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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 promoter 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 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 manoeuvred the unaware prince to agree on his marriage with Rhiannon. 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 bottomless 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 gave gifts to her husband’s subjects.

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 protect 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 responsible 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 the treatment of his wife Branwen, Bendigeid’s sister. Pryderi was one of the seven men who survived the bloody battle between 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 craftsmen 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 centre 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 promised 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 craftsmen 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 a 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 people, 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), 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 sovereignty 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 injuries. 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 .

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ISHTAR

ISHTAR

Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love, fertility, sensuality, sexuality and war, Anu’s daughter, Ereshkigal’s sister and Tammuz’s lover. She represents two aspects of Venus: as the Morning Star she brings love and as the Evening Star she causes war. Similarly to Sumerian Inanna  and Phoenician Astarte  she is the Queen of Heaven and that’s what most likely her name means.

ABOUT GODDESS

In most myths Ishtar was either the daughter of Anu, the god of heaven or Sin/Nanna, the god of the moon. Although she was very much attracted to men, her love brought them bad luck. When Ishtar wanted to seduce Gilgamesh, he rejected her saying that she was not faithful. It infuriated Ishtar so much that she complained about the hero to her father Anu and demanded punishment for him. Quoting the fragments of Tablet VI of Epic of Gilgamesh

He washed out his marred hair and cleaned up his equipment,
shaking out his locks down over his back,
throwing off his dirty clothes and putting on clean ones.
He wrapped himself in regal garments and fastened the sash.
When Gilgamesh placed his crown on his head,
a princess Ishtar raised her eyes to the beauty of Gilgamesh.
“Come along, Gilgamesh, be you my husband,
to me grant your lusciousness.’
Be you my husband, and I will be your wife.
I will have harnessed for you a chariot of lapis lazuli and gold,
with wheels of gold and ‘horns’ of electrum (…)

Gilgamesh addressed Princess Ishtar saying:
“What would I have to give you if I married you!
Do you need oil or garments for your body! Do you lack anything for food or drink!
I would gladly feed you food fit for a god,
I would gladly give you wine fit for a king (…)
Where are your bridegrooms that you keep forever’
Where is your ‘Little Shepherd’ bird that went up over you!
See here now, I will recite the list of your lovers (…)
You loved the Shepherd, the Master Herder,
who continually presented you with bread baked in embers,
and who daily slaughtered for you a kid.
Yet you struck him, and turned him into a wolf,
so his own shepherds now chase him
and his own dogs snap at his shins.
You loved Ishullanu, your father’s date gardener,
who continually brought you baskets of dates,
and brightened your table daily.
You raised your eyes to him, and you went to him:
‘Oh my Ishullanu, let us taste of your strength,
stretch out your hand to me, and touch our vulva.
Ishullanu said to you:
‘Me! What is it you want from me!
Has my mother not baked, and have I not eaten
that I should now eat food under contempt and curses
and that alfalfa grass should be my only cover against the cold?
As you listened to these his words
you struck him, turning him into a dwarf,
and made him live in the middle of his (garden of) labors,
where the mihhu do not go up, nor the bucket of dates down.
And now me! It is me you love, and you will ordain for me as for them!”

When Ishtar heard this, in a fury she went up to the heavens,
going to Anu, her father, and crying,
going to Anrum, her mother, and weeping:
“Father, Gilgamesh has insulted me over and over,
Gilgamesh has recounted despicable deeds about me,
despicable deeds and curses!”
Anu addressed Princess Ishtar, saying: “What is the matter?
Was it not you who provoked King Gilgamesh?
So Gilgamesh recounted despicable deeds about you,
despicable deeds and curses!”
Ishtar spoke to her father, Anu, saying:
“Father, give me the Bull of Heaven,
so he can kill Gilgamesh in his dwelling.
If you do not give me the Bull of Heaven,
I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!”

Anu addressed princess Ishtar, saying:
“If you demand the Bull of Heaven from me,
there will be seven years of empty husks for the land of Uruk.
Have you collected grain for the people!
Have you made grasses grow for the animals?”
Ishtar addressed Anu, her father, saying:
“I have heaped grain in the granaries for the people,
I made grasses grow for the animals,
in order that they might eat in the seven years of empty husks.
I have collected grain for the people,
I have made grasses grow for the animals.”
When Anu heard her words, he placed the noserope of the Bull of Heaven in her hand.
Ishtar led the Bull of Heaven down to the earth.

Enkidu stalked and hunted down the Bull of Heaven.
He grasped it by the thick of its tail
and held onto it with both his hands,
while Gilgamesh, like an expert butcher,
boldly and surely approached the Bull of Heaven.
Between the nape, the horns, and… he thrust his sword.

Ishtar went up onto the top of the Wall of Uruk-Haven,
cast herself into the pose of mourning, and hurled her woeful curse:
“Woe unto Gilgamesh who slandered me and killed the Bull of Heaven!”
When Enkidu heard this pronouncement of Ishtar,
he wrenched off the Bull’s hindquarter and flung it in her face:
“If I could only get at you I would do the same to you!
I would drape his innards over your arms!”

Even gods were helpless while faced Ishtar’s power. Gilgamesh’s words about the Shepherd refer to her adolescent lover Tammuz, the god of nature, vegetation and shepherds who died because of her. Most probably getting him back was the reason why she entered the Underworld as it is described in Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World*. Queen of Heaven has to descend into Irkalla, the Underworld, called the land of no return in the poem. Proud goddess stands before the gatekeeper and orders him to let her in and bring her to her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of Underworld.

Gatekeeper, ho, open thy gate!
Open thy gate that I may enter!
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.

Although Ishtar is divine being, she belongs to the world of the living so the gatekeeper is not entitled to simply let her in. He consults his ruler, Queen Ereshkigal, and she allows him to enter Ishtar but he can only do it according to the ancient decree. It means that Ishtar must pass seven gates and leave a piece of garment or jewellery at each of them. When she finally reaches Ereshkigal she is stark naked and enraged. She throws herself at her sister who orders her servant Namtar, the god of death and pestilence, to imprison Ishtar and unleash sixty diseases against her. This makes goddess fall into a lethargy similar to death.

When Ishtar is closed in the Underworld, the whole sexual activity disappears from Earth, animals stop mating and people sleep separately. Of course it causes anxiety of gods, especially Ea, the supreme deity who is told the news about Ishtar by the god Papsukal. Wise Ea creates an intersex being called Asu – shu – namir and sends him to Ereshkigal to demand the bag containing the waters of life in the name of all the most important gods. Queen of the Underworld is very much displeased about the order but she cannot refuse. Asu – shu – namir sprinkles Ishtar with water of life and revives her. Goddess is passing seven gates again regaining the garments and jewellery which she left there.

Tammuz and Ishtar’s myth has similar features as Greek Adonis and Aphrodite mourning him  (it comes as no surprise for those who know that Aphrodite’s cult came to Hellas through Cyprus from the East). Since summer solstice the time of mourning Tammuz began in the countries of ancient Middle East; when the days were getting shorter it was believed that he descended into the Underworld so his symbolic funeral rites were taking place for six days. There is an evidence of these celebrations even in the Old Testament, Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz  (Ezekiel 8:14 NIV). Even today July is named Tammuz in Hebrew and an Iraqi dialect of Arabic.

Ishtar’s cult was most popular in the cities of Uruk, Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela. It was the fertility cult which is why it involved  so called sacred prostitution, Ishtar herself had numerous lovers and no husband (no children of hers are mentioned in myths neither). Herodotus claimed that each woman in Babylon had the duty to arrive to Ishtar’s temple once a lifetime and to have a sexual intercourse with the man who pays for that. It has to be said that Herodotus was not an objective observer and modern researches assume that this custom was not as common nor perceived in the way the traveller described it.  If this custom was true, it was not what we perceive as prostitution today; a sexual intercourse itself was an act of faith in Ishtar. Even the Old Testament recognises the difference as it distinguishes between the words kedeshah (qedesha) meaning ‘consecrated woman’ who lives in a temple and zonah signifying the woman having sex for money. It is important to mention that it was not until monotheistic religions that the fear of woman, her body and sex was introduced to the system of beliefs. It is only the Old Testament which makes woman in her menstrual days or puerperal period ‘impure’, in the cults based on cycles, agriculture and fertility woman’s body was valuable itself because it carried a new life to the world. Kedeshah had a high position in the society, she was allowed to start a family and to hold other offices. It was Judaism that first introduced the rule excluding women from priesthood and this common law was later continued by Christianity and Islam. Basing on archaeological and cultural research we can now assume that the custom of Hieros Gamos (sacred marriage) was conducted. It involved the king of Sumer and the High Priestess of Inanna and this practice was preserved in the times of Babylon when Inanna began to be worshipped as Ishtar. New king’s power was legitimized when he spent one night in the temple of Inanna during the 10th day of New Year in the month of Akitu. No exact description of rite was preserved but it was ‘the marriage of Heaven and Earth’  which was aimed at bringing fecundity and fertility in the coming year. It is also worth mentioning that not only kedeshah but also other words describing female temple titles were translated as ‘prostitute’. These include qadishtu, entu and naditu (it may come as a surprise to find out that naditu were obliged to keep sexual abstinence zeby). All these women have originated from higher classes and had a high social status; most probably only entu were taking part in the rites of Hieros Gamos but still it is dubious to call it prostitution. Additionally it is also assumed that especially in the city of Arbela, the cult of Ishtar involved prophesying, performed predominantly by women similarly to the Pythia in the Hellenic sanctuary of  Delphi.

Ishtar was one of Babylon and Assyria’s main deities and to honour her King Nebuchadnezzar II built and named the north gate to the city of Babylon after the goddess.  The Ishtar Gate was created around 575 bC, it consisted of roof and doors made of cedar tree and the walls constructed using different types of bricks including glazed ones; it was decorated with lapis lazuli tiles and reliefs showing lions, Ishtar’s sacred animals, mušḫuššu (a hybrid of a dragon, an eagle and a cat) dedicated to god Marduk and aurochs of god Ardad. The Processional Way went through the gate and each year at the time of New Year the inhabitants of Babylon were using this path to arrive to the temple of Marduk. The Ishtar Gate had been considered to be one of the seven wonders of an ancient world until it was replaced by the Lighthouse of Alexandria on the island of Pharos. The gate was excavated and partially reconstructed in the thirties of last century and it is now displayed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. A replica was also constructed in Iraq in the place where it was located in ancient times.

Reconstruction in Berlin:

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420 Pergamonmuseum_Ishtartor_06

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   the Ishtar Gate

Details from the Ishtar Gate and a building inscription of King Nebuchadnezzar

details from the Ishtar Gate

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A miniature model of the Procession Way with the Ishtar Gate

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Original excavation site from the beginning of the 20th century and a modern replica in Iraq

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modern replica in Iraq

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Lion was Ishtar’s sacred animal. Ishtar herself was considered to be a divine personification of planet Venus, traditionally depicted as eight – pointed star. The images which survived the antiquity show her as the goddess of war standing on lions and holding weapon.

Ishtar standing on lions

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Ishtar Ishtar

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ishtar-cow-calf

ishtar-and-worshipper

As Queen of the Night

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ishtar_1

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The person shown by this card is strong, self – assured, courageous and not afraid of taking risks. She is beautiful, sensual and full of passion, she is eager to meet new people, especially men. In her negative aspect she is arrogant, haughty and spoilt; she may be convinced that she is like the Eight Wonder of the World and she has the power to do whatever she wants. She treats sex as a game, sport or mean to achieve sth and does not get involved in it emotionally.

ADVICE

It is time to come back to life and joy. Get rid of what is holding you back and keeping you hidden, grieving, angry, guilty and ashamed. Draw conclusions from your mistakes but do not concentrate your whole attention on them.

Be courageous. Start out. You will not gain anything by standing in the same place. Leave chaos behind you, you are worth much more than being stuck in it. You were not born to stay in the darkness but to radiate. You do have strength and knowledge to make your plans work.

Think about your attitude towards your body and sex. Are they limitations in your life or the source of joy?

Time for joy, entertainment and romance. Feel good in your body. Spread your wings.

Courage. Devotion. Time of rejuvenation. Beauty. Sex appeal. Sexuality. Fertility. Conjunction.

The star of hope shines over you even in the greatest darkness.

Love

If you are in the relationship: sacrifice or compromise especially to get the partner back, in case of an argument this card suggests taking the first step to reconciliation.

If you are single: a good time for a romance but not so good for searching a lifetime partner. It is possible that your sensuality raises concerns because  sexual freedom has for ages been tolerated in case of men, but not women.

Finances

Time to act and to put your plans into practice. Risk will pay off. Beware of conflicts between co-workers or exterior hostile activity. Romance at work.

Health

Beware of accidents and injuries. Check the level of hormones. Risk of obesity and diabetes. You have to exercise more. Possible urine system infection or kidney stones. Do not forget to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. Endangered parts of the body: face, neck, parathyroid, pharynx, kidneys, bladder, adrenals, sexual hormones, reproductive system.

CARDS

Ishtar as Strength in Universal Goddess Tarot deck by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano, I think it is a very adequate assignment

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

A beautiful representation of Ishtar as Queen of Heaven with the crown of planets and zodiac signs in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Ishtar in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Ishtar with her gate in the background in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

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

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

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

Image in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue was painted by Jonathan Earl Bowser wherein it must be clearly stated that original one depicts Cleopatra, not Ishtar. You can check the original painting here

Ishtar in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Ishtar with lions and eight – pointed star in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

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

Ishtar in the darkness of Irkalla but still with the shining star above her head in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Ishtar in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

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

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

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

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

Based on the myth of Descent Of The Goddess Ishtar Into The Lower World, Epic of Gilgamesh,  http://www.themystica.com/mythical-folk … shtar.html, http://www.matrifocus.com/SAM05/spotlight.htm, http://www.matrifocus.com/SAM08/spotlight.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishtar , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieros_gamos , http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/meso/ishtarins.html , http://www.thaliatook.com/AMGG/ishtar.html

* There are also other explanations why Ishtar descended into the Underworld, I will develop the topic in the post concerning Inanna.

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SARASWATI

SARASWATI

A Hindu goddess of learning, knowledge, intelligence, creativity, eloquence, education, craft, enlightement and cosmic order. Saraswati is shakti (female energy) of Brahma and a patroness of literature, art and music. She personifies an already dried out river of the same name and she is also revered in Buddhism as the guardian of Buddha’s teachings to whom adepts adress their requests for protection and help in understanding. The name Saraswati means literary She Who Has Flow*.

ABOUT GODDESS

At the very beginning Saraswati was a personified the river of the same name but she soon became a separate goddess. There are various versions of her origins in mythology, she is believed to be either Durga or Shiva’s daughter or to come into existence from Vishnu’s left side of the body while he was asleep. Most of all she is venerated as a companion and female energy (shakti) of Brahma the Creator, one the Trimurti (trinity) of the most important gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) and therefore she belongs to the Tridevi i.e. their female counterparts (Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati).

Just like Sophia Saraswati is associated not only with academic knowledge but also with divine wisdom. She appears in important Hindu texts such as Puranas and Vedas where she is described as a deity who appreciates merits rather than form and teaches about superiority of the spiritual beauty over good looks. In a Hindu philosophy of Vedanta Saraswati is an embodiment of knowledge aspect in shakti, feminine force of life, and her worshippers believe she will help them to leave saṃsāra, the wheel of incarnation. She is also one of important figures of Buddhism both in India and in the Far East (China and Japan where she is identified as a Shinto goddess Benzaiten). She is believed to guard the teachings of Buddha and offers protection and help in understanding to the believers.

Main offering to Saraswati is honey, a symbol of absolute wisdom and the most important holiday celebrating her is Saraswati Puja (also called Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami) which takes place on the first day of Spring, i.e. the fifth day of Magh, the time of late January and early February.  Children are taught to write their first letters, special prayers to Saraswati are organised at schools and universities and the worshippers wear yellow clothes and treat themselves with yellow sweets. In Punjab this festival is known as ‘the Kite Festival’ because children fly kites as the signs of Spring and the beginning of the Holi season. Personally I am very much intrigued by the fact that during Saraswati Puja books and instruments are placed in front of the goddess’ statue or image and on this very day in the year they are not used because she is blessing them. Students also enjoy Saraswati Puja because there are no classes at schools and universities at that time. In southern India this holiday is celebrated on September – October. Saraswati’s most famous place of cult is an 8th century Shringeri Sharadamba Temple situated in Shringeri in Karnataka state.

Similarly to coins being the manifestation of Lakshmi, books and writings are considered to be Saraswati’s manifestation and therefore highly respected (if a book touches the ground or leg by accident, a special gesture called Pranāma is performed as an apology).

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Saraswati is depicted as peaceful, serene and beautiful woman wearing a white saree representing  her immaculate nature and clear mind (she sometimes is associated with yellow, the colour of the mustard plant which blooms at the time of Saraswati Puja festival in spring). She sits on a white lotus, a symbol of an absolute truth, experience and wisdom. Contrary to goddess Lakshmi she does not wear much jewellery and the one she has is simple to show clearly that she is not too fond of material goods. She usually has four arms representing either four Vedas or four aspects of human personality in the process of learning: mind, intellect, alertness, and ego. In one hand she holds a book in the form of a scroll which is the symbol of universal, eternal and divine wisdom, in second one she holds mālā, crystal prayer beads, representing the power of contemplation and spirituality, in third one – a pot of water as a sign of creativity and purification and in the fourth one – a musical instrument similar to sitar called vina (veena) showing the perfection of music and arts. She is usually depicted near water which is a reference to the river from which she originates; her figure is reflected on the surface of water which shows her control over emotions and clear, peaceful mind, both are necessary to express oneself precisely.

Saraswati is accompanied by hansa (white swan), goose or peacock at her feet or behind her. Hansa is also her vahana, vehicle; it was believed that given the mixture of milk and water, the bird will only drink milk which symbolizes the ability to distinguish between the good and the evil. Swan is associated with soul, inspiration and higher levels in many cultures  (it is connected to Celtic goddess Brigid who is also the goddess of perfectioning the craft and knowledge; her name means Exalted). Peacock is a symbol of majesty and dignity which is often attributed to a goddesses of high position (peacock is also the sacred animal of Anahita, another water goddess, who was worshipped in Persia and of Hera, a Hellen goddess of matrimony). In 1963 a peacock became India’s national emblem.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

In positive meaning this card shows an intelligent, educated and well-read person who is good at self – expressing and is able to write down everything that mind dictates. A person of creative and fertile mind who does not need to make detailed plans because s/he trusts intuition. Someone who does not force things to happen but goes with the flow instead. Person who has an open mind, a fresh look at the matter and perceives it from a broad perspective.

In negative meaning this person is overwise and likes preaching what is right and wrong. This card also shows a talented person who does not develop knowledge nor talent due to laziness. A person who speaks faster than thinks.

Professions: scientist, lecturer, instructor, teacher, a person whose work involves the use of intellect and language, translator, commentator, artist, musician, writer, actor/actress

ADVICE

This card definitely suggests further learning, especially higher education.

Do not let ignorance enter your mind. Do not let yourself fall into mental laziness or lethargy.

Do not concentrate on the material world. If you do, you may be surprised when opening a beautifully wrapped gift box, you will find nothing inside the box.

You spend some time every day on beautifying your body. How often do you beautify your mind?

You provide your body with nutrients. What do you feed your mind with?

Mind and psyche need a good diet and workout just like your body. Do not neglect their needs.

Paying your attention to celebrity gossip websites or silly entertainment programmes is like junk food for your brain. If you keep your mind on such diet, it will not be growing nor developing.

Express your talents either by writing, painting, composing, singing or any other way. Reemember that the need of expressing what lies inside us is the driving force of our existence. Creativity can be expressed by the simplest and the cheapest means. Do not feel ashamed. Keep experimenting.

Time of improving. Wisdom. Speech. Music. Creation. Enlightement. Quality of mind.

Love

If you are in the relationship:  it is possible that you are the teacher in your relationship; you are the wiser who “should surrender” to a partner who is far behind in mental, spiritual and emotional development just like an older sibling to the younger. It is also possible that your partner preaches and admonishes you. In both cases it may cause frustration so to avoid unnecessary suffering be like a river. River does not hold grudges nor it does not stop, it simply flows ahead and overcomes all the obstacles.

If you are single: you demand a lot from the person whom you would like to form the relationship with. That is ok, indeed it makes no sense to be with someone just to be with someone. Do not get frustrated that you are alone, instead spend your free time and energy in a positive way on learning, creating and improving your skills. If you attend any classes aimed at developing your talent, it is probable that you will meet a like-minded person with similar interests.

Finances

Investment in the field of education will pay off. Help of a specialist or introducing new technologies is necessary at work. This card also informs that you need the job which guarantees intellectual and creative freedom. It also signifies an excellent subject knowledge and profound education.

Health

Check the flow of fluids in your body regularly. A strong influence of mind on body. Music therapy. Endangered parts of the body: blood vessels especially those situated in head.

CARDS

Saraswati in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Saraswati in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

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

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

Saraswati in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Saraswati in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

and as High-Priestess in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Saraswati  in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Saraswati in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Saraswati in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

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

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

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

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

Saraswati as King of Cups in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Saraswati in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Based on English Wikipedia and http://www.indiaguide.pl/india/brahma_i_saraswati.html .

* Flow both in the meaning of river flow and flow of thoughts, ideas, words etc.

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

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 her in the night. In desperation the king set the fire to the covenant but the princess managed to extinguish the fire with bare hands without suffering from any burns. The king was so frightened that he condemned 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 released 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 wept 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 karmic 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 empathetic. 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 oppressed. 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, volunteer, 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.

Zapisz

Zapisz

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 .

DEMETER (CERES)

DEMETER (CERES)

A Hellenic goddess of sowing, cultivating, harvesting and the birth – death-rebirth cycle, the second child of Cronus and Rhea and the mother of Kore Persephone. When the Olympic gods seized the power over the Earth, she became responsible for maintaining its fertility. She was taking care of the soil and the crops and it was Demeter who taught people how to grow grains, how to make bread and how to cultivate vegetables and fruit. Her name may be derived from the words ‘deus/dyeus’ and ‘meter’, when put together this signifies ‘goddess – mother, divine mother’. In Rome she was venerated as Ceres.

ABOUT THE GODDESS

The cult of Demeter was one of the oldest in the Hellenic world, she is mentioned together with Kore and Poseidon in the tablets at Pylos dated around 1400-1200 before Christ (‘two mistresses&the king’). There is also an assumption that she was forming the Triple Goddess as Mother together with Kore (Maiden) and Hekate (Crone). Demeter has been associated with Kore, her daughter with Zeus to the point that they were known as ‘two goddesses’.

Kore was a young girl when she was playing on the meadow with fellow nymphs on a sunny day. Her mother allowed her to weave wreaths from all the flowers but a narcissus dedicated to the gods of the Underworld. Unfortunately, Kore forgot her mother’s warning and picked this flower. It brought the darkness over the meadow, the ground cracked and a chariot led by black horses  emerged from the abyss. It was Hades, the lord of the Underworld, he captured Kore and abducted her to his realm below the surface of the earth. It was all so sudden that nobody was able to react or even realise that Demeter’s daughter disappeared. Only Cyane (Kyane), a water nymph and Kore’s companion, heard her friend’s cry and hurried to save her. However, it was too late and one of the horses kicked her in the shoulder so she could only massage the sore spot and cry after Kore. Terrified Demeter kept searching for her daughter everywhere but she did not realise that Zeus had promised his daughter as a wife without her mother’s knowledge and consent.

When Demeter found out about the conspiracy (either from all-seeing Helios the sun god or Hekate, goddess of the night and witchcraft), she became so furious  that she cursed the earth and told her not to raise crops until her daughter comes back to her. This interrupted the order of the seasons so plants began to wither and people started to complain they would not be able to gather them and they would suffer from hunger.  Zeus had no option but to return Kore to her mother. However, the girl was lured to eat a couple of grains of pommegranate in the Underworld and this made her belong there forever. In the end the gods and goddesses entered into a compromise: Kore was to spend one third of the year with her husband as Persephone the Queen of the Underworld but for the remaining two thirds she could return on the surface and enjoy the time with her mother. This is how the Hellens understood the seasons change: in winter the earth was saddened by the absence of Kore Persephone together with Demeter and in spring and summer when she was coming back, the earth was showing joy by letting leaves and blossoming the flowers.

Eleusis was the goddess’ sacred place and this is where the Eleusinian mysteries were established. For more than two thousand years the history of Demeter and Kore Persephone was celebrated in secret ceremonies and it was one of the most important cults in the whole Hellenic world. It is impossible to recreate these rites now but they were probably concentrating on fertility and rebirth and some symbols may have been taken by Christianity (such as accepting bread or drinking wine; also the holiday of the Assumption of Mary has a pagan character, she is venerated as Our Lady of Herbs in Poland).  To find more about the ceremonies please visit this site. It is also believed that the first letter of Demeter’s name (Delta in the Greek alphabet) has the shape of the womb and therefore is the symbol of life, conquering death and bliss.

Demeter does not often appear in epic poems but apart from the story of Kore she is mentioned in some other myths. In the story of Tantal, the king of Phrygia who invited the Olympians to the feast and served them the body of his son to check if they recognize the meat, Demeter is so plunged in grief after the loss of Kore that she eats a piece but vomits immediately when she realizes what she ate. In another myth she is pursued by Poseidon but she is so disguised by his desire that she assumes the form of mare to avoid any contact with him. Poseidon finds her, however, and takes the form of stallion to cover her. She later gives birth to a daughter Despoina (Mistress of the House) whose name was not allowed to be pronounced and a horse Arion with black mane and tail. Demeter becomes furious and goes to the river to wash her anger away. During the wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia she drinks too much wine and sleeps with Iasion in a ploughed furrow which later results in the birth of their son Ploutos (or in another version twins Ploutos&Philomeus and another son called Korybas). However, jealous Zeus kills Iasion with a thunderbolt.

It is also believed that because of her nickname Thesmosphoros (Giver of Customs) Demeter was associated with the sanctity of marriage and with the religious law in the earliest times. The goddess has also her vengeful aspect as Demeter Erinys.

Personally I like and respect this goddess a lot because of her uncompromising attitude, standing up for her child, serenity and friendliness towards mortals. She never hurt any of them and was very fond of people,  she even wanted to give immortality to one of them. When she refused to protect the Earth after Kore’s abduction, she assumed the human body and moved in to the royal court of Eleusis as the nanny of Prince Demophon (Triptolemus). To make him immortal she put him into a sacred fire one evening to burn out his mortal weakness but this ritual was broken by the queen, boy’s mother so he never fully acquired divine powers. He was, however, initiated as the first human being into the Eleusinian mysteries.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Demeter’s attributes were ears of grain, daffodils (Kore was captured by Hades when she cut a daffodil), poppies,  sheaves, siecles and plows.  The bird mostly associated with her was a crane and the most common sacrifice was made of sow.

She was also traditionally associated with horses, one of the aspects of her cult was Aganippe (Night-Mare, The Mare who destroys mercifully), a black winged horse, and some of her idols showed her as mare – headed with a mane entwined with snakes, holding a dolphin in one hand and a dove in another one.

Demeter was usually depicted sitting and either holding a torch (because she was searching for her daughter day and night) or snakes. She is also portrayed riding a chariot driven by horses.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The person who is shown by this card is mostly concentrating on family and house. Children’s material needs are important for her. In negative her whole life revolves around children, she is overprotective and does not let her children grow up.

Advice

This is the time to take care of your family, either on material or emotional level. Show affection to your loved ones.  Children are very important for you. You feel separation from your child. Help your children but do not live their lives. Everything and everyone has to grow up.

If you are thinking about starting a family, this card confirms it is a good choice.

In its negative aspect the card of Demeter tells about family issues, especially with children, relationships between parents and children growing apart and economic problems.

Mother. Maturity. Possible pregnancy. Childbirth. Natural law. Marriage. Abundance. Protection. Help. Journey. Contact with nature.

Love

If you’re in the relationship: this card suggests you have big maternal needs and if you do not have your own children yet, this inner yearning for a child will be growing. If you have children, this card may suggest you are concentrating on them and neglecting your partner. Marriage.

If you are single: your strong relation with mother may disturb you in establishing a healthy and long-term relationship. This card may also suggest you want to have a child rather than a relationship with another person. Single parenting.

Finances

Investments in land or stock exchange. Your company is undergoing changes. Profit gained thanks to secret knowledge. Insecure moment.

Health

Time to change your diet. Eat more unprocessed, natural food like vegetables, fruit and grains. Lack of nutrients. Digestive system. Insomnia and problems with sleeping. Emotional tension.
Endangered parts of the body: digestive system.

CARDS

Demeter is also one of the most popular goddesses and she appears in nearly all the decks I came across, the only exception is the deck of Doreen Virtue.

Demeter in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky, a beautiful picture full of symbols associated with Demeter and Kore Persephone

Demeter in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Demeter in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

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

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

Demeter (with Kore Persephone as Two Goddesses) in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

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

Demeter…

…and Ceres in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst (the author made a huge faux pas and no one corrected her: Ceres WAS NOT a Greek but Latin goddess…what is the point of making a distinction between Demeter and Ceres if it may seem they are both from the same country??? I like the idea of pregnant Demeter though)

Demeter in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

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

Demeter in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took (as Ceres)

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

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

Demeter as Magician in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano, I have to disagree with such assignment because the card of Magician the first Major Arcane is traditionally associated with the element of Fire&the energy of Mercury while Demeter clearly represents the element of Earth

Two cards of Xena-like Demeter from Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

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://www.pantheon.org/articles/e/eleusis.html.