Deities Associated with Tuesday – The Morrighan, Celtic Goddess of War and Sovereignty

Beautiful Blessings

The Morrighan, Celtic Goddess of War and Sovereignty

In Celtic mythology, the Morrighan is known as a goddess of battle and war. However, there’s a bit more to her than this. Also referred to as Morrígu, Morríghan, or Mor-Ríoghain, she is called the “washer at the ford,” because if a warrior saw her washing his armor in the stream, it meant he was to die that day. She is the goddess who determines whether or not you walk off the field of battle, or are carried off upon your shield.

In later Irish folklore, this role would be delegated to the bain sidhe, who foresaw the death of members of a specific family or clan.

The Morrighan often appears in the form of a crow or raven, or is seen accompanied by a group of them. In the stories of the Ulster cycle, she is shown as a cow and a wolf as well. The connection with these two animals suggest that in some areas, she may have been connected to fertility and land.

In some legends, the Morrighan is considered a triune, or triple goddess, but there are a lot of inconsistencies to this. She often appears as a sister to the Badb and Macha.

In some Neopagan traditions, she is portrayed in her role as destroyer, representing the Crone aspect of the Maiden/Mother/Crone cycle, but this seems to be incorrect when one looks at her original Irish history. Some scholars point out that war specifically is not a primary aspect of the Morrighan, and that her connection to cattle presents her as a goddess of sovereignty. The theory is that she can be seen as a deity who guides or protects a king.

In modern literature, there has been some linking of the Morrighan to the character of Morgan Le Fay in the Arthurian legend. It appears, though, that this is more fanciful thinking than anything else. Although Morgan le Fay appears in the Vita Merlini in the twelfth century, a narrative of the life of Merlin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, it’s unlikely that there’s a connection to the Morrighan. Scholars point out that the name “Morgan” is Welsh, and derived from root words connected to the sea. “Morrighan” is Irish, and is rooted in words that are associated with “terror” or “greatness.” In other words, the names sound similar, but the relationship ends there.

Author
Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

Advertisements

Symbols and Customs of Lupercalia

Joulis ^^ !Symbols and Customs of Lupercalia

Blood
Blood played an important role in the observation of the Lupercalia. The blood of the animals sacrificed at the festival was smeared across the foreheads of two young priests with a knife-perhaps to symbolize death without actually killing anyone. Some accounts of the early observation of this festival say that the youths had to laugh after the blood had been wiped off, which may have been another symbolic act designed to prove that they had been reborn or revived.

Red, the color of blood, is still closely identified with the celebration of VALENTINE’S DAY on February 14. There is reason to believe that what started out as a pagan fertility ritual was eventually transformed into a Christian feast in honor of St. Valentine. Then the Christian festival gradually turned into a secular celebration of young lovers. If this is the case, then the red that dominates so many modern Valentine cards may have derived from the sacrificial blood of the Lupercalia.

Februa
The skins of the goats sacrificed at the Lupercalia were cut into long, thin strips, from which whips were made. The loinskin-clad youths ran through the streets, whipping everyone they met. Women in particular were eager to receive these lashes, as they believed that the whipping would cure infertility and ease the pains of childbirth.

The goatskin thongs used as whips were called februa. Both this name and the name of the month in which the festival was observed, February, were derived from the word februum, which was an ancient instrument of purification. Whipping certain parts of the body with an instrument believed to possess magical powers was considered an effective way of driving off the evil spirits that interfered with human fertilization. The goatskin thongs were believed to possess such powers.

Running around the settlement on the Palatine Hill in Rome wearing the skins and carrying the februa appears to have been an attempt to trace a magic circle around the city to shut out evil influences. This would make the Lupercalia a precursor of the ceremony that came to be known as “beating the bounds.”

Goat
In pre-Christian times, the goat was a symbol of virility and unbridled lust. Christians saw the goat as an “impure, stinking” creature in search of gratification. In portrayals of the Last Judgment, the goat is the creature who is eternally condemned to the fires of Hell, and it’s no coincidence that the devil has many goatlike characteristics. In the Middle Ages, witches were often shown riding through the air on goats, and the devil appears as a male goat whose rump the witches kiss.

If the Lupercalia was primarily a fertility ritual, it makes sense that the women were whipped with thongs made from the skins of an animal identified with lust and virility. But why was a dog sacrificed as well? It is important to remember here that the Lupercalia was both a fertility rite and a purification rite, held to protect the fields and herds from evil. Perhaps dogs were involved in the sacrifice because they are the traditional guardians of the sheepfold.

Goats today are considered a symbol of sexual drive, and February is the month during which they mate.

Milk
After the Luperci were smeared with the blood of the sacrifice, the blood was wiped from their foreheads with wool dipped in milk. Just as the blood symbolized death, the milky wool was symbolic of new life, because milk represents the source of life. Some scholars have theorized that the milk was a symbol of sperm and the red symbolized menstrual blood. According to an ancient theory of procreation, new life came from the union of white sperm with red menses.

Today, red and white are the colors associated with VALENTINE’S DAY.

Wolf
The Latin word for wolf is lupus, from which both the Lupercal (cave) and the Lupercalia derived their names. While the festival may originally have been held in honor of the she-wolf who cared for Romulus and Remus, wolves also represented a threat to the herds on which the early Romans depended for food. The wolf is therefore a symbol not only for the wild, unrestrained forces of nature but also for the benevolent guardian of helpless creatures like Romulus and Remus.

Why were the priests called Luperci? The word Lupercus might have come from a phrase meaning “to purify by means of a goat”; or it might have come from a combination of lupus and arcere, meaning “he who wards off wolves.” Whether the Luperci were protectors from wolves or wolf-priests who took the form of wolves as a means of bringing them under control is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered. Some scholars suggest that the dead revealed themselves in the form of wolves, against whom the community had to be defended.

FURTHER READING
Biedermann, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons and the Meanings Behind Them. New York: Meridian Books, 1994. Fowler, W. Warde. The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic. New York: Macmillan Co., 1925. Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. James, E.O. Seasonal Feasts and Festivals. 1961. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1993. Lemprière, John. Lemprière’s Classical Dictionary. Revised ed. London: Bracken, 1994. Santino, Jack. All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Scullard, H.H. Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981.

Article published on The Free Dictionary

Odin, Ruler of the Norse Gods, Wednesday’s Name Sake

Protected By Unicorns
Odin, Ruler of the Norse Gods, Wednesday’s Name Sake

In the Norse pantheon, Asgard was the home of the gods, and it was the place where one could find Odin, the supreme deity of them all. Connected to his Germanic ancestor Woden or Wodan, Odin was the god of kings and the mentor of young heroes, to whom he often gave magical gifts.

In addition to being a king himself, Odin was a shapeshifter, and frequently roamed the world in disguise. One of his favorite manifestations was that of a one-eyed old man; in the Norse Eddas, the one-eyed man appears regularly as a bringer of wisdom and knowledge to heroes.

He pops up in everything from the saga of the Volsungs to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. He was typically accompanied by a pack of wolves and ravens, and rode on a magic horse named Sleipnir. Odin is associated with the concept of the wild hunt, and leads a noisy hoarde of fallen warriors across the sky.

Odin was said to summon dead heroes and kings to Valhalla, which they entered accompanied by the host of Valkyries. Once in Valhalla, the fallen engaged in feasting and combat, always ready to defend Asgard from its enemies. Odin’s warrior followers, the Berserkers, wore the pelts of a wolf or bear in battle, and worked themselves up into an ecstatic frenzy that made them oblivious to the pain of their wounds.

As a young man Odin hung on the world tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days while pierced by his own javelin, in order to obtain the wisdom of the nine worlds. This enabled him to learn the magic of the runes. Nine is a significant number in the Norse sagas, and appears frequently.

Odin continues to maintain a strong following, particularly amongst members of the Asatru community.

Author

Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

Wolf Moon (January)

Wolf Moon (January)

 

Wolf Moon (January)Also known as: Quiet Moon, Snow Moon, Cold Moon, Chaste Moon, Disting Moon, Moon of Little Winter
Nature Spirits: gnomes, brownies
Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts, cones
Colors: brilliant white, blue-violet, black
Flowers: snowdrop, crocus
Scents: musk, mimosa
Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase
Trees: birch
Animals: fox, coyote
Birds: pheasant, blue jay
Deities: Freyja, Inanna, Sarasvati, Hera, Ch’ang-O, Sinn
Power Flow: sluggish, below the surface; beginning and conceiving. Protection, reversing spells. Conserving energy by working on personal problems that involve no one else. Getting your various bodies to work smoothly together for the same goals.

Your Animal Spirit for Jan. 21 is The Wolf

Your Animal Spirit for Today
January 21, 2014

Wolf

Wolf can survive either as a loner or as part of a pack, and he howls to remind you that you have to balance the needs of others with the needs of the self. If you’re giving yourself away to your own detriment, you are living in opposition to Wolf medicine. Return to balance—and begin feeding your emotions, your mind, and your body.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Calendar of the Sun for November 6th

Calendar of the Sun

6 Blutmonath

Herne’s Day II: Predator

Colors: Black and red
Element: Earth
Altar: On a black cloth lay the skulls and bones of animals, spearheads and flint arrowheads, arrows, and knives. The room should be dark, lit by a single red candle.
Offerings: Make an end to something that needs to die. Cull out things in your life.
Daily Meal: Meat.

Invocation to Herne II

All Hail the Mighty Hunter!
Leader of the Wild Hunt,
Hounds leaping and baying
At his command,
Alpha of the pack,
With teeth that close on the throat
Of the largest, strongest prey,
Predator against whom none can stand.
You who understand the cycle,
Who accepts the sacrifice,
Who takes the offering of your prey,
Wolf who runs with his brothers and sisters,
Great panther who hunts alone,
Bear huge and fierce of claw
Weasel and marten, dark and sly,
Faithful dog that runs to the kill,
Teach us that when Fate comes for us,
It is our place to surrender.
Teach us that when we are overrun,
It is our place to weed out.
Teach us to understand Death
From the side of your implacable eyes.

Chant:
Cernunnos Cernunnos
The Hunt is On

(Ritual ends in a great howl, after which the single candle is snuffed out and all leave the room silently.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Your Animal Spirit for October 28th is Wolf

Your Animal Spirit for Today
October 28, 2013

 

Wolf

Wolf can survive either as a loner or as part of a pack, and he howls to remind you that you have to balance the needs of others with the needs of the self. If you’re giving yourself away to your own detriment, you are living in opposition to Wolf medicine. Return to balance—and begin feeding your emotions, your mind, and your body.

Your Animal Spirit for September 29th is Wolf

Your Animal Spirit for Today
September 29, 2013

Wolf

Wolf can survive either as a loner or as part of a pack, and he howls to remind you that you have to balance the needs of others with the needs of the self. If you’re giving yourself away to your own detriment, you are living in opposition to Wolf medicine. Return to balance—and begin feeding your emotions, your mind, and your body.

Calendar of the Sun for November 6th

Calendar of the Sun

6 Blutmonath

Herne’s Day II: Predator

Colors: Black and red
Element: Earth
Altar: On a black cloth lay the skulls and bones of animals, spearheads and flint arrowheads, arrows, and knives. The room should be dark, lit by a single red candle.
Offerings: Make an end to something that needs to die. Cull out things in your life.
Daily Meal: Meat.

Invocation to Herne II

All Hail the Mighty Hunter!
Leader of the Wild Hunt,
Hounds leaping and baying
At his command,
Alpha of the pack,
With teeth that close on the throat
Of the largest, strongest prey,
Predator against whom none can stand.
You who understand the cycle,
Who accepts the sacrifice,
Who takes the offering of your prey,
Wolf who runs with his brothers and sisters,
Great panther who hunts alone,
Bear huge and fierce of claw
Weasel and marten, dark and sly,
Faithful dog that runs to the kill,
Teach us that when Fate comes for us,
It is our place to surrender.
Teach us that when we are overrun,
It is our place to weed out.
Teach us to understand Death
From the side of your implacable eyes.

Chant:
Cernunnos Cernunnos
The Hunt is On

(Ritual ends in a great howl, after which the single candle is snuffed out and all leave the room silently.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Working with Totems Part 3

Working with Totems

Author: Robert Oakes

Totems animal spirits are an invaluable ally not only when dealing with spirit realms, but also when trying to understand life lessons.

Understanding that animal spirits choose to work with humans both in spiritual and mundane matters can be highly beneficial.

Part 1 of this article looked at recognizing the various types of totems, while part 2 addressed finding a personal totem. Part 3 will cover working with the totems in daily life, and part 4 will deal with interacting with the totem.

Greatest Strength, Greatest Challenge

A primary totem can point out the greatest strengths someone carries, as well as their areas of greatest challenge. Often this is two sides of the same coin, as the weakest area can turn into their strength if they do their work. For example, let’s say someone’s primary totem is elk. One of the aspects of elk medicine is stamina and strength. Now this person just so happens to have a chronic health condition that causes fatigue and exhaustion. By turning to elk medicine in times of greatest challenge, they will come to develop deep wells of inner strength and resiliency. By working through this issue they will not only come out much stronger than they started, but also will be able to go on much longer than anyone around them. Their greatest challenge became their greatest strength.

Animal Behavior

Ethology is the study of animal behavior. By learning about animal behavior, a person can get great insight into the medicine of a totem. Knowledge about animal behavior not only develops insight into the totem, but into the person working with that totem as well. How the animal behaves in the wild relates to how the person will work with that totem medicine in terms of interpersonal relations, adversity and daily life routines.

Diet

Although it is a generalization, people do tend to eat according to the active totem in their life. If the animal is a carnivore, then they will probably need to eat meat at least from time to time. Hoof clans tend to be grazers and will snack throughout the day. Wolves will gorge themselves at one sitting and might not eat for a long while. Bears will eat everything in sight and still look in the fridge for more.

Power Times and Environment

The totem’s natural energy cycle will influence the holder of that medicine. What time of day or year is the totem most active? What type of climate do they like? When is their mating time? When is their birthing time? What part of the year represents their greatest challenge? These are all things that come into play in a person’s life when working with a primary totem.

Interactions

Totems influence daily interpersonal interactions. This can be in intimate relationships, business transactions and family life. Understanding how the primary totem acts socially will give clues to how the person carrying that medicine will behave. This is covered in greater detail in the article on totems and relationships.

Protection

One of the most powerful ways a totem can assist is in the form of protection. Just simply asking the totem for protection is recognized as a powerful defense in most pagan cultures. This might be protection from spirit based forces, or from more immediate physical threats.

Life Path

The type of totem gives interesting clues to life path and purpose. As mentioned in part 1, totems can be indicative of a certain type of medicine. Some basic examples of this would be:

  • Wolf – teacher, pathfinder
  • Bear – healer
  • Cougar – leadership
  • Elk – spirit messengers
  • Eagle or Buffalo – prayer work
  • Coyote – trickster teacher

Overall a totem will point to major work that person has come into this life to fulfill. Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak, Jamie Sams’Medicine Cards, or Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm’s Druid Animal Oracle would all be good places to start learning about specific totem medicines.

References

Animal Speak; The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Ted Andrews, Llewellyn Publications ,1996

The Once Unknown Familiar; Shamanic Paths to Unleash Your Animal Powers, Timothy Roderick, Llewellyn Publications ,1994

Medicine Cards; the Discovery of Power Animals through the Ways of Animals, Jamie Sams, St Martin Press, 1999

Druid Animal Oracle, Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Fireside, 1995