The Goddess Diana

Research on the Goddess Diana

Part 1

“Goddess Of The Hunt”

Diana (lt. “heavenly” or “divine”) was the goddess of the hunt, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and also of the moon in Roman mythology. In literature she was the equal of the Greek goddess Artemis, though in cult beliefs she was Italic, not Greek, in origin. Diana was worshiped in ancient Roman religion and is currently revered in Roman Neopaganism and Stregheria. Dianic Wicca, a largely feminist form of the practice, is named for her. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess and looked after virgins and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.

Along with her main attributes, Diana was an emblem of chastity. Oak groves were especially sacred to her. According to mythology, Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘i’ and a’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus (god), dies (day, daylight).

The Greek αδει(αν)ός (adei(an)os) means empty, because Aeneas’s mother, Venus, in the form of a hunting woman was very similar to the goddess Diana and because the Aeneid describes that since Paris (mythology) the temples hallow an empty name and she went down the empty sky when Eurytion held the arrow ready on his bended bow.

Theology

The persona of Diana is complex and contains a number of archaic features. According to Dumezil it falls into a particular subset of celestial gods, referred to in histories of religion as ‘frame gods’. Such gods, while keeping the original features of celestial divinities, i.e. transcendent heavenly power and abstention from direct rule in worldly matters, did not share the fate of other celestial gods in Indoeuropean religions – that of becoming dei otiosi, since they did retain a particular sort of influence over the world and mankind.

The celestial character of Diana is reflected in her connexion with light, inaccessibility, virginity, and her preference for dwelling on high mountains and in sacred woods. Diana therefore reflects the heavenly world (dium) in its sovereignty, supremacy, impassibility, and indifference towards such secular matters as the fates of men and states. At the same time, however, she is seen as active in ensuring the succession of kings and in the preservation of mankind through the protection of childbirth.

These functions are apparent in the traditional institutions and cults related to the goddess. 1) The institution of the rex Nemorensis, Diana’s sacredos in the Arician wood, who held its position til somebody else challenged and killed him in a duel, after breaking a branch from a certain tree of the wood. This ever totally open succession reveals the character and mission of the goddess as a guarantee of the continuity of the kingly status through successive generations.The same meaning implying her function of bestower of regality is testified by the story related by Livy of the prediction of empire to the land of origin of the person who would offer her a particularly beautiful cow. 2) Diana was also worshipped by women who sought pregnancy or asked for an easy delivery. This kind of worship is testified by archeological finds of votive statuettes in her sanctuary in the nemus Aricinum as well as by ancient sources, e.g. Ovid.

According to Dumezil the forerunner of all frame gods is an Indian epic hero who was the image (avatar) of the Vedic god Dyaus. Having renounced the world, in his roles of father and king, he attained the status of an immortal being while retaining the duty of ensuring that his dynasty is preserved and that there is always a new king for each generation. The Scandinavian god Heimdallr performs an analogous function: he is born first and will die last. He too gives origin to kingship and the first king, bestowing on him regal prerogatives. Diana, although a female deity, has exactly the same functions, preserving mankind through childbirth and royal succession.

Dumezil’s interpretation appears deliberately to ignore that of James G. Frazer, who links Diana with the male god Janus as a divine couple. Frazer identifies the two with the supreme heavenly couple Jupiter-Juno and additionally ties in these figures to the overarching Indoeuropean religious complex. This regality is also linked to the cult of trees, particularly oaks. In this interpretative schema, the institution of the Rex Nemorensis and related ritual should be seen as related to the theme of the dying god and the kings of May.

Physical Description

Diana often appeared as a young woman, age around 12 to 19. It was believed that she had a fair face like Aphrodite with a tall body, slim, small hips, and a high forehead. As a goddess of hunting, she wore a very short tunic so she could hunt and run easily and is often portrayed holding a bow, and carrying a quiver on her shoulder, accompanied by a deer or hunting dog. Sometimes the hunted creature would also be shown. As goddess of the moon, however, Diana wore a long robe, sometimes with a veil covering her head. Both as goddess of hunting and goddess of the moon she is frequently portrayed wearing a moon crown.

Worship

Diana was initially just the hunting goddess, associated with wild animals and woodlands. She also later became a moon goddess, supplanting Titan goddess Luna. She also became the goddess of childbirth and ruled over the countryside.

Diana was worshipped at a festival on August 13, when King Servius Tullius, himself born a slave, dedicated her temple on the Aventine Hill in the mid-sixth century BC. Being placed on the Aventine, and thus outside the pomerium, meant that Diana’s cult essentially remained a ‘foreign’ one, like that of Bacchus; she was never officially ‘transferred’ to Rome as Juno was after the sack of Veii. It seems that her cult originated in Aricia, where her priest, the Rex Nemorensis remained. There the simple open-air fane was held in common by the Latin tribes, which Rome aspired to weld into a league and direct. Diana of the wood was soon thoroughly Hellenized, “a process which culminated with the appearance of Diana beside Apollo in the first lectisternium at Rome”. Diana was regarded with great reverence by lower-class citizens and slaves; slaves could receive asylum in her temples. This fact is of difficult interpretation. Wissowa proposed the explanation that it might be because the first slaves of the Romans must have been Latins of the neighbouring tribes.

Though some Roman patrons ordered marble replicas of the specifically Anatolian “Diana” of Ephesus, where the Temple of Artemis stood, Diana was usually depicted for educated Romans in her Greek guise. If she is accompanied by a deer, as in the Diana of Versailles this is because Diana was the patroness of hunting. The deer may also offer a covert reference to the myth of Acteon (or Actaeon), who saw her bathing naked. Diana transformed Acteon into a stag and set his own hunting dogs to kill him.

Worship of Diana is mentioned in the Bible. In Acts of the Apostles, Ephesian metal smiths who felt threatened by Saint Paul’s preaching of Christianity, jealously rioted in her defense, shouting “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28, New English Bible). After the city secretary (γραμματεύς) quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, what person is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the keeper (guardian) of the temple of the great Diana and of her image that fell from heaven ?” (Acts 19:36)

Sanctuaries

Diana was an ancient goddess common to all Latin tribes. Therefore many sanctuaries were dedicated to her in the lands inhabited by Latins. The first one is supposed to have been near Alba before the town was destroyed by the Romans.

The Arician wood sanctuary near the lake of Nemi was Latin confederal as testified by the dedicatory epigraph quoted by Cato.

She had a shrine in Rome on the Aventine hill, according to tradition dedicated by king Servius Tullius. Its location is remarkable as the Aventine is situated outside the pomerium, i.e. original territory of the city, in order to comply with the tradition that Diana was a goddess common to all Latins and not exclusively of the Romans.

Other sanctuaries we know about are listed here below:

Temple of Diana, in Evora, Portugal.

Colle di Corne near Tusculum where she is referred to with the archaic Latin name of deva Cornisca and where existed a collegium of worshippers.

The Algidus Mount, also near Tusculum

At Lavinium

At Tivoli, where she is referred to as Diana Opifera Nemorensis

A sacred wood mentioned by Livyad computum Anagninum(near Anagni).

On Mount Tifata, near Capua in Campania.

In Ephesus, where she was worshiped as Diana of Ephesus and the temple used to be one of world’s seven wonders.

Legacy

In religion

Diana’s cult has been related in Early Modern Europe to the cult of Nicevenn (aka Dame Habond, Perchta, Herodiana, etc.). She was related to myths of a female Wild Hunt.

Wicca

Today there is a branch of Wicca named for her, which is characterized by an exclusive focus on the feminine aspect of the Divine. In some Wiccan texts Lucifer is a name used interchangeably for Diana’s brother Apollo.

Stregheria

In Italy the old religion of Stregheria embraced goddess Diana as Queen of the Witches; witches being the wise women healers of the time. Goddess Diana created the world of her own being having in herself the seeds of all creation yet to come. It is said that out of herself she divided into the darkness and the light, keeping for herself the darkness of creation and creating her brother Apollo, the light. Goddess Diana loved and ruled with her brother Apollo, the god of the Sun. (Charles G. Leland, Aradia: The Gospel of Witches)

Since the Renaissance the mythic Diana has often been expressed in the visual and dramatic arts, including the opera L’arbore di Diana. In the sixteenth century, Diana’s image figured prominently at the Château de Fontainebleau, in deference to Diane de Poitiers, mistress of two French kings. At Versailles she was incorporated into the Olympian iconography with which Louis XIV, the Apollo-like “Sun King” liked to surround himself.

There are also references to her in common literature. In Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, many references are made to Diana. Rosaline, a beautiful woman who has sworn to chastity, is said to have “Dian’s wit”. Later on in the play, Romeo says, “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun. Arise fair sun, and kill the envious moon.” He is saying that Juliet is better than Diana and Rosaline for not swearing chastity. Diana is also a character in the 1876 Leo Delibe ballet ‘Sylvia’. The plot deals with Sylvia, one of Diana’s nymphs and sworn to chastity and Diana’s assault on Sylvia’s affections for the shepherd Amyntas.

In Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film La Belle et la Bête it is Diana’s power which has transformed and imprisoned the beast.

In literature

In Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre Diana appears to Pericles in a vision, telling him to go to her temple and tell his story to her followers.

Diana is also used by Shakespeare in the famous play As You Like It to describe how Rosaline feels about marriage.

Diana is used by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night when Orsino compares Viola (in the guise of Cesario) to Diana. “Diana’s lip is not more smooth and rubious”

Speaking of his wife, Desdemona, Shakespeare’s Othello the Moor says, “Her name that was as fresh/As Dian[a]‘s visage, is now begrim’d and black/As mine own face.”

There is also a reference to Diana in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing where Hero is said to seem like ‘Dian in her orb’, in terms of her chastity.

In All’s Well That Ends Well Diana is seen again, not only as a figure in the play, but also where Helena makes multiple allusions such as, “Now, Dian, from thy altar do I fly…” and “…wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian/was both herself and love…” The Steward also says, “…; Dian no queen of virgins,/ that would suffer her poor knight surprised, without/ rescue in the first assault or ransom afterward.” It can be assumed that ‘Dian’ simply a shortening of ‘Diana’ since later in the play when Parolles’ letter to Diana is read aloud it reads ‘Dian’.

The Goddess is also referenced indirectly in Shakespeare’s player A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The character Hippolyta states “And then the moon, like to a silver bow new bent in Heaven”. She refers to Diana, Goddesse of the moon, who is often depicted with a silver hunting bow. In the same play the character Hermia is told by the Duke Theseus that she must either wed the character Demetrius “Or on Diana’s alter to protest for aye austerity and sinle life”. He refers to her becoming a nun, with the Goddesse Diana having connotations of chastity.

In The Merchant of Venice Portia states “I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of my father’s will”. (I.ii)

In Romeo & Juliet, Romeo describes Rosaline, saying that “She hath Dian’s wit”.

Carlos Fuentes’s novel entitled, Diana o la cazadora solitaria (Diana or the lone huntress), was based on The Goddess. Diana Soren was also a character that being described as having the same personality as the goddess.

In “The Knight’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Emily prays to Diana to be spared from marriage to either of her admirers Arcite or Palomon.

In “To Science”, the sonnet by Edgar Allan Poe, science “dragged Driana from her car” (9).

In language

 

Pomona (left, symbolizing agriculture), and Diana (symbolizing commerce) as building decoration

Both the Romanian word for “fairy”, Zână and the Leonese word for “water nymph”, xana, seem to come from the name of Diana.

In Arts

Diana had become one of the most popular theme of arts. Painters like Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, François Boucher, Nicholas Poussin had made her as a major theme. Most of stories that being exposed are the stories of Diana with Actaeon, story of Callisto, and when she rested after hunting. Some famous work of arts with Diana theme are :

  • Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto, and Death of Actaeon by Titian.
  • Diana and Callisto, Diana Resting After Bath, and Diana Getting Out of Bath by François Boucher.
  • Diana Bathing With Her Nymphs by Rembrandt.
  • Diana and Endymion by Poussin.
  • Diana and Callisto, Diana and Her Nymph Departing From Hunt, Diana and Her Nymphs Surprised By A Faun by Rubens.
  • Diana and Endymion by Johann Micheal Rottmayr.
  • The famous fountain at Palace of Caserta, Italy, created by Paolo Persico, Brunelli, Pietro Solari told a story about when Diana being surprised by Acteon.
  • A sculpture by Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain could be seen at the Musée du Louvre.
  • A sculptural mascot on the Diana car manufactured by the Diana Motors Company.

In Beaux Arts

Beaux Arts architecture and garden design (late 19th and early 20th centuries) used classic references in a modernized form. Two of the most popular of the period were of Pomona (goddess of orchards) as a metaphor for Agriculture, and Diana, representing Commerce, which is a perpetual hunt for advantage and profits.

In Parma at the convent of San Paolo, Antonio Allegri da Correggio painted the camera of the Abbess Giovanna Piacenza’s apartment. He was commissioned in 1519 to paint the ceiling and mantel of the fireplace. On the mantel he painted an image of Diana riding in a chariot pulled possibly by a stag.

In Film

Diana/Artemis appears at the end of the ‘Pastoral Symphony’ segment of ‘Fantasia’.

In his 1968 film La Mariée était en noir François Truffaut plays on this mythological symbol. Julie Kohler, played by Jeanne Moreau, poses as Diana/Artemis for the artist Fergus. This choice seems fitting for Julie, a character beset by revenge, of which Fergus becomes the fourth victim. She poses with a bow and arrow, wearing white.

Other

  • In the funeral oration of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, her brother drew an analogy between the ancient goddess of hunting and his sister – ‘the most hunted person of the modern age’.
  • William Moulton Marston used the Diana myth as a basis for Wonder Woman.
  • For the album art of Progressive metal band Protest the Hero’s second studio album Fortress, Diana is depicted, protected by rams and other animals. The theme of Diana is carried throughout the album.

“Hail Diana”

Hail Artemis Diana
Blessed Lady of the Beasts
I dedicate myself to You

May my path honor Thee
May my spirit celebrate Thee
May my life force magnify Thee

These things I pray
Be fulfilled this day
Goddess Mother help me
To know what is right.”
- Goddess Prayers and Invocations

Research on the Goddess Diana

Part 2

 

Diana . . . The Roman Goddess was known by many names including Queen of Heaven; the Great Goddess; Lunar Virgin; Mother of Animals; Lady of Wild Creatures; and the Huntress. Diana as the Roman Moon-Goddess was originally worshipped on the mountain Tifata near Capua and in sacred forests. Later she was given a temple in the working-class area on the Aventine Hill where she was mainly worshipped by the lower class (plebeians) and the slaves, of whom she was the patroness. She is often depicted carrying a bow and arrow and wearing animal skins or accompanied by animals.

When the Greek city of Ephesus fell to Roman rule, Goddess Diana was merged with the Greek Goddess Artemis. This is most likely due to the fact that around the time of the Roman empire, Romans would allow the places they over took to continue worshipping their own Gods and Goddesses, incorporating those Goddesses into the Roman Pantheon. Artemis and Diana were worshipped at the same times historically and when the Great Greek Temple of Artemis was destroyed the Romans rebuilt it in honor of Diana and the myth of Goddess Diana of Ephesus began.

Stories of Goddess Diana are told form the beginning of Troy to the Christian Bible of King James in the scriptures of Acts and the gospels of Paul.

“Acts|19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
Acts|19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”

The multi-breasted statue of Diana at Her Temple in Ephesus displayed her capability to nourish all creatures and provide for them. Worshippers adored Goddess Diana so much that the only way the Christians could rid the people of their Goddess was by assimilating her into their new religion. Thus Ephesus became a place of Mary, Mother of God. The church even invented stories of Mary living at Ephesus and being entombed there.

In Babylonia, and in the nation of Assyria, she was known as “ISHTAR” The Phoenicians called her “ASTARTE”. The Israelites knew her as “ASHTORETH”.

Diana was also the goddess of the Latin commonwealth where She rule with Her brother Lucifer. Lucifer being a Latin word for “Light Bringer”.

In Italy the old religion of Stergheria embraced goddess Diana as Queen of the Witches. Witches being the wise women healers of the time. Goddess Diana created the world of her own being having in herself the seeds of all creation yet to come. It is said that out of herself she divided into the darkness and the light, keeping for herself the darkness of creation and creating her brother Lucifer, the light. Goddess Diana loved and ruled with her brother Lucifer, the god of the Sun and Moon.
As time went on, the Earth was created and Diana descended to Earth, as did her brother Lucifer. Diana taught magick and witches were born. One night using witchcraft in the form of a cat, His most beloved animal, Diana tricked Lucifer. She gained entrance to His chamber where She seduced Him. From this union a daughter was born. Goddess Aradia.
In other versions of this myth we find the similarities the Christain tales take as their own in attempts to dispel the Goddess.
The first being, Lucifer who is so proud of his beauty, and who for his pride is driven from the Paradise of Goddess as is the tale of Lucifer falling from Gods grace.
The second being Goddess Diana also sends Her daughter Aradia to live as a mortal and save the misfortunate people of Earth as does God send His son Jesus to live as a mortal and save the people.

As pagans my sisters, Goddess Diana is the eternal Mother of all creation, the first that is and the last that will be. She is the Huntress of the forest seeking means of survival. She is the call of the wild, the beating heart of the forests, the animal spirit within, urging us to remember our origins. She awakens nature within us that we remember to feel the rustling wind through our hair, to hear the howling of a wolf or the echo of a voice in the forest. Goddess Diana calls to us to let our animal essence out and hone our inherent sensibilities. Dance and sing to the moon, run until our heart pounds to the top of a hill, to take a swim in a creek, roll around in the grass as we once did as a children, or just gaze upon the stars in wonderment; knowing all the while that Goddess Diana is within us, sharing sharing our journey.

As with the Christian invasion into the old religion , we too are told as women what is right and wrong. We are told what is the correct thinking to blend into a society that denies us our truth. Not tonight my sisters, tonight we pray to the Goddess Diana that you never forget the wonders of creation, the joy of being alive, and the importance of being a woman. Tonight we pray to GoddessDiana to be filled with Her strength to survive the challenges that would steal our dreams. under Her Full Moon we are alive in Her reflection. As a Circle of women we pray to Goddess Diana to grants us development and change within ourselves. As we embrace Her energy that is the vibrations of the universe that lives within us let the hunt begin. Let us seek out and tame the resources that is the beast and the forest of our lives. As goddess Diana let us be the huntress of our path. Tonight as women we say “Great is the Goddess Diana and Great is the Goddess in Me”.

Research on the Goddess Diana

Part 3

Ode to Diana

I am Diana

Know me

I have many names, many faces

You know me as the Queen of Heaven, The Huntress, Lady of the Wild Creatures, Lunar Virgin, Daughter of the Moon,

My name has been Ishtar, Astarte, Artemis, Ashtoreth.

I am mother to Aradia. Sister to Lucifer. Daughter of Zeus, most high.

You will find me in Tifata, nearCapua.

My temple is atEphesus, before the time of others that stole.

My temple is in your heart.

My name is your name.

My life is your life, our hearts beat as one.

I am Diana

Celebrate me

When I am a maiden on Ostara, call me by name…

Diana, Aphrodite, Arianrhod, Venus, Cybele, Freya, and Rhiannon.

When I am the mother on Litha, call me by name…

Amaterasu, Hestia, Juno, and Sunna

When I am the Crone on Samhain, call me by name…

Hecate, Inanna, Machi, Mari, Ishtar and Lilith.

Call me down when the moon shines full.

Embrace me when the moon is dark.

Caress me when the moon waxes and wanes.

I am Diana

Honor me

In the night sky as the Great She Bear.

In the phases of the moon,

In nature, the beauty of a sunrise

The mystery of the moon rise.

Speak to me at dawn, at noon when the sun’s heat warms your face

Whisper to me at dusk when purple fingers of nights stain the sky

Sing to me at midnight as you dance beneath my silvery luminescence.

Light a white candle and I am there

Use jasmine and breathe in my spirit.

Place a moonstone in your pocket and I walk with you.

Carry me within your heart and we shall be together

Always.

Written by Ladyhawke. Copyright 2008

Diana in prayer, magic and divination.

Hail Diana

Hail Artemis Diana
Blessed Lady of the Beasts
I dedicate myself to You

May my path honor Thee
May my spirit celebrate Thee
May my life force magnify Thee

These things I pray
Be fulfilled this day
Goddess Mother help me
to know what is right

~ Abby Willowroot © 1999

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11 thoughts on “The Goddess Diana

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  7. Jenn

    Thank You :) I learned so much without having to scour the internet.

    • You are more than welcome. I am glad we could be of help. It is a pleasure to have you visit and I hope you do so often.
      Goddess Bless,
      Lady A

  8. Shay

    I found this website inspiring and filled with knowledge of Diana however i have one small questioin i couldent find a clear answer to. Can men worship Diana? I know she had a priest (Rex) But this doesent quite answer my question. But again amazing website :)

    • Are you talking about just the Goddess Diana or the Tradition? If you are talking about just the Goddess Diana, you are free to pay homage to Her. Anyone can honor the Goddess Diana and take Her as their deity. Now, if you are talking about the Tradition, that is a different story. The Tradition is considered a feminist movement. Only women were ever allowed to practice and be involved in this tradition. I would imagine as our society has become more flexible it might be possible for a man to join the Dianic Tradition. But I am sort of leary on giving you that advice. The Dianic Tradition is a very old one and I would imagine they have their roots firmly planted in the past. Perhaps just taking the Goddess Diana as your deity would be best. I hope I have answered your question. I am glad you are enjoying the site. It is nice to have your here. If you need anything else, just holler.
      Blessings, Peace & Comfort,
      Lady A

  9. Great article Lady A. I took Diana many years ago as my Goddess. I tend to place the Goddess as center of my rituals while still honoring the God. I believe all women should be honored. Don )O(

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