Tag Archives: egypt

KORE PERSEPHONE (PROSERPINE)

KORE PERSEPHONE (PROSERPINA)

Hellenic goddess of the Underworld, vegetation and changing of the seasons, guardian of the souls of the dead, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, wife of Hades. The myth of her abduction was an explanation of seasons changing and the base for Eleusinian Mysteries. Her first name, Kore, means ‘a young girl, a maiden’, her second name probably originates from a foreign language which was unknown to the Hellens, one of the possible etymology is perein phonon meaning  ‘bringing death, causing death’.

ABOUT GODDESS

The myth of Kore’s abduction has already been told in the post about Demeter so let me simply quote it

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 pomegranate 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.

Kore's abduction

It is the first and the most significant appearance of Kore Persephone in the Hellenic mythology but not the last one. She is present as the wife of Hades in many stories telling about the hero’s descent to the Underworld. She is so moved by Orpheus’ song that she convinces her husband to return his wife Eurydice to him. She helps Heracles fulfil his twelfth labour of tying Cerberus, the guardian dog of the Underworld. She is sometimes involved in a story whether she wants it or not, such as in the case of Pirithous, a hero and a friend of Theseus, decided to take Kore Persephone away from Hades as a revenge for the death of his own beloved wife Hippodamia. The plan failed and both heroes were sentenced to be imprisoned in Hades and enchained to the rock. Theseus was freed from the ordeal by Heracles,  Pirithous, however, had to remain enchained in Hades forever.

Kore Persephone has also participated in the dispute with Aphrodite concerning Adonis. According to myths Adonis was an illegitimate child of Princess Myrrha who made Aphrodite angry, and the goddess punished Myrrha by making her fall in love with her own father. Princess managed to deceive him and spend a couple of nights with him but when the affair came to the light, furious king seized the knife and started to run after her. Escaping his rage, Myrrha begged gods for rescue and they turned her into a tree which was later named after her. After nine months tree bark cracked and a boy came out of the trunk. Aphrodite put the baby into the chest and entrusted to Kore Persephone. However, the goddess of the Underworld fell in love with young Adonis herself and decided to keep him in Hades forever. This made Aphrodite furious. The disagreement must have been eventually resolved by Zeus who decided that Adonis was to spend one third of the year with Aphrodite, one third with Kore Persephone and the remaining part of the year wherever he wants to. According to another version of this myth young man died pierced by the tusks of boar, the animal was in fact jealous Ares in disguise. Aphrodite’s grief was so big that Zeus let her lover return to the goddess during spring and summer, Adonis, however, must have come back to Hades for autumn and winter.

According to most of the myths, the marriage of Kore Persephone and Hades remained childless* but some versions claim that she was the mother of  Zagreus/Iakchos/Dionizos (with Zeus).

Deity descending into the Underworld was a popular explanation of seasons changing in the ancient times. A similar motif in present in the mythologies of the Middle – East, be it Attis (see the post about Cybele) or Osisris (post about Isis) and the theme of a young woman abducted to the Underworld is also present in the story of Ereshkigal (see the myth of Ishtar). Basing on the mythology and archaeological remains, it can be assumed that an agrarian cult of Demeter and Kore Persephone was one of the oldest in the Hellas, older than the cults of Olympian deities. It is possible that it came to Hellas from other countries (the Hellens were writing the name ‘Persephone’ in many ways, it may suggest that they were unable to pronounce it themselves so it either originated from a pre-Hellenic language or was a borrowing from a foreign language). The beginnings can be dated up to 1400 – 1200 before Christ based on the inscriptions on the tablets found in Pylos, her name is written as Preswa and this may be its oldest form. There is also enough evidence to assume that Persephone was venerated in the Minoan Crete. Similarly to Egypt, the eldest deities were strictly associated with nature and often depicted as half – humans and half – animals (a Cretan figure of Minotaur, centaurs, satyrs, tritones, mermaids, sirens etc seem to be the remaining of this cult in mythology). An image of two women was discovered in the temple of Despoina in Mycene, it is assumed that these were either Demeter and Kore Persephone themselves or their priestesses wearing animal masks, this proves how early their cult was. Cretan agrarian cults have not used images of any deities  (similarly to the oldest forms of the Great Mother Cybele’s cult), they were mostly performed by females and the rites themselves included dancing, shaking trees and worshipping stones (most probably  meteorites). There are also reasons to believe that Kore Persephone was identified with yet older goddesses such as Despoina or Ariadna. Excavations on the temple sites suggest that places of worship were situated near springs and fire was burning in them all the time.

women wearing clothes from the Minoean age and dancing around (most probably) Kore Persephone, the Isopata ring

Demeter’s daughter was the goddess of both Underworld (as Persephone) and vegetation (as Kore). She was depicted on sarcophagi as a symbol of revival and eternity. Apart from the Eleusinian Mysteries, Kore Persephone was also venerated separately in the temples located in Corinth, Megara and Sparta. She was worshipped as Despoina (Mistress of the House) in Arcadia, furthermore she was known under other nicknames, the most popular were those presenting her in the most favourable way to gain her benevolence: Hagne („Pure”, it was primarily the name of a spring nymph), Melindia or Melinoia („Of Honey”), Melivia, Melitodes, Aristi Tchonia („The Best of Chtonic”). In her aspect of the vegetation goddess she was called Kore Soteira („The Saviour Maiden”), Neotera („The Younger One”), etc., she also often appears together with her mother as Two Goddesses (Demeter being The Older and Kore The Younger) in Eleusis, The Great Goddesses and The Mistresses in Arcadia, Karpophoroi („The Bringers of Fruit”) in Tegea and Thesmophoroi („The Legislators”) during the Thesmophoria festival.

The cult of Demeter and Kore Persephone had many local versions but the most important festival was of course the Eleusinian Mysteries celebrated in the autumn. Celebrations were aimed at the immortality of life and were filling the initiated with hope for the good fate (it was most probably believed that they were sent to the best part of Hades called The Elysian Fields after death). Mysteries were divided into the Lesser ones (celebrated every year) and Greater ones (celebrated every five years, on the fifteenth day of boedromion month ie. at the turn of August and September/September and October, they lasted ten days). A prerequisite for participation was only freedom form “blood guilt”, the festival was open for women and slaves. This was the time of  initiation and involved a couple of degrees of initiation. The Eleusinian Mysteries required keeping the secret so only a few people with the highest degree of initiation knew what was hidden in kiste, a sacred chest and kalathos, a lidded basket. It is speculated that the Demeter’s sacred objects were golden serpent, an egg, a phallus and seeds.

It remains unknown what were the mysteries like because revealing the secret was punished by death, however the descriptions of public celebrations were written down. The Greater Mysteries in Athens began on the fourteenth of boedromion when the sacred objects were brought to Eleusinion, a temple situated at the base of the Acropolis Hill.  The next day was the time of Agyrmos (“the gathering”) when the priests announced the beginning of holiday and offered sacrifice. On the sixteenth day of the month, the rituals of purification in the sea were taking place near the port of Phaleron and on the seventeenth it was the time for Epidauria (so called “festival within festival”), celebrations for Asclepios, god of healing, when he was invited symbolically to the city with his daughter Hygieia goddess of hygiene and led in procession to Eleusion. On the nineteenth day procession was moving from the Kerameikos cementary to Eleusis along Hierá Hodós (“Sacred Way”), participants were swinging the branches called bacchoi. At a certain point they started to shout obscenities to commemorate (Iambe), an elderly woman who was trying to make Demeter laugh while she was grieving the loss of daughter by pulling the skirt up and saying naughty jokes, people were also shouting “Íakch’, O Íakche!” to celebrate Iacchus. When the procession reached Eleusis, it was the time for one day fasting to commemorate Demeter’s hunger while she was searching for her daughter, the only thing allowed to drink was kykeon made of barley and pennyroyal. On the 20th and 21st it was time for the proper celebrations when the crowd was gathering in Telestrion, a great hall („Initiation Hall”) where those waiting to be initiated gathered, in the centre there was Anaktoron („Palace”) where only the priests were allowed to come because sacred objects were stored here. Before entering Telestrion adepts had to say, I have fasted, I have drunk the kykeon, I have taken from the kiste (“box”) and after working it have put it back in the kalathos (“open basket”).  At first two special vessels were filled, then one was emptied in the direction of west and the other towards east and the worshippers were looking at the sky and earth whispering the rain fertilising the ground. The story of Kore Persephone’s abduction was told in three acts, first descent, then search and finally ascend and reconnection with mother. A ‘divine child’ was placed on hearth (check the story of Triptolemus in the post about Demeter) and those initiated to the highest degrees were to cut in silence a sheaf symbolising revival of life after death. The festival was completed with Pannychis, an all-night feast with dancing and rejoicing accompanied by the sacrifice from the bull and remembrance of the dead by libation the next day.

This is how Cicero wrote about these celebrations, For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called “initiations,” so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope.. (Laws II, XIV, 36)

Another holiday for Demeter and Kore Persephone was the festival of Thesmophoria celebrated all over Hellas from the 11th to 13th of the Pyanepsion month (October) when married women were free to come out of the houses** and participated in the women exclusive rites. Not much is known about this festival for a very simple reason: only married women participated in them and they were not the ones who wrote chronicles or memories. What we do know is that there were processions on the first day, the second one was the time of mourning, extinguishing the fire and eating pomegranates and the third was sacrificed to the rather unknown in mythology Kalligenea, goddess of beautiful birth. There were also records saying that at night swine were sacrificed in the trenches and caves and the remains of the animals sacrificed in previous year were retrieved and placed on the altar, mixed with seeds and planted. There was also Anthesphoria, the festival of flowers and cereals, celebrated in the Hellenic colonies in Italy (so called Magna Grecia) and in the Peloponnesus.

Ancient Romans took the cult of Kore Persephone over from Hellenic colonies established on the south of Italy and Sicily. She was called Proserpine in the local local dialect and this version of her name was adopted in the Apennine Peninsula. It is interesting to notice that she was venerated as the patroness of marriages in one of these cities called Epizephyrian Locris (present day Locri), this usually was the domain of Juno (Hera). Children were entrusted to Persephone and brides were bringing her their garments before weddings as votive offerings. A very popular image of Kore Persephone and Hades surrounded by plants and animals attributed to them comes precisely from Epizephyrian Locris.

Kore Persephone and Hades

In the 5th century before Christ Empedocles, a poet, philosopher and healer, has created the concept of four elements. He connected Kore Persephone named here Nestis with the element (or to be more precise with the root, it was not until Plato when the word ‘element’ was used) of water: Now hear the fourfold roots of everything: enlivening Hera, Hades, shining Zeus. And Nestis, moistening mortal springs with tears. Empedocles uses the nickname of Nestis and does not pronounce her real name which was considered to be a taboo since the earliest times. It was not advised to call the Queen of the Dead even in a simple conversation nor to speak her name aloud so Nestis was used as her cult title (Homer in his hymns refers to her as the Queen of the Shades).

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

The type of the oldest Hellenic sculpture is called kore, some hypotheses assume the figures represent Demeter’s daughter.

 KoreKore

Moreover, Kore Persephone is also presented sitting on the throne as majestic Queen of the Underworld with a sceptre, fruit, sheaves of grain and a liknon basket used to separate seeds from chaff.

Kore Persephone

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

A young girl, a teenager. A person who experienced a sudden or tough events. A person who is emotionally immature. Someone who was charged with too much responsibility too early. Somebody who became bitter due to bad experiences, childhood traumas or seriously betrayed trust. In negative a person with a victim pattern and not enough self – esteem and maturity to face the problems on their own.

Advice

What you need is patience. This card shows maturing in a hard way and learning to compromise. You cannot accelerate anything. Let things run their course. Give time some time. What you reap is what you sow. At first you will have to work hard and make a lot of effort to put your plans into action and you will be rewarded later. Everything changes sooner or later.

I personally associate strongly the card of Kore Persephone with the rune Jera.

Patience. Maturing. Harvest, crops, abundance, wealth, plenty. Revival. Beginning or end of the cycle. Bad timing, hurrying too much, poor plans, acting blindfold. An insufficient harvest, loss, scarcity.Intervention in the natural cycle. Possible trip but not for pleasure, rather forced by circumstances. Trauma. Abandonment. Compromise. Inevitability. A strong influence of mother. Secret knowledge, esoterics.

 Love

 If you are in the relationship: lack of maturity to a stable and adult relationship. Compromises and patience are required. Hiding from problems. Early marriage, possibly enforced somehow. Being childless. A strong influence of the mother. A cold, emotionally detached or manipulative partner.

If you are single: lack of maturity to a stable and adult relationship. A strong influence of the mother. Patience is suggested. It is also advised not to get into a relationship just to avoid being alone.

Finances

Trip forced by circumstances.  Beginning or ending a certain stage of career. Business involving volatility of revenues depending on time or season. Suspension of business activity. Time of harvesting profits.

 Health

Women: fertility and regular cycle, pregnancy and successful, natural delivery. Therapy limited to taking medicine. Vegetarian, macrobiotic or vegetable, fruit and cereal based diet. Regenerative skills. Checking your health regularly. Negative: laziness, wrong diet, insufficiency, problem with high cholesterol and obesity. Woman’s cycle disorder. Neglecting regular health tests. Eating in a hurry. Endangered parts of the body: the digestive system (particularly stomach, colon, small intestine and the large intestine).

CARDS

Kore Persephone  in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Kore Persephone in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews 

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

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

Kore Persephone (together with Hades and Cerberus) in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

 Kore Persephone in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Kore Persephone in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

 Kore Persephone in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Kore Persephone in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

 Kore Persephone in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Kore Persephone in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Kore Persephone in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr 

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

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

Kore Persephone in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

 Kore Persephone in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

Kore Persephone in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

Kore Persephone in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

 Kore Persephone in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Kore Persephone as Eight of Swords in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Kore Persephone as Eight of Swords in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

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.webwinds.com/myth/elemental.htm

* It seems logical that the deities associated with death could not have children themselves. In Egypt Seth, god of desert and death, was infertile and his wife Nephthys craving for a child, got pregnant with their brother Osiris (that could be the reason for Seth’s hatred towards Osiris).

 *** In Hellas women did not participate in public life.

DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY THE CARD OF MARY

THE CARD OF MARY

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

MARY IS NOT A GODDESS!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where does the Marian cult come from?

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

wayoflifeblogartisis

isis-horus-to-mary-jesus

Isis_nurseHorus_Danto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is essential to notice that the cult of Mary was frowned upon in early Christianity. It was connected with the sect of Collyridians and considered to be heretic. However, the very ancient, even thousands year old beliefs were so rooted in people’s mentality that they could not be simply deleted. Whether Christian priests liked it or not, they had to tolerate them so they became a major part of non – Reformed churches’ Tradition (mainly Catholic and Orthodox). The rituals we now associate inherently with the Marian cult such as processions, chants, decorating paintings and rural chapels with flowers and herbs, pilgrimages* are all the manners in which ancient goddesses were venerated! It is similar with Mary’s ‘localness’ i.e. the fact she is worshipped in various local versions, the most popular being Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Lourdes etc; ancient goddesses have also had local nicknames. Litany of Loreto mentions Mary’s 50 titles which makes her alike Egyptian Isis. What we consider to be arch – Catholic now is deeply rooted in the ancient times. Not even to mention the material aspect of Marian cult. My “favourite” ones are all those ridiculous bottles with Mary’s head or crown as a cap sold next to the the springs with miraculous water…

bottles1

(source: etnomuzeum.eu)

bottles2

(source: scenki.blogspot.com )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps it is time for a red pill?

red_blue_pill

CARDS

Mary in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Mary in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Mary in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Mary in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

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

Black Madonna in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

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

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

Mary in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Mary in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Based on English Wikipedia and my own thoughts.

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

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

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

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

SOPHIA (CHOKMAH/SHEKHINAH)

SOPHIA

God’s wisdom and the co-creatrix of the world considered by many Christian philosophers and artists to be a female manifestation of God appearing to the humankind and Holy Spirit,the third person of Trinity. Sophia means Wisdom in Greek.

ABOUT GODDESS

The concept of Sophia i.e. Wisdom has already been known in the times of antiquity, Pitagoras, Socrates and Plato perceived philosophy literary as philo (‘love for’) – sophia (‘wisdom’). According to Plato, Wisdom was one of four cardinal virtues (as Prudence) therefore it was believed that the philosophers should rule the Utopian country because such rulers would admire prudence. The love for wisdom itself was also shown in the behaviour of Socrates when he said I know that I know nothing. Contrary to what may seem, such statement opens the mind for Wisdom because this makes it resemble an empty jar which can be filled with knowledge; it is also a contrast to the attitude of Sophists who claimed they were able to teach wisdom, for an appropriate price of course. Later the Hellenistic philosophers merged the concept of Sophia with Logos (‘Word’), this idea was then adopted by the author of the Gospel of John (introduction: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God) and it is resulted in perceiving Jesus as the Word of the Father.

Sophia has a special status in monotheistic religions. Wisdom is called Chokmah/Hokmah in a Jewish tradition and she is the subject of many books of the Old Testament (Proverbs, Song of Songs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Book of Wisdom, Wisdom of Sirach). The part which is crucial for the interpretation of Divine Wisdom is the quote from Proverbs when Wisdom speaks about herself

The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;

I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be (…)

I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,

rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

(NIV Bible, Proverbs 8:22).

This fragment is widely discussed, some claim that it the basis to assume that Chokmah is a divine person while others believe that it is only a symbolic representation. Honestly speaking  I am not surprised at all by the latter attitude because the female element is usually treated in a symbolic way in monotheistic religions . The description of creating the first human is an additional reason to believe in a personal, not symbolic interpretation of Chokhmah

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”

  (NIV Bible, Genesis 1:26).

If God was all alone, he would probably have said ‘my’, not ‘our’. And from limited but still logical human point of view the personal interpretation seems to be justified, in the end you need both male and female energy for the act of creation.

Those interested in the Kabballah are aware of the fact that  Chokmah is the name of the Tree of Life’s sephirot, which together with Binah is the closest to the sephirot Kether (it must be said however that Chokmah represents male energy there). The word Shekhinah meaning God’s Presence on Earth (e.g. in the Temple of Jerusalem, in the burning bush when God appears to Moses, in the inspiration of the prophets and King David when he creates psalms) is feminine which allows some researchers to identify her as Chokmah basing on what she speaks about herself, I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind (NIV Bible, Proverbs 8:22).

According to the Jewish law Shekhinah is where at least seven pious Jews gather. In Kaballah Shekhinah is also called Matronit and in some religious songs she is identified as the Bride from Song of Songs. According to the Jewish tradition Shekhinah is the essence of womanhood with whom every man contacts through his wife.  Kabballah teaches that every pious Jew has two partners, one on Earth and the other in Heavens; the mystery of matrimony reflects in the fact that mating with his earthly companion he becomes close to the heavenly one in a natural way because the one on Earth represents the one in Heavens. There are also different interpretations of the name Ruach Ha Kodesh which is used to describe God in Psalms 51:11 and in the Book of Isahiah meaning ‘the Divine spark, the Divine inspiration, insight, breath, wind, invisible moving force’ (‘ruach’ is also feminine).

In Christianity Divine Wisdom is also one of the most important themes as it appears in gospels and apostolic letters. She is particularly worshipped in the Eastern Christianity where she is identified as Divine Word (Logos) which was incarnated into Christ. In the Orthodox liturgy the priest is introducing the reading of the Bible with the word Sophia! to make everyone pay attention. The best example of the big respect shown to Divine Wisdom is certainly basilica Hagia Sophia (which had been built in Christian Constantinople, later it was turned into a mosque and it is a museum now).

 

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

However in the Western Christianity there were also people who had a special reverence to Sophia. These were among others  Hildegard of Bingen (below you will find her picture of Sophia), Jakob Böhme , 16th century visionaire whose philosophy strongly influenced other thinkers or Jane Leade, 17th century English mystic who was describing her visions and dialogues with Sophia (similarly to Vladimir Solovyov who will be presented later).

It may seem natural for Christianity to follow the Jewish tradition of Chokmah and Shekhinah and to attribute the feminine features to the Holy Ghost. Indeed the representation of the Holy Trinity as Father, Son&Sophia remained in the church in Urschalling in Upper Bavaria

However, when the Old and New Testament were translated into Greek, the Holy Ghost was described with the word pneuma (literary ‘breath’, it is neuter) and in Latin the form Spiritus Sancti was used (it is a second declension so the gender is definitely masculine). The Holy Ghost was therefore presented either as a man (below you will find a famous icon Trinity by Andrei Rublev, all the three divine persons are young men) or as a dove.

It should be mentioned that doves have always been connected to womanhood (below the picture of Aphrodite from the deck by Hrana Janto).

Nevertheless if you asked an average Christian what does the Holy Trinity look like, the answer would probably be, An old man, a young man and a bird .

It was Gnosticism, the religious and philosophical movement popular in the East of the Roman Empire in the first and the second century, which developed the concept of Sofia. The Gnostics were inspired by many beliefs and religious systems such as Judaism, Christianity, Zoroaster and Hellenic and Roman philosophers. Its main assumption was the belief that the material world in which we live is imperfect and gnosis (cognition) is the only way to liberate oneself from its limits. It is difficult to analyse it nowadays because not many materials remained and particular Gnostic currents differed from one another but there are some common points for all of them:

1. Sophia is a female emanation from the very beginnings (which connects her to SigeSilence Before Creation). It is in Pleroma (Fullness, Oneness) with other  emanations (aeons). It is associated with the Divine Wisdom known from the Jewish stories which was co-creating the world, although in the Gnostic version it happened in quite an untoward manner. Sophia is an emanation of God and represents his female aspect who extracted herself spontaneously from the unnamed highest creature, the primary aeon (Jah/Bythos) as his „reflection”, mental power and wisdom. She is his lowest and furthest emanation together with Christ (aeons are paired, male and female ones exist together).

2. She experiences the first cognition, Sophia becomes pregnant all by herself, without the participation of God, and brings Demiurge (also called Archon or Yaltabaoth – ‘Child of Chaos’) to the Universe (quoting The Secret Book of John from the Nag Hammadi archives, And an imperfect product appeared from her, and it was different from her pattern because she created it without her partner. And it was not patterned after the likeness of its Mother, for it had a different form. When she saw (the product of) her will, it was dif­ferent, a model of a lion-faced serpent. His eyes were like flashing fires of lightning. She cast him out from her, outside of those places so that none among the immortals might see him, for she had cre­ated him in ignorance).

Demiurge organises the material world which is not perfect because it lacks a spiritual element. He is not aware of God’s existence therefore he considers himself to be God and together with seven Archons (‘Rulers, Watchers’) keeps the mankind in the veil of illusion thus breaking the primary divine oneness. There are different reasons given to explain why Sophia becomes pregnant, it is either the will of disconnecting from God or haughtiness  or an uncontrolled need of creating or madness.

3. Through disconnecting from the divine oneness it is also Sophia who has to exist in two forms: Sofia Ennoia i.e. the High Sofia, Neverending One, The Power of the Thoughts as well as the Low Sofia called the Small Sophia or Sophia of Death. In this way Sophia combines two elements: the divine and the human one.

4. After the creation of the material world, Sophia gets stuck there and God feeling compassion for her, sends Christ to help her. Thanks to him, Sophia gets rid of low motives and comes back to the Oneness with Divinity (in another version it remains in the material world for the sake of the humankind whom she loves). Christ comes to Earth to teach people how to recognise wisdom so that they could participate in Pleroma, too.

In 19th century a movement based on the Gnostic tradition called sophiology was born in Russia. Sophiology is a belief in the metaphysical cognition of the Absolute through the contemplation of Sophia as his emanation. The Russian movement was started by Vladimir Solovyov, a thinker and esoteric whose doctrine was called ‘a mystic intuition of Sophia’. According to what he said himself he had experienced three meetings with Sophia which enlightened him; his first vision occurred when he was nine and during the service he saw a female image of God. When he grew up and this image kept appearing in his dreams, he decided to take up theological studies. He was particularly impressed by the texts of Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg, he also got interested in Kabballah and then Sophia reappeared to him and ordered to go to Egypt to continue his study about her. Probably because of that Sophia had some aspects of Isis: the vision was accompanied by the scent of roses, goddess’ flowers,  besides it was Egypt where the cult of Isis began to transform into the belief in Sophia identified as Mary and all the doctrines assuming the faith in the female aspect of God’s Wisdom such as Hermetism, Gnosis and alchemy also originated from Egypt. Sophia’s message to Solovyov and other people was that the world is changing through love and human choices which allow to return to the divine Oneness.

Solovyov paid attention that regardless of a language her name is always feminine: in Hebrew it is ‘Chokmah’ (Wisdom, Knowledge), in Greek and Russian – ‘Sophia’ (Wisdom), in Hindi ‘Maya’ (Idea, female image of divinity), in Latin ‘Sapientia’ (Wisdom). He also claimed that throughout the Jewish and Christian tradition she has never been a separate deity but a female emanation of God. He perceived Sophia through the Gnostic and Kabballistic tradition as both Chokhmah and Shekhinah (a female beginning in God). The messages conveyed by his automatic writing survived  and among them there was one with the notice An-Soph, Jah, Soph-Jah wchich can be translated as An Soph – ‘Hidden God of Kabballah’, Soph – ‘End’, Jah – ‘Unnamed God’. The whole notice means that Sophia is  ‘the end of God’, a link between God and human kind, a mediator between energy and matter (which corresponds to the Gnostic tradition of Sophia as the aeon closest to Earth). Solovyov also maintained the Jewish belief that a female aspect of God is reflected in the beloved woman on Earth and love allows to see his visible image in the material world. He was following the philosophy of Jakob Böhme about death being the disintegration which began when the sexes of a primary androgenic creature were divided. He also assumed that a human who comes back to Oneness can become immortal therefore a harmonious relationship based on higher feelings can lead to the eternal life.

It is interesting to notice that in the 19th century Solovyov had only been capable to study Gnosticism from the texts of its opponents such as St.Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria or Hippolytus of Rome because a great number of Gnostic works was not discovered until the forties of last century when the archives of libraries in Nag Hammadi and Qumran were discovered. And yet despite Solovyov’s unacquaintance of these essential texts, his sophiological concepts are surprisingly consistent with the main assumptions of Gnocistism.

Solovyov has created very personal and sensual poems to Sophia which somehow resembled the relation between a priest and his goddess. He was calling her Eternal Friend, Queen, Goddess, Mystical Bride, Nature of the Universe, Most Beautiful Lady, Heavenly Maiden, Maiden of the Rainbow Gate, Dawn (Aurora), Ewig Weibliche, Boehme, etc. Sophia has many names in his works because she is divine therefore she can be anything. Solovyov has showed a special appreciation to love making because it is a chemical bond of two creatures thus it leads to the oneness. Even maternal love cannot be compared to it because it is always accompanied by the mother’s loss of individuality. This is why building good relationships with other people especially with women was for him the best expression of worship Sophia as woman had an exceptional position in sophiology.

Solovyov has immediately found many followers even though revelation is an individual and very intimate experience. Among those who shared his belief in Sophia were his brother Mikhail and nephew Sergey Solovyov, Alexander Blok, Boris Bugaev (Andrei Bely), also Pavel Florienski, Nikolai Berdyaev and most of all Sergey Bulgakov who perceived Sophia not as a part of Trinity but a being co-existing with the Trinity, equally powerful and acting as a female force apart from male Trinity (which was considered to be a heresy). Why was sophiology so popular in Russia? A possible explanation is that unlike Western Europe this country has not gone through the Age of Reason with its cult of logics and rational perception while the Orthodox Christianity retained some aspects of old religions with its visions of a cosmic order which resulted in mysticism and following spiritual leaders. Moreover, if you take a closer look at the Western culture, art and literature in the second part of the 19th century, you will find an image of a femme fatale as a main representation of womanhood (the motif of Salome with the head of John the Baptist was particularly popular). Such attitude was probably caused by progressive emancipation of women and men’s fear of losing their position. Meanwhile in Russia the trend was totally different. Some kind of mental revolution occurred in the middle of 19th century which promoted the image of woman being an intellectual partner for a man as the ideal image of a woman. This is why the well – born maidens were educated and encouraged to develop themselves, of course it was only possible in those families who were able to afford it.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

In Hellenic culture Sophia was rather a philosophical concept but sometimes her personifications have been made (here is her allegoric figure from the Library of Celsus in Ephesus).

It was similar with Shekhinah as the Israeli were forbidden to represent God through sculptures or pictures thus there are no figures nor other images of Wisdom neither.

As it has already been mentioned the most popular symbol representing Sophia in the Western Christianity is a dove while in the Eastern one the sophiological iconography is well developed.

Sophia’s symbol in the Christian culture is also a circle of seven pillars of knowledge (Proverbs again: Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. Proverbs 9:1)

There is also a certain riddle concerning The Creation of Adam fresco by Michelangelo. Here it is if you don’t remember the details

Have a closer look at the person with blond hair, distinct eyes and slender silhouette who is embracing the Creator and differs from other cherubs.

The identity of this person was discussed; some believe that because of her female beauty this may be the figure of Eve waiting to be created, however if you look at the other parts of the fresco you will find Eve painted in a completely different manner

So who can that be? At least a couple of researchers believe it is Sophia herself.

According to Proverbs, I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be (…) Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind, which implies that Sophia must have been present at the creation of the first human (additionally look at Genesis 1:26, Then God said, “Let US make mankind in OUR image, in our likeness”).

It makes sense for me 🙂

I also highly recommend the article by Miguel Conner from Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio about Sophia and her connections to pagan myths.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

This card represents someone who is wise, not only intelligent. Unlike the card of Athena which concentrates on facts and cold logic the card of Sophia pays attention more to an inner wisdom gathered by observations and not necessarily based on the bookish knowledge. In my personal understanding the card of Athena means studying Science while the one of Sophia talks about Humanities and Foreign Languages). This knowledge is based on love and understanding for others regardless of age, education or race. The person shown by this card is open and forgiving and in negative superficial, unable to predict the consequences of their acting and conceited.

Professions:  a scientist, a lecturer, a teacher (rather on university level than on primary school), an inventor, a person using the intellect and language in their work, a mediator and any kind of intermediary.

ADVICE

Your thoughts create your reality, filter those which may harm you.

Look deeper. Observe without judging. In the situation you are inquiring about you may be expected to behave on a higher level than others. Trust your own wisdom, no those who surround you. Know when it is good to speak and when it is better not to. Do not be discouraged by difficult beginnings, help will come.

This card confirms that your way of perceiving the world is correct. You may feel like being caged in structures, superstitions and superficiality. You may feel lonely and underestimated. Loneliness is often the price of wisdom but remember that wisdom itself has not got a high value if it is not shared.  Others may learn from you and you from them.

Find inspiration.

Education. Understanding. Enlightenment. Time to think. Communication. Mediation.

Love

If you are in the relationship: this card often signifies the beginnings of a relationship, time of joy and playing but accompanied by other cards it also suggests the need of strengthening the bond and behaving in a more careful way. Your partner’s mistake comes from their ignorance, not malice.

If you are single: your loneliness may be caused by the fact that you have not become mature enough for a stable relationship.

Finances

In the situation you are inuring about you may need to consult a specialist or a intermediary. Beginnings of a new project which is very probable to be successful despite initial problems. Do not focus only on profit, look from a wider perspective.

Health

Beware of psychosomatic illnesses and those resulting from stress. Migraines. Insomnia. Possible miscarriage or premature delivery. Endangered parts of the body: psyche rather than a particular part of the body.

CARDS

My favourite image of Sophia and the favourite card of all the possible decks is the one from Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews (referring to Gnostic philosophy)

The image of Sophia in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr resembles the style of Orthodox icons which undoubtedly makes sense if you take into account the respect shown to Sophia by Eastern Christianity

Sophia in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky is presented as being pregnant (again in accordance with a Gnostic tradition), she is holding a chalice of wisdom in her hands and is accompanied by a dove (a Western Christian tradition), you can also see the halo of Shekhinah above her head (a Jewish tradition)

Sophia in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst has the face of Black Madonna and roses attributed to both Isis and Mary

Sophia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took, I have an impression that this deep look of her eyes somehow refers to the fresco by Michelangelo which was discussed above

Sophia in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc (as Chokmah)

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

Based on:

Rzeczycka Monika, Fenomen Sofii-Wiecznej Kobiecości w prozie powieściowej symbolistów rosyjskich (Andrieja Biełego, Fiodora Sołoguba, Walerija Briusowa), Gdańsk 2002, Divine Sophia: the Wisdom Writings of Vladimir Solovyov by Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, Judith Deutsch Kornblatt (available here), The Christian Goddess: Archetype and Theology in the Fantasies of George MacDonald Bonnie Gaarden (available here), http://youtu.be/Azrh3IwLFTM, http://www.jstor.org/pss/3045958, http://www.jstor.org/pss/1483492, http://www.oocities.org/athens/agora/6776/break1.htm , http://northernway.org/presentations/godwife/33.html , http://northernway.org/presentations/godwife/38.html ,http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/apocjn-long.html and English Wikipedia. All the quotes from the Bible come from http://www.biblegateway.com (NIV)

And because that was the most complex and the most extensive post I have ever written about any goddess then let me reward myself with an appropriate music which may suit you too

Therion The Perennial Sophia

And one more, very different but also equally moving:

Victoria Williams Holy Spirit

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MAAT

MAAT

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

ABOUT GODDESS

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

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

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

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

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

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

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

  

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

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

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

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

ADVICE

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

Love

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

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

Finances

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

Health

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

CARDS

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

Maat with scales in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIGE

“Let silence take you to the core of life.”
~Rumi

“My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me to listen to the voices not produced by tongues, nor shouted from throats. Now … I sip at silence and listen to its inwardness that chants songs of the eons, reciting praises of the sky, announcing the mysteries of the Unseen.”
~Kahlil Gibran

SIGE

Silence in Gnostic cosmology, primary female Principle who emanated other aeons including Sophia (Wisdom).

ABOUT THE GODDESS

Gnosticism was a popular philosophy of the Roman’s Empire’s  eastern lands (especially Egypt and Phoenicia) in the first and second century of our era. It combined the elements of Christian, Hellenic and Roman philosophies (especially Gnosis, dualism and Hermeticism). One of its major assumptions is the domination of energy over matter and the necessity of constant self-development; soul’s redemption occurs on the path of Gnosis i.e. enlightenment, emancipation, the oneness with God. Gnostic movement was diverse and was early condemned by the Church Fathers thus the original writings have not remained and the Gnostic views were preserved only in the papers of its adversaries. It was not changed until 1945 when the papyri of Nag Hammadi were discovered. As a consequence of this finding, it was possible to reconstruct Gnostic gospels and other important writings presenting Gnostic philosophy.

Most Gnostic systems are based on the concept of aeons, the emanations of God who is known as The One, Absolute, the Monad, Aion Teleos (The Broadest Aeon), Bythos (Depth), Proarkhe (Before the Beginning), Arkhe (Beginning). Depending on the school the aeons are differently classified and named but for the purpose of this post I only concentrate on the beliefs of Valentinianism. The Valentinians considered aeons to be twin pairs of male and female energies called syzygies; the primary ideal Principles are male Bythos, Proarkhe or Propator and female Ennoia (Thought, Intent), Charis (Charis) or Sige (Silence). They conceived and emanated male aeon Nous (Mind) and female Aletheia (Truth) from whom Zoe (Life) and Logos (Word) originate together with other twin male – female aeons who form Pleroma (Oneness, Fullness)*.

Aeons

The last and the youngest female aeon was Sophia (Wisdom) who, due to ignorance or the need of forming, emanated Demiurge, the creator of the material world, and therefore lost her place in Pleroma. To save her and human kind, Bythos emanated Christ who was born as Yeshua and taught people how to achieve the state of enlightenment (Gnosis).

Valentinian Pleroma

According to the Valentinian system, two perennial coexisting Principles began the life in the Universe by emanating aeons in their likeness, i.e. male&female ones and creative by nature (because they emanated further aeons). It is not clear whether two primary Principles have always been dual. According to the previous beliefs and even some Valentinians, the primary Principles were either above all the sex or a hermaphrodite who split into male and female elements. Also according to Cyril of Jerusalem, Sige was Bythos’ daughter and with him she conceived Logos but it has to be mentioned that the author was a relentless critic of both Arians and Gnostics and presented this origin only to ridicule them (it is similar with Irenaeus of Lyon who sneers at the idea of Silence and Word coexisting in one Pleroma). 

As a matter of fact, nomen est omen because it is the silence which surrounds Sige herself and it is difficult to find any information about her. However, her message in the card decks is very clear, Be aware of the fact that silence is a great force.  It is wise to decide when it is better not to speak or not to answer. Experience the creative silence of concentration before you start acting. This is the goddess of contemplation who convinces us to slow down, to ponder and to rest. Remember that when you are alone and you do not communicate with environment, you contact your true self. We often crave for love and acceptance so much that we suppress our real needs. Our civilization pushes us to live in the community and therefore being alone and silent may cause anxiety in us. Drawing the card of Sige helps us find the power to confront ourselves.

Sige shows the non-action which comes not from indifference but from the ability to think and to observe. She reminds us that the word can both heal and kill and once it is said, it cannot be unsaid. If Logos was born from Silence, it means that Silence is creative by nature and it incorporates the element of searching for knowledge and understanding. Because of its feminine aspect, this knowledge is intuitive and subconscious but without searching we shall not attain the enlightenment**. The power of silence is within each of us and each of us must confront it at some point of life. If we do listen, the silence and focus can speak loudly and clearly but when we try to ignore them, they begin to scream and to demand attention.

This is the power of concentration and inspiration indispensable before we start acting. It brings to my mind the message of the Fool (Zero or Twenty – Second Major Arcanum of Tarot) and the letter Alef of the Hebrew alphabet, This is the moment when we have an idea but it remains unspecified yet, it has only begun developing in our mind and it has not been showed to the world yet. This is the moment when we take a breath to present our idea to the public, to name it and to make all our expectations, assumptions and talents happen but before the first word is pronounced everything can still be changed. There is still time to modify the nature of the word because it is still being created.***

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

No images of Sige survived antiquity and it is not certain whether they existed at all.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

Person showed by the card of Sige is close-mouthed and silent, often shy but also wise. When accompanied by other cards (e.g . Persephone) it may suggest a difficult childhood, quarrels in the family or opinionated parents. When negative it shows a person who either talks too much, is unable to listen to others, tells lies, gossips or expresses an opinion but thinks about about something different and does yet another thing.

Advice

You can feel overwhelmed by the amount of events in your life now. Perhaps some serious disturbances in everyday routine such as disease or loss of something valuable will force you to stop and reconsider what you really need and how to achieve it. Do not make any serious decisions at the moment as it is not the time to act. Avoid noise, do not shout at others, try not to let racing thoughts overpower your mind, do not react to provocations nor answer back. It is advised to to calm down and meditate. If it is possible, take a couple of days off. If it is not, ask the people who surround you to give you a breather. This must be the time only for you.

Love

In a relationship: possible problems with communication. Listen to your beloved more and speak less yourself. It is probable that conflicts have grown to such an extent that a (temporal) separation is required.

If you are single:  this is the time for you, you are advised to concentrate on observation and learning, not on flirting. Perhaps you withdrew from your social networks or family life.

Finances

This is not a good moment to act, you should rather spend it on thinking the problem over or planning a strategy.  While searching for a job this cards encourages to plan your own business especially in the professions requiring creativity and intelligence. It is also a warning that either your boss or your colleagues do not tell us everything or maybe even hide something important.

Health

Pay attention to the diagnosis because something may be unnoticed or neglected during the examination. It is possible that you must consult at least a couple of doctors before the reason of  disease will be determined.  Do not pull an all-nighter and try to get enough sleep . You do need rest and peace, if you do not take a break now health problems will soon affect you seriously. Endangered parts of the body: larynx, pharynx, throat, thyroid, tonsils and tongue.

IMAGES

The first image of Sige comes from the deck of Pamela Matthews and personally I consider it to be extremely beautiful.

The one from the deck of Doreen Virtue seems a bit like a Disney princess.

Sige in Doreen Virtue's deck

*First eight aeons are called The Ogdoad.

**The purpose of Gnosis is is the liberation from the constraints of the world and achieving  enlightenment.

*** Based on the programmes of Danuta the Tarot Reader and translated from Polish.

Based on http://gnosis.org and English Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeon_%28Gnosticism%29, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentinians

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