Category Archives: Goddess of Time, Justice and Order

KALI

KALI

Hindu goddess of time, change and death, a warrior and a demon slayer who also has the aspect of goddess mother, Shiva’s shakti. Her name Kālī is a female form of the word kāla and signifies ‘black, dark one (the colour which is omnipresent before the light appears), time (she is beyond it), death (because it comes with time)’.

ABOUT GODDESS

Kali first appears in the story about the battle with demons when she jumped out of Durga’s forehead armed with a sword and a loop as the goddess was trying to kill the demon called Raktavija who multiplied whenever a drop of his blood fell down the ground. Kali caused fear with her appearance, a piercing shriek and a thirst for murder. She devoured the slain ones and annihilated Raktavija by sucking the blood out of him. She was so drunk with victory and ichor that she started to dance on the battlefield wreaking havoc and becoming a threat to a further existence of life. She was not listening to any pleas for mercy and did not let anyone stop her until Shiva, her consort, has finally lain down on her path to prevent the extermination of the whole world. This eventually sobered the goddess up and she bit her tongue as a sign of her shame. The image of Kali dancing over Shiva’s body is called Daksinakali. According to another version Shiva appeared on the battlefield disguised as a crying child. When the goddess saw him, she took pity of a baby, embraced and fed with her milk.

It must be added that apart from her warrior aspect, Kali also manifests her gentler nature. According to Tantra Kali is Mahadevi i.e. essence, Divinity Itself and all the three most important gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva arise from her ‘like bubbles in the sea’ all the time, constantly ending, arising and passing away, however leaving her intact as the source. Shiva praises her in one of the texts as the Beginning of All, Creatrix, Protectress and Destroyer. She reminds of the inseparability of life and death, helps accept the existing order and encourages to become accustomed to death. Kali is a tough mother though, a Hindu poet Rāmprasād writes about her in this way,

Can mercy be found in the heart of her who was born of the stone?*
Were she not merciless, would she kick the breast of her lord?
Men call you merciful, but there is no trace of mercy in you, Mother.
You have cut off the heads of the children of others, and these you wear as a garland around your neck.
It matters not how much I call you “Mother, Mother.” You hear me, but you will not listen.

And he later concludes that being Kali’s child means being deprived of earthly wealth and pleasures because the goddess does not give what we want, however this is what lets her worshippers reach beyond material world. Because of her Mahadevi’s aspect she is particularly respected in the Tantric teachings (Shiva laying at her feet is an embodiment of matter and Kali herself represents primordial feminine energy, according to the tantrics without energy the matter itself is lifeless*).

Another legend about Kali and Shiva tells the story of their dancing contest. Having defeated demons, the goddess settled down in the forests of  Thiruvalangadu on the south of India and terrorised its inhabitants with her violent nature. One of Shiva’s worshippers complained to him that he could not meditate in the forest because of her so Shiva decided to talk to Kali. She treated forest as her own territory so Shiva challenged her to a dancing contest. Kali was equal to him in every aspect until the moment when god performed a figure which required exposing sexual organs. Kali strongly refused and agreed to calm down enough to let Shiva’s worshippers perform their religious practices**.

Kali is particularly venerated in the north of India, especially in the region of Bengal and other areas situated within Himalayas (according to a legend Kali originates from these mountains, this is why Rāmprasād is wondering whether he can find compassion in the heart of the one who was born from the stone). A music genre called Shyama Sangeet (Dusky Music) is dedicated to Kali, it was traditionally performed by men but more and more women perform it nowadays. Goddess is venerated during the Kali Puja festival taking place at the new moon in the month of Ashwin (at the turn of September and October) which coincides with Diwali. A particular form of  Kali’s cult is venerating a hand painted image of her called Poteshawri (literary Goddess Drawn On The Piece Of Cloth), it is typical for the city of Shantipur.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Kali is presented as frighteningly skinny woman with bloodshot eyes, dishevelled hair, open mouth and tongue exposed, she wears a tiger skin, a belt of human hands around her waist and a necklace of skulls (traditionally 51 or 108 of them, they represent the Sanskrit letters therefore Kali is considered to be the mother of languages and mantras). She has four arms, one holds khadga (a curved sword or scimitar) or trident, the second onea severed head, the third one – a bowl (or cup made ​​from the skullcatching the dripping blood, and the fourth one is set in the shape of mudra. The weapon symbolises divine wisdom and a severed head signifies human ego explaining clearly that in order to develop soul one must get rid of daily restrictions (these items are usually held in left hands). Right hands set in mudras show that Kali provides support and blessings on the difficult path of self – development and that her follower is never alone.

As Daksinakali she keeps her right foot on the chest of lying Shiva and is accompanied by serpents and a jackal. Her skin is dark (as opposed to Shiva, whose skin is covered with white ashes from the burning pyres).

hindu-gods-kali
V0045118 Kali trampling Shiva. Chromolithograph by R. Varma.
When she is presented separately as Mahakala, she has a higher aspect of Mahadevi, the Great Goddess guarding the cosmic order. She is depicted with blue skin, three eyes, ten heads, ten arms and ten legs, each hand holds a different weapon or a sacred object, which symbolises the belief that the power of each of the gods comes from her.
kali ma 1
mahakali

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

The person represented by this card is constantly in motion, not afraid of taking risk and will not rest until they reach the target. The person who says the things straight and can enforce their own point of view. Also someone dominant whose presence overwhelms us, a person who seems to suck the energy out of us.

Professions: a member of law enforcement services (military, police, customs, etc.), an athlete, a liquidator, a bailiff, a controller, the person responsible for the restructuring process

ADVICE

It is not the time to be afraid and to hesitate, it is time to act and confront.

If you resist change, life will force you to change anyway but then you may have less options.

Changes are already taking place in your life, you cannot stop them. Even if everything around is falling apart, remember that something new will begin soon. Obstacles stimulate our development, thanks to them you get motivated and achieve what seemed impossible. Problems are necessary for growth. The mind and soul will not develop if they are remaining without challenges for too long.

Following old patterns will not get you anywhere. If a problem was growing for a long time, you will not solve it with the old methods, you need new ones. 

Think of what would you do if you were not afraid.

Key words: Movement. Change. Dance. Lack of control. Hunger. Being drunken. Ecstasy. Insatiability. Conscious or unconscious fear of death. The order of the world. Expressing yourself.

LOVE

If you are in the relationship:   Time of change which cannot be avoided, either strengthening or ending relationship. Widowhood.

If you are single:  High levels of woman’s libido. Reluctance to permanent relationship. Inability to compromise. Make sure that you do not drink too much alcohol at a party so that you do not wake up in the wrong bed in the morning.

FINANCES

A sudden and inevitable change of situation. Be prepared for arguments among workers or hostile actions from outside. Impoverishment. Work overload, too many duties, feeling burnout. Something that sucks finances out of the company.

HEALTH

Surgery. Amputation of body part(s). Radical therapy. Severe trauma or injury. When surrounded by other alarming cards, it signifies changes caused by proliferating cells. Too much of adrenaline and stress. Lack or excess of energy. Eating disorders. Problems with mental hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, bipolar disorder). Endangered parts of the body: limbs.

CARDS

A model image of Kali with the symbol of female energy shakti in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Kali in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Kali in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Kali in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Kali in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

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

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

Kali dancing on Shiva’s body in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Kali dancing on Shiva's body in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Kali in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Kali in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Kali in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Kali in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

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

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

Kali in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Kali in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Kali in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Kali in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Kali in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano as Death

Kali in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Based on English Wikipedia.

* Tantra’s teachings are about co-existence and co-dependence of male element (shiva) with the female one (shakti). Tantra says that it is shakti, a creative and dynamic energy which stimulates shiva, a driving and static consciousness to act. The tantrics see it literary because in case of most men their strategic body part rises and “awakes to life” as a reaction to woman’s presence. One of folk tales about deities tells the story of Parvati asking Shiva which one of her ten forms he likes best. He immediately pointed out at Kali because without jewellery, garments, emotions and humanity she is a pure, raw and chaotic energy as terrifying as the time itself and perhaps even greater. When she assumes this free from limitations, wild and uncontrolled form, Shiva lays down at her feet and asks her to put the feet on his heart. Only Shiva is able to tame her and only  Kali is able to enliven him.

** However, when presented on modern images Kali is naked because as a representation of time she is beyond the veil of Maya – Illusion. Kali is perceived as an eternal life force and driving energy providing the existence of the world so the categories of “good” and “evil” cannot be attributed to her. To understand her nature, one must reject this duality and accept the fact that just like death does not exist without life, life cannot exist without death.

AMATERASU

AMATERASU

A Japanese goddess of the sun, co – creatrix of the world who watches over its order, protectress of people and ancestress of the Japanese imperial family according to the beliefs of Shinto. Her name originates from the stem amateru meaning „Shining in Heavens” and when its full form is used, she is called Amaterasu-ōmikami (The Great August Goddess Shining in Heavens), Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami and Tensho Daijan (Goddess of the Sun).

ABOUT GODDESS

Her name first appears in Japan’s oldest chronicles Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. According to most myths kami (spirit, deity) Amaterasu came to being with her two brothers when their father, the first man in the world, Izanagi returned from Yomi, the Underworld.  He went there to take his late wife Izanami back but he failed (according to another version Izanami gave birth to Amaterasu as their first child as soon as the Japanese Archipelago came into being). He came back to the world of the living and purified himself; when he was cleaning left eye, Amaterasu, goddess of the sun, was born, cleaning his right eye resulted in the birth of Tsukuyomi, god of the moon and cleaning his nose, Izanagi created  Susanoo, god of the storms and the sea. Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi got married and became the rulers of heavens, however when Tsukuyomi killed Uke Mochi, the goddess of food, Amaterasu, abhoring violence and bloodshed, sent him away, dividing in this way the day from the night.

Amaterasu’s relations with her other brother were tense as well. When impulsive and unpredictable as a storm Susanoo was to travel to the Underworld, he came to say goodbye to his sister, she, however, knowing his nature, doubted he had good intentions and got ready for the fight. God of the winds challenged her to prove her wrong and Amaterasu agreed. The aim was to create living creatures from an object: goddess of the sun broke Susanoo’s sword into three, chewed the parts and spat them out creating three women while her brother made five men from her necklace Mikuratana-no-kami, the symbol of power. When they started to argue who was the winner, a coarse god of the sea fell into rage and started to devastate rice and silkworm fields to that point that he eventually demolished her heavenly palace. Amaterasu was so scared and discouraged that she escaped to earth and hid in a cave (later to be called Ama-no-Iwato – ‘The Cave of the Sun God’ or ‘Heavenly Rock Cave’). She had no intention to get out even though Susanoo was punished and banished from heavens. Grief – stricken goddess did not realise that all the radiance and warmth of the sun disappeared from the surface of earth with her departure. Knowing that life could not survive without the sun, other gods kept begging Amaterasu to get out of the cave but she strongly refused. Desperate gods thought of making her leave with a trick. They have organised a party with noisy music right outside the cave and a clever goddess Uzume (Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto) placed an eight pointed mirror and a tub in front of the entrance to the cave. She overturned the tub and started to dance on it throwing her clothes off. Other gods found it so humorous that they burst into loud laughter and Amaterasu got so curious of what was happening outside that she moved slightly the stone blocking an entrance. When a sunbeam reached the mirror and the goddess saw what radiating beauty she was, she got out of the cave and gods blocked immediately the entrance  with a rock. They asked Amaterasu not to leave heavens ever again and she agreed.

Amaterasu emerging from the cave

(Amaterasu emerging from the cave with the Imperial Regalia, painting: Origin of Iwato Kagura Dance by Utagawa Kunisada, 1857 )

Susanoo was apologetic and brought Amaterasu his sword  Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (‘Grass Cutting Sword’) as a sign of good will. She then gave the sword, the jewel Yasakani no Magatama and the mirror Yata no Kagami to her grandson Ninigi, son of Oshihomimi, one of the humans created during Susanoo’s challenge. According to Shinto mythology, these objects were to provide help in terminating wars ravaging Japan when Ninigi’s great-grandson Jimmu claimed the throne as the first Emperor. They became the Imperial Regalia and up to this day they are a closely guarded treasure which is only used during the coronation of emperors. Japanese rulers have been considered to be Amaterasu’s descendants and worshipped as deities, this cult has not been finished until the end of WWII when the American authorities demanded it as a part of peace treaty. Also the Japanese flag was changed at that time as the previous one depicted the sun  (here is a naval version)

Naval_Ensign_of_Japan.svg

However, the motif of chrysanthemum, symbolising the sun, was preserved as the sign of an Imperial Family.

the flag of Imperial Family

Amaterasu was considered to be a peaceful, balanced, protective and generous goddess. She was believed to be the protectress of people and helped them to develop such crafts as weaving, building or rice cultivation. The sun goddess is venerated in the Ise Jingū temple in the city of Ise and Hibiya Daijingū in Tokyo. The Yata no Kagami mirror is stored in Ise Jingū; the sanctuary is also famous for its ceremony called Shikinen Sengu when every 20 years the temple wooden buildings are rebuilt on a the area nearby and the goddess is offered new robes and food. The Hibiya Daijingū temple was erected in Tokyo in 1880 so that the followers do not have to go on a pilgrimage to Ise.

Amaterasu’s official cult resembled somehow the one of Hestia. The goddess was venerated by a high – priestess called Saiō on the behalf of the Emperor. Saiō originated from the Imperial Family and held her office throughout the reign of the Emperor who appointed her. According to legend this tradition was established by Princess Yamatohime-no-mikoto, the daughter of Emperor Suinin, who was searching for the best place to worship Amaterasu for twenty years until she found Ise and decided to build a sanctuary there. Saiō was being chosen when a previous Emperor died and the previous Saiō’s term of office expired with his death. The choice was based on divination, although it was a custom that one of new Emperor’s daughter was to become a Saiō. High – Priestess had to be a virgin, health and beauty were also important factors. When a new Emperor was crowned, a future Saiō moved to a separate part of the palace and was undergoing the processes of purification and learning a proper ceremonial (including a special language of priestesses where the the impure words were replaced with a special cipher). After eight months the new Saiō was sent to a building called Nonomiya prepared especially for that purpose and one year later she was going with her retinue to Saikū, the seat of priestesses near the Ise shrine (on those days it was forbidden to bury the deads). Her service included praying for peace, offering the first harvests to deities in September and performing ceremonies during the Tsukinamisai festival at the Ise temple in June and November. Being Saiō was treated as an honour and the will of heavens so if she fell significantly ill, she could have been dismissed from her office. She was bound to remain a virgin throughout her stay in the temple therefore breaking the vow of chastity was treated as a reason to remove the high – priestess from the service to the goddess. There were some cases of suicides among priestesses when their reputation was questioned (according to chronicles Takuhatahime, daughter of the Emperor Yūryaku, fell the victim of her enemies’ calumnies so she buried the sacred mirror and then hanged herself). After the Emperor’s death or resignation, Saiō could come back to the court, get married and have children (similarly to the Roman beliefs marrying a former priestess was a great honour). If for some reasons Saiō was dismissed before the end of her office, no other was chosen in her place until the reign of a new Emperor. The office of Saiō was held until 14th century.

When Buddhism became more and more popular in Japan, Amaterasu was recognised as a manifestation of bodhisattwa (either Kuan Yin or one of the forms of Buddha himself).

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Apart from the Imperial Regalia Amaterasu is closely connected to roosters crowing at the dawn and a raven called Yatagarasu (Eight-Span Raven), her personal messenger to Emperor Jimmu who not only helped his army pass the rocky mountains safely but also went scouting and even negotiated on his behalf.

Yatagarasu the Raven

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

A person of great beauty, knowledge, talents and serenity who yet does not want to shine in the company. Someone reliable but modest who does much and talks little. Also a shy and timid person who escapes from problems and hides from the reality. In negative a narcissistic person focusing on their appearance and awaiting flatteries.

ADVICE

Come out of your hiding place. Regardless of how talented you are, you will waste it if you do not let yourself shine. Even if you are tired and discouraged now, remember that life still holds many pleasant surprises for you.

Do not escape from problems. Focus on one goal even if it seems trivial. Do not start many things at the time because you will not complete any of them or they will not be done thoroughly and you will get even more frustrated.

It is not your task to hide in the corner. It is your task to shine with your beauty, wisdom and smile. Beauty is not just pretty face and body but rather charm which attracts people to you. Build your self-worth from the inside, do not base it on the opinion of others. Without self worth it will be difficult for you to keep balance, set boundaries and love others wisely.

Silence or withdrawing from the annoying conversation is not giving up or failure. You win by not allowing the mental aggressor suck energy out of you. It reminds pulling the rope, if you let it, the person on the other end will fall down. Withdrawing from people and focusing on your inner life to think an important matter over is a very good idea. However, when you draw conclusions, do not keep them for yourself but rather put them into practice.

Hiding emotions inside will not make them disappear, instead they will be consuming you so it is much better to throw them out. If you do one thing, feel sth different and speak yet another thing, you are dispersing your energy. Let your thoughts, words and acts be one. Show integrity. If you put masks on, you will not let others to like, respect and love the real you. They will only like, respect and love the image of you that they have. It is impossible to build a true relationship with another person if you use illusions as a base.

Even if you feel like being immersed in darkness now, be sure that eventually you will shine.

Coming back to the world. New beginning. Competition. Strong position. Beauty. Radiance. Warmth. Fun. Music. Dance. Laughter. End of sadness. Harmony. Peace. Sensitivity. Creation. Teaching. Life Force.

In my personal interpretation, this card has often the similar meaning to The Sun, 19th Major Arcane of Tarot. Its energy is a bit “softer”, though, unlike a clearly male The Sun in Tarot.

LOVE

If you are in the relationship:  cooling down in a relationship, partner may become silent or withdraw from family life but it is also the time of improvement and solving problems out. Regardless of whether the union will resurrect like a phoenix or not, this card definitely assures you that the ultimate outcome will be positive to you.

If you are single: you are single because you isolate yourself from the world on the external or internal level. Either you do not go out to the places where you can meet new people or you do not let people approach you and you keep distance even when you are at the party or in the company of acquaintances.

FINANCES

Good time in finances. Promotion or pay rise. If the question concerns a new venture, this card suggests it will bring a satisfying result.

HEALTH

Internal diseases. Inflammation of organs. High temperature. Unrecognised depression. Post traumatic stress disorder. Excessive or low activity. Endangered parts of the body: heart, eyes.

CARDS

Classical representation of Amaterasu inspired by the picture of Utagawa Kunisada in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Amaterasu in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

A very similar image of Amaterasu looking at the cave in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

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

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

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

Amaterasu with the mirror in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

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

Radiating Amaterasu in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Amaterasu in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

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

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

Amaterasu with a rooster and a decorative headdress in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano as The Sun (according to one of the myth version seeing Susanoo approaching Amaterasu pinned wild boar tusks into hair to protect herself. Her brother used them, not her necklace, to create human beings)

Amaterasu in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

A fainting nymph…oh sorry, Amaterasu in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Amaterasu in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Blue Haired Fairy from Pinocchio…oh sorry, Amaterasu in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Amaterasu in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Based on English and Polish Wikipedia, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20090712x1.html and http://www.angelfire.com/de/poetry/Whoswho/Amaterasu.html .

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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 apparently 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, however, 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 lightning a torch up in the hearth of her house and was carrying it in a procession to newly-weds’ 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 woollen fillet called infula, a white woollen veil worn during rituals and sacrifices called suffibulum,  white and red woollen 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 condemned death for ‘multiple adultery’; most probably their processes were fabricated and they became scapegoats. Evidence against them included the Sibylline prophecies and witnesses describing literally orgies taking place in the Vestal house; the process itself was provoked by a thunder striking a travelling girl so superstitious 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 honour and had right to free a condemned 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 sacrosanct 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 prophesied 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 annihilation 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 devoted 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 your own opinions on them. 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 fireplace, 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 necessarily 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 .

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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 .