Week 36 Goddess Knowledge – Ishtar

Ishtar is the multilayered Babylonian creator goddess, the source of all life and embodiment of the power of nature. She is the giver of plenty, the lawgiver, a judge, the goddess of tie as well as the goddess of both love and war. Her name means “giver of light” and derives from her role as queen of heaven. She is the planet Venus as both the morning and evening star, and her girdle is the zodiacal belt. Ishtar descends to the underworld and restores the vegetation god, Tammuz, to life and thus restores fertility to earth. As she descends she removes a veil at each gate. While she is underground life on earth is depressed and nothing comes to life. Ishtar is multifaceted, powerful symbol of a forthright mode of being that is unafraid to venture into the depths of the underworld. She represents the creative feminine, active and strong.

To read more about the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar

To read more about the Babylonian God Tammuz

To see images of the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar

To see images of the Babylonia God Tammuz

 

 

Santeria

Luna Llena

When I began to explore Wicca, I wondered how Santeria, saint worship, would fit into what I was learning about the Craft. Seeking clarification for this dilemma, I consulted an online Wicca blog. I wanted discussion, instead I received admonition, and warning that traditions should not be mixed because the Gods and Goddesses would not like it. I listened and considered, but continued to seek feedback because I knew I was on the track of something powerful. Then I found a diagram in Higginbotham (2012), placing Santeria under the umbrella of paganism, which also included Wicca, Druidism, and eclectic traditions. I was delighted. Here was inclusion of different traditions and perhaps there was room for a looser more accepting interpretation of paganism! Reading Cunningham (1996), he seemed to imply one could blend traditions but the protocol for Wicca rituals needed to be respected. Things were now starting to fall into place. As I continued to read, study, explore and learn, my solitary practice evolved to intertwine the tradition of Santeria with those of the Craft.  

My experience with Santeria

Growing up in a NYC working class neighborhood of Catholics and mixed ethnicities I was surrounded by saint statues and candles in the homes of friends and neighbors, Puertoriqueños, Dominicanos, Cubanos, Italians, Irish. My friends were first and second generation Americans, the grandmothers and some of the parents still spoke their ethnic language and played their old- country music. It was an interesting way to grow up. At that time Catholicism was all I knew, seeing it practiced in various ways.

My parents, from Mexico were not outwardly religious. My paternal grandmother however, maintained what I interpreted as an ancestral altar, with offerings of flowers, candles, candy bars, glasses of water, sometimes food, given to the santos, saints, like Santa Clara, and to my grandmother’s deceased sister, Celia. Some of my mother’s Puertoriqueña and Cubana friends also kept elaborate altars that included fruit, sometimes cigars, shot glasses of rum, and statues of Catholic saints and African Orishas, deities. I was fascinated by these altars.  

Sometimes, during a walk through the more wooded areas of Central Park, I would see remnants of what appeared as ritual animal sacrifices and offerings. And, while I experienced simultaneous fear and attraction to what I was seeing, until I began to read about Santeria, I was not sure what I was observing.

The trappings of Santeria were not uncommon when I was growing up. There were a number of botanicas, herbal shops, in my neighborhood; an essential part of Santeria rituals is the use of herbs, roots, flowers and plants. Santos and Deities, both Catholic and African were displayed in the shop windows, along with collares/elekes, necklaces. The inside of some botanicas had a strong energy felt from the moment one stepped inside. One thing that always attracted me though, were the statues of African Deities, dressed for battle or emerging from the water with dolphins swimming about. My favorite, was la sirena, the mermaid, later I learned that she was Yemaya, Goddess of the oceans, and my special Goddess as I am a Pisces.

During my high school years, I traveled around the city, learning more about Santeria, the Orishas, the use of the elements in healing rituals, different types of magick, and the role of the Santero, the shaman, to whom I could go should I need a problem resolved.

Many years later in San Francisco, as I browsed in a bookshop, I came across a book on Santeria, written in Spanish by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler (1973). It was meant to be on that shelf for me, and for years I would read it many times, practicing what I had learned.  I had become a solo Santeria adherent with no formal training. Just Migene’s book and continued research. My altar grew with Catholic saints and African Gods. Little did I know that I was now on the pagan path.

So what is Santeria?

The Orishas venerated in Santeria are of West African and Congo basin origin, specifically from the Yoruba culture of southwestern Nigeria. Yoruba speaking slaves were brought to the isles of the Caribbean in the 16th century by the Spanish to work the plantations. Slaves were forced to convert to Christianity and their beliefs in Yoruba Deities were forbidden by the Spanish. But as conquered people will do to ensure cultural survival, the slaves superimposed the Catholic Saints on their Yoruba Deities, and in this way continued to honor for example, Shango under the guise of Santa Barbara, Saint Barbara.

Santeria, is an Afro-Caribbean religious cult, a blend of African religion and Christianity, a tradition handed down verbally from generation to generation. Santeria developed through  descendants of Yoruba African slaves, and today the cult has adherents throughout the Americans, in particular the Caribbean. One could say that because of the number of slaves brought to Cuba, a former colony of Spain, and the high numbers of Afro-Cubans on the island, Santeria is more prevalent than Catholicism, remaining the primary religion of mestizos –  products of intermarriage between the colonizers, Africans, and the indigenous who remained on the island — and black working class Cubans (Clark, 2007).   Santeria is also very much alive in areas in the U.S. with large populations of Puertoriqueños and Cubanos, in for example, New York City, and Miami.

Santeria is part of the pagan world, and anyone observing or practicing Santeria rituals can see the overlap with other pagan traditions — honoring of pre-Christian Deities, the use of the elements in its rituals, and solitary practice with each person discovering  his or her personal Orisha.  So, my persistence paid off, I have added Orishas to the pantheon of Saints, Gods and Goddesses that are very much part of my daily life, worship, and protection. I am also fortunate in being part of a Coven that accepts diversity, without admonishment.

References

Clark, M.A. (2007). Santeria: Correcting the myths and uncovering the realities of a growing religion. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Cunningham, S. (1996). Wicca: A guide for the solitary practitioner. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.

Gonzalez-Wippler, M. (1973). Santeria: Magia Africana en Latinoamerica. Bronx, NY: Original Publications

Higginbotham, J. & R. (2012). Paganism: An introduction to earth centered religions.  Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn.

Luna Llena is a writer and eclectic solitary practitioner residing in New Mexico.

A Full Moon Esbat Ritual

I am sorry with everything that has happened in my life so far this month that I completely forgot about the full Moon Esbat. We will be having a new Moon Esbat on Saturday, November 23rd with a party hour will start at 6:00 PM CST with the Circle being cast at 7:00 PM CST. If you are not and student and/or member of Coven Life’s Coven please leave a comment if you would like to attend as this is an invitation only Esbat event to imitate our Elders and new coven members.

Now back to our wonderful November full Moon to celebrate we are going to do another drum along with a song. All you need is one white candle any size will do, the larger it is the more times you can use it to honor the Moon Goddess name you chose make sure to inscribe the name into your white candle. Below is a link containing some of the Moon Goddess’ name. Pick the one the “calls” to you”, in other words the one name you think,”That’s it!”

id you know there are also Gods or male names used for the Moon? It has been so long since I used one of them I had forgotten that some Gods are all associated with the Moon. So as many pagan traditions use duality and balance as part of their traditions I thought it would be a good idea to include some of the God names in case anyone wants to use one or more while celebrating tonight’s Full Moon. For this you will need a separate white candle again the size is your choice, the larger it is the more times you can light it to honor the Moon you have chosen, be sure to inscribe his name into the white candle for him. Same as with the Moon Goddess you will find different names for the Moon God. Again pick the one that calls to you.

You should decide for yourself if you are more comfortable working and dancing with a Goddess, God, or both and even if you want 2 or more of each. The most important thing for you to do in any solitary ritual is to do what feels right for you.

You will need something to use as a drum or clapping your hands or however you feel you should keep with the rhythm of the song. The song I picked for this full Moon is The Earth is Our Mother (Ancient Chant)

Play the song from YouTube on whatever you want to. I suggest casting a circle before you begin listening to the music and drumming even possibly singing along with the chat. As the song is about Mother Earth you should consider grounding all the energy raised as you listen, drum, and maybe sing to Mother Earth for her to use however she needs to.

Always remember to thank whatever Goddess or God you call upon to enter your circle. Open/Close your circle. Than write about in your Book of Shadows the ritual what God or Goddess or both that you called upon, then name of the song, what you used to keep rhythm with to the song, whether you dance or sang or both and how you felt during after the ritual, how you cast you circle and open/closed it. This way you can look back at it if you want to do something like this again. I suggest you write in your Book of Shadows about any magikcal workings you do whether it is alone or a lesson for which ever level course you are on or with the coven. If you choose to share how your ritual went please write about in the comment section for the post. Thank you.

 

Week 35 – Goddess Knowledge – Rhiannon

Rhiannon is the Great Goddess as worshiped by the Welsh.  without regeneration. She is an embodiment of life, death, and rebirth, for in her realm there is no death without regeneration. Her name derives from Rigantona, which means great “queen.” A shape-shiftier, can assume any form she want; she often appears as a white horse. She is a muse goddess and is accompanied by three sweetly singing birds who can revive the dead or put the living to sleep.The source of the King’s power derived from Rhiannon, the queen, and a candidate for knighthood met Rhiannon dressed as a stag a regal figure symbolic of rejuvenation, beauty, strength, and instinctual masculine energy. In alter myth she a or as Vivien, the Lady of the Lake. Rhiannon is a beautiful queen of the night, a reminder of the close balance between death and rebirth. She demands that we honor our instinctual and animal selves as a source of creativity, abundance, and order.

For more information on the Goddess Rhiannon

To see images of the Goddess Rhiannon

What Do I Need To Have and Do to Be a Witch? – Introduction to Series

This is an introduction to help explain the title question. Today’s post is just going to answer frequently ask questions I have gotten over the years. Some of the other topics for this series will include but not limited to magickal tools, herbs, essential oils, crystals, precious and semi-precious gems, stones, your Book of Shadows, your altar and what you want to put on it, spells, rituals, etcetera. Most of the topics have other posts about them on Coven Life and Witches of The Craft. I also might add viedo links and/or a link for a general search on that day’s topic.

If you have questions about things in any of the post please ask them in the Comment box located below each post. This way if other people have the same question I only have to answer once.

If at anytime you want to share a picture of how you do something for that days topic please email it to LadyBeltane@aol.com subject line should have “For Sharing” please include your first name only or you pagan name and a short description about the picture. At the end of each days post the top I for tomorrow will be there. If you get pictures to me by 8:00 PM CDT for the next days topic I will include them in them post.

Any questions please ask them in the Comment section and I will reply to them by 8:00 PM CDT.

Tomorrow’s topic will be “Magickal Tool.” I look forward to learning different ways of doing things for every topic with you.

 

Week 34 – Goddess Knowledge – Kaltes

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Klates is moon goddess venerated by Ugric People of western Siberia. A shape-shifter, she is shown here manifested as a hare, an animal sacred to her. This appearance shows her lunar nature, for the hare is a lunar creature; many cultures, when looking at the moon, see the outline of the hare, who lives in the moon. The hare is often seen as an intermediary between lunar deities and humans, so the appearance of Klates in this form indicates her accessibility to her people. Klates is known as a fertility goddess and a goddess of rejuvenation. She is called upon by women in childbirth, for she is especially venerated as a promoter of the beginning of the life cycle. Although she is somewhat feared because she can determine people’s destinies, she is mostly revered for her gentle wisdom, She is a compassionate guide to the mysteries of life.

For more information about Goddess Klates

To see images of Goddess Klates

Week 33 – Goddess Knowledge – Diana

Diana is the ancient Lady of the Beats, called by the Romans Lucina, Goddess of Light. As mistress of wild things she is especially responsible for anything young and vulnerable, be wild or human. She is goddess of solitude, comfortable with the wilderness and with the grate silences of nature. She represents the mystic, primitive identity of the hunter and the hunted. Diana, is a moon goddess, symbolizing the moon at its crescent phase. She stands for the virgin, a self-sufficient, free goddess who lives life on her own terms. Especially a goddess of women, she is related to all phases of female existence, from infancy to menstruation through birth nursing, menopause, and death. Diana stands for the part of us that is at home in the wildness, at home with our primitive, instinctual nature.

For more information about Goddess Diana

For more information about Goddess Lucina

To see images of the Goddess Diana

To see images of the Goddess Lucina

Week 32 – Goddess Knowledge – Changing Woman

Changing Woman is perhaps the most revered of deities among Native Americans of the Southwestern United States. She is wholly benevolent figure, For it is Changing Woman who gives people their abundance and who provides the teachings that allow them to live in harmony with all things. In the initiation ceremony of Navajo women, the initiate takes in the power of Changing Woman so she might learn the values of love, hospitality, and generosity and know she herself is a source of food and harmony.  Changing Woman received her name because she can change at will from baby to a girl to a young woman to an old woman and then back again. Very much alive today, she is tremendously nourishing goddess who teaches wisdom of nature and the cycles of birth and death.

More Information on Navajo Changing Woman

More Information on Apache Changing Woman

Images of Changing Woman

Egyptian Gods – The Complete List

The gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt were an integral part of the people’s everyday lives. It is not surprising then that there were over 2,000 deities in the Egyptian pantheon. Some of these deities’ names are well known: IsisOsirisHorusAmun, Ra, HathorBastetThothAnubis, and Ptah while many others less so. The more famous gods became state deities while others were associated with a specific region or, in some cases, a ritual or role. The goddess Qebhet, for example, is a little known deity who offered cool water to the souls of the dead as they awaited judgment in the afterlife, and Seshat was the goddess of written words and specific measurements overshadowed by Thoth, the better known god of writing and patron of scribes.

Ancient Egyptian culture grew out of an understanding of these deities and the vital role they played in the immortal journey of every human being. Historian Margaret Bunson writes: “The numerous gods of Egypt were the focal points of the nation’s cultic rites and personal religious practices. They also played a part in the great mortuary rituals and in the Egyptian belief in posthumous eternal bliss (98).”

The gods evolved from an animistic belief system to one which was highly anthropomorphic and imbued with magic. Heka was the god of magic and medicine but was also the primordial force, pre-dating all the other gods, who enabled the act of creation and sustained both mortal and divine life. The central value of the Egyptian culture was ma’at – harmony and balance – represented by the goddess of the same name and her white ostrich feather, and it was Heka who empowered Ma’at just as he did all the other deities. Heka was the manifestation of heka (magic) which should be understood to be natural laws which today would be considered supernatural but, to the Egyptians, were simply how the world and the universe functioned. The gods provided people with all good gifts but it was heka which allowed them to do so.

To read the rest of this informative article on Ancient Egyptian Pantheon

Week 31 Goddess Knowledge – Eve

The word eve means life; the goddess Eve is the mother and nurturer of all life. She is the creator of the world and of all living beings, Lady of Beasts and steward of all growing things. Even in the Bible  she is portrayed with a snake, a potent symbol of the vital life force found in every living being, representing rebirth and regeneration. In one of the Gnostic texts it is Eve who calls Adam to life. Eve is the embodiment of primal female creative energy, of the powerful urge to create and sustain life. She is active femininity and relatedness to all that lives. She is life itself.

For more information about the goddess Eve

To see images of the goddess Eve