Deities

Deity of the Day for October 22 – Herne the Hunter

Deity of the Day

Herne the Hunter

 

The Man Behind the Myth:

Although Herne is seen as an aspect of Cernunnos, the Horned God, in the Berkshire region of England there is actually a story behind the legend. According to folklore, Herne was a huntsman employed by King Richard II. In one version of the story, other men became jealous of his status and accused him of poaching on the King’s land. Falsely charged with treason, Herne became an outcast among his former friends. Finally, in despair, he hung himself from an oak tree which later became known as Herne’s Oak.

In another variation of the legend, Herne was fatally wounded while saving King Richard from a charging stag. He was miraculously cured by a magician who tied the antlers of the dead stag to Herne’s head. As payment for bringing him back to life, the magician claimed Herne’s skill in forestry. Doomed to live without his beloved hunt, Herne fled to the forest, and hanged himself, again from the oak tree. However, every night he rides once more leading a spectral hunt, chasing the game of Windsor Forest.

Shakespeare Gives a Nod:

In The Merry Wives of Windsor, the Bard himself pays tribute to the ghost of Herne, wandering Windsor Forest:

There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter,
Some time a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv’d, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.

Herne as an Aspect of Cernunnos:

In Margaret Murray’s 1931 book, God of the Witches, she posits that Herne is a manifestation of Cernunnos, the Celtic horned god. Because he is found only in Berkshire, and not in the rest of the Windsor Forest area, Herne is considered a “localized” god — and could indeed be the Berkshire interpretation of Cernunnos.

The Windsor Forest area has a heavy Saxon influence. One of the gods honored by the original settlers of the region was Odin, who also hung at one point from a tree. Odin was also known for riding through the sky on a Wild Hunt of his own.

Lord of the Forest:

Around Berkshire, Herne is depicted wearing the antlers of a great stag. He is the god of the wild hunt, of the game in the forest. Herne’s antlers connect him to the deer, which was given a position of great honor — after all, killing a single stag could mean the difference between survival and starvation, so this was a powerful thing indeed.

Herne was considered a divine hunter, and was seen on his wild hunts carrying a great horn and a wooden bow, riding a mighty black horse and accompanied by a pack of baying hounds. Mortals who get in the way of the Wild Hunt are swept up in it, and often taken away by Herne, destined to ride with him for eternity. He’s seen as a harbinger of bad omen, especially to the royal family. According to local legend, Herne only appears in Windsor Forest when needed, such as in times of national crisis.

 

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Deity of the Day for October 19th – Taliesin

Deity of the Day

Taliesin

The Tale of Taliesin
Once there was a witch named Ceridwen, and she had two children. The one, her daughter, was as beautiful a child as you could ever hope to see; the other, her son Morfran, was so ugly, ill-favored and stupid that he sickened everyone who saw him.Ceridwen was grieved that Morfran was so horrible, and resolved by her magic arts to make him into such a great bard that no-one would mind his ugliness. She began to cast a great spell. Many were the plants that she cast into her cauldron, many the incantations said over it. An old blind man named Morda was set to keep the fires burning beneath it, assisted by a young boy, Gwion.The Cauldron of Wisdom and Inspiration must be kept boiling for a year and a day, and then the first three drops from it would impart ultimate knowledge to the one who drank them. But the rest of the liquid would be deadly poison.

Long labored Ceridwen, roaming far to find the rare and exotic herbs she required, and so it chanced that she fell asleep on the last day of the spell. The boy Gwion was stirring the brew when three drops flew out onto his thumb, and they were scalding hot, so that he thrust it into his mouth to stop the burning. Instantly, he had the wisdom and inspiration of ages, and the first thing that occurred to him was that Ceridwen would be very angry.

He ran away from the house of Ceridwen, but all too soon he heard the fury of her pursuit. Using his new magical powers, he turned himself into a hare. She turned into a greyhound bitch, and gained ever more on him. He came to a river, and quick as thinking became a fish. She became an otter. He leapt from the water, and in the middle of his leap became a bird of the air. The witch Ceridwen became a hawk. In desperation, he looked down and saw a pile of wheat. He dived, landed, and as it scattered he turned into a single grain. Then she landed and became a hen, and pecked at the grain until she had swallowed Gwion.

Soon after, Ceridwen found herself with child, though she had lain with no man. When she realized that the baby was Gwion, she resolved to kill it, and Morfran wanted her to also, in revenge for his not becoming a bard. In due course, the babe was born, and Morfran would have slaughtered him on the spot, but the mother said no, because it was the most beautiful child ever seen. But she took him and, sewing him in a bag, set him adrift on the ocean.

Now there was at that time in Gwynedd, a lord named Gwyddno Garanhir, who had a son, Elphin, that was reckoned the most unlucky man alive. There was a weir on Gwyddno’s land that had always had a huge catch of salmon in it on May Eve, so Gwyddno resolved to let Elphin have it to help turn his luck.

So it was that on May Eve, Elphin and two of his father’s men went to the weir. Net after net he pulled, but there were no fish.

“Why, you’ve turned the luck of the weir,” they growled.
“Just wait,” said Elphin, “I haven’t finished yet. There might still be something…”
There were no fish. But just as they were about to go, Elphin noticed something caught on a pole of the weir. He waded out and brought it back.
“More bad luck,” grumbled the men.
“There may be a treasure inside,” Elphin replied as he carefully slit open the greased leather bag he held.
To his very great astonishment, he saw the forehead of a baby, so white and beautiful that it seemed to shine.
“A radiant brow!” he exclaimed. (tal iesin in Welsh.)
“Yes, Taliesin, that will do well enough,” said the baby.
Elphin was so surprised he nearly dropped it. The men muttered and made the sign against evil.

He put the child in front of him on the horse and they rode for home. While they rode, Elphin’s thoughts were gloomy, as he realized they still had no salmon. But the babe in front of him spoke, saying

“Fair Elphin, cease your lament!
Swearing profits no-one.
It is not evil to hope
Nor does any man see what supports him,
Not an empty treasure is the prayer of Cynllo,
Nor does God break his promise.
No catch in Gwyddno’s weir
Was ever as good as tonight’s.

“Fair Elphin, dry your cheeks!
Such sorrow does not become you,
Although you consider yourself cheated
Excessive sorrow gains nothing,
Nor will doubting God’s miracles.
Although I am small, I am skilful.
From the sea and the mountain,
From the river’s depth
God gives His gifts to the blessed.

“Elphin of the generous spirit,
Cowardly is your purpose,
You must not grieve so heavily.
Better are good than evil omens.
though I am weak and small,
Spumed with Dylan’s wave,
I shall be better for you
Than three hundred shares of salmon.

“Elphin of noble generosity,
Do not sorrow at your catch.
Though I am weak on the floor of my basket,
There are wonders on my tongue.
“While I am watching over you,
no great need will overcome you.
be mindful of the name of the Trinity
And none shall overcome you.”

“How can this be, that you, a babe, can talk?” marveled Elphin.
Again Taliesin replied with a poem.

“Firstly I was formed in the shape of a handsome man,
in the hall of Ceridwen in order to be refined.
Although small and modest in my behavior,
I was great in her lofty sanctuary.

“While I was held prisoner, sweet inspiration educated me
and laws were imparted to me in a speech which had no words;
but I had to flee from the angry, terrible hag
whose outcry was terrifying.

“Since then I have fled in the shape of a crow,
since then I have fled as a speedy frog,
since then I have fled with rage in my chains,
– a roe-buck in a dense thicket.

“I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech,
in the shape of a satirizing fox,
in the shape of a sure swift,
in the shape of a squirrel vainly hiding.

“I have fled in the shape of a red deer,
in the shape of iron in a fierce fire,
in the shape of a sword sowing death and disaster,
in the shape of a bull, relentlessly struggling.

“I have fled in the shape of a bristly boar in a ravine,
in the shape of a grain of wheat.
I have been taken by the talons of a bird of prey
which increased until it took the size of a foal.

“Floating like a boat in its waters,
I was thrown into a dark bag,
and on an endless sea, I was set adrift.

“Just as I was suffocating, I had a happy omen,
and the master of the Heavens brought me to liberty.”

By the time he finished, they had arrived at the court of Gwyddno.
Everyone crowded round to see how big the catch was. Elphin held up Taliesin for them all to see.
“What is that? Where is the catch?” asked Gwyddno.
“Here is the catch, father, see, I have caught a bard.”
“Well, what use is that? Don’t you have a good wife, who can bear you many strong sons of your own?”
“He will get more profit from me than the weir ever gave you,” said Taliesin.
“Can you speak, and you so small?” asked Gwyddno.
“Indeed, I am better able to answer than you are to question me.” claimed the baby.
Then Gwyddno asked him what else he had to say, and Taliesin replied with another poem. So Elphin rejoiced, that his luck had turned, and gave Taliesin to his wife to care for. She loved the baby very much, and time passed and he grew up.

The king of the land at that time was Maelgwn, a somewhat vain man who surrounded himself with toadies and fawning sycophants. The year that Taliesin turned thirteen, Elphin received a summons from the king, demanding his presence at the Christ Mass feast at midwinter. Elphin would much rather have stayed home with his wife and foster son, but as a dutiful subject (and a relative of the king besides) he went.

As they all sat around the high table, the other men vied with one another to see who could praise Maelgwn the most. Elphin was an honest man, and he couldn’t honestly say that the king’s bards were better or the queen a fairer woman, than those waiting at his home.
“What, so silent, Elphin? Can our loyal subject then find nothing to praise his king for?” said Maelgwn.
“Well, my lord,” said Elphin, “I would say that though I am not a king, yet my wife is as fair and as virtuous as any woman in the kingdom – and my bard the best in Gwynedd.”
“Insolence!” roared Maelgwn. “Throw him in our deepest dungeon! Let him be chained there until the falsity of his monstrous claim can be shown once and for all! And we think we know just how to do that…”

Taliesin was out skating. As he bent down to take the skates off, he glanced at a patch of ice, and fell into a trance, where he saw all that had befallen Elphin. When he woke, he rushed home to tell Elphin’s wife.

Maelgwn had a son named Rhun, a lecher so revolting that to be seen with him would tarnish a woman’s reputation beyond repair. This son he sent to Elphin’s home, to seduce his wife and show the falsity of his claim. When Rhun came to the gate, he was welcomed, if not warmly, then civilly, by young Taliesin. He showed the prince into the hall, where sat a woman dressed in finery, with rings upon her fingers and a golden torque.

“How delicious!” thought Rhun. “I’ll enjoy this, I can tell.”

She made him welcome and they supped together. Rhun poured cup after cup of wine for her, and foolishly she drank it all. Soon she was giggly and silly, and she assented to his request to withdraw with him to some place more private. Rhun waited until she fell asleep in a drunken stupor, then tried to remove the ring from her plump hand. It would not come off, so quick as lightning he cut the finger off, ring and all.

Laughing, he rode back to his father’s house. Maelgwn was delighted with his son’s performance. He called for Elphin to be brought forth.
“Well, cousin, how say you now? The prince Rhun has had your wife with her willing cooperation. Do you persist in your stupid claim that she is so very fair and virtuous?”
Elphin paled, and feared for his wife, for he did not really believe that any woman, let alone she, would lie with Rhun by choice.
“How do you know this, my king?” he asked.
“My son’s word is good enough for me – and should be for you, too.”
“I’m sorry, my king, but even the money-lenders ask for solid proof where the prince Rhun is concerned.”
The king growled, but the courtiers were, this once, murmuring in agreement with Elphin.
“Since that’s not enough for you, see here is her finger. Do you deny that this is her ring?”
Elphin looked closely at the severed digit.
“Indeed, my lord, it is her ring, but I do deny that it’s on her finger.”
“How so, knave?” roared the enraged monarch.
“For three reasons, my king. First, my wife is a small woman, and this ring sits loosely on her thumb, but it’s jammed so tightly on this finger that it won’t come off. Second, ever since I’ve known her, my wife has trimmed her nails every Sabbath Eve, and this nail hasn’t been trimmed this month, I’d say. Third, we keep servants for kneading bread dough – I certainly don’t require my lady wife to do it. And yet you see under this nail and in the creases of the finger, traces of the rye dough this hand was lately kneading. I fear that the prince has despoiled some innocent kitchen wench, but whoever it was, it wasn’t my wife.”

The court cowered before Maelgwn’s fury.
“You won’t get away from it that easily!” Maelgwn declared. “If your bard is so great, let him come and compete with ours. Now take him away, before we get tired of him.”
Hurriedly, the guards took Elphin back to the cell.

Taliesin was already seeing about provisions for the journey, while Elphin’s wife looked after the poor nine-fingered maidservant. He arrived at the court two days later, and slipped through the gates. He made his way to the throne room and sat in the corner. When the king’s bards filed in, he pouted his lips at them and played blerwm, blerwm on them, and the bards stood still and played blerwm, blerwm on their lips instead of praising Maelgwn. Maelgwn finally ordered a guard to strike Heinnin Fardd, his chief bard. This broke their trance enough that Heinnin Fardd could explain to Maelgwn that there was a devil in the form of a child who had cast a spell on them.

Then Maelgwn had Taliesin brought out, and questioned him.

“I have come to salvage Elphin’s honor and his freedom. Taliesin am I, primary chief bard to Elphin.

“Primary chief poet
Am I to Elphin.
And my native country
Is the place of the Summer Stars.
“John the Divine
Called me Merlin,
But all future kings
Shall call me Taliesin.

“I was nine full months
In the womb of Ceridwen.
Before that I was Gwion,
But now I am Taliesin.

“I was with my king
In the heavens
When Lucifer fell
Into the deepest hell.

“I carried the banner
Before Alexander.
I know the names of the stars
From the North to the South.

“I was in Caer Bedion
Tetragrammaton.
I accompanied Heon
To the vale of Hebron.

“I was in the canon
When Absalom was slain.
I was in Llys Don
Before the birth of Gwydion.

“I was patriarch
To Elijah and Enoch.
I was there at the crucifixion
Of the merciful Mabon.

“I was the foreman
At the construction of Nimrod’s Tower.
I was three times
In the prison of Arianrhod.

“I was in the ark
With Noah and Alpha
I witnessed the destruction
Of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“I was in Africa
Before the building of Rome.
I came here
To the remnant of Troy

“I was with the Lord
In the manger of the ass.
I upheld Moses
Through the water of Jordan.

“I was at the Cross
With Mary Magdalene.
I received the muse
From Ceridwen’s cauldron.

“I was a harping bard
To Deon of Lochlin.
I have gone hungry
For the Righteous One.

“I was at the White Mount
in the court of Cynfelyn.
In stocks and in fetters
For a year and a day.

“I was in the larder
In the land of the Trinity.
And no-one knows whether my body
Is flesh or fish.

“I was instructor
To the whole universe.
I shall be until the judgement
On the face of the Earth.

“I have sat in the perilous seat
Above Caer Sidi.
I shall continue to revolve
Between the three elements.

“There is a marvel in the world
Which I cannot reveal.”
“And all this makes you think you’re better than my bards,” sneered Maelgwn, “My bards, who have trained for twenty years.”
“They are as nothing beside me,” declared Taliesin.
“Well then, my lord,” said Heinnin Fardd, so as not to be left entirely out of the proceedings, “certainly a contest will decide the matter.”
“Why not? Me against all the king’s bards. The contest – to compose a poem on the wind.” Taliesin was serenely confident.
“Of course the king must judge,” fawned Heinnin Fardd. “Who better?”
“And this contest will take place in twenty minutes,” Maelgwn announced. (He was getting bored.)
“Twenty… my lord, I entreat you, I implore you, how can an epic be composed in -” Heinnin Fardd was desperate.
“Just do it, get on with it, I’m getting sick of this.”

Heinnin Fardd and the king’s bards huddled in the corner, consulting scrolls of rhymes and metaphors. Every so often, one let out a yelp of frustration. Taliesin lounged on the floor, laughing at their discomfiture.

When the time was up, the king’s bards stood in a line before the throne and bowed.
“O greatest of kings, hear our song.

Blerwm, blerwm,
blerwm, blerwm,
blerwm, blerwm,
blerwm, blerwm.”

“Knaves! Fools! Miserable swine! Was it for this that I paid you in gold and precious gems?” The court had never seen Maelgwn so angry. The bards groveled in the rushes. “Mighty king, it was not our fault! It’s that demon child.”

Taliesin, admittedly, was smirking in a most irritating fashion.
“So it’s my turn?” he asked. He stood up straight and began. While he sang, a great wind arose and buffeted the castle, shaking it to its foundations. Maelgwn was afraid, and he called for Elphin to be brought out.

As soon as Elphin was brought out, Taliesin stopped the wind, and sang a new song that caused Elphin’s chains to fall away from his ankles and wrists. Then he cried out to Elphin’s wife to enter the hall, and she held her hands up so that everyone could see that she had ten fingers. Maelgwn was angrier than ever.

“You think you’re so great. You’re nothing! I bet my horses are better than yours, anyway.”
Taliesin smiled and whispered to Elphin, “Take him up on it – I know how to make us win.”
“I accept, my king.”
“Then let there be a horse race.”

Elphin led the other two home. On the appointed day, they returned, leading a lame old horse. Maelgwn rubbed his hands in glee.

The horses started – Taliesin riding old Dobbin. As each horse of the king’s overtook him, he struck it on the rump with a holly twig, then let it fall. As the king’s horses got further and further ahead, no-one could understand why Taliesin was still smiling. He slowed down and dropped his cap – again, no-one knew why.

Old Dobbin reached half-way, and Taliesin stopped him for a rest. The king’s horses had long since passed them on the way back. Dobbin started back. As the king’s horses passed the discarded holly twigs that Taliesin had struck them with, they stopped, reared up on their hind legs, and began to dance. The whole court was in fits of ill-concealed laughter, except Maelgwn and Rhun.

Taliesin and Dobbin wandered past them to the finish line. Maelgwn saw no alternative to letting them go. On the way home, Taliesin bid Elphin stop where he had dropped his cap. He had some men dig a hole at the spot, and they dug up a great chest full of treasure.

“Truly, Taliesin, never could I regret the day I pulled you out from the weir,” said Elphin as they rode away.

FINIS

(It is said that afterwards, Taliesin went to the court of Arthur, where he was chief harper and adviser to the king.)

Taliesin is also the name of a town in the U.S.A., named after the bard by Frank Lloyd Wright.

 

by Jennifer Cochrane

Website: Encyclopedia Mythica

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The Charge of the God


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The Charge of the God

 

Listen to the words of the Horned God,
 
 
The Guardian of all things wild and free, and Keeper of the Gates of Death, whose Call all must answer:
 
 
I am the fire within your heart… The yearning of your Soul. I am the Hunter of Knowledge and the Seeker of the Holy Quest; I who stand in the darkness of light; I am He whom you have called Death. I am the Consort and Mate of Her we adore, call forth to me.
 
 
Heed my call beloved ones, come unto me and learn the secrets of death and peace. I am the corn at harvest and the fruit on the trees. I am He who leads you home. Scourge and Flame, Blade and Blood these are mine and gifts to thee.
 
 
Call unto me in the forest wild and on hilltop bare and seek me in the Darkness Bright. I who have been called; Pan, Herne, Osiris , and Hades, speak to thee in thy search. Come dance and sing; come live and smile, for behold: this is my worship.
 
 
You are my children and I am thy Father. On swift night wings it is I who lay you at the Mother’s feet to be reborn and to return again. 
 
 
Thou who thinks to seek me, know that I am the untamed wind, the fury of storm and passion in your Soul. Seek me with pride and humility, but seek me best with love and strength.
 
 
For this is my path, and I love not the weak and fearful. Hear my call on long Winter nights and we shall stand together guarding Her Earth as She sleeps. 
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The Charge of the Goddess


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The Charge of the Goddess

Now listen to the words of the Great Mother,
who was of old also called among men Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other names. At her altars, the youth of Lacedaemon in Sparta made due sacrifice.

 

Whenever ye have need of any thing,
once in the month,
and better it be when the moon is full,
then shall ye assemble in some secret place, and adore the spirit of me,
who am Queen of all witches.

There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery,
yet have not won its deepest secrets;
to these will I teach things that are as yet unknown.

And ye shall be free from slavery;
and as a sign that ye be really free,
ye shall be naked in your rites;
and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.
For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit,
and mine also is joy on earth;
for my law is love unto all beings.

Keep pure your highest ideal;
strive ever towards it, let naught stop you or turn you aside;
for mine is the secret door which opens upon the land of youth,
and mine is the cup of wine of life,
and the cauldron of Cerridwen,
which is the Holy Grail of immortality.

I am the gracious Goddess,
who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.
Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal;
and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom,
and reunion with those who have gone before.

Nor do I demand sacrifice;
for behold, I am the Mother of all living,
and my love is poured out upon the earth.

Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess;
she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven,
whose body encircles the universe.

I who am the beauty
of the green earth and the white moon upon
the mysteries of the waters,
I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature
that gives life to the universe.From me all things proceed and unto me
they must return.
Let My worship be in the
heart that rejoices, for behold,
all acts of love and pleasure
are My rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength,
power and compassion,
honor and humility,
mirth and reverence within you.
And you who seek to know me,
know that the seeking and yearning
will avail you not,
unless you know the Mystery:
for if that which you seek,
you find not within yourself,
you will never find it without.

For behold,
I have been with you from the beginning,
and I am that which is attained
at the end of desire.

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Deity of the Day for October 17th – Gaia, the Great Mother

Deity of the Day

 

Gaia

 

Gaia (“land” or “earth”, also spelled Ge or Gaea) in Greek mythology embodies the fertility of the Earth. Behind particular aspects of the three-fold goddess, stands the pre-Indo-European Great Mother, a nurturing goddess of death and birth, who was venerated from Neolithic times in the ancient Near East and the Aegean cultural sphere, as far as Malta and the Etruscan lands. Some anthropologists and members of certain religions believe the same divine spirit appeared under many names. These names are said to include Demeter (Roman Ceres) the “mother”, Persephone the “daughter” or Hecate the “crone.” She could be identified as Rhea. In Anatolia (modern Turkey) she was Cybele. The Greeks never forgot that her ancient home was Crete, where she had always been worshipped as Potnia Theron, the “Mistress of the Animals” or simply Potnia.

The coming of the Olympian gods with immigrants into the Aegean during the 2nd millennium BCE, and the sometimes violent struggle to supplant Gaia, inform Greek mythology with its characteristic tension. Echoes of Gaia’s power lingered into the mythology of classical Greece, where her roles were divided among Zeus’ consort Hera, Apollo’s twin and consort Artemis, and Athena.

Unlike Zeus, a roving nomad god of the open sky, Gaia was manifest in enclosed spaces: the house, the courtyard, the womb, the cave. Her sacred animals are the snake, the lunar bull, the pig, and bees. In her hand the narcotic poppy may be transmuted to a pomegranate. Though she is complete in herself, the Triple Goddess often takes a male consort.

She was the daughter of Chaos, or according to another version Aether and Hemera, and the mother of Uranus (also her husband), Ourea and Pontus. Uranus and Pontus were born of Gaia alone, without a father.

Only a distant echo of Gaia’s primal power is to be found in her Roman equivalent, Magna Mater, who was most strongly identified by Romans with Cybele.

 

Gaia in Mythology

With Uranus, Gaia had three sets of children: one-hundred armed giants called Hecatonchires and one-eyed giants called Cyclopes were the youngest, and significantly later, the Titans. Occasionally, the Erinyes were considered a fourth set of children by Gaia and Uranus.

Uranus hid the (Hecatonchires) and the Cyclopes in Tartarus so that they would not see the light, rejoicing in this evil doing. This caused pain to Gaia (Tartarus was her bowels) so she created grey flint (or adamantine) and shaped a great sickle and gathered together Cronus and his brothers to ask them to obey her. Only Cronus was willing to do the deed, so Gaia gave him the sickle and set him in ambush. Cronus jumped out and lopped off his father’s testicles, casting them behind him. From his blood on the Earth came forth the Gigantes, Erinyes and Meliae. From the testicles of Uranus in the sea came forth Aphrodite. For this, Uranus called his sons Titans, meaning “strainers” for they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, for which vengeance would come afterwards.

After Uranus’ castration, Gaia gave birth to Echidna and (sometimes) Typhon by Tartarus. By Pontus, Gaia birthed Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto and Eurybia.

As Uranus had been deposed by his son, Cronus, so was Cronus destined to be overthrown by his son. To prevent this, he swallowed his children as soon as they were born. Gaia gave Cronus’ wife, Rhea the idea to save the last child, Zeus, by giving Cronus a stone wrapped up like a baby. Gaia then raised Zeus (according to some versions of the story), who eventually rescued his brothers and sisters, eaten by Cronus, as well as releasing the Cyclopes, Hecatonchires and Gigantes from Tartarus. Together, Zeus and his allies overthrew Cronus.

When Apollo killed Gaia’s child, Python, she punished him by sending him to King Admetus as a shepherd for nine years.

Zeus hid one lover, Elara, from Hera by hiding her under the earth. His son by Elara, the giant Tityas, is therefore sometimes said to be a son of Gaia, the earth goddess, and Elara.

Gaia made Aristaeus immortal.

Gaia was the original deity behind the Oracle at Delphi. She passed her powers on to, depending on the source: Poseidon, Apollo or Themis.

Source:

Facts-Index.com

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Deity of the Day for Oct. 16th – Nephthys The Egyptian Goddess

Deity of the Day

Nephthys

The Egyptian Goddess

 

Areas of Influence: Nephthys the Egyptian Goddess symbolized the transitional nature of death. In one Egyptian myth she helped Isis collect the scattered limbs of Osiris to reconstitute his body.

In her funerary role she was considered a fearsome but necessary companion, assisting the dead through the different levels of the afterlife.

She was also the Goddess of mourning, comforting the relatives of the deceased. These wailing mourners were described as the “hawks of Nephthys”.

This Goddess was the guardian of Hapi who protected the Canopic jar which contained the lungs.

She protected the Pharaoh in life as well as in death, incinerating his enemies with her fiery breath. This Deity also gave the Pharaoh the power to see that ” which is hidden by moonlight,” linking this Goddess to the powers of darkness and magic and making her a popular Deity with witches and magicians.

Her importance has been overshadowed by her sister Isis. In reality whilst Isis governed the energy of birth, growth, development and the visible she represented death, decay, stagnation and the invisible. In many ways she can be viewed as being the opposite force or the other side of the coin to Isis. However, because many fear death and magic in the modern world, rather than recognizing these forces as part of the cycle of life, her role has been sidelined.

Even this analogy does not truly represent the importance of this Goddess, recent evidence suggests that although there are no surviving temples dedicated to this Goddess she was worshipped widely. This Goddess also performed an important role at births where she stood at the head of the bed to comfort and assist the mothers whilst her sister Isis, acted as midwife.

This Goddess was worshipped by nursing mothers as she was considered to be the nursing mother of Horus and the Pharaoh himself.

This Goddess was also known as Nebethet and Nebkhat.

Origins and Genealogy: Seb and Nut were her parents of. Her siblings included Isis, Osiris and Set.

Married to Set the Egyptian God associated with the barren desert and sterility meant she was often thought to be a childless Goddess. Later myths however, suggest that after a union with Osiris she gave birth to Anubis.

Strengths: she is a protective Goddess and represents the cycle of death and rebirth.

Weaknesses: The duality of her nature means she is often neglected and misunderstood.

 Symbolism

In her funerary role Nephthys was often symbolized by a hawk, falcon or a woman with wings outstretched in protection.

She is also shown with her Hieroglyphs (a basket and a house) balanced on her head.

Sacred Birds: Falcons and Hawks.

Additionally this Goddess is the protector of the Phoenix whose rise from the ashes symbolizes rebirth.

Neophytes’ Archetypes

The Witch:

Uses knowledge of the universal laws of nature, the conscious mind and esoteric powers to manifest their desires.

The shadow Witch uses their gifts to increase their own power.

This deity was associated with the unseen world and magic.

How to work with This Archetype

The Witch:

The Witch maybe one of your Archetypes can if you have the gift of understanding how to transform situations, influence people, and make your visions and dreams a reality.

The Shadow Witch reminds you not to use these abilities to gain power over others as this is not magic but sorcery.

 

Source:
Goddess-Guide.com

 

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Deity of the Day for Oct. 14th – Ereshkigal

Deity of the Day

Ereshkigal

 

Areas of Influence: Ereshkigal was the Sumerian Goddess of Attalu, the land of the dead and ancestral memories.

She ruled this land alone passing laws and judgment upon the deceased. Later she fell in love with Nergal who was sent with offerings of food during a feast. As only the dead were able to stay in Attalu he had to return home. Ereshkigal was so upset by his departure that she threatened the king of the Gods that she would bring all of the dead back to life. Nergal was permitted to return and they ruled the underworld together.

Another Sumerian myth tells the story of her sister Inanna’s visit into the underworld. The Goddess is not pleased to see her as she fears she has come to take over her Kingdom. She turns her into a corpse but is eventually she is forced to release her. For more information on this myth please go to the page listed for Inanna.

Some scholar’s suggest that this Goddess represents another aspect of Inanna as they both symbolize the changing of the seasons.

Origins and Genealogy: This Goddess is said to be Inanna’s elder sister her parents were Nammu and Na

Strengths: Not intimidated by other Gods and Goddesses.

Weaknesses: Jealous of her sister’s beauty.

Ereshkigal’s Symbolism

The Burney Relief is said by some archeologists to represent this Goddess. In this sculpture she is shown as a naked winged Goddess standing on a lion with owls flanking her sides.

She is also depicted as a big dark haired Goddess who sleeps naked in a palace made of Lapis Lazuli.

Sacred Animals: Lions and owls.

Sacred Crystals: Lapis Lazuli.

Ereshkigal’s Archetype

The Crone:

Ereshkigal is a classic example of a Crone Goddess, she is fierce and uncompromising and rules over the land of the dead.

In the Pagan tradition the Goddess is often split into three to depict the different stages of a woman’s life: mother, maiden and Crone.

The Crone represents the wise old woman whose child bearing days are behind her. Other associations with this Archetype include: compassion, transformation, healing and bawdiness death and endings. She is the respected older woman or grand parent at the heart of family who enjoys life and sharing her experience.

Unfortunately the word Crone or Hag often has negative connotations as many wise woman and midwives were persecuted as witches in the middle ages.

Shadow Crone is the bitter, old woman who has failed to learn from her life. She blames all her failings and unhappiness on a society that no longer respects the elders. As a result she becomes increasingly isolated and fearful.

Working with the Crone Archetype

The Crone: The Crone maybe one of your archetypes if you have gained wisdom, learning from your mistakes and showing a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.

You are experiencing the Crone’s shadow if you have become rigid in your beliefs and have become stuck in a rut having lost all ability to let those areas of your life go that no longer serve you.

 

Source:

Goddess-Guide.com

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Deity of the Day for October 2nd – Cybele

Deity of the Day

Cybele

 

Cybele (Greek Κυβέλη) was a Phrygian goddess originating in the mythology of ancient Anatolia, whose worship spread to the cities of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. She represented the Mother Earth and was worshiped as a goddess of fertility, nature, caverns, and mountains, as well as walls and fortresses. Like other ancient goddesses, such as Gaia (the “Earth”), she was known as potnia theron, referring to her ancient Neolithic roots as “Mistress of the Animals.”

The goddess was known among the Greeks as Meter (“Mother”) or Meter oreie (“Mountain-Mother”), possibly in connection to the myth that she was born on Mount Ida in Anatolia. Her Roman equivalent was Magna Mater, or “Great Mother.” Additionally, she was worshiped as a deity of rebirth in connection with her consort (and son), Attis.

Etymology

The traditional derivation of Cybele as “she of the hair” is no longer accepted because an inscription found in one of her Phrygian rock-cut monuments has been rendered, matar kubileya, meaning “Mother of the Mountain.” The inscription matar occurs frequently in other Phrygian sites.

Others scholars have proposed that Cybele’s name can be traced to Kubaba, the deified queen of the Third Dynasty of Kish, worshiped at Carchemish and Hellenized to Kybebe. With or without the etymological connection, Kubaba and Matar certainly merged in at least some aspects, as the genital mutilation later connected with Cybele’s cult is associated with Kybebe in earlier texts; but in general she seems to have been more a collection of similar tutelary goddesses associated with specific Anatolian mountains or other localities, and called simply “mother.”

History

Cybele’s origins are debated by scholars. Ancient texts and inscriptions clearly associate the goddess with Phrygian origins in Anatolia. It was well known that an archaic version of Cybele had been venerated at Pessinos in Phrygia, before its aniconic cult object was removed to Rome in 203 B.C.E. However, if the theory on the Kubaba origin of Cybele’s name is correct (as addressed in the Etymology section above), then Kubaba must have merged with the various local mother goddesses well before the time of the Phrygian Matar Kubileya inscription made around the first half of the sixth century B.C.E. Burkert notes that by the second millennium B.C.E., the Kubaba of Bronze Age Carchemish was known to the Hittites and Hurrians: “[O]n the basis of inscriptional and iconographical evidence it is possible to trace the diffusion of her cult in the early Iron Age; the cult reached the Phrygians in inner Anatolia, where it took on special significance.”

In Phrygia, Cybele was venerated as Agdistis, with a temple at the great trading city Pessinos, mentioned by the geographer Strabo. It was at Pessinos that her son and lover, Attis, was about to wed the daughter of the king, when Cybele appeared in her awesome glory, and he castrated himself.

The worship of Cybele spread from inland areas of Anatolia and Syria to the Aegean coast, to Crete and other Aegean islands, and to mainland Greece. Her cult moved from Phrygia to Greece between the sixth century B.C.E. to the fourth B.C.E. Cybele’s cult in Greece was closely associated with, and apparently resembled, the cult of Dionysus, whom Cybele is said to have initiated, and cured him of Hera’s madness. The Greeks also identified Cybele with the Mother of the Gods, Rhea. Her cult had already been adopted in fifth century B.C.E. Greece, where she is often referred to euphemistically as Meter Theon Idaia (“Mother of the Gods, from Mount Ida”) rather than by name. Mentions of Cybele’s worship are found in Pindar and Euripides, among others. Classical Greek writers, however, either did not know of or did not mention the transgendered galli; although they did know of the castration of Attis.

The geographer Strabo (Book X, 3:18) noted that the goddess was welcomed at Athens:

Just as in all other respects the Athenians continue to be hospitable to things foreign, so also in their worship of the gods; for they welcomed so many of the foreign rites … the Phrygian [rites of Rhea-Cybele are mentioned] by Demosthenes, when he casts the reproach upon Aeskhines’ mother and Aeskhines himself, that he was with her when she conducted initiations, that he joined her in leading the Dionysiac march, and that many a time he cried out evoe saboe, and hyes attes, attes hyes; for these words are in the ritual of Sabazios and the Mother [Rhea].

In Alexandria, Cybele was worshiped by the Greek population as “The Mother of the Gods, the Savior who Hears our Prayers” and as “The Mother of the Gods, the Accessible One.” Ephesus, one of the major trading centers of the area, was devoted to Cybele as early as the tenth century B.C.E., and the city’s ecstatic celebration, the Ephesia, honored her.

The goddess was not welcome among the Scythians north of Thrace. From Herodotus (4.76-7) it is made clear that the Scythian Anacharsis (sixth century B.C.E.), after traveling among the Greeks and acquiring vast knowledge, was put to death by his fellow Scythians for attempting to introduce the foreign cult of Magna Mater.

Atalanta and Hippomenes were turned into lions by Zeus or Cybele as punishment for having sex in one of her temples, because the Greeks believed that lions could not mate with other lions. Another account says that Aphrodite turned them into lions for forgetting to do her tribute. As lions they then drew Cybele’s chariot.

Walter Burkert, who treats Meter among “foreign gods” in Greek Religion (1985, section III.3,4) puts it succinctly: “The cult of the Great Mother, Meter, presents a complex picture insofar as indigenous, Minoan-Mycenean tradition is here intertwined with a cult taken over directly from the Phrygian kingdom of Asia Minor” (p 177).

In 203 or 205 B.C.E., Pessinos’s aniconic cult object that embodied the Great Mother was ceremoniously and reverently removed to Rome, marking the official beginning of her cult there. Thus, by 203 B.C.E., Rome had adopted her cult as well. Rome was then embroiled in the Second Punic War. The previous year, an inspection had been made of the Sibylline Books, and some oracular verses had been discovered that announced that if a foreign foe should carry war into Italy, he could be driven out and conquered if the Mater Magna were brought from Pessinos to Rome. Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica was ordered to go to the port of Ostia, accompanied by all the matrons, to meet the goddess. He was to receive her as she left the vessel, and when brought to land he was to place her in the hands of the matrons who were to bear her to her destination, the Temple of Victory on the Palatine Hill. The day on which this event took place, April 12, was observed afterwards as a festival, the Megalesian.[8]

In 103 B.C.E., Battakes, a high priest of Cybele, journeyed to Rome to announce a prediction of Gaius Marius’s victory over the Cimbri and Teutoni. A. Pompeius, plebeian tribune, together with a band of ruffians, chased Battakes off of the Rostra. Pompeius supposedly died of a fever a few days later.

Under the emperor Augustus, Cybele enjoyed greater prominence thanks to her inclusion in Augustan ideology. Augustus restored Cybele’s temple, which was located next to his own palace on the Palatine Hill. On the cuirass of the Prima Porta of Augustus, the tympanon of Cybele lies at the feet of the goddess Tellus. Livia, the wife of Augustus, ordered cameo-cutters to portray her as Cybele. The Malibu statue of Cybele bears the visage of Livia.

In Roman mythology, she was given the name Magna Mater deorum Idaea (“great Idaean mother of the gods”), in recognition of her Phrygian origins (though this title was also given to Rhea).

Roman devotion to Cybele ran deep. Not coincidentally, when a Christian basilica was built over the site of a temple to Cybele to occupy the site, it was syncretistically dedicated as the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. However, Roman citizens were later forbidden to become priestesses of Cybele, who were eunuchs like their Asiatic Goddess.

The worship of Cybele was exported to the empire, even as far as Mauretania, where, just outside Setif, the ceremonial “tree-bearers” and the faithful (religiosi) restored the temple of Cybele and Attis after a disastrous fire in 288 C.E. Lavish new fittings paid for by the private group included the silver statue of Cybele and the chariot that carried her in procession received a new canopy, with tassels in the form of fir cones.[12] The popularity of the Cybele cult in the city of Rome and throughout the empire is thought to have inspired the author of Book of Revelation to allude to her in his portrayal of the mother of harlots who rides the Beast.

Today, a modern monumental statue of Cybele can be found in one of the principal traffic circles of Madrid, the Plaza de Cibeles.

Ritual worship

Cybele was associated with the mystery religion concerning her son, Attis, who was castrated and resurrected. Her most ecstatic followers were males who ritually castrated themselves, and then assumed “female” identities by wearing women’s clothing. These eunuchs were referred to by the third-century commentator Callimachus in the feminine Gallai, and who other contemporary commentators in ancient Greece and Rome referred to as Gallos or Galli.

These castrated “priestesses” led the people in orgiastic ceremonies with wild music, drumming, dancing and drink. The Phrygian kurbantes or Corybantes, expressed her ecstatic and orgiastic cult in music, especially drumming, clashing of shields and spears, dancing, singing and shouts, all at night. Additionally, the dactyls (Greek for “fingers”) were small phallic male beings associated with the Great Mother, Cybele, and part of her retinue.

Iconography

Various aspects of Cybele’s Anatolian attributes probably predate the Bronze Age in origin. A figurine found at Çatalhöyük, (Archaeological Museum, Ankara), dating about 6000 B.C.E., depicts a corpulent and fertile Mother Goddess in the process of giving birth while seated on her throne, which has two hand rests in the form of lion’s heads. No direct connection with the later matar goddesses is documented, but the similarity to some of the later iconography is striking.

In archaic Phrygian images of Cybele of the sixth century, already betraying the influence of Greek style, her typical representation is in the figuration of a building’s facade, standing in the doorway. The facade itself can be related to the rock-cut monuments of the highlands of Phrygia. She is wearing a belted long dress, a polos (high cylindrical hat), and a veil covering the whole body. In Phrygia, her usual attributes are the bird of prey and a small vase. Lions are sometimes related to her, in an aggressive but tamed manner.

Later, under Hellenic influence along the coast lands of Asia Minor, the sculptor Agoracritos, a pupil of Pheidias, produced a version of Cybele that became the standard one. It showed her still seated on a throne but now more decorous and matronly, her hand resting on the neck of a perfectly still lion and the other holding the circular frame drum, similar to a tambourine, (tymbalon or tympanon), which evokes the full moon in its shape and is covered with the hide of the sacred lunar bull.

From the eighth–sixth centuries B.C.E., the goddess appears alone. However, later she is joined by her son and consort Attis, who incurred her jealousy. He, in an ecstasy, castrated himself, and subsequently died. Grieving, Cybele resurrected him. This tale is told by Catullus in one of his carmina (short poems). The evergreen pine and ivy were sacred to Attis.

Some ecstatic followers of Cybele, known in Rome as galli, willingly castrated themselves in imitation of Attis. For Roman devotees of Cybele Mater Magna who were not prepared to go so far, the testicles of a bull, one of the Great Mother’s sacred animals, were an acceptable substitute, as many inscriptions show. An inscription of 160 C.E. records that a certain Carpus had transported bull’s testes from Rome to Cybele’s shrine at Lyon, France.

Cybele in the Aeneid

In his Aeneid, Virgil called her Berecyntian Cybele, alluding to her place of birth. She is described as the mother of the gods.

In the story, the Trojans are in Italy and have kept themselves safe in a walled city according to Aeneas’s orders. The leader of the Rutulians, Turnus, orders his men to burn the ships of the Trojans.

At this point in the story, there is a flashback to mount Olympus years before the Trojan War. After Cybele had given her sacred trees to the Trojans so that they could build their ships, she went to Zeus and begged him to make the ships indestructible. Zeus granted her request by saying that when the ships had finally fulfilled their purpose (bringing Aeneas and his army to Italy) they would be turned into sea nymphs rather than be destroyed.

So, as Turnus approached with fire, the ships came to life, dove beneath the sea and emerged as nymphs.

 

Source:

New World Encyclopedia

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Deities, The Goddesses | Leave a comment

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