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LILITH

LILITH

Goddess of the night, Adam’s first wife who according to Jewish beliefs was created together with him, she, however, rebelled against his need to dominate and fled from Eden. The meaning of her name varies from Night Creature, Night Monster, Demon, Screech Owl, Lady Air, Wind or Spirit.

First I have state clearly that the character of Lilith can be interpreted in two manners, either in the same way as she was perceived by the ancient folks or in a modernised one. I am going to describe how she was depicted throughout the ages but as far as the divinationary section is concerned I refer to present time reality (and so do most authors of goddesses decks).

ABOUT GODDESS

Creatures resembling Lilith are first mentioned in the Mesopotamian mythology, however they do not take the shape of the characters from subsequent Jewish legends yet. While researching the Epic of Gilgamesh Samuel Noah Kramer studied the text of Twelfth Tablet which was not originally included in the poem. What he found there was the story of Inanna who planted the huluppu tree (most probably a willow) in her garden in Uruk so that she could make a throne for herself from its wood. However, when she came back after ten years to cut the tree, it turned out to be inhabited: a serpent was living in its base, a Zu bird (a huge bird with the head of a lion) had the nest with its young in the crown and ki-sikil-lil-la-ke found the home in its trunk. According to the tablet Gilgamesh, asked by Inanna, has smitten the serpent, made the Zu bird fly away to the mountains with its young and ki-sikil-lil-la-ke destroyed her house and fled to the forest. There is not enough evidence to identify Lilith with ki-sikil-lil-la-ke, in fact modern scholars reject this connection. The only thing that can be determined with high probability is the analysis of the tree spirit’s name: ki-sikil means ‘acred place’, lil is ‘spirit’ and il-la-ke can be either ‘water spirit’ or an owl. According to one of the Sumerian texts, Lilitu is Inanna’s handmaiden, a beautiful prostitute whom the goddess sends to the streets so that she seduce men there.

Moreover, in the texts of incantations from Nippur in Babylon dated back to around 600 bC there is a mention of vardat lilitu meaning a female spirit connected with storms and winds; the word lili itself was associated with magic and demons. According to a hypothesis the Sumerians and the Akkadians, the native inhabitants of Mesopotamia were bilinguial and their deities syncretised, in this case in the Summerian language the spirit was named ki-sikil-lil-la-ke while for the Akkadians the name of the same spirit was Ardat-lili (Ardatû). Lilitu were also present in the myths of Assyrians, the heirs of the Summerian and the Akkadians, as the demons hunting for women and children associated with lions, deserts, storms and diseases. Originally they were linked to the wind and storms and then to the night and copulating with people while they were sleeping; lilitu were hostile towards families, seduced men (it was believed that sick men were possessed by lilitu), caused infertility, miscarriages, complications during delivery and death of babies. Prostitutes were also called ardatû.

It was not until Jewish culture came that Lilith was distinguished from other night demons and gained her own mythology. Her appearance in the Bible is disputed, the only remark mentioning her is the Book of Isaiah 34: 13 – 15 where the word lilit/lilith is enumerated as one of the impure animals (most probably because of the associations with demons), it is unclear, however, whether the author refers to a particular person or the species of demons. In most translations of Bible into foreign languages lilith is treated as a specified creature bringing bad connotations for the contemporary  who shall nest and lay eggs, hatch them out and gather them in her shadow (in Septuaginta, Greek transation of the Bible, a satyr is an equivalent, being a creature of a significant sexual freedom, an embodiment of the forces of nature, in Vulgata, Latin translation, lilith is translated as Lamia, a figure from Greek mythology who was said to abduct and devour children etc). In the King James Bible, the classical translation to Old and New Testament to English, the word screech owl is used and this manner was generally adapted in further renditions.

 Lilith is given a specific embodiment in modern Jewish texts, particularly Talmud and Kabballah. According to these, she was created by God at the same time and from the same clay as Adam thus was his first wife. Several versions of this story have been noted: either she had been brought to life before Adam was, on the fifth day of creation or just a moment before him or Adam and Lilith were created as one being but Lilith’s soul was lodged in the depths of the Great Abyss until God called her to join Adam lying on the ground as lifeless body, it was not until that moment when God created soul for him and divided a woman from a man. According to yet another version Lilith was not created by God but emanated spontaneously as a separate deity and is connected to the Sefirot of Gevurah in the Tree of Life. There is also an alternative version claiming that Adam&Eve and Lilith& Samael came into living as twin couples of hermaphrodites.

Adam wanted Lilith to have sex with him but when it turned out that she was expected to lie below him, she refused firmly. She could not accept such a position because she was created from the same clay as Adam therefore she was equal to a man, not subjected to him. Enfuriated she spoke the Ineffable Name and flew to the Red Sea. Adam complained to his Creator and Yahwe sent three angels Sanvi, Sansanvi and Semangelaf* to Lilith  to convince her to return. But this made Lilith even more enraged so she refused to come back and began relationship with Samael, an angel rebelled against Yahwe. Angels warned her that if she would not return to Adam, she would have to bear one hundred little demons every day but they would all die. Despite this threat Lilith did not surrender and did not return to Eden. This is why Yahwe created an obedient and subordinate Eve from Adam’s rib and Lilith, out of revenge that her own children die, captures the newly born descendants of Adam. Other legends say that Lilith incarnated as a vengeful serpent who convinced Eve to pluck the apple. It is also said that having been expelled from the Paradise Adam separated from his second wife and lived as a hermit, at that time Lilith returned to him as a demon in his dreams.

We have to remember that the ancient did not know what viruses, bacteria and genetic diseases were so when a baby was dying or a woman miscarried (and it did happen often) they were explaining it by the intervention of a jealous female demon. This was not only the case of Mesopotamia but also ancient Hellas where the above mentioned Lamia, half – woman, half – serpent came from). Wet dreams were explained in the same way, it was believed that these were incubus and succubus, night spirits, copulating with men and women. In mythology Lilith was presented either as filled with lust that made her seduce men or filled with jealousy over neonates, the root for the legend of murdering them. It must be noted, however, that these two characters have been evolving separately, there is very few stories where Lilith plays both roles. Patriarchal cultures stigmatize women who do not want to be subjected, they are considered to be bad, vicious and culpable; up to this day women who do not agree on arranged marriages or escape abusive husbands are convinced by their relatives to return in order not to dishonour their  families. It is forbidden for a woman living in a patriarchal culture to show desire and interest in sex and most of all it is suggested to her not to wear or behave in a manner that enhances her beauty (but it is man who decides how far is too much, this is where all those ‘explanations’ of rapists that they were provoked come from). Briefly speaking, Lilith’s history is everlasting. To check how to cope with it and not to get mad, please visit the divination meaning below.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Here is the Burney Relief with the image of Inanna/Ishtar (or Ereshkigal) which has already been discussed in the post about Ishtar. For some time researchers have been identifying the female figure as Lilith for the sake of wings, birdlike feet and being surrounded by birds resembling owls. This assumption was mostly based on the translation of the Twelfth Tablet of  the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Burney Relief

However, this identification is now being disputed and mostly rejected.

Lilith appears in the early Romantic culture and art thanks to Faust by Johann Goethe and famous portraits by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, the leader of an English art group of Pre-Raphaelites

'Lady Lilith' by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

and of John Collier

'Lilith' by John Collier

Modern culture did not take the odium of a harlot and infanticide off her. Modern day images portray Lilith as having fair skin and long dark hair (in Jewish and Muslim tradition it symbolises dangerous female power of seduction) and staring at the mirror, the symbol of vanity. As a heroine of 19th century book Lilith by George MacDonald she possesses not only all the features that the ancient attributed to her but is also a vampire sucking blood out of people, she is similarly presented in a modern TV – series True Blood. She is treated as the first mother by the occult societies and traditionally connected to the new moon and the zodiac sign of Scorpio.

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

 Person shown by this card is strong – willed and adamant, definitely aware of her influence and strengths and knows how to use them (therefore may not be liked by the environment). She may have problems at work due to insubordination and because of intransigence in relationships. Beauty and sensuality attract men to her even in a subconscious way. In negative aspects she cannot deal with inner tension, past experiences, aversion towards men and subconscious fears or complexes (including sexual ones). This card also shows a person who misuses their attractiveness just because they can.

ADVICE

 DO ON BE SCARED TO SAY ‘NO’!

Our culture requires woman to be nice and polite but these requirements limit freedom of thought and behaviour. In the long run it is impossible to meet them without some loss of own psyche. Being nothing but sweetness is deadly. To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.

Being faithful to yourself requires courage and resistance which is not an easy thing to do as women are taught to be nice and please others. When you start setting the boundaries, people in your environment will be reluctant to accept it or may even behave in a hostile way. And yet if you do not do it, you will not acquire positive attitude and respect to yourself. Being submissive and will not make people love you but use you instead.

Give only as much as you really want to give. Being assertive is not easy, people in your environment may try to force you to explain your behaviour or will call you an egoist. Do not let them do that. Speak in a calm way and use simple, short statements e.g., I have no money, I have no time, etc. If anyone insists, do not engage in further discussion, just repeat the same sentence I have no money, I have no time over and over again, s/he will stop soon. Perhaps people in your environment will consider you to be a hag but they will do what they need without your help.

Express yourself clearly. Speak only things you really mean. Be consequent in what you do. Establish rules and stick to them. Giving your energy, time and money to others is good as long you do it with joy, not because you are expected to do it, the latter only leads to frustration and fatigue. You will not make anyone happy in this way.

Be prepared for the fact that showing your power will cause some unfriendly comments. People may suggest that powerful women discourage men, that you should behave in more feminine way, wear more feminine clothes or even play the role of dumb woman (‘sweet idiot’). Note that a man searching for a relationship with a woman will never get advice to be more male, wear more male clothes or play the role of strong man.

Be prepared that if you are being picked up and express your objection clearly, the person who picks you up will try to withdraw, begin to ridicule you or to say, ‘I was only joking’, ‘What were you thinking?’ etc. This tactics is aimed at “softening’ you and weakening your self – esteem but once you say ‘no’, most probably you will not be bothered again.

Think of the reasons why you are in your relationship. Perhaps it is because you are scared of being alone, not because you truly love your partner. If you are scared of being alone then do not expect someone to adore your company. If you are not scared to be alone, you will not be afraid to wait for a worthy person and you will not fritter away in an unsatisfactory relationship.

Make sure you are not dominated by your partner either in emotional, intellectual or financial way. Remember that men and women may differ but are equal. We cannot build happiness on the dependence on someone else. A cage made of gold is still a cage.

Think of whether it is worth to bind your emotions and energy to a person who is not free either legally or emotionally.

You have right to feel desire and want to have sex. Have a positive attitude to your body. Sex is a powerful tool which can either charge you with lots of positive energy or make you feel terribly down. As far as intimacy is concerned you should only do what YOU want to do. Do not let yourself be manipulated. If you do not feel like you want to have sex, do not go to bed with someone. Do not have sex just because you feel lonely, you are drunk, you want to achieve sth via bed, keep your partner or you think this will make you adult. Sex is an exchange of energy, do not waste yours on a wrong person. Do not be scared to talk about your needs and contraception.

My personal understanding of this card is not to be afraid to talk with children about their bodies, gender and sex (in the range depending on their age). Teach your daughters and sons how to say no and to set boundaries. Teach your daughters and sons that when another person says no they mean no and they have to respect their boundaries. Remember that your children’s future attitude towards relationships and sex is shaped by the behaviour they observe at their home. You also have to teach your children that not all the adults have good intentions and may hurt them.

Never forget that patriarchal culture also hurts men forcing them to play roles they do not want to or cannot bear.

Courage. Freedom. Equality. Strength. Opposition. Independence. Setting boundaries. Refusing to be enslaved. Freedom of mind, heart and body. Moving forward. Surprise.

LOVE

If you are in the relationship:  Lack of satisfaction in relationship. Romance. Partner may not be able to have children. Problems with getting pregnant, miscarriage or complications during delivery. First wife. Lover.

If you are single:  Romance. Being alone by choice. Being with someone who is already in a relationship.

(In both contexts this card warns against sexual harassment or rape)

FINANCES

 Strike. Discontent with present conditions. Inequality in wages for the same amount of work. Discrimination. Exploitation. Abuse at work (including sexual harassment).

HEALTH

 Infectious diseases. Visit your gynaecologist. Endangered parts of the body: sex organs.

CARDS

Lilith in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Lilith in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton 

Lilith in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Lilith in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Lilith accompanied by owls in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

 Lilith in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Lilith in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Lilith in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs  

Lilith fleeing from Eden in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Lilith in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

 Lilith in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Lilith in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Lilith in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

 Lilith in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

 Owl – eyed Lilith in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Lilith in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Lilith in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Lilith in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

 Lilith as Devil in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Lilith in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

* The names of the same angels were written on the amulets for babies aimed at keeping Lilith away from them. Legend says that the angels sent to bring her back to Eden forced her to promise that she would not attack children wearing amulets with their names.

Based on English Wikipedia (unfortunately some information used in this post were removed from the current version of the article about Lilith) and http://www.pantheon.org/articles/l/lilith.html

DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY THE CARD OF MARY

THE CARD OF MARY

First of all I find it essential to state clearly sth that I thought was evident:

MARY IS NOT A GODDESS!!!

This is why I do not consider this card as legitimate in the deck of goddesses, I have no special code with it and I will not provide you with any divination meaning in this post. I will only share basic information about Mary and my own thoughts.

Not much is known about Mary, in fact all the information about her come either from the Bible or Christian Tradition. It has to be stated that she is mentioned in the Bible not more than twenty times. According to the New Testament Mary (Miriam) was engaged to be married to Joseph but marriage has not taken place yet and she has not moved to his house. At that time Archangel Gabriel was said to appear to her to announce that God has chosen her to be the mother of the Saviour. When they got married, Mary and Joseph  were obliged to go to Bethlehem to be registered in a census. This is where she delivered a healthy boy according to the legend. Soon after the child was born the family had to flee to Egypt to avoid the danger from King Herod. When they got back, they lead a peaceful life until Jesus turned thirty – three and started to preach. There are not many mentions of the events from his childhood in the official Canon texts except of an episode when Mary’s son remained in the temple after sacrifice and engaged into a discussion with the scholars.When Jesus started to preach, his mother was in the group of women accompanying him; she is mentioned as the one who asked him to change water into wine. She was also present during his crucification and with the apostles when they chose the person to replace Judas after Jesus’ departure. There is no trace of her in the Bible after that. All the speculations concerning her death or assumption are only included in the Tradition.

It is crucial to notice that the texts of New Testament mention Jesus’ brothers (James, Joseph, Judas and Simon) and sisters (their names are unknown). At first Christian philosophers such as Tertulian considered them to be literary Jesus’ younger siblings, the children of Mary and Joseph. It was not until the fourth century when the belief that Mary stayed a virgin her whole life became dominant. At that time the Church fathers acknowledged ‘the brothers and sisters of Jesus’ as either Joseph’s children from his previous marriage or the children of Mary’s sister therefore in fact Jesus’ cousins. Later this belief resulted in Catholic and Orthodox dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

So coming back to the subject, why every self-respecting author of goddesses cards should NOT include the card of Mary in their deck?

Most of all because Mary is a common woman. She has ABSOLUTELY NO DIVINE FEATURES. She has no supernatural powers, she does not create, she does not do shape-shifting, she has no magical influence on people nor nature, etc. On the contrary, stress is being put on her humility towards deity (Behold, the [a]bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word, Luke 1:38).

While in Buddhism a mortal is able acquire divine powers thanks to an effort and self-work (this is what happens with Kuan Yin or Tara), Mary has never acquired them even after her assumption. Her assumption is also a highly controversial issue; it is considered to be a dogma only by the Catholic faction of Christianity and it was introduced only in 1950. The Marian cult is currently vivid only in the non-Reformed churches, mainly in the Catholic and Orthodox ones. The Protestants respect Mary as Theotokos i.e the Mother of God but do not venerate her while the Anglican Church is internally divided over the subject; the only dogma concerning Mary is that she is the Mother of God, while other beliefs are not treated as obligatory for the faithful.

Where does the Marian cult come from?

As I have already mentioned in the post about Isis, at the beginning Christianity did not have any significant female figures to attract female worshippers. Of course, in the ancient world full of more or less important goddesses it was a significant disadvantage of the new religion. Women preferred participating in the mysteries honouring Isis or Demeter which concentrated on the themes of life, death and rebirth. These motifs have been particularly close to them because in those times women were giving birth even several times in their lives, their children often died either in their childhood or because of hunger or war, not to mention the fact that pregnancy and delivery were themselves main dangers to women’s life and health. Christian leaders realised it and from the 2nd-3rd century they began attributing consistently the features, images and titles of goddesses to Mary to fill in the void in the Christian mythology. Isis was the main inspiration in this process, Mary took over her titles of Queen of Heaven (here is how ‘royal dynastic line’ proceeded: Inanna -> Ishtar and Astarte -> Aphrodite -> Isis -> Mary) and Stella Maris (Aphrodite Urania -> Isis -> Mary) as well as her most characteristic image of mother with a child:

wayoflifeblogartisis

isis-horus-to-mary-jesus

Isis_nurseHorus_Danto

(source: http://astronomologer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Isis-Mary-Mother.png, http://inkmonster.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/images.jpeg, http://files.abovetopsecret.com/files/img/lx50aed6e5.jpg)

Theoretically women could have their cake and eat it. They had their mysteries where a mother loses her child and regains it (just like Demeter) and at the same time they belonged to the cult which, at least officially, was monotheistic. The pernicious thing was that when the Christian era began, all the other divine feminine types have vanished quietly and unnoticeably. Indeed, the archetype of goddess mother such as Gaia, Demeter and Isis was popular in antiquity, however there were also NUMEROUS other archetypes.

There was plenty of space for warrior goddesses. These were not only the ones supporting just wars such as Athena but also Phoenician Anat who was getting so much in war rage that she was spattered with blood all over, an Egyptian lion goddess Sekhmet so blood thirsty that Ra had to change Nile into wine to sedate her and prevent further hecatomb or Hellenic Erinyes who kept avenging the assassinated ones and chasing murderers until they fell into madness.

There was plenty of space for goddesses of sensuality and sexuality such as Summerian Innana, Babylonian Ishtar, Phoenician Astarte, Hellenic Aphrodite originating from the latter, or Egyptian Hathor. In their cults sexual intercourse was an act of faith in the goddess and the fertility she was providing to all the earthly creatures. The myth of Descent Of The Goddess Ishtar Into The Lower World tells the story of what was happening when they were gone.

There was plenty of space for the goddesses of healing, magic and oracle such as Egyptian Bast and Isis, Hellenic Gaia, Medea, Hekate and Hygeia or Hittite Kamrusepas who were believed not only to heal but even resurrect.

Ever since the figure of a humble, obedient virgin mother began to be glorified, it became a general and only valid archetype for women. For centuries a woman born in the Christian world could in fact be either a wife and a mother or a nun (without real power that ancient priestesses had though). A woman willing to fight and demanding her rights was condemned to either die (e.g Jeanne d’Arc) or, at best, considered to be a hysteric. A woman making love outside the socially accepted norm of marriage was recognised as a whore, stigmatised and punished severely. A woman who was helping with childbirth, knew herbs or was able to predict future was quite often paying the price for all of that with her own life dying on a stake.

The fact that the cults of ancient goddesses of war, sensuality and magic perished is a great loss for womanhood in general but in particular for those women who want to be warriorlike, sensual or magical.

It is essential to notice that the cult of Mary was frowned upon in early Christianity. It was connected with the sect of Collyridians and considered to be heretic. However, the very ancient, even thousands year old beliefs were so rooted in people’s mentality that they could not be simply deleted. Whether Christian priests liked it or not, they had to tolerate them so they became a major part of non – Reformed churches’ Tradition (mainly Catholic and Orthodox). The rituals we now associate inherently with the Marian cult such as processions, chants, decorating paintings and rural chapels with flowers and herbs, pilgrimages* are all the manners in which ancient goddesses were venerated! It is similar with Mary’s ‘localness’ i.e. the fact she is worshipped in various local versions, the most popular being Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Lourdes etc; ancient goddesses have also had local nicknames. Litany of Loreto mentions Mary’s 73 titles which makes her alike Egyptian Isis. What we consider to be arch – Catholic now is deeply rooted in the ancient times. Not even to mention the material aspect of Marian cult. My “favourite” ones are all those ridiculous bottles with Mary’s head or crown as a cap sold next to the the springs with miraculous water…

bottles1

(source: etnomuzeum.eu)

bottles2

(source: scenki.blogspot.com )

So why did this phenomenon occur under the patronage of Catholic authorities?  My guess is that it suited their version of religion with a severe God the Father (God is a just judge, who rewards good and punishes evil ) to whom you therefore cannot address directly but through milder intermediaries such as Jesus, Mary, angels, saints, etc**. The Catholic church has not moved away from this image until several dozens years ago so I am always slightly amused whenever a born again Christian discovers with a big surprise, ‘God loves me!’. Well yes, with the image of severe Yahweh built for centuries it is the AHA! moment to discover that God may not be as dangerous as it seemed zeby.

It is not hard to notice that non – Reformed churches have expanded this ‘softer back up’ of deity to an enormous extent. The amount of saints and blessed specialised in particular task (if you forget sth pray to st. Anthony, if you sett off for a journey, pray to st. Christopher etc.) makes anyone who has a basic knowledge and conscious mind think of the multitude of deities in the ancient Hellas. Every city, mountain, spring, river or tree had their divine or semi-divine protector in the Hellenic world. It must be clearly stated, however, than although the ancient world recognised deities as more or less important, there was no such concept as ‘the only true god’. Romans were indeed conquering the whole contemporary world but they have never hidden that they were doing this for land, wealth, slaves etc. Romans did not establish their own gods in the conquered provinces, they were rather merging them with the local deities by attributing them Roman names and keeping their cult. Some of the foreign gods and goddesses such as Isis, Cybele or Mithra even got to the Roman Pantheon and made indeed an outstanding careers in the whole Empire. I do not know any big religious wars, conquests nor crusades which would take place in the ancient times. They had not existed before monotheism became powerful.

This is why I believe that Catholicism and Orthodoxy are some bizarre hybrids of Christianity and ancient cults thus they do not work properly. I believe that every self – honest follower of Catholic or Orthodox faith should ask himself/herself a question: what exactly is that I value my religion for? If it is indeed studying and applying Jesus’ teachings then perhaps it would be a better idea to move to a Protestant community aimed at analysing the Bible instead of liturgy. However, if s/he is more fond of the rituals such as processions, decorating rural chapels with flowers and chanting then it seems like a more reasonable idea to come back to the roots of this phenomenon i.e. beliefs in real goddesses. Of course, this requires courage, consequence and determination to stand against the majority. Many people act cowardly and deny when a child shouts, ‘King is naked!’. It is quite probable that they will try to convince, persuade or even harass you but please do take into consideration the fact that we live in 21st century. You will not be burnt on a stake just because you believe in Goddess, not in God.

One may wonder whether the Protestant women are discriminated in their religious communities since the Marian cult is missing there? There are some men in the country where I live who claim that the veneration of Mary makes women feel particularly respected. Well, Protestant women neither chant litanies to Mary nor go on pilgrimages to her sacred places nor pray to her images. Protestant women are priestesses themselves. Most of Reformed communities accept women as pastors. Catholic and Orthodox Churches will not probably make such a decision for another several or several dozens of years. I believe it is because of the Marian cult and because neither Catholic nor Orthodox women demand their rights. It is enough for them to go to church, pray rosary and ask the Virgin Mary to help them because they have got such a tough life after all. I do not want to quote Lenin’s words about religion being an opium for masses but I do think Catholicism strengthens the attitude of shrugging shoulders and saying ‘ah well, there is nothing I can do’. Have I made a mistake? Then I will go confess and will get penance. Have I made the same mistake again? Then I will go confess and will get penance. Catholicism is a religion focusing on rituals and words while Protestant faith requires active participation and consequence, to describe it with a metaphor: you cannot just read, you have to read and understand.

What I write about comes from my own experience as a former Catholic. I do not consider myself even to be a Christian now because neither I believe in the necessity of baptism nor in Jesus’ divinity***. What I do believe is that Yeshua-Jesus’ teachings have a deep meaning but Christianity makes sense only in its Protestant understanding. By that I mean you, Bible and God, instead of  you, churches, paintings, litanies, adorations, processions, angels, saints, Mary, Jesus and God. It does make sense for monotheistic (at least in theory) religious system, don’t you think?

Any person with basic knowledge and conscious mind surely notices that the Catholic leaders keep presenting Mary as a role model to women (at least in my country). They are very stubborn in promoting quiet, humble and obedient virgin mother as if they were blind to changes in mentality and lifestyle. It is one of the factors that make young and educated women (including yours truly) leave the Catholic Church in my country. I think that despite the ages of oppression, a monotheistic religion does not have to be hostile towards women if it opens up to varied types of femininity. Why not to put more attention to feminine spirituality? Why not to set Sophia the Divine Wisdom as an equiponderant role model for women? Why not to speak out that the third godhead of the Trinity, that unfortunate and unspecified Holy Spirit, was feminine in nature until it became a dove in the Western tradition? I have written in a very detailed manner about the ancient tradition of Chokmah/Shekhinah/Sofia in the post about her. She was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be, was co-creating the world, kept appearing to the people and was an inspiration for artists and architects. Doesn’t it REALLY MAKE SENSE to treat her as a role model? After all she has only lost her feminine nature due to translations of the Bible into foreign languages! Is it really impossible for the Catholic leaders to encourage women to develop wisdom and the ability of thinking? Well, apparently it is. Perhaps this should not be a surprise as we are talking about an institution which has merely changed since the feudal times…

For all those reasons I have mentioned above there should be no card of Mary nor any other Christian saint in goddesses cards. In fact you would not see it in the best decks, those presenting a very conscious, not a fairytale like approach towards womanhood. No surprise these are the decks I value most. Let me quote what I have written in the review of Doreen Virtue’s deck

The same objection applies to religious heroines such as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus. The latter is presented in an arch-Catholic and Baroque style and the author claims that in the West, Mother Mary in undoubtedly the most famous goddess. Well no, Doreen, not at all! Mary has no divine features in any factions of Christianity.

I believe that including the card of Mary, Mary Magdalene or Jeanne d’Arc is damaging because it conserves this Matrix like image of Mary as virgin mother, a role model for women who is powerful yet in fact does not have actual power in Christian teachings.

Perhaps it is time for a red pill?

red_blue_pill

CARDS

Mary in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Mary in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Black Madonna in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Black Madonna in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Mary in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Mary in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Black Madonna in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Black Madonna in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Mary in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary  in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Mary in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Black  Madonna in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took (she is nearly identical as Dana from the deck of Doreen Virtue, she just has a darker skin)

Black  Madonna in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Mary in Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Mary in Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Mary in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Mary in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Based on English Wikipedia and my own thoughts.

*Even prophet Muhammad kept pilgrimage as an integral part of Islam after destroying polytheistic shrines. Few people know that Mecca was originally the place where goddess mother Al – Lat (Goddess in Arabic, just like Al – Lah means God) was venerated. The black stone, to which the Muslims from all over the world come, is the remaining of Al – Lat’s temple.

** Personally I call them ‘God’s court’.

*** In the past I could possibly be classified as an Arian. Arianism was quite popular at the very beginning of Christianity, unfortunately these beliefs were condamned by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 of our era and Arius himself was banished. It is worth, however, to mention the passage from the Gospel of John which made Arius believe that the Son’s power comes from the Father,  “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 12:28). Even as a child when I still belonged to the Catholic Church, I somehow sensed that Jesus is not a divine figure as the Christian leaders want to see him but a teacher who brought universal and timeless message to the people who were not ready for it.

After long spiritual way I think I have found myself as a Gnostic. It the past anytime I have come across a religion I was analysing it rationally, I can agree with this point, these elements do not match reality, those rules are clearly harmful etc. In case of the Gnostics it is completely different, their beliefs simply resonate with my interior. It may sound bizarre but I do not really have to engage into discussion nor accept unconditionally the principles of faith; I simply feel what Gnostics say is true. It is literary a gut feeling. If nothing significant happens in the spiritual field, I am going to remain Gnostic in the name of Sophia the Divine Wisdom and the Unknown, God Above God. 

LAKSHMI

LAKSHMI

A Hindu goddess of abundance, wealth, prosperity both in the material and spiritual field, fertility, generosity, good luck, splendour, light, wisdom and courage. An incarnation of shakti, the feminine energy and an embodiment of beauty, charm and grace. She is also venerated as Mahalakshmi and her name in its full form means ‘Remover of Universal Agonies’. She is also called Śri, Padma, Thirumagal or Gunas. Some Hindu beliefs such as Sri Vaishnava consider her to be Iswarigm sarva bhootanam i.e. the supreme deity, not only the goddess of wealth.

ABOUT GODDESS

Lakshmi came to being during Samudra Manthan, the quest to get amrit by churning the Ocean of Milk. At the very beginning both Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) were mortal but they all wanted to become immortal. Therefore they decided to stop wars against one another, call a truce and collaborate together to churn Kshirsagar – ‘The Ocean of Milk’ in order to get amrit (soma), a nectar which granted immortality and eternal youth. They used Mount Mandarachala and Vasuki, the king of serpents as their churning rode and churning rope; Devas stood on one side, Asuras on the other and they started to pull back and forth. Fourteen precious objects appeared during churning, among them

- Kamadhenu, divine cow granting wishes,

- a seven – headed horse,

- Kaustubha, the most valuable jewel in the world which was later worn by Vishnu

- Parijat, an ever-blossoming tree

- Varuni, the goddess of wine

- the moon

- the sun

- and last but not least goddess Lakshmi. Emerging from the petals of a lotus, she amazed everyone and de concentrated Asuras. Because of her associations with lotus (she was either resting in the flower or holding it in her hand) she is called Padma (‘Lotus Dweller’). Vishnu has immediately fallen in love with her and she soon became his consort; it is believed that she accompanies him in all his incarnations.

Lakshmi is considered to be the shakti of Vishnu (his feminine power). She grants well-being to her followers, brings a stroke of luck and protects against any poverty and worries caused by material issues. She is also an intermediary between her husband Vishnu and the humankind; a protectress who influences the fate, mitigates disputes and is more approachable than her husband, that is why the Hindu call upon him through Lakshmi (she resembles Christian Mary in this aspect). She is also a personification of spiritual energy Kundalini and believed to be the Mother of Universe.

It has to be noticed that Hinduism stresses the fact that wealth and abundance are not restricted to the material area but also spiritual one as they are related.  Lakshmi’s divinity is also manifested through Fame, Knowledge, Courage, Strength, Victory, Children, Valour, Gold, Gems, Grain, Happiness, Bliss, Intelligence, Beauty, Higher Aims, High Thinking, Higher Meditation, Morality, Ethics, Good Health, Long Life and other examples of well being. Ashta Lakshmi (eight Lakshmis, goddess’ secondary expressions) are distinguished in her cult: Adi Lakshmi, Dhana Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Veera Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Vidya Lakshmi). Ashta Lakshmi are represented by an eight pointer star called the star of Lakshmi

star of lakshmi

This is why money is treated as a manifestation of the goddess; when a coin falls down or touches a foot, the gesture of Pranāma is performed (person first touches the coin with the finger tip of their right hand and then their forehead and/or chest). Similarly this gesture is the apology for books and written materials which are treated as the manifestation of goddess Saraswati.

Another earthly manifestation of Lakshmi is a cow. Cattle is treated as a sign of wealth in various religions, not only in Hinduism but also Buddhism, Zoroaster and European beliefs. Cows were respected also in ancient Egypt, Hellas and Rome; cow is a central figure of creation myth in the legends of Germanic tribes (Audhumla). Those of you who have basic knowledge of runes surely know that the sign which begins the Elder Futhark, Fehu, is associated with cattles because cows and bulls were the visible evidence of wealth. Hindu texts suggest that a cow is an embodiment of many gods and goddesses, Lakshmi resides at its hind part.

cow fehuv

Lakshmi conditions life according to Hindu beliefs, without her there would not be harvests, air to breathe nor offspring therefore she is called pranadayini (“giver of vital life-sustaining energy”). For that reason Lakshmi can be identified with Hellenic Demeter as the goddess of vegetation and life force, in fact one of Lakshmi Puran(a) legends resembles the one about abducting Kore. Shriya, a woman originating from a lower caste, was so devoted to the goddess that she visited her in person which resulted in the anger of god Balabhadra. He forbade Lakshmi entry to the temple and the goddess became so sad that she left the place and went to her father. However, with her departure all the wealth and abundance disappeared from the temple and Balabhadra had to beg for food. It was at that time that he realised his mistake, he came to Lakshmi to apologise her and invite back to the temple to which she agreed.

The Hindu venerate her every day but her sacred time is October with Diwali, the Festival of Lights, when small olive lamps are traditionally brought in front of the house for Lakshmi to give her blessing to the family dwelling in it. An offering of food and sweets is given to her, Lakshmi’s followers pray and chant a litany of her 108 names. It is believed that on that night Lakshmi descends to Earth on her owl to remove poverty, stagnation and laziness and showers her worshippers with wealth. It is a special day for the Hindu when they give presents to one another and go gambling because Lakshmi is considered to be the one who brings good luck. She is also celebrated during the full moon of Ashvin (September – October) in the Eastern state of Orisa during the holiday called Sharad Purnima (or Kumar Purnima, purnima meaning ‘the full moon’). It is one of the most important and the most popular festivals in the state; it lasts up to ten days filled with singing, dancing and decorating Lakshmi’s figures. Young girls are given new clothes as presents, they prepare food offerings for the sun in the morning and go fasting the whole day and having performed rituals eat them when the moon rises. Sharad Purnima is said to release so much joy and positive energy that even non-Hindu participate in the celebrations. The Hindu also thank Lakshmi for the harvest in the month of Mrigashirsha (December – January) during the festival Manabasa Gurubara (also called Lakshmi Puja), houses are decorated with flowers and girlands each Thursday and the traces of feet are painted on the stairs as if Lakshmi entered the household. All the rituals are performed by housewives, rice is given to the goddess as an offering and then eaten by the family and the legend of Lakshmi Puran(a) is told in the evening. It is also the time of closing the year of trade, new trade books are established and sacrificed to Lakshmi in any places dealing with circulation of merchandise.

Traditionally the chakras of heart and solar plexus are attributed to Lakshmi.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Lotus is traditionally attributed to Lakshmi, she has numerous nicknames connected to this flower (Padma – ‘Lotus Dweller’, Padmamaladhara Devi – ‘The One Who Wears a Garland of Lotuses’, Padmamukhi -’ The One Whose Face Is as Beautiful as a Lotus’ etc). Lotus symbolises the force and fertility of plants; the Hindu myths claim that the world constantly revives from the lotus placed on the Vishnu’s belly button. Her sacred animal is cow but she is usually depicted accompanied by two elephants. An animal associated with her is owl symbolising royalty, sharp eyes and intelligence; both an owl and an elephant are her vahana, ‘vehicle’ i.e.  animals identified with a particular deity (e.g. a tiger and a lion are assigned to Durga).

Lakshmi is depicted peaceful and smiling either sitting or standing on a large lotus. She wears a saree made from red (a symbol of permanent activity) or gold (a symbol of fulfilment) material, she usually has golden jewellery and a golden crown with rubies, her hair is dark and weavy and her skin has a golden tone. Lakshmi typically pours coins out of her hand while in her three other arms she holds a jar with gold, a sheaf of grain or presents a mudra.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

A person with a warm, creative, protective, tender, energetic and joyful personality who attracts people. The person who is beautiful both inside and outside. Somebody who suddenly appears in our lives to help us and brings us optimism and joie de vivre. Somebody whom we feel free and happy with. In negative this card signifies a person lacking Lakshmi’s energy: complaining, avaricious, rigid, self – limiting, focusing on the negative, poor not necessarily in the financial field but rather spiritually.

Professions: all the professions connected with the flow of money, food processing and agriculture, a teacher, a guardian, a psychologist, people working in the gambling and lottery industry

ADVICE

Wealth is manifested both in the material and the spiritual field, the first one appears in the form of objects while the second one in the form of health, optimism, friendship, courage etc. Even having few objects you can still be rich as long as you do not lack mental and spiritual capital. Thanks to wisdom and spirit you can always get more objects while having a lot of objects would not make you happy and fulfilled. Wealth can be manifested through the quality of your life: satisfactory job, loving partner, children bringing joy, good health, free time, devoted friends etc. Wealth based on objects is never enough and keeps demanding for more.

Think of your actual attitude to money. Coin is a symbol that people adopted as a determinant of worth and of exchange of goods, it is also a manifestation of life – giving abundance which Higher Forces pour onto you. As long as you remember that money is a mean, not the ultimate goal, you do not have to feel shame or any other negative emotions about owning. Money is an energy too, and it attracts likewise energy. If you concentrate your thoughts on lack of money and think of yourself as a poor person, it is rather doubtful that you will get more money. If you start thinking that you will not lack anything, you will program your subconsciousness in a positive way. Your subconsciousness has a bigger influence in decision-making process than you would expect. A mind open to abundance does not guarantee high numbers on your bank account but closing it with fear and anxieties will certainly not attract prosperity nor wealth neither. Free yourself from thinking focusing on lack, it is not a one time activity but a long term process. Start repeating to yourself, I always have money or Money come to me easily. You do not even have to believe it, just repeat it to yourself every day for a couple of months. When money is flowing, energy is flowing, too. Invite abundance and luxury by buying yourself a small gift (and do not feel guilty about it).

Be responsible for what you have. Apply a reasonable balance between gathering and spending. Do not forget that even having a small income, you can give others a lot simply by your wisdom, involvement or at least smile and kindness. Welcome wealth in your life no matter what form it takes. When you spend money, do not think that you are losing it, focus on what you are gaining.

Being successful in the financial field does not necessarily mean you are shallow or not spiritual.

Watch over your wealth, if you use it for a wrong purpose, it will get you into trouble.

There are some features which describe a wealthy mind. Try to perceive the world like a child does: everything is a new and fresh opportunity. The older you get the less enthusiasm you have, to start anew you have to let your previous  perception die. Keep your mind concentrated on here and now, it liberates your mind from worries. This is what wealthy mind does. Energy follows attention so be careful where you direct it. Your perception helps in changing your reality. Concentrate on achieving your goals but do not forget to have fun, too. Authenticity, serenity and flexibility are like gold for your psyche.

BE THANKFUL FOR EVERY MANIFESTATION OF WEALTH IN YOUR LIFE

(I rarely suggest visualisations in my posts but the image of Lakshmi is itself a visualisation, it is easy to imagine her pouring coins at you and a light emanating from a lotus calms you down and fills you with serenity).

Love

If you are in the relationship: a good card if you ask about marriage and offspring, possible pregnancy. A very good life partner who makes you blossom. In negative: a miser or somebody who does not show emotions.

If you are single: a new partner may appear in your life as a complete surprise, it is worth to give the new relationship a try.

Finances

In most cases this card gives a positive answer to a question concerning finances. It suggests the flow of money or an investment.

Health

Good health. An excess or deficiency of nutrients in body. Risk of obesity and diabetes. Check the level of cholesterol. Endangered parts of the body: stomach, pancreas, colon, intestines.

CARDS

Lakshmi in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Lakshmi in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Lakshmi in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Lakshmi in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Lakshmi with Vishnu as Wheel of Fortune in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Lakshmi in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

and in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Lakshmi in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Lakshmi as King of Coins in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Lakshmi in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Lakshmi in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Lakshmi w Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

and in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Lakshmi in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Lakshmi in The Oracle of the Goddess Gayan by Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Lakshmi in The Oracle of the Goddess Gayan by Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Lakshmi in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Lakshmi in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Lakshmi in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Lakshmi w The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Lakshmi with Vishnu in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Lakshmiin Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Lakshmi in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Lakshmi in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Based on: http://jyotish.yogamaya.pl/index.php?op … Itemid=104
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_in_religion http://www.priestservices.com/our-services/gho-pooja/, http://www.goseva.net/cowanddivinity.aspx

HESTIA (VESTA)

HESTIA (VESTA)

A Hellenic goddess of house, home, hearth and family as well as order and organisation. Hestia is Cronus and Rhea’s eldest daughter and a sister to Demeter, Hera, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. She has never got married nor had children herself.  There was Hestia’s sacred hearth in every house,  village or town of the ancient Hellenic world and the first offering was always dedicated to this goddess. Her name means hearth, fireside. She was venerated in Rome as Vesta and considered to be one of the top deities of a Roman pantheon.

ABOUT GODDESS

Hestia was highly respected for her immaculate nature. She disapproved bloodshed, did not participate in wars and intrigues, did not gossip nor was spiteful. She valued peace most and apparantly was disgusted by the behaviour of Olympic deities because she gave her place in the council of gods to Dyonisos as soon as he came to the mount (there could be no more than twelve deities in the Olympian council). Despite Poseidon and Apollo’s wooing she decided to stay a virgin.

Hestia was particularly respected as a goddess literary closest to people. She resembles an Egyptian goddess Maat in the way that she does not appear in a lot of myths and does not have many temples, she is, hovever, a base of social order in Hellas and her cult is manifested through rituals. A hearth was situated in the centre of a Hellenic house, giving the inhabitants warmth and shelter when darkness fell, being a place where both sacrifices were offered to gods and food was prepared for people. When a baby was born, it was carried around a hearth and the family was asking the goddess for blessings, the child was then put on a cooled down ash of a heart to introduce it to heaven and earth. A marriage rite in ancient Hellas focused on a hearth too; a bride’s mother was lightining a torch up in the hearth of her house and was carrying it in a procession to newlyweds’ house where a new fire was lit up, from that moment marriage was considered to be concluded. Prayers have always begun with invoking Hestia, women have asked her to protect their children and grandchildren; she was also called upon before setting off a journey to help travellers come back home safely. It was a form of an early divination to observe a smoke from burning altars to see whether gods accepted the offering or not: if the smoke was rising straight to heavens, it was an omen of gods’ grace but if the smoke was circling down among altars, it signified that deities were not supportive.

Her sacred flame was present in every Hellenic settlement, people were watching over it carefully because if fire extinguished, it would signify gods’ disgrace (on a more practical level it was not easy to rekindle it in the times when matches have not been invented yet). The flame was only extinguished to be ritually renewed during the purification ceremonies. When ships were leaving Hellas to start a new colony, there was always a flame from the city they were setting off. This flame burning in a new place was a symbol of unity between the colony and its hometown. Outlaws and those escaping a vengeance or being chased, found a refugee by her altar, no one could hurt them from that moment on because they were protected by the goddess.

Hestia’s cult as Vesta has developed in a special way in Rome where her temple was the only sacral building of a round shape and having a roof to protect the sacred flame against the rain. Similarly to the inhabitants of Hellas, Romans also believed that fire represented their state and it was essential to keep it burning, however according to Georges Dumezil* they have associated Vesta strictly with earth and its burning core hidden under a crust which was sometimes breaking through  e.g during the eruption of a volcano. They also noticed the connection of fire with the nature’s cycles, cultivation and life, especially with the beginning of life**. Also similarly to Hellas, Vesta’s altar was a hearth in atrium; she was likewise associated mainly with women who generally functioned in a family space, not a public one. Interestingly, when it comes to order of Roman prayers Vesta was called upon as the last deity, not the first one as in Hellas.

Vesta’s sacred fire was watched over by six (seven in the end-stage era of Rome) vestal virgins i.e. Vesta’s priestesses. The service at the temple lasted thirty years; Rome’s high priest (pontifex maximus) was choosing girls of preschool age originating from the patrician families who were to move to a three storey building of Atrium Vestae near forum.

220px-Vestalvirgins11

Here is the reconstruction.

220px-Casa-vestali

There were twelve younger girls in the house apart from main vestal virgins, they were adepts who were preparing themselves to the service in the goddess’ temple and vowed chastity for thirty years (it liberated them from the custody of their fathers and other men, a vestal virgin was the daughter of a state). The thirty years of service was divided into three decades: for the first ten years they were learning, for the next ten years they watched over the fire and for the last ten years they were teaching young girls. There were not many requirements for a girl to become a vestal virgin, she only had to be healthy and sane, both her parents had to be alive and Roman citizens (at first only patricians, later also plebeians were included). In case of one of vestal virgins’ sudden death, candidates to take her place were presented, the only requirement was woman’s good opinion; she didn’t have to be neither a child nor a virgin, usually young widows or even divorcees were appointed (although divorcees were considered to bring bad luck). Vestal virgins were easily recognised by their apparel, apart from a regular tunic and stola, they were wearing a white woolen fillet called infula, a white woolen veil worn during rituals and sacrifices called suffibulum,  white and red woolen ribbons symbolising Vesta’s fire and the vow of chastity and a long shawl draped over a left shoulder called palla.

200px-Vestalin

Vestal virgins’ duties included keeping the fire from extinguishing (allowing that happen was punished by flogging), bringing water from a sacred spring, taking care of sacred objects such as palladium***, preparing ritual food and mola salsa, a mixture of salt, flour and wheat, which was later used to sprinkle animal victims. Vestal virgins were so respected that they were often put in charge of executing testaments  (this is what Julius Cesar and Mark Anthony did among others). Any inhabitant of Rome could receive fire to take it to their house and in the times of Empire, Vesta’s hearth was considered to be the emperor’s household fire.

Breaking the vow of chastity was punished by being buried alive in a tomb on Campus Sceleratus (Evil Field) with a supply of food and water for a couple of days only. This way of punishing resulted from the interdiction of spilling blood and burying within the city limits. During one thousand years of Vesta’s fire cult only several of such cases were noted. The one from 114 bC is particularly interesting when as many as three Vestal virgins Aemilia,  Marcia and Licinia were condamned death for ‘multiple adultery’; most probably their processes were fabricated and they became scapegoats. Evidence against them included the Sibylline prophecies and witnesses decribing literally orgies taking place in the Vestal house; the process itself was provoked by a thunder striking a travelling girl so supersticious Romans immediately thought of that as of gods’ anger and started to search for a reason***. According to the legend Rhea Silvia, daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa was also punished this way. Numitor’s brother seized the throne and forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal virgin hoping this will prevent her from giving birth to a potential avenger who in turn would deprive him of power. However, Mars the god of war took advantage of Rhea Silvia who gave birth to twins Remus and Romulus. Children were left in a forest to die there, luckily their divine father sent a she-wolf to feed them with her own milk. Shame on him that he show no similar care about their mother and did not save her from the consequences that she had to face because of him; after all such deux ex machina (unexpected turn of events) is often featured in myths of Hellenic gods who seduced mortal women.

This story may be the symbol of how women were treated in Rome, it must be noted that comparing with average female inhabitants Vestal virgins were an exception. They were ‘the daughters of Rome’, so did not belong to their fathers, brothers or sons, they were respected, could act independently, vote, possess and manage property, give oaths because their word was trusted without question. They were free to travel in a carriage preceded by a lictor, they were participating in celebrations and performances with the right to sit in a reserved place of honor and had right to free a condamned prisoner (which they showed by touching him,  also if a person sentenced to death saw a Vestal on his way to an execution place was automatically pardonned). Because of Vestal virgins’ immaculate reputation they were entrusted with particularly valuable state documents such as treaties. Their person was sacrosant so every attack on a Vestal virgin was considered to be a coup d’etat and punished by death for treason.

The chief Vestal (Virgo Vestalis Maxima or Vestalium Maxima – ‘the greatest, the eldest of Vestals’) was the only woman to be included in the College of Pontiffs gathering all the high priests of native Roman cults. After 30 years of service a former Vestal virgin was obtaining a pension and had the right to leave the temple, get married and give birth to children. A marriage to a former Vestal was considered to be a huge honour and very lucky. Emperor Elagabalus did something more and married a Vestal virgin Aquilia Severa who was an officeholder at the time of her marriage. It was a very logical thing to do from his point of view as a follower of Eastern religions (vide post about Ishtar and the instytution of sacred marriage between a king and a high priestess), however the Romans considered it to be a sacrilege.

The flame in the temple was renewed every year on March 1st and the goddess’ festival called Vestalia was celebrated between 7th and 15th of June. The temple was the place where no one except of Vestal virgins had access to but on the first day of festival mothers were allowed to enter it to bring the offering of food.

Vesta’s flame had been burning in Rome for about nine centuries until it was extinguished in 391/394  of our era when Emperor Theodosius forbade any other religions than Christianity. According to contemporary recordings Serena, a Christian and Emperor’s adopted daughter, entered Vesta’s temple, took a necklace off the statue of Rhea Silvia and put it on. An old woman, Coelia Concordia, the last Virgo Vestalis Maxima, got indignant seeing such an act of sacrilege and prophesised a punishment to her. Indeed, Serena had later the dreams about her own death (and she died executed during the siege of Rome in 409, accused of conspiring with the enemy and high treason). An old Vestal was not the only one who got outraged at what Theodosius was doing; plenty of Romans was saying aloud that the sack of Rome in 410 by the Visigoths led by King Alaric and the following fall of an actual power of Roman Empire was a punishment for a Christian anihilation of cults celebrating deities who were protecting the Eternal City for almost one thousand years.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Some  sculptures of Hestia remained presenting her as a majestic woman wearing simple clothes and a veil and holding a stick or a staff in a hand. She was, however, mainly represented by a hearth and a burning flame itself.

Hestia

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

In positive meaning the person shown by this card is peaceful and balanced, often working in the profession dealing with implementing law or ensuring that everything is done in accordance to procedures. Somebody who values tradition and order and does not want to violate them. In negative meaning a person who is passive, conformist, shallow and superficial; possibly avoids making decisions and wants to make everybody happy. This person may be too strict and rigid and sticks to the decision made earlier no matter what. A person who is very much dvoted to family and house.

Profession: an official, a clerk, a police officer, a firefighter, an auditor, a controller, an architect, an interior designer, parent working at home or a housewife/househusband, a clergy person, a priest/priestess, a monk/nun.

ADVICE

This cards concentrates mostly on family life as well as law&official cases. Make sure everything is ok in these areas of your life. Try to smooth over disputes with your loved ones, Hestia encourages you to be gentle. Even if you disagree with somebody, you do not have to impose them your own opinions. Remember that holding grudges and keeping anger inside is mostly harmful to you.

Perhaps you do not have your own space in the house or it is only the place to sleep before you leave early for work. Your home should be your retreat and shelter from rush, stress and anger , not another source of them. If you cannot stand the atmosphere at home, this card definitely suggests moving out. You choose who should be in your environment. Either biological or emotional family gives us support and the feeling of continuity and belonging to a larger whole. Home is above all the feeling of belonging.

It is good to take care of your flat or house because your environment influences directly your mood, the level of energy and the ability to regenerate. This card suggest a major clean up or repairs, throwing unnecessary things away and rearranging your space. If you live in a house without a fireplacee, you may consider installing it; you would be surprised how much it may improve the spirits at home.

In the situation you are inquiring you should act honestly and lawfully, otherwise consequences may be very serious.

This card also suggests a certain ritual: regardless of your religion or lack of faith, you should light a candle and/or an incense at least for a couple of minutes every day and while staring at it rethink your day, attitude and behaviour. Learn from your mistakes and then clean your mind from negative thoughts. We are accustomed to the fact that altar is situated at church and yet even the simplest domestic activities may be sacred. It is worth to follow the ancient who offered sacrifices and prepared food on the same hearth. What is intended for the body must be paired with what is intended for the spirit.

Never let your inner flame extinguish. Soul needs warmth to bloom.

Family. Home. House or flat. Religion. Law. Rules. Tradition. Journey. Celebrations and festivals. City.

LOVE

If you are in the relationship: Marriage or official confirmation of a relationship. Do not forget to fan the flame in the relationship, otherwise it will be extinguished. Provide warmth in mutual relations. A moment when casual matters begin to dominate reality.

If you are single: Perhaps you pay too much attention to external aspect of romantic relationship. If you want your partner to declare their feelings, propose and start a family too fast, you may startle a potential candidate. Beware of thinking I want to be in a relationship with anyone, just not to be alone. Reluctance to engage emotionally. An inner need to remain single.

FINANCES

Promotion. A strong position. Respect of co-workers. Restriction of freedom. An influence of law or office on your work and the way it functions. An official control in your workplace. To resolve the problem you are inquiring you should follow precisely the letter of the law. Work at home.

HEALTH

Fever. Inflammation. Body temperature fluctuations. Exacerbation of medical conditionPatient care at homeExcess or lack of energy.  Endangered parts of the body: heart, arteries, reproductory system, small intestine.

CARDS

As I mentioned above Hestia/Vesta was manifesting herself through the fire itself, not necessairly through statues. This is why I appreciate the cards from Thalia Took and Kay Stevenson’s decks which represent her in this way:

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took (as Vesta)

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle deck by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle deck by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Hestia in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton (as Vesta)

Hestia in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Hestia in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews (as Vesta)

Hestia in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Hestia in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason (as Vesta)

Hestia in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Hestia in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue (as Vesta)

Hestia in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Hestia in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs (as Vesta)

Hestia in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs

Beware! Hestia from Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton (as Vesta) will hit you with a candlestick in a momentgrinrotfl2!

Hestia from Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Hestia with her lips pumped up with silicone in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

Hestia in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

Hestia as Ten of Cups in in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Hestia in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

*Georges Dumezil, a French philologist exploring the roots of proto-Indo – European, presents numerous similarities between the Vedic (Agni), Persian and Hestia/Vesta cult of fire. The cult of fire and purity remained to this very day in the Zoroaster rites. Similarities with Celtic goddess Brigid are obvious, too.

** Esoteric tradition recognises Fire as the beginning, the first element followed by Water, Air and Earth. First four figures of Major Arcana in Tarot correspond to this division: The Mage, The High Priestess, The Empress and The Emperor as well as the traditional order of Minor Arcana: Wands (Fire), Chalices (Water), Swords (Air) and Coins (Earth).

***It also included protecting sacred objects such as palladion, a wooden statue of Pallas Athena which as the legend says was saved by Aeneas from burning Troy. Palladium was the symbol of city and its civilisation.

**** Additionally these are recordings of stories which seem very similar to Middle – Age legends. One of them tells the story of a Vestal virgin Tuccia who brought the water from the Tiber to the temple of Vesta in a sieve to prove her innocence (told by Pliny the Elder). Another legend speaks about a Vestal virgin Aemilia who let the sacred flame extinguish by accident and asked Vesta to protect her against the punishment. She rekindled the flame miraculously by throwing a piece of garment on the coals of the hearth (it brings the resemblance with Brigid and clooties).

Based on Mity Greków i Rzymian by Wanda Markowska, Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine by Pierre Grimal, The Greek Myths by Robert Graves, Wikipedia and http://books.google.pl/books?id=cRS3E3u3HuAC&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=114+b.c.+vestal+virgins&source=bl&ots=KmguiRMVfX&sig=i6sp2-vfotMzp9TBhRX_reS2n7g&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1nu3T6SZCdDHtAbez7nzBw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=114%20b.c.%20vestal%20virgins&f=false , http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roman-clothing/vestal-virgins-clothing.htm .

RHIANNON

RHIANNON (RIGATONA)

Celtic goddess of horses and the Underworld. A Welsh epic of Mabinogion describes her as Pryderi’s mother and the wife of first Pwyll and then Manawyddan. Her name Rhi Annon (Ri Ana) means ‘the Great Queen’.

ABOUT GODDESS

Rhiannon was a Celtic goddess of horses also known as Rigatona and identified with her continental counterpart Epona, the only Celtic goddess worshipped by the Romans. However, the Welsh mostly know her as the heroin of the First and the Third Branch of Mabinogion saga.

Not much is known about how her cult looked like because no written descriptions remained (the Celts have not written  their history not myths down so they only circulated in an oral tradition). The only items associated with Rhiannon which survived to this day are figures and reliefs of a woman sitting on a horse. Mabinogion is a cycle of Welsh legends which nevertheless were not recorded in writing until the Christian era. Christian scribes in monasteries were removing elements incompatible with the new religion therefore Rhiannon is not referred to as a goddess in the saga*. The first translation of Mabinogion from Welsh into English was not made until half  of the 19th century; the translator was Lady Charlotte Guest, an outstanding personality and the promotor of Welsh culture and literature.

Rhiannon first appears in the First Branch of Mabinogion when Pwyll the prince of Dyfed noticed her while hunting. She was sitting on a pure white horse of large size, with a garment of shining gold around her and when the prince asked his companions whether they knew her, they said they did not. Pwyll told them to ask the lady who she was but she fled on a horse back so quickly that Pwyll’s servants could not catch her. It happened again and again and finally Pwyll became so intrigued that he got on the horse himself sam and chased the mysterious lady but even having the swiftest horse in the kingdom, he was unable to reach her. At last he was so tired of the pursuit that he called, Lady, please do stop!. She did and replied, I will gladly stop and it would have been better for your horse if you had done it much earlier. When she took off the part of a headdress which was covering her face, Pwyll realised she was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. The girl introduced herself as Rhiannon, the daughter of Heveydd Hên who wanted to marry her to a man against her will. She then added, But no husband would I have, and that because of my love for thee, neither will I yet have one unless thou reject me. Of course, Pwyll was not intending to reject her, moreover he added that if he could choose from all the women in the world, he would choose nobody but her. They arranged to meet in her father’s castle in exactly one year time and then parted.

Asked about the mysterious lady Pwyll changed the subject. However, when an arranged time came, he gathered one hundred horsemen and went to Heveydd Hên’s palace where he was welcomed cordially and a feast was arranged in his honour. Pwyll was seated between Heveydd Hên and Rhiannon but the good atmosphere was destroyed at the end of the feast when a richly dressed young man entered the chamber. His name was Gwawl the son of Clud and he was Rhiannon’s wealthy suitor. Gwawl started to talk with Pwyll and maneuvered unaware prince to agree on his marriage with the woman he loved. To prevent it Rhiannon gave a bag to her beloved and  ordered him to come back with his horsemen in one year time during her feast before the wedding. She ordered him to wear rags and ask for as much food as the bag could contain and she would use her magical powers to make it botomless so the guests would wonder what to do to make it fill. Say thou then that it never will, until a man of noble birth and of great wealth arise and press the food in the bag with both his feet, saying, ‘Enough has been put therein’, said Rhiannon. I will cause him to go and tread down the food in the bag, and when he does so, turn thou the bag, so that he shall be up over his head in it, and then slip a knot upon the thongs of the bag. Let there be also a good bugle horn about thy neck, and as soon as thou hast bound him in the bag, wind thy horn, and let it be a signal between thee and thy knights.

This was exactly what happened one year later; hearing the signal Pwyll’s knights entered the chamber, disarmed Gwawl’s companions and cast them into the dungeons. Gwawl himself was still immobilised in the bag until he swore to Pwyll that he would resign from the marriage with Rhiannon, respect Pwyll’s relationship with her and would not take vengeance.  He was released with his people and left immediately. Pwyll and Rhiannon were able to get married. Pwyll gave a lot of gifts to his wife’s kinsmen and then he took  Rhiannon to his castle in Dyfed where in turn she was requiting her husband’s subjects with gifts.

The marriage was happy but still childless after two years. In the third year the noblemen came to Pwyll to express their sadness that he still did not have an heir. They suggested leaving Rhiannon and marrying another woman who would bear him a son. Pwyll answered that they were married for a relatively short time so they could still have children. Grant me a year from this time, and for the space of a year we will abide together, and after that I will do according to your wishes, he said. A year later Rhiannon gave birth to a healthy son. Tired after childbirth she fell asleep and the baby was entrusted to six women to watch over it at night. However, they fell asleep and when they woke up, the royal heir was gone. Terrified that they would pay for it with their own lives, they devised a plan: There is here a stag-hound bitch, and she has a litter of whelps. Let us kill some of the cubs, and rub the blood on the face and hands of Rhiannon, and lay the bones before her, and assert that she herself hath devoured her son, and she alone will not be able to gainsay us six.

When princess woke up and asked for her son, wicked women started  to persuade her that although they were trying to proctect him, Rhiannon ate her own child. Of a truth we never saw any woman so violent as thou, they added. Rhiannon did not get caught by the accusations and assured women that she would defend them if they lied out of fear. They, however, kept lying. Soon the news spread all over the country and people demanded Rhiannon to be put to death for the crime. Pwyll did not agree but felt responasble as a ruler to draw consequences towards his wife. To expiate the act attributed to her, the princess was to sit in the gate to the castle for seven years, tell her story to anyone who did not know it yet and offer that she would carry the traveller on her back into the palace. Luckily, not many demanded that. Although innocent, Rhiannon was enduring her ordeal with dignity and humility.

Meanwhile at the night when Rhiannon’s son was born some other strange events took place. Teirnyon Twryv Vliant, Lord of Gwent Is Coed had an incredibly beautiful mare which regularly foaled on May, 1st but a colt kept vanishing mysteriously. Eventually angry Twryv decided to bring the mare into the house for the time of delivery and to watch over her fully armed. The mare indeed gave birth to a large and beautiful colt but right after that, he heard a great tumult and saw an enormous claw entering through the window and taking the colt. He threw himself at the big hand with his sword and cut it off in an elbow so only the hand with the colt remained. Outside tumult enhanced so Teirnyon ran away to check what happened but it was so dark that he could see nothing. When he came back home, he noticed a baby boy wrapped in a satine mantle lying on the door behold. He brought the baby to his wife and they both decided to adopt him and call  Gwri Wallt Euryn for the sake of his blond hair. Boy was growing up rapidly, much faster other children; being just one year old he was bigger than a three year old child, while he was two, he seemed to be six and when he was four, he bribed the grooms to allow him to take the horses to water. Seeing how quickly he was growing, Teirnyon’s wife convinced husband to give boy the colt which was born on the same night as he.

Eventually the news of what happened with Rhiannon reached their castle. Teirnyon felt sorry for her and he started to ask what exactly happened and observed the boy whom he was raising. He noticed his great resemblance to Pwyll and realised he would have to give him back to his real parents. His wife agreed and the same day Teirnyon went to Dyfed with the boy. They met Rhiannon in the gate and in accordance to her penance, she offered to carry them on her back to the palace as a punishment for devouring her own child but Teirnyon refused. They got to the palace where Pwyll welcomed them cordially and invited for a meal. While they were eating Teirnyon told the prince of what had happened in the night when the boy and the colt were born. And behold here is thy son, lady– he said to Rhiannon. – And whosoever told that lie concerning thee, has done wrong. Everyone confirmed boy’s great resemblance to Pwyll and it finished Rhiannon’s ordeal. She called the boy Pryderi meaning ‘Loss’ and Teirnyon was offered great treasures, however being a modest man he did not accept them. Still he was in the great favour of both Rhiannon and Pwyll until his death.  Pryderi grew up to be a talented and wise young man and he inherited the throne after his father’s death; he was greatly loved by his people. And thus ends this portion of the Mabinogion.

After Pwyll’s death Pryderi married Kicva and became ruler. He managed to enlarge his lands and went for a war with Ireland together with Bendigeid Vran (Bran) son of King Llyr** who attacked the lands of his brother-in-law in revenge for his treatment of his wife Branwen, Bendigeid’s sister. Pryderi was one of the seven men who survived the bloody battle beetween the Welsh and the Irish. He came back home accompanied by Manawyddan, Llyr’s other son whom he befriended so much that he decided to marry him to his widowed mother. He arranged a welcome feast to honour his guest and seated him next to Rhiannon. His plan succeeded, Manawyddan and Rhiannon took a fancy to each other and got married soon. For some time Pryderi, his wife, mother and stepfather lived peacefully but one day while they were outside, a storm raged and a strange mist descended on the country. When it disappeared, it turned out that they found neither buildings nor people nor cattles; it seemed as if in the whole Dyfed there was no single person except of the four of them. They remained all alone in their lands for two years but eventually they got bored of having no companionship.

So they set off to England where Manawyddan and Pryderi became so good craftsmen that local guilds turned against them because their products were much more popular  than the local ones. The Welsh decided to leave the town and move to another one but the same history repeated there. They moved to yet another town and again they were better than local craftsmen irrespective of whether they were producing saddles, shields or shoes. Their work made buyers delighted but it also aroused the anger of local craftmen so eventually they decided that it was useless to stay there and came back to Dyfed. After a month  Manawyddan and Pryderi went hunting. They came across a great boar of pure white which led them straight to a newly built castle which they saw for the first time. The boar ran straight into the castle and Pryderi’s hunting dogs went after him. Since they were not coming back for a long time, he decided to go inside and take them even though Manawyddan suggested staying.

There was not a trace of a boar and hunting dogs inside neither any signs of people living there. There was, however, a murmur fountain in the center with a golden bowl hanging over it. Pryderi was so amazed by the the quality of craft that he came to the bowl and placed his hands on it. He did not realise it was enchanted and when he wanted to take his hands back, it turned out to be impossible; he could not utter a word neither. Manawyddan was waiting for him  to come back until the evening but eventually he returned to the palace and told Rhiannon about what had happen. She reproached him for not accompanying Pryderi and went searching for her son herself. When she entered the castle and saw him, she touched the bowl and fell under the spell too. Thunderstorm came again and mist enshrouded the castle making it vanish.

Kicva, Pryderi’s wife, fell into despair thinking she could lose him, however Manawyddan promied her that she would certainly have him back. Since they had neither hunting dogs nor food, they emigrated to England again where Manawyddan worked as a shoemaker once more. His products were of the highest quality as always so the local craftmen turned against him and after a year Rhiannon’s husband had to flee from the town. Luckily Manawyddan and Kicva took a burden of wheat with them to Dyfed so they sow the seeds which grew up profusely. Additionally, Manawyddan went fishing and deer hunting so they did not starve. Unfortunately, when the time of harvest came, it turned out that some mysterious creatures cut all the ears leaving stalks only. Manawyddan decided to watch over crops to save what had remained; it turned out that around midnight a big host of mice appeared on the field and carried the ears away. Manawyddan managed to catch one of them to the glove.

He was going to execute it but then suddenly a man appeared and came closer; he seemed to be a scholar which surprised Manawyddan because he saw no unknown person in this land for last seven years. When they started to converse and a stranger found out what Rhiannon’s husband was intending to do, he was trying to convince him to sell him the mouse. Manawyddan, however, did not agree so the scholar went away. Soon a priest rode with the same offer and  even higher price. Still Manawyddan did not want to sell the mouse so a priest left but Rhiannon’s husband could already see a bishop with his attendants approaching. He offered money again but Manawyddan kept refusing even though the price was getting higher and higher. Eventually bishop offered to release Pryderi and his mother. Manawyddan understood that the mouse is more valuable than it seemed so he additionally demanded the spell to be taken off Dyfed.

Bishop had no choice but to agree. He admitted that in fact he was mage named Llwyd son of Kilcoed and his pregnant wife was disguised in the body of a mouse.  He also revealed that he cast the spell on Dyfed to revenge the insult which Rhiannon and Pwyll made to his friend Gwawl son of Clud. He transformed into mice with his household members and went to Manawyddan’s fields, however because of her condition his wife could not run as fast as the others and was caught. He asked Rhiannon’s husband to release her and assured he would give up his revenge and take spell off Dyfed and he would never do it again. When Llwyd brought Rhiannon and Pryderi back, he returned his wife to him. Life came back to Dyfed and there were peeople, villages and cattles again. And thus ends this portion of the Mabinogi.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

The animal mostly associated with Rhiannon/Rigatona is a horse. Roman images of a woman riding a horse remained to this day; they probably depict either Rigatona or Epona.

Rigatona

Rhiannon is also connected with the Underworld through her birds. Mabinogion mentions her miraculous birds which sang so sweetly that warriors listening to them fell under their charm for eighty years. Three birds had magical skills to wake the deads up and put the living to sleep. In an old Welsh legend about   Culhwch and Olwen one of Culhwch’s tasks is to get Adar Rhiannon – The Birds of Rhiannon  (he wants to marry Olwen but her father does not accept it and demands from suitors things impossible to get). Birds also appear during the feast in the Second Branch of Mabinogion:  the singing of the birds of Rhiannon (…) and there came three birds, and began singing unto them a certain song, and all the songs they had ever heard were unpleasant compared thereto; and the birds seemed to them to be at a great distance from them over the sea, yet they appeared as distinct as if they were close by, and at this repast they continued seven years.

Other animals associated with Rhiannon are a boar, dogs and a badger (Welsh game ‘a badger in a bag’ was traditionally initiated when Gwawl, Rhiannon’s suitor, was closed in a bag and teased).

Rhiannon is also associated with the symbol of cauldron (magical bowl in a castle) which is typical for Celtic goddesses (Welsh Cerridwen, Irish Brigid and triple Morrigan) which makes her the goddess of magic. Some researchers claim that similarly to Irish Medb (Maeve) and Welsh Gwenhwyfer (Guinevere) she is the goddess of sovereignity and grants the throne to the man who marries her. Like a Hellenic goddess Demeter she is linked with horses and perceived as the goddess of abundance and fertility.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

Someone with a great need of moving or a person of a swift mind. Someone who is experienced in life, wise, bright and ingenious. A person of great patience and dignity.

ADVICE

It is you who is right in the situation you are inquiring. Do not let people around you make you believe you are not. Have no doubt of who you are, what you do and where you are heading. You are good enough in whatever you are planning so do not allow fears to destroy your potential.

A gaslightning *** method may being used to belittle you, do not stop believing in your own feelings, impressions and emotions. You are right.

Time to change and move forward. A trip is a good idea.

Reflect deeply on what you are intending to do because you will not be able to turn back the time.

Movement. Velocity. Change. Power. Dignity. Mobility. Internet. Happy ending of a difficult situation.

Love

If you are in the relationship: time of testing or ordeal. Speak honestly about what you want, sometimes it is enough to simply ask for it. False accusations. Re – marrying. Being deprived of/granted the custody over the child.

If you are single: this card suggests meeting somebody during a journey.

Finances

Loss, typically not caused by wastefulness but by decision of an office or a bank. It is possible to compound or to bend the rules in order to change this situation. Departure, most probably abroad.

Health

Beware of falling down and injuriese. Endangered parts of the body: musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments).

CARDS

Rhiannon hurrying with horses and birds in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Rhiannon in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Rhiannon in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Rhiannon in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Rhiannon in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Rhiannon in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Rhiannon as The Chariot in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Rhiannon as The Chariot in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Rhiannon in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Rhiannon in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Rhiannon in Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Rhiannon in Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Rhiannon in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Rhiannon in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

An interesting representation of Rhiannon in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Rhiannon in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Rhiannon in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue (I think I have expressed my views about this ‘work of art’ clearly enough in the review of Doreen Virtue’s deck so I will not say a word more)

Rhiannon in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Rhiannon as Knight of Swords in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Rhiannon in Universal Goddess Tarot deck by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

* It also affected other Welsh legends about King Arthur, most probably both Morgaine – Morgan Le Fey and Gwenhwyfer – Guinevere were at first goddesses. Legends about King Arthur have been formed in their ultimate shape around 15th century under the French influence while original Welsh myths are as old as at least 6th century. To be honest these versions often differ like fire and water. Both Rhiannon’s husbands are also considered to be originally gods; Pwyll was the lord of the Underworld while Manawyddan seems to be a Welsh counterpart of Irish god of the sea called Manannán.

** Prototype of Shakespear’s King Lear.

*** “Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades.

The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way. Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and systematically withhold factual information from the victim, and replacing it with false information. Because of it’s subtly, this cunning Machiavellian behaviour is a deeply insidious set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim. That is why it is such a dangerous form of abuse. The emotional damage of Gaslighting is huge on the narcissistic victim. When they are exposed to it for long enough, they begin to lose their sense of their own self. Unable to trust their own judgments, they start to question the reality of everything in their life. They begin to find themselves second-guessing themselves, and this makes them become very insecure around their decision making, even around the smallest of choices. The victim becomes depressed and withdrawn, they become totally dependent on the abuser for their sense of reality. In effect the gaslighting turns the victim’s reality on its head.” (from Narcology)

Based on original issue of Mabinogion available online (much to my joy) here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/mab/mab20.htm and http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/mab/mab24.htm

as well as English Wikipedia, http://wintergrovecoven.tripod.com/deities.html , http://www.thaliatook.com/AMGG/rhiannon.html , http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/deitiesr-s.html, http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/deitiesn-o-p.html .

ISIS (ISET, ASET, AUSET)

ISIS (ISET, ASET, AUSET)

An Egyptian goddess of magic, wisdom, renewal, healing, power, love, marriage, motherhood and the deads. Sister and wife of Osiris, mother of Horus. One of the most famous and the most influencial goddesses not only in Egypt but in the whole ancient Roman Empire and perhaps even in the modern era because Catholic and Orthodox Marian cult is largely based on the one of Isis. Her original name was probably Aset and it meant ‘She Of The Throne’*.

ABOUT GODDESS

According to most of the myths Isis is the eldest daughter of Geb (Earth) and Nut (Sky) born on the fourth day of intercalation and the sister of Osiris, Seth and Nephthys. According to most myths Osiris married Isis and Seth – Nephthys; the first pair represented the fertility and fruitfulness of nature while the second was the symbol of wildness and vastness of desert. A lot of legends about the children of Geb and Nut survived into modern times but I am going to concentrate on the most famous one telling the story of Seth’s jealousy towards Osiris resulting in the assasination and the resurrection of his brother.

This myth has a couple of versions but the most detailed one comes from De Iside et Osiride by Plutarch. Viscious Seth  gave the banquet in honour of his brother where he showed a beautifully decorated chest and announced that the one who fits it perfectly may keep it as a gift. Many tried but they did not realise that Seth had already measured Osiris while he was asleep and the chest could only fit him. When Isis’ husband entered it, Seth slammed the cover, sealed it with lead, carried the chest away and threw it straight into the waters of the Nile. Goddess started to search the coffin to bury her husband in an appropriate manner** but a swift current of the river has already taken it to Byblos in Phoenicia and placed on a cedar tree (or tamarisk). Isis took the coffin back to Egypt and hid it in the swamps, alas Seth went hunting at night and found it. He was so furious that he chopped Osiris’ body into fourteen (sixteen or forty – two in other versions) pieces and scattered them all over Egypt so that his wife could not make a proper funeral for him. Then both sisters, Isis and Nephthys, turned into kites, keen-eyed birds of prey, and went searching. They found thirteen of the body pieces except of the penis which had already been swallowed by a fish. Isis, not discouraged at all, made a penis of gold, put her husband’s body together again and she wrapped it with resin – soaked linen strips with the help of Anubis, god of embalming. She created a cobra from spitting which Amon Ra the highest deity left on the ground and then she made the cobra bite him. I am the only one who has got the antidote for its venom, she announced. I will give it to you if you reveal to me your Secret Name. Wise goddess understood that knowing Secret Name will give her the power of his owner including performing rituals connected with resurrection. Amon Ra had no choice but to agree.  By chanting and making magical spells Isis managed to resurrect  Osiris and she conceived Horus with him (according to other versions she only used a golden penis). Horus was born in the Nile delta, however Osiris having already passed the gate of death, could not stay in the world of the living and he became the ruler of the Underworld. Isis took care of the child herself protecting her son from the anger of Seth. She was teaching him to guard the Egyptians from his uncle and Osiris kept coming back as a ghost to talk with Horus about the responsabilities of a ruler. When Horus grew up, he was fighting long battles with Seth and he nearly killed him but Isis stood between her son and brother and did not let that happen (the goddess even hurt Horus so that Seth would be able to escape but she healed him later). Eventually after the boat race won by Osiris’ son, Seth had to resign and to give the power over Egypt to him.

As her name reveals Isis was closely associated with the power of pharaohs and she represented literally their authority (she was depicted with a miniature of a throne as a headdress, pharaoh was Isis’ child whom she was giving her throne to). It has to be said that she was a very versatile goddess and all the classes adored her; she was guarding both rulers and noble or rich people  as much as craftsmen, slaves, sinners and the rejected and she particularly supported the deads and children. She is often mentioned in the funeral papyri of the rulers and later in those of nobility and ordinary people. Not only she is protecting a pharaoh in the Underworld but she is also ‘the mother of Horus’ four sons’, four deities guarding the canopic jars where the organs taken away before the mumification were stored. Isis herself was protecting the jar with liver, Nephtys was watching over the one with lungs and both these goddesses were shown with arms outstretched on the coffins  and sarcophagi so that no one dared to undermine the peace of deceased. Isis is depicted as pharaoh’s guardian, wife or mother.

Here she is shown together with Hathor when they are passing Queen Nefertari to the Underworld

Isis’ cult probably began in Sebennytos at least 3100 b.C. and soon spread all over Upper and Lower Egypt. She was especially venerated in the Nile delta, in the Per-Hebitet (modern Behbeit El-Hagar) sanctuary and the Philae island which used to be situated next to the First Cataract of the Nile. When the Aswan Dam was built in 1970, the remainings of temples were relocated to the  island on Lake Naser created as a result of inudating the areas near the dam. According to Herodotus she was the only goddess worshipped by all the Egyptians, both in Upper and Lower Egypt. From the times of New Kingdom Osiris, Isis and Horus were forming trinity of the most important Egyptian deities which was later transformed in the Hellenistic times into Serapis (an Alexandrian god who came into existence when Egyptian and Hellen religious beliefs merged), Harpocrates (one of representations of hellenised Horus) and Isis who kept her position.

Priests and priestesses of the goddess were considered to be healers, they were also able to explain the meaning of a dream or even to control the weather through braiding or not combing their hair (this is why Isis’ knot was believed to be magical). The cult on the Philae island survived until 6th century when Emperor Justinian ordered to destroy it. It was the last ancient sanctuary to be closed down.

At the beginning particular deities were worshipped locally but then their cults began to spread all over the country and gods and goddesses were merged. Isis was identified as goddes Hathor and around that time the myth of resurrecting Osiris has become more and more popular. From the Hellenistic  period throughout the whole era of Roman Empire the cult of Isis became increasingly popular in the lands far from Egypt and she became of one the main deities of the ancient world. She was venerated during the mysteries called Navigium Isidis (literally The Vessel of Isis) in Rome on March 5th. The celebrations included processions with the offerings of milk and spices, flowers, torches, laterns and her sacred objects; her worshippers were singing and dancing. Another popular Roman celebration was Isia which was taking place between October 28th and November 3rd/4th. It was retelling the story of ressurecting Osiris; both priests, priestesses and common believers were divided into guilds: pastophori were carrying small chapels during processions and melanephors were wearing black gowns to remind about Isis’ grief after Osiris’ death. She was venerated by many inhabitants of Rome including emperors: Caligula built a temple of her on the Campus Martius which was called Isis Campensis i.e Isis of the Fields, among her worshippers were also Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian, Galerius and others. To understand her importance one should read the quote from Metamorphoses by a Roman writer Apuleius

‘I come, Lucius, moved by your entreaties: I, mother of the universe, mistress of all the elements, first-born of the ages, highest of the gods, queen of the shades, first of those who dwell in heaven, representing in one shape all gods and goddesses. My will controls the shining heights of heaven, the health-giving sea-winds, and the mournful silences of hell; the entire world worships my single godhead in a thousand shapes, with divers rites, and under many a different name. The Phrygians, first-born of mankind, call me the Pessinuntian Mother of the gods; the native Athenians the Cecropian Minerva; the island-dwelling Cypriots Paphian Venus; the archer Cretans Dictynnan Diana; the triple-tongued Sicilians Stygian Proserpine; the ancient Eleusinians Actaean Ceres; some call me Juno, some Bellona, others Hecate, others Rhamnusia; but both races of Ethiopians, those on whom the rising and those on whom the setting sun shines, and the Egyptians who excel in ancient learning, honour me with the worship which is truly mine and call me by my true name: Queen Isis. I am here in pity for your misfortunes, I am here with favour and goodwill. Cease now your weeping, put an end to your lamentation, banish your grief: now by my Providence the day of your release is dawning. Attend therefore with your whole mind to the orders I give you. The day which will be born of this night has been consecrated to me by immemorial religious usage. It is the day on which the tempests of winter have abated and the stormy sea-waves have subsided, when the ocean is again navigable and my priests sacrifice a brand-new ship as the first-offering of the season’s trade. It is this ceremony that you must await without anxiety and without unholy thoughts. ***.

In the Hellenistic era, after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the East, Isis was identified with such goddesses as Demeter, Astarte or Aphrodite, at that time she gained the titles which were associated with them: Queen of Heaven  and Star of the Sea (Latin Stella Maris, Hellenic Pelagia – ‘Of the Sea’, in this represenation she was depicted with a sail) as a guardian of seafarers and merchants who were spreading her cult throughout the Mediterranean area. Her temples were called Isidions (Isideons) and were situated not only in such important cities of the ancient world as Delos, Delphi, Eleusis or Athens, but also in Gaul (contemporary France), Spain, Portugal, the British Isles, Panonia (the area of modern Austria, Hungary and the Balcans), Germany, Asia Minor and Arabia. Archeologists have also found the remainings of her temple in Pompei and Herculanum. The cult of Isis was only abandoned when Christianity was introduced as an official religion of the Empire and pagans were persecuted.

But was it really abandoned?

Isis was depicted as a devoted wife and mother, the protector of the poor and the slaves and when Christianity was becoming increasingly popular, one of its most important drawbacks was the lack of female element accompanying the cult of Jesus.  It was a serious shortage in the ancient world where divinity had both male and female form. To complete this deficiency Mary the mother of Jesus was given the features of Isis, often literally, on pictures and sculptures:

Of course, those of us who have been ‘initiated’ into this topic, are aware of the issue but an average Catholic or Orthodox would be really surprised that in reality they worship an eternal Egyptian goddess under the disguise of Mary.

There are also other, indirect but symbolic associations of Isis with Christianity through Magdalene and her participation in the mystery of Jesus’ death. It is Magdalene whom he appears to as the first person after resurrection, Isis is guarding a canopic jar and Magdalene is also often depicted with a jar. As a curiosity I am showing an image Madonna with a Child and St. John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Battista Cima/Cima de Conegliano (around 1510, Musée du Louvre) where Magdalene is wearing a knot in the shape of Isis’ Tyet,   (read below).

She is the goddess who is quite adeqately referred to as  Isis of Ten Thousand Names, here go some of them: Queen of Heaven, Star of the Sea, Mother of the Gods, Divine Mother, Great Lady of Magic, The One Who is All, Lady of the West, Lady of the Pyramid, Lady of Green Crops, The Brilliant One in the Sky, Mistress of the House of Life, Lady of Truth (together with Nephthys), Ideal of the Throne, She Who Knows How To Make Right Use of the Heart, Light-Giver of Heaven, Life – Giver, Lady of the Words of Power, Moon Shining Over the Sea, She Who Seeks Justice For the Poor People, She Who Seeks Shelter For the Weak People, She Who Seeks the Righteousness In Her People, She Who Gives Birth to Heaven And Earth, Lady of the Osiris’ Tomb, She Who Knows the Orphan, She Who Knows the Widow Spider.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

The animals closely related to Isis are birds of prey especially a hawk and a kite. Hawk has been connected with power, the sun, the wind and masculinity, the canopic jar with a liver which Isis was guarding had a the figure of hawk at the top, her son Horus has also been depicted with the head of this bird. Kite is a similar species to a hawk and an eagle which lives on the areas of Europe and northern Africa. It is capable to fly high and when it is endangered, a mother sends a signal to her young to pretend they are dead and they do it so convincingly that a predator usually leaves them alone. Quoting Wikipedia, a kite may attack aggressively other birds of prey even the bigger ones to grab their victims. This is the only possible expanation of the remainings found in kites’ stomaches; the birds of the size of a kite are not be able to catch such victims by themselves. Kite has weak legs but very long wings and its flight is considered to be very elegant.

Isis’ plants are lotus, cedar tree, sycamore tree  (pharaoh Thutmose III, Hatshepsut’s nephew, was depicted as drinking milk from a sycamore tree which had a breast, it may also be an association with his mother Iset, one of Thutmose II wives) and roses which began to be attributed to her in the Hellenistic era probably because of the associations with Aphrodite and her symbols. It is interesting that the demand for the roses necessary for rituals and rites was so big that a rose industry which was aimed at supplying the flowers became very profitable. A garland of roses was being left in the tombs as the symbol of Isis.

The planet associated with Osiris and Isis is Syrius (this star’s appearance was announcing the Nile’s flooding and thus fertile soil, abundant harvest and small chance of hunger). They are also both connected with the Moon and lunar cycle through the aspect of waxing and waning. Because of identifying her as Aphrodite and Astarte during the Roman times, she was also related to the  planet Venus.

Isis is also related with a type of knot called Tiet, Tyet or Tet (or simply Isis’ Knot). Its name can be translated as welfare or life and as it can be easily observed it is linked to the symbol of ANKH. The knot was probably the part of clothing of deity and it is possible it was also worn by the priestesses of the goddess. When made of red wood, glass or stone, it was the Blood of Isis , a  funeral amulet which probably represented menstrual blood flow from the goddess womb and the magical properties of birth – death – rebirth cycle.  The Blood of Isis is mentioned in the 156th verse of the Book of the Dead: You possess your blood, Isis, you possess your power, Isis, you possess your magic, Isis. The amulet is a protection for this Great One, which will drive off anyone who would perform a criminal act against him.

As it was already mentioned Isis was initially presented with a miniature of a  throne as a headdress, here she is also carrying a sceptre with flower often carried by goddesses and ANKH, the symbol of eternal life as the guardian of the deads.

From the time when she started to be identified with goddess Hathor, she was shown as the mother of Horus and her headdress changed into the one with a solar disc (the symbol of Ra whose mother was originally Hathor) and cow horns as a representation of abundance and fertility. At that time she is also attributed objects symbolising fun such as sistrum and menat necklace which had been so far associated with Hathor. Her headdress also acquired the vulture which had previously been the symbol of goddesses  Nekhbet and Mut as well as uraeus (cobra) of goddess Wadjet. All these goddesses were related to the power of pharaohs.

In the Book of the Deads Isis is depicted standing on the prow of the Solar Bark with her arms outstretched. And here are modern representations of Isis – Hathor

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The person represented by this card is talented, versatile, educated, universal and incredible. S/he is able to arrange literally everything and convince everyone. This person has a huge wisdom but is young at heart regardless of real age. Someone not only intelligent but also wise. A person of high – ranking, a boss or superior but also a parent.

Professions: a physician, an official, a scientist, an inventor, a psychologist, regardless of profession this person is of either high – ranking or of great achievements.

ADVICE

Personally this card is always positive to me unless it is accompanied by really ‘heavy’ cards.

In the situation you are inquiring about there is nothing that you would not be able to fix.

Respect yourself and the others will respect you too. Straighten up, go ahead, be assertive. You have the right to feel power and authority. Do not believe anyone who perceives you as weak or helpless.

Do not be afraid of changes, you will adapt to a new situation easier than you expect. Going abroad is beneficial for you.

Do not try to force your loved ones to stay with you. Even if it is you who brought them to this world or was supporting them in difficult moments, it does not mean you must guard them until death. You have to know when it is time to let go.

In negative this card may show inability to solve problems at once, trying to kill many birds with one stone or problems with  balancing professional and domestic life.

Power. Healing. Magic. Mystery. Intuition. Self – Awareness. Determination. Cycle. Natural Adaptability Skills. Versatility. Past Returning. Invention. Courage. Care

Love

If you are in the relationship: time of renewal. Relation which requires effort but provides emotional satisfaction. Mature love. Deep feelings which remain even if attraction is gone.

If you are single: this card suggests that sooner or later you will find your true love. Single parenthood.

Finances

Time for learning, developing and educating on higher levels. You have the potential you must not waste. Expanding your activity to other fields or including new products in your offer is recommended. Profits from the abroad.

Health

This is a card of regeneration and renewal. Check your circulatory system. If you have already been examined, it is suggested to repeat the tests. Endangered parts of the body: liver.

CARDS

Isis might have been the most important goddess in the whole antiquity so it is no wonder that she appears in all the decks I have come across. However, it has to be noticed that in none of them she appears in her original throne appearance but instead on most images she already has the attributes of Hathor.

This time I am starting with Tarot decks and the assignments to Major Arcana: in the deck by Kris Waldherr Isis is the Mage while in the deck by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano she is the High Priestess. It is probably the only situation when I agree that the classification to both these cards is correct. Despite big diferrences in meaning this particular goddess suits perfectly both Major Arcana. Isis has courage, skills and need for acting of the Mage and secret wisdom, tenderness and protectiveness of the High Priestess. In fact the second Major Arcane comes from the tradition of Isis – Hathor (it can be seen especially in the Rider – Waite – Smith deck where the High Priestess is wearing her crown, also the moon and the sea are related with her).

And if someone should classify Isis as the Empress, it would also be well – founded on the base of mythology.

Isis – Hathor as the Mage in The Goddess Tarot and in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr accompanied by kite/hawk and behind her there are images of  Osiris and Horus on the wall

 

A cartoon – like Isis – Hathor as the High Priestess in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano . But at least she is sitting on the throne  . Maybe it is just me but doesn’t she look like an Italian woman?  Even considering her cartoon – like appearance… Both authors come from Italy, perhaps this is a self – portrait or an image of a mother, a sister or a friend?

Isis with a throne, wings, ANKH and Horus in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Isis in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

A beautiful representation of Isis with Osiris and baby Horus in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky (according to some sources Isis resurrected Osiris by covering him with wings)

Isis – Hathor with double ANKH in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Isis with a cobra in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Isis in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Isis – Hathor with roses, sistrum, Solar Bark and the sea in the background in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

A blue eyed Isis in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Isis – Hathor and Osiris in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Isis-Hathor and Osiris in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Isis – Hathor in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue (image by the same Jonathan Earl Bowser who painted Ishtar – Cleopatra http://jonathonart.com/isis.html , on the website you can see clearly that Isis is being observed by her mother Nut – Heaven)

Isis in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Isis – Hathor in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst stylised on contemporary images

Isis in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Isis in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Isis in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

A combat and war – like Isis – Hathor straight from fantasy game ‘Resurrect Osiris’  in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Isis as a special guest star on the card of Osiris in Gods&Titans by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Based on Wikipedia and the following pages

http://www.symbolizm.obrazy-olejne.org/symbol-jastrzab/457/
http://www.thegoddesstree.com/GoddessGallery/ISIS%20Final%20Project.htm
http://www.nemo.nu/ibisportal/0egyptintro/1egypt/index.htm
http://www.knotofisis.net/Tiet.html
http://www.path-ways.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80
http://www.thaliatook.com/AMGG/isis.html
http://www.egyptianmyths.net/mythisis.htm
http://books.google.pl/books/about/The_Cult_of_Isis_Among_Women_in_the_Grae.html?id=1MkUAAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y
http://www.naderlibrary.com/goldenass.11.htm

*‘Isis’ is a Hellenic form, similary to other languages of the Middle – East, in native Egyptian vowels were not marked in writing, Egyptologists guess that her name was pronounced as Iset, Auset or Aset, moreover a female suffix ‘t’ vanished with the time.

**It has to be said that according to the beliefs of ancient Egypt, body must have been preserved afer death so that soul did not suffer in the Underworld thus the custom of balming the corpses.

*** A fragment of Metamorphoses or Golden Ass by Apuleius translated by E. J. Kenney.

KUAN YIN

Dedicated to Taosun

KUAN YIN

A Buddhist and Taoist goddess, bodhisattva i.e. the soul which has already broken away from saṃsāra, a wheel of incarnations, and yet made a conscious decision not to fall into the state of nirvana, but to remain among people to help them to release themselves from fears and egoistic thinking. Kuan Yin is a goddess of compassion for buddhists and Immortal according to taoistic beliefs. Her name is written in various ways (Kuan Yin, Quan Yin, Kwan Yin, Guan Yin, Guanyin, Kwannon*) and it means The One Who Hears the Cries of the World.

ABOUT GODDESS

It has to be said that Buddhism is not the sort of religion teaching that there are some divine spirits which created the world and keep it in order just like most religions do. It does not mean that supernatural powers do not exist in Buddhism, it simply means that there is no strict division between people and gods because everything depends on the way of acting. Depending on your behaviour you can either move down in the wheel of incarnations or move up thus it is possible for a human being to acquire divine abilities thanks to the development, meditation and compassion. Despite geographical and cultural distance the Buddhist and Taoist legends about Kuan Yin amazingly resemble the ones of Christian saints.

The stories about Kuan Yin are numerous. She is generally perceived as a female form of Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion (bodhisattva may adapt any form, gender and age in order to help as many souls as possible). Even though she belongs to the religion which originates from India, she is most popular in China where she is worshipped both in Buddhism and Taoism. One of the myths says that Kuan Yin promised not to give up until she releases all the creatures from saṃsāra, however despite her great efforts there was still too many unhappy people. When she was trying to comprehend how to help them, her head shattered into eleven pieces. To help her Buddha gave her eleven heads so that she could hear all the cries of suffering but when she was trying to reach out her arms to help all the creatures who needed her, her arms became so busy that they shattered from being overloaded. Therefore Buddha gave her one thousand arms in order she could act successfully and in certain areas she is worshipped as Kuan Yin Of a Thousand Arms:

Many Buddhists believe that when they die, it is Kuan Yin who places their souls  in the lotus flower and sends them to the land of Sukhāvatī.

In China she is widely known as Miao Shan who was born as a mortal woman in the royal family. When she grew up, her father Miao Chuang Yen decided to marry her to an influencial but soulless man. Miao Shan agreed obediently to do it on the condition that this marriage will relieve suffering caused by ageing, diseases and death. Her future husband was not capable to do it so a young princess decided to concentrate on religion and become a nun. Her father forced her to perform hard manual labour as a punishment and limited her food and water rations but this did not break her resistance.  Miao Shan kept begging her father to let her stay in the convent instead of forcing her to marry and he eventually agreed. However, he commanded the monks to give his daughter the tasks she would not be able to accomplish to make her come back to the royal palace. This plan failed because Miao Shan was such a good girl that animals living in the neighbourhood were coming to the convent to help herin the night. In desperation the king set the fire to the convenant but the princess managed to extinguish the fire with bare hands without suffering from any burns. The king was so frightened that he condamned her to death. There are a couple of versions of what happened next.

The first version says that when she was about to be executed, a supernatural tiger carried her soul off to hell where demons surrounded her immediately to punish her as they always do with newcomers. However, Miao Shan played an instrument and the flowers started to blossom all around which completely surprised the demons. In fact simple appearance of the princess made hell turn into paradise.  The second version speaks of how Miao Shan allowed the executor to kill her in order not to expose him to king’s anger. But no weapon wanted to deprive her of life: both axe and sword shattered into pieces when they touched her body and arrows intentionally missed the target. In the end the executioner understood that he had to kill Miao Shan with his own hands. When he was about to strangle her, the princess forgave him and took the karma for his deed as her own burden and this explains why she had to go to hell. When she saw the amount of suffering there, she was struck with such grief that she realased all the good karma she had gathered throughout her numerous incarnations. This made so many souls free and completely recreated hell into heaven that its ruler Yanlou had no choice but to send her back to Earth to prevent further destruction of his realm. She appeared back near Fragrant Mountain which is her sacred place. Another version of this story says that Miao Shan did not die at all but instead was brought to the Fragnant Mountain by the tiger.

So how does this story end? Well, Miao Shan’s father fell ill with jaundice and no doctor could heal him. But then suddenly a monk appeared and revealed that the only medicine that would make the king healthy again was a mixture of an arm and an eye of a person completely deprived of anger who lived on Fragrant Mountain. When the ruler sent his servants to ask if she could sacrifice her body parts, Miao Shan agreed immediately to help her father. Miao Chuang Yen recovered indeed and went himself to Fragrant Mountain to express his gratitude personally. He was amazed when he discovered that the person who sacrificed herself was his own daughter. Begging for forgiveness he built a temple on the top of the mountain together with his wife and two remaining daughters. Miao Shan has become Kuan Yin of a Thousand Arms and ascended into heavens but on her way she heard weeping and looking from above she realized the magnitude of suffering. She decided to stay and she made an oath that she would not surrender until all the agonies stop. She settled down on the island Mount Putuo (Putuoshan) where she was meditating and helping sailors and fishermen to get back on the shore (she is believed to calm the waves down next to sharp rocks to protect boats and ships and that is why she is considered to be a patroness of the seamen).

Another popular myth about Kuan Yin is the one about a lame boy named Sudhana (Shan Tsai in Chinese version). He was a young boy so eager to study Buddhism that when he found out about an excellent teacher who lived on the Putuo island, he set off the journey to get there. When he arrived and talked to Kuan Yin, she was very much impressed by his willpower which enabled him reaching so distant place despite physical disability. However, she decided to try him and made an illusion of three pirates running towards her with swords and pushing her down the cliff. Sudhana limped towards the cliff too and fell down trying to save her but Kuan Yin stopped him half way thanks to her power, put him down on the ground and told him to walk ahead. It turned out that he was able to walk like a healthy man and when he looked into a pool of water, he noticed that he also became handsome. From that day Kuan Yin started to teach him the rules of Buddhism.

Many years later the son of King of Dragons, the ruler of the sea, was caught in the fishing net after he had assumed the form of a fish. While being on the land he was unable to turn into a dragon again and mighty as he was his father had no power over the land and could not help him. The prince weeped piteously that he got stuck in another dimension and his cry penetrated both heaven and earth. Kuan Yin heard it and sent Shan Tsai to buy the fish. Her disciple soon realised where the fish was because it became the main attraction of a local fair as it remained alive long after being caught. People thought that eating such fish would provide them immortality and began fighting for it. Shan Tsai was begging the seller to spare the amazing fish but this made the crowd even more angry. Then the voice of Kuan Yin came from far reaching, stating that life belongs to the one who protects it, not to the one who destroys it. Hearing these words people understood their mistake and the crowd dispersed. Shan Tsai was able to take the fish to his teacher and she let it free into the sea where the prince transformed into a dragon. The ruler of the sea was so happy to have his son back that he sent his granddaughter Lung Nü (Dragon – Girl) to Kuan Yin with the Pearl of Light, a precious jewel which kept shining permanently from the inside. Lung Nü was so amazed by bodhisattva that she asked if she could become her disciple and Kuan Yin agreed on the condition that she would be the owner of the Pearl of Light. This is why the goddess herself is often depicted with a basket of fish and accompanied by children, Shan Tsai and Lung Nü.  Shan Tsai is presented with his palms joint and knees slightly bent to remind that he was once crippled while  Lung Nü is holding either a bowl or an ingot as a symbol of the Pearl of Light.

Not only people wanted Kuan Yin to teach them. Just as in the case of St Francis animals liked her, too. One day a little parrot went out to search for her mother’s favourite food but was caught and trapped by a hunter.  When she finally set free, she discovered that her mother had died of hunger. She was weeping and she arranged a beautiful funeral for her and later she went to Kuan Yin to become her disciple. Goddess is sometimes depicted with a white parrot hovering to the right side of her with either a pearl or a prayer bead in its beak as a sign of love to parents.

Kuan Yin was very ingenious in finding the ways to help people. When she found out that the inhabitants of Quanzhou in province Fujian could not afford to build a bridge, she turned into a beautiful woman, got into a boat and offered to marry the man who was able to hit her with a silver coin while standing on the edge of the river. Because many tried it and missed, she soon gathered a large sum of money in the boat and the river.

Kuan Yin is very popular among Chinese Buddhists as a source of unconditional love and a saviour because in her bodhisattva vows she promised to answer every cry which will help to release a soul from its carmic vows. Some schools of Buddhism believe that Kuan Yin is not really a separate being full of compassion and love but the energy of compassion and love itself thus people who behave in non – egoistic and empathetic way are simply called guanyin. One of the main texts of Buddhism is the Heart Sutra which is not based on Buddha’s teachings but is attributed to Avalokiteśvara/Kuan Yin, the famous quote Form is emptiness, emptiness is form is included in this text. Kinara, main divine protector of  Shaolin Monastery, was considered to be an incarnation of Kuan Yin. As a symbol of compassion she is also closely associated with vegetarianism, Chinese vegetarian restaurants are often decorated with her image. Chinese buddhists both in country and diaspora consider her to be a guardian of women and children** and believe she can grant a child to the parents who ask. A woman should offer a borrowed shoe in the temple of Kuan Yin and when the expected child is born, mother should take her shoe back and leave a pair of new shoes as a gift of gratitude. Kuan Yin also has the features of earth goddess because after a great flood she sent a dog with the grains of rice so that human beings could grow the plant and have food to eat. She is believed to be both a protectress of  the unfortunate, the sick, the disabled, the poor, people in trouble and the goddess of luck and fortune. She is more and more often asked for protection during flights. In Asia it is not uncommon to come across syncretic images merging Kuan Yin with Saint Mary (the way of presenting them -  a woman and a child – is similar). When Christianity was banned in Japan, some clandestine Christian groups were venerating Mary in disguise of Kuan Yin.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Kuan Yin is usually presented as a beautiful woman wearing white robes, sometimes with a royal necklace. She is sitting nobly and her eyes are lowered down to show that she is protecting the world. The goddess is holding a jar with fresh water in her left hand and a willow bough in the right one. There are also numerous versions of her local representations such as Kuan Yin of the South Sea  where she is holding a basket with fish. Another popular image is Kuan Yin standing on a dragon accompanied with a white parrot  and with Shan Tsai and Lung Nü standing by her side (or interchangeably a warrior Guan Yu, a historical figure from Three Kingdoms Period and another bodhisattva Skanda).

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

Positive:A person shown in this card is noble, high – minded and empathtic. This is someone who has an inner sense of justice, who believes deeply in what they do and whose thoughts are reflected in the way they behave. An opinion of others or material goods are not essential for such person. Their most common activity is working in an animal shelter or in a hospice or attending a peaceful manifestation for freedom or civil rights for opressed. This person is often a vegetarian or a vegan.

Negative: a person who cannot refuse help and as a result takes the burdens of others on their own back. Someone with strong beliefs who does not accept the truths of other people.

Professions: teacher, volounteer, guardian, carer, priest/priestess or nun.

ADVICE

In the situation you are inquiring you should be gentle with yourself and others. Show sympathy. Listen to your protagonist even if you disagree. Do not judge. Do not try to be absolutely perfect. Do not expect too much from others. Forgive yourself and those around you what you have done or have not done. Open your own heart if you want people to love you. Do not be suspicious and think about people in a positive way. Avoid gossiping and talking behind someone’s back.

Sometimes you have to do something against social, logical and rational rules.

Do not compromise when it comes to doing good.

May your thoughts, words and deeds be one.

Love

If you are in the relationship: possible problems caused by lack of understanding. Showing your partner love and listening to them may be a solution. Admitting you made a mistake or recognising at least some of your partner’s reasons is not something to be ashamed of, it is a sign of maturity.

If you are single: rather platonic than sensual love. Unfulfilled love. Being single by choice.

Finances

Do not expect big financial profits at the moment. This card suggests you rather appreciate positive working environment or try to amend it. Share what you have and support those in need.

Health

You are overloading your body. You are not providing your organism with sufficient amount of nutrients. Strong influence of mind on body. Pay attention to circulatory system, especially in limbs. Possible amputation. Endangered parts of the body: heart and circulatory system.

CARDS

Kuan Yin appears in all the decks I have come across, however none of these images is really adequate to her archetypal representations and personally I am not convinced by any of these cards.

Kuan Yin in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews (I think it is the most beautiful image of all the decks)

Kuan Yin in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Kuan Yin in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Kuan Yin in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Kuan Yin in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Kuan Yin in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Kuan Yin in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Kuan Yin in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Kuan Yin in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Kuan Yin in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Kuan Yin in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Kuan Yin in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Kuan Yin in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Kuan Yin in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Kuan Yin in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Kuan Yin in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Kuan Yin in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Kuan Yin in Goddess Inspiration Oracle and in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr where she rather arguably represents the Major Arcane of Hanged Man

Kuan Yin in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano, again I cannot agree with assigning her to the element of Fire (this burning convent is a poor association, Kuan Yin should be presented in the element of Water as the King of Cups)

Based on English Wikipedia.

*If you are interested in variety of her name’s versions, please check English Wikipedia.
**Pay attention to her name, ‘yin’ is a female element in the symbol of yin&yang.

MAAT

MAAT

An Egyptian goddess of cosmic order, justice, wisdom, law, truth, balance, harmony and morality. She was the one to keep the stars in movement, seasons changing and to maintain the order on both Heaven and Earth.  According to the Egyptian beliefs the world has not come into existence until Ra the god of the Sun had replaced Isfet (Chaos) with his daughter Maat. Pharaohs were to guard the goddess and to make sure no one would disrupt the balance. Her name was also written as  Ma’at, Māt, Maae’t or Mayet and its meaning was probably Truth, Truthfulness.

ABOUT GODDESS

The earliest writings where Maat is mentioned date back to the Old Kingdom  (more than 2300 years ago). Even though she is depicted as a person, she in fact symbolized an Egyptian faith that the universe was logical and stayed in order therefore any disturbances in its functioning must have been caused by people. Maat was a guarantee of an order in Egypt and she represented a cosmic harmony which was in power as long as laws and customs were respected. The Egyptians believed in an inner balance and unity prevailing in the universe which meant that any disturbances could have brought Chaos back and could have caused a danger for people and institutions. It concerned all the aspects of life: authority, trade, seasons changing, movement of planets, religious ceremonies, signing contracts, fairness and truthfulness in everyday life. This is why the Egyptians treated such troubles as e.g. the delay of the Nile’s flooding as a sign of gods’ anger and a pharaoh, the priest of Maat, who did not respect laws would be perceived as a threat (like in the case of Ankhenaten who by the way was said to be particularly devoted to Maat*).

In ancient Egypt the skills of expressing thoughts and writing were highly valued as well as impartiality and the sense of justice (one of the texts quotes the words of Ra that he had created people equal, Maat orders the rich to protect the poor and the weak, not to exploit workers building graves and to take care of the widows and the orphans). Maat was uniting everything in the Universe in one integral wholeness: the world, the state and individuals. Maat was something that we call the SPIRIT of the law, not the exact LETTER of the law. Judges were wearing her image to remember about delivering fair jedgements and keeping justice. Interestingly when Egypt was conquered first by Alexander the Great and then by the Romans, the Egyptian law co-existed with the laws of the intruders for some time but was later replaced (and so women who were so far able to act regardless of men’s agreement and to have their own properties, were deprived of these rights).

At the beginning Maat existed as an independent goddess but later when male and female dieties were paired, Maat became the wife of Thoth god of writing and thus the patroness of scribes. Scribes were very important in Egypt because their abilities to read and write were essential in the correct functioning of the state. They were of course supposed to live in accordance with the laws of Maat. In some beliefs Maat and Thoth created Ogdoad i.e. eight deities worshipped in Hermopolis. Both Maat and Thoth were presented together with Re in his solar barge.

Egyptians believed that Maat was present when the sentence was passed over the soul of a dead person. After death their spirit was going to Duat, the Underworld, where the heart was put on one scale and the feather of Maat was placed n another one (the Egyptians believed that human soul was hidden in heart). If the deeds of deceased stayed in balance with the feather, that person was to go to Aaru, the field of reeds, ruled by Osiris. If their deeds were heavier, the soul was devoured by the lion goddess Ammit and the dead had to stay in Duat. 42 Confessions (Principles) of Maat were also the part of this ritual.

Even though Maat was such an important goddess, it was not until the New Kingdom (around 1500 – 1000 bC) when people began building temples for her. There are proofs that her shrines were situated in Karnak, Memphis and Deir el-Medina.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Maat was depicted as a young woman either standing or sitting, sometimes winged. She was often portrayed holding the was sceptre in one hand and ANKH in the other. An ostrich feather was her headress (or the ostrich feather itself represented Maat). Her statue was a stone platform depicting the stable foundation on which order was built and the primeaval mound that emerged from the waters of Chaos.

  

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

Positive: a peaceful and balanced person who dislikes quarrelling and respects the law. In work this may be a supervisor or a person who watches over the procedures. Someone who likes harmony, is sensitive to the needs of others and delicate while contacting other people.

Negative: a conformist, someone who puts the blame for their faults on others, avoids taking ultimate decisions, is changeable, shallow, superficial and messy. May have problems with law and to be dishonest.

Professions: a lawyer, a judge, a clerk, an official, an auditor, a controller.

ADVICE

In this situation you must be honest, otherwise you will have to face serious consequences. Accept the responsability for the mistakes you have already made. May your thoughts, words and deeds be oneness. You must make choice. Legal or official problem. Ask an attorney or a legal counsellor for help. It is advised to continue studying or to improve qualifications.

Love

If you are in the relationship: depending on your martial status this card signifies either marriage or divorce. It is advised to go to a mediator. Lie. Perhaps you are too hard on your partner and you critisise him/her too much.

If you are single: do not play with the feelings of other people. Make sure you are not giving someone false hope. Be responsible.

Finances

Court case. An official control at work. You should keep the letter of the law.

Health

Possible problems with keeping a healthy weight. In negative meaning this card signifies an imbalance (surrounding cards inform what kind of imbalance it is and which system or organ it concerns). A deficiency or an excess. Psychosomatic diseases. Endangered parts of the body: kidneys, lumbar region of spine and back.

CARDS

Maat with the primeaval mound in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Maat with scales in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Maat with a jar in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Maat in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Maat in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Maat in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Maat in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Maat with a feather in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Weird and rather ridiculous image of war-like Maat in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Maat as Justice with scales and ANKH in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Based on English Wikipedia, http://www.philae.nu/akhet/NetjeruM.html#Ma’at and http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/maat.html .

*Just like Ankhenaten Hatshepsut seemed to somehow violate then existing order. After her husband’s death she became the regent for her minor nephew but in fact she seized the throne  and became the pharaoh herself. She adopted Ma’atkare (Maat – Ka – Re meaning ‘Truth Is the Soul of Re’ or ‘Justice is the Soul of Re’) as her throne name. The legacy of both Ankhenaten and Hatshepsut was rejected after their deaths, their names were being erased, their statues and images destroyed and yet in modern times they became very popular. The documentaries are being made about them, books are being written, webpages created… I shall let you decide yourself whether it is all caused by the protection of goddess Maat .

FREYJA

FREYJA

German goddess of love, fertility, beauty, gold, magic, war and death. She originated from the Vans and was considered to be the daughter of Njörđr and his unnamed wife as well as Freyr’s twin sister. She was married to Óđr and had two daughters Hnoss i Gersemi with him. She owned Fólkvangr, the field prepared for the warriors killed in battles. Freyja means ‘Lady’ in Proto – Germanic.

ABOUT GODDESS

Freyja and her brother were probably one of the oldest deities connected with fertility. Freyja appears in many legends, most importantly in Poetic Edda where she argues with Loki who accuses women of infidelity, she borrows her feather cloak to Thor searching for his stolen hammer Mjöllnir and she helps Ottar to find his lost genealogical tree) and in Prose Edda (the Younger Edda) where her palace Sessrúmnir is mentioned as being situated on the Fólkvangr field. She is also said to pour more beer to the chalice of already drunk and lost in Asgard jötunn (giant) Hrungnir and it is revealed that the goddess is very fond of love song and the bouquets of flowers. She is also briefly mentioned in the saga of Heimskringl and in others.

Freyja was an object of desire of male creatures of all kinds: gods, giants, dwarves and people. When jötunn Ţrymr stole Thor’s hammer, he promised to give it back but he demanded Freyja to become his wife in return. When Thor and Loki suggested goddess agree to this offer, Freyja became so furious that the walls of her palace shook and the gods had to leave with their tails between their legs. Loki advised to resolve the problem with a trick: he dressed Thor up as Freyja and solemnly wed to Ţrymr as his ‘wife’ and when the clothes fell down, a very surprised giant had no choice but to give Mjöllnir back. In the Younger Edda a story about building Valhalla is told. It is said that an unknown builder came to the gods and offered to make a fortification so strong that no-one from  Midgard would be able to trespass it. In return he demanded the sun, the moon and Freyja to become his wife. Gods agreed but when the work was done, they discovered it was a giant in disguise and he was eventually killed by Thor.

Freyja was married to Óđr the god of summer sun who bears some resemblance to Odin, however he disappeared soon after the wedding. Everyone thought that he was killed by gods  for disobeying their rules but even though Freyja was crying the tears of gold because of his sudden vanishing, she refused to give up. She put her magical cloak made of falcon feathers on and went to search for him under various aliases  (the most common are Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Skjálf, Sýr, Thröng,  Thrungva, Valfreyja and Vanadís). She was right. Óđr did not die, but was lost on the sea and exhausted. He was starting to take the shape of a terrifying sea serpent but it did not scare Freyja away, she stayed with him and was comforting her husband and when he died, she got so furious that she threatened to kill gods if they do not make Óđr come back. They had no chance but to agree and even though Óđr did not die in a battle, he was allowed to live in Valhalla and Frejya got the right to visit him so in fact they remained together (this legend is one of many motifs linking Freyja with the Hellenic goddess Aphrodite).

Freyja is particularly associated with gold. Her daughters were so pretty that the expressions concerning wealth originated from their names (‘hnossir’ meaning treasure comes from Hoss, Gersemi means ‘gem’). One of the most famous stories about Freyja is the one about her necklace called Brísingamen (‘Fire Jewellery’). One day when Freyja was coming back to her palace after dark, she got lost in a blizzard but luckily she met four dwarves Dvalinn, Alfrik, Berling and Grer (their names probably meant North, South, East and West) who took her to their house. Goddess wanted to pay for their hospitality but when the dwarves suggested spending the night with each of them, she steadfastly refused. However when she saw the necklace they have just created, she found it so delightful that she decided to get it. She offered them to pay any price for the jewel, however the owners wanted exactly the same thing as before so Freyja agreed. She came back to her palace with the necklace but did not say anyone how she got it.  However, Loki found the way to uncover her secret and informed Odin about the case. Odin told him to steal the necklace so clever god changed into the fly and took the gem from Freyja’s room. Goddess went to Odin to tell him about the theft and he promised to return it to her on the condition that she would create two kings Högni and Heđinn who were supposed to fight each other until they are released from the curse by a christened warrior (this story comes from The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason).  Brísingamen was said to be decorated with rubies and ambers and it had the magical power to enhance Freyja’s natural beauty so much that no one could resist her.

In another myth Freyja helped Óttar, her devoted worshipper and supposed lover, to get the information about his genealogy. Both flattering and threathening shaman (völva) Hyndla with death in fire she convinced her to recite the list of Óttar’s ancestors. They both came to Valhalla, Freyja was riding her boar called Hildisvíni (which was Óttar in disguise) and Hyndla appeared on a wolf and there Hyndla revealed Óttar’s pedigree. Freyja was praising the warrior for building her an altar and make her offerings (this story comes from an Old – Norse poem called Hyndluljóđ). Freyja is also believed to teach magic to the Æsir, especially seiđr.

Freyja was leading the Valkyries and it was generally believed that half of the warriors killed in a battle went to live after death on the Fólkvangr field while the other half belonged to Odin. Freyja and the Valkyries were taking them from the battlefield to her palace and the goddess also invited their wives or lovers there. When the suite was moving through the sky, their armours were sparkling as aurora borealis.

As a goddess of vegetation she was protecting the nature thus many plants were named for her sake: the Common Milkwort (Polygala Vulgaris) was known as Freyja’s hair, another plant was called Freyja’s tears etc. Although these names were changed into the ones connected with the Virgin Mary after christianity was introduced in Scandinavia, the names of towns which originated from Freyja’s name were preserved in Norse and Swedish (Frřihov, Frövi). It is also common in the Germanic languages to call the day attributed to the goddess with her name (German: Freitag, English: Friday etc). Other random facts concerning Freyja include her name appearing in the Danish anthem and the chemical element of vanadium being named after her nickname Vanadis.

There is also a hypothesis that because of many resemblances Freyja and Frigg,  Odin’s wife, are in fact either the same goddess or they originate from the same goddess.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Freyja is traditionally depicted as a blue – eyed blonde riding a golden chariot and wearing Brísingamen and a cloak of falcon feathers.

Freyja is mostly associated with cats and a boar called Hildisvíni which she rides when she is not using a chariot. According to some versions Hildisvini is Óttar in disguise which makes Loki call her a wanton and sneers that she rides her lover in public.

Cats appeared in Freyja’s household somehow by an accident. One day Thor woke her up unintentionally when he was getting ready to go fishing (to be more precise in his case it was a sea serpent). When Thor was on his way, he heard some sweet and calming sounds which immediately made him feel sleepy. He started to search for the author of a lullaby and came across a blue cat singing to his little kittens. God started to grumble loudly about being put to sleep while heading to hunt but the cat explained that his life as a single father is not easy and asked him if he knew a good woman who would take care of them. Thor offered to take them to Freyja and the goddess was delighted. Kittens soon became her favourite animals and when they grew up, they were harnessed to her chariot.

Both Freyja and her twin brother were associated with falcons. Freyja owned a cloak of falcon feathers which could transform magically into the bird and was said to borrow it to other gods in critical situations (to Thor when his hammer was stolen, to Loki when he was searching for the kidnapped goddess Idunn, etc).

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

Person showed by this card is powerful, emotional, feminine and sensual. She achieves what she wants, she is popular among men and whatever she wears she catches attention. She is quick-tempered, generous, spontaneous and falls in love easily. Because she is impulsive and does what she wants, she may have a bad reputation. A woman who is always romantic inside even if she leads an active sex life with multiple partners. Archetype of the woman facing male discrimination and harassement. In negative aspect this card shows a person using outside appearance to reach the target or someone who wants to reach the target by all means. A person who is pretty but empty.

Advice

Cease the day, take care of yourself and be assertive. Take a risk and do not be afraid to take an action. Only those who do nothing avoid making mistakes. Introduce changes in your life and reach out for what you really want. Do not pay attention to what others think. Be powerful because in this situation you will gain more thanks to being persistent than being nice. Visit a beauty or hair saloon or buy yourself a small thing which will make you happy. You can achieve your goal using an unsual method.

Love

If you’re in the relationship: possible separation from your partner. Romance. Passion. Cheating. Having an argument with your partner. Do not let yourself be a trophy whom your partner will be boasting off as if you were a luxurious house or a new car.

If you are single: beware, you are attracting a person who only pays attention to your appearance or does not intend anything more than a romance. Do not let yourself being exploited. If you want to have sex, make sure it is on your terms. Do not do it just because you are afraid to say ‘no’.

Finances

A profitable transaction. Gaining sth valuable at a low cost. Profit gained thanks to enthusiasm. Getting your own house or flat. Use your charm in negociations .

Your bosses may try to convince you to do sth you do not accept. Do not agree on their conditions.

Health

Be careful because this card predicts accidents and injuries. Check the level of hormones. Beware of urinary tract infections and stones in the kidneys.However, this card also generally indicates a good health. Contraception&protection against sexually transmitted diseases.Endangered parts of the body: face, neck, parathyroid, throat, kidneys, bladder, adrenals, sex hormones, the reproductive system.

CARDS

Freyja in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Freya in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Freya in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Freyja in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Freyja in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Freyja in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Freyja in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Freyja in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Freyja in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Freya in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Freya in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Freyja in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Freyja is also included in the Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr but by no means I can agree with assigning her to the Major Arcane of Emperor because she definitely represents female energy. I think the card of Chariot may be more adequate.

and in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by the same author

Freya as High Priestess in Tarot of Northern Shadows by Howard Rodway&Silivia Gainsford (this assignement is also arguable); the picture taken from http://www.valkyrietower.com/freyja.html

Freyja is also associated with rune Fehu in Rune Vision Cards by Silvia Gainsford, the picture taken from http://www.valkyrietower.com/freyja.html

Based on an English Wikipedia and the following pages http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/goddess-freya.htm , http://www.goddess-guide.com/freya.html and http://www.goddessfreya.info/about_freya.htm .

ATHENA (MINERVA)

ATENA (MINERVA)

A Hellenic goddess of wisdom, justice, strategy, courage, just wars, invention, crafts, weaving and embroidery. According to Plato her name means Divine Intelligence.

ABOUT GODDESS

Athena was the daughter of Zeus and Metis the goddess of wisdom who was swallowed by Zeus while being pregnant (the oracle told him, ‘if Metis gives birth to a daughter, the girl’s offspring will dethrone you’). After a couple of months Zeus was suffering from huge migraines so he called his son Hephaestus and ordered him to chop his head with an axe (labrys). After some hesitation he did it and then a woman jumped out of Zeus head wearing a full armour and shouted like warrior so loudly that both heaven and earth started to shake. From the historical point of view Athena’s cult seems to originate in Libya where she was associated with Neith and her name appears before the one of Zeus at the palace in Knossos (Crete).

Athena was a devoted guardian of Hellenic heroes, a protectoress and a counsellor for Perseus, Hercules, Theseus, Jason, Achilles and Odysseus during their epic quests.  She was the goddess of war but considered as an act of defending territory, house and family rather than bloodshed itself which was the domain of Ares. She was also the goddess of knowledge but I would say rather knowledge based on logics and thinking rather than inner feminine wisdom coming from the inside which is symbolized by the Tarot arcane of High Priestess. Athena was the patroness of literature and art but again she was rather attracted to philosophy than music and singing. Her ingenuity has become legendary and she was considered to invent many useful tools, however her most blessed gift for the human kind was an olive tree. Poseidon and Athena both wanted Athens to be their city so they started a competition, Poseidon struck the rock with his trident and a spring sprang up while Athena planted an olive tree and thus won the city for herself*.

Athena remained a virgin and never got married. However, she took care of Erechthonius, the child that was conceived when Hephaestus was trying to rape her and the semen fell on Gaia. When Erechthonius grew up, he became the king of Athens.  Despite many features of character which are traditionally considered to be male such as rationality and bellicosity Athena was not free from vanity. Together with Aphrodite and Hera she wanted the title of The Most Beautiful and when Prince Paris of Troy attributed it to Aphrodite, she swore revenge to him and his city. This is why she was supporting the Achaean troops and was helping the Hellens any way she could. Even having all the knowledge and mental abilities she was unable to admit that she was wrong. When a mortal woman named Arachne challenged her to a duel in embroidering and won it by creating the scenes of gods enjoying carnal pleasures with mortal women, Athena torn the material with anger. Arachne could not stand such injustice and she hanged herself which eventually made the goddess realise what she has done. She brought Arachne back to life and changed her into a spider so that she could keep weaving (this is why the fear of spiders is called arachnophobia)**. She was not the only victim of the goddess, unsonsciously Athena brought bad luck to satyr Marsyas. She invented aulos (flute) but when she started playing, she noticed in the river that her cheeks seemed deformed so she cursed the poor instrument and threw it away. Marsyas found it and started to play, he soon developed such skills that he became famous and some even considered him to be the best musician in the world. This of course made Apollo the god of music very angry and he challenged Marsyas to a duel. The competition was so fierce that it remained unsettled for some time until eventually Apollo was announced to be the winner. Furious god flayed Marsyas alive. One of explanations for Tiresias’ blindness is the fact that he saw Athena bathing and  in anger she took away his physical sight but in return she gave him an inner sight with the ability to see the future.

Athena plays a major part in the myths involving Orestes. Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and  Clytemnestra who was just a child when his father sailed away to fight Troy. Clytemnestra was not much loved by her husband and was hurt many times so while he was away she found herself a lover Aegisthus  whom she has lived for many years with and whom she had children with. When Agamemnon came back from Troy bringing with him a captive Cassandra Princess of Troy who already bore his twins, Aegisthus and Clytemnestra decided to get rid of her husband whose revenge would be fatal for both of them. When Agamemnon was stepping out of bath, Clytemnestra entangled him in a cloth net and then Aegisthus came out of the closet and killed the king.

When Orestes grew up, his sister Electra started to incite him to take revenge on the murderes of their father (do you remember what is Electra complex?) and eventually he killed Aegisthus and his own mother.  This made The Erinyes, goddesses of vengeance persecute him constantly until being unable to have even one moment of rest he fell into madness.  The Delphic Oracle suggested coming to Athens and undergoing a trial before a court of law on the Areopagus hill. The trial turned into a discourse over who in fact is more important, mother or father. The prosecutors were The Erinyes and Apollo was the defender.  In his defense speech Apollo deprived motherhood of any significance stating that woman is only a passive soil in which man sows his seed. Thus Orestes’ crime is justified because father is the only respectable parent.  In the final verdict the amount of votes for and against the matricide was equal but eventually Orestes was found free of charges because the ultimate vote belonged to Athena and she was pro-Orestes.

Athena had many nicknames. The most famous include Pallas (taken either from her Titan father in an alternative version of her origin or from her companion whom she accidentally killed and took her name as the sign of grief), Parthenos (‘Virgin’, the name of Parthenon in Athens come from this meaning), Promachos (‘the First Fighter’), Polias (‘of the city’, it shows her as the patron of various Hellenic cities and their civilization), Glaukopis (‘the Bright – Eyed’, a Homeric expression), Hippeia (‘Horse’, as the inventor of chariot) and Alea (she was worshipped under this name in Sparta and Arcadia).

In Rome Athena was named Minerva and she was venerated in so called the Capitoline Triad together with Jupiter and Juno. She was worshipped as Minerva Medica and had her temple on the Esquiline Hill; her celebration was called Quinquatrus and was taking place on March the 19th.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Athena’s main attributes are the Corinthian helmet, a spear and an aegis (shield). Aegis was a powerful weapon because the head of Medusa was placed on it (Medusa was one of three Gorgons, snakes were her hair and her eyes were turning into stone anyone who looked at her, she was killed by Perseus who cut her head off and gave it to Athena***). Her sacred animal was an owl and the plant attributed to her was an olive tree. She was traditionally depicted as a tall woman of classical facial features, majestic rather than beautiful. As Promachos she is depicted holding the small statue of goddess Nike in her hand.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The card of Athena shows the woman who enters male dominated world (typically male jobs, power, etc).  She becomes similar to them neverthelss keeping the mask of a typical woman (Athena’s logical reasoning and courage are attributed to men in culture but her fondness of embroidery and weaving are considered to be typically female). She prefers male companionship than female one and her success does not open the gate for other women****.The card shows ambition, bravery, recognition, focusing on an aim and a victory gained thanks to the intelligence and ingenuity (heroes owe their triumphs to Athena’s advice and guidance).

In a deeper psychological layer this card shows a woman who identifies herself with father not mother (Athena jumped out of Zeus’s head not his heart; from the symbolic point of view head is attributed to man while heart represents feelings i.e. women’s world). Negative: this card shows lack of spontaneity, high self-control or even fear of inner self (Athena keeps her virginity, she refuses any contacts with emotions, love, carnality and passion, she destroys Arachne’s embroidery showing her relatives enjoying carnal pleasuers). Woman may be afraid to do sth spontaneous because she does not know in what way others would perceive her and she may ‘lose face’.  Personally I perceive Athena as a poor little girl without mother and self-confidence who needs to be assured she is beautiful and this does not happen, she swears vengeance to the mortal who claimed that the beauty of another goddess is bigger (but as I wrote that is my personal perception).

Profession: scientist, academic teacher escpecially in the fields requiring precise and logical thinking such as mathemathics, physics, architecture, philosophy etc, inventor, boss, soldier, police officer, judge, lawyer, court worker, municipal official, someone whose work involves strategy and logistics, weaver, taylor, embroidery person, athlete

Advice

In this situation follow your brain, not your heart. Consult an expert. You need further education or studies. If your question concerns promotion at work or passing an exam, this card suggests success.

Your thoughts are your spear and shield, they help you to concentrate on your aim and to protect you from negative influences. Be courageous and do not hesitate to use your brain as your weapon.

You may behave as someone overwise and too quick to judge. Beware of haughtiness. Look closely before you take someone’s side.

Love

If you’re in the relationship: either the time for marriage or divorce. Strong position of a woman in a relationship. Guidance of a woman. Possessiveness. Complexes. Lack of emotional commitment in the relationship. Jealousy. Problems with women. Attempt to buy someone’s love. Calculating.

If you are single: a woman who feels very well in a male companionship but does not want to get involved. Complexes. Problems with acceptance of your body. Showing yourself as strong but feeling insecure inside. Following the advice of your brain, not your heart.

Finances

In the matter you are inquiring about the legal aspect is involved. Consult a lawyer or an educated person.  You may need further studies or courses. Introduce innovations in your work. Be active and do not fear challenges. In case of any discord, try to arrange a settlement first.

Health

Consult a doctor, this card suggests a specialist or a clinic. Migraines. Mental health. Endangered parts of the body: head and all its organs.

CARDS

Athena is a very important goddess and she appears in every deck I have come across.

Athena in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky (as Minerva)

Athena in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Athena in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Athena in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Athena in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Athena in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Athena in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Athena in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Athena in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Athena in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Athena in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took (as Athena Glaukopis)

Athena in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Athena in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Athena in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock (and as Minerva on the second card)

Athena in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Athena in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

I am a bit confused by the image of Athena in the deck of Doreen Virtue. She is pretty and the message simple and clear, You know what to do. Trust your inner wisdom, and take appropriate action without delay. I agree that knowledge is Athena’s feature but it concerns the process of thinking itself as well as sense and logics while this message speaks about intuition and subconsciousness which is rather connected with goddesses possessing creative and magical abilities (my personal match for such message would be Sophia or Isis).

Athena in Ascended Masters by Doreen Virtue

Athena in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs (as Minerva)

Athena  in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

Athena in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Athena is very adequately paired with the Major Arcane of Emperor in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano. The card of Emperor is the strongest male energy in Tarot.

In The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr Athena represents the Arcane of Justice probably because the court in her city of Athens was situated on the Areopagus hill.

*There is evidence that Athena was venerated in Athens from the very beginnings of the city.

** It is believed that this myth does not come from the original Hellenic mythology but was added in the Roman era.

***There are various different explanation why was Medusa a monster. Most myths claim that all the Gorgons belonged to the first generation of gods, but in the Roman versions Medusa was initially a beautiful priestess of Athena who was raped or seduced by Poseidon. When the goddess caught them in her temple, she was so enraged that she changed Medusa into a monster (this version comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses). The myth of Medusa is the base for many psychological interpretations including Sigmund Freud’s theory associating the punishment of Medusa with Athena’s hidden conflict with her father or the fact that Medusa might be Athena’s Shadow i.e. the dark part of personality that we prefer not to show to the world (for more information check this site and this blog). It must be also said that Medusa is a chtonic (Underworld) goddess closely associated with the symbol of serpent so killing her by a male hero led by male-like goddess is somehow symbolic.

****Margaret Thatcher is a modern example of Athena’s energy.

Based on Mity Greków i Rzymian by Wanda Markowska, Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine by Pierre Grimal, The Greek Myths by Robert Graves and Wikipedia.