Good Herbalists Know Latin

This is my third season as an herb gardener and every year brings new lessons. The first year I just planted whatever I could find that I knew was an herb, which pretty much means anything and everything. I focused more on the medicinal varieties as opposed to the culinary ones. I didn't bother looking at the Latin names too much because they were hard to remember and ever harder to pronounce. But I've learned that in order to market a plant to the "common" gardener plant names often get a little fluffy and you may think you have a lovely variety of thyme plants when in reality you have three of the same darn thing now crowding up your garden. So, let me impart a few things to you that I've discovered over the past few years.

Lesson #1 English Sage is Common Sage
I thought I had two different types of sage here but instead I have realized they are the same plant. There is no variety at all. They are simply Salvia officinalis... common, English sage.

Lesson #2 Same Plant Two Names
Have you heard of Bergamot, the lovely citrus scented plant used to flavor earl grey tea? How about Bee Balm, that pretty spiky flower bees adore? Well they are exactly the same thing. If it says Monarda didyma it's Bergamot... or Bee Balm... or whatever. Same thing different name.

Lesson #3 Just Because it's Yarrow Doesn't Mean it's Medicinal
Did you know the only Yarrow that has any real medicinal qualities is your run of the mill, wild white Yarrow? Have you ever tried finding it at your local nursery? If you have then you have probably run into the same problem I have. All I find is varieties like "Coronation Gold" and "Paprika". They're pretty but that's all their really good for. Check your tags and make sure it just says Achillea millefolium with no variety whatsoever. You may have to do what I did and order it from an herbal company online like Richter's. I even finally managed to find some Mugwort there too. No variety. Just Artemesia vulgaris.

So, the main moral of the story here folks is to check you tags and know your Latin before you spend money on something you don't want and don't need. It's hard to find the real deal anymore... the real original, un-manufactured, un-hybridized product the way Mama intended it. Personally I find more beauty in the less tampered with plants out there. You know, the ones that haven't been bred with other plants or grafted or whatever. But it's all about aesthetics I guess. If that's not a metaphor for society at large I don't know what is.

Honestly, gardening of any kind brings us closer to nature and closer to the Goddess. It's fun, educational, rewarding, etc. I have learned more during three seasons with dirt under my nails that I did with a decade of herb books. It's almost as though getting closer to the plants by caring for them leads to insights into how they can be used. They each have their own personality and it's wonderful to simply sit with them and enjoy their scents, colors, and company.

When I get my camera all set again I plan on posting some pictures of my garden for those who care to see it. I've also made some great plant stakes and signs that say things like "Goddess Bless This Garden". I just love them and I've been giving them away as gifts to friends. I hope to be able to share some images soon.

Religious Freedom vs. Minors Rights

*BIG, GIANT, POSSIBLY INCOHERANT RANT ALERT*

I was watching the View today. I don't make it a habit like ever... but I just happened to be flipping through and heard Whoopi talking about the Texas polygamy issue that's been in the news recently. On the screen behind her was a picture of an (allegedly) 12 - YES TWELVE! - year old girl and her 40+ husband.

Whoopi basically played devil's advocate by saying that it would be hard for jurors to draw a line in this case because it's all about religious rights. Her words were something like "...well maybe then we would wonder should Scientologists not be allowed to do what they do as part of their religious rights?..." (not a direct quote) I wanted to slap her.

Religious rights take a backseat to the obvious endangerment of a minor. I can hear some people already. Yes, some Christians think Paganism endangers minors - but in the case of these child brides I think there is no room for debate. These girls are barely pubescent and being made to have sex with men almost triple their age. It's sick and perverted and any religion that advocates something like that is completely immoral and the creation of men with a distinct brand of sexual deviance.

I am the mother of a little girl who will be 9 next Thursday. She is a LITTLE GIRL - not a woman who would be ready for marriage and children in 3 years. Any mother who could allow her child to be taken into a situation such as this should have their children removed for being a weak willed woman who has forgotten to fight for the well being of their children. I'm not movable on this one. I don't care how you rationalize it, justify it, make sense of it... etc. It's wrong.

Do you think these people even realize the kind of damage giving birth so young can cause on the bodies of these girls? Some young women in Africa are plagued with broken bodies; bladders and bowels that leak, prolapsed wombs, and more. Those serious medical conditions were caused by giving birth too young because they were raped and impregnated as children.

Speaking of rape - why doesn't the statutory law apply in the polygamy case? I believe it's a state issue, but I can't imagine any state says it's okay for a 40 year old man to have sex with a 12 year old girl. She's barely able to make her own decisions with a 7th grade education - let alone decide who to give her body to and why.

I'm not claiming to be the most educated on the polygamy case or the practices of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. What I know is that it's wrong to have sex with children. I don't care what religion you are - or how it's justified. 12 year olds are children plain and simple. And if keeping these children away from their mothers allows them the peace to grow into healthy women who can make choices for sex, marriage, and children when they are ready... I'm all for it.

As Athana has said many times... what would a healthy mother do? Not give her daughters away as child brides. Not allow them to be sexual abused minors. Not believe in a god who says any of this is okay. EVER. It's not okay. It's criminal.

Goddess, Mother, wake up these women and empower them to take control of their lives and the lives of their children. Let them see the sacredness of motherhood and all that comes with it. Make them fight for their daughters. Make them fight for their sons also so they might not be raised to abuse young girls the way that their fathers have. And awaken these men to you and to the respect of the female body. Allow them to embrace the fathers within them and shun the war god who advocates any form of child abuse in the name of religion. So mote it be.

Poll: The Next Temple


I'm struggling with which Goddess to devote the next virtual temple to. So I've created a poll so you guys can help me out. All of these Goddesses are calling to me, but the two who seem to be in my thoughts the most these days are Kali and Demeter.

Why I'm having trouble deciding:
I have a book on Kali coming soon that I am hoping will give me lots to think about when creating her temple. She calls to me in a strong way. I already have an ample amount of info on Demeter, but her image seems so much clearer to me through Persephone - who I just did a temple to. Both existing temples are Greek in nature. So, should we move on to another pantheon for a bit? Or should we stick with the Greeks until they are all done? Brigid for me is the Great Goddess in Ireland - a land I have long since been connected with. Should I move "home" for a while with her? And Isis is such a Great Queen Goddess that I have always been fascinated by her and all her incarnations.

So you can see why this is hard for me right now. I would love to know what readers are looking to see so that I can be swayed one way or the other to start working on a new temple (or two). I also need to finish the meditation on Persephone. Or maybe not... maybe she doesn't call for one. I'm not sure.

Thanks in advance to everyone who votes. You can vote here on this post or there is a static poll in the sidebar under Virtual Temples. Just click the link up top to go there.

Experiencing Christianity

I was recently asked to do a short interview on the way women experience Christianity. A few months ago I did an interview (a 5-part piece) with Susy from Unmasking the Goddess who passed on my info to author Jonalyn Grace Fincher. Jonalyn was interesting in knowing how I experienced Christianity as a woman and I suppose also as someone who no longer subscribes to the beliefs of the church. I've pasted my responses below. Please feel free to leave comments and get a conversation started.

1- From your experience does Christianity seem to teach that God is male, female, both or neither? What caused you to think this?

A: I believe Christianity teaches that God is male. There is much emphasis placed on concepts like God the Father, Christ the Son, etc. but there have been no concepts surrounding God the Mother until recently. From what I gather that is very commonly not a popular concept with many Christians.

Mary is a positive figure, as the Mother of Christ (God), but she is never deified. Instead she is commonly believed to have been a mortal woman with no divinity of her own. At best she is seen as a saint and her worship is often only found in some denominations. Goddess worshippers believe Mary to be a face of the Goddess.

2- How is following the Goddess more affirming to you than following God?

A: There is a common misconception that all women migrate to Goddess worship because they are not empowered by a male concept of God. I would say in the beginning that this is true for some. Personally I never felt as though I needed empowerment. Instead I saw a concept of God that was more complete for me than a male concept. In short, Goddess makes more sense to me.

I do find the Goddess more affirming but not because I’m a woman. I personally feel she is more affirming for people as a whole. She is a being of balance and completion who teaches equality for all life. Her lessons also encourage her followers to understand that their personal experiences are valid and that those experiences can be a way of connecting with her. No one is told their interpretations of the Goddess are wrong or unworthy. Spirituality is seen as such an individual concept and not everyone requires the same lessons.

3- Does the Christian church seem oppressive to women? If so, can you share any stories?

A: I think at times it can be. Again here, I see that the church can be oppressive to people in general and not just women; teaching them that they are naturally evil and that they need to earn God’s love. I do however find that the lack of female clergy in Christianity is a problem and a testament to the way women have been seen throughout time as vehicles of temptation and evil.

4- What passages/places in the Bible seem to limit women? Are there any Bible passages that seem to value women equally to men?

A: I have pasted a few passages below that paint a less than flattering picture of the way the Bible speaks of women. I realize that during Jesus’ ministry he taught gender equality. He took women into his inner circle, spoke with them as equals (as God’s daughters), and used terminology that implied that women should be seen as no less and no better than men. Unfortunately though, his words are not as direct and to the point as those of the Old Testament. I suppose it would’ve been nice if he had just come out and said it in plain language. I also think it would’ve been nice to see Mary Magdalene given the role of one of Christianity’s founders as she so deserved in my opinion.

1 Corinthians 14:34:
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.

Genesis 3:16:
To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Isaiah 19:16:
In that day the Egyptians will be like women. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the LORD Almighty raises against them.

Deuteronomy 22:20-21:
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.

Leviticus 12:1-8:
Numbers 5:12-31

Temple of Persephone


The Temple isn't exactly complete because I haven't been inspired to write the meditation yet. Everything is there though - most of which you may have already read in previous posts. Check it out and hopefully enjoy!

Virtual Temple of Persephone

Jung and the Anti-bunny

Carl Jung proposed a technique called Active Imagination which theorized that one could connect with the deeper subconscious through active daydreaming and fantasy. I believe this technique was only named by Jung. In my opinion it is exactly the same process employed by shamanic traditions throughout time and it is exactly the process being utilized by individuals who believe they have contact with mythological creatures like faeries, dragons, etc.

For many years I have carried around a certain amount of frustration when interacting with people who believe in the reality of myth and legend. I became exasperated and admittedly began to shut down every time. I realize I was placing judgment, but my brain simply couldn’t rationalize certain ideas as real and certainly not as useful. After studying a little of Jung’s ideas I have a new opinion. I’ve had an epiphany.

The main thesis of my recent epiphany is that the problem I have is not in the ideas of the mythical creatures themselves, but when people see them for reality instead of a route towards understanding their own subconscious.

The Active Imagination Technique is similar to daydreaming, but in an active way as the title suggests. This is where the dreamer takes a mindful role in the fantasy being explored in order to learn about themselves on a subconscious level. The state that the brain goes into during waking dreams is called the alpha state. This is the same state we go into when we’re driving, taking a shower, doing the dishes, or any other kind of “mindless” action. So, every time I hear the voice (referenced in the previous post) I am in alpha state which means my subconscious may be trying to tell me something. I’m not sure yet what I may be trying to tell myself, but I believe now that the voice is not outside of myself, but a part of my subconscious mind.

I think with this new understanding I can better deal with my frustrations and my own feelings of hypocrisy since I too am subject to my subconscious mind; my active imagination. I think I’ve found a way to rationalize and reconcile the abstract and the analytical halves of my personality that can not only help me better understand myself, but also others.

Hope this made some sense. What do you think about the theories presented here? Am I still robbing myself of the magic or have I found a way to embrace it without stepping past the bounds of what I know to be reality - and what I consider to be the domain of fluffy bunnies?

Robbing Myself of Magic

Raven Grimassi once told me to be careful not to “rob myself of the magic”. He had just signed some books for me and since I had waited until later in the day to visit his booth he was free to chat for a bit. I was on the Pagan Pride committee that year (the event he and his wife were attending as guest speakers) so we had already been introduced and quickly moved to topics of deeper interest. I was expressing my disenchantment and frustration when Raven, looking for all the world like Paul McCartney's love child without his moustache, said those words. I consider Raven to be an extremely well learned man whose books are meticulously researched and void of much of the fluffiness some authors embrace. So of course I took his words to heart, but to this day I'm still not sure how to put them into action.

I have experienced certain things that I badly want to believe were real and true. As time passes I rationalize my experiences until there is nothing left of them. Consequently experiencing these things again is rather difficult.

When I was a child I used to hear a voice. It was completely incoherent and I always felt that if I listened just a little harder I might be able to make out the words. This scared the crap out of me as a kid and eventually the voice stopped. I think I might have willed it to stop.

When I hit about 19 or so the voice began to return and 11 years later there are times when I still hear it. Am I crazy? Maybe. I’ve thought about Schizophrenia, but that doesn’t usually hit someone until their early twenties. Because this has been ongoing since early childhood I have ruled that out. Could this be some inner voice? Is it my intuition? My conscience? The one constant is that the voice always comes along when I am doing something repetitive or not requiring concentration – when my brain is in an alpha state.

If I was listening to someone else tell this story I would be convinced they were crazy and I expect nothing less from anyone who is reading this right now. I am very scientifically minded. I believe in reason and I strive to understand why things are and how they work. I’m also very creatively minded. I’m an artist and creating is like instinct for me. So I suppose there is sort of an inner struggle going on. One part of me thinks there must be rational explanations for everything while the other is not opposed to more abstract ideas.

I’ve considered that perhaps I’m clairaudient but I also think mediums are most often frauds. Maybe famous psychics have ruined it for me. John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Chris Fleming, etc. have really just left a bad taste in my mouth about psychics and mediumship in general. I am certainly not going to say I have an ability that I have never been able to believe in others. I have had numerous readings and not one of them has ever been more than a cold reading or a general interpretation of cards laid out on a table. I believe everyone could potentially have psychic ability, I just haven’t proven that yet.

On the topic of channeling, I have thought that maybe if we’re all Goddess than it isn’t too crazy to think she could speak to us or through us. Why is it people who channel pick things like Arch Angels, aliens, star clusters, famous dead folks, etc? I just can’t swallow the whole concept. But I wish I could.

I want to believe. Who doesn't? Isn't that desire to believe what gives psychic charlatains their power in the first place? I’m willing to suspend all sorts of belief but I need something concrete, something that can be evaluated and then revealed to be true. Maybe I need to stop putting reigns on everything before the magic is lost to me forever.

Could I be a Jaded Wiccan?

Warning: Tongue-and-cheeky-ness to follow. Thick skin and/or a good sense of humor required. Turn back now if you offend easily.

This post is being brought to you by the brain function that occurred after reading a post entitled Wicca on the Down Low at Lover of Strife - which I bookmarked immediately and should’ve added to my recently quasi-alphabetized links list by now. I haven’t considered myself Wiccan for at least ten years, but after reading the afore mentioned article I suddenly feel compelled to see if I’ve been lying to myself for a decade or so.

So I guess the first thing to do is define what makes someone a Wiccan. I looked around the net and really didn’t find a concrete definition – or a list of bullet points which I am obviously kind of fond of. Many Pagans share beliefs systems that are so similar that there is little to no distinction between one tradition and the other. Most of the time it comes down to pantheons, language used, ritual structure, etc. So I guess the only view I can use here is my own.

Note: I have a lot of Wiccan friends who I don’t want to offend, so I am going to trust that they all know me well enough to understand where I’m coming from if they happen upon this blog of mine. I circle with Wiccans and I respect many Wiccan individuals for their devotion and scholarship. I’m obviously generalizing and am by no means saying every Wiccan is the compilation of fluff that I may be about to type.

Wicca (Through my eyes)
- Belief in Goddess and God as two separate but equal parts seen through a myriad of other completely separate deities with their own names, faces, purposes, powers, and geographic origins.
- Very specifically Celtic.
- Adheres to the Wiccan Rede.
- Practices magic, often ceremonial and involving bunches of tools.
- Leans towards a belief in the literal interpretation of the mythical (faeries, dragons, etc.).
- Knowledge of Tarot cards and other tools of divination are considered standard for all adherents and those who don’t dig on the divination are looked down on or considered not “Witchy” enough.
- Astrology is gospel.
- Gardner and his contemporaries may as well be Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John of the Wiccan world.

I will reiterate that this is not some official list of bulleted points describing Wicca. It is only how I personally view it. Is my opinion slanted in some way? Yes, absolutely. Have I run into too many self proclaimed High Priestesses of Pomp and Circumstance who claim to channel spirits from other dimensions or have a direct line to the Goddess? Yes. Yes, I have. Maybe I am simply jaded. But could I really be a jaded Wiccan? By my own admittedly preconceived list of defining factors above I would answer no.

But it’s time for another list of bullets to catalog what my tradition might have in common with Wicca. Now I think the point here is to see if anything listed is solely the property of Wicca or if it’s sort of a non-denominational Pagan standard.

- Circle casting.
- Element calling.
- Nature viewed as sacred and revered in ritual practice.
- Belief in something like the Wiccan Rede which in my opinion is a Neo- Pagan version of the Golden Rule.

Okay, short list I guess. In my opinion everything in the list above is universally Pagan, right down to the Native American traditions. As a matter of fact I don't even find circle casting or element calling to be necessary, especially in solitary practice.

Now let’s take a look at the things I don’t think I have in common with Wicca. This list could also be called “Reasons Why I Became Disenchanted with Wicca at an Early Age”.

- No separation: Belief in one deity imagined as Goddess, completely connected (meaning not separate) from any of her other aspects be they mythically male or female in distinction.
- Magic is prayer and no props are ever really needed, but the desire to use props to touch with the unconscious is often desired. I don’t care about athames or bolines or what color their handles are.
- Witchcraft can be (but not always is) a religious practice and not a specific religion. The same goes for divination.
- Lack of belief in the mythical world(s). Don’t believe in faeries, dragons, etc. because I simply haven’t seen any of them and I don’t choose to live in a world of un-reality where I can blame my missing keys on mischievous house gnomes. Though that would be cool if I could.
- Emphasis is placed on religion – worship, prayer, connection, spiritual understanding, betterment of self, etc. as opposed to getting really good at scrying or using runes.
- Myth is never interpreted literally and its uses are unique to every individual practitioner.

None of the lists in this post are complete by any means. I could probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Besides, this post is long enough already. I’m going to turn the questions to you instead. What makes a Wiccan? Am I Wiccan? Has Wicca gotten a bad rap? What is the solution if so? Am I a closed minded crazy lady? Let’s find out. Add some comments and continue the conversation.

Ritual: Reshaping the Heart

I have recently found myself thinking and talking a lot about the idea of removing obstacles. Kali-Ma and Persephone have been making themselves well known to me and I guess I don’t consider this a coincidence. Someone is telling me that change needs to happen. Since I figure the only real change I am in control of is the changing of me, I have designed a little ritual and exercise to help me do this.

From my perspective change begins from within. Everything I am is a complicated mash up of memories, feelings, and instincts that subsequently determine how I react to my life and the people within it. With this little ritual it is my hope that I will be able to edit these feelings. Well, except the instincts. I don’t think there’s much we can do about those besides control the ones we don’t want to be dominant.

I call this ritual, as you can see above, Reshaping the Heart. Obviously the heart is a metaphor for the soul; for who we are and why. For ages it has been seen as the place where we keep our goodness and our not-so-goodness. In Jungian terms this will be an exercise that fits in the category of shadow work. As with many good spiritual exercises this ritual begins with some meditation.

Spend some time reflecting on the traits that make up your personality. Really think about it and be honest with yourself. Make two separate lists; one for your “good” traits and one for your “not-so-good” traits. Which traits fit into which category is all up to you. This is a mindful meditation that may take some time to complete. It isn’t necessary to sit at your altar this whole time. Carry a notebook with you throughout your day if need be.

Once you feel you have two complete lists cut your traits up into individual slips of paper so that each slip only has one trait on it. Place the slips into a vessel of your choosing. You could use a plain box, a jar, etc. You might even want to get very symbolic and use a vessel that is heart-shaped. You can paint your name on it and decorate it any way you wish. Get as creative as you like or keep it simple. It’s your symbolic heart.

Once your “heart” is full of traits, set aside some time to consecrate the vessel at your altar. I find the dark moon is good for this sort of ritual, but you might find another phase to be more appropriate. Light candles, incense, or whatever you normally do in ritual. Call upon the Goddess in your own words and ask her to bless the vessel, you, and your workings. Ask for guidance, strength, or anything else you feel you may need during this process. Once you’re ready choose a trait that you want to remove from yourself and set it aside in another container or somewhere else that will keep it from getting lost.

Now it’s time to spread some intent. For the sake of example let’s say you chose to remove anger from your heart. Fully visualize yourself being a less angry person. Imagine you are extremely patient and more likely to react with compassion then anger. See a situation in your mind where you were in a rage and change it. Imagine how the situation would’ve played out if you had chosen not to become so angry.

Close your ritual and give your thanks to the Goddess. Over the course of the next moon cycle be mindful of your choice to remove anger (or the trait you chose) from your life. Be conscious of your reactions and choices and allow yourself the room to grow and change. Be patient with yourself and remember that this is not about judging yourself or not accepting yourself for who you are. It’s about loving yourself enough to the best person you can be; for yourself and for everyone you care about.

If you feel you have conquered the trait you chose to remove then burn it at the next turning of the moon. If you don’t feel you have beaten the undesirable trait then begin the process again for another cycle.

This ritual can also be performed in the opposite direction by adding traits to your symbolic heart. Some people may find this a more positive approach. Make lists of your current traits and traits you wish to possess. Instead of burning the new trait at the end of the moon cycle you can finally add it into your “heart”.

Again, this is not about judging yourself. You are already good enough, but everyone could use a tune up every now and then. Life can sometimes take a toll on our spirits and it never hurts to take some mental inventory to reassess who we have become and what sort of baggage our experiences have left us with.

I will personally be using this ritual and will hopefully have some really great success stories to share with all of you. If you give it or shot or have some insights into this process I would love to hear from you.

The Three Keys

Dissecting and Interpreting Mythology
and Theological Concepts of the Goddess


I imagine everyone has their own way of interpreting the Goddess. By nature, being a Goddess worshipper fills a person with a sense of empowerment that teachers him/her to trust their instincts and their personal ideas. Perhaps the Goddess inspires us all differently, coming to us in unique ways that teach every individual exactly what they need to learn.

For me it has always been a challenge to order my thoughts when it comes to understanding the Goddess. To me all Goddesses are one Goddess so learning about her different images helps me understand her as a whole. She is all things and sometimes it’s not that easy to wrap my head around her thousands of faces, symbols, etc. The method I use to better my own understanding, and create a sense of order in an otherwise jumbled mind, is what I call the Three Keys System.

First, let me make my personal framework clear. This is the core of my belief system and what I base all of my interpretations on.

• All Goddesses are one Goddess. All deity is one deity.
• The Goddess is all things and everything in nature and life can carry her lessons.
• The Goddess is triplicate; Maiden, Mother, Crone.
• The combination of those three aspects creates the forth or total aspect of Goddess; All-Goddess, Panthea, Great Goddess, etc.
• The All-Goddess aspect is the totality of all things and is the ultimate vision of the Goddess.
• Every Goddess carries the qualities of each the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone though they usually lean further in the direction of one than the others.

Now the things listed above can’t really be called facts. I’m not sure there is much within the realm of religion that can be called wholly factual. I suppose that’s why we have the concept of faith. But does this make them untrue? If perception is reality then the statements of faith above are as true as the sky being blue. Though I see a blue sky a slightly color blind person may think it seems more like a shade of purple. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, neither and both at the same time. Both perceptions are completely true, albeit personal truths.

So, after I choose my topic (or my Goddess) that I am going to devote study time to, I research like crazy and put everything I have gathered in one place. I read all of the information as many times as necessary and formulate ideas while specifically looking for keywords that may be ascribed to the Goddess in question. Almost right off the bat I can usually see if a Goddess falls into the Maiden, Mother, Crone, or All categories based on what I know of each.

Then I look at the way this Goddess relates to other deities, if there are other Goddesses involved that can make her triplicate aspects obvious, and examine her relationship to her mate if she has one. I ask myself questions like “what did this Goddess do?”, “what purpose does her myth serve?”, “what are her symbols”, etc.

In between all of this I usually make time to meditate for a few days on the Goddess I am studying. For me it is necessary to spend a lot of time in thought and reflection, allowing the Goddess to send some inspiration along before I come to any conclusions.

The next step is to weed through any keywords I may have come across. I usually take the three most specific or clearly illustrated keywords and elaborate on them. For example, for the Minoan Bee Goddess (Merope) I selected the keywords that jumped out at me the most then jotted down what I felt they meant.

Connection
- It is not good to always be alone.
- Seek connection with other people and with all life.
- Live in harmony with others.

Responsibility
- Live responsibly in co-existence with other people and with nature.
- Work honestly and earn your keep in life.
- Everyone has a purpose.

Humility
- Love is stronger than you.
- Love openly and without shame.
- There is no room for pride in love.

After using the Three Keys System and incorporating the Triple Goddess framework I feel that I have a pretty clear understanding of what this Goddess means to me, or what lessons I needed to gain from her. I can now incorporate this specific Goddess into my vision of the Goddess as a whole and further enrich my spiritual experience.

Your interpretations of individual Goddesses or the Goddess as a whole may be completely different from mine. I trust that the Goddess has a good understanding of us and knows which of her aspects are beneficial to every individual.

For me, the most important part of all of this is to know that the Goddess is ever-present and constant. She cannot be changed. She just is. I find this way of thinking beneficial, especially when participating in theological debates. No one should ever feel their ideas or perceptions are invalid or being threatened by others because it all comes from the Goddess anyway.

We all have different relationships with the Goddess in the way children do with their mothers. Healthy, present mothers know which of their children need to know which lessons and each child is treated as an individual. As we grow mothers teach new lessons, or impart more wisdom in regards to old lessons. It is important to be open to change and an evolution in thought because we never want to be so stubborn in our beliefs that the Goddess can’t teach us more of what we need to know.

So, your unique vision of the Goddess is just as valid as any other. So long as you are enriching your own experience of your Mother, there can be no wrong answers to your questions.

Pagan Theology is Goddess

Ancient texts, theology, stories of the Goddess, the ability to think for oneself, the rich culture of civilizations, good books and resources, brilliant authors and Pagan thologians, ideas and epiphanies... all of these things are Goddess.

It struck me recently that the temple project is leading to discussions in theology. I won't spell it with an "a" (thealogy) because I don't think it's necessary. Besides, wouldn't it be nice if common language was used so everyone understood what was being discussed? (Thanks to Ailia for teaching me this lesson.) Anyway, I know that sometimes the topic of theology is not popular with Pagans - that we presume it's something Christians do and that it will only lead to doctrine. And most Pagans simply shudder at the big evil idea of doctrine. I'm somewhat proud to realize that, at least from my point of view, none of the discussions found here lately are too indoctrinated. I think it's clear that everyone is speaking from their own educated view points which I am very grateful for.

As I searched the web for links related to Pagan theology I found some interesting articles, one that specifically discusses the "theology leads to doctrine" idea. In this article the author lays out common modern Pagan beliefs in comparison with his/her beliefs. The differences are interesting and the author's frustration with modern Paganism's lack of things like faith, love, devotion, etc. - or at least the reluctance of Pagan's to use those words in conjunction with religion - is obvious. I echo the same sentiments and found the article refreshing and honest.

Give the article a read if you have some time and since today is Thou Art Goddess Thursday: Pagan theology is Goddess. :)

Persephone as Crone

The Temple of Persephone is almost done, but I wanted to get this out now in case someone can inspire me to make some changes in thought before it goes live.

I'm trying desperately to make these musings as personal as possible since I think there is no one right way to interpret the Goddess. I hope you find something useful or thought provoking within my ramblings. (edits in bold)
M U S I N G S

Her story has resonated with millions of people over millennia and her archetype is firmly rooted in the human psyche. She is Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, transformation of the Sacred Bride.

While young Kore played in the fields, stopping to take in the scent of flowers, a hole opened up in the Earth below her. She was shaken as she stood gazing at the God Pluton in his chariot. He was beautiful to her eyes, a vision of perfect masculinity and a counterpart to her feminine grace. With a natural fear of things unknown, Kore allowed herself to be taken by Pluton and succumbed to her destiny as his lover and his queen.

Persephone entered my life quite some time ago. I had very little understanding of her mysteries at that time and simply thought of her as the Maiden in the most generic sense. As I studied her further she began to take on her full form in my heart, showing me that her story was timeless and poignant. She also showed me that her image was hardly limited to that of the Maiden. I felt as though she was calling me to rediscover her and find a way to fully integrate her into my personal image of the Great Goddess.

In Eleusis, where the mysteries thrived for so long, Persephone was revered as a primary deity, and as an integral symbol of the religious traditions of thousands. In this sacred space I invite you to soak in the story of Persephone and learn her lessons for yourself. Let her light embrace you and take you into the hallowed caves of Eleusis with all the wisdom of an initiate.

U N D E R S T A N D I N G

As with many triple Goddesses, it is impossible to talk about Persephone without taking into consideration her other aspects. My perception of the Goddess Persephone (Roman Proserpina) is that she is a distinct face of the Goddess, seperate from Kore, her Maiden aspect. I see Kore, Demeter, and Persephone as a complete Triple Goddess figure with Persephone filling the role of Crone.

Her name means "Destroyer". Through my studies I have found there are devotees of this Goddess who reject that notion on the grounds that her cycle is one of a blending of life and death without fear; that she is a queen of life and beauty and love. They believe that giving her the name Destroyer somehow strips her of the role of benevolent queen.

I propose that Persephone is indeed a destroyer. Her destruction is a necessary vehicle for transformation without which nothing new could ever be created. Much like Kali-Ma she is not only a destroyer of physical things (as she personifies death), but she is also a destroyer of fear, doubt, shame, and other negative things that are not conducive to spiritual growth. She is a remover of obstacles, again like Kali.

Many scholars and worshippers of Persephone also reject the idea of her rape by Pluton, also known as Hades. I would have to agree on this one for many reasons. As cited in Mysteries of Demeter: Rebirth of the Pagan Way by Jennifer Reif, the clergy of Persephone were all priestesses. It seems unlikely that women would have chosen to devote their lives to a religion that deifies the act of rape. I think instead Persephone's image was one of empowerment and equality, not of an abused woman without power of her own.

Also, as noted by Reif, there are images of Persephone and Pluton carved in stone that picture them sitting alongside each other on their thrones, equal and appearing to be the very essence of matrimonial partnership. Adding that to the fact that there is nothing that mentions rape in both the Orphic or Homeric texts, and it seems as though the idea of rape might have been a rather modern construct, perhaps introduced by mythology scholars or art historians. At some point someone was responsible for naming the first piece of ancient art or literature "The Rape of Persephone".

Persephone is the creation of Kore's experiences; she is a symbol of the transformation between child and adult. She bridges the gap between birth and death with Demeter standing at the center to impose the balance between the two and thus facilitating and perpetuating life.

A primary symbol of Persephone is the pomegranate. Eating its seeds symbolizes gaining wisdom and the knowledge of the mystery of eternal life. The pomegranate could quite possibly have been the first image of the fruit of knowledge spoken of in Jewish mythology. When I ponder this further though I find I come to a small conundrum. Jewish mythology (in the Old Testament of the Bible) says that the fruit was the downfall of humanity. I don't agree with this idea as I think knowledge is not a bad thing. I think perhaps though that ignorance truly is bliss and sometimes knowing too much causes suffering. It is easier and less painful to accept things blindly instead of pondering life for oneself.

So, the key words I have identified in regards to Persephone are destruction, wisdom, and partnership. (See the Temple of Merope for more on my keyword process.)

Destruction
- Destroying one thing transforms it into another. (death is not to be feared)
- Without destruction there can be no birth or growth.
- Destroying ego or negative qualities of the self is an important process in spiritual development.

Partnership
- The sexes are equal and compatible.
- Working together is a way to effect greater change. (cliche version: there is no "i" in team.)
- It is not good to bear the burden of life alone.

Wisdom
- Knowledge should be sought after.
- With wisdom comes a rebirth of the spirit.
- Don't waste your ability to learn and think for yourself.

Temple of Merope



So this is what I've been working on over the last couple of days. I've started a new project that I hope will be both informative and spiritually beneficial. I guess only people who visit it can tell me for sure. Personally, it's already enriched my experience of the Goddess.

I guess you could say I am doing it as much for me (probably more so) than for anyone else. I went looking for virtual Goddess temples and didn't really find what I was looking for. This virtual temple project is the result of that desire.

So, if you have the time please leave me some comments on this post and let me know what you think about the content of the Temple of Merope. More temples are in the works. Persephone and Demeter should be coming soon and at that time I will build an index page to house all the temples.
Connecting with the Goddess: Musings
(from Panthea's Temple of Merope)

We don't know for sure what her name was or what exactly her rituals might've entailed, but remnants of the Great Bee Goddess can be seen in recovered artifacts and the mytholgy of the Greek descendents of the Minoans. Though much of this Goddess is lost to antiquity, I believe versions of her (stripped of her Great Goddess stature) are found throughout later Greek mythology under the name Merope. But these may just be tiny pieces of her story.

I personally believe that Demeter herself is a later incarnation of the Great Bee Goddess. Demeter's priestesses were called Melissae (Bees) and some sources report that the priestesses believed they would be reincarnated as bees in the afterlife. Where did these ideas originate?

The Bee Goddess of Crete, of the Minoans, was intimately tied to the mysteries of life, death, and rebirth. Regeneration or transformation seem to be one of her primary functions. Most, if not all, Great Goddess figures can be given this distinction. Demeter and her various faces as Triple Goddess can certainly be equated with regenerative properties. Could Ancient Merope have also been a Triple Goddess?

Somehow this Goddess (an ancient and sacred face of Mother Demeter) found her way into my life. She settled down into my heart as if it were her hive and made a nice cozy home there. I have rather syncretically equated the Minoan Bee Goddess with the pleiadian star and the myth surrounding the Goddess it is named for. Though this star happens to be in the Pleiades, a constellation popular with the new age crowd, I don't feel anything is being "channeled" down to me. I simply feel her looking down from her hiding place in the vast blanket of stars above. Though her light is the faintest of the other six sisters, I feel it shining on me as the brightest star in the heavens.

Perhaps she has honored me as a modern version of one of her Melissae; her priestess. Since the bee is a common symbol for this Goddess, and thus a possible metaphor to be looked at allegorically, I wonder what the bee can teach me? I wonder what this little creature of the natural world can tell me about how to live and how to honor the Goddess? Might I be a worker bee? Or can I embrace the Queen within?

In this virtual sacred place I invite you to take on the title of Melissae yourself, and let your soul be opened up to this little known but largely felt face of the Goddess.

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