Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: Hekate, Liminal Rites

This fascinating book on Hekate really gives the reader a clear look into her ancient rituals and worship. Every facet from the offerings, the hymns and all associated with her is included in this book. What I found most interesting was her role in the Eleusinian Mysteries, when the story of Demeter and Persephone are celebrated. There are also many variations of this great Goddess, being that of animal or being associated with other similar Goddesses.

Hekate was thought to have originated somewhere in the Middle East, and many associate her with the Goddess Cybele. Which would make sense, since her most famous temple at Lagina, is situated in Southwestern Turkey. She was known to have a connection with lions and dogs, both of which come to us from Middle Eastern views.(Which might explain all the dreams about lions I've been having lately!) In the book, the authors say that the fact that dogs were sacrificed to her, is evidence of her non-Greek origins. As dog sacrifice was done only for foreign Gods who became part of the Greek pantheon. It is hard to imagine animal sacrifice in this day and age, but unfortunately in our ancient world, it was quite common. Something else that I learned about offerings and sacrifice in this book, was that the type of sacrifice made was dependent on the type of magic or ritual being performed. Positive magic used offerings of herbs and resins, and malevolent magic consisted of more animal based.

The book also states that this Goddess has many associations with other Goddesses. For example Artemis and Selene. Both being Moon Goddesses, Hekate is associated with them both. The connection to Artemis was quite close, being also that they are cousins. People would pray to both of them as a fusion of one Goddess. To quote a line from a hymn in the book : " We pray; and that Artemis-Hekate watch over the childbed of their women." Clearly they were worshiping two Goddesses in the form of one. Some of her other associations to Goddesses were that of Isis, Bona Dea and Ereschigal.

You will also learn all the different types of magic she is associated with. Like dream magic, necromancy, death magic and defixiones. She was quite popular in the magic realm of the ancient world. Also her herb associations were some of the most powerful and magical herbs used, such as mandrake, aconite, mugwort and oak.

This is a great reference book for this Goddess, and it is something I will refer back to often. It covers pretty much everything you need to know about ritual with this Goddess, and much more. I highly recommend this book for anyone on the path of Hekate!

You can get a copy at Hekate Liminal Rites

Blessings )O(

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ariadne, Mistress of the Labyrinth.

"...For the Lady of the Labyrinth,
a jar of honey...."
Linear B Tablets, Knossos, 1500 BCE

Ariadne is a Cretan Goddess known as the "Mistress of the Labyrinth". She was famous for dancing her spiral dance, while weaving her thread of magic. In the center of her Labyrinth a monsters waits, who also happens to be her half brother, the Minotaur. Daughter to King Minos, Ariadne was said to also have been Crete's snake Goddess, again associating her with the spiral. It seems as though Ariadne was also a celestial Goddess, having associations with the moon and stars
. Her constellation, Corona Borealis, was actually a crown given to her as a wedding gift from her husband Dionysus. It was flung up to the night sky to become the well known constellation.

Since she was daughter to the king, he put her in charge of the Labyrinth, which held the Minotaur at its center. The maze was made so diffcult so that no one would be eaten by the monster in the middle. King Minos would sacrifice many people to the Minotaur, and people grew tired of this. The hero Theseus was sent to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, and Ariadne fell in love with him the moment she saw him. So, she decided to betray her family, and help him find his way in to kill the Minotaur. Ariadne gave Theseus a special thread, so that he could unwind it on his way to the center, and then find his way back out again. Theseus was successful in killing the Minotaur, and in exchange for her help, he promised to make Ariadne his bride. With this they set sail to Dia, where he abandoned the unknowing Ariadne in her sleep. Upon waking , Dionysus had found her, fell in love with her, and made her his bride.

Ariadne dances the spiral dance of the Labyrinth. She dances spiraling down to the center where the monster waits. She represents that inner self we all seek in our path to enlightenment. Coming to terms with our darker selves and facing our "monsters" within, help us to heal.

Ariadne's priestesses were said to have rituals to the Goddess with serpents and bare breasted clothing, indicating the acceptance of sexuality in Minoan Crete. In Naxos, Ariadne was seen as a lunar fertility Goddess, who represented the seasonal cycle. Again associating her with rebirth and the spiral of life. This Goddess was highly worshiped in Crete, and was seen as a powerful Goddess in her day. It is said that she was also honored in Celtic Gaul, symbolizing the same things.

Call on Ariadne when you feel as though your stuck in the maze of your own life, and your not sure how to get out. She can help us heal our inner selves, and be symbolically reborn. On your altar to Ariadne, have symbols of the serpent, a small labyrinth, some honey, the sacred labrys (or a symbol of it), colors of blue and gold. She was also associated with the bee, which was a sacred animal in Crete as well. Enjoy working with this life giving Goddess of Ancient Crete!

Blessings )O(

For more info on Ariadne, check out :

Photo courtesy of John William Waterhouse

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Defixiones, Curse Tablets of the Ancient World.

Defixiones, were curse tablets used in the ancient world for binding spells, love spells, judicial system spells and curses. They were made of thin sheets of lead, and the spells were carved onto them with a bronze stylus. They were then folded and pierced with nails and either buried in the ground, thrown in a well or spring, or nailed to a temple wall. They were sometimes found with hair folded into them or a little "voodoo doll" alongside it. Usually these tablets were addressed to Gods and Goddesses such as Hekate, Persephone, and Hermes.

Many of these tablets have been found throughout the ancient Roman empire and Greece. To date there have been about 1600 of these found, dating from 500 BCE to about 500 CE. The tablets are very revealing of each individual who wrote them. Love spells asking to be recognized by the one they want, spells asking for someone to slip up in a court case, erotic binding spells and curses against business or sports rivals, there are a wide array of spells found on these ancient tablets. Each one of these unique defixiones, give us a little insight to that persons life. What was troubling them at the time, and it also reveals their true nature.

We can learn a little about ancient magic with these tablets. The act of obtaining the lead, carving your wish with intent, nailing in binds the spell, burying it secures the promise from the Goddess or God. The same process we go through for magic today, although I do not perform curses and dont know anyone who does (hopefully)! The act of power with intent is the same. Many of these curses were written using the voces mysticae. Which were "magical words of power" unrecognizable by the Greek language. This was neccessary because it is said that the voces mysticae represent "the language the demons can understand". Anthropologists and historians say that these words were used because people believed that "normal human language was not appropriate in addressing gods or any higher beings." Therefore, unfortunately it was difficult to translate many of these tablets.

Defixiones are interesting in that they give us a window into that persons life. You can see what they were thinking. Which is so interesting in the history of these ancient cultures. It also has helped fill in some of the gaps archaeologically. Discoveries of pottery, temples and shrines are inspiring, but discoveries of peoples personal wishes, curses and dreams, are more revealing of their day to day life and thinking patterns. Which I think helps create a clearer picture of how people actually lived at that time. Their personal trials and tribulations you'll see, are alot like ours today, just a different point in history.

The following is an example of a defixione found in Minturna, which is in Campania, Italy. You can see the depth of feeling in this one (Please note, this ancient spell is posted here for archaeological reference only, and was taken from this website: PinkTink ):

Ticene of Carisius. Whatever she does, may it all turn out wrong. Spirits of the netherworld, I consecrate to you her limbs, her complexion, her figure, her head, her hair, her shadow, her brain, her forehead, her eyebrows, her mouth, her nose, her chin, her cheeks, her lips, her speech, her breath, her neck, her liver, her shoulders, her heart, her lungs, her intestines, her stomach, her arms, her fingers, her hands, her navel, her entrails, her thighs, her knees, her calves, her heels, her soles, her toes. Spirits of the netherworld, if I see her wasting away, I swear that I will be delighted to offer a sacrifice to you every year.

For more information on defixiones, check out Wikipedia or this great essay at PinkTink

Blessings )O(

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Review: The Once & Future Goddess

The subject of Ancient Goddess cultures fascinates me. So when I found the book, The Once & Future Goddess by Elinor Gadon, I was thrilled! This thick book of about 400 pages, covers Goddess culture from the beginning of time, to now, and everything in between. It's chock full of great information about every facet of the Goddess you can think of. I sincerely loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone remotely interested in our Great Goddess.

The first part of this book covers different Ancient Goddess cultures, starting with Paleolithic and Ice Age, and going on to Catal Huyuk, Malta, Avebury, Minoan Crete and many more. The depth of information about each of these cultures is incredible. The stories of their personal worship and how it has evolved over thousands of years is quite inspiring. The time period for these cultures start at around 35,000 years ago, and lead up to a time of the great ancient city of Catal Huyuk at about 7,000 BCE. This great settlement was located in Anatolia, which is now modern day Turkey. Catal Huyuk has captivated me entirely, and I yearn to learn more. Elinor Gadon does a great job painting a picture of this fascinating settlement, as she does for each and every other culture as well. It is very obvious to see, that to these ancient people, this wasnt just a religion, it was most certainly a way of life. That is shown in each and every detail of their day to day life and their ancient rituals.

The second to last half of this book goes over modern day Goddess worship. From modern day practitioners, to female artists and feminists, she doesn't miss a thing when it comes to the divine feminine. There is also many pictures of ancient Goddess figurines, modern day Goddess artwork, and other feminine qualities throughout this entire book. In the beginning of this book, there is a time line of Goddess figurines. In the back of this book, there is another time line, and notes which the author gets from other books on the subject. So not only is this book full of great information, she evens gives ideas for other authors who write on similar subjects!

I just can't rave enough about The Once & Future Goddess by Elinor Gadon! Please check out this book, you'll be happy you did. Thank you Elinor for enlightening the world on our Ancient love of the Goddess!

Blessings )O(

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winner of Amethyst Pendulum!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway! And the winner is.....WhiteBuffy! Congratulations! I would like to thank Cherie over at Green Owl Curiosities for donating her beautiful pendulum. I will definitely be stopping by her shop to make a few purchases myself! I hope everyone had fun playing! Please stay tuned for our February giveaway. WhiteBuffy I hope you enjoy your new pendulum!

Blessings )O(
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