The Rowdy Goddess

An Ecstatic Vision of the Goddess, dancing in harmony with the Universe.

Archive for the category “Goddess”

In Praise of the Sweetness of Life

Easter basketWe are just emerging from the cocoon of a cold, cold winter to emerge into the season of mud, cold, and continued snow here in Central New York.  With stunned hoped and distrust, we are now seeing and hearing the signs of spring.  Robins, red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, finches, and jays congregate greedily at the bird feeder on our front porch.

Another sure sign of spring is the Easter season.  In the past, as a former fundamentalist Christian and then a pagan, I had not been a big fan of Easter.  I remember in the last year of my Christian days sitting in a Bible Baptist church on Easter Sunday listening to a sermon and becoming frustrated by the continued overt sexism and hidden racism of the smug, well-dressed preacher.   That was back in 1976 and I made a vow never to attend such a sermon again.

Since that time, Easter with the store closings and lack of services for the non-practicing Christian always took me by surprise.  It’s like I obliterated it from my mind.  In a more suburban and diverse place like Washington D.C. (where I used live in the suburbs), it was easier to forget about Easter.  Here in Central New York, it’s much harder to ignore the holiday.  I’m not sure people realize how dominate the Catholic religion is in this area.  Holy Week is important here!  Sometimes even state agencies and related entities don’t do work because it’s Holy Week.

At the same time, I love this season.  I love the pastel colors, the baskets, the eggs, and the general sweetness of it.  Spring usually bursts forth in the stores before it’s reflected in the flowers and the trees.  It makes my spirits soar to see all the yellows, pinks, greens, lavender, and blues of the seasons.  It’s a reminder that the Wheel does turn and light and lightness overtakes the dark.   As a quilter, I like bright bold colors and I also like the spectrum of pastels.  The pastels bring a lightness and pleasure not felt with the power of dark and bold colors.

And thPeepsen, there are Peeps.  What is the Easter season without Peeps.  I love Peeps.  I love the pretty pastel colors, the cringing sweetness, and the chewy delights of the marshmallows.  I am instantly transported back to that lightness and delights of our imagined and sometimes real childhoods memories.  Plus, I adore the kitschy, fun, funny part of Peeps.  Every year since 2007, my favorite newspaper, The Washington Posthas a Peeps Diorama contest.  They are too funny.  The internet is full of things that people do with Peeps.  As a librarian, I am honor bound to tell you about the Peeps at the library, one of my favorites.  I am not ashamed to admit that I have a great many Peeps products.  I was going to tell you it only filled a small storage tub but that would be a lie.

More often than not, my circle celebrates this season with a Peeps ritual.  I learned this ritual from Lady Phoenix Medusa and have embellished it with my style.  We gather together to play, sing, dance and do ritual.  It’s all about celebrating the sweetness of life in all its mysteries.  And of course, we eat.  Like all churches, pagans celebrate with food.  We all assume our Peeps names — I’m Lady Creamsicle  take place in circle and make fun.  We make fun of ourselves, we make fun of each other, and we make fun in general.  Through our laughter, rowdiness, our funny clothes, and food we celebrate the joys of our connections with Spirit.

 May you find joy and sweetness today and everyday!

 

The Gifts of Durga

A little more than a week ago, I wrote a post on the Goddess Durga and finding fierce compassion for myself.  I must admit that one of the people I find hardest to treat with compassion is myself.  I seem to be especially harsh on myself.  I also noted that Durga holds items in each of her hands and each of these might become tools for me to use in finding compassion within and using it in a loving and supportive manner.  I think, also, that this cold and brutal winter has a lot to do with the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness I feel on this first day of spring.

Sorry to be such a buzzkill!  I’ve always been called a “Little Miss Fix-it” and I certainly have that in my personality.  I haven’t fixed this.  But I am making a start by finding what the gifts Durga holds out to us.  A little bit of rather cursory research nets me a wealth of information to think about, journey on, meditate on, and to breathe in.

Durga has three eyes!  The left is desire or the moon, accessing the vision of the sacred feminine; and the right is action or the sun, accessing the vision of the sacred masculine.  The third and center eye is knowledge and fire.  I think the third eye takes these two opposites and melds them together in an alchemical blend of power and love.

She sits on a lion or tiger, both of which mean power, will, determination and ferocity.  Like my favorite Major Arcana card, Strength, Durga acts according to her nature and respects the nature of the powerful animal she rides.  They have formed a partnership of mutual respect and determination.  They ride forward in unison and harmony fulfilling their mutual purpose as well as their individual desires.

In her hands she holds a number of items, important in symbolic ways;  the conch shell is assigned the sound “om” and Durga is holding onto god in the form of sound;  the bow and arrow is control over both forms of energy, the kinetic and potential; the thunderbolt is about firmness of convictions and firmness in general; The lotus is not fully in bloom and talks of the certainty of success but not the final outcome; the discus spins above her index finger without touching, indicating that the entire world bows to her will; the sword if freedom from doubt; and  the trident indicates three qualities of action, inactivity, non-activity, activity and the remover of the three miseries, physical, mental and spiritual.

This is what my research tells me.  Over the next few weeks I will be journeying to Durga to ask her what wisdom she has for me about each of these tools.  Her stance tells us “fear not,” and already I feel more hopeful than I did when I started writing.  Perhaps like the lotus not fully in bloom, the turning of the wheel is opening up a little window of hope and happiness.  lotus 08 001 (Small)

Finding Fierce Compassion for Myself

In working with the goddesses of other cultures, I believe it’s important to understand who are they now.  I think the goddesses of myth, legend, and story evolve just as we evolve.  The Athena of now is different than the goddess of ancient Athens.  She has experienced change and growth just as humans do.  In addition, I think when a Wiccan or Pagan works with them, we share with them a special interaction and energy.  For me the experience is a combination of manifestation, meditation or prayer, and journeying.  No disrespect is meant when working with a god or goddess of another culture.  The gods tend to choose me rather than the other way around.

I have been working with Durga for quite awhile and she keeps manifesting.  A statue of her astride a tiger sits on my altar and I see it every morning and every night to remind me to treat myself with fierce compassion, something I do not always do.  She has become very persistent lately, manifesting in different ways.  At a Full Moon Meditation on Valentine’s Day, I pulled a stone with the word, “Decide” on it.  I’m still not sure what that means to me other than Durga appeared in the meditation and told me to explore the gifts held in each hand.  I looked them up immediately but have not yet explored them.

Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince www.darkgoddesstarot.com

Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince
http://www.darkgoddesstarot.com

Today, I decided to pull a card from the Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.  The card I pulled — surprise, surprise — was Durga, the Seven of Fire.  I usually read the Seven of Fire (Wands) as being judicious about fighting.  You have options, the ability to run from the fight or the ability to engage.  The key is that you must decide.  The affirmation for the Durga card is “Rise up or the demons will win.”  I realized that my particular demons at this time in my life is my interior self-talk.  At a time when most things in my life are good, my interior voice has become very harsh towards me.  Compassion, it seems, is reserved for others.  The card was a reminder that I associate Durga with that fierce compassion, accepting nothing but the best for myself as well as others.  I was reminded of a charge I wrote for my circle when Durga first came into my life.

Hear now the charge of Durga

I who am known by many names.

Many are my names and many are my gifts.

Beauty, courage, merriment, compassion,

Fearlessness, and power are all who I am.

Seek all of them with all your heart and soul.

Find companions in human and animals,

Treat them well and demand that they treat you well.

Be strong, brave, and powerful.

Love fiercely and live in compassion.

You have been given weapons

For your defense, and for your greater good.

Defend yourself with passion,

And give yourself with joy.

Love yourself with all your being.

Fight what seeks to harm you

And seize the power to be strong.

Love others fiercely

And love your true self without doubt.

Turn and swirl in the energy of power and love.

Remember the companions of hoof, feather, and fin.

Be at one with All That Is

And live in the fire of your own divine flame.

Burn bright and burn long.

Blessed Be.

May your day be filled with many gifts including compassion and ferocity!

In Praise of Creepy Crawlies

I have been complaining interminably about the cold, bleak weather of winter.  Just for today, I decided to turn my thoughts in the direction of spring.  It is only a couple of weeks away and I think this year, it’s more eagerly anticipated than ever.  March full moon, in some of the indigenous traditions of the Americas, is called, “Earthworm Moon.”  I think that’s pretty cool so I pulled some of the things I’ve written about earthworms to share.  Another version of this blog post appeared in Pagan Pages.earthworm

The March moon is called Full Worm Moon in some Native American lore, according to The Farmers’ Almanac.  It was so named because the warming weather and the warmer rains caused the worms to rise to the top of the soil, where they sometimes drowned.  For my college roommate, walking across campus after a rain caused a lot of screaming terror because she hated that particular sign of spring, wriggling or dead worms on the sidewalks.  For someone raised with a multitude of male relatives, this behavior was almost incomprehensible.  I learned early not to be repulsed by insects, worms, and other creepy animals, living or dead, that might been left out for an unsuspecting girl, tossed down her shirt, or held out for her inspection.

As a young person who was a little weird and then as a pagan, I learned to have a fondness and even a love for creatures with bad reputations or a less than normal appearance.  Bats, spiders, snakes, vultures and more are interesting.  Later, I learned they were sacred to various deities as guardians of the darkness, of death, and of those borderlands most preferred not to travel.  I look at it this way, life brings us to the edge of those borderlands and sometimes pushes us in.  If we already know and understand its creatures, we then have allies and friends as we move into uncharted territories.

So what of the lowly earthworm?  Without earthworms, we would not have the fertile soil we need to plant our crops.  Even their tiny feces, called casts, provide an abundance of fertilizer to nurture seeds.  The worm crawls through the soil like tiny plows, bringing more air and nutrients to the soil.  The earthworm is essential to an abundant and productive ground.  They consume the organic matter from the fields and the resulting residue is an indication of high quality, fertile soil.

It takes some doing to regard the earthworm as a friend an ally.  The can teach us a lot, as a totem and spirit guide.  They teach us to seek moisture, to balance our lives with an appropriate amount of water; water that symbol of emotions and matters of the soul.  The worm teaches us to look to inward to tend the soil of our heart and to grow a strong, healthy soul.

The earthworm also teaches us of our bodies and helps us understand our ability to stay strong in our bodies.  The flexibility of the worm body teaches us to move in and out of barriers, to be flexible and go around things when it does not serve us to break them down, and to work persistently to knock down barriers when it serves us to do so.

The earthworm is a sure sign that spring is on its way.  In March, in the cold regions of the central New York, it’s hard to believe that spring will come.  We are still shivering in below freezing temperature and looking to the skies for snow.  And yet deep within the awakening earth, the earthworms are working their magic and will soon rise to the top to create the new and ever-renewing fertility of the earth, of springtime.

To move in harmony with this creepy crawly, settle yourself comfortably for the following meditation:

Take a long cleansing breath, filling yourself with breath from the tip of your toes, to the tip of your fingers to the top of your head.  Exhale and let go of cares and concerns.  Take a second long deep breath and close your eyes, letting go of inhibitions. Continue to breathe deeply and connect with Mother Earth as she begins to awaken from her slumbers.

As you breathe deeply, you find yourself standing in the middle of a field in the early morning in that betwixt and between time of night and day.  The memory of the full moon’s rays is in your being and sunlight is only just beginning to peep out at you.  The field has been farmed in the past and it seems very familiar to you.  As you walk along, you recognize various things that you see, reveling in the familiarity of it.  You have been here before, in your dreams, in your journeys and perhaps in your life.

In the distance you see a woman standing in the field, looking down at the ground.  As you get closer, she looks up at you and grins.  She points to the ground and you see a mass of earth worms squirming on the ground.  The two of you watch as they dig in and out of the ground.

She looks at you and says, “Do you know why this was so familiar to you?  It’s because this earth is your body.  These worms tell us the story of you as you live in your body.  She then tells you of the things you need to know about your body and your life.  She picks up an earthworm and holds it gently in her hand before letting it go back into the earth; she whispers one word that means something to you about your body.  Remember, she says, this word and the wisdom of the earthworm for your health and physical well being.

She looks at you and says, “The earthworm speaks to you of your heart and what you need for understanding your emotions and the matters of your heart.  Watch.”  As you watch, words form in your head as the earthworms give you the wisdom you need to grow a fertile and productive emotional life.  Your heart opens to receive this wisdom.

A third and last time, she looks at you and says, “The earthworm speaks of your soul and what you need for your spiritual path.”  In your sou you form a knowing of what needs to be understood or done.  You hold this knowledge as she speaks of your soul as revealed by the worms working the ground.

Finally she looks at you and you understand the things you have felt, known and heard in this field.  Some of the things are a welcome surprise and still others have the sting of truth.  At the end, she hugs you and says “And most of all, you are a loveable and loving.”  She places her hand over your heart and you feel healing energy move through your body like the earthworm moving through the soil.  You thank her and she says goodbye.  She disappears. With a long deep breath, you are back in the here and now.  With a second deep breath, you open your eyes. With a third deep breath, you reconnect with your centeredness and reconnect with Mother Earth.

As you return to your everyday place and time, record your journey in your journal or find some other way to record the wisdom you have learned.  Make a promise to yourself to work this wisdom into your life.

May your life be blessed with vision to see the beauty in everything, including the creepy crawlies!

 

SpiritualiTEA: Pachamama and Mate

Modern depictions of Pachamama

Modern depictions of Pachamama

I checked this morning and it’s still winter and predictions of snow and storms are still filling most of the news for various parts of the U.S. including ours.  In addition to the complaining and kvetching, most of us seek something to release the burden of snow and darkness from our minds.   For me, one of the most uplifiting things in life is tea in all its varieties.  Tea preparation, experiementation, and drinking it is part of my connection to the Goddess and the sacred; tea is an important part of my spiritual practice and daily routine.    Imagine my delight when research an earth goddess for a meeting of my circle, I came across another connection to one of my favorite, mate!   There are no ancient pictures or statues of her but plenty of modern ones.  She is also a really great of example of the Rowdy Goddess.  She was not content to stay as the ancients portrayed her and she has evolved into a goddess for the 21st century.

Pachamama is an Earth and Time Goddess revered by the indigenous peoples of the Andes Mountains, a range that covers Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina.  She was seen as Mother Earth and was often depicted as a dragon that could cause earthquakes when things no longer pleased her.  In the time of the Incas, she was a fertility goddess who presided over planting and harvesting.  Llamas and clothing were sacrificed to her and she was seen a cruel goddess who eagerly demanded her sacrifices.  Her husband was the Supreme God, of whom it is said that she birthed him from her own body.  Her children are the sun and the moon. After the Spanish Conquest and the forcible conversions to Catholicism, she became associated with the Virgin Mary.  As Peru and the other nations evolved, so did she.  To this day, she is seen as a benevolent goddess, ever present, self-sufficient with a creative power to sustain and nurture the earth.   Now when people talk of taking too much from the earth, they phrase it as taking too much from Pachamama.  Many environmental activist groups take her name in honor of the earth.

There are a number of festivals in her name, both community and in the home.  Most of her festivals involve food, pouring food and drink onto the ground, or honoring her with thanks and celebrations.  August in the southern hemisphere is the coldest month and many rituals involve protection the people, the crops, and the earth.  People drink mate to bring them luck.

Mate is a South American caffeinated drink made from steeping the dried leaves of the yerba mate.  There are many traditional preparations and rituals surrounding the drink.  In the industrialized world, it is sold as a tea and while technically not a tea, it is often used as a substitute for coffee because of its strong, rich, bold, caffeinated flavor.  The legends of the Guarani (Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina) say that mate was created when the Moon and the Cloud came to Earth to visit.  Instead of a friendly greeting, they were met by a jaguar, ready to attack them.  An old man rescued them and with gratitude, these Goddesses gave him a new plant from which he could make the “drink of friendship.[1]”  In tribute to Her and the great Earth she is and protects, I add a simple ritual to my morning mate routine.

Mate Ritual for Pachamama

This is a morning ritual for your first warm beverage of the morning, preferably mate.  Brew a pot or cup of mate in your preferred method.   Pour yourself a cup of the mate with this charm:

I pour this liquid in my cup

So all day long I’ll have good luck.

Add sweetener (honey or sugar) and cream, if you prefer.  Regardless of whether you add or not, stir the liquid deosil and say these words:

Sweetness and nourishment combine

With flavors rich, bold and strong

And stay with me, Goddess, all day long.

Take your drink to a special place outdoors[2], and pour a portion onto the ground with this prayer:

In gratitude and blessings, I call to Pachamama

Mother of Earth, Mother of Time

She of the sowing, weeding, reaping and storing,

She who brings forth the bounty and nurtures the earth

I thank you for the beauty of the green earth

The strength and illumination of the sun and moon,

I honor the sacrifice, benevolence, and love

With this drink made with your leaves.

Thank you for this day lit well with sunlight

And thank you for the night illuminated by moonlight!

Blessed Be.


[1] Wikipedia articles “Pachamama” and “Yerba Mate.”

[2] If the weather or situation means you must stay indoors, pour your gift to the Goddess into a small bowl of soil to be left outdoors at another time.  B*B

Celebrating the Hag! Baba Yaga, the Hag of Winter

Baba Yaga 2

Baba Yaga by Kinuko Y. Craft

This eternal winter, dubbed the Polar Express by the press, has turned into a polar depression for many people.  The persistent cold and sudden snow squall is peppered by blizzards, traffic accidents, and cruel, teasing almost-thaws.  It can lay siege to our hearts and our nerves.  How do we melt our frozen wills?  By celebrating.

Our circle celebrates the hag.  We laugh, we kvetch, we keen, and we laugh some more.  Two of our witches have decided to bypass the wisdom of the crone and, as they say, “go straight to hag,” because the hag doesn’t care.  She wears what she likes, she says what’s on her mind, and she does as she pleases.  If children cross the street to avoid the hag’s house?  So what, the hag views that with glee!  And that is what the hag has become for us:  a woman of a certain age who stands in her power and acts as she wills.

Each quarter this year, we are identifying a Witch of legend and lore to celebrate and explore.  In the grip of a cold, harsh winter, we celebrate the Hag, Baba Yaga.

There is no character in folk-tales or mythology who is so irredeemable and wicked as Baba Yaga. She is a fearsome, ugly old hag who lives on the edge of the forest. Her house is surrounded by a fence of bones and topped with skulls whose eyes glow red in the dark. The house itself is set on chicken legs and can move around with great noise and frightening disruption.

The hag herself is not a pretty sight. Her nose is so large, it is said that it touches the ceiling when she sleeps. She has iron teeth and is frequently called, Baba Yaga Boney Legs. While she is said to have no control over the pure in heart, she does have a reputation for baking young children in her huge oven and crunching on their bones.

She rides around in a mortar using a pestle to propel her and when she arrives a great winds begins and stirs up the world around her. When she leaves, she removes all traces of herself with a broom made of silver birch. Sometimes her conveyance is a huge kettle. Other times, she appears as a kindly old crone, assisting people in distress.

Like so many legends and stories of the mythic creatures and the gods, there is great power underneath. Who was she before these stories; and who will she become as we work with her. The author Deborah Blake describes her journey of creating a modern-day story with Baba Yaga in it. You can read it at her blog. I am very much looking forward to reading her first novel published by a major house–it now has a cover.

As Blake points out, John and Caitlin Matthews in The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures have researched the story behind the story of Baba Yaga, pointing that although she is portrayed as an “archetypal bogey-woman, she is actually a primal goddess. The mortar and pestle are symbols of creation and destruction, and her broom cleanses and cleans.

She inhabits the borderlands, those places between life and death, the places between this world and other worlds. She gave Koshei the Deathless, a dragon with human shape, his mortality. She also controls another fire-breathing dragon, Chudo-Yudo who guards the Water of Life and death.  She has fierce companions and friends.  She befriends the friendless and empowers the powerless.  She is one of those teachers you strive to meet her standards, because she hold the bar high and demands your achievement.

It’s obvious she’s a great witch of power.  I met her during a healing journey.  She was fierce, strong, and in good fighting shape.  She gave me strong words of wisdom for my protection and healing.  I’m working through a lot of uncertainty and sorrow at this point in my life, and she made it clear that she was at my back.  She joked about the chicken legged house, saying a lot of disruption and noise is not a bad thing.  She changed her visage from kindly old crone, to girl, to hot chick and back to fearsome hag before me; and then told me people see what they need to see where she is concerned.  She gave me some advice about some of my struggles and then said “I leave that with you to do or not do.”  Then she gave me a very fierce hug and was off again.

Baba Yaga

I am the wild, untamed nature of the world
I am the whirling music of nature
And the strange heartbeat
Of life and death.

I fly the world in my vessel of change
Propelled by creation and destruction.
I sweep from this world to the others
Clearing and cleansing the way.

I am in love with the unusual
Finding beauty and interest in the odd.
Wonder and curiosity move me
From marvel to marvel.
Shift your vision and you will see it too!

My the paralysis you feel about certain things be melted in glee, delight, and fierce determination.

Finding the Divine in the Polar Depression

Winter-Scenes-Wallpaper-Free

It is very, very cold where I am. The temperature catapults from below zero to a whopping, warm, 15 degrees. Salt covers our cars and we track it in on carpets; so much so, that one colleague commented that she felt like we worked at a local salt mining facility. It is very hard work to keep warm, both inside and out. It is far from picturesque, though sometimes the sun does shine and make the dirty, grey snow shiny and inviting. Go outside and the wind is bitter and cold.  The media calls it the Polar express and I call it the Polar Depression.

Each quarter, my circle has “sponsors,” as a way to learn about different gods and goddesses. Each member is invited to explore these gods (or not) in their own way. Because the winter started early and harshly, I serendipitously found myself exploring the landscapes and gods of the Slavic countries. I found richness and harshness in their gods, particularly in the winter. Our winter goddess is harsh, strong, demanding, and powerful while her husband is sweet, comforting, and supportive. The polarities in the gods reflect the polarities of life in the upper part of the world. Winter demands strength, preparation, and no mistakes while spring is precious, brief, and prized. Neither is better than the other, it just is.

Morana (Morena, Marzanna) is not a beloved goddess but one that is feared and respected. Pronounced “mah-rah-nah,” she is portrayed as a woman with long black hair and a terrifying presence. She is the goddess of winter, death, and witchcraft, and sometimes the goddess of the harvest. In a land of privation and scarcity, she helps souls journey to the underworld and she provides the magic of survival. In the spring, a doll or effigy of her is constructed and either burned or drowned to celebrate the triumph of spring over winter. In March, a festival of masks is held. Villagers will don frightening masks to scare Morana away.

She was the daughter of the thunder God, Perun, and her twin brother and husband was Jarilo. She is associated with the Sun, while he is associated with the Moon and springtime.

The Charge of the Goddess Morana

Hear now the Charge of the Goddess Morana,

I who am called Marzana, Mara, Mora, Marmora

And many other names.

Celebrate the season of winter with me!

Face it with courage, strength, and endurance.

Know that scarcity and bleakness cannot defeat you

For my magic and power is deep in your soul.

Look at the unloved part of your soul

Know that I find it terrifying in its beauty

And I love it despite your displeasure.

Look at your unloveliness with compassion and strength

And you will find love and beauty.

How could it not?

It is a part of you.

Know this wisdom, for it comes from the heart of what terrifies you:

It is not necessary for others to understand or love this thing

Only you must.

And in that there is beauty, power, and mystery.

Blessed be from the coldest heart of winter.

 

Pagan Fundamentalism

Pagan Fundamentalism

I have a cold and my brain functions not.  Luckily for all of us, there are wise and wonderful people out there posting thoughtful essays on the Pagan world.  This dovetails with what I talk about in light of the Pagan community’s sometimes fundamentalist view of sacred feminism:  maiden, mother, crone.  Only she says is way smarter.

 

From the Wild Hunt:  Pagan Fundamentalism by Sabina Magliocco.

 

Fire of the Hearth, Fire of the Forge, Fire in the Head

This is the time of Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of many aspects.  She is the guardian of the hearth, smiths, warriors, and poets.  Brigit was born at sunrise, just before dawn, and a tower of fire burst from her crown and leapt to the heavens, making the house look like it was on fire.   She is the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha De’ Danaan.  Variations of her worship was found throughout the ancient Celtic lands and she had many names.  She was deeply revered.  When the Romans invaded the Celtic world, they called her Minerva and when Catholicism spread, they made her into St. Brigit.  Thus is the extent of her power and influence.

Her name has many meanings including “power,” “fiery arrow” and “she who exalts herself.”  She has responsibility and power over much of life.  She is the patroness of poetry and inspiration, patroness of hearth and home, patroness of the forge.  Through that triple responsibility, she rules  fertility, healing, creativity, the crafts, spinning and weaving, goldsmith and smithcraft, poetry, and bardic lore.  Her power was imbued in the countryside, so that the highlands,  hills, wells, streams and rivers were her body.  Her symbols speak of her power:  fire, wells, cauldrons, the forge. mistletoe, and the Rowan tree.  She is associated with animals emblematic of the bounty of the world, the ewe, boar, and cow.  Snakes are also sacred to her as a symbol of transformation and change.  She invented whistling so she could bring friends to her side in time of need; and she invented keening to express sorrow too great to be held inside.

Her magic is born of mystery.  She is a triple goddess, but not in the Maiden-Mother-Crone aspect revered by modern pagans.  Her triplicity is expressed in her most potent symbol, fire.  She is the Muse, the Fire of Inspiration, of poetry and lore.  She is the Fire of the Hearth, the patroness of childbirth, fertility, home-crafts, and of healing.  She is the Fire of the Forge, patroness of smithcraft and the art of war.  She is protection, creativity, procreation of all sorts, healing, transformation and renewal.  Her triplicity has been expressed as “Fire of the Hearth, Fire of the Forge, Fire in the Head,” with the fire in the head denoting the fiery power of poetry and eloquence.  And so we get fired up by her and her inspiration.

 The Charge of the Goddess Brigit

I call to you my children, my sisters and brothers to hear my charge

I, who am Brigit, Brid, Brigantia, Braga, Branganca, Fraid and many other names,

Do charge you to find the fires of life within your soul

And forge yourself to be strong, sharp and powerful.

Pull the elements of the earth into your being;

Breathe the inspiration of poetry, song, and art into your soul;

Be heated by the flames of the fire and ember;

Be tempered and soothed by the cool waters from my sacred well;

And be shaped and fused into magic at my hearth

 

Come to my wells for healing and wishes

Be nourished and soothed by the waters

Tie your wishes to the branches of my trees

And know that wishes spoken

Become the magic of the world

Become your wishes, the magic at my well.

Sing the inspiration of the mystery with your voice

Inspire yourself with joy and love

Delight in the blessings of creation

Become the Art you were meant to be.

 

Hibernation and Polar Bear Totem

polar bear swmiingPolar bears are hunters and survivors. They thrive in a wintery environment of frozen grounds and water. Polar bears are fearsome protectors of their young and aggressively forage for food in the water, town garbage heaps or wherever they might find nourishment and protection. They fascinate us with their size, power, habits and ability to adapt and survive.

Polar bear wisdom draws from their expertise in swimming, ability to thrive in a stark landscape and their attitude towards others of their kind. Polar bears are able to navigate the Earth’s magnetic line, emotional waters, and finding a way back from the brink of danger. Polar bear wisdom is about solitude and the ability to find sustenance in the most austere places. They communicate through dreams and understand life, rebirth, and transformation. They are good providers and protectors of their families and their wisdom informs defenses and revenge energy.

In the January 2008 Llewellyn Witches Calendar, I wrote, “Polar bears have adapted to a world where the cold is eternal and daytime and nighttime have no meaning. In the Arctic, the summers are 24 hours of light and the winters are 24 hours of dark. Unlike other bears, the polar bear is able to go into hibernation when food is scarce and become active when abundance returns, using what is called “walking hibernation.” They lower their temperature and hibernate as needed, for a few days or longer. Only pregnant polar bears seek the protection of a dean, and they create a two-chambered tunnel in the snow banks where they birth their cubs. Polar bear sleeping habits include naps; they often sleep for short stretches during the day, since their prey is active at night. Napping helps conserve energy which is swiftly expended as they hunt. They sleep during winter storms and they sleep after play.”

My own personal discovery of the polar bear was through shamanic journeywork. In a class, a classmate retrieved a power animal for me which turned out to be my guardian spirit: the polar bear. I had been to the National Zoo the week before and spent a long time at the polar bear habitat. You could walk underground and see them as they swam beneath the water. At the time, I was swimming a lot and I thought, “Polar bear is like me, flabby but graceful underwater!”

Come play with me on the long winters night
Come hunt with me through darkness and light.
Be strong with me in loving protection
Be fierce with me in introspection.
Find the rhythm of life and death
Find the heart of it all, in all its breadth.
Swim in the waters’ depths to transform and restore
Be fluid and tranquil as you change even more!
Come play with me on the long summers day
Let anxiety and worry float far away
Be one with the Universe, in love and grace
You are happiness and power, all in one place.

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