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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 pommegranate in the Underworld and this made her belong there forever. In the end the gods and goddesses entered into a compromise: Kore was to spend one third of the year with her husband as Persephone the Queen of the Underworld but for the remaining two thirds she could return on the surface and enjoy the time with her mother. This is how the Hellens understood the seasons change: in winter the earth was saddened by the absence of Kore Persephone together with Demeter and in spring and summer when she was coming back, the earth was showing joy by letting leaves and blossoming the flowers.

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 Eurydike to him. She helps Heraclesowi fulfill 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 and illegitimate child of Princess Myrrha who made Aphrodite angry, 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 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 (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 asume 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 prawdopodobnie meteorytom). 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

Córka 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 annonced 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 Asklepios, 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 swines 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 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 hyptheses 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 responsability 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 matters. Give some time to time. What you reap is what you sow. At first you will have to work hard to put 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 getting 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.

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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. 

LAKSHMI

LAKSHMI

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

ABOUT GODDESS

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

– Kamadhenu, divine cow granting wishes,

– a seven – headed horse,

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

– Parijat, an ever-blossoming tree

– Varuni, the goddess of wine

– the moon

– the sun

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

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

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

star of lakshmi

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

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

cow fehuv

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

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

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

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

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

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

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

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

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

ADVICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

BE THANKFUL FOR EVERY MANIFESTATION OF WEALTH IN YOUR LIFE

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

Love

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

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

Finances

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

Health

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

CARDS

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

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

Lakshmi in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Lakshmi in the Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

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

Lakshmi in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

and in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Lakshmi in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

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

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

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

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

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

Lakshmi in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Lakshmi in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Lakshmi w Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

and in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Lakshmi in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

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

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

Lakshmi in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Lakshmi in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Lakshmi in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Lakshmi w The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

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

Lakshmiin Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Lakshmi in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

Lakshmi in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs

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

HESTIA (VESTA)

HESTIA (VESTA)

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

ABOUT GODDESS

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

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

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

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

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

220px-Vestalvirgins11

Here is the reconstruction.

220px-Casa-vestali

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

200px-Vestalin

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

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

Hestia

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

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

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

ADVICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE

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

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

FINANCES

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

HEALTH

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

CARDS

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

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

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

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

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

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

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

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

Hestia in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

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

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

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

Hestia in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

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

Hestia in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs

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

Hestia from Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

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

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

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

Hestia in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

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

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

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

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

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

ISHTAR

ISHTAR

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

ABOUT GODDESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reconstruction in Berlin:

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420 Pergamonmuseum_Ishtartor_06

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   the Ishtar Gate

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

details from the Ishtar Gate

Pergamonmuseum_Ishtartor_02

BerlC3ADn_-_Pergamon_-_Porta_d27Ishtar_-_Lleons

450px-Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_2007085

A miniature model of the Procession Way with the Ishtar Gate

Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_2007110

620px-Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_2007109

800px-Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_2007108

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

Ishtar-gate-D8A8D988D8A7D8A8D8A9-D8B9D8B4D8AAD8A7D8B1

modern replica in Iraq

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

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

Ishtar standing on lions

ishtar_7

ishtar_5

Ishtar Ishtar

assyrian-ishtar

ishtar-cow-calf

ishtar-and-worshipper

As Queen of the Night

ishtar_2

ishtar_8

ishtar_1

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

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

ADVICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love

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

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

Finances

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

Health

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

CARDS

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

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

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

Ishtar in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

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

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

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

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

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

Ishtar in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

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

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

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

Ishtar in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

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

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

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

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

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

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

SARASWATI

SARASWATI

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

ABOUT GODDESS

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

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

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

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

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

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

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

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

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

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

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

ADVICE

This card definitely suggests further learning, especially higher education.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love

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

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

Finances

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

Health

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

CARDS

Saraswati in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Saraswati in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

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

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

Saraswati in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Saraswati in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

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

Saraswati  in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Saraswati in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Saraswati in Goddesses Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

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

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

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

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

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

Saraswati in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

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

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

CYBELE

CYBELE

A great Phrygian goddess mother called Mother of Gods or the Great Mother, a symbol of nature’s vitality, fertility and power, a guardian of caves, mountains, walls, fortresses, wild nature and animals (particularly lions and bees). Her name most probably means Mountain Mother.

ABOUT GODDESS

Cybele’s cult originated from the mountains of Phrygia, a land in Anatolia (present-day Turkey) bordering with Troad, the place where Troy was situated. While researching Anatolian Plateau archeologists have found many rounded female figures representing the goddes of fertility which date back to even 6000 b.C. One if the figures shows an enthroned woman accompanied by wild cats (leopard or panthers) and giving birth to a child; it is probably one of the earliest representations of Cybele.

goddess mother

At first the goddess was not named at all and people referred to her simply as to Matar Kubileya – ‘Mountain Mother’. She was not called Cybele until her cult reached Hellas. She was immediately identified with Hellenic Gaia and Cretan Rhea, goddess mother of the Olympian deities (images of Rhea and Cybele are so alike that it makes them hard to distinguish).

Cybele has appeared in myths separately but she is mostly associated with later legends about Attis and Agdistis. Attis was a Phrygian god of the sun and vegetation who was born in an extraordinary way. A hermaphrodite Agdistis was such a threat for the Olympian deities that they took his/her manhood away and the pennis fell down on Earth. It grew into an almond tree and bore fruit. Nana, daughter of a river deity Sangarius, took one of them and placed in on her womb, that was how she became pregnant.  Having delivered a boy, she abandoned him because she was so afraid of her father. The child was taken care of and fed with his own milk by a goat (!) and when Attis grew up he became such a handsome man than Cybele herself fell in love with him. She promised to make him immortall and to love him forever if he stays faithful to her. Unfortunately to Attis, he cheated on the goddess with a hamadryad. Enraged Cybele cut down the tree which was the source of the nymph’s life and struck Attis with madness which eventually made him deprive himself of manhood. He was, however, accepted as the goddess servant. It must be mentioned that the myth about Attis has several versions, the one presented above comes from Ovid, but according to Catullus Attis bled out and Cybele regretting her rage resurrected him to life in the form of a fir. Evergreen trees and violets are the symbols of goddess and her lover.

Cybele’s cult was orgiastic by nature and similar to the one of Dyonisus, it consisted of singing, dancing, banging the drums, playing wild music and drinking wine. Goddess was accompanied by the Korybantes (also called the Couretes), priests who were protecting Zeus when he was an infant. According to the myth Rhea told them to bang the drums, sing loudly and dance to divert child’s father, Cronus’ attention from his hidden son’s crying. The most fanatical worshipers of Cybele were self-castrating themselves; then they wore female clothes and were considered to be women.

From Hellas her cult spread to Rome where she was called Magna Mater (‘the Great Mother’). It began during the Punic wars against Hannibal when the Sybilline oracle clearly stated that the Carthaginian leader would not be defeated unless the Romans introduced the cult of Phrygian goddess mother to their city. Therefore in 204 b.C. the Senate decided to bring a black stone, the symbol of Cybele, from Pessinus to the Eternal City and the temple was built for her. Her festivals, Hilaria and Megalesia, were taking place between March, 15th and April, 10th (bulls were sacrificed to her in caves, the rite was called Taurabolium). Cybele’s cult was very popular in the whole Roman Empire and it was not terminated until the Christian era.

As a curiosity I would like to add that Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid is named for the sake of this goddess. A neoclassical fountain is situated in the middle of it showing Cybele in the chariot pulled by lions. Plaza de Cibeles is one of the most recognized places in Madrid.

Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles (picture by Sergio Ramos, found on his Twitter account)

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

In her early images Cybele’s attributes were lions, a small vase for libations and a bird of prey. The goddess was usually portrayed enthroned and wearing a long chiton (gown) and a polos, a crown in the shape of city wall. She was holding a tympanum (a drum and a tambourine combined) in her hand and was accompanied by lions.

Cybele

Another popular image shows her riding a chariot pulled by two or four lions and accompanied by the Couretes; she is journeying through the sky and meets the sun and the moon on her way.

Cybele's chariot

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The person represented by this card is creative, sociable, fun-loving and eager to engage into ventures. A boss or a supervisor. Mother. Drag queen. In negative meaning the person who acts without thinking, has no boundaries and is prone to stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.

ADVICE

You might have fallen into a routine and your life became predictable. Go out and charge your inner batteries with fun, music and dance. Be careful with alcohol. Be very careful what you are doing because you may regret later.

Love

If you are in the relationship: a possible relationship between an older woman and a young man. Time of passion which may result in a pregnancy. Adultery.

If you are single: active social life which nevertheless does not help in establishing a long term relationship. Big sensuality.

Finances

A good job waiting abroad. Risky financial and stock exchange operations. Promotion. Spending too much money. This card warns against losing money by gambling.

Health

Beware poisoning and addictions. Wound. Amputation. Misuse of medications. Pregnancy. Fertile phase. Delivery. Endangered parts of the body: reproductory system.

CARDS

Cybele in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Cybele in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Cybele in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Cybele in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Cybele in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Cybele in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

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

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

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