The Earth Witch

Earth Goddesses – DEMETER

Earth Goddesses – DEMETER 

Demeter is the Greek goddess of the grains, agriculture, and fertility. She is the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. She is an Olympian.

Demeter is so prevalent in the Greek myths that she is even responsible for the changing of the seasons. In Homer’s Hymn to Demeter, he relates the tale. Demeter, whom Homer describes as a stately goddess, had a child with Zeus named Persephone. Unbeknown to Demeter, Zeus had planned with Hades to ensnare the young Persephone so that Hades would have a wife and therefore a queen of the Underworld. Zeus cunningly brought forth the brightly colored narcissus flower in an attempt to lure Persephone away while she was at play in the fields.

As Persephone set about gathering a bouquet of lovely irises, roses, hyacinths, violets and crocuses, she caught sight of the most magnificent flower in the field – the narcissus. Persephone, stunned by the flower’s beauty, reached out with both hands to pick it for her bouquet. As she did, the Earth opened wide and Hades, riding upon his golden chariot led by immortal horses, snatched the beautiful Persephone and took her wit him into the Underworld. Persephone cried out for her father to save her. Her cries echoed across the countryside, yet no one except Demeter heard her.

Demeter searched the Earth for nine days, grieving so desperately that she touched not a single drop of drink or bite of food. On the tenth day, at the crack of dawn, Hecate spoke with Demeter. She sent Demeter to speak with Helios, the sun god. Demeter begged Helios to tell her who had taken her beloved daughter. Helios replied that it was Zeus himself and explained the role of Hades in the plot.

Demeter was furious and grief stricken. She left Olympus and wandered to Eleusis. For a year she stilled the Earth from fruitfulness. In her grief, the flowers no longer bloomed and the gardens withered and died. The Earth was barren. Zeus sent Iris to try to persuade Demeter to come home, but Demeter would not budge. One by one, each of the gods tried to talk Demeter into returning to Olympus. She refused them all, saying that she would never return until she could lay eyes again on her beloved daughter.

Zeus upon hearing this, sent Hermes to speak with Hades and attempt to cajole him into releasing Persephone. Hades agreed and asked only that Persephone keep him in her heart fondly. With that he tricked her into eating three pomegranate seeds, thereby assuring that she had to return to him. Persephone happily ate the seeds and went on her way back to her mother. When Demeter was greeted by the sight of her daughter, the Earth was once again fruitful and the people rejoiced. Afraid, Demeter asked her daughter if she had eaten anything while in the Underworld, to which Persephone replied that she had eaten the seeds of a pomegranate. Demeter explained that she must live in the Underworld for one third of each year. She swore that while Persephone was on the Earth, she would hold it in bloom for her daughter’s pleasure., but that while Persephone was in the Underworld, it would be barren and cold. Thus, the season were born.

Demeter, with her somewhat ironic sense of humor, placed the poppy in the corn and barley fields. She put all of her sweetness into the fig, which grows alongside wild herbs. As the poppy and the fig grow around the base of her more substantial foodstuffs, they represent the dark side of Demeter. The dark side is the side that holds the life and death of mortals in her hands and carries the seeds of each in her womb. Demeter represents both hunger and abundance.

In one myth, Demeter condemns a man to eternal hunger for daring to attempt to chop down her sacred grove to make a roof for his hall from the wood. The man subsequently eats until there is only one thing left to eat – himself. He devours his own limbs.

Demeter was also a goddess of fertility and, in one myth, coupled with a human in the field. The pairing produced a child. Soon after Demeter became known as a goddess who guarded marriage and was included in ancient marriage rites. Concubines and the like were condemned to her stone gardens, where no plants could ripen and bloom. Demeter’s festival, held in late autumn was celebrate by legitimate wives and included a ritual sowing of the field. It was conducted with the hope of a harvest of beautiful children, a bounty borne from human seed.

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Earth Gods – DAGDA

Earth Gods – DAGDA 

The Dagda is the Irish father god of Earth. He is the leader of the immortal race of the Tuatha De Danann. The Dagda is also known as the lord of abundance. He is the god of time and magick and the protector of crops. He is the son of Danu and Beli. His name means “good god,” meaning he is good at all of the things he does, not morally superior.

In Celtic mythology, it is the Dagda who is responsible for the changing of the seasons. It was said that he owned a magickal harp, Daurdabla, that made the seasons change when played. He acquired this harp on a trip to the Otherworld. On the same trip he obtained the Undry, a magickal cauldron said to never empty, along with the Sword of Nuada and the Lia Fail, which is also known as the Stone of Life. These three items, along with the Spear Luin, are thought to represent the four elements.

The Dagda is represented in a somewhat comical form. He is most often depicted as a large man with a paunch belly wearing a too short tunic that leaves his genitals bare and exposed, hauling around his magickal mallet in a cart. The mallet was said to kill nine men in a single blow and restore them to life with the handle. Although he was frequently the subject of jokes, the Dagda was held in the highest esteem. The Celts believed that even the highest being possessed a flaw or two.

While he was the main consort of Morrigan, the Dagda was known to have many other lovers. It was said that he was one of lusty appetites, and when he came upon the raven-haired Morrigan washing clothes in a stream, he walked up behind her and began having his way with her. The Morrigan found the interlude so satisfactory that she backed him in battle the next day.

In one tale, the Dagda was send by Lugh to spy on the Fomorians. He went to their camp and asked for a truce, which was granted. The Fomorians decided to mock the Dagda by making a porridge. The Dagda’s weakness for porridge was well-known. The Fomorians made a huge amount and proclaimed that unless the Dagda ate every bite he would be killed. He ate every bite and promptly fell asleep. When he awoke, he found the Fomorians laughing at him. The Dagda forced himself to leave, which was no easy feat considering his bloated, swollen belly. On his way, he chanced upon a girl who threw him into the mud and demanded she be returned to her father’s house. The Dagda asked who her father was, and she replied that he was the king of the Fomorians. The Dagda and the girl wrestled about and ended up making love. As she was smitten at this point, she helped the Dagda defeat the Fomorians in battle by singing spells against them.

The Dagda’s main consort was Boann, and they are the parents of the Celtic goddess Brigid. He is also the father of the fairy king Midir and many others.

The Dagda is said to rule today from the Otherworld, as his life on this plane was ended in battle by a woman named Cethlion. Once defeated, he led the Tuatha De Danann through a fairy mound to live underground in the Other world.

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Earth Gods – THE GREEN MAN

Earth Gods – THE GREEN MAN

The Green Man is the vision of a face in the leaves – a face surrounded by or made from leaves. He embodies nature – wild, free, and primitive. He is known as Cernunnos, Herne, Pan, Faunus, Puck, John Barleycorn, and the Horned God, to name just a few. The Green Man is the male essence of nature. His face graces more churches and cathedrals than one can imagine, a unique feat for a pagan god.

Cernunnos is the Celtic god of nature. He is commonly seen as a horned god. The horn is a symbol of virility and fertility. As Cernunnos, his worship can be traced back to the Iron Age Celts through historical artifacts; however, very little is known about how he was regarded or worshipped.

In Britain, the nature god is known as Herne the Hunter. Herne was a favorite of King Richard II. He saved the king from a raging stag and was severely wounded. A stranger tied the antlers of the stag to Herne’s head, claiming his hunting talent as payment. Herne, devastated at this loss of talent, ran off into the woods. Later a man found his corpse hanging on a tree. Herne is said to appear in spectral form and to indulge in his favorite pastime – hunting. He is aid to lead the Wild Hunt.

Pan is the Greek nature god who watches over the shepherds and their flocks. He is known as Faunus in Roman mythology. Pan is consider to be older than the Olympians. He gave Apollo the secrets of prophecy and gifted Artemis with her hunting dogs.

Pan was originally an Arcadian god. He is described as a man with the legs, horns and hindquarters of a goat. Due to the Olympians disdain of Arcadians, they always treated Pan as a second-class god. However, his popularity among the primitive mountain people of Arcadia never lessened.

Pan was thought to inspire a type of sudden fear. In fact, the world panic is a derivation of his name. Pan was a lecherous god and was well-known for his indulgence in amorous affairs. One nymph name Pitys turned into a pine tree to escape his advances, while another, Syrinx, turned into river reeds. At the exact moment that Syrinx did so., the wind blew, creating a melodic sound. Pan much intrigued picked several of the reeds and turned them into his signature pan pipes.

All of the deities that are considered to be the male essence of nature are thought to follow a cycle of life, death and rebirth in sync with the seasons.

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Earth Goddesses – CORN WOMAN

Earth Goddesses – CORN WOMAN 

In Native American lore, it is the Corn Woman who is known as the “first mother.” It is said that there was once a time of great famine. The Corn Woman went to her husband and asked that he kill her. The husband, distraught, went to the tribe’s teacher, who confirmed that he must do as his wife asked. With great reluctance, he complied. He dragged her body around a field and burned her in the center of it. In a few months, corn and tobacco filled the field, saving the tribe from starvation.

In the Pawnee tribe, Corn Woman held rule over the west, while Buffalo Woman held the east. Together they guaranteed that the tribe had both meat and corn.

In one of the earliest tales, we find that the Corn Woman emerged from an older world, one in which animals were not slaughtered for food and hides but rather were treated as kin. The old world had a greater respect for life, be it animal or human. The people began to lose balance and greed crept in. The deer set forth a punishment for any who would eat of its flesh – man’s first known disease. Corn Woman thought it was time to begin again and restore balance and harmony to the people.

She watched her grandsons preparing to go out to hunt and asked them to stay. She said she would cook the finest meal they had ever tasted. The grandsons replied that they were hunters and must hunt, Corn Woman nodded sadly and went about creating her meal, but not before she asked her grandsons to respect the animal life they came across in the forest. The grandsons laughed.

Corn Woman cooked, all the while singing and blessing the food. When her grandsons returned home, she saw that they had killed a wild pig. She said nothing. They sat down and began to eat of her feast. Loudly, the grandsons proclaimed the food the best they had ever tasted and proceeded to eat their fill. They asked her where she had gotten the corn, but she did not answer. She just listened to the compliments and smiled.

The next day, the young men again reached for their weapons. Corn Woman cooked again. The aromas from her kitchen reached them out in the woods as they hunted. That day, they brought home a slain deer. Corn Woman said nothing. The grandsons gifted her with the deer, and she recognized it as an honor and so returned it to the forest. She sang long into the night, invading the dreams of her grandsons.

When they awoke the next morning, instead of reaching for their weapons, the grandsons asked Corn Woman to make them breakfast. She did and they ate until they were sleepy again. When they awoke from their naps, they gathered their weapons and set about preparing to hunt. Corn Woman asked the not to go. She said, “we have so much food already.” The grandsons said they were hunters and set out toward the forest. Corn Woman called after them to respect animal life.

While on the hunt, one of the young men asked the other where Corn Woman got all the corn she was using to cook with. The other man replied that he did not care and the he knew Corn Woman would only give him what was good for him. They returned home with a turkey but once again sat down to a delightful meal of corn.

After many days of wondering, the younger of the two grandsons decided to sneak back to the home and find out where Corn Woman was getting all of the corn. As he watched, she slapped her sides and the corn fell out of her body and into a basket at her side. He ran to tell his older brother. The eldest grandson was upset. He said. “this is a bad thing, an unnatural thing. We cannot eat our grandmother. Something has taken hold of her.”

That night the grandsons returned home in fear. Corn Woman piled their plates high but the two could not eat. Her heart grew heavy as she realized that they knew her secret. She began to age rapidly before their eyes. The youngest started to cry and beg forgiveness. Corn Woman replied, “Listen well, child. For I have no long as I am to tell you all you need know. I am the Corn Mother. I a her for your abundance, harmony, health and peace. When I pass, you are to drag my body through the field and plant me in the center. I will come back to you as tall, glorious plant, with yellow hair at my fruit. Do not eat all of the seeds; save some for the planting again the next year, so that I might be with you forever.” The grandsons swore to do as she wished. Thereafter they refused to hunt unless they were on the verge of starvation. Hence, balance and harmony returned to the people.

In the Navajo tribe, we find variations of the Corn Woman. According to Navajo beliefs, there was a Corn Girl (yellow corn) and a Corn Boy (white corn) sent forth by the creator god to bring corn to the tribe. Corn was sacred and the main food of the people and was also used in religious ceremonies. Shaman’s masks were fed corn meal to “bring them into being,” or animate them.

The Aztecs have their own version of the Corn Woman in Chicomecoatl, the goddess of sustenance. It was thought that yearly sacrifices held in her honor assured a good crop. Each year a young girl was chosen to represent Chicomecoatl and was ritually decapitated. Her blood was poured over a statue of the goddess as an offering. She was skinned and her flesh was them worn by a priest.

The Hopi and Pueblo tribes have the Blue Corn Maiden as their representative of Corn Woman. On a cold winter day, the Blue Corn Maiden went out in search of firewood. Normally this was not a task for her. While she was out searching, she ran across Winter Katsina, the spirit of winter. When Winter Katsina saw the Blue Corn Maiden, he immediately feel in love. He took her back to his house, whereupon he blocked the door and windows with ice and snow. He was very kind to her, but she was sad. She wanted to go home and make the blue corn grow for her people.

While Winter Katsina was out one day going about his duties, Blue Corn Maiden sneaked out and found four blades of Yucca plant. She stated a fire. As she did, in walked Summer Katsina, carrying more yucca and blue corn. When Winter Katsina returned, the two fought. Seemingly getting nowhere, they sat down to talk. They agreed that Blue Corn Maiden would live half the year with her people, during the reign of Summer Katsina, and the people would have corn. During the other half of the year, she would live with Winter Katsina, and the people would have no corn.

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Earth Goddesses – FAUNA

Earth Goddesses – FAUNA 

Fauna, the Roman goddess of nature and animals, was most often called Bona Dea (“the Good Goddess”), which is a title, not a name. Sometimes she was referred to as Bona Mater, which means “Good Mother.” To say the actual name of Fauna was taboo in ancient Roman society. Fauna was a Earth Goddess and was worshipped primarily by women. She was the daughter (sometimes represented as consort) of the nature god Faunus. It was said that after her marriage, she never laid eyes upon another man. This chastity. Improved her ranking among the gods. She was a country goddess, the protector of cattle and farmlands. She also presided over virginity and fertility in women. Today the word fauna is used to encompass all animal life.

Fauna is depicted as an old woman with pointed ears. She is represented holding the horn of plenty, and a snake is her symbol. It is said that the snake represents her phallic nature; however, men were not allowed at her temples or festivals. Her image is often found on Roman coins.

Bona Dea had two major festivals, one in May and the other on December 3 or 4. (This feast was moveable.) The festival held in December was a secret rite. It was unique because it was often held in the homes of high-ranking Roman magistrates as opposed to public temples. It was an invitation-only affair. Men were not allowed, nor was any depiction of a man welcome. Paintings and statues that included a male figure were covered up or removed. This festival was said to be a lesbian orgy; however, it has been suggested that it was actually a purification rite. It was forbidden to use the word “wine” or “myrtle,” because Fauna’s father had beaten her to death with a myrtle stick upon finding that she had gotten drunk. Wine was forbidden to women under Roman law. However, it was also her father who gifted her with her divinity, be repenting of her killing and bestowing divinity upon her. Wine was served at her festival but was called milk. It was traditionally kept in a jar covered with cloth. The jar was referred to as the honey pot.

Fauna’s May celebrations took place in her temple and was held on May 1. Wine was served in the same manner as in the December rites. The temple was decorated with vines, flowers, and plants, with the careful exclusion of myrtle. This celebration was public and open to all women. The festival was rumored to included the ritual sacrifice of a pregnant sow.

Fauna’s temple was built over a cave that housed consecrated serpents. Enslaved women were prominent among the worshippers. In fact, Fauna was the only Roman deity to allow freed slaves to serve among her priestesses. Her rites were unique because she allowed high-ranking Roman women, poor women, prostitutes, and slaves to worship together side by side.

Fauna was also seen as the mother of the fairies. In this role she was a prophetess and seer. In addition, Fauna was the female essence of wildlife. In this role she was the companion of Faunus, who served as the male essence.

Fauna was a healing goddess and her temple garden was filled with medicinal herbs. The sick were brought to her temple gardens to be healed.

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Earth Goddesses – FLORA

Earth Goddesses – FLORA

Flora (“flourishing one”) in the Roman and Greek goddess of flowers, youth, fertility, and springtime. She is also identified with the Greek Goddess Chloris. It was said in the Greek myths that when Chloris (originally a nymph) was captured by Zephyrus, he gifted her with the realm of flowers in return for marrying him. So Chloris became known as the Roman Flora.

Flora was thought to give the charm to youth and the sweetness to honey and to protect the petals and give the fragrance to blossoms. She was particularly important in Roman society. Her cults are among the oldest found in Rome, and she was one of the few deities that had her own priests, who were known as the Flamen Floralis. Her bounty was the precursor of modern medicine, as Flora was not only responsible for flowers but was originally responsible for all crops. All gardens fell under her protection, and iron was strictly prohibited within them to allow the plant devas and nature spirits to prosper peacefully. Fairy folk are known for their aversion to iron.

Flora had a special garden of her own, which featured all of the mythological creatures that turned into flowers upon their deaths. Among the blossoms were Narcissus; Ajax, who became a larkspur; Clytie, who became a sunflower; Hyacinth, who had been Apollo’s lover; and Adonis, who became the anemone.

Greek myths also relate a tale where Flora was responsible for the rose. While on an early morning walk through the woods, she stumbled upon the dead body of a beautiful young girl. Saddened to see such a lovely creature dead, she decided to restore her life by transforming her into the most delicate and beautiful of all flowers. In order to accomplish this, she called upon her husband, Zephyrus, god of the western wind, to blow away all of the clouds from the sky. She then called upon Apollo to send his warm rays of sunlight down as blessings. She called upon Aphrodite to add beauty and grace and Dionysus for nectar and fragrance. Everyone agreed that this was the most beautiful of all the flowers.

Flora went to work gathering dewdrops to restore life to the flower and crowned her queen of all flowers. She then called upon Aurora and Iris in spread the word about this new flower. Iris borrowed just a touch of the flower’s color to spread among her rainbows, and Aurora painted the morning sky with the rose-tinted hue.

Aphrodite named the flower the rose in honor of her son Eros, the Greek god of love. Hence, roses are associated with love. Flora presented Eros with the rose as his own in the hope that it would maintain the romantic associations. Eros shared it with Harpocrates, the god of silence, as a bribe to keep secret the indiscretions of his mother, and the rose became associated with silence and secrets as well as love.

According to Roman legend, Flora also had a hand in the creation of Mars, the god of war. Juno, the wife of Jupiter, was jealous that Jupiter had given life to Minerva on his own, so she enlisted the aid of Flora to help her create a son of her own. Flora reluctantly agreed after Juno swore by the river Styx to never tell Jupiter that Flora had taken part. Flora touched Juno with a magickal flower, and Mars began to grown in Juno’s womb. Mars was born and went on to sire Romulus and Remus, who became the founders of Rome.

There was an ancient and somewhat infamous, Roman festival held in Flora’s honor, called the Floralia. It was celebrated annually from the end of April through the beginning of May. The dates suggest that the original purpose of the festival was to beseech Flora to refrain from allowing mildew to fall upon the crops. It is further believed that the Floralia was the inspiration for the Maypole and Mayday celebrations known today as Beltane. The floralia featured chariot races, theater shows, games and lavish banquets. Altars and temples were decorated with every type of flower known to humankind. The participants wore wreaths of flowers in their hair and left offerings of milk and honey.

The Floralia was also a festival known for its unrestrained pleasures. During the celebrations, marriage vows were temporarily forgotten and the celebrants allowed themselves a wide range of a sexual partners. Prostitutes claimed Flora as their matron deity and celebrated her festival vigorously.

Later, as Beltane traditions evolved, Flora became known as a companion of the fairies. This eventually evolved into legends of Flora as a fairy herself. However, it is believed that was borne of some confusion between the Goddess Flora and the fairy Florelia, who is mentioned in tomes of old as a treasure of the Earth akin to Queen Mah.

The role of the flower, and therefore that of Flora, is as important today as it was in ancient times. Almost all holidays and customs include an appropriate flower. We often send flowers to cheer those who are sick, to say farewell to those who have passed, and to celebrate mile-marker events such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. We make use of the scents in perfumes and potpourris and bathing products. We make candles, jellies, wines, and salads from the petals. Flora’s bounty covers everything from poisonous to healing flowers. Chamomile, jasmine, and linden flowers are commonly added to herbal teas. The purple foxglove is the base of the medicine digitalis, which is used in the treatment of heart conditions.

Flowers also have magickal qualities, many of which are steeped in superstition. For instance, the daisy is often used as a divination tool in love matters by plucking the petals off while reciting, “He/she loves me, he/she loves me not.” The dandelion is often used as a tool to bring one’s wishes to fruition by flowing the seeds to the wind. As the wind carries the seeds, it carries one’s wishes to the Goddess as well.

In the Victorian era, flowers were given their own language. A certain type of flower had a specific meaning, which was further sub-divided into categories determined by the color of the flower. For instance, to send a red rose meant “I love you,” whereas to send a yellow rose meant friendship or jealousy. The number of flowers sent also had a specific meaning. It was said to be bad luck to send an even number of flowers.


When the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed in Florida, he looked around at all the many flowers and thought he had found the land containing the Fountain of Youth. He then name the state Florida in honor of Flora.

While we may not choose to celebrate Flora the same way the Romans did, we can honor her on her special days with simple things that remind us of her presence. We can drink flower teas, add flower petals to our baths, prepare meals with edible flowers, decorate our homes and altars with garland and wreaths, wear floral colors, or perform a ritual, or even simply take a walk through flower-strewn fields.

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Edible Earth Magick – Earth Bread Crescent Cakes

Earth Bread Crescent Cakes

  
This recipe is a proper replacement for traditional almond crescent cakes in the cake and ale ceremonies. This bread relates closely to earth and is a good grounding aid.
 
1/3 cup butter
2 1/4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup creamed corn
1/8 teaspoon each parsley, oregano, thyme, basil and garlic powder
 
Melt the butter in a 13 x 9-inch pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in the milk, corn and spices. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Roll to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into crescent shapes and place in the melted butter, turning so that each side is coated in butter. Cook at 450 degrees for 18 minutes. Serve warm.
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Edible Earth Magick – Corn Woman’s Magickal Mush

Corn Woman’s Magickal Mush

 
1 cup corn meal
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups boiling water
 
Combine the corn meal, cold water, and salt. Pour the mixture into the boiling water. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes, stirring when needed. This mush turns solid when cold. It may then be sliced into blocks about 1/2-inch thich and fried in hot oil. Serve with honey on the side, if desired. You may also dust the slices with a mixture of cinnamon and powdered sugar.
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