Goddess Study: Brighid December 04, 2004 6:23 PM
Celtic name: Brighid, Brigid, Brigit (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)basic information:
Brighid: Celtic Goddess of Healing, Smithcraft, and QueenshipBrighid’s relations:
Wife of the Dagda.
Mother of Brian, Luchar, and Uar.
Grandmother of the Tuatha de Danaan (the people of Danu).
Associated with Danu, the ancestral Goddess and grandmother of the Tuatha de Danaan (the people of Danu).
Associated with the Roman Goddess Juno.other information:
Brigit — Goddess of Healing, Smithcraft, and Queenship. She is patroness of the Celtic spring festival of Imbolc, and was served by a female priesthood at Kildare. Her name derives from her worship by the pre-Christian Brigantes, who honored her as identical with Juno, Queen of Heaven. Brigit also shares attributes with the ancient Greek triple goddess Hecate. She is Ruler, Bringer of Prosperity; her two sisters display the alchemical sword and tongs of blacksmithing and the twin serpents connoting medical skill. Her Irish consort was the Dagda. — JBL Statues
January: Brighid is associated with January.
February: Brighid is associated with February.
Day of the Tuatha de Danaan: Celebrated on January 1st
December 04, 2004 6:26 PM
Name Cognates: Breo Saighead, Brid, Brighid [Eriu], Brigindo, Brigandu [Gaul], Brigan, Brigantia, Brigantis [Briton], Bride [Alba].
Breo Saighead, or the "Fiery Arrow or Power," is a Celtic three-fold goddess, the daughter of The Dagda, and the wife of Bres. Known by many names, Brighid's three aspects are (1) Fire of Inspiration as patroness of poetry, (2) Fire of the Hearth, as patroness of healing and fertility, and (3) Fire of the Forge, as patroness of smithcraft and martial arts. She is mother to the craftsmen. Sons of Tuireann: Creidhne, Luchtaine and Giobhniu.
Excalibur, King Arthur's sword, was forged by the Lady of the Lake, a figure sometimes associated with Brighid because of her fire and forgery aspect. Like the Arthurian Avalon, or "Isle of Apples," Brigid possessed an apple orchard in the Otherworld to which bees traveled to obtain it's magickal nectar.
Brigid, which means "one who exaults herself," is Goddess of the Sacred Flame of Kildare (derived from "Cill Dara," which means "church of the oak") and often is considered to be the White Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. She was Christianized as the "foster-mother" of Jesus Christ, and called St. Brigit, the daughter of the Druid Dougal the Brown. She sometimes also is associated with the Romano-Celtic goddess Aquae-Sulis in Bathe.
Brighid's festival is Imbolc, celebrated on or around February 1 when she ushers Spring to the land after The Cailleach's Winter reign. This mid-Winter feast commences as the ewes begin to lactate and is the start of the new agricultural cycle. During this time Brigid personifies a bride, virgin or maiden aspect and is the protectoress of women in childbirth. Imbolc also is known as Oimelc, Brigid, Candlemas, or even in America as Groundhog Day.
As the foundation for the American Groundhog Day, Brigid's snake comes out of its mound in which it hibernates and its behavior is said to determine the length of the remaining Winter.
Gailleach, or White Lady, drank from the ancient Well of Youth at dawn. In that instant, she was transformed into her Maiden aspect, the young goddess called Brigid. Wells were considered to be sacred because they arose from oimbelc (literally "in the belly"), or womb of Mother Earth.
Because of her Fire of Inspiration and her connection to the apple and oak trees, Brighid often is considered the patroness of the Druids.
Welcome to the Rath of Brighid December 04, 2004 6:28 PM
This site will offer ritual, prayer and poetry in dedication to Holy Brighid and to the Gods of the Celts.
Located in the RathRitual
- Rite of Dedication to Holy Brighid
- Rite of the Well of Wisdom
- Feast of Wisdom and Age
- Rite of Peace for All
- Dedication of Brighid's Sacred Fire
Looking for Brigid on the WWWSites with links to many Brigid sitesOur Bright Fire - Brighid The Goddess Brighid by Wendy M. Reynolds Sites with explanatory articles about BrigidBrighid, Bright Goddess of the Gael, by Branfionn NicGrioghair Brigit of the Celts by Mornging Glory Zell Brigid: Flame of Two Eternities by Liafal The Other Face of BrideMaking Brigid's Crosses The Goddess Brighid: Keeper of all Memory & KnowledgeImbolc '99 issue of the Celtic Well E-Journal Sites with Tributes to BrigidBrigid Altar - Abby Willowroot (graphics intensive) Brighid PoetryOrganizations for Brigid's Priest/essesDaughters of the Flame (women only) Ord Brighideach (women and men)
Templo de Brigith A study center in Rio de Janeiro run by an Ord Brighideach member.
December 28, 2004 8:04 PM
Mels you asked who to use as the consort for Brighid, in the Celtic tradition, she is the wife of Bres. Here is some information on him:
by Micha F. Lindemans
The Irish-Celtic god of fertility and agriculture. He is the son of Elatha, a prince of the Fomorians, and the goddess Eriu. When king Nuada lost his hand in the first battle of Mag Tuireadh, he was deemed unfit to rule the Tuatha Dé Danann. Although the Fomorians were their enemies, as an act of reconciliation the Tuatha Dé decided to name Bres as their king. The goddess Brigid became his wife.
Bres, however, proved an unworthy ruler. Besides being tyrannical, he raised taxes to a near unbearable level and let the Tuatha Dé work as slaves. When Nuada had his hand replaced by a new, silver one, Bres was quickly disposed of. He fled to exile and rallied the Fomorians to battle. Again they were defeated and Bres was captured. His live was spared when he promised to instruct the Tuatha Dé in the art of agriculture and make of Ireland a fertile land.
A friend sent this timely link, I'm passing it on.... January 31, 2005 1:06 PM
Because it's simply too much info to post here!
I should have put this at the top of the thread but here goes. Rather than have one thread pinned to the board on Brighid, and then more threads pop up for other Goddesses, I thought it would be more educational to have a thread for all Goddesses that people align themselves with. It will also, create a resource for people on Goddesses. Not to exclude the Gods but did not have anything to post for that yet. If anyone would like to post information on Gods they align themselves with, please feel free to start a thread for God Studies.
Love and Light,
Another cool site of info.
High one, Inanna, queen of heaven,
you roar like a dragon, like thunder,
in the place of death and hunger.
You race like a flood down the mountain,
into the dim underworld where no one
worships you and grain mildews away.
But you are the victor. You vanquish death.
You are the one with the fiercest eyes.
You are the one about whom beauty settles.
~Sumerian Songs of Inanna
Once the Goddess Inanna had descended to the underworld of her sister
Ereichkigel, she paradoxically did not lose power. Rather, her time
in the underworld strengthened her. Our own challenges can do the
same for us: we can emerge stronger when we have been tested by
adversity and trial.
One of the great tests pain imposes on us is whether we will become
closed and hard or whether we will grow more sympathetic and open.
Buddhist philosophy claims the reason that the pain is to "open the
heart of compassion." once we have suffered, we can feel with hose
who suffer. Once we have endured loss, we understand those who are
afflicted in that way. Our strength grows not from our ability to
ignore pain, but from withstanding it and emerging able to witness
the pain others still endure.
~Patricia Monaghan ~ From "The Goddess Companion"
In the shadows,
in the dark forest,
something follows you -
death follows you,
tearing the leaves,
ripping the calabash.
But Oya protects you.
She rips death's body.
Great Oya! Yes!
The role of the Goddess as our protector is emphasized in many myths,
songs, and chants. Yet it could be said that the goddess helps those
who help themselves. Or that our inner Goddess must be invoked for
protection, so that we act in accordance with what is in our best
Yet another way to describe the Goddess' protective agency is to
realize that we receive substantial information through our senses,
and we can live more safely and happily if we listen to that
information. If we feel uneasy in a certain situation, there may be
reason to feel so. If we feel in danger, we should act upon that
feeling, rather than talking ourselves out of following our
instincts. One of the Goddess' gifts to us is our body, with its rich
repertoire of instinct and perception. Paying attention to those
instincts, those perceptions, is one way of honoring her.
Patricia Monaghan ~ From "The Goddess Companion"
By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
The Goddess in her many forms is accessible to modern women for
divine inspiration and guidance with all aspects of our lives. They
can help increase finances and good fortune, bring love and success,
enhance intuition, and ward off negativity. Most of the figures below
are actively worshipped or considered goddesses in one tradition or
another; and others, like Mary Magdalene, are revered as spiritual
heroines or saints. Find out which divine female can help most as you
learn to empower your self-esteem and spirituality and bring out the
goddess in you!
Goddesses of Work and Finances
Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of fortune, gives you a hand -- or four --
increasing your income, your financial potential and your ability to
plan for your future.
Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, helps you pursue your career
goals with passion and focus.
Brigid, Celtic Irish goddess of inspiration, poetry, birth and
blacksmithing, helps you find your inspiration and creative flow.
Nemesis, Greek goddess of retribution, helps you handle office
politics and troublemakers while helping you see ways you sabotage
Durga, Hindu Mother goddess of protection and war, helps you draw
your boundaries and protect yourself from negative energies.
St. Térèse, beloved Catholic Saint known as The Little Flower is a
spiritual heroine for women of all faiths. She helps you get even the
most menial jobs done by showing you the relevance, power, and
sacredness in life's little chores.
Goddesses of Self
Hathor, Egyptian goddess of love, beauty and pleasure, helps you to
your inner light and shows you how truly beautiful you are.
Lilith, Hebrew Goddess, said to be Adam's first wife, was demonized
in the Bible but is an empowered woman in Kabbalah and Feminine
spiritually. She helps you discover your dark and wild side.
Oya, Yoruban goddess of wind, hurricane and wild weather, helps you
welcome the winds of change.
Nike, Greek goddess of Victory and herald of success, helps you claim
your victories in life.
Goddesses of Strength
Mary, mother of Jesus, is not considered a goddess in the Catholic
Faith yet has all the powers of a divine female and is the primary
representation of the feminine divine for 2000 years, making her the
Spiritual Mother for us all. She helps you connect to your healing
Sophia, goddess of wisdom in Gnostic Christianity, is also referred
to in Hebrew texts and the books of Solomon. She helps you tap into,
and trust, your own intuition.
Kuan Yin, Chinese goddess of healing and compassion, helps you find
compassion for yourself, and others.
Green Tara, Tibetan Buddhist goddess of protection, helps you feel
safe and shows you how to stay calm and centered in a crisis.
White Buffalo Calf Woman, Native American Spirit Woman, is the
mystical feminine force who taught great sacraments to her people.
She helps you connect with the true nature of the soul and create a
more peaceful life... and world.
Goddesses of Love and Romance
Venus, quintessential Roman goddess of love and beauty, shows you
that self-love and appreciation is the first step to embracing your
own divinity and empowering your sense of self-worth.
Oshun, Macumban Goddess of sensuality, beauty and womanhood. Helps
you tap into your more sensual side and express your sensual self.
Isis, famous Egyptian mother goddess is hailed for her healing,
magic, and resurrection powers. She helps you rescue troubled
relationships and get them back on track.
Freya, Norse goddess of sexual prowess and war, guides you on how to
be a man magnate and enjoy every minute of sizzling sexual energy in
Persephone, Greek goddess of springtime who was abducted by the god
of the underworld, shows you how to liberate yourself from bad
relationships and set forth a new path in your love life.
Gauri, Hindu goddess of love and marriage shows you how to get
yourself ready for a serious relationship, and how to gently
encourage your true love toward the altar.
Goddesses of Friendship and Family Life
The Great Goddess is the divine female energy of all there is. She
represents life its self, death, and regeneration and can help
transform your relationship with your own mom by connecting with the
power of your female ancestry.
Pele, the Hawaiian fire goddess who dwells in the volcano on the Big
Island of Hawaii, shows you how to channel and express anger and heal
hostility in a healthy way.
Mary Magdalene, the spiritual heroine who is closely linked as soul
companion to Jesus, helps you survive the loss of a loved one.
St. Lucy/Lucina, the cherished Catholic saint who originated as the
Roman Goddess of a newborn's first light, Lucina, can help you open
your spiritual eyes, see family in a new light and bring light to the
shadow side of family life.
The Muses, the nine Greek deities who joyfully presided over the
arts, are among the most familiar mythical woman and Goddesses. They
help you Celebrate creativity and connections with sisters and
Vesta, the Roman Goddess of the Hearth, assists you in creating a
Goddesses of Play and Lightheartedness
Bast, Egyptian goddess of play, felines and females, shows you how to
be as playful as a pussycat.
Iris, Roman goddess of the rainbow helps you add color and zest to
Butterfly Maiden, Native American spirit woman, takes you from cocoon
to butterfly and helps you transform your life.
The Goddess is the substance of the Universe. She is, the womb from
which we, and all of life have sprung. In Man and His Symbols, C G
lung says "... we talk of matter... We conduct laboratory
experiments... But the word 'matter' remains a dry... intellectual
concept... How different was the former image of matter - the Great
Mother - that could... express the... emotional meaning of Mother
Earth.' Jung realised that the devaluation of the Feminine held great
significance in human history and for our mental and spiritual state.
However, witches always honoured the Great Feminine in Her myriad
Vic Goddess is all around us as Mother Earth, Moon and stars. She its
there in each clod and bush and the air we breathe. She is us, for
our bodies are part of Her, yet She is still a mystery, for we can
never know Her totally. in The Charge (an ancient 'Goddess invocation
reconstructed by Doreen Valiente), She says Behold, all acts of love
and pleasure are my rituals'. We approach the Goddess not through not
the least of which self-denial, but through enjoyment of Her gifts,
no is sexual love. By identifying with our bodies we partake of Her.
This may seem surprising after centuries of teaching that the spirit
can be approached only by overcoming the body. What a cruel and
distorting message! Fang, claw and winter, wind are the Goddess too,
for She also brings the destruction that is necessary for the
continuance of life. Any creative act requires some demolition. For
instance, making a garden means killing weeds and slugs. So the
Goddess is death as well as life.
In many ways femaleness precedes maleness, for the foetus is, female
it first and masculine characteristics, overlay this later for a mate
child. In evolution the female seems, to have come before the male.
There is strong evidence that worship of a Great Mother predated
worship of a God by thousands of years. In the Vangelo of the witches
of Tuscany (translated by Charles Leland) we are told 'Diana was the
first created before all creation; in her were all things; out of
herself, the first darkness, she divided herself...". There are many,
many stories in many different cultures that tell how the primordial
Goddess gave birth to all the other gods. She also gives birth to Her
own consort, the son/lover - [Lit more, of this later. So to witches
the Goddess is first. That doesn't mean superior, for witchcraft is
about balance, but it does mean we give Our Mother proper respect. In
human families, respect for mother, return to the family home, the
caring, sharing and communicating this rise to, is the basis for our
As celestial feminine the Goddess is also the Moon, our nearest
neighbour in space, ruler of the tides and the ebb and flow of the
life force. The Moon is cyclical, like women who have a menstrual
cycle. Besides this, the three phases of the Moon correspond to the
three stages in a woman's life - maiden, mother and crone. From this
comes the idea of the Triple Goddess, expressing each special phase
The waxing Moon is the Maiden - adventurous, full of initiative,
ideas, freshness. The Full Moon is the time of the Mother,,
representing fulfilment. culmination, bounty, but also balance. The
Mother also brings knowledge of things that won't work and have to be
abandoned. The waning Moon is the time of the Crone, bringer of
wisdom, guardian of secrets - sometimes Goddess of Death. The,
concept of a Triple Goddess was pervasive, many goddesses having
three forms. At any time in her life a woman can find within her the
energies and qualities of any of the three. Witches usually regard
the phases of the Moon as important in spell work, and most spells
are, best carried out when the Moon is waxing, or at the, powerful
time when she is Full.
Each woman embodies the Goddess, each man carries, Her within him as
his 'inner feminine' helping him to relate to women and to find his
own sensitivity. The Goddess can teach true respect for the gifts of
the body, as opposed to exploiting it, and the material world which
in a sense is the body of the Goddess - the words 'matter" and I
mother' come from the same root. We don't have to look far to see
that this respect has been conspicuously lacking. From nuclear
warheads to credit cards our culture is full of signs that we have
departed miles from a proper appreciation of the material, as opposed
to an obsession with conquering and possessing it. Our Goddess can
show us the way back to something more sensible - a true love for and
enjoyment of Nature. As witches we work continuously to see Her re-
enshrined. Many of us believe that Her banishment is closely linked
to the damage that has been done to the ecosystem. We can also see
that most wars are a result of one dogmatic, patriarchal philosophy
trying to stamp out another. The Goddess is not a panacea, but She is
badly needed as a balancing force.
goddess Rhiannon's name meant "Divine Queen" of the fairies. In her
myths, Rhiannon was promised in marriage to an older man she found
repugnant. Defying her family's wishes that Rhiannon, like other
Celtic goddesses, declined to marry one of her "own kind". Instead,
the goddess Rhiannon chose the mortal Prince Pwyll(pronounced Poo-ul
or translated as Paul) as her future husband. Rhiannon appeared to
Pwyll one afternoon while he stood with his companions on a great
grass-covered mound in the deep forest surrounding his castle. These
mounds, called Tors, were thought to be magical places, perhaps
covering the entrance to the otherworld beneath the earth. It was
thought that those who stood upon them would become enchanted, so
most people avoided them.
So it is no surprise that the young prince was enchanted by the
vision of the beautiful young goddess Rhiannon, who was dressed in
glittering gold as she galloped by on her powerful white horse.
Rhiannon rode by without sparing him even a glance. Pwyll was
intrigued and enraptured, and his companions were understandably
concerned. Ignoring the protest of his friends, Pwyll sent his
servant off riding his swiftest horse to catch her and asked her to
return to meet the prince. But the servant soon returned and reported
that she rode so swiftly that it seemed her horse's feet scarcely
touched the ground and that he could not even follow her to learn
where she went.
The next day, ignoring his friends' advice, Pwyll returned alone to
the mound and, once more, the Celtic goddess appeared. Mounted on his
horse, Pwyll pursued her but could not overtake her. Although his
horse ran even faster than Rhiannon's, the distance between them
always remained the same. Finally, after his horse began to tremble
with exhaustion, he stopped and called out for her to wait. And
Rhiannon did. When Pwyll drew close she teased him gently, telling
him that it would have been much kinder to his horse had he simply
called out instead of chasing her. The goddess Rhiannon then let him
know that she had come to find him, seeking his love.
Pwyll welcomed this for the very sight of this beautiful Celtic
goddess had tugged at his heart, and he reached for her reins to
guide her to his kingdom. But Rhiannon smiled tenderly and shook her
head, telling him that they must wait a year and that then she would
marry him. In the next moment, the goddess Rhiannon simply
disappeared from him into the deep forest.
Rhiannon returned one year later, dressed as before, to greet Pwyll
on the Tor. He was accompanied by a troop of his own men, as befitted
a prince on his wedding day. Speaking no words, Rhiannon turned her
horse and gestured for the men to follow her into the tangled woods.
Although fearful, they complied. As they rode the trees suddenly
parted before them, clearing a path, then closing in behind them when
they passed. Soon they entered a clearing and were joined by a flock
of small songbirds that swooped playfully in the air around
Rhiannon's head. At the sound of their beautiful caroling all fear
and worry suddenly left the men. Before long they arrived at her
father's palace, a stunning site that was surrounded by a lake. The
castle, unlike any they had ever seen, was built not of wood or
stone, but of silvery crystal. It spires soared into the heavens.
After the wedding a great feast was held to celebrate the marriage of
the goddess. Rhiannon's family and people were both welcoming and
merry, but a quarrel broke out at the festivities. It was said that
the man she'd once been promised to marry was making a scene, arguing
that she should not be allowed to marry outside her own people.
Rhiannon slipped away from her husband's side to deal with the
situation as discreetly as she could...using a bit of magic, she
turned the persistent suitor into a badger and caught him in a bag
which she tied close and threw into the lake. Unfortunately, he
managed to escape and later returned to cause great havoc in
The next day Rhiannon left with Pwyll and his men to go to Wales as
his princess. When they emerged from the forest and the trees closed
behind them, Rhiannon took a moment to glance lovingly behind her.
She knew that the entrance to the fairy kingdom was now closed and
that she could never return to her childhood home. But she didn't
pause for long and seemed to have no regret. The goddess Rhiannon was
welcomed by her husband's people and admired for her great beauty and
her lovely singing. However, when two full years had passed without
her becoming pregnant with an heir to the throne, the question of her
bloodline, her "fitness" to be queen began to be raised. Fortunately,
in the next year she delivered a fine and healthy son. This baby,
however, was to become the source of great sorrow for Rhiannon and
As was the custom then, six women servants had been assigned to stay
with Rhiannon in her lying-in quarters to help her care for the
infant. Although the servants were supposed to work in shifts tending
to the baby throughout the night so that the goddess Rhiannon could
sleep and regain her strength after having given birth, one evening
they all fell asleep on the job. When they woke to find the cradle
empty, they were fearful they would be punished severely for their
carelessness. They devised a plan to cast the blame on the goddess
Rhiannon, who was, after all, an outsider, not really one of their
own people. Killing a puppy, they smeared its blood on the sleeping
Rhiannon and scattered its bones around her bed. Sounding the alarm,
they accused the goddess of eating her own child.
Although Rhiannon swore her innocence, Pwyll, suffering from his own
shock and grief and faced with the anger of his advisers and the
people, did not come strongly to her defense, saying only that he
would not divorce her and asking only that her life be spared.
Rhiannon's punishment was announced. For the next seven years the
goddess Rhiannon was to sit by the castle gate, bent under the heavy
weight of a horse collar, greeting guests with the story of her crime
and offering to carry them on her back into the castle. Rhiannon bore
her humiliating punishment without complaint. Through the bitter cold
of winters and the dusty heat of four summers, she endured with quiet
acceptance. Her courage was such that few accepted her offer to
transport them into the castle. Respect for her began to spread
throughout the country as travelers talked of the wretched punishment
and the dignity with which the goddess Rhiannon bore her suffering.
In the fall of the fourth year three strangers appeared at the gate—a
well-dressed nobleman, his wife, and a young boy. Rhiannon rose to
greet them saying, "Lord, I am here to carry each of you into the
Prince's court, for I have killed my only child and this is my
punishment." The man, his wife, and the child dismounted. While the
man lifted the surprised Rhiannon onto his horse, the boy handed her
a piece of an infant's gown. Rhiannon saw that it was cloth that had
been woven by her own hands. The boy then smiled at her, and she
recognized that he had the eyes of his father, Pwyll.
Soon the story was told. Four years earlier, during a great storm,
the nobleman had been called to the field to help a mare in labor,
when he heard the infant's cries and found him lying abandoned. He
and his wife took the baby in, raising him as if he were their own.
When the rumors of the goddess Rhiannon's fate had reached his ears,
he realized what had happened and set out at once to return the child
to his parents. Most legends suggest that the badger actually was the
enraged suitor that Rhiannon had rejected who had escaped and taken
his revenge by kidnapping Rhiannon's infant son.
Pwyll and his people quickly recognized the boy for Pwyll and
Rhiannon's son. The goddess Rhiannon was restored to her honor and
her place beside her husband. Although she had suffered immensely at
their hands, Rhiannon, goddess of noble traits, saw that they were
ashamed and was filled with forgiveness and understanding.
In some versions of the legend, Rhiannon was the Celtic goddess who
later became Vivienne, best known as the Lady of the Lake. She was
the Celtic goddess who gave Arthur the sword Excalibur, empowering
him to become King in the legends of Camelot.
The story of the Celtic goddess Rhiannon reminds us of the healing
power of humor, tears, and forgiveness. The goddess Rhiannon is a
goddess of movement and change who remains steadfast, comforting us
in times of crisis and of loss.
Think of your childhood role models that influenced your life: Poppy
King for her revolutionary red lipstick; Xena Warrior Princess for
her ball-busting abilities; Anastacia for making blue sunglasses cool
and Kylie Minogue for proving little people can be glam too.
They all glow with attributes to admire – courage, integrity and an
amazing sense of purpose, to name but a few of the signs of a
powerful, well-nourished inner goddess.
It is energy you can exude yourself, simply by reconnecting with your
inner goddess and setting her free. It can be as simple as
rejuvenating your chakra energy centers, using affirmations and
positive mantras and being conscious of your own powerful, dormant
Here is an A to Z guide of attributes that you can use to tap into
goddess energy so others too can see your essential self.
* Abundance – You can ask the Universe for an abundance of material,
emotional or spiritual things, providing you are not greedy or
selfish in your request. Give yourself permission to receive what is
coming to you. Invoke Fortuna for wealth, Gaia for food and
nourishment of the soul, and Ishtar when visualizing achieving your
* Balance – Being able to remain calm amidst change can be a
challenge, especially when it comes to retaining your boundaries and
identity. You need to keep your feet steady on the ground, yet remain
flexible to bend with the storms. Pallas will help you draw on her
gifts of diplomacy, respect and resilience to negotiate your way.
* Creativity – There's no goddess like Pele for finding that creative
spark, but sometimes other forms of creativity are required. For
example, Athena will help you with creative reasoning, IxChel will
inspire you with emotional creativity and Ishtar will help remove
blockages in your creative stream.
* Decisiveness – We're all faced with impossible decisions at times,
or it may just be that procrastination is blocking your progress.
Persephone will give a boost with inner knowledge to make those
decisions, Ishtar will give you the determination to see them
through, and Isis gives you perseverance to stick with it.
* Empowerment – Courage to stick with your ideals and instinct is
part and parcel with empowerment. Yielding to situations against your
will only serves to dis-empower you. Athena's influence will uplift
you with independent and resourceful energy to maintain your personal
power and keep that heart of yours brave.
* Faith – Believing you can achieve the impossible requires mountain-
loads of faith. First, you need to release fear, and then comes
learning how to have complete trust in your ability to create your
own destiny. Isis will help you develop your intuitive powers, and
refine your knowledge that what you truly desire is what you can
* Generosity – The Universal law of three-fold return means the more
you give away, the more comes back to you. Spider Woman will guide
you in giving freely of your love, time, energy and resources, and
Kwan Yin will give you the compassionate base from which to start.
* Humour – When Demeter was pining for her daughter and withholding
fertility from the world, cheeky Baubo danced and performed merrily,
inducing the Great Mother to laugh and take some nourishment – just
long enough for the crops to flourish again. Laughter heals the
deepest pain, so follow Baubo's example, and laugh your woes away.
* Integrity – Regardless of challenging adventure, or simply in the
routine of daily life, threats to your integrity can test the
strongest of women. At these times, moon goddess Artemis brings the
gift of strength to deny forces that inhibit you. Know that you are a
powerful being able to bring an end to destructive forces in order to
stay true to you.
* Joy – Joy is more than just happiness. Happiness is contentedness,
whereas joy is about electricity. Take the time to chase pure,
invigorating, blissful joy. When infused with Bast's bliss, the
charge of energy is enough to send you leaping for the nearest cake.
It's about having your cake and eating it too, after all.
* Knowledge – There are many kinds of knowledge. Cognitive,
intuitive, intellectual, spiritual, and good old-fashioned wisdom.
Each type is energized differently – business acumen is ruled by
Athena, Diana and Ishtar, for example, whereas Isis and Nuit rule
spiritual knowledge. In any case, knowledge stems from unprejudiced
* Lightness – Carry no baggage in order to travel light. Unclutter
your surroundings, clear out negative energy and welcome in radiant
new light. Amaterasu is a shining example of how adversity can help
us to 'blossom and bloom' more at times. She will help you look for
the lesson to be learned when the adverse times arrive.
* Magic – "Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron
bubble, " says Hecate, the crone Witch goddess whose mysterious magic
steers you in the right direction at times of crossroads. Her
catalytic energy lets you seem a dream but prove real – all you need
to do is believe, and bewitch those around you with your biggest
with nature, that is. Diana resounds with the places in your inner
psyche, the part of you that hungers for more than daily routine.
Quench the needs of the wild-child within – feel the grass under your
bare feet and the sun on your face as you get back to nature, and
* Optimism – Having faith that everything will be okay and having
courage to see it through – optimism changes what appears to be fate
and allows you to be bold and restructure, to investigate your
beliefs and to follow your heart. Use Pele's volcanic energy to keep
you fired up and rearing to meet your challenges.
* Playfulness – Play is a perfect way to keep your inner child
healthy and happy. Allow yourself time to daydream; give yourself
permission to play outdoors and make sure you go to bed each night
knowing you have been spontaneous that day, and that you have allowed
Baubo's infectious energy to get you giggling countless times.
* Quiet – Time for introspection, relaxation, observation and calm
makes you more receptive to the calming influence of Oshun. She
teaches you to "go with the flow" of your instincts to find inner
tranquility. Just as water ebbs and flows, be generous with your time
for yourself during an "ebb, " and for others during a "flow".
* Relationships – Friendships, colleagues, soul-mates, family and
even strangers. We juggle hundreds of relationships in our lives and
they are rarely easy. Venus is the flirtatious influence on our
romantic lives, Juno presides at home, Artemis promotes the
sisterhood, and Kwan Yin gives us the compassion we need to deal with
* Self-acceptance – How to love those thighs? Take a big does of
Venus, goddess of beauty and love, and use her energy to foster a
healthy self-esteem and noble sense of self-worth. Double up with
Lilith, Diana or Ishtar to develop an honest projection of sexuality,
and call on Gaia for grounded acceptance of your place in the world.
* Transcendence – Transcendence is having the grace to rise above the
daily bunkum. Invoke Kwan Yin's limitless capacity for compassion in
order to learn tolerance, and use Spider Woman's wisdom to be
thankful for all challenges sent your way – they serve to help you go
beyond your limits and become a stronger, well-balanced person.
* Understanding – Everyone has their own cross to bear. Put judgement
of others aside, and instead call on Isis' higher intuition to become
more perceptive and compassionate to their needs. Practice kindness
and spiritual intelligence, and listen well to what those around you
* Vitality – Goddess-inspired women glow with inner health and well-
being. Gaia gives you vitality, health and sustenance, while Ishtar
and Rhiannon give you a clear awareness of your self-worth. Call on
Diana to get motivated and active, and use Yemaya's healing powers
that are carried in water.
* Warmth – Be a magnet for positive energy by emitting warm energy
yourself. Shine with an abundance of love, and give it away as much
as you can. Be honest, make eye contact, share experiences, nurture
your goals and others'. Be the embodiment of Isis' feminine divine,
and welcome Kwan Yin's weightless and free gift of love.
* Expression – Self-expression, articulation and communication are
all attributes governed by goddesses such as Medussa, Rhiannon and
Athena. They all help you to put into words what it is you wish for,
then to ask for it. As long as you believe you deserve it, their
energy will help you manifest your dream.
* Young at Heart – Perpetuate the circle of life and enjoy a cycle of
constant rejuvenation and renewal. Energies ebb and flow, but don't
despair if you find yourself low. Call on Persephone to help you
break free of destructive habits and take charge of your life with
renewed vigor and restored innocence.
* Zest – Passion for life, love and everything in between drives us
to achieve the A to Z of goddess attributes. Use Kali's unwavering
strength to power your way forward, and Freja's passion to win the
battles you may encounter on the way. Be inspired by Aphrodite, and
embrace Eostre's passion for the new direction your life is taking.
She was the moon when she did that.
I will never forget her.
She is the one who sustains the world.
She is the sun and she does that.
I will never forget her.
She is the one who gives happiness.
She is the cosmos when she does that.
I will never forget her.
She is the one who will destroy the world.
She will be the Goddess when she does that.
I will never forget her.
It is not always easy to live with knowledge of the Goddess. She is
the mother of the world, creator of all that we see and hear and
experience. But she is also mother of death and destruction, the
force that will finally end creation as we know it. She is our life,
and our life's ending.
Winter is a time to remember the importance of cycles in our lives.
During summer's glory, it is easy to forget that the Goddess is not
all growth and flourishing. But when all seems frozen and dead, we
are confronted with the other side of her nature. To love the
Goddess truly means to accept this side of her as well. The still
air of winter, silent birds and the rustling of trees, has its own
stark beauty. But even when she is not beautiful, this winter
Goddess holds the deepest truths of our existence.
Patricia Monaghan - From " The Goddess Companion"
Festival of Pax (Rome)
Symbols: White Items; Corn; Cornucopia; Olive Branch
About Pax: Pax is the Roman Goddess of peace; she urges us to keep
harmony among one another as a sacred commodity throughout the year.
On coins, Pax appears youthful and often bears an olive branch to
extend the hand of truce or a cornucopia, indicating that there is
an abundance of peace for those who truly seek it.
To Do Today: Remember Pax by wearing or carrying something whole
today and offering to make amends with someone with whom you've had
Alternatively, make a funnel from a piece of white paper (like a
cornucopia). Leave this somewhere predominate. Each time you have an
angry or discordant thought, toss a coin into the funnel. At the end
of the day donate these coins (plus a few dollars) to a charity that
Roman custom dictated that the images of all leaders were to be
placed at Pax's feet on this day, as to invoke her amicable energy
to their interactions. This isn't a bad idea for modern leaders,
either! Take any pictures you have of world leaders (check
newspapers and magazines). If you can't find pictures, write their
names on white paper instead. Put these in a pile before a white
candle. As you light the candle, say:
Pax, let peace fill their hearts.
Let all hatred depart.
Peace be between me and thee, and all those I meet.
Patricia Telesco From "365 Goddess"
Pax, the goddess of peace, is honored on this date. With Concordia
and Salus, she represents the Triple Goddess, Fortuna. Each of our
thoughts and actions today vibrate through the web that connects us
to the universe and affects the fortunes of all. A good idea today
would be to use the color blue, a cornucopia, and an olive branch as
your focus objects. Peace begins with ourselves, so that will be the
focus. Start by meditating to free your mind from any undue
disturbance, guilt, and insecurity. Try working with Concordia; she
requires harmony with others in every area of our lives—from getting
along with our family to behaving in traffic. This is particularly
difficult sometimes in contemporary society. Know this, however: All
our acts vibrate along the web of life. Pray also to Salus, whose
presence means health—health for ourselves, for our neighbors, and
for the environment. In the end, today means being conscientious,
courteous, and thoughtful; these are the clearest ways to peace. I
hope you will mark today as a starting point. Let us all work for
peace all the time.
Lily Gardner-Butts, Llewellyn's
Festival of Sarasvati (India)
Themes: Learning; Wisdom; Communication
Symbols: White Flowers (especially Lotus); Marigolds; Swans
About Sarasvati: A Hindu goddess of eloquence and intelligence,
Sarasvati extends a refreshing drink from her well of knowledge to
complete the month with aptitude. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati
invented all sciences, arts, and writing. In works of art she is
depicted as white-skinned and graceful, riding on a swan or sitting
on an open lotus blossom.
To Do Today: Today is an excellent time to embark on any course of
study or to reinforce your learning in a specific area. In Hindu
tradition, Sarasvati's festival is held on or around this date.
During the celebration, students gather in the Katmandu Valley
(Nepal) bearing gifts for the goddess, who visits here today.
Traditional offerings at the temples include lotus and marigold
blossoms and incense, while students bring pens or books to invoke
Sarasvati's aid with their studies. Adapting this a bit, try dabbing
your personal tools or educational books with a little lotus oil,
and burn any sweet-scented incense to improve your awareness
(rosemary is a good choice).
To generate Sarasvati's assistance in matters of communication, find
a white flower and remove its petals. Place these in any moving
water source, saying:
Sarasvati, let my words bear gentle beauty and truth,
falling gently on other's ears, even as these petals to the water.
Let the water (which also represents this goddess) carry your wish.
Patricia Telesco From "365 Goddess"
Themes: Health and Inspiration
Symbol: A Cauldron
About Brigit: Brigit is an Irish Goddess known throughout Europe
as "the bright one" because of her inspiring beauty and fiery
qualities. Today is Brigit's festival in Ireland because it's the
traditional first day of spring here, when lingering winter shadows
are banished by the sun's radiance. Anyone desiring fertility,
health, or creativity should invoke Brigit's blessings today, as the
To Do Today: During the winter months it's easy to get a case of the
blahs or sniffles. Brigit comes to our aid by offering us the
spiritual elixir in her cauldron. Make yourself a nourishing broth
today (like chicken bouillon) and serve it in a cauldron ( a three-
legged bowl). If you don't have one, any cup or mug would do. Bless
the broth by holding your hand over the top, visualizing golden
light filling the liquid saying:
Brigit, hear my prayer and bless the cauldron (or cup) of
Renew my body, inspire my heart.
Throughout my life, your wholeness impart, So be it.
Drink the broth to internalize inspiration.
For health, take any candle (a green one is ideal for healing) and
carve nineteen crosses into it. The number nineteen and the symbol
of the cross are both sacred to Brigit. Light this candle for a few
minutes every day for the next nineteen days. Or, you can let the
candle burn for nineteen minutes instead.
Patricia Telesco ~ From "365 Goddess"
Give her something to get through the night.
Here is Biddy, dressed in white.
Give poor Biddy a little light.
Give poor Biddy something!
Look, her clothes are torn.
Give poor Biddy something!
Look, her shoes are worn.
Here is Biddy dressed in white.
Give her something to get through the night.
Here is Biddy, dressed in white.
Give poor Biddy a little light.
~Traditional Irish Song to the Goddess Brigid
In Ireland, the end of winter occurs now, when sheep begin to bear
their lambs and life stirs at last after its winter sleep. In our
calendar, spring is still long away, but we feel the stirring within
ourselves that longer sunlight hours brings.
Such stirrings need encouragement. At this time of year, little
children dressed in rags walked the byways of old Ireland,
begging "something for poor Biddy," receiving treats of money and
food. In ancient times, "Biddy" was the goddess Brigid, translated
into the Christian saint Bridget. Like her, we will survive even the
darkest times to be reborn again.
But our wintry souls can call out for gifts, kind words and
embraces, small tokens that reveal our importance to each other.
Winter's night is passing, but winter can remain within our souls
unless we reach our hands to offer the warmth of human kindness to
our friends and loved ones.
uths of our existence.
Patricia Monaghan - From " The Goddess Companion"
Brigid, flame and honeycomb,
Brigid, sun of womanhood,
Brigid, lead me home.
You are a branch in blossom.
You are a sheltering dome.
You are my bright precious freedom.
Brigid, lead me home.
~Irish Prayer To The Goddess
Celtic Ireland celebrated the power of fire in the depths of winter.
This may seem a contradictory idea, but in fact we most crave what
we miss most. We do not crave air unless we are drowning; we do not
crave water when we are not thirsty. Our need for the warmth the
fire goddess Brigid brings is strongest when the sun is wan and
weak, when the nights seem long and the days all too short.
Within ourselves, too, we strive for balance. When we find ourselves
isolated, we seek company; when we have been too much with others,
we withdraw. Our inner compass is a sure one, one that can bring us
to what we need. Learning to trust and to follow its movements is
one of life's deepest lessons.
Patricia Monaghan ~ From "The Goddess Companion"
Which means "bright" is a Celtic triple Goddess of fire: the fire of
inspiration, smithcraft, poetry, healing and divination. Her
inspiration was vital to the Bards (poets) who called upon her
freely. Legend says that Brigid was born with a flame reaching out
from the top of Her head, connecting Her with the universe. The new
(Christian) and the old (pagan) BRIGID were merged into St. Brigid
in A.D. 450. St. Brigid, daughter of a druid, was a goldsmith and
healer. Nineteen priestesses/nuns guard her sacred fire in Kildare,
Ireland. On the twentieth of each month it is said she appears and
tends it Herself.
MEANING OF THE CARD
BRIGID comes to ignite you with INSPIRATION. Are you feeling a lack
of direction? motivation? energy? Has your path gone out of focus,
your life become unclear? Are you yearning for something but can't
quite put your finger on? It is time to nurture wholeness by taking
in the sparkle and crackle of INSPIRATION. BRIGID says that a life
without the fire of inspiration is a dull life indeed. She further
counsels that by allowing INSPIRATION to nurture your life you
become sharper, clearer and more energetic.
RITUAL SUGGESTION: JOURNEY TO BRIGID
Find a time and place when you will not be disturbed. Sit or lie
comfortably with your back straight. When you feel ready, take a
deep breath and release it with a sigh, letting go of all you need
to let go of. Take another deep breathe and let it go with a hiss.
Take a third deep breath and, as you release it, picture or sense a
cave, a cave that you have visited before or one that exists only in
your mind. When you are ready with your cave, take another deep
breath and, as you release it, stand before the cave. Run your
fingers against the wall of the cave. Smell the cave. The more you
can bring your senses into this journey, the deeper your experience
The mouth of the cave is large and wide and you enter. Inside, the
cave it is well lit and warm, and you find yourself going down down
down, deeper and deeper and deeper. It is a pleasant and comfortable
feeling to go down down down, deeper and deeper and deeper. There is
a light at the end of the cave. You are at the threshold, the place
where the cave ends and the Otherworld begins. Step out now into the
Otherworld. Notice the dazzling sunlight, the freshness in the air,
the vividness of all the colors.
BRIGID is waiting for you beside the ancient stone well. You walk
over to Her across the soft, spongy emerald grass. She tells you
that She is happy to see you and glad that you have arrived. She
asks you why you have come. You tell her you seek INSPIRATION.
BRIGID asks you for a gift and you give it to her gladly. Then She
rings you in a circle of fire and lights a fire in your crown chakra
(top of your head). You feel a tingling and stimulating of that
point and you feel an opening and an expansion in your energy. Your
power to visualize clears and grows stronger. You feel inspired!
It is time for you to say goodbye. You thank BRIGID. She tells you
all you need to do to activate INSPIRATION is to visualize that
flame at the top of your head. You turn and enter the cave. Now you
are coming up up up, through the warm comfort of the cave, feeling
relaxed, feeling energized, feeling refreshed. Up, up, up till you
reach the entrance of the cave. Move outside the cave, take a deep
breath, and as you slowly exhale you are now back in your body. Take
another deep breath and when you exhale, if ready, you may open your
eyes. Welcome back!
by Evelyn Laino
The Moon has long been seen as a symbol of the
feminine. Early peoples noticed that the 29½ days it
took the Moon to cycle through its phases corresponded
to the number of days of a woman's typical menstrual
cycle. They, therefore, surmised that the Moon must be
feminine and personified it as the divine Moon
Goddess. The symbolism of the Triple Goddess grew out
of the new, full and dark phases of the Moon cycle.
The waxing New Moon was conceptualized as the White
Virgin Goddess who birthed new life, the Full Moon was
likened to the Red Mother Goddess who nourished and
sustained life, and the Waning Moon was envisioned as
the Dark Crone Goddess who destroyed life and prepared
it for renewal.
The Dark Goddess destroyed in order to renew, and her
underworld was not a place of torture but of
salvation; her role was to purify, heal, and prepare
souls to be reborn. She was also the keeper of the
secret traditions of magic, oracle, prophecy, and of
sacred sexuality as the vehicle for ecstasy,
regenerative healing and spiritual illumination.
Over the course of many millennia, solar-centered
cultures gradually replaced the Moon worshippers, and
knowledge of the cyclic nature of reality, as mirrored
by the phases of the Moon, was lost. Death was no
longer the precursor to rebirth, but rather the final
ultimate conclusion of life that plunged one into
In the mythic imagination of male dominated cultures,
the original nature of the Dark Goddess became
distorted and she took horrifying proportions. As
Lilith, the Dark Goddess flew into the night as a
she-demon who seduced men, bred demons and killed
infants. As Medusa, her beautiful abundant hair became
a crown of hissing snakes and her evil eye turned men
into stone. As Hekate, she stalked for men at the
crossroads at night with her vicious hounds of hell.
As the Hindu goddess Kali, however, she retained her
sense of positive motivation — that of a powerful
mother protecting her human children. Although her
image appears in cremation grounds adorned with a
garland of skulls and holding a severed head dripping
with blood, the skull and severed head are those of
demons she has killed to protect people. Even so, she
is frightening. According to Hindu legend, Kali's
destructive wrath had been so great she had even
wounded her mate, Shiva, as he had found it necessary
to get between her and the Earth to protect the Earth
Demetra George, in her book Finding Our Way Through
the Dark: The Astrology of the Dark Goddess Mysteries,
describes the astrological embodiments of this dark,
feminine energy as potentially healing and worthy of
respect. As the collective culture has banished and
defamed the mythical Dark Goddess and her teachings,
so have we as individuals been conditioned to deny and
repress the parts of our personalities that correspond
to the qualities of the Dark Goddesses. But if we
acknowledge and pay respect to the dark forces in our
unconscious, our inner Dark Goddesses will be
well-disposed towards us and provide insight, healing,
and renewal. It is when we demean and exile the Dark
Goddess of our nature that she will (like the shadow
self when rejected and denied), unexpectedly burst
forth into our conscious reality during our weakest
The positions of the asteroids that share the same
name with the Goddesses of the Dark Moon, in
mythic-psychological astrology, represent our feminine
shadow personalities as they operate between men and
women. Ephemerides are available with these asteroids'
positions. Some asteroids will be more significant
than others in any given chart. An asteroid is most
significant when it is conjunct or opposite the Sun,
Moon, or an angle (the 1st, 4th, 7th, or 10th house
cusps). Its motifs also may be prominent in our
personality when it aspects any of the other personal
planets, the four major asteroids (Ceres, Pallas, Juno
and Vesta) or Chiron. Here are the descriptions of
some of the Dark Goddesses George includes in her book
and their meanings in the birth chart.
Moira is the Goddess of Fate who spoke to the issues
of fate, destiny, and the karmic patterning of the
soul. Her position in the chart gives clues to how we
experience our fate, for better or for worse, as the
inevitable ripening of our karma, or prior actions.
The ancients believed that once the destiny of an
individual was woven, it was irrevocable and could not
be altered. In her triple aspect, she is known as
Klotho, the spinner, who signifies how we spin our
fate by our actions; Lachesis, the measurer, who shows
how we weave our fate into the fabric of our daily
lives; and Atropos, the cutter, who indicates the
inevitable ending and has to do with closures and
Nemesis is the Goddess of Swift Retribution who
maintained the equilibrium of the human condition. Her
position in the chart shows how our conscience and
morality guide us toward right action, and how when we
ignore these promptings we suffer the consequences.
Hug thee thy dream,
Poor fool! I am no dream, who offer thee
Rapture and peace at cost of sterile pride.
Thou dost deny and question, but mine eyes
Gleam on thee, being lit with alien light;
My lips proclaim thee mysteries; mine arms
Are bond for all thy doubts, not mist nor mud,
But all that Gods desire and fools reject:
My name thou knowest not, and yet shalt know,
And know too late. But know thou this indeed:
Joy is my sister, sister I to Death.
He conquers me
Who dares to pay my price. My price thou
— Excerpts from the lyric play Lilith,
written by George Sterling in 1919.
Lilith is best known as the first wife of Adam, who
left her husband, choosing exile and loneliness rather
than domination and sexual subjugation to Adam's will.
She was subsequently distorted into a demoness by the
nomadic patriarchal tribes for her instinctive
sexuality and for defying male authority. She was then
feared, hated and vilified as Torturous Serpent, Blood
Sucker, Harlot, Impure Female, Alien Woman, Witch and
Hag, rather than revered for her powers.
In astrology there are three distinct astronomical
bodies that are all named Lilith: the asteroid, the
Dark Moon Lilith and the Black Moon Lilith. The
asteroid describes how we find ourselves in those
repressive situations where we are not free to express
ourselves and not valued for who we intrinsically are.
We are prevented from acting, moving, choosing and
determining our life circumstances. In chart analysis,
the asteroid Lilith shows where we want to be free to
move, to act, to choose, to speak our truth. When the
energy of this dark maid is blocked or denied, it
shows how and where we experience the themes of
suppression, resentment, explosive anger, rejection
and flight in our lives.
The Dark Moon Lilith describes our period of exile
where the rejected shadow becomes distorted by the
anguish of our pain. As it festers it poisons our
psyche with images of revenge and retaliation. The
Black Moon Lilith describes how and where we cut away
our pretensions, false roles, and delusions and
actualize our true, essential selves.
Hekate, Queen of the Night
Hekate is an original embodiment of the Triple Goddess
and one of the most ancient images from the
pre-Grecian stratum of mythology. This lunar goddess
could be seen walking the remote roads of Greece
accompanied by her howling dogs and blazing torches.
She dwelt in caves, made love on the vast seas, and
was the force that moved the Moon. She is often linked
with the dark of the Moon, and she presides over
magic, ritual, prophetic dreams and visions, and
madness. As Queen of the Dead, Hekate is a ruler of
the underworld where she is a wardress and conveyor of
souls. In the birth chart, Hekate is a guardian figure
of our unconscious who enables us to converse with the
hidden parts of our psyche. When our relationship with
Hekate is positive, we may experience her as
inspiration or prophetic dreams and visions. When we
deny or reject Hekate, her shadow nature may make
itself known as madness, nightmares, stupor,
depression, stagnation, blocked creative energy, and
real or imagined persecution.
Other significators of the Dark Moon type of energy
are: the 12th house, the South Node of the Moon and
Pluto. The darkness becomes light if we shine a torch
into it and seek to understand!
Mother-earth" and the "distribution-mother" and the roman equivalent of
Ceres. The Greek earth goddess par excellence, who brings forth the fruits
Of the earth, particularly the various grains. She taught mankind the art of
Sowing and ploughing so they could end their nomadic existence. As such,
Demeter was also the goddess of planned society. She is known to be the pure
Nourisher of youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and
Death, and the preserver of marriage and the sacred law. She is invoked as
The "bringer of seasons" in the Homeric hymn, a subtle sign that she was
Worshiped long before the Olympians arrived. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter has
Been dated to sometime around the Seventh Century BC. She and her daughter
Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also
Predated the Olympian pantheon.
Demeter is easily confused with Gaia or Rhea, and with Cybele. The goddess's
Epithets reveal the span of her functions in Greek life. Demeter and Kore (
The maiden") are usually invoked as to theo ('"The Two Goddesses"), and they
Appear in that form in Linear B graffiti at Mycenaean Pylos in pre-Hellenic
Times. In systematized theology, Demeter is a daughter of Cronus and Rhea
And sister of Zeus by whom she became the mother of Persephone. When
Persephone was abducted by Hades, lord of the underworld, Demeter wandered
The earth in search of her lost child. During this time the earth brought
Forth no grain. Finally Zeus sent Hermes to the underworld, ordering Hades
To restore Persephone to her mother. However, before she left, Hades gave
Her a pomegranate (a common fertility symbol). When she ate from it, she was
Bound to spend a third of the year with her husband in the infernal regions.
Only when her daughter is with her, Demeter lets things grow (summer). The
Dying and blossoming of nature was thus connected with Demeter.
According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, the greatest gifts which
Demeter gave were cereal (thus the Latin name for Ceres; also known as corn
To the British) which made man different from wild animals, and the
Mysteries which give man higher hopes in this life and the afterlife.
Title and Functions
In various contexts, Demeter is invoked with many epithets:
Potnia ("mistress" in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter)
Chloe ("the green shoot", Pausanias 1.22.3, for her powers of fertility and
Anesidora ("sending up gifts" from the earth Pausanias 1.31.4, as Demeter)
Malophoros ("apple-bearer" or "sheep-bearer", Pausanias 1.44.3)
Kidaria (Pausanias 8.13.3),
Chthonia ("in the ground", Pausanias 3.14.5)
Erinys ("implacable", Pausanias 8.25.50)
Lusia ("bathing", Pausanias 8.25.8)
Thermasia ("warmth", Pausanias 2.34.6)
Kabeiraia, a pre-Greek name of uncertain meaning
Thesmophoros ("giver of customs" or even "legislator", a role that links her
To the even more ancient goddess Themis. This title was connected with the
Thesmophoria, a festival of secret women-only rituals in Athens connected
With marriage customs.)
"It seems probable that the Great Mother Goddess, who bore the names Rhea
And Demeter, brought the poppy with her from her Cretan cult to Eleusis, and
It is certain that in the Cretan cult sphere, opium was prepared from
Poppies" (Kerenyi 1976, p 24).
In honor of Demeter of Mysia a seven-day festival was held at Pellené in
Arcadia (Pausan. 7. 27, 9). Pausanias passed the shrine to Demeter at Mysia
On the road from Mycenae to Argos but all he could draw out to explain the
Archaic name was a myth of an eponymous Mysius who venerated Demeter.
Demeter taught mankind the arts of agriculture: sowing seeds, ploughing,
Harvesting, etc. She was especially popular with rural folk, partly because
They most benefited directly from her assistance, and partly because rural
Folk are more conservative about keeping to the old ways. Demeter herself
Was central to the older religion of Greece. Relics unique to her cult, such
As votive clay pigs, were being fashioned in the Neolithic. In Roman times,
A sow was still sacrificed to Ceres following a death in the family, to
Purify the household.
The second mountain, Mt. Elaios, is about 30 stades from Phigaleia, and has
A cave sacred to Demeter Melaine ["Black"]... The Phigalians say, they
Accounted the cave sacred to Demeter, and set up a wooden image in it. The
Image was made in the following fashion: it was seated on a rock, and was
Like a woman in all respects save the head. She had the head and hair of a
horse, and serpents and other beasts grew out of her head. Her chiton
reached right to her feet, and she held a dolphin in one hand, a dove in the
other. Why they made the xoanon like this should be clear to any intelligent
man who is versed in tradition. They say they named her Black because the
goddess wore black clothing. However, they cannot remember who made this
xoanon or how it caught fire; but when it was destroyed the Phigalians gave
no new image to the goddess and largely neglected her festivals and
sacrifices, until finally barrenness fell upon the land.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.42.1ff.
venerated. The central myth of Demeter, which is at the heart of the
Eleusinian Mysteries is her relationship with Persephone, her daughter and
own younger self. In the Olympian pantheon, Persephone became the consort of
Hades (Roman Pluto, the underworld god of wealth). Persephone became the
goddess of the underworld when Hades abducted her from the earth and brought
her into the underworld. She had been playing with some nymphs (or Leucippe)
whom Demeter changed into the Sirens as punishment for not having interfered
Life came to a standstill as the depressed Demeter (goddess of the earth)
searched for her lost daughter (resting on the stone, Agelasta). Finally,
Zeus could not put up with the dying earth and forced Hades to return
Persephone by sending Hermes to retrieve her. But before she was released,
Hades tricked her into eating four pomegranate seeds, which forced her to
return four months each year. When Demeter and her daughter were together,
the earth flourished with vegetation. But for four months each year, when
Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren
realm. The four months when the earth is barren are the summer months, since
in Greece this is when all vegetation dies from heat and lack of rainfall.
The winter by comparison has heavy rainfall and mild temperatures in which
plant life flourishes. It was during her trip to retrieve Persephone from
the underworld that she revealed the Eleusinian Mysteries. In an alternate
version, Hecate rescued Persephone. In other alternative versions,
Persephone was not tricked into eating the pomegranate seeds but chose to
eat them herself. Some versions say that she ate six seeds rather than four.
Regardless, the end result is the occurrence of summer, spring, winter, and
Demeter was searching for her daughter Persephone(also known as Kore).
Having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, she received a hospitable
welcome from Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica (and also Phytalus). He
asked her to nurse Demophon and Triptolemus, his sons by Metanira.
As a gift to Celeus, because of his hospitality, Demeter planned to make
Demophon as a god, by coating and anointing him with Ambrosia, breathing
gently upon him while holding him in her arms and bosom, and making him
immortal by burning his mortal spirit away in the family hearth every night.
She put him in the fire at night like a firebrand or ember without the
knowledge of his parents.
Demeter was unable to complete the ritual because his mother Metanira walked
in and saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright, which angered Demeter
who lamented that foolish mortals do not understand the concept and ritual.
Instead of making Demophon immortal, Demeter chose to teach Triptolemus the
art of agriculture and, from him, the rest of Greece learned to plant and
reap crops. He flew across the land on a winged chariot while Demeter and
Persephone cared for him, and helped him complete his mission of educating
the whole of Greece on the art of agriculture.
Later, Triptolemus taught Lyncus, King of the Scythians the arts of
agriculture but he refused to teach it to his people and then tried to kill
Triptolemus. Demeter turned him into a lynx.
Demeter was usually portrayed on a chariot, and frequently associated with
images of the harvest, including flowers, fruit, and grain. She was also
sometimes pictured with Persephone. Demeter, was often depicted with her
sacred serpent, as in a terra-cotta relief from the 5th century BCE showing
Demeter holding wheat and poppy pods, with snakes facing her.
Demeter is not generally portrayed with a consort: the exception is Iasion,
the youth of Crete who lay with Demeter in a thrice-ploughed field, and was
sacrificed afterwards— by a jealous Zeus with a thunderbolt, Olympian
mythography adds, but the Cretan site of the myth is a sign that the
Hellenes knew this was an act of the ancient Demeter.
Demeter placed Aethon, the god of famine, in Erysichthon's gut, making him
permanently famished. This was a punishment for cutting down trees in a
References and Sources:
"If you take the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind and the rain." Herbalist Carol McGrath as told to her by a Native-American woman.
Witchcrafting through the ages has entailed moonlit nights, secretive meetings and spells whispered on the wind. What's so evil about that?
For as long as our Earth Gaia has been populated, Pagans have been worshipping her green growth, her seas, her trees, her stone formations, mountains & caves... Paganism is as ancient as the Earth herself.
When you look around, what do you see? For example, if you're outside in the city, do you notice the sounds of traffic? Traffic certainly doesn't sound like a naturally occurring phenomenon.. . but what else do you hear? Maybe you can hear the wind rushing, just below the din of traffic. And maybe you can feel the gentle sweep of a breeze brush across your face... maybe the wind is strong enough to momentarily take your breath away. Maybe the energy from the sun bathes your skin in tingly warmth... All of this in the city? Of course. Sometimes it's just a matter of retraining yourself what to feel as you're feeling it! Mother Earth, the Goddess is all around us, no matter where we are.
People who live in the country have the luxury of being surrounded by constant reminders of the Goddess' bounty & beauty every day. Those of us who live and work in the city sometimes aren't that lucky. being surrounded by concrete and cubicles all day can sometimes feel like the Goddess is no where to be found! But with a little imagination, you can bring the Gaia to you!
One of the best things about being a Hedge Witch (or a Kitchen Witch, as it's also sometimes called) is that you don't have to necessarily employ all the trappings of traditional witchcraft if you don't want to. Many Hedge or Kitchen Witches use a wooden or silver spoon as a magick wand. And they more than likely use that spoon or cooking in their kitchen. Same with a knife. I know a few Kitchen Witches who use a bread knife as their Athame. One uses a beautiful pearl handled knife, and another uses a plain, wooden handled bread knife. Because intent is so important in all Witchcraft, the tools needn't be something you spend a month's paycheck on unless you really want to!
If you're feeling a little out of touch with your Goddess in the office, setting up a miniature alter on your desk is easy, and can be donew ithout anyone being any the wiser.
You might want to store small items out of sight in a velvet or felt bag in the color most appropriate for your situation. Or if you want to be really inconspicuous, you might want to actually hide some smaller items in a small box, perhaps an empty paperclip box, or something similar that wouldn't look out of place.
Gather a few items - a votive candle to represent the element of fire, a book of matches, some travel packets of salt to represent the element of earth, a feather to represent the element of earth, or perhaps a small potted plant, and you can use many things as a representative of the element of water - a snowglobe, a glass of ice water, whatever you find appropriate and convienent. You can use a letter opener as a representation of the Athame if you feel the need, or you can seek out a lovely twig to use as a representation of a magickal wand. A special coffee mug can represent your chalice, and any five pointed star can be a secret representation of your pentacle. You need not have a conspicuous Pentagram on your desk in plain view, and in some cases, it's advisable not to have one around your desk at all! Just be judicious as to what works for you in your workplace. Does your boss have a problem with you lighting small candles at your desk? If not, simple candle magick
might be possible during your lunch hour if the need arises!
You can also keep on hand a pinch of a few different herbs like sage for purification, lavender for tranquility - especially on stressful days - cloves or allspice for when you're a little down on your bank balance... use whatever you feel would work best for you.
It's important to remember that although "Pagan Pretties" are really nice to look at and admire, they're not necessary for successful magick. Your intent is what causes spellwork to be successful, not your toys! I have to admit, I'm a bit of a collecter, and have a rediculous amount of really nice, pretty expensive Altar tools & accessories. .. but when it comes time for ritual, I always seem to use the tried and true, earthier, well worn tools I've had since the beginning. Whatever works for you!
Goddess Study: Arianrhod December 03, 2004 8:21 PM
Exerpt from Goddess & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan
The goddess of the "silver wheel" was a Welsh sorceress who, surrounded by women attendants, lived on the isolated coastal island of Caer Arianrhod. Beautiful and pale of complexion, Arianrhod was the most powerful of the mythic children of the mother goddess Don.
It was said that she lived a wanton life, mating with mermen on the beach near her castle and casting her magic inside its walls. She tried to pretend virginity, but a trial by the magician Math revealed that she had conceived two children whom she had not carried to term: in leaping over a wizard's staff, Arianrhod magically gave birth to the twins Dylan-son-of-Wave and the fetus of Llew Llaw Gyffes. Dylan slithered away and disappeared, but Arianrhod's brother, the poet Gwydion, recognized the fetus as his own child, born of his unexpressed love for his sister.
Gwydion took the fetus and hid it in a magical chest until it was ready to breathe. Arianrhod, furious at this invasion of her privacy, denied the child a name or the right to bear arms - two prerogatives of a Welsh mother-but Gwydion tricked Arianrhod into granting them. Eventually the goddess overreached herself, creating more magic than she could contain; her island split apart, and she and her maidservants drowned.
Some scholars read the legend as the record of a change from mother right to father rule, claiming that the heavenly Arianrhod was a matriarchal moon goddess whose particular place in heaven was in the constellation called Corona Borealis. The argument has much in its favor, particularly the archetypal relation of Arianrhod to her sister moon goddesses on the Continent, who like Artemis lived in orgiastic maidenhood surrounded entirely by women. Other scholars, unconvinced that the Celts were matriarchal at any time, see Arianrhod simply as an epic heroine.
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December 03, 2004 8:24 PM
The Destinies of the Sons of Arianrhod
By Megan Powell
Math son of Mathonwy decided to take a wife, and asked the advice of his nephew Gwydion, renowned for his wisdom.
"My sister Arianrhod is worthy of your attentions," Gwydion said, and brought her before the king.
"If you are truly a maiden," Math said to Arianrhod, "then I would take you to be my wife and the mother of my children."
"I am indeed a maiden," she replied coldly.
Math laid a magic wand upon the floor. "Then step over this wand, and it will prove whether or not you speak the truth."
Angered by this insult, Arianrhod complied, and by this trick Math used his magic to impregnate Arianrhod without her knowledge or consent.
Of this union two sons were born, one dark and one bright. The dark son was called Dylan, and had no sooner been given this name than he dove into the ocean and was lost beneath the waves.
Dylan, who was called the Son of the Wave, swam more skillfully than any fish, and no wave ever broke beneath him. When he was killed by the spear of his uncle Govannion, all the waves of Britain, Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man wept for him.
The second child grew more quickly than any mortal, and was much beloved by Gwydion, who raised him. The boy's mother had not seen him since his birth, so Gwydion brought him to her castle in the Menai Straits.
"Who is this?" she asked Gwydion.
"He is one who you should recognize," he replied. "This is your son."
Arianrhod frowned. She had little love for Gwydion, and could not bring herself to think kindly of this stranger who doted upon him, even if he was her own son. "How dare you bring him here, to my house, and shame me before the Court?" she demanded.
"He is a fine boy," Gwydion replied, "and you should feel no shame at having brought him forth."
"A fine boy, you say," Arianrhod said. "Yet he shall have no name, unless I give it to him."
Gwydion had not expected so harsh a reaction. "Very well, if that is the destiny you choose to lay upon him. Nevertheless, he shall have a name."
The next day, Gwydion took the boy to the sea, and disguised them both as cordwainers. He then used his magic to make a boat out of seaweed, and Cordovan leather out of dry sticks. Arianrhod spied them from her castle, and ordered her servants to take the measure of her foot. "Go forth to the cordwainers, and bid them make shoes for me."
The messenger went to the boat, and though he well knew the size of Arianrhod's foot, Gwydion made the shoes too large. "Return to those men, and bid them make a smaller pair," Arianrhod commanded, and this time the shoes Gwydion made were too small for her feet. "But truly, this is beautiful work," Arianrhod said with admiration, and sent her messenger back a third time.
Gwydion refused to make another pair of shoes. "I cannot make shoes for feet I have never seen," he said. "Bid the lady come here herself."
The messenger returned to Arianrhod, who so admired the leatherwork that she agreed and sailed out to greet Gwydion and her son. So Gwydion took the measure of Arianrhod's foot, and as he did so a wren lighted upon the deck. The boy shot the bird with an arrow, hitting its leg between the sinew and bone.
"A fine shot," Arianrhod said. "The lion aimed with a ste
Arianrhod December 03, 2004 8:26 PM
NAME: Arianrhod (Silver Wheel) Aranrhod, Arianrod. The name is said to mean silver wheel though there is some evidence that this might just be folk etymology and that a more correct interpretation, at least of arian might be huge or round.
SYMBOLS: Silver Wheel, Owl, Starry Sky, Moon. Oar Wheel a boat that was used to carry dead warriors to Emania (Moon Land).
USUAL IMAGE: Woman with pale white skin, thin red lips, & blonde hair.
HOLY BOOKS: The Mabinogion
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Fertility, Reincarnation, Cosmic Time, Weaving. Sovereignty.
HOME: Caer Arianrhod the Castle of Arianrhod or Caer Sidi which is the constellation of Corona Borealis and was thought of in Welsh myth as a magical realm to the North.
RELATIVES: (mother) Don, (father) Beli, (sisters) Gwenna `Gwen´, Maelen, Elen. (brothers) Gwydion, Gofannon, (sons) Dylan, Llew Llaw Gyffes.
SYNODEITIES: Artemis & Selene (Greek), Chang-O or Heng-O (Chinese), Tsukiyomi (Japanese), Varuna (Hindu), Yemella (African), Amana (Calina People of South America), Mielikki (Finland.)
DETAILS: Arianrhod is another ancient Goddess about whom real details about her worship and her myths are at best thin, with what little is left being highly distorted.
The only detailed (if confused) account taking place in the medieval work called The Mabinogion. which tells of a sorceress who lives in castle far away surrounded by women, and is elected to serve as the new virgin for a king who must rest his feet in the lap of same when he is not on the battlefield.
On arriving at court she is accused of having many relations with men, mermen, and all sorts of others, even her own brother. As a test she has to jump over the staff of a wizard.
On doing so she promptly gives birth to a boy and a blob. The boy (Dylan) quickly dashes to the sea while the blob (which eventually becomes a boy) gets 3 harsh restrictions placed on him by Arianrhod saying that he can have no name, bare no sword or wed a woman of Earth until she says so.
All three are later tricked into being given him. No word on whether the king ever gets another lap virgin.
Many think this is a much changed story telling of the time when things changed from mother rule to father rule. Others who say the Celts never had any such thing doubt this theory.
It is thought that Arianrhod, who's name may mean Silver Wheel, or perhaps huge or round wheel or circle is a remembrance of a once powerful Goddess.
A Goddess who was associated with the moon, the Milky Way, and was the goddess who wove peoples lives into the fabric of the afterlife, sending them ether on to another realm or returning them for another life.
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December 03, 2004 8:27 PM
Points of Light in Arianrhod's Milky Way of Links:
Reincarnation and the Triads
Cycles of Immortality
The Destinies of the Sons of Arianrhod
Arianrhod Celtic Art
Poetry - For Arianrhod
Arianrhod a Poem
A Shrine to Arianrhod
Concerning the Name Arianrhod
Goddess of A Thousand Names Arianrhod
The Milky Way
Corona-Borealis The Northern Crown (Old)
Constellation Portraits: Corona Borealis
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Ravyne December 03, 2004 8:29 PM
Thank you so much! This is just what I wanted to see I only have what I can find in my books. Thank you so much. [ send green star] flag for delete
December 03, 2004 8:40 PM
Mels Your choice of a goddess is indeed a powerful one! [ send green star] flag for delete
December 06, 2004 6:22 PM
This is probably due to me being blind, but did Arianrhod have a consort or would it just be assumed that it would Cernonnos or the Green Man? [ send green star] flag for delete
December 17, 2004 9:39 PM
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December 28, 2004 7:54 PM
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February 24, 2005 8:54 PM
Can you have Arianrhod as a matron goddess and use others at other times if I needed to?
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June 05, 2005 8:17 PM
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Absolutely. June 08, 2005 5:36 PM
You may approach any God/dess you wish, and any aspect, no matter whom you chose as Matron Goddess, or Patron Goddess.
But I'm not sure the word "use" is appropriate to this idea; IMO, we don't really "use" God/desses, you know?
But I think I understand what you mean.
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June 14, 2005 8:38 AM
I have looked but to no avail! Does anyone know about Arianrhods tempers or the way she acts? [ send green star] flag for delete
June 26, 2005 11:41 AM
I liked the Goddess Info presented here... April 06, 2005 12:07 PM
and would like to share it...
The site is lushly beautiful and serene, and inspiring, in particular the section on Goddesses...
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Goddess Study: Diana (aka Artemis) December 04, 2004 6:11 PM
The Goddess Diana
The goddess Diana was very highly worshipped in ancient Rome. Her greek counterpart, fell under the name Artemis. Diana in Roman worship, was known as well as a maiden huntress, protector of all that is wild and free. This is virtually the same context that the greek Artemis fell under. However, as centuries past and ancient Rome grew, so did the followings of the goddess Diana.
Diana no longer was classed simply as a maiden huntress, but grew to the status of motherhood. By the birth of her daughter Ariadia. Then her path grew as well, to become known as the Queen of Witches.
( This during the famous witch hunts, falling between the 15th and 17th centuries. ) Diana became the mistress of majick. The teacher of spells, healing, and at the same time still holding her status as the protectress of all things wild.
For more information of the goddess Diana; highly recommended 'Ways of the Stega' by, Raven Grimmasi. As well as books by the authors; Leland, Frazier, and Janet & Stewart Farrar.
December 04, 2004 6:14 PM
Roman name: Diana, Diane (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)
Italian name: Diana, Diane (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)
Ephesian name: Dia Anna (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)
Greek name: Artemis (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)
Etruscan name: Artumes (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)
Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) name: Bast (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)
Phoenician name: Astarte (N.B. In addition to native variations by locality or over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman alphabet used for English.)
Diana: Roman Goddess of Light, Moon Goddess, Queen of Heaven, Lunar Virgin (note that to the Romans, “virgin” meant a woman who had never been married or pregnant, not a woman who had never had sex), Goddess of Wildwood, Divine Huntress, Protector of Animals, Lady of Beasts
Diana: Greek Goddess of the Amazons
Considered by the Greeks and Romans to be the same Goddess as the Greek Artemis.
Considered by the Greeks to be the same Goddess as the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) Bast.
Considered by the Romans to be the same Goddess as the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) Isis.
Considered by the Romans to be the same Goddess as the Phoenician Astarte.
Considered by the Romans to be the same Goddess as the Babylonian Ishtar.
Considered by the Romans to be the same Goddess as the Babylonian Inanna.
Derived in part and influenced by early worship of Ariadne, High Fruitful Mother Goddess of Crete.
Diana at Ephesus — Goddess of the Amazons. Ancient worship focused on the nature goddesses Isis - Ishtar - Inanna and called Her Queen of Heaven. By Roman times she is called Diana; yet at Ephesus in Anatolia Her worship was most profound under the names Mother of Animals, Many-Breasted Artemis. Columnar, wearing a unique ritual garment adorned with animals, her crown and staring gaze incorporate Astarte, while Her moon disc and horned beasts evoke Diana. Her temple built by Amazons (undoubtedly matrilineal priestesses), was one of the wonders of the ancient world,a goal of devout pilgrimage. In AD 380 her shrine was rededicated to Mary, whose old age and death Church legend placed at Ephesus. Note the similarity of posture, palms bestowing blessing, with countless images of Mary. — JBL Statues
Monday: Diana is associated with Monday.
Friday: Diana is associated with Friday.
Festival of Diana: Roman holy day. The Festival of Diana in Rome honored Diana. Celebrated on February 12, 1999November.
Sagittarius Festival: Greek holy day. Sagittarius Festival, dedicated to Artemis/Diana, whom the Greeks considered to be the same Goddess as Bast. Celebrated on November 22, 1999
December 04, 2004
In Roman religion, goddess of wild animals and the hunt, virtually indistinguishable from the Greek goddess Artemis. Her name is akin to the Latin words dium ("sky") and dius ("daylight"). Like her Greek counterpart, she was also a goddess of domestic animals. As a fertility deity she was invoked by women to aid conception and delivery. Though perhaps originally an indigenous woodland goddess, Diana early became identified with Artemis. There was probably no original connection between Diana and the moon, but she later absorbed Artemis' identification with both Selene (Luna) and Hecate, a chthonic (infernal) deity; hence the characterization triformis sometimes used in Latin literature.
The most famous place of worship for the Italian goddess
The most famous place of worship for the Italian goddess was the grove of Diana Nemorensis ("Diana of the Wood") on the
shores of Lake Nemi at Aricia, near Rome. This was a shrine common to the cities of the Latin League. Associated with Diana
at Aricia were Egeria, the spirit of a nearby stream who shared with Diana the guardianship of childbirth, and the hero
Virbius (the Italian counterpart of Hippolytus), who was said to have been the first priest of Diana's cult at Aricia. A
unique and peculiar custom dictated that this priest be a runaway slave and that he slay his predecessor in combat.
At Rome the most important temple of Diana was on the Aventine. This temple housed the foundation charter of the Latin
League and was said to date back to King Servius Tullius (6th century BC). In her cult there Diana was also considered the
protector of the lower classes, especially slaves; the Ides (13th) of August, her festival at Rome and Aricia, was a holiday
for slaves. Another important centre for the worship of Diana was at Ephesus, where the Temple of Artemis (or Diana) was one
of the Seven Wonders of the World. In Roman art Diana usually appears as a huntress with bow and quiver, accompanied by a
hound or deer.
Dear Rayvne H December 04, 2004 8:40 PM
Just a note, you have the Festival of Diana being celebrated in early February but according to "The Golden Bough" it's
celebrated on August 14th.
Bye for now.
Diana Lee G.
December 05, 2004 4:24 AM
Another side note: In some areas of Italy, the August festival was celebrated on August 13th, called the Ides of August. This
was a festival by the slaves in honor of Diana.
Goddess Study: Sila na Geige December 03, 2004 8:09 PM
Sila na Geige 7:49 PM
Trickster Hag, laughing and howling;
Then veiled in the mist, silent as stone.
Gateway and gatekeeper,
Guide and challenger,
Liminal-dwelling paradoxical crone.
You stand upon a cliff, high above the sea, in a misty grove of silver birch trees. The waves crash and scatter on the rocks below, an eternal sigh of white noise rising. The grey mist swirls around you, cutting off familiar sights and sounds. Nothing is as it was. Nothing is as it seems.
Up ahead and above you in the mist, above the hole in the stone, The Hag of Birth and Death gazes down upon you. Welcoming and challenging, silently waiting, She opens the door to rebirth.
In the shifting realm between the worlds, She reveals to you the gateway – the vulva of Woman – through which every one of us entered this world,(2) through which all of our foremothers entered this world. Each one emerging from the one before her, all down the line, open archway after archway, reaching back through time, like a vaulted corridor leading directly back to First Woman.
Wise guardian, Who knows these roads so well, Who has trod these paths for countless generations. Oldest ancestor, Who gave birth to us all, Whose blood runs through our veins. Her cryptic smile hints at secret knowledge – She can look every challenge in the face without flinching; She can meet all changes head-on… and laugh. In your mind you hear Her whisper Her name: Síla (“SHEE-luh”).
You bend low and touch the earth, offering a prayer for guidance as you approach this threshold. Out of the corners of your eyes you sense the mist swirling; spiral patterns form and dissolve around you, hinting at mysteries, sparking a distant memory, somewhere beyond your conscious grasp.
You suddenly notice a heron, Síle na bPortach (“SHEE-luh nah BURT-uckh”), keeping still, silent vigil nearby. How long has she been there, watching you? ... You acknowledge her, and her role as guardian of the gate. You open yourself to her, and you can feel her looking into you, judging you, deciding whether or not she will let you in. You open without fear (or despite fear) and join with her stillness. You feel the silvery-white energy of the birch trees entering you. You breathe in their purifying, focusing, clean and clearing energy... Opening your heart and stilling your mind. You chant their ancient name, Beithe ("BAY-huh"). You feel the powers of land, sky, and sea come together and focus within you. You take a deep breath, and climb through.
Sila na Geige, cont. 7:50 PM
"You had the calling and died wondering—who is it that calls.
We were all calling. Down from the centuries beseeching you
to release from stone unparalleled beauty and in doing so
chipping away the stone encasing hearts.
…you were called…
you remembered us – the future…
We were calling you and I am calling you now." (3)
It started with the birch tree…
My personal altar (in a household full of altars) faces a window, looking out over the trees and the lake. There is a birch tree, one of many, who lives right on the other side of the glass, her boughs sweeping into my line of sight whenever I’m at my altar. Sometimes when I’m sitting there, I’ll open my eyes to see chickadees or catbirds fluttering in her leaves, or through her branches I’ll see herons wading in the shallows, or otters splashing and playing out where the waters run deep. The crows and other wildlife come and go, adding their own emphases and omens to my rituals. And with the curtains open, as they always are, the rays of the sun, moon and stars light my work.
On this misty, grey day I was on the other side of the window – outside on the rocky slope, meditating with this familiar tree. I was asking her about symbols: What symbol, or Goddess, or animal, works best with the energy of Birch? I had made my offerings of menstrual blood and breast milk, and I sat waiting, opening, huddled in my cloak in the shade on this cold morning in early spring.
Suddenly, I received a very strong and clear image of a Sheela na Gig -type figure. She was sitting in a grove of birch trees, with her knees drawn up, displaying her signature wide-open vulva, and a huge, almost maniacal grin on her face. She was laughing.
I have to confess, I was startled. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but the Sheela images had always freaked me out a bit. Much to my relief, this discomfort was eventually worn away, thanks to Síla Herself, and also because I can’t stand feeling inhibited or uptight about… well, about much of anything, really. And I certainly wasn’t going to tolerate feeling squeamish about something related to a vision or a Goddess image. I mean, I was the one who had started this dialogue… I had asked for the information, and now it was my job to figure out what to do with it. I figured I’d better start working with this Sheela who had popped into my life. After all, I didn’t want to be rude.
Sila na Geige, cont. 7:51 PM
Just who is this mysterious figure, the Sheela na Gig? Is she a representation of the Cailleach – the Hag of Winter, the Old Woman who lives in the stones? Is she a Goddess at all, or rather some lesser form of Otherworldly Being? Or were these images merely intended to be grotesques – carved on medieval churches to shame women about their bodies, their sexuality, and their power to bring forth life?
When I began looking into her origins, I encountered this range of questions and opinions among various Pagans and scholars. At that time, little research had been done on these images, and even less on the individual being or beings whom they were intended to represent. (4)
For the moment, I decided not to worry about these conflictin
For the moment, I decided not to worry about these conflicting theories. I felt a deep need to still the mental voices of
the opinions of others and approach her one-to-one, on a spiritual level. As an experiment, I decided to give Her the respect
due a Goddess, whether She was one or not. I decided to open to Her in the way I would approach a Deity, revered Ancestor
or Nature Spirit, and see what She had to say about it, what She had to show me.
Over the next five years, I experimented with Her (and it seems She experimented with me as well). I did lots of dreamwork
and journeying;(4a) I involved Her in rituals and meditations, to see if She brought through power, and if so, what kind. As I got a clearer understanding of Her, I became more open to seeing when She was appropriate to invoke in ritual – which I learned largely from noticing when She would simply show up on Her own.
She gradually moved into my household. She now lives over our Ancestor altar and our Trickster altar. Surrounded by heron feathers, cowrie shells, leaves of sage from our garden, and a small forest of twigs from the silver birch who guards our ritual site, She now dwells on the window ledge over my personal altar – framed by the moving, growing branches of that same birch tree who seems to have brought us together.
Síla of the Paradox
“If you hold opposites together in your mind, you will suspend
your normal thinking process and allow an intelligence beyond rational
thought to create a new form.” (5)
In much of the Scottish lore the year is ruled alternately by the Hag of Winter and the Maiden Queen of Summer.(6) Yet I see Síla as another, lesser known, third face of this well-known duality: the manifestation of the usually-hidden doorway that emerges when these forces are balanced or in flux. She holds the doorway which opens in the liminal-times: the days of Bealtaine and Samhain, the twilight of sunrise or sunset, and when the mists arise where the land and the sky meet the waters.(7) She is both and neither, an Otherworldly force that refuses to fit into either/or categories.
She appears when opposing energies meet, and She is also found when the energies of the Three Sacred Realms come together. She opens and holds the center of sacred space – the doorway which opens when we connect with the powers of Land, Sky and Sea and balance them within ourselves, opening to the Spirit that flows throughout and unites all three.
I feel Her presence in ritual, when we enter that stillness, on the edge between this world and the next. I feel Her when I center, when I still myself and find the quiet place from which the voice of the Goddess can emerge. I feel Her protection, Her guarding of the gateway, when the voices of the Spirits get to be too much and She kindly offers Her protection – the calm and stillness in the center of the whirlwind. As the Storm Hags dance around us, She is the crux point around Whom the world spins. She is the silence that enfolds us, the moment as we poise on the edge before diving into a new realm. Her shining white energy washes us clean. She opens our eyes and gives us the strength and courage to begin anew.
She is the sage smoke rising, the blank paper waiting, the silence in the singer’s head from which the music is born.
Dance me through to the stillness
to the point where the motion begins.
Dance me through to the silence
to the edge where the world begins. (8)
Sila na Geige, cont. 7:52 PM
Old Woman of the Stones: Historical Sheela
In appearance, the Sheela na Gigs probably most resemble the Cailleach – our most ancient Celtic Ancestor, the Old Woman, the Winter Hag. Many simplistically refer to her as a "fertility figure."(8a) However, her image combines aspects of fertility and infertility: her plump vulva, suggestive of youth and sexuality, is stretched wide-open as if in childbirth, yet she has no breasts. Or, in other images, when she is depicted with breasts they are almost always the drooping, long and flat breasts of a post-menopausal woman. At times her chest is scarred, with skeletal ribs, a fierce grimace, and the bald head of either a newborn or an extremely aged crone. If we take full breasts and bellies to be symbols of nurturance and material abundance, this is not a nurturing figure. She seems a creature of paradox and contradiction – representing the primal extremes of birth and death: the edge-times, the dangerous times.
The earliest known Sheela-type images have generally been believed to have been carved in the late eleventh century, on medieval churches in south-western France, and then later in England and Ireland from the twelfth through the sixteenth century. However, these images of Continental Europe, to my eye, do not much resemble the Sheelas of the Insular Celtic lands, aside from being nude females. While the Continental images I've seen are more likely to resemble human women, many of the insular Sheelas tend to have the characteristic flat-topped, large, vaguely triangular head and emphasised eyes of much older Celtic carvings.(8b) The Insular Sheelas are also much more likely to have the wonderfully weird, otherworldly, androgynous quality which I explore in this article.
The prevailing opinion among scholars, at least at the time of the first publication of this article, was that the Sheelas are a Christian invention, and that there was no firm evidence of Sheelas at ancient Pagan sites.(9) However, I believe this theory could have been due to incomplete research; more recently I have become aware of two or three very old figures on standing stones in Ireland. They are very weathered, but I believe they could very well be Sheelas, or at least precursors to the Sheelas. As far as I'm aware, there has been no official dating of these first two carvings, though some resea
As far as I'm aware, there has been no official dating of these first two carvings, though some researchers
believe at least one of them to be pre-Christian. A recent find in summer of 2003 is most definitely pre-Christian, but
we're still determining whether it is in fact a Sheela (I think it is). (9a)
Sila na Geige 7:54 PM
Another fascinating find is the wooden Ralaghan Figure: "Found in the Ralaghan Bog at the foot of the Taghart Mountain near Shercock in 1908, this figure is of great significance as is it's find site. It has been radio carbon dated to between 1098 BCE / 906 BCE placing its use towards the end of the Bronze Age. The fact that the figure was carved of yew was significant as the yew tree was considered sacred and was believed to have been endowed with regenerative properties. Taghart Mountain was a hilltop festival site of Lunasa. This site was used as a place of worship by the late Bronze Age people, by the Iron Age Celts and into early Medieval times. The Sexuality of the figure is ambiguous. Quartz grains were found in the pubic hole indicating the possible insertion of a phallus" - from the info on the museum card. The figure pictured below is a replica of the original, which is on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. While this figure lacks many of the characteristics of the later, stone Sheelas, I believe it could possibly be an early precursor to those figures. And it makes one wonder what carvings did not survive.
So for now, the question of their date of origin is still open. We may never know for certain, as the oldest-appearing images - on standing stones in graveyards - have also been heavily worn by exposure to the elements, while the ones in churches are more likely to have been protected (if they weren't defaced by human hands, as has happened in all too many cases). Ultimately, the question of whether the Insular Sheelas are of “Pagan” or “Christian” origin may be irrelevant, as early Celtic Christianity was not all that different from Celtic Paganism.
When the Sheela images began to become widespread in Irish churches (12th - 16th cent. ce), the Irish people adopted them enthusiastically, and also began carving them on secular buildings such as castles and mills. The term “Sheela na Gig” is said to have been adopted by folklorists as “simply the common Irish Gaelic expression for an immodest woman.”(10) The reason for the adoption of Sheelas on secular buildings has been attributed to the Irish seeing them as a protective force, as noted by nineteenth-century researchers who “were told by local Irish people that Sheelas were intended to ward off evil.”(11) This is reported along with a fascinating claim from a traveler in Ireland in the 1840s that, in order to lift a curse of bad luck, the afflicted should “persuade a loose woman to expose herself to him”(!).(12) Here we see the vulva as holding the power to bless and protect.
A delicious irony in this history of the Sheelas is that, even if they were introduced into the Celtic lands as a Christian attack on women, “it seems wise to suggest that the device of the Sheela… was absorbed there into a native belief in powerful female protectors. These carvings upon the later medieval buildings of Ireland may, then, have been a last manifestation of the old tutelary goddesses.” (13)
Sila na Geige, cont. 7:55 PM
In Christian times, She survived…
Dwelling over church doorways, reminding those with the ability to see that entering sacred space is to enter the womb of the Goddess – the cauldron of death and rebirth, where we are taken apart and rebuilt – where we find challenge, dissolution; and then rest, renewal and change. Reminding people that She is the gateway – we all entered the world through the womb of a woman. We remained here and grew strong, our spirits rooting and becoming one with our bodies, through the protection of a woman: she who in those early days held the life-and-death power of a Goddess over our tiny, fragile forms. No wonder many people find these images intimidating, frightening, or grotesque.
And She is also the devourer, Who takes us back in at the end of this life – dismembering us, stripping away the inessentials, until we are pure spirit – transforming us and readying us for our next turn on the wheel.
When we approach the doorway to sacred space, or the gateway to life and death, we go with openness and acceptance of the Mystery: No one truly knows what awaits us on the other side. Will the Goddess who greets you be hideous and challenging? Or will She welcome you with love and open arms? Are you sure She will even be there at all? And which of these challenges is truly the hardest for you to face at this point on your soul’s journey?
Word Magic: Etymological Síla
I initially assumed that Sheela was a phonetic spelling of the popular Irish name Síle.(14) But the question remains – if Sheela (na Gig) was “simply the common Irish Gaelic expression for an immodest woman,” and even applied to prostitutes, why on earth would people choose the name for their daughters?(15) I have to wonder: could traits which came to be described as immodest have earlier been seen as free, fierce, or bold – traits which were once highly valued in Celtic culture before the advent of Christianity? Could this name have been applied to rebellious, independent women who refused to be limited by patriarchal laws that treat women as property? What were the origins of this name? Why did the Irish start calling these images “Sheela?”
In tracing Irish words back to their roots, priority is given to the sound of the words, not the spelling. Many sounds in Irish can only be approximated in English; variant spellings in the manuscripts are due to different authors’ imperfect attempts at capturing the sounds of spoken Irish.(16) The spelling variations which follow are all pronounced basically the same.
Possible meanings to be explored for Sheela/Síle include: to shelter or shield; the seed which is planted and the ground in which it grows; offspring, race or descendants of; raining; an effeminate person; to think, to consider, to have respect for; and, perhaps my favorite possibility: cause or origin.
In Scotland, we find the word sheiling – a shelter, and sheal – to shelter. Both are derived from the Icelandic root word for shield.(17) These words are a product of the Northern influence on Celtic language and culture. This meaning certainly fits with the protective function of the Sheelas. But while these words were probably in use in Scotland and England by the time the Sheelas appeared, whether they were in use at that time in Ireland is questionable.
P.W. Joyce gives the root Shee as a corruption of the Irish Sidh – a fairy or fairy hill.(18) While this is probably too fragmentary to be the sole answer, it is still an interesting, and appropriate, association.
The Old Irish root word Síl, or Siol (both pronounced “sheel”), seems to be the strongest possibility. It is from this root that we get the rest of the above-cited words that could be related to Sheela/Síle: "Síl – seed, offspring, race, descendants. Silad – act of disseminating, spreading, to make known. Sílaid – either the seed, etc., which is sown or the earth, etc., which is sown with it; causes, brings about, produces; generates, multiplies, spreads."(19)
It was while digging through the Early Irish quotations in tiny print under Síl that I found something that really made me sit up and take notice: Metaphorically, Síl (here using the form Sila) has been used to mean cause or origin.(20) I felt a chill of recognition. This resonated so strongly with the psychic impressions I’d been receiving in my work with Her. And ever since that moment I’ve found myself thinking of Her as Síla ("SHEE-luh"), First Woman, Eldest of the Ancestors.(21) This idea of Síla as “the origin” also harmonized with my sense of Her having strong connections to the Ancestors and to the sea – the sea as the origin of all life on this planet.(21a) I have continued to use this spelling, both to distinguish Her from the more common personal name, Síle, in reference to the manuscript where this spelling was found, and to commemorate that sense of “rightness” that hit me when I found it.
In some areas of Ireland, old women have been called Síle.(22) In more contemporary Irish, we also find Síle defined as “an effeminate person, sissy”(23) or “a girlish young man.”(24) This brings up an interesting connection to the Hag, as Cailleach – the well-known Gaelic word for hag, old woman, or witch – is similarly used to refer to “effeminate” men. In the second definition of Síle, we find the mention of youth. Here we have twice the paradox: youth and age, and now the topic of gender variance. Gender variance is also seen in Sílaid meaning “the seed and the ground in which it is planted,” (emphasis mine) and in the gynandrous appearance (no breasts, no hair) of most of the Sheelas.
Gender variance is suggested in Fiona Marron’s experience with the Seirkiernan Sheela: when Fiona touched her, she felt two small holes atop this Sheela’s head, much like those found on some continental Celtic Cernunnos figures that feature removable horns. Fiona received a strong impression that, for certain ceremonial purposes, “the stag king’s horns” may have been placed upon this Sheela’s head.(25) The Ralaghan Figure, with its pelvic hole and possible removable phallus, shows even stronger gynandrous characteristics.
In these situations and others we see a suggestion of Síla being in between the two polar points of gender, or as encompassing both. In many ancient cultures, gender-variant people were seen as embodying particularly powerful magic. They were seen as holding the paradox-energy that lent them special abilities – usually the power to cross over into unseen realms and to have particularly strong connections with the Spirits.(26)
Sila na Geige 7:56 PM
In Irish we also find Síle na bPortach (“SHEE-luh nah BURT-uckh”) – the heron.(27) The heron is a liminal-dweller, living in the misty wetlands of marshes and swamps, and at the edges of rivers, lakes and oceans. They are sacred creatures who travel in all three realms: Land, Sea, and Sky. Herons like to nest in tall pine trees, a tree associated with rebirth. Portach means bog. Port means place of refuge, haven, center; fortified place, stronghold.(28)
Herons are often interchangeable with cranes and storks in Celtic mythology, language and iconography. The word Corr, usually translated as crane, has been used interchangeably for these three similar birds.(29) “There are many references to cranes in Celtic mythology as female guardians of Underworld sacred sites… Cranes were clearly associated with the world of the dead, and with beings who seemed to bridge the worlds of the dead and the living with their insight – particularly old women.”(30)
In European folklore we find the image of The Stork carrying infants to their new homes (a tale which has probably survived due to adults’ discomfort at answering the children’s question, “Where do babies come from?”). I believe The Stork could be a surviving reference to the magical role of these liminal birds: guides and guardians who carry spirits from the Land of the Dead (in Celtic mythology found on islands in the western sea), carrying them over the waters and into this earth-realm, enabling the spirits to (re-)incarnate.(31)
Gig is much more obscure. Among NeoPagan writers, the most commonly-repeated theory, though I'm not sure where it originated, is that the name was originally from "Sile na gCioch (sheela of the breasts)." But we've seen that so few of the sheelas actually have breasts. And the few that do... well, their haggish breasts are really not the most, er, prominent of their features. The other popular suggestion has been "Sile-ina-Giob (sheela on her hunkers)." I just don't see the word ina-giob migrating to the words na gig, in either pronunciation or spelling, during the time period in question. So I have never found either of these speculations to be credible.
Gig could be related to the Gaelic word gìog (“geeg”), meaning crouch or to sneak a peek at.(32) Sheela is crouching in many of the images, and she is giving people a peek at what is normally private. Or perhaps it came from the Middle English/Old Norse word gigge – whirligig or spinning top, from which we get gig – to reproduce another of the same sort (hmm, parthenogenesis?) and gig – a small boat.(33) Many boats are in the shape of a vulva, and this again brings to mind the function of crossing over – crossing over the waters, whether in physical birth, or in the spiritual journey to and from the Otherworld islands of the dead.
Something I believe to also be worth consideration is Nigheag - another name for the Washer at the Ford. "'Nigheag nan Allt,' the washing-nymph of the streams" is an otherworldly Hag, often connected with the giving and breaking of geasa, with prophecy and punishment and the granting of wishes. Because of the Ni sound, and the g being lenited, it wouldn't be pronouned the same as "na gig". But visually the two are very similar. And as Sile and Nigheag nan Allt both refer to Hags, I think this is a notable connection.(33a)
I had basically finished writing this article, and was putting away my reference books. As I picked up the Gaelic dictionary, it slipped from my hand and literally fell open to: geug (“gayg”) – a branch, a sapling, a young female, a nymph.(34) In Irish, the word is spelled géag and can mean Genealogical branch (of a family tree) or Image of a girl (made for festival).(35) Both words come from the Early Irish word géc – a branch, a bough, a respected person.(36) In both Gaelic and Irish, the genitive form is géige (“gayg-e”).(36a) In entry #385 of the Carmina Gadelica, we have an autumn waulking song with the curious line, "But mayest thou sow them and Géige reap them."(36b) Could this also show a connection to the harvest "Maiden" and "Cailleach" customs ("an image of a young girl, made for festival"), with the Hag as the reaper and/or the corn that is being harvested? Or be yet another connection to the Nigheag nan Allt as a death figure?
Could the older words for Sheela na Gig have originally meant something like “Origin of our Branch of the Family,” “Origin of the People,” “Origin of the Tribe,” or “Image of the Hag-Spirit Who is Also the Spring Maiden” (literally, “Hag of the Maiden”)? Or perhaps any number of variations on these concepts? After all, the Gaelic mind has always loved puns and multi-leveled meanings.
Síla of the branches, Origin of the Tribes
Síla of the nymphs, Origins of Womankind;
Eldest of the Ancestors, gynandrous crone and fertile youth,
Hag and Maiden and in between; seed and ground and truth;
Síla of the bloodlines, Síla of the trees,
Síla nan Géc
Síla na Géige
Sila na Geige, cont. 7:58 PM
“wise with age and the androgyny of time”(37)
“the ageless perfect center”(38)
Síla is the Otherworldly gate of Mystery, The gateway of All Possibility, but also the power to focus – to reach into the
“sea of possibility”(39) and draw something into manifestation in this world of forms (“seize the possibility”).(40)
My sense is that She controls whether the gate is open or shut, and that, through aligning with Her, She may confer some of
this ability and wisdom upon Her allies.
When present in ritual, the sacred space Síla creates gives me the distinct feeling of being “between the worlds” – not yet
completely in the Otherworld, and no longer fully in this world, but in a liminal, charged, basically neutral space from
which one can then choose a direction or destination. Whereas other Deities usually control the gateways to specific
Otherworld realms, Síla seems to specialize in this liminal zone, the doorway, the center and the edge, where one can pause
and center oneself before fully crossing over. Or She can help build a protected space in which one can stay and invite Other
s to enter. Some of this energy and perception, I’m sure, is based on the power of Birch, and I must admit, it’s now hard to
separate the two in my mind.
Síla of the Trees
Burning sage and rosemary, our prayers rise with the smoke – dancing and
spiraling into the sky. Bathing ourselves in the scented, energy-filled clouds,
opening ourselves to the cleansing wind blowing in from the sea.
“Am goeth i muir” – I am a wind on the sea.
In the Irish ogham lore Birch is associated with birth, beginnings, cleansing and purification, and the type of healing that comes from these energies. Cradles were made of birch to keep fragile newborns safe from unfriendly spirits. An early ogham tale also speaks of Birch as a protector: it was used to protect a woman from being abducted into the Otherworld.
Like Síla, Birch is both a guardian and a gateway. In my experience, they work together synergistically. Part of Birch’s protection – if she grants it to you – is that she doesn’t so much banish spirits as set limits and create a “breathing space” of peace and clarity, from which one can then choose where to go or who to let in or keep out. The energy of Birch and Síla, like sage smoke, will clear awa
Sila na Geige 8:01 PM
The energy of Birch and Síla, like sage smoke, will clear away bad vibes and create a clean and sacred space from which to
begin your spiritual work.
Birch can also be a helpful ally for those with mediumistic tendencies. Sometimes the presence of the Spirits can become
overwhelming. A reliable method of setting respectful limits with the Spirits is essential. Those dealing with this
gift/predicament need to create firm structure to keep sane – keeping altars for the Spirits and making clear to Them that
the altar is where They stay, not in your head. Giving the Spirits a defined place to hang out, and working out a schedule of
rituals – regular times for you to check in with Them and do your work together – are ways to prevent Them from
overwhelming you at inappropriate times.(40a) And when you do your mediumistic work, Birch helps to create a safe space
within which you can open.
In my experience this “protection from spirits” function also extends to dealing with alcoholism. Birch and Síla have an
energy I’ve found helpful to those in recovery, especially to those in the early stages of getting clean and sober. Their
white, clean, Obatala-type(41) energy can be very stabilizing to those stepping through the doorway into a new life of
sobriety. I’ve also considered that Síla and Birch might be helpful in dealing with schizophrenia, but have not been in an
appropriate situation to test this theory.
Síla, Sheela, and Sacred Space
In the twilight of dawn’s light
She stirs the mist
From the Edge and the Center
The energy shifts
(from the edge and the center)
(the world shifts)
In our Pagan household, with its variety of altars and shrines, I kept meaning to put Síla over the front door as well… But it hasn’t happened. I’ve lately come to realize that it’s because the whole house is not sacred space, or at least not in the sense that I usually use that term. I see “sacred space” as having at least two meanings. First, in the more “mundane” and political sense: The Earth, our bodies, and all the Earth’s lifeforms are, in one sense or another, sacred. And second, the way many Priestesses use the term: A space that is particularly charged with magical forces and the presence of powerful Spirits, and which perhaps contains entrances to the Spirit Worlds. Earth is always sacred in the first sense; and She also has power spots, which are sacred in the second sense, whether humans ever work with them or not.
So part of what makes sacred space sacred is that it is energetically and spiritually different from other spaces. It may be safer, it may be more dangerous, but it deals with different levels of reality than we access in “ordinary” consensus reality. Though the sacred and the mundane certainly flow into and inform one another, there has to be some boundary between them. Otherwise, you can lose yourself in the mist, and you can lose your ability to be fully in either realm. This is a hazard many of us deal with, with varying degrees of success and failure. My work with Síla and Birch is one of the more successful ways I’ve dealt with this challenge.
Perhaps to my deeper levels, putting Síla over the doorway to our house would be saying that, the entire time I am in this house, I should be in an altered, extremely deepened state, completely focused on communing with the Spirits and Goddesses. Well, I’ve tried living that way, and it has serious drawbacks. Basically, you can’t live like that and stay in a body for very long. So, at least for now, Síla is staying over the altars. (We’re already spaced-out enough around here, thank you.) But to a more grounded person who connects primarily with Her protective aspect – as it seems did those who commissioned many of the Sheelas – it may be completely appropriate to place her on outside walls and over doorways where Her protection is desired. All doorways are in themselves liminal zones, and perhaps a Sheela over the door can simply acknowledge this.
(Update 9.20.99 When my work with Síla first began, I connected overwhelmingly with her gateway function and Her role in establishing sacred space. I was working with Her primarily in ritual, in deeply altered states of consciousness. But after working with Her for a number of years now, I’ve gotten better at mediating the difference between simply having a Sheela na Gig image present, and actively asking Síla to open the Gateway. Now that I've had some time to integrate and ground the energies She brought into my life, I've become more aware, and appreciative of, her more general and "mundane" protective powers. So, She not only lives above the altars here, but, lo and behold, a certain Sheela now guards the doorway to our house, as well.
So Who is Sheela/Síla – Goddess, Grotesque, or Otherworldly Power? Well, these things are not always clear-cut in Celtic matters – Powers and Beings can flow, shift, change and have agendas of Their own, and Síla is no exception. The Otherworldly Being I’ve contacted through my work with Sheela na Gigs and the birch trees, Whom I call Síla, is a trickster and shapeshifter. She’s a primal force, older than human speech. She does not seem to exist in myth or legend as a human-type figure; She’s far too ancient for that; although glimpses of Her can be found in some of the tales of the Cailleach.(42) She usually manifests more as a distinct energy and Presence, Who “speaks” through shifting energies and granting visions, and rarely if ever speaks in any human language. When this style proves too vague, She tends to send more recent Ancestors, via vivid dreams, to articulate the specifics.
Like the many individual and unique Sheelas found throughout the Celtic lands, the face She reveals to you may vary drastically, depending upon the land where She is invoked, your karma and relationship with Her, and upon your relationship with the land and the Otherworld in general.
We have no way of knowing for certain if my conclusions about Síla resemble anything our Ancestors really believed. For our recent Ancestors, it certainly seems that many of the Sheelas were not initially commisioned as figures of veneration, and that any spiritual Powers and Beings that have come to be attached to these images emerged at a later date – after they took root in Ireland, and more recently in the more Pagan pockets of the Celtic Diaspora. However, this theory of the Sheelas' origins is far from proven. It is also possible that the earliest Sheelas were created by our long-ago Pagan Ancestors, or that they had images that were so similar to the Sheelas that the two streams of iconography merged. Whichever theory one believes – whether it's due to their Pagan, or despite their Christian, origins – it seems clear that the images are now Spirit-suffused: that Older Spirits, Goddesses even, have seen fit to influence the artists and come through the Sheelas – to attach Themselves to the images and dwell amongst us today.
This is simply one Priestess’s account of how Síla has manifested in my personal work and among the ever-widening group of people with whom I’ve shared these ideas and rituals. One of my reasons for publishing this article, and now maintaining this website, is to see how others resonate with this information. And, well... She was getting on my back about putting it out there.
All praises to Síla of the Paradox:
The boundary, the border,
the edge and the center;
The sunset and sunrise,
She of the sly grin, She of the wide eyes;
Grimacing crone, Life-giving hag,
the heron, the crane, and the stork with her bag.
Spinning and laughing, Paradoxical Crone,
Opener of the Way, Old Woman of the Stones.
Dancing in dawn’s light
Capering in twilight
The Hag of the Stones
Sends rays of light piercing
Deep in your heart
Deep into your bones
Kathryn Price Theatana
aka Caitríona NicDhàna
is living by the Boann Brook in the Northeastern Forest,
hanging out with the Spirits, listening to the trees,
and writing it all down.
She can be reached at email@example.com or
The original version of this article appeared as Síla of the Trees in the “Sacred Spaces, Sacred Places” issue of Sagewoman Magazine (Winter '98/'99). It has been substantially revised and expanded for the web.
Last revision: Moon of the Big Green Leaves, 2004.
(1) Language Note: The phonetic spelling Sheela indicates the Sheela na Gig images. The Early Irish spelling Síla indicates
the Otherworldly Being or Goddess Whom I believe the images may represent. Both are pronounced the same. Lower-case pronouns
(she, her) refer to the images. Capitalized pronouns (She, Her) refer to the Goddess(es). All pronunciations are approximate
– the Celtic languages contain sounds not found in English, and pronunciation varies regionally. (back)
(2) For those born by C-Section - who exited their mother's body through the belly, not the vulva - this may be merely
symbolic. Yet note how wide-open the passageway is, and how it goes all the way up into her belly - even the largest of
newborns could fit through that gate. (back)
(3) Patti Smith, Early Work (New York: W.W. Norton, 1994), p. 169. (back)
(4) Notable recent exceptions in the US: Lori DeMarre, “Sheela na Gig (Interview with Irish Artist Fiona Marron),” The
Beltane Papers Issn 4 (Samhain, 1993), pp. 4-11. Ronald Hutton, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles (Oxford,
U.K. and Cambridge U.S.: Blackwell, 1995), pp. 308, 310-15.
¶ (Update, 2/4/00): A caveat about Hutton - While he was one of the only "scholarly" sources available in the US when I
began this article, I've since realized how incomplete and/or biased some of his research is. He has neglected to mention
the Sheelas that contradict his theories. Whether this is due to incomplete research or willful negligence in order to
promote his own theories, I cannot say. However, I apologize for my former high reccomendation of this book. I still think
it's worth reading, although it should be approached with the same amount of critical thought with which one approaches the
feminist scholars of whom Hutton is so critical.
¶ On a much more positive note, thanks to the internet, many scholars are now in touch with one another and great progress
is being made in investigating the Sheelas - they are no longer being totally neglected. See our Sheela Links section for
some of these fabulous resources. (back)
4a) By "journeying," I mean traditional Gaelic and Celtic Reconstructionist Pagan (CR) methods of seeking vision - such as
Echtra, Aisling, Immram, and other techniques of Filidecht. I am in no way referring to Harner "core shamanism" or other
commercial co-optations of First Nations practices. This page reflects my view on modern shamanism, and has links to some
other excellent sites. Also, Erynn Rowan Laurie, A Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts (Chicago:
Eschaton, 1995) is a good introduction to actual Celtic mysticism and visionary work.(back)
(5) Niels Bohr, physicist, quoted in “The Art of Genius,” The Utne Reader Issn 8750-0256 (August 1998), p 76. (back)
(6) The Maiden/Queen is also known as the Spring Maiden - sometimes seen as a face of the Goddess Brighid. The Celtic year
is divided into halves - Winter: Samhuinn to Bealltainn (ruled by the Hag); and Summer: Bealltainn to Samhuinn (ruled by the
Spring Maiden/Summer Queen). Samhuinn and Bealltainn are the Scottish Gaelic names for Halloween and May Day. (back)
(7) Erynn Rowan Laurie, (1995). Erynn introduced me to the concept of the double spiral gateway and the third point within.
Though our Deity correspondences differ, her work has provided a foundation and inspiration for much of my research. (back)
(8) From “dance me through,” darkmoon song cycle ©1989 kpt/katharsis ink. (back)
(8a) "Fertility Figure" usually being archaeological and anthropological shorthand for "we have no idea." Often applied
dismissively to any female figurine about which insufficient research has been done. Or, to paraphrase Judy Grahn, "'
Fertility [Figure]' is one of those generalized terms used to vaguely describe what is imprecisely understood." (back)
(8b) Almost any well-illustrated Celtic Art book with Celtic stonecarvings will illustrate this point, but here are a few
references I've compiled in the Illustration Notes. (back)
(9) The exception being the Pagan sacred sites where churches were later built and the Sheelas carved over their doorways.
However, many who have observed the Sheelas in situ have noted that some appear to be much older, more worn, and sometimes
of different stone than the surrounding structures on which they are mounted. Some believe this could indicate that the
carvings of the Sheelas existed before the churches were built. (back)
(9a) For two Irish Sheelas on standing stones, see Stepaside Sheela, Co. Dublin and Tara Hill Sheela-na-gig, Co. Meath.
Photographs and commentary by Tara McLoughlin, on her fabulous Tara's Sheela-na-gig Website.
¶ In the summer of 2003, a "new" figure was found that may predate all of these: Historic stone carving uncovered in Co
Fermanagh. To those of us looking at the photos, this "carved stone image, originally from a graveyard on nearby Lusty More
Island, [which] has possible links to the renowned Janus figure at Caldragh Cemetery on Boa Island " sure looks like a
possible in situ Sheela to us. We're awaiting word back from our trusty sheela-scouts, but this figure, estimated to be
around 2,000 to 3,000 years old, could be an extremely important find. These two-faced "Janus" figures' possible connection
to the gatekeeper function also seems very significant. She also looks like she has coins at her feet - are people making
¶ I'm not sure why they're calling this one a "new" find, since there's a picture of it on plate 22 of John Sharkey's Celtic
Mysteries - The ancient religion(New York: Thames and Hudson, 1975)(back)
(10) Hutton (1995), p.311. Australian slang usage seems to also support this meaning: as their white population began as a
British prison colony, perhaps the word was imported with Irish prisoners. (back)
(11) _____, p.314 (back)
(12) Ibid. (back)
(13) Ibid. (back)
14) Alternate spellings of Síle include Sheila, Sheela and Sheelagh. Síle is also used to translate Julia and Cecilia.
(15) Perhaps to honor St. Cecilia, patron of music, or St. Julian, patron of travellers and boaters? (back)
(16) P.W. Joyce, “Irish Place Names” in Ronan Coghlan, Ida Grehan, & P.W. Joyce, The Book of Irish Names (New York: Sterling Publishing, 1989), p.85. (back)
(17) Websters Unabridged Dictionary, 2 vols. (U.S.: William Collins & World Publishing, 1975), pp.1671, 1669. (back)
(18) P.W. Joyce (1989), p.114. (back)
(19) The Royal Irish Academy, Dictionary of the Irish Language (Antrim, N.Ireland: Greystone Press, 1990), pp.542-3. Malcolm MacLennan, A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language (Edinburgh: Acair/Aberdeen University Press, 1991), pp. 299-301. Niall Ó Dónaill, Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla (Éireann: Mount Salus Press, 1992), p.1092. (back)
(20) The Royal Irish Academy (1990), pp.542-3. (back)
(21) When I speak of Síla as the Eldest of the Ancestors, I’m invoking the elder indigenous spirits of the Celtic lands. However, our actual human Ancestors originated in Mother Africa. So, as part of Síla’s shifting, paradoxical nature, I personally see Her also as a representative of our eldest African Ancestor - or, at the very least, strongly connected to this most ancient of our foremothers. (back)
(21a) I later came across the The Rochester Sheela na Gig, who holds a fish in each hand and strongly resembles the Celtic double-tailed mermaids found on standing stones and manuscripts. The Kildare Sheela is in a similar posture, as is The Glendalough Sheela and the merperson from the Meigle, Perthshire standing stone in George Bain's "Celtic Art" (New York: Dover, 1973) p.120, plate V. An image I've seen, said to be of the Norse Goddess Freya, is also very similar, but I don't know the background or veractiy of this design (had a link but the page is gone now).(back)
(22) DeMarre (1993), “used to describe old women in…County Cork.” (back)
(23) Ó Dónaill (1992), p.1092. (back)
(24) Tomás De Bhaldraithe, English-Irish Dictionary (Éireann: Criterion Press, 1992), p. 297. See also Who is Sheila? by Dymphna Lonergan on use of the word to describe effeminate men in both Ireland and Australia.(back)
(25) DeMarre (1993). Seirkiernan Sheela, County Offaly, Ireland, 13th-16th cent. C.E. (back)
December 03, 2004 8:11 PM
(26) Judy Grahn, Another Mother Tongue (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990). Randy Connor, Blossom of Bone (New York: HarperCollins, 1993). (back)
(27) O’Donail (1992), p.1092. (back)
28) ________p. 965. (back)
(29) De Bhaldraithe (1992), pp. 336, 157, 711. MacLennan (1991), p. 101. (back)
(30) Alexei Kondratiev, “More on Saint Patrick’s Snakes and Other Irish Critters,” Our Pagan Times Vol. 4, No. 4 (April, 1994), p. 19. See also: Katharine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies (New York: Pantheon Books, 1976), pp. 57-60, on the Cailleach as a guardian of animals and wells, and how on the Isle of Man, where She is known as Caillagh ny Groamagh, or the "Old Woman of Gloominess....She is said to have been seen on St. Bride's day in the form of a gigantic bird [emphasis mine], carrying sticks in her beak."(back)
(31) The species of marsh-bird fulfilling this role seems to vary regionally, depending on which is found on the land in question. (So, does this mean that in tropical realms Síla’s totem is the Pink Flamingo(!)?) (back)
(32) MacLennan (1991), p.180. (back)
(33) Websters Unabridged Dictionary (1975), p. 770. (back)
(33a) Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, (Hudson, New York: Lindisfarne Press, 1992), p526. Text notes to entry #536.(back)
(34) MacLennan (1991), p. 179. (back)
(35) O’Donail (1992), pp. 616-17. (back)
(36) The Royal Irish Academy (1990), p. 357. (back)
(36a) The genitive form is the possessive - so for example, when coupled with na or nan, it means "Síla of the branches" or "Origin of the Tribes" instead of just "Síla branches" or "Origin Tribes." In the pronunciation of géige - "gayg-e" or "gayk-e" the final "e" should really be a schwa (but I couldn't figure out how to make one in any of the available fonts). And depending on dialect, the final "e" may or may not be voiced.
(36b) Carmichael (1992), p526. Entry #385, Verses made at the waulking frame: "Thou girl over there, may the sun be against thee! / Thou hast taken from me my autumn carrot, / My Michaelmas carrot from my pillow, / My procreant buck from among the goats. // But if thou hast, it was not without help, / But with the black cunning of the dun women; / Thou art the little she-goat that lifted the bleaching, / I am the little gentle cow that gave no milking. // Stone in shoe be thy bed for thee, / Husk in tooth be thy sleep for thee, / Prickle in eye be thy life for thee, / Restless watching by night and by day. // May no little slumberer be seen on thy pillow, / May no eyes be seen upon thy shoulder, / But mayest thou sow them and Géige reap them, / And Morc garner them to the green barns!"
¶ For a wealth of info on the Michaelmas and other harvest traditions, including info on the Cailleach and those grain and carrot rituals, see: F. Marian McNeill, The Silver Bough - Vol. Two - A Calendar of Scottish National Festivals - Candlemas to Harvest Home(Glasgow: William MacLellan, 1959).(back)
(37) Sheri S. Tepper, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (New York: Bantam, 1997), p. 452. (back)
(38) Smith (1994), p. 155. (back)
(39) Patti Smith, “Land,” Horses (New York: Arista Records, 1975). "I hold the key to the sea / of possibilities..."(back)
(40) Ibid. (back)
(40a) Modupue (many thanks) to Teish for teaching me this survival skill. (back)
(41) Orisha Obatala is the Yoruba (African) androgynous Creator Deity of the sky, the white cloth, and the elderly. His/Her children do not drink alcohol. (back)
(42) For some tales of The Cailleach, and even sound files with pronunciations, Cailleach Bheur: In Highland and Lowland by Fuillann nam Socair, was a great resource, but the site is now down. Let me know if it reappears
Ravyne H. Goddess Study: Freya December 04, 2004 6:18 PM
In Norse mythology, Freya is a goddess of love and fertility, and the most beautiful and propitious of the goddesses. She is the patron goddess of crops and birth, the symbol of sensuality and was called upon in matters of love. She loves music, spring and flowers, and is particularly fond of the elves (fairies). Freya is one of the foremost goddesses of the Vanir.
She is the daughter of the god Njord, and the sister of Freyr. Later she married the mysterious god Od (probably another form of Odin), who disappeared. When she mourned for her lost husband, her tears changed into gold.
Her attributes are the precious necklace of the Brisings, which she obtained by sleeping with four dwarfs, a cloak (or skin) of bird feathers, which allows its wearer to change into a falcon, and a chariot pulled by two cats. She owns Hildesvini ("battle boar") which is actually her human lover Ottar in disguise. Her chambermaid is Fulla. Freya lives in the beautiful palace Folkvang ("field of folk"), a place where love songs are always played, and her hall is Sessrumnir. She divides the slain warriors with Odin: one half goes to her palace, while the other half goes to Valhalla. Women also go to her hall.
Old Norse: Freyja, Friia
Blessed be the Goddess of the Sparkling Aurora
Freyja, Beautiful One,
Most Passionate Queen.
Teach me the mysteries of the heart's true passion.
Show me the secrets of wyrd .
Walk with me in starlight.
I light this candle
in fiery offering to you,
Freya, Goddess of Airy Fire.
Air of Fire
Red, Green and Gold,
also based on my personal journeys she seems to like white
The Red RayDivination:
Cats - Freya has two winged cats who pull her carriage Bygul and Trjgul or Honeysuckle and Amber as I call them BoarAttributes:
Ruler of the First House
Psychic warrior and leader of the Valkyries
Ruler of the Disir
Teacher of the Nine noble virtue
Partner: Frey her twin brother
Chakra= First, Root ChakraStones:
Tiger Eye - Red
Agate - Red
Tourmaline - Watermelon
Tourmaline - Rubellite
bold, dynamic, impulsive, highly extroverted. Passionate when aroused whether it be in love or for a just cause. Aggressive is her middle name. Always doing and on the go. A need for a cause and challenges. Easily bored. Fiercely imaginative but sometimes a little self-centered, Impatient but courageous Festivals:
March Healing Techniques:
Nettles, Holy Thistle,
Crowfoot, Wormwood ,
Spikenard, Cornflower, Rose, Mustard, Hibiscus, Woodruff,
Pepperwort, Heather, SpeedwellCrafts:
Mansongar (love poetry)
Brisingamen - the magical necklace she got from the dwarves
wagon drawn by 2 cats
Freyja's Heart- the symbol of Freyja's blessings and those given to her mysteries.Rules
Direction = South
Planet = Venus
Day = Friday
Number = 1
[ send green star]
Is Norse at all related to Celtic? Can you put Celtic Goddess or Gods with Norse Goddess or Gods?
KALI - THE DARK MOTHER March 30, 2008 3:59 AM
In the wiccan goddess chant her name is mentioned...isis,astarte,diana,hecate,demeter,KALI, innana.mother kali is a hindu goddess who is devotedly worshipped in India specially in the eastern states of india i.e.,BENGAL and ASSAM.we call her affectionately- MAA(MOTHER) KALI.In hindu tantra spirituality ma kali is known by different sacred names and forms like - ma kamala,ma durga,ma tara,ma shakti n many more sacred names.goddess kali is the dark mother earth,she is the essence of the universe,she is infinite,she is absolute,she is the giver of life and she is the goddess of death,she protects her devotees and children from evils. though her other form is ferocious but her heart is calm and full of unconditional love. who knows her and loves her becomes enlightened...she is the soul of the great lord SHIVA...the supreme father of all...lord of the universe,lord of dance,music,love.when the sacred union of the great lord shiva and ma shakti takes place...its considered the highest spiritual state of conciousness.
you can find much more about the interesting secrets of the great lord and lady in hindu tantra.WICCA and tanta have a lot in common and they share the same viewpoint- belief in life,love,celebration,magick,harmony,peace, undersatnding the self in connection with the divine and devotion to the dual aspects of the divine-the yin and yang,masculine and feminine,lord and lady or shiva and shakti.
always at the lotus feet of the great lord and lady,known by different names...
love u all
[ send green star]