Tag Archives: minor arcana

Excerpt: My Divination Decks. Tarot

Here is a short extract from Episode 3 called My Divinationary Decks, you can see the whole here. Below the video you will find the written version.

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Anna Solun

In this video I would like to show you the divinationary (traditional and structured) card decks I use.

TAROT

There are three standard pattern decks of Tarot cards:

– Tarot of Marseilles, most probably the oldest deck which appears for the first time in the XVth century

– Rider Waite Smith Tarot created by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith and published in 1909

– Thoth Tarot Deck created by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris and published in 1969

This divinationary system is the world champion in using symbolic and archetypical language as I am trying to show you on the example of the Mage (the man is wearing white and red clothes symbolising the new ideas and his eagerness to put them into action, he is pointing at the sky and the earth reminding us that as above so below, the principle of Hermes Trismegistus who was an inspiration for this card, the Mage has all the Minor Arcana ready at the table near him showing that he has all he needs to act, there is the sign of infinity above his head and his belt is in the shape of Ouroboros, etc).

 

REVIEW: UNIVERSAL GODDESS TAROT BY MARIA CARATTI &ANTONELLA PLATANO

UNIVERSAL GODDESS TAROT

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

MARIA CARATTI uses Tarot, runes, I Ching and a crystal ball for divination, she also deals with magic and focuses on the cult of the Great Goddess, paganism and spells. She is the author of Wheel of the Year Tarot and Wicca Divination Kit and has also collaborated in the development of Secret Forest Tarot and Harmonious Tarot decks. She lives with cats.

Find out more about her on her website:  http://www.mariacaratti.com/

ANTONELLA PLATANO (called by Maria Caratti ‘MagicaAntodalleManidOro“‘ meaning Magical Antonella of the Golden Hands) is an Italian cartoonist. She was born February 12 1973 in Cuneo and graduated from an art college in 1991. She has always been fascinated by comic books and collaborated with Sergio Bonelli Editore, the comics oriented publishing house (she is the co – author of such titles as Legs Weaver and Nathan Never), she has also collaborated with such publishing houses as San Paolo and Rainbow. Antonella has illustrated some popular Tarot decks released by Lo Scarabeo: Witchy Tarot, Gay Tarot, Tarot of the 78 Doors and Wheel of the Year Tarot.  Her favourite techniques are pencil and ink. I have not come across her personal webpage but you can find her profile in a Wikia about comics here.

You can also check the deck’s profile on Lo Scarabeo page and all the cards on Maria Caratti’s Youtube channel. She has also posted some initial sketches of the deck by Antonella Platano on her Facebook profile.

ADVANTAGES

Most important advantage of this deck is the fact that it indeed presents 78 goddesses and nymphs from all over the world. Authors have matched them quite adequately to the Minor and Major Arcana and included not only the most important goddesses but also those less known making the user search and google them. Maria Caratti explains on her page that she initially intended to publish a deck called The Ladies of Magic consisting of around forty cards and presenting the Wiccan themes, however Piero Alligo, an artistic director of Lo Scarabeo, suggested she could instead create the Tarot deck where a goddess would be assigned to each Arcane. It was a real challenge and required deep research in the mythologies, legends and folklore of the world. I have already mentioned in my review of the Goddess Tarot that it is not an easy task to connect the goddesses’ myths, elements and symbols with the original meanings of the Tarot cards.

Most of the choices the author has made seem to  merge successfully goddesses myths with the basic meanings of each Arcane. The best associations seem to be Athena as The Emperor, Aphrodite as The Lovers, Hekate as The Hermit, Arianrhod as The Wheel of Fortune, Ishtar as Strength, Kali as Death, Lilith as The Devil, Morrigan as The Tower and Gaia as The World. As far as the Minor Arcana are concerned , the best assignments seem to be Psyche (Two of Chalices), Leto (Five of Chalices), Maya (Seven of Chalices), Calypso (Eight of Chalices), Hestia (Ten of Chalices), Yemanya (Queen of Chalices), Saraswati (King of Chalices), Sif (Five of Swords), Nehalennia (Six of Swords), Blodeuwedd (Seven of Swords), Fortuna (Ace of Coins), Juno (Queen of Coins) and Lakshmi (King of Coins).

In most cases goddesses are presented in accordance with the cultures they were venerated in and are depicted in archetypical situations and places with typical attributes (with some exceptions which I will present below).

The order and names are taken from a traditional Tarot de Marseilles (Justice as the eighth card and Strength as the eleventh one), authors kept the original names of cards with the exception of The Wheel of Fortune which is renamed simply as The Wheel and The Star (the Pleiades are presented on the card so the name takes plural The Stars).

DISADVANTAGES

I mentioned the cards which seem to be well assigned to the original Tarot meaning but there are also some to which I have some serious objections. Starting with the Major Arcana, I do not think that Demeter, the goddess of earth and vegetation, should represent the card of The Mage who is linked to the element of fire. I believe that much better choice for this arcane would be Brigid who appears in this deck as King of Wands. I do not understand at all the assignment of Kuan Yin to the card of Queen of Wands, firstly because she does not fit the original meaning of Tarot card and secondly because I associate her with the element of water rather than with fire typical for Wands. Studying the legends about her, you will indeed find the description of fire as it is seen on the picture but it is just a piece of plot and it does not characterise the heroine. I absolutely do not perceive Kuan Yin as Queen of Wands, in reality she seems to be her complete opposite smirk2. I would rather match Freyja to this card, especially that she is not present in this deck at all. I do not really understand the reasons why Flora was assigned to a swift like an arrow whizzing in the air Eight of Wands (particularly that she encourages: Lie down with me on this soft grassy carpet and close your eyes in the deck’s booklet), I’d rather see Iris here, however she is Knight of Wands in this deck. I would connect Oya not with the card of Knave of Wands but with Knight of Swords as she is traditionally linked to the element of air, storms and expressing oneself i.e the domain of Swords. I do not really understand what is Inanna, Queen of Heaven, doing on quintessentially earthly Four of Coins.

You also have to face the basic problem whether a goddess really is a goddess zeby. What to do with the figures who are not clearly defined in stories as women? Is it really worth to risk including them in the deck? I can understand attributing Lan Tsai Ho (Lan Caihe), one of Eight Immortals, whose gender is not determined, to the arcane of The Fool, this choice can be explained by the original meaning of this card (ambiguity, lack of focus, numerous different possibilities, something which may lead to many options). However, in the case of Akycha (Seven of Wands) it is doubtful because according to the sources I accessed, Akycha is male. Ten of Wands shows a very interesting motif of Caeneus/Caenis whose myth seems consistent with the original meaning of this arcane, however if we followed this way of thinking, Tiresias could equally be included in this deck.

Unfortunately, unlike Maria Caratti I am not amazed by the illustrations made by Antonella Platano. I do not like this cartoon and comic like style. As far as I know, opinions about Lo Scarabeo’s artwork vary, there are certainly a lot of fans but there is also a large number of opponents. I always repeat after Romans, de gustibus non disputandum, however I have got the right to disagree with the way of depicting goddesses. They are mostly presented in a manner adequate to their eras and civilisations, but in some cases their clothing differs radically, the most obvious examples are Pandora (Four of Chalices), Nehalennia (Six of Swords), Rhiannon (Knight of Swords) and Aine (Knight of Coins).

pandora

nehalennia1

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

aine

Honestly speaking, I do not know whether it is a deliberate action or just a mistake (however after doing so much research, it seems to be rather unlikely). Perhaps I am a traditionalist in this particular area but I simply do not accept such attitude. When I watch the cards of goddesses or historical series, I do want to see the clothing from that particular era and civilisation, not a fashion show à la goddesses or catwalk clothes “inspired by” a certain dynasty. I only accept a deliberate modernisation of archetypes as it happened in case of Cordelia Brabbs’ deck.

ISSUE

78 cards + 2 additional ones, a title card and the one with other Lo Scarabeo decks enlisted

a booklet in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German, it contains introduction by both authors, short messages from goddesses on each card and a spread called The Temple

a box

universal goddess tarot

A booklet added to the cards contains a short presentation of each goddess and her first person message consistent with the original meaning of the Tarot arcana.

The size of cards is  12 x 6,5 cm

Back sides of cards show double female profile joint by a hexagram inscribed in a Wiccan symbol.

EXAMPLE CARDS

Athena as The Emperor

Athena in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Brigid as King of Wands

Brigid as King of Staves in the Universal Goddess Tarot deck

Demeter as Mage

Demeter in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Isis as The High Priestess

Izyda – Hathor w Universal Goddess Tarot Marii Caratti&Antonelli Platano

Lakshmi as King of Coins

Lakszmi w Universal Goddess Tarot Marii Caratti&Antonelli Platano

Seven of Wands

seven of wands

Nine of Chalices

nine of chalices

Five of Swords

sif1

Seven of Coins

seven of pentacles

Back side

2

©2006 Copyright Lo Scarabeo

Publisher:  Lo Scarabeo

ISBN: 888395523-4

MAJOR ARCANA

 0. THE FOOL – Lan Tsai Ho
1. THE MAGICIAN – Demeter
2. THE HIGH PRIESTESS – Isis
3. THE EMPRESS – Astarte
4. THE EMPEROR – Athena
5. THE HIEROPHANT – Aditi
6. THE LOVERS – Venus
7. THE CHARIOT – Eos
8. JUSTICE – Maat
9. THE HERMIT – Hekate
10. THE WHEEL – Arianrhod
11. STRENGTH – Ishtar
12. THE HANGED MAN – Frigg
13. DEATH – Kali
14. TEMPERANCE – Anahita
15. THE DEVIL – Lilith
16. THE TOWER – Morrigan
17. THE STARS – the Pleiades
18. THE MOON – Selene
19. THE SUN – Amaterasu
20. JUDGEMENT – Cerridwen
21. THE WORLD – Gaia

MINOR ARCANA

WANDS

Ace – Bast
2 – Ataentsic
3 – the Horae
4 – White She Buffalo
5 – Pele
6 – Andraste
7 – Akycha
8 – Flora
9 – Angerona
10 – Caeneus/Caenis
Knave – Oya 
Knight – Iris
Queen – Kuan Yin
King – Brigid

CHALICES

Ace  –  Habondia
2 – Psyche
3 – the Graces
4 – Pandora
5 – Leto
6 – Hina
7 – Maya
8 – Calypso
9 – Nike
10 – Hestia
Knave – Hebe
Knight – Epona
Queen – Yemaya
King– Saraswati

SWORDS

Ace – Bellona
2 – Fides
3 – the Norns
4 – Ch’ang O
5 – Sif
6 – Nehalennia
7 – Blodeuwedd
8 – Persephona
9 – Ate
10 – Sakuntala
Knave –  Diana
Knight– Rhiannon
Queen – Tara
King– Coatlicue

COINS

Ace  –  Fortuna
2 – Hemera and Nyx
3 – the Esperides
4 – Inanna
5 – Hel
6 – Acca Larentia
7 – Estsanatlehi (Changing Woman)
8 – Nu Kua
9 – Rosmerta
10 – Ben Saiten
  Knave – Fulla
  Knight – Aine
  Queen – Juno
King – Lakshmi

REVIEW: THE GODDESS TAROT BY KRIS WALDHERR

THE GODDESS TAROT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kris Waldherr is an illustrator, writer and designer. Her works were exhibited in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, she is an author of popular decks such as Goddess Inspiration Oracle, The Lover’s Path Tarot, The Anubis Oracle and books Doomed Queens, The Book of Goddesses and The Lily Maid. She lives in New York with her husband, anthropologist Thomas Ross Miller and their little daughter Thea.

Find out more about her on her website: http://kriswaldherr.net/main/

ADVANTAGES

It is not strictly the goddess oracle deck, it is Tarot deck inspired by goddesses. I find the paintings of Kris Waldherr to be the main advantage. As I have already mention in the review of Goddess Inspiration Cards her graphics appeal to me and the cards are alluring visually. In fact Goddess Inspiration Cards were created after success of The Goddess Tarot as a deck of oracle cards for the users who are not fluent in reading the Major and Minor Arcana.

Obviously when you interpret the readings of The Goddess Tarot, the question arises immediately what to mostly concentrate on: the primary meaning of the Tarot card or the myth about the goddess presented on this card? That is why it is essential to attribute goddess to the arcane adequately, basing on the myths, symbols or elements. It is a complex task and matching female deities to the quintessentially male figures seems to be the main limitation. I must admit that Kris Waldherr somehow managed to fulfil this task. The only things I don’t agree with are:

– incredibly feminine Freyja attributed to the arcane of The Emperor. I find a severe Athena more appropriate choice, however Athena represents the arcane of Justice in this deck (and I admit this assignment makes sense, too)

 – I am not convinced by the assignment of the sea goddess to the arcane of The Devil (here called Temptation) associated with an earth sign of Capricorn 

– I believe that if you take into consideration the nature of Gwenwhwyfar (‘the May Queen’), the card of Judgement which she represents should rather be named Revival

I believe and strongly insist that the original meaning of Tarot arcane should be the primary interpretative level and the goddess myth should only be its completion (especially that the mythological background is presented in a very  cursory manner in the booklet).

A huge advantage is the possibility to try this deck yourself here.

DISADVANTAGES

The deck is really interesting, however remembering the previously asked question (which came first? Tarot card meaning or the goddess myth?) I must say that its semantic chaos is really disturbing. The author somehow took shortcuts  because goddesses are only present on the 22 Major Arcana while the Minor Arcana are the reproductions of the images from Rider – Waite – Smith deck while the order is taken from Tarot of Marseilles and the deck of Alistair Crowley. It is actually the deck of goddess half – Tarot wink3 .

I also think that the rejection of traditional names is a disadvantage and it may be confusing. If you look at the name of Freyja’s card, Power, you may confuse it with the actual card of The Strength.

Kris Waldherr has attributed divine patronesses to all the four suits of the Minor Arcana and the figures representing each suit have characteristic features of people living in the place where the goddess was worshipped. And so Chalices (beginning the cycle of Minor Arcana against the tradition) are attributed to Venus, Wands to Freyja, Swords to Isis and Coins to Lakshmi.

ISSUE

78 cards + 3 additional ones with the information about the deck

a booklet with an introduction written by the author, short description of the Major and Minor Arcana meanings and example spreads (3 Cards + the Celtic Cross) and some empty pages for notes

a box

the goddess tarot

In a booklet each card is presented in the following way:

– name of a card

– a short description of goddess (Major Arcana) or the image on the card (Minor Arcana)

– meaning of the card when it is placed in a regular position

– meaning of the card when it is placed in a reversed position

The size of cards is 12 x 8,5 cm

Back side of the card is an ornamental motif of golden leaves placed between vertical and horizontal golden lines on a light blue background.

EXAMPLE CARDS

Athena as Justice

Athena in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Isis as Mage

Isis – Hathor in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Lakshmi as Wheel of Fortune

Lakshmi in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Nine of Wands

9 of staves

Three of Chalices

3 of cups

Two of Swords

2 of swords

Six of Coins

6 of coins

Back side

3

Copyright©1997 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Publisher: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

ISBN: 1-57281-066-1

MAJOR ARCANA

O BEGINNINGS – Tara
I MAGIC – Isis
II WISDOM – Saraswati
III FERTILITY – Estsanatlehi (Changing Woman)
IV POWER – Freyja
V TRADITION – Juno
VI LOVE – Venus
VII MOVEMENT – Rhiannon
VIII JUSTICE – Athena
IX CONTEMPLATION – Chang O
X FORTUNE – Lakshmi
XI STRENGTH – Oya
XII SACRIFICE – Kuan Yin
XIII TRANSFORMATION – Ukemochi
XIV BALANCE – Yemanya
XV TEMPTATION – Nyai Loro Kidul
XVI OPRESSION – The Wawalak
XVII THE STAR – Inanna
XVIII THE MOON – Diana
XIX THE SUN – The Zorya
XX JUDGEMENT – Gwenwhwyfar
XXI THE WORLD – Gaia

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.

HESTIA (VESTA)

HESTIA (VESTA)

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

ABOUT GODDESS

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

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

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

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

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

220px-Vestalvirgins11

Here is the reconstruction.

220px-Casa-vestali

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

200px-Vestalin

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

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

Hestia

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

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

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

ADVICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE

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

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

FINANCES

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

HEALTH

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

CARDS

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

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

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

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

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

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

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

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

Hestia in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

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

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

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

Hestia in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

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

Hestia in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs

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

Hestia from Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

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

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

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

Hestia in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

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

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

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

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

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

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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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