridwen chased Gwion across the countryside.

Lady of the Beasts

Artemis, one of the virgin goddesses of the Greek pantheon and sister to Apollo (though her mythology pre-dates these myths), was also called the Lady of the Beasts. She was the goddess of the new moon, with the crescent, bow and arrows and animal companions as her symbols. She was both a fierce hunter and protector of animals as well as a guardian to young girls.

Both the bear and the deer are ancient sacred animals that are also associated with Artemis. Shrines of bear skulls have been found dating 75,000 B.C.E. (Baring, 1993). Young women would dress in bear costumes and dance in honor of Artemis (Monaghan, 1999). One myth told of Artemis placing the nymph, Callisto, into the sky as the constellation Ursa Major after Zeus impregnated Callisto under false pretenses (Ursa Minor was her son, Actaeon).

The deer (doe, fawn, hind, hart) has also been associated with Artemis. Artemis is often portrayed with what appears to be a stag, but this animal could be a reindeer or a red deer—both whose females also have horns. This would make more sense because Artemis is so strongly associated with women. The deer represented the goddess’s “Mother of Life” aspect. The deer’s horns were thought to contain life force and thus were worn by shamans. The Durham Cathedral was built on an ancient deer shrine (Walker, 1988).

New Moon in Taurus

The moon turns new in Taurus on Saturday, May 15. The earth sign, Taurus, is traditionally represented by the bull but can also be represented by the Egyptian cow goddess, Hathor. This winged cow goddess (who was also portrayed as a lioness) created the universe and was the body which housed the soul. Hathor is a sensual goddess governing bodily pleasures including singing and dancing. Have you ever danced naked under the moonlight? Do you posses a tambourine? If so, consider a ritual to Hathor involving dancing and playing the tambourine — an instrument sacred to Hathor. New moons mean opportunities to invite in new awareness, to start fresh. If you have body image issues, New Moon in Taurus is an excellent time to invite healing of these issues, and dancing is a beautiful way of being in your body! Here is a chant from Patricia Telesco’s 365 Goddess:

“Love, passion and bliss,

by Hathor’s power kissed!”

Animal Altar

As you begin (or continue) to connect with animals consider setting up an altar to honor them. Use an altar cloth (if possible) made of natural fabric and if you feel adventurous consider hand-dying the fabric. Mark the four or five directions with animal totems. You can use pictures, figurines or make the animals out of clay. Making animals out of clay can be a meditation in itself. Consider a meditation to ask for animal totems for the directions. See what images/spirits come to you and then sculpt them out of clay. You can also have a naming ceremony where you bless, name them and give them a sacred place on your altar. The following correspondences come from Patricia Telesco’s Victorian Grimoire.

  • For East you can represent Air with flying animals like birds, butterflies or bees.
  • For South, you can represent Fire with snakes, lizards, lions or desert creatures.
  • For West you can represent water with water animals like fish, whales, ducks and beavers.
  • For North you can represent Earth with images of forest creatures like bears, deer and cows.
  • For the Center to represent Spirit you can use images of mythical creatures such as dragons, fairies or mermaids.

Animal Signs

Humans have long studied animals for signs and omens. For instance, seeing a mouse was considered a warning of danger while meeting a goat signifies an improved financial situation. But more than just superstitions, animals can be used to bring things up from one’s unconscious. Animals can represent qualities that you might want to invoke. So if you see a squirrel gathering nuts, your unconscious might be telling you to focus on your own productivity. The more you see a particular animal the stronger the message is to you. Many people believe that the animals represent animal spirits that can act as guides. Whether you believe its animal spirits or your own unconscious trying to tell you something, either way the message can be important.

Pay special attention during this cycle to the animals in your environment. If you think about how many things pass through your sense-ual (sight, hearing, touch, smell, etc.) field each day, whatever draws our attention must have some message for us. If you really want to experiment, you can pray for animal guidance. Some people consider it bad form (and disrespectful of the animals) to ask a particular animal to guide you. Instead ask your higher power to help you notice any animal spirit that has a message for you. Here are some common animals and their symbolic meanings (Andrews, 1998).

  • robin — new growth, linked to throat chakra
  • duck — maternal, protective
  • sea gull — responsible behavior
  • crow — magical, past-life connections
  • squirrel — activity and preparedness
  • cat — mystery, independence
  • deer — gentleness and innocence
  • dragonfly — power of light
  • mouse — attention to detail
  • rabbit — fertility
  • raccoon — dexterity, disguise
  • whale — creation, awakening inner depths
  • bee — honey of life
  • butterfly — transformation
  • spider — weaving of fate
  • frog — transformation through water and sound
  • snake — resurrection, wisdom

Pay attention to not only your natural environment but also media images. You might see a raccoon in your backyard and also a television show on raccoons, or a picture book flipped open to a picture of a raccoon or hear it in the title of a song on the radio. If the same animals keeps popping up in different mediums, someone is trying to tell you something!

Strength Tarot Card

The Strength card (number 8 in the Major Arcana) was traditionally depicted as a woman holding open (or trying to close) the mouth of a lion and represented controlling one’s natural instinct. Mary Greer, author of Tarot Constellations, says the woman pictured on the Strength card shows how we “can accomplish anything we set our minds to by acknowledging our linkage with the world and working in harmony with its principles.” Vicki Noble, author Motherpeace Tarot, describes the Strength card as representing “…the power of healing and the laying on of the feminine force.” It can also represent finding magikal helpers, which links it to the animal world.

The Strength card can be used as a focus to align with the natural world to get what you want. What do you want right now? Better communication? A new job? Good health? Find pictures or write about what you want and tape it to your bathroom mirror surrounding the Strength card. Every morning focus on the card and its surrounding images. Consider this a morning meditation…you can even do this while brushing your teeth!

Healing Oil

Mary Greer, author of The Essence of Magic, associates rosemary and juniper berry with the Strength tarot card. Rosemary represents love, wisdom and remembrance and juniper berry represents inner strength. Here is a healing oil that contains both (Cunningham, 1998).

4 drops rosemary oil

2 drops juniper oil

1 drop sandalwood

Mix these essential oils in a dark glass container (because light can alter the composition) with 1/4 cup of almond or safflower oil. Use can use this oil to anoint candles, your ritual tools and yourself. You could even use this as a massage oil!

Full Moon in Sagittarius

The moon turns full in Sagittarius on Saturday, May 29. The fire sign, Sagittarius, exemplifies the archetype of the Seeker…of adventure, knowledge, truth. What are you seeking? Let Artemis and her magic arrows help point you in the right direction. Consider doing a meditation to visit Artemis in her sacred woods.

If you can, do this meditation under the full moonlight. Center and ground yourself. Imagine walking into a beautiful forest. In your mediation are there any of her animals that come out to see you when you arrive? Come to a clearing where you see a shrine dedicated to Artemis who is there waiting for you. Ask Artemis to shoot one of her magic arrows. Which direction does it go? East means Spring, new beginnings, creativity, mental efforts, Air. South means Summer, passion, faith, body image issues, Fire. West means Autumn, intuition, emotions, Water. North means Winter, protections, physical issues, home, Earth. If she shoots the arrow straight up it means Spirit, connection to your higher power. If she shoots it into the ground it means staying put, connecting with Mother Earth.

Follow the arrow to see what you are seeking. Once you find the arrow pay attention to your surroundings. What do they tell you about what you are seeking? Are there any people or animals present that you can talk to? If so, ask them if they have a message for you. Take the arrow and return back into your present awareness. Touch your limbs and say your name 3 times to make sure all of you is back! Journal and later reflect on your meditation.

Bibliography

Andrews, Ted. Animal-Speak. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1998.

Baring, Anne and Jules Cashford. The Myth of the Goddess. New York: Penguin Books, 1993.

Cunningham, Scott. The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1998.

Greer, Mary. The Essence of Magic. North Hollywood: Newcastle Publishing, 1993.

Greer, Mary. Tarot Constellations. North Hollywood, CA: Newcastle Publishing, 1987.

Johnson, Buffie. Lady of the Beasts. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1994.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Goddess Path. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1999.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997.

Noble, Vicki. Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.

Telesco, Patricia. A Victorian Grimoire. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1994.

Telesco, Patricia. 365 Goddess. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998.

Walker, Barbara. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.

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New Moon in Gemini    June – July 1999

The sun, a symbol of consciousness, energy and power, is reaching its zenith this month. Monday, June 21 is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and also marks the Sun’s entry into Cancer.

Summer Solstice

The solar wheel, on which many cultures base their rituals, symbolizes the birth-death-rebirth cycle of life. When the night is the longest (Winter Solstice) we have birth/rebirth. When the days and night are in balance, we have the waxing/increasing phase associated with the Spring Equinox and the waning/decreasing phase associated with the Autumn Equinox. The Summer Solstice represents the full phase where the sun is fully present after spending six months coming to this point and will then spend six months decreasing until it is reborn. Thus the Summer Solstice stood on the cusp or threshold….a shining moment of stillness before continuing on its trek.

Bonfires, rolling flaming solar wheels down hills, jumping the embers as purification, general revelry and sexual activity are all rituals associated with the Summer Solstice. Because of this fullness/ripeness which is associated with Midsummer (Summer Solstice) and because it follows the purification rituals of May, June became the most popular time for weddings. Romans considered this time of year inauspicious, at least until the Vestals took the temple sweepings to the sea on June 15 (Graves, 1948). At the sacred oak grove at Nemi (in Italy) Robert Graves, author of the White Goddess, speculated that the water nymph Egeria, who was also considered the Oak Queen, would mate with the Oak King at Midsummer. The Vestal Virgins (before they were made celibate) would mate under the cover of darkness with the Oak King’s attendants. If a male child resulted from any of these unions, he would become the next Oak King.

This brings us to next important point: the Summer Solstice was also a time of sacrifice. The Holly King of the waning year would slay the Oak King of the waxing year. The Oak tree, which blooms at this time of year, was sacred to the Druids. At midsummer the oak fueled the solstice bonfires as well as the perpetual fire tended by the Vestals in Rome. The Oak King was sacrificed (literally and then symbolically) at midsummer to usher in the waning half of the year. The Greek and Latin words for oak are derived from the Sanskrit work for “door”. The door stands on the threshold just as the solstices stand on the threshold of the year. So the Oak King reigned from the winter solstice to the summer solstice while the Holly King reigned from the summer to the winter.

Celebrating the Solstice

The Solstice is a time for celebration, fire, love, sacrifice and the harvest. If you have a place to have a safe bonfire, do so! Passing through the flames of the solstice bonfire were considered to be purifying, thus couples would jump the bonfire embers to sanctify their relationship. Robert Graves discusses the use of mugwort and vervain (as protection) in chaplets worn by the celebrants at Midsummer. Why not make one? Dance, make love and give thanks to the goddess for a good harvest!

Midsummer Smudge Stick

Here’s an idea from Patricia Telesco’s Seasons of the Sun. Gather long stems of fresh herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, lavender and sage. Rinse any dirt off of them and them hang them someplace out of the way so that they may dry out. Once dried, bundle the herbs together tightly and wrap cotton thread around them (in a spiral down the length of the smudge stick) and tie it off. You can trim the ends of the stick if you want. Using a match or lighter, light one end of your smudge stick, gently blow out the flames and use the smoke to smudge yourself or your environment. After you are done purifying yourself with the smoke, dip the burning end of the stick into some water (to extinguish any fire still left in the stick) and hang it up to dry it out. This smudge stick will last quite a while, so enjoy!

Sun Goddesses

While our culture has long held the dichotomy of masculine sun/feminine moon, Patricia Monaghan, author of “O Mother Sun!” presents evidence that the sun has also been feminine. The sun was likened to a mirror as in the myth of the Japanese sun goddess, Amaterasu, who was lured from her cave with a mirror. Monaghan says “wherever a ritual mirror is found…a sun goddess is also found, usually connected with shamanism and healing.” The Egyptian goddess, Hathor, is another sun goddess, though her connection to the sun has been obscured over the centuries. Hathor was also known as the eye goddess because she was all-seeing. She wore a solar orb as a headdress and was sometimes called the Lady of Light but Egyptologists still refused to call her a sun goddess. In Britain the sun goddess was worshipped at a spring and was called Sul, which means “sun” and “eye.” This link between the sun and water leads to the Celtic goddess, Brigid who was both a fire and water goddess.

Near Dublin there is a six thousand year old artificial hill known as Newgrange. Researchers discovered that on the Winter Solstice a beam of light would travel down the corridor inside the mound until the light would illuminate the back wall of a chamber that had petroglyphs of spirals. The mound was constructed for this purpose. The common theory is that the mound is the womb and the shaft of light is the penis, but if the sun was feminine how would that change the theory?

In Ireland Brigid was associated with the sun, and before Brigid there was Cailleach, the Spinning Hag, who only had one eye. Monaghan suggests that Newgrange might have been built for Cailleach who’s one eye (the sun) peers over the horizon on the Winter Solstice. She sees a mound with an opening and peeks inside. On the back wall of the chamber the goddess sees the spirals and for 17 minutes stares in delight at the beautiful images. She finds mirrored back her own beauty “…and thus the builders of Newgrange worked a miracle. By forcing the Hag to see the beauty of sunlight captured within the cave, they broke the bonds of winter and freed the captive summer.” What a beautiful image that ties together the sun, the eye, spirals (which often represent eyes in Neolithic artifacts) and the solstice.

The sun goddess was also associated with spinning—remember Cailleach was the Spinning Hag. The Baltic goddess, Saule was a spinner of light. “The round sun was like a spindle anchoring the strands of light; light rays jut from the sun like hair or yarn.” Spindles made of amber were sacred to Saule (who wept tears of amber). Monaghan speculates that the first necklaces were not intended to be ornamental, rather women would put their spinning work, spindles and all, around their neck when they had to stop to do another task. The idea of a spinning sun goddess casts an interesting light on fairytales such as Sleeping Beauty (who pricked her finger on a spinning wheel) and Rumplestilskin (spinning straw into gold). The superstition about turning widdershins, or counter clockwise, is also related to the spinning sun goddess. Spinning sunwise keeps the yarn strong, spinning counter-sunwise can weaken and break the yarn, thus the admonition against counter-sunwise.

Mirror, mirror on the wall….

The mirror can be a powerful tool for self-transformation. Just as the Hag goddess saw herself reflected in the spirals at Newgrange so can we use a mirror to acknowledge our own beauty. Consider decorating a mirror dedicated to your goddess work. Using a paint pen or permanent marker inscribe this hymn to Hathor (or another one of your choosing) around the edge of the mirror.

“Oh! how beautiful!

The gold is radiant!

The Gold is radiant, shining, radiant!

For you the sky and the stars strike the tambourine

The sun and the moon adore you, the gods revere you

and the goddesses sing you hymns.”

—From: the Divine Feminine by Andrew Harvey and Anne Baring

You can also decorate the mirror with jewels, dried flowers, ribbon or whatever else catches your attention. Spend time gazing into your own eyes and reciting the prayer inscribed on your mirror. Can you recognize that YOU are the goddess?

The Hanged Man

In the Wheel of Change tarot deck, the Hanged Man “symbolizes the turning of the sun at the Summer Solstice.” The Hanged Man’s sacrifice is part of the natural order as summer gives way to autumn then winter. Vicki Noble, author of Motherpeace tarot deck, describes the Hanged One (as she calls it) as representing “…the voluntary surrender to a death and resurrection process celebrated in shamanism,” and reflects an initiation of some type. What is it that you need to surrender at this time? What quality or experience do you need to let go of so that you can be reborn? The Hanged Man often represents a turning point…are you at one now?

Using your tarot deck, pull out the Hanged Man and place face up in front of you. Deal or draw three card and place face up underneath the Hanged Man. These three cards represent clues to what or how you need to surrender. Consider the suit of the minor arcana as well as the cards themselves. Cups might indicate a surrender at the emotional level; swords at the mental level; pentacles at the physical level (or in your work) and wands at the creative level. Surrender is not a concept that is easily embraced in our culture. It’s the idea of being in the flow, not trying to control the flow. Letting go of control and trusting the process can be challenging and this is what the Hanged Man asks of you.

Full Moon in Capricorn

The moon turns full in Capricorn on Monday, June 28. The earth sign Capricorn, is symbolized by a part goat/part fish creature. Capricorn was often associated with the nature god, Pan, and was considered to be a symbol of sacrifice and atonement. The Romans associated the constellation of Capricorn with Vesta, goddess of the hearth.

With this connection of Capricorn to Vesta, consider doing a ritual centered around your hearth. Utilizing the theme of sacrifice, why not do some downsizing? Clutter is a problem in many lives. Are there items in your home that can be donated to charity? Imagine what Vesta might say about your home? Beautifying your environment, creating a haven for yourself and your family would honor Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The Vestal Virgins kept a perpetual fire burning in Rome in honor of Vesta. Consider creating a space in your home for a perpetual fire. Keeping safety in mind, is there a place you can keep a candle burning (or oil lamp lit) while you are home?

Bibliography

Frazer, Sir James. The Golden Bough. New York: Collier Books, 1922.

Garvery, Andrew & Anne Baring. The Divine Feminine. Berkeley: Conari Press, 1996.

Genetti, Alexandra. The Wheel of Change Tarot. Rochester, VT:Destiny Books, 1997.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997.

Monaghan, Patricia. O Mother Sun! Freedom,CA: The Crossing Press, 1994.

Noble, Vicki. Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.

Olcott, William. Star Lore of the Ages. Kila, MT:Kessinger. Publishing, 1911.

Telesco, Patricia. Seasons of the Sun. York Beach, ME: Samual Weiser, Inc., 1996.

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New Moon in Cancer    July – August 1999

The Fates

July is not usually a time when we focus on letting go. However since this is the last issue of Mariposa, I thought it appropriate to talk about letting go.

What is our relationship to the universe? Do we create our reality or are we controlled by destiny…by Fate? This has been the subject of much debate through the centuries and I’m not trying to solve it now. What I will suggest is that the Fates represent the energy of surrendering to the process of allowing a situation to unfold. We are asked to give up the illusion that we control everything. So when we work with Fates, we are asking them to help us step out of our own way.

Fate was viewed as a triple goddess like the Greek Moirae of which there was Clotho, who spun the thread of life, Lachesis, who measured the thread, and Atropos, who cut the thread. In northern European tradition there were the Norns: Urdh was all that went before, Verdandi represented that which was becoming, and Skuld governed what must be. The Fates were also known as the Wyrd (weird) sisters whose name means “to become.”

The Fates were the minions of justice ensuring that natural law would be upheld. So the Fates not only gave you your destiny but also ensured that the natural order was maintained.

So what do the Fates have to do with letting go? Imagine the universe as a web with the destinies of all people woven carefully into it by the Fates. Clotho spins the thread. Lachesis measures the thread and Atropos cuts it. The threads are woven into the pattern of the universe. Now we, as individuals, like to believe we have control over everything so we begin to spin and weave our own threads. Letting go is about cutting away the threads that bind us to patterns that do not serve us. So the Fates can help us get back to the underlying pattern of the universe that supports and nurtures us.

Ritual for Letting Go

Here is a ritual for letting go. Find some sticks about 6-8 inches long. These sticks will form the frame for your weaving. You can use 2 sticks to symbolize relationships, 3 sticks to symbolize creativity or 4 sticks to symbolize balance. Lash the sticks together, with yarn, into a frame (2 sticks can make an X, 3 sticks a triangle, 4 sticks a square).

Meditate on what patterns or qualities that you would like to release. Choose yarn that represents these qualities (like red could represent anger, blue could represent sadness/grief, etc.) Begin to weave these threads unto your form speaking what they represent. The weaving doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just move the threads up and over, around the sticks, between the other threads until you have a weaving in which you are satisfied.

Once you’ve meditated/prayed on the completed weaving, get a pair of scissors and cut the threads one by one while saying the following chant.

I call upon the Fates

The sisters three

Cut the ties

that bind me

After you have cut all the threads, burn them in a fireplace or fire-safe dish. Then meditate on how you would like your life to look — what qualities you would like invoke. Choose threads to represent these attributes and begin a new weaving. You can use the following chant as you weave.

Weaving sisters

guide my hand

Connecting to my inner source

strand by strand

Trust your intuition (which is possibly a hotline to the Fates?) to guide you in weaving the life that best supports your spiritual growth and evolution.

Internet Resources

Here are some of my favorite Internet sites relating to pagan/goddess/new age.

Real Astrology

realastrology.com

Rob Brezsny’s Real Astrology writing irreverently on astrology and other articles relating to the cosmos. Check out his stuff on the Aug. 11 solar eclipse.

Facade

www.facade.com

Free readings of Tarot, Runes, I Ching and Biorhythms.

Grandmother Spider’s Spiritweb

www.grandmother-spider.com

This cool site has a Send-a-Goddess virtual postcard feature as well as links to other related sites.

JBL Statues

jblstatue.com

JBL has an extensive collection of goddess statues as well as books and tapes. You can also call to request a catalog at 1-800-290-6203.

Ord Brighideach

members.aol.com/gmkkh/brighid/ob.htm

This site is dedicated to Brighid, the Celtic triple goddess of fire, healing and poetry. You can also request to join as a Flamekeeper for Brighid. The Flamekeepers are a virtual community that tends the sacred fire of Brighid in their own homes once every 20 days. There are groups of 19 people, each person taking one day from sunset to sunset to tend a flame in honor of Brighid (who takes the 20th day).

Pagan Carmina Gadelica

www.geocities.com/athens/forum/7280/carml.html

The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of Celtic sayings, prayers and blessings collected earlier this century. This site has pagan blessings and invocations.

Goddess 2000 Project

www.geocities.com/Athens/Thebes/3163

This site is promoting a global, grassroots goddess art project. It has suggestions on art projects and contact people around the world for doing a group goddess art project.

Foundation for Shamanic Studies

www.shamanism.org

415-380-8282

This organization, founded by Michael Harner, teaches classes on core shamanism techniques around the world.

Strand by Strand Collective

www.aracnet.com/~ravnglas/indexA.html

This is a Portland area pagan group in the Reclaiming style. They hold public rituals (Imbolc, Beltaine, Lammas and Samhain) 4 times a year and Hands of the Mother, another Reclaiming style group who posts on this website, holds the other 4 public rituals (solstices and equinoxes).

Reclaiming

www.reclaiming.org/cauldron/welcome.html

Starhawk made this San Francisco based pagan group famous. They have a magazine called the Reclaiming Quarterly and host really cool (and intensive) Witchcamps each summer.

Z Budapest

www.netwizards.net/Zbudapest

Z Budapest has written quite a few goddess books and this is her webpage. She also hosts a biannual international goddess festival which is open to girls as well as women.

Goddess 2000 Festival

June 8 – 11

LaHonda CA

Festival Registration

P.O. Box 11363

Oakland CA 94611

Book Recommendations

Here is a short list of books that I have found useful while writing Mariposa.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Goddess Path. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1999.

This is a wonderful new book of meditations and ritual suggestions grouped by goddess and attribute. For example, the Finnish goddess Paivatar, can be used for rituals of Release. Her symbols include a golden shuttle (for weaving). The winter solstice is the best time for this ritual, says Monaghan. Each chapter contains ideas for invocations, symbols sacred to the particular goddess, associated feast days and suggested activities to explore your relationship with each goddess/energy.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997.

The New book of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan. This is a key reference book on goddesses. It covers most of the world cultures and has a subject index that is invaluable. For instance if you were looking for a goddess of volcanoes, the book lists Aetna, Chimera, Chuginadak, Darago, Dzalarhons, Feronia, Fuji, Iztaccihuatl, Loo-Wit, Masaya, Pare and Pele. You could then turn to the alphabetical listing of goddesses to read about each one.

Starhawk et al. Circle Round. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.

Circle Round is a wonderful new book for pagan parents who want ideas for celebrating the wheel of the year with children. This book has recipes, craft ideas, songs stories and ritual suggestions. For Lammas, a first fruits festival celebrated on August 1, Circle Round gives directions for playing Hug Tag, for making a First fruits Wreath and for making Spiral cookies. The book also contains a section on rites of passage and teaching children about the elements.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948.

The White Goddess by Robert Graves is a classic book on goddess and poetic mythology. There has been some suggestion that the book is not accurate in its descriptions but regardless, it is a fascinating and beautifully evocative portrait of the goddess in ancient times. Graves also presents the druidic tree alphabet where each month is represented by a letter and a tree. So Sept. 2-29 is represented by the letter “M” and the vine tree (associated with Dionysus, the wine God). I found the book a little difficult to read straight through, though the index is excellent.

Noble, Vicki. Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.

Motherpeace is a companion volume to the Motherpeace tarot deck. The book contains goddess lore from many traditions as it looks at tarot as a divination system. For example the justice card features the three Norns or the Fates and speaks of natural law. The book says that if you get the Justice card in a reading it might mean “you are coming to consciousness about your place in the universal scheme of things.”

Forrest, Steven. The Inner Sky. New York: Bantam Books, 1984.

As for books on astrology, I love all the books by Steven Forrest. The Inner Sky is his basic book of astrology which I found to be spiritual and positive. many astrology books paint less than flattering portraits of some of the signs and planets, but not this book. Each sign and planet is shown as noble and empowering.

 

Free Fonts!

I love fonts! Do you remember using a typewriter and you were lucky if you had one of the fancy ones that had more than one typeface? Now with the advent of computers, we have thousands of fonts/typefaces available to us. There are just so many to play with!

I found this website that has 1001 Free Fonts…both for Windows and MAC. So if you are looking to spice up your document formatting…check out these fonts.

http://www.1001freefonts.com/

I really like Glamour Girl, Polo Brush, Speed Ball no. 2, and Moo Cow (for when I’m in one of those moods!).

Enjoy!

Public Domain Images

If you are a collage artist like me, then you know the importance of finding images that are in the public domain. This means images that have had their copyrights expired or the creator has expressly given the public the ability to use their work.

Did you know that the minute you commit an original piece to a tangible medium…it is automatically copyrighted? You do not have to put the copyright symbol on your work in order for it to be copyrighted. If you are concerned about copyright then check on the web for more details on how long particular copyrights last.

You might think this is an entry all about copyright…but really it’s to let you know about a fabulous web resource called Wikimedia Commons. This site has thousands of images that can be used free of charge. You’ll want to read the fine print, because some of the images have conditions for public use (like wanting you to credit them if you use them).

Here’s the link…go check them out! And if you have images that you have created and want to put out in the public domain…check out how to upload to Wikimedia Commons.

Wikimedia Commons