Monday, May 27, 2013

Magic Monday, Milagros Votive Offerings

Milagros translates to mean "miracle" in Spanish and is an image which is offered to a deity in thanks or as a prayer. Also known as "ex-voto", the images created can represent something desired, something to be healed, a sacred symbol of a deity, protection and luck among other things. These votive offerings originated thousands of years ago and were used in many cultures around the world such as Rome, Greece, and Latin America to name a few. They are made out of different materials such as clay, wax, metal and wood among other mediums. Some examples of a milagros might be a horseshoe for luck, a heart for love, money/coins for prosperity or a symbol representing a deity to give thanks.

 A milagros can be bought or personally made. I prefer to make most of my magical tools as I feel a better connection with my magical workings. Your milagros doesn't need to be an exquisite piece of art, just something to symbolize what you're trying to accomplish. However you decide to make yours once you have it finished, cleanse it with sage, and take it to your altar/shrine. Now say a prayer to infuse your milagros with its magical purpose and place it on your altar as an offering to the deity you're invoking. Feel free to turn this into a ritual if you like with candles and incense.

Leave your milagros on your altar, carry it with you or make it into a piece of jewelry. This really depends on the meaning of it. If its a sacred symbol used to give thanks to your deity then leaving it on your altar would be best. If its used for luck or protection you should carry it with you. The picture above is of two milagros that I made in honor of two Goddesses. The key is for Hekate and the rose is for Aphrodite. They are made out of polymer clay which is quite easy to work with and sold at most craft stores. Feel free to get as creative as you like if you're making your own. You may add adornments such as jewels and charms, write a prayer on it, paint it or whatever comes to your mind.

Have fun making and experimenting with milagros!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Erzulie, Voodoo Goddess of Love

Erzulie is one of the Voodoo Loa, or goddesses in the Voodoo religion. She stands for love, women, beauty and passion. She is said to be a triple Goddess and has three names, Erzulie Freda who is likened to the Virgin Mary, Erzulie Dantor who is the loa of passion and jealousy and La Siren who is a sea Goddess representing the mother. Her worship originates in Africa like the other Voodoo spirits/Orisha's although when the people of Africa were captured, turned into slaves and brought to Haiti and America, Erzulie became associated with the Catholic Virgin Mary. Many of the African Gods were turned into saints and given different names as the slave owners forbid the worship of these foreign Gods and forced the Africans to convert, although they still honored their Gods in private.

Erzulie Freda is said to be a Goddess who indulges in the finer things in life and has much passion, sexual power and beauty. She has three husbands and so wears three wedding rings on her finger. She is likened to the Goddesses Aphrodite and Venus. Erzulie Freda loves the color pink, sweet foods, perfume and lavish gifts. She lives life to its fullest and with much passion and emotion, she is also said to be quite beautiful and desirable.

As Erzulie Dantor she is portrayed as a warrior Goddess who seeks vengeance against those who would hurt women and is associated with the black Madonna. She is a voice for and protector of women who would call on her power when they were beaten by their husbands, raped by their slave owners or any other time they were hurt by a man. Erzulie loves women and stands by their side through all times in their lives, she is also a patron Goddess for lesbians. In this guise Erzulie loves knives and the colors red and black, she has tribal battle scars on her face and is feared for her ruthlessness.

As La Siren she is a beautiful sea serpent known for her sacred and sensual dance and is associated with the ocean, rivers and lakes. In this aspect she represents the mother and is said to be associated with Oshun, a Yoruban river Goddess, and is a patron Goddess for sailors.

Erzulie is one of the most beloved Goddesses in the Voodoo faith. Call on her for matters concerning love, women's issues, protection and warrior power. Her colors are pink, blue, red, black and purple, her symbols are the dove and the Veve, which is a heart with a dagger through it, and her favorite offerings include sweets such as sugary desserts, cakes and candy, as well as perfume, liqueur, jewelry and rum. I hope you enjoyed learning about this Voodoo Loa of passion, love and beauty!

Photo courtesy of Erzulie Freda

Monday, May 20, 2013

Magic Monday, Rune Casting

Reading runes is different from reading tarot cards. Instead of placing them into a spread, you simply choose some from a bag or pouch and cast them (scatter/lightly throw) out on a table or cloth. When consulting the runes, grab however many you need for your reading, hold them in your hand and think of the question you wish to be answered, then scatter them. Take note as to which ones land face up, these relate to the recent situation you are in. Although there is really no perfected way to read runes, generally the ones lying in the center represent what is currently relevant while those lying around the center are less important. Those that fall opposite each other may represent opposing forces.

Once you have interpreted the stones facing up, you may turn over the stones that are lying face down, these represent the future or possible outcome. There are a few different general castings you can do such as the Norns (a three rune casting), Odin's nine rune casting and/or a one rune casting. For a quick daily reading use the one rune casting, a three rune casting for a past, present, future reading and a nine rune casting for a more in depth look at the answer you seek. You can really use any number of runes you like to do a reading, the numbers three and nine were sacred to the Norse people so those are the ones I have shared.  Enjoy divining with the runes!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

Marie Laveau was born a free woman of color on September 10, 1794 in Louisiana. She is known to be the most famous and powerful Voodoo Queen in New Orleans. The story of her life and death have some conflicting information and some aspects of her life are simply not concrete. Her father, Charles Laveau, was a white plantation owner and her mother was said to be his mistress and of mixed races. Marie Laveau married Jacques Paris, also a free man of color, around the age of twenty five. Soon after they were married, Paris is said to have gone missing or perhaps died, the accounts aren't entirely sure. Either way Marie started calling herself the "Widow Paris" as was custom in that time. Within a little while after Paris's death Marie married Christophe de Glapion and together they had anywhere from seven to fifteen children.

Her occult practice was a mix of Roman Catholic beliefs, Saints and African spirits. She was renowned for her magical capabilities and is reputed to have had a large multiracial following. At some point she is said to have become a hairdresser and soon became a confidant and magical practitioner for the multiracial women who employed her. Her magical skills were said to be strong in matters of love and money. She was also an accomplished healer, knowledgeable in medicinal herbs and was a nurse during the yellow fever outbreak. Marie is said to have been a spiritual healer and would sit with people who were about to pass over and guide them peacefully to the afterlife. Eventually everyone was coming to Marie Laveau for advice and for magical concerns.

One of her daughters, also named Marie Laveau, is said to have followed in her mothers footsteps and together they created and held large ceremonies such as the festivities of St. John's Eve which is celebrated on June 23rd and coincides with the summer solstice. This was a huge gathering with hundreds, and reputedly thousands of spectators at one point, and is a sacred day on the Voodoo calendar. The festival consisted of drumming, dancing, bonfires and offerings to the Voodoo spirits. During this ceremony Marie danced with her snake and sat on her throne presiding over the ceremony.

There is much mystery surrounding Marie's life and death. Accounts say that she died in 1881 peacefully in her home. Although some reports claim that she was seen walking the streets on the night of her death and after. Other accounts say that she was seen performing rituals as late as 1890. Her daughter, who is said to have looked like her, took over the spiritual practice and became a Voodoo Queen herself and historical accounts often confuse the two. Marie is buried in St. Louis Cemetery number one in the Glapion family crypt. Each year many people visit her tomb and bring offerings of white rum, candy and money for Marie's blessing. People also draw three X's on her tomb in hopes that she will grant their wish.

Some people say that Marie Laveau never died and that her spirit lives on in New Orleans. In Voodoo religion a Queen practitioner who dies is said to advance to the next spiritual realm. Honor this famous Voodooienne on her birthday and on St. John's eve or the summer solstice. 

Photo courtesy of Carolina Gonzalez

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gyhldeptis, Native American Goddess of the Forests

Gyhldeptis was a Native American Goddess honored by the Haida and Tlingit tribes in Alaska and Canada. She is known as a coastal forest Goddess with long hair whose name means "Lady Hanging Hair" representing the long moss hanging from the cedar trees. She is protector of the forest and its creatures as well as the people who worship her, she is also seen as the spirit of the trees. Gyhldeptis helps us in times of stress and chaos. She assists in calming us and brings us back to our center.

In her myth Gyhldeptis becomes worried by the acts of Kaegyihl Depgeesk, "upside down place", which is a large whirlpool that's very dangerous and destructive to her people. It has already dragged traveling ships down into its depths so Gyhldeptis decides its time to do something about this. She invites the local elemental spirits of wind, fire and ice to her festival house for a great feast. Together they come up with a plan. They reshape the coast turning the destructive whirlpool into a calm flowing river. Now people can sail and fish the water without worry of the terribly chaotic energy from the whirlpool.

Just like the dangerous whirlpool in her myth, life can sometimes feel like a spinning whirlpool of chaotic energy and stress. Gyhldeptis reminds us of the calm flowing river. She teaches us to stay cool and focused, take a step back and re-evaluate your situation. Call on Gyhldeptis when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Associations with this Goddess would be cedarwood, moss, walking in the woods or in nature, and/or reconnecting with nature spirits. I hope you enjoyed learning about this Native American forest Goddess! 

Picture courtesy of Hrana Janto 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Magic Monday New Tarot Spread

I've decided to add a new section to my blog called Magic Monday where I will share different magical workings with you! For today I wanted to share a new tarot spread that I found and love. It's called the whole self spread and it helps with decision making, understanding your inner self and other aspects about your life. Possibly questions about yourself or a part of your life that's unsure? Or helping you to empower your inner self to give you the confidence to move forward or accomplish what you need to do.

For this spread you will only use the aces, kings, queens, pages and knights. Take these cards out of the pile and separate them into five piles of four cards then shuffle each pile. When you are ready, pick your ace card first and lie it face down, repeat this with the rest and follow the picture above. The shape of the spread represents the circle with a dot in the center symbolizing wholeness and the inner self. After you have all your cards laid out face down, you may turn over the center card.

When reading your cards take note if there is a particular suit that is dominant or not in the spread at all. This will help you to get a better understanding on your reading. The following list represents what each cards meaning stands for in the reading:

Ace - Divine forces, energy, virtue, spiritual essence
King - The ego, who you think you are, consciousness
Queen - The subconscious, who you may not know yourself to be
Knight - Initiation, challenge, lesson learned
Page - Action to undertake to create empowerment

I hope you all find this reading helpful with any life decision or getting to know your inner self. This spread came from Best Tarot Practices by Marcia Masino and I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn tarot.  Have a magical Monday!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Enheduanna, Ancient Priestess of Sumer

Enheduanna was an ancient princess of Sumer, and priestess of the God Nanna, who lived around 2300 B.C.E. She is well known for the hymns she wrote in honor of the Goddess Inanna and for different temple complexes within Mesopotamia. Historical texts say that she was daughter to king Sargon of Akkad and Queen Tashlutum. She is the oldest named writer and poet known thus far in history as well as the first feminine name recorded in history. She was appointed the role of high priestess for the God Nanna in the Sumerian city of Ur by her father. This was said to be a political move by the king, her father, in order to gain power in Southern Mesopotamia. Her title was En Priestess, En meaning "High Priest or Priestess". This was a common role held by daughters of royalty.

Although she was a high priestess of the God Nanna, she was extremely devoted to the Goddess Inanna as is seen in her literary works. She is said to have written about 50 hymns in her day and these were used during ritual and ceremony for 500 years after her death. During the reign of her brother Rimush, she is said to have had trouble with a man named Lugalanne who was intending to take over rule. She was then banished from her role as priestess and from the temple. She mourned this loss deeply as can be seen in her most famous poem "The Exaltation of Inanna". After this powerful poem was written her position in the temple was reinstated and Enheduanna is happy once more.

Below is The Exhaltation of Inanna translated by Dr. Annette Zgoll.:

Queen of all the me, too numerous to count, rising forth as resplendent light
Woman, most driven, clothed in frightening radiance, loved by An and Uras, 
An's nugig, you are above all the great SUHkese-breastplates, 
You, who love the right aga-crown, who is suited for the en-priest-hood,
Empowered with all of its all seven me.

My queen! You are the guardian of the great me!

You have uplifted the me,  
You have held the me in your hand.
You have gathered the me,  
You have clasped the me to your chest.

Like a dragon you cast venom upon the enemy land.

In the regions where you thundered like Iskur,
Asnan no longer exists because of you 
Flooding waters surge down on such an enemy land 
You are the supreme one in Heaven and Earth, 
You are their Inanna! 

For more on this ancient priestess check out : Enheduanna
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