The Introduction & History of Our Goddess

The Introduction & History Of Our Goddess

 Introduction

In Neo-pagan Witchcraft the Goddess is the very essence or central figure of the Craft and worship. She is the Great Mother, representing the fertility which brings forth all life; as Mother Nature she is the living biosphere of both the planets and the forces of the elements; she has roles of both creator and destroyer; she is the Queen of Heaven; and she is the moon. She possesses magical powers and is emotion, intuition and psychic faculty.

The Divine Force within the Goddess is believed to be genderless, but within the universe it is manifested as male and female principles. Often within the worship of the Divine Force the Goddess, or the female principle, is emphasized to the exclusion of The Horned God, or the male principle. But, theoretically both are recognized.

The Goddess has many facets, names and aspects. Although in witchcraft and Neo-paganism she is mainly worshiped in her aspects of the triple Goddess: Virgin, Mother and Crone.

History

Goddess worship dates back to Paleolithic times. Many anthropologists speculate the first “God ” or gods of the peoples were feminine. This coincides with ancient creation myths and beliefs that creation was achieved through self-fertilization. Within the concept of creation the participation of the male principle was not known or recognized yet. The Goddess was believed to have created the universe by herself alone.

From this belief came the agricultural religions. It was thought that the gods only prospered by the beneficence and wisdom which the Goddess showered on them. Evidence appears to indicate most ancient tribes and cultures were matriarchal.

Although this maybe true, there seems to be little evidence that the feminine portions of these societies held themselves superior over their male counterparts. Generally Goddess worship had been balanced by the honoring of both the male and female Deities. This is illustrated by the belief in and the observance of the sacred marriage of the Sky God and Earth Mother in many global societies.

Among the first human images discovered are the “Venus figures,” nude female figures having exaggerated sexual parts that date back to the Cro-Magnons of the Upper Paleolithic period between 35,000 and 10,000 BC.

In southern France is the Venus of Laussel which is carved in basrelief in a rock shelter. This appears once to have been a hunting shrine which dates to around 19,000 BC. In this carving the woman is painted red, perhaps to suggest blood, and holds a bison horn in one hand.

Also in Cro-Magnon cave paintings women are depicted giving birth. “A naked Goddess appears to have been the patroness of the hunt to mammoth hunters in the Pyrenees and was also protectress of the hearth and lady of the wild things.”

Other female figurines were discovered dating back to the proto-Neolithic period of ca, 9000 – 7000 BC, the Middle Neolithic period of ca. 6000 – 5000 BC, and the Higher Neolithic period of ca. 4500 – 3500 BC. Some of these figurines were decorated as if they had been objects of worship. In black Africa were discovered cave images of the Horned Goddess (later Isis, ca. 7000 – 6000 BC). The Black Goddess images appeared to represent a bisexual, self-fertilizing woman.

During the predynastic Egyptian period, prior to 3110 BC, the Goddess was known as Ta-Urt (Great One) and was portrayed as a pregnant hippopotamus stand on her hind legs.

The Halaf culture around the Tigris River, ca. 5000 – 4000 BC, had Goddess figurines associated with the cow, serpent, humped ox, sheep, goat, pig, bull, dove and double ax. These things were known to the people and became symbols representing the Goddess.

In the Sumerian civilization, ca. 4000 BC, the princesses or queens of cities were associated with the Goddess. A king was associated with God.

Throughout the eons of history the Goddess assumed many aspects. She was seen as the creatress, virgin, mother, destroyer, warrior, huntress, homemaker, wife, artist, jurist, healer and sorcerer. Her roles or abilities increased with the advancement of the cultures which worshipped her.

She could represent a queen with a consort, or lover. She might bear a son who died young or was sacrificed only to rise again representing the annual birth-death-rebirth cycle of the seasons.

Throughout the centuries the Goddess has acquired a thousand names and a thousand faces but most always she has represented nature, she is associated with both the sun and moon, the earth and the shy. The Goddess religion, usually in all forms, is a nature religion. Those worshipping the Goddess worship or care for nature too.

It might be acknowledged that author Barbara G. Walker made two comments concerning the thousand names of the Goddess. The first is that “Every female divinity in the present Encyclopedia may be correctly regarded as only another aspect of the core concept of a female Supreme Being.” The author’s other comment is, “If such a system had been applied to the usual concept of God, (giving him the different names and titles which people throughout the centuries have attributed to him), there would now be a multitude of separate ‘gods’ with names like Almighty, Yahweh, Lord, Holy Ghost, Sun of Righteousness, Christ, Creator, Lawgiver, Jehovah, Providence, Allah, Savior, Redeemer, Paraclete, Heavenly Father, and so on, ad infinitum, each one assigned to a particular function in the world pantheon.”

Both comments may be considered correct when it is recognized that humankind is only able to speak of God, the Supreme Being and the gods in anthropomorphic terms. As it has been noted elsewhere, the human mind is unable to comprehend any godhead without the aid of anthropomorphism. But, many people such as Simon Magus have gotten themselves in serious trouble when calling God by another name. The early Church Father Hippolytus condemned Simon for referring to God as the Infinite Force.

The beginning of the Hebrew religion with its God Yahweh is said to have marked the end of the Goddess’ Golden Age. Approximately this was between 1800 – 1500 BC when the prophet Abraham lived in Canaan.

The Christian Church, and especially the Roman Catholic Church, has fought hard to suppress or root out all Goddess worship. The Goddess along with all pagan deities were labeled as evil. But, little proof has been offered for this. One notable example is The Canon Episcopi.

Even though the Church attempted to completely abolish Goddess worship it never successfully did so. Remanents of it remained within the hearts of the people. An example of such devotion is seen within the actions of the people during the Church Council of Ephesus (432 AD). Until Christianized Ephesus had been a sacred city where the Divine Mother was worshiped by “all Asia and the world” (Acts 19:27). Also in this city of Ephesus, as elsewhere, she was called Mother of Animals. “Her most famous Ephesus image had a torso covered with breasts, showing her ability to nurture the whole world.” During this council of bishops people rioted in the streets demanding the worshipping of the Goddess be restored. The prime candidate was Mary, the Virgin and Mother of Christ. The bishops conceded so far in allowing Mary to be called the Mother of God, but the forbade her to be called Mother Goddess or Goddess.

To the very present many, both Catholics and especially Protestants, wonder why Catholics have a great devotion toward the Virgin Mary. Few know the occurrences at Ephesus, and that this devotion is probably the long surviving remanent of their early ancestors’ devotion to the Goddess.

Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Lunantshees

Fantasy Comments & Graphics
 
November 11 and 12

Lunantshees

This day has been set aside to honor the Fairy, an important element in most Irish folklore and mythology. For the Irish, the Fairy is believed to be the decedent of the small, dark, Neolithic people who invaded early Europe. Being small and dark and living close to the land allowed them to quickly hide from their enemies. This ability along with their elusive mannerisms, led people to believe they were capable of magick, shape-shifting and invisibility.

Magickal Activities

Fairy Dust

Grind the following herbs into a fine powder:

1 Tbs. Woodruff

1 Tbs. Rose petal

1 Tbs. Meadowsweet

1 Tbs. Clover

1 Tbs. Jasmine

Place the powder in a dark blue jar. Inscribe the following symbol on the jar:

Hold the jar tightly against your heart as you chant nine times:

Nature spirits and Fairy friends,
Bless this dust to serve my ends.
I place my trust and faith in thee,
To bring me love, wealth and prosperity.
 

Lightly dust the bed with the powder to increase passion and love. Place some of the powder near the threshold of a business to attract new customers, and sprinkle some around the perimeter or your home to create an atmosphere of happiness and good will.

Your Charm for August 29: The Arrowhead

Your Charm for Today

Today’s Meaning:

The arrowhead pointing down means a storm is brewing within this aspect. Trouble is coming your way from a source very close to you. Be prepared to have an important discussion that could change your life.

General Description:    

These Neolithic flint Arrow heads were supposed in olden times to have been made by the fairies, and were held in high esteem for their supposed magical powers. The Arrow heads were called Elf shots. The amulet was worn on a necklace to protect the wearer from all kinds of bodily illness, and was a potent charm for averting the evil eye. When the arrow head was dipped in water it was thought that the water had the power of curing almost all diseases, and this superstition still exists in some countries, even at the present time.

Just How Old ARE We, Anyway?

Just How Old ARE We, Anyway?

Author: Talitha Dragonfly

Neo-Pagans. We’re new. We’re not new. We’re as ancient as humanity itself. We’re recent newcomers. We’re preserving the Old Religion. We’ve invented a New Religion. We’re celebrating original traditions. We’re staggering silly neophytes reinventing how the world views the Divine.

Which of these statements is true?

Heck, quite honestly I don’t care.

I love what I do, and that’s all that really matters.

As we explore the question of our supposed birthday, let’s consider a brief definition of “Pagan.” Generally speaking, one who is a Pagan is considered to be a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim (dictionary.com) or a follower of a polytheistic religion (Mirriam-Webster).

Of the major three, Judaism is the oldest. How old is Judaism, then? If you mean when the Jews received the Torah by Moses, then it is about 3300 years old. Of course, this religion has gone through some major revisions since the time of Moses, especially after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Just pick up a copy of the Hebrew Bible, start reading from the beginning in Genesis, and look for how things were done differently than they are today.

So Paganism, it can safely be suggested, is at least older than 3300 years old.

Hinduism has a long and checkered history of at least 6000 years, and is arguably the oldest living religion in the world. Technically this religion fits the official definition of Paganism in that it is not Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, and that it is a polytheistic belief system. But do Hindus truly consider themselves to be Pagan?

I would like to pepper in another relevant fact into the mix.

Since the advent of writing, there has never been a single religion uniformly practiced across Western Europe before Christianity.

Many modern sources refer to Wicca as the “Old Religion”, a religion that survived in secret in Europe through the Christian period. Frequently, the age of this “Old Religion” is stretched to impossible proportions. Some people quite ridiculously claim unbroken ties from the Neolithic period. The late Dr. Margaret Murray traces Witchcraft’s origins all the way back to Paleolithic times.

This is silly! No single culture has ever survived this long. Cultures migrate and eventually merge with each other, and their spiritual beliefs merge with them. Cultures eventually die out, and when this happens, their religions generally follow suit.

During the Neolithic and Paleolithic time periods, no written language existed. Although oral traditions are often extremely important, nothing beats the power of the written word to preserve the integrity of a tradition. And even against all odds, if a tradition did survive without the help of writing, we would have no way of knowing it.

The needs of a society changes. People hunted and gathered in small groups in antiquity, and there were no cities and no agriculture in humanity’s beginnings. The eventual needs of a city are very different from the original needs of a nomadic tribe.

As culture evolves, so too do spiritual beliefs; i.e., hunting gods would be replaced by agricultural gods, male deities take supremacy over female deities, lunar deities are replaced by solar deities, gods begin to “specialize” in areas that suit the current technology, etc.

Each culture that populated a particular continent or specific region possessed their own pantheons, their own mythology, their own myths of creation and the afterlife. Read various pre-Christian or pre-Jewish myths from across the globe and see for yourself.

There are, of course, some archetypal similarities. Anyone who is a devoted reader of Carl Jung would definitely agree. Humanity seems to be hard-wired somehow for religion in achingly similar ways. And perhaps some of these similarities can be attributed to interactions between these cultures.

But in whole, every separate religion of all of the world’s religions was its own independent entity.

So why do many people INSIST that there was ever this single “Old Religion”?

For the sake of this argument, you can find beautiful and relevant similarities between all the world’s sacred traditions. You can find similarities between many ancient traditions and Christianity, for that matter.

That does not mean that all religions in antiquity are all the same, or that they all originate from a single common denominator.

Many of us today celebrate old deities, and many of us try to incorporate the spirit of the old rites into our modern rituals. But the simple fact is that our actual and complete knowledge of these rites can be sketchy or sometimes even nonexistent.

Many of these rites were either purposefully secret, or the knowledge of them was repressed or destroyed.

The Egyptians, for instance, did not write most of their magickal rites down because of the belief that written spells and incantations would take a life of their own; the symbols WERE the spell and completely capable, it was believed, to leap off of the papyrus or stone.

The rites, worships, and beliefs of the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept secret, as initiation was believed to unite the worshipper with the gods, including promises of divine power and rewards in the afterlife. There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of the Mysteries, but at best we have but fragmentary glimpses from outside sources, mere casual observers who were not even part of the culture, giving uninitiated opinions like a reporter from Action News.

The Library of Alexandria was destroyed by fire on a number of occasions, and to this day the details of what this library may or may not have contained remains a lively source of controversy.

Other cultures, like the Mesoamericans and the Etruscans and the people of the Indus Valley, documented their practices in a form of writing that has not been completely deciphered.

Gerald Gardner himself acknowledged this fact as it pertains to his invention of Wicca. He said that the rituals he received from Dorothy Clutterbuck (and oh boy, try to prove that she ever actually existed!) were extremely fragmentary.

In order to make them workable, he had to supplement them with other material. And the age of those “fragments” is hardly ancient. He directly lifted material from occult sources of the 19th and early 20th centuries like the Golden Dawn, Thelema, and Freemasonry.

Wicca as an “official” religion did not begin until 1954. This hardly qualifies it as an actual “tradition” in the broadest meaning of the word. It is even historically proven that so-called Wiccan theology did not begin to be compiled before the 1920s.

But yet still the compelling thought persists with many people that they have to believe that their “religion” is ancient.

The first question that I have to ask is why people find it so important to prove that their religion was here first. Every religion had to be a new religion at one point in time.

Wicca, and for that matter most of Neo-Paganism which spun off or was inspired from the practice of Wicca, is only about 60 years old. It is much less old in the United States, having been introduced in the States in the mid to late sixties, and not really beginning to take off until the seventies by different feminist groups.

It wasn’t really until the nineties until most of the rest of us heard about Wicca and Paganism.

Sure, we’ve all adopted certain aspects of older religions. We are inspired by many of the old Gods and Goddesses. But in good conscience, we can never say that we are truly authentic followers of those religions.

Judaism and Christianity share an entire Old Testament, not to mention the Supreme Being Yahweh. But to say that they are the same religion is ridiculous.

So what is the point I am trying to make here?

Let’s not take ourselves, as Neo-Pagans, too seriously. Let’s not give more weight to ourselves than is properly ordained. Neo-Paganism is a beautiful way of life, and if others had not invented it before me, I should like to think that I would have eventually to answer the primal calls of my spirit.

Magick works. I can definitely attest to this fact. The Gods and Goddesses speak to me fervently through their ancient archetypal voices. I love the old myths that were told throughout the world’s history, and I find modern relevance deep within the many layers of their story lines.

I find inspiration from many sacred texts: Hindu, Hebrew, Buddhist, Christian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Mesopotamian, Native American, etc. I am a modern High Priestess who walks comfortably between all realms of possibility.

Let’s just admit to ourselves with a firmly clear and honest voice that we are reclaiming some of the ancient mysteries but with a thoroughly modern twist. We are taking religion to its logical next step in a way that suits the times and the needs of those who would approach the Divine with love and inspiration, and hopefully honesty and humbleness and gratitude, in our hearts.

Let’s get off our bogus high horses and just BE.

There is no shame in this honesty. There is no need for explanation. There is no need for legitimization. It is what it is.

And that’s perfectly okay by me.

A Little Winter Solstice Lore……

Winter Comments & Graphics

 

The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites such as Stonehenge in Britain and Newgrange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (Newgrange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). Significant in respect of Stonehenge is the fact that the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i.e., its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun.

The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common in winter between January and April, also known as the famine months. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized day, which falls on the previous eve.

Since the event is seen as the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures using winter solstitially based cyclic calendars, the year as reborn has been celebrated with regard to life-death-rebirth deities or new beginnings such as Hogmanay’s redding, a New Year cleaning tradition. In Greek mythology, the gods and goddesses met on the winter and summer solstice, and Hades is permitted to enter Mount Olympus (his domain is the underworld so he of course does not get accepted any other time). Also reversal is yet another usual theme as in Saturnalia’s slave and master reversals.

~Magickal Graphics~