As in many traditions in which a goddess bestows kingship, a mysterious Celtic goddess, gave King Arthur the sword Excalibur and thus established his power and his right to be king. Before he died, Arthur restored the sword her, and it now remains with her beneath the waters deep.
Water, the source of all life, has long been the domain of the goddess. Lakes representing the source of creative power and the land of the dead, life-giving and death or renewal being the two main functions of the goddess. Water indicates both consciousness and revelation. The Lady of the Lake is a guide to the mysterious realms of emotion and renewal, a source of immense creativity. She can give us the energy we need to rule our lives.
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The Roman goddess Fortuna was the same as the earlier Italian goddess who presided over the death’s abundance and controlled the destiny of all human beings. Her name, derived from Vortumna, “she who turns the year about,” came to symbolize the capriciousness of life and luck, the vagaries of fate as the wheel of life turns around. Her festival was celebrated in October.
Fortuna gives us a way to approach the ups and downs of life, a perspective that can offer us some equanimity as we proceed on our journey.
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Etain, whose name literally means “shinning one”n was a Celtic moon goddess, the second wife of Midir, king of the underworld. Midir’s first wife, Fuanmach, was jealous of Etain, and turned her into a fly. Falling into a glass of wine, Etain drown. She was reborn and married Eochaid, a fertility god. Midir challenged Eochaid to a game of chess; the result was that Etain must spend half her year underground and half on earth.
Etain is especially a symbol of fertility, of the vitality and life of all growing things. A goddess familiar with both life and death, she teaches that wherever we are, on earth or in the depths of the underworld, we too can be shining.
(SIDE NOTE: Does this Celtic goddess remind you of a Greek goddess who spends part of the year in the underworld and part on earth? If it does please put the goddess’ name in the comment section.)
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Hel is the Norse queen of the underworld, a mother goddess in her underworld guise. She rules over a firey womb of regeneration and is especially responsible for those who die of disease or old age. Her underworld, unlike the Christian hell, which received its name from her, is simply an otherworld, a place of renewal rather than a place of punishment and misery. When northern shamans visit her realm, they put on a helkappe, magic mask (sometimes a helmet) that renders them invisible. It is possible that the masked harlequin, a standard character in commedia dell’arte, was originally one of the kindred of the goddess Hel. Hel is an embodiment of the divine mystery, a challenge to look behind the mask of appearances to see things as they really are.
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Hathor, a nourishing great mother goddess, is the Egyptian mother of all gods and goddesses. Usually portrayed as a cow, she is the sky goddess, the queen of the heavens: the sun emerges from her womb and the moon from her breast. She is the goddess of love, mirth, beauty, and sensual pleasure, as well as the protectress of all women. In her other guise, shown here, she is lady of the night and queen of the underworld. With her lion’s head, Hathor assumes the role of destroyer and giver of death. In her leopard skin she is the goddess of fate and fortune and typifies the ferocity and swiftness of this animal, a night prowler and watcher. Hathor is a strong embodiment of the many sides of existence. Creator, sustainer, destroyer, she encompasses all. Hathor reminds us that we, too, must acknowledge all parts of ourselves necessary to allow our creativity and compassion to flourish.
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Athena is presented by the Greeks as the virgin goddess of war and wisdom. A symbol of courage and friendship, she often counsels warriors to gentleness. She is especially honored as a goddess of agriculture; the creator of the olive tree, the flute, the ship, blacksmithing, and shoemaking; and the goddess who introduced the joke for the oxen and the bridal for the horse. She is patron of all useful and elegant arts. In Greek mythology, Athena is said to have breathed soul into the men created by Prometheus and to have helped Prometheus steal fire from the heavens to give to men. Athena is a wonderful affirmation that there are no limits to what a woman can do with her intellect and creative ability.
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The high priestess is the direct representative of the goddess on earth. She has direct responsibility for functions that ensure fertility and ongoing creation. Priestess often were responsible for ensuring rain, for the goddess was the giver of few and of rain. They often tended a sacred flame, the embodiment of the creative spark of life.
The High Priestess is the Great Goddess herself, a universal figure founder in such diverse guides as Isis in Egypt, Juan Yin throughout all of Asia, Athens in Greece, and Rhiannon among the Celtics. This goddess is all-knowing and all-wise; she creates life out of herself and bestows life-giving waters. At the proper time she takes life away so that the divine spark in each person may be freed to continue on its journey. The High Priestess is a reminder of the innate wisdom in each of us. She demands that we connect to the divine within and manifest it in the world.
I did not purposely pull this week’s card. It was on top after I shuffled the unposted Goddess Knowledge Cards. I personally do not look at myself as “the direct representative of the goddess on earth.” The reason being is my dearest sister has pointed out to me something I let go to the way side which is the Goddess lives in all who ask. This goes for he God Consort also.