Dedicating my new brass cauldron to my altar and Goddess Cerridwen (whom I love and adore). It was such a great find at a garage sale! I find my most interesting magical tools from all over! I’m burning rose petals from a bouquet of apricot roses from my lover, lavender and sage.
I don’t know a lot about ancient Norse beliefs (I’m only a recent student) but I do know that most of what we know about the gods and goddesses of the Nordic people stem from more recent theologically-biased interpretations of their beliefs and thus should be critiqued as such.
Snorri Sturluson is considered by most the end all be all of historians who studied heathen mythology, and in a lot of ways he should be. He began his study and eventual assembling of their beliefs only around three hundred years or so after their decline and thus is our earliest scholar in regards to these belief systems. He also seems to have made at least some attempt to curtail his obvious biases. However admirable his attempts may be though, it’s almost impossible to remain completely impartial, especially considering he was a Christian during a time in which there were large scale attempts at evangelism (and the always looming threat of the Christian Church). As such, even his work must be read with some skepticism.
The only information we have on ancient Norse beliefs that remains unbiased lies ultimately within the visual and artistic representations of the gods and myths created by their originators. Through these we’ve come to understand at least partially the importance of goddesses such as Frigg and Freyja, who play significantly less important roles in the myths described by Snorri than can be implied by the historical evidence discovered through the study of ancient Nordic culture. These are goddesses whose myths have been mostly forgotten in spite of the fact that their original importance can be inferred by such things as local superstitions, rituals, celebrations, and rites associated with the symbolism of these goddesses, along with the overwhelming amount of places named in honer of these goddesses, with Freyja’s name appearing most often.
There is at least some information about Freyja surviving today (as biased as it may be by patriarchal and Christian influences) but most of the goddesses such as Idun or Skaldi remain almost completely unknown outside of one or two mentions within Snorri’s rendition of the myths. Our lack of knowledge about these goddesses could stem from any number of things such as the Nordic people’s lack of written stories which could have been passed down as indisputable fact if only enough of them existed, or the sexist tendencies of the Christian church and their oppression of certain earth-based goddess religions. This last part may not have been a conscious decision on Snorri’s part or even ultimately because of Church pressures, but because for a long time the heathen belief system was already experiencing the effects of the patriarchy, and perhaps by the time Snorri began to assemble the myths the powers and influence of the goddesses had already been so diminished by their originators that there simply was not enough to write down. Perhaps in the future more information about the goddesses will become available (after all archaeology is only a recent science and the study of ancient Nordic culture still takes second place after that of the ancient Greeks) but for now, we have to rely on the limited information we have and attempt to read between the lines in order to come to an understanding of the goddesses that is closer to that which their originators had before the patriarchal influence began to take its course.
For example, we know Freyja has a cloak made of falcon feathers, gifting her the ability of flight. In many of Snorri’s renditions of Nordic myths, Loki steals or borrows the cloak in order to aid Thor in his dealings with the giants or simply to cause mischief. Without attempting to paint a black and white portrait of the trickster god, who is certainly capable of good deeds as well as not-so-good deeds, perhaps it can be inferred that in earlier myths, whenever the cloak is taken up by Loki in order to help someone such as Thor, especially when the help is in relation to Freyja herself, it was actually Freyja who did so originally. There is nothing to prove this and it certainly should not be considered as fact, but consider why Loki might be written as using the cloak when Freyja already owned it along with all of the powers that come with being a divine being. What is the point of one being of power lending it to another when the original being already owns it and is just as capable of using it if not to replace the original being, who is a woman, with a man? Especially considering that in many ways Freyja is already considered a goddess of war and as the “chooser of the slain” who often rides into battle herself. She who takes half of the slain in battle to keep within her field of Fólkvangr and her hall Sessrumnir must have been more than capable of taking on hordes of giants alongside the great Thunderer.
The importance of this hall and field is lost to history, but we can imply that it is in some way similar to that of Odin’s hall Valhalla, as it serves the same purpose and holds the same amount of fallen warriors. All of these hints and allusions imply that the Freyja we know today stems from an original version of her as a war-goddess, and it’s my belief that the lack of written records created by the ancient Nords has made it all too easy for history to forget her importance and influence as such. Odin’s emphasis as the chooser of the slain over Freyja in spite of her sharing that same epithet, and Loki’s use of her famed cloak of feathers are not just coincidences, but perhaps evidence of the masking over of goddesses within a culture that was quickly becoming patriarchal. We can only assume that the even more limited information about goddesses such as Idun and Skaldi is based on the same unfortunate circumstances.
This post is mostly a series of what-ifs, but when working with the goddesses, especially in regards to that part of unwritten history we call pre-history, the time of the Great Goddess, what-ifs are often all we have. In order for a more balanced representation of gender within our myths, we often have to look past historical precedence and develop our own ideals—without completely overriding the information that already exists of course.
In a lot of ways the information we have is capable of being interpreted. This is due in part to the fact that most of it is limited by perspective or lack of data. Relying only on what we know is always going to lead to a biased opinion about these ancient beliefs, but if we look past what we know, into what we feel as the descendants of the originators of these myths, we might find the answers lost by history.
Each of us has been influenced through the passing of generations, and each of us has almost an instinctual relationship to these myths since they ultimately spring from the universal spirit of the human condition. Thus we have an almost inherent knowledge of them within ourselves that can hopefully take shape in the future physical evidence of these ancient stories and cultures.
Especially if you are a woman, you know that what resides inside your soul, is not the aspect of the Goddess that lies in wait to be saved by men, to have her stories torn asunder and warped by those same men. That is a truth that cannot be denied by any historical evidence, and must have, at some point in history, been embodied through ancient cultures in the form of their goddesses. In order to have a balanced relationship with the Goddess, we must hold onto this feeling as truth.
She is the cosmos itself, the womb of starry seas,
for She contains all things and bears all things.
Inspiring and expiring, She breathes,
dancing on the golden solar wind,
broadcasting her star stuff–
She is the black hole and the kitchen pantry.
She is the heartbeat of labor and love.
She is the space between stars and atoms.
She simply is,
She is whatever is
She is What She Is,
And I am a part of Her.
from “A Ritual to Celebrate the Goddess of the Cosmos” by Barbara Ardinger, found in Practicing the Presence of the Goddess: Everyday Rituals to Transform Your World
Sexy, Magickal and dreamy... Rainbow Moonstone is a very powerful crystal that will allow you to feel more comfortable when opening dormant spiritual abilities and awakening, and will gently bring your masculine and feminine aspects into balance. Some feel that this stone holds within it the magickal energies of the Moon.—-> Take what you dare too.
23. Post a picture of your altar?
Here is my altar to Aphrodite, it’s small but everything on it has been placed with specific intent and forethought. I placed it on my vanity to honor Her aspects of beauty and sexuality, but as a reminder that those are not Her only aspects, nor do they need to be my only aspects either. The blue disk are the inner shuckings of clams and other shell-fish, the tea-light holder is a porcelain clam, and I just recently was able to add the conch. 🐬🐠🐚
This morning, during my daily ritual, I was praying, and I spontaneously named Goddess “Grandmother Sun.” It makes some sense astronomically speaking: the Sun was formed about half a billion years before the Earth (if I’m understanding the Cosmic Calendar correctly). I’ve seen Goddess Sun referred to as queen, mother, and child, but never grandmother, which got me thinking: what would a Wheel of the Year mythic cycle look like with the Sun as Grandmother instead of the Dying/Reborn Child cycle that is often used. What I came up with is Grandmother Sun as a traveling midwife! She returns in the Winter to help bring in the Spring. She stays a while to help in the new life’s upbringing and welcomes it into adulthood. Then, She goes on, again, to fulfill her calling elsewhere. It’d look something like this:
Yule - Grandmother Sun returns to help prepare the way for Spring. We light candles to guide Her way back, and while we wait, tell the story of Her beginnings (our beginnings).
Imbolc - The birth of Spring! We light candles in celebration of Sister Earth’s rebirth, make wishes for the future and honor Mother Earth, who bears all life.
Spring Equinox - Sister Earth, born at Imbolc, is welcomed into young adulthood. She tastes independence and the power of Her unique, budding gifts. We reflect on our own unique gifts and how we may support others in their power.
Beltane - Sister Earth steps into adulthood. She explores Her Love, for self and others, and Her sexuality. She pursues Her desires with courage. We revel in the joys of life and consider our own desires and our plans to bring them to fruition.
Summer Solstice - Work done, Grandmother Sun departs to fulfill her calling elsewhere. She leaves behind the flame of Her Wisdom to see us through until Her return. As She leaves, we pay Her homage, recalling the many births She has attended, from the first stirrings of Life in the Ocean until now. We consider calls to service and our involvement in the Web of Life.
Lammas - Sister Earth becomes the Reaper, harvesting the fruits of Her labor and manifesting Her desires. We celebrate our hard work over the past year. We celebrate our success and consider what lessons we may learn from our failures.
Autumn Equinox - Sister Earth becomes the Crone. As the Wise One, She tends Grandmother Sun’s flame and sheds light on our past, present, and deep knowing that we may learn from it. She shows us the wisdom of the circle of life: that death, harvest, and rest are necessary for new life to grow and flourish. We resolve to the banishing of any habits, patterns or relationships which have become destructive or limiting in our lives, and we step with courage into the dark part of the year.
Samhain - Sister Earth goes to seed, and the next Spring is conceived. All that is, was, and may be is accessible. We celebrate this new potential by donning costumes and giving out sweets, and we take time to honor our ancestors and/or beloved dead.
I don’t know if I’m going to put this Wheel into practice (maybe I will), but it was a fun thought experiment regardless. :)
Still have a few bits and pieces to add but my new lammas altar is coming together nicely #wicca#witchcraft#witch#lammas#lughnasadh#lughnasadhaltar#altar#wiccanaltar#witchtable#god#goddess#candle#harvest#faith#religion#spirituality#witchesofinstagram#hades#dionysus#gaia#motherearth
I’m planning on doing a Full Moon ritual, which will be part New Year ritual, part self-blessing, and part dedication/commitment. Ritual is below the cut; notes on sourcing are at the bottom. I hope everyone has a lovely Full Moon.
“Robert Graves considered Tiamat’s death by Marduk as evidence of his hypothesis that a shift in power from a matriarchy controlling society to a patriarchy happened in the ancient past. Grave’s ideas were later developed into the Great Goddess theory by Marija Gimbutas, Merlin Stone and others. The theory suggests Tiamat and other ancient monster figures were presented as former supreme deities of peaceful, woman-centered religions that were turned into monsters when violent. Their defeat at the hands of a male hero corresponded to the manner in which male-dominated religions overthrew ancient society.”
An excerpt from the Tiamat wiki page. The Great Goddess theory is often dismissed by other scholars, however I see it mentioned so often in literature that I read and it makes so much sense I always wonder why it’s so quickly shot down. I would give my left hand if this theory is not, at least in part, mostly true.
all this time I’ve been directing prayers to a male Deity or a ‘genderless’ Christian God (who is always coded as male) but all this time it was the great, cosmic Mother and Queen of Heaven who was on the other end. I know that now & I will never turn away from Her again.
is my altar
I cast a circle
with my breath
I touch the earth
with my fingers
to the fire of my spirit.
My blood pulses
with larger rhythms
past, present, future
The reach of my fingers
the song of my blood
my electric mind
My body is my altar
my body is my temple
my living presence on this earth