Issue 10, Spring 2009
Brighid Walks the Land, by Helena Nelson-Reed
Articles & Fiction
Long ago, the townsfolk were gathered for the annual fair at the foot of the hill behind the castle of this small market town. Drovers with horses, cattle, pigs and sheep. Flower girls with baskets, milkmaids with churns. Tailors, butchers and bakers with stalls. Children taking apples from the old women’s fruit tables. Jugglers, fiddlers and clog dancers with music and song.
They drank ale, picnicked and some cooled off in the hot sun by splashing in the glistening waters of the surrounding river Teifi and its cascading white water weir. Suddenly, a dark shadow came overhead and with it a strange noise ... loud and roaring, like a wild fire on the rampage. The people looked up above the castle. Some froze in fear, and others quaked in their leather boots and wooden clogs. For there in the sky above them was an enormous winged serpent ... a dragon ... circling down towards them.
By Geraldine Charles
“Just don’t take any course where they make you read Beowulf”
Woody Allen in Annie Hall, 1977
Maybe Woody was right. This can be a pretty dreary read for a woman who flicks over the battle pages in novels and is bored to tears by chest-beating. If you must be a hero, guys, please be the strong, silent kind that I can ignore. However, I’ve had a strange fascination with Beowulf since I was a teenager, an odd, melancholy thing that I’d almost forgotten about until the recent movie2. That got me started thinking about Grendel’s Mother and the possible presence of a forgotten goddess in the poem, although it is pretty unpromising at first sight. But no piece of literature survives for so long if it doesn’t speak to us on many levels, including the subconscious, which is perhaps where much of our longing for the divine feminine now resides.
By Tiziana Stupia
I read Jill Smith’s article on the appropriateness of importing Celtic Goddesses into the Southern Hemisphere with great interest.
The relevance of invoking foreign deities in our land, as well as worshipping ours abroad, is a topic I have given much thought to recently. To answer this question is complicated, because, as Jill points out, first of all we need to establish what we believe God/desses actually are. Are they manifestations of the spirit of place, are they archetypes, energies, concepts, or actual beings with distinct traits and personalities? Or are all God/desses representations of one Divine Energy, one Truth, one Source?
I agree with Jill that certain deities can be manifestations of the spirits of place, and that these spirits often have specific relevance to a particular land. In some power places, for example Glastonbury, Avebury or on The Isle of Lewis, this energy is stronger than in others. When visiting such sacred sites, respect and consideration for the spirits and energies that inhabit them is very important, even if we do not know their names or what they represent. This became very clear to me when I recently spent five months in the Indian Himalayas. There, the Hindu deities are extremely powerful, especially in the mountains and rivers, because millions of people worship and honour them several times daily and believe in the sanctity of those places. With such a high concentration of devotion, the presence of the deities is tangible. During my time there, I developed a solid relationship with the Indian God/desses and learnt some of the Vedic rituals and devotional ceremonies. When I returned, I took the vibrations of these deities with me, and I still honour them daily in my practices, even though I am now in the UK.
by Barbara Ardinger
The wheel of fortune isn’t just a TV show or a gambling device. Fortuna is another of those early Roman civic goddesses. Her statues show her holding an overflowing cornucopia in one hand and a ship’s rudder in her other hand. Beside her stands her wheel, a multivalent symbol that we see in mandalas, the wheel of the year, the zodiac, and the rose windows of Gothic cathedrals. Although Fortuna is sometimes blindfolded, she’s not just “Lady Luck.” Her name originally meant “she who brings,” and what she brings is what happens in our lives. She steers our fate with her rudder, and her cornucopia shows that she can bring us wealth. What she brings in early spring is fertility—crops, animals, humans. The Greeks called her Tyche, the Anglo-Saxons called her Wyrd, and in the medieval Christian church she was known as St. Agatha. (read more...)
by Jeri Studebaker
Sit down before you read what I'm about to say. Do not, however, ingest even the tiniest sip of tea (or any other liquid for that matter), because what comes next might very well affect your air-intake system -- and your air-intake system is part of the system that negotiates the progress of tea down one's upper esophageal tract.
Here it comes: The world is in desperate need of a Revolution - and there's no one to lead it but those of us in the Goddess community.
It's time to put our comforting, cozy and contemplative stories about our favorite goddess(es) on a back burner for a while, and get cracking. It's time to recognize that it's not just us, but the world that's in need of the feminine divine. According to our best and most current data, when we humans centered around Guiding Goddesses we basked in "utopia." But when the sky/father/war gods trounced the Goddess, they bumped the world into a "dystopia" we've never fully climbed out of. If we don't pitch the gods and resuscitate the goddesses -- and soon -- my guess is we're doomed as a species.
by Susun S Weed
In the beginning, according to the Wise Woman tradition, everything began, as everything does, at birth.
The Great Mother of All gave birth and the earth appeared out of the void. Then the Great Mother of All gave birth again, and again, and again, and people, and animals, and plants appeared on the earth. They were all very hungry. "What shall we eat?" they asked the Great Mother. "Now you eat me," she said, smiling. Soon there were a very great many lives, but the Great Mother of All was enjoying creating and giving birth so much that she didn't want to stop. "Ah," she said smiling, "now I eat you." And so she still does.
by Rita Lewis
We are so fortunate, for the Goddess is everywhere. She can be seen in the Peruvian jungle, in stone carvings of roses and grain decorating European churches, in Buckingham palace as Isis supporting the hearth, and as a gentle, haunting spirit in the traditional sacred groves of the British Isles.
I have been blessed to feel Her presence in all these varied places, but it was in my own back garden in Buckinghamshire where I first truly saw Her face, heard Her voice and enjoyed Her constant, wise companionship.
... and my response to the Dalai Lama’s assertion that sex spells trouble*
by Janie “Oquawka” Rezner, MA
I hope someone passes Riane Eisler’s beautiful book, “Sacred Pleasure,” on to the Dalai Lama. Did he really say that “sex invariably spells trouble?” He is definitely missing something! It’s that nasty body again with all its feelings that patriarchal religion abhors, getting close, being vulnerable, opening one’s heart to love. He is missing being connected in that way.
Compare the life of a monk to a man with a family living in a community, in a life rich with attachments to his loved ones, a man who experiences a deep love for his child as he watches her grow, who cares for his friends, who is engaged in a variety of interactions and tasks in his life. A separated being like a monk is living half a life; his opportunities to experience life's important and maturing processes, like loving and being committed to another human being, like experiencing the heart connection of fatherhood, and the responsibilities of that role, are non-existent.
by Alison Sutton
The Wiccan Educational Society (WES) was founded in Massachusetts in 2000 by Heidi Couture. It now goes into its ninth year of existence as its membership broadens and it continues its journey of evolution.
As we walk our path new experiences come along, and we meet new people along the way. If our approach is open-eyed and open-hearted we embrace change, and flow with our personal and spiritual growth. (read more...)
By Serene Conneeley
Living in Australia – or anywhere in the southern hemisphere for that matter – can be a little confusing for a witch.
All the books about magic print elemental correspondences that are back to front (the fire of the sun is certainly not in the south down here!), and list dates for the sabbats that bear no relation to the actual cycle of our seasons. I’ve met a surprising number of people from the US and UK who didn’t realise that our seasons are six months behind (or ahead, depending on how you look at it) the northern ones. Our Midsummer falls around December 20-23, when the north is blanketed in snow, while our winter solstice falls around June 20-23, the height of summer up there.
Perhaps long ago we may have followed the oft-printed dates and celebrated these rituals along with our northern friends, linking up psychically in December to celebrate Yule and welcome the birth of the sun god, even as here he was about to start fading as summer reached its peak, or doing autumn rituals of harvest and release while our land was quickening with the new growth of spring.
by Thorskegga Thorn
Freyja (often Anglised as 'Freya') is the most popular goddess honoured by modern Heathens, the pagan tradition inspired by the ancient religions of Scandinavia, England, the Netherlands and Germany. Freyja's independent personality makes her an ideal role model for the modern Heathen women and her interest in sexual pleasure makes her an ideal patroness for many full blooded Heathen men.
Historically speaking Freyja is known from Scandinavia where she is the chief goddess of a divine household called the Vanir. Only a handful of the scores of ancient Heathen deities are specified as Vanir, including Freyja's father Njorđr, a god of the sea, wind and fire, and her brother Freyr, the god of fertility. The other well known Heathen deities, such as Thórr, Ođinn, Týr, Loki and Frigg belong to the rival Aesir household.
The Brighton Goddess Temple is a group of women working to create and run a sacred space dedicated to the Divine feminine in all.
Lynx Wildwood, the first founding member, has been running open community rituals for the wheel of the year and the full moon for many years. Lynx was inspired by the enthusiasm and energy of the women who came to the rituals. She initiated the creation of a permanent space to honour women’s spirituality and power. A group was established and has been meeting since September 2007. We don’t align ourselves with any particular spiritual or religious group. We are open to all women of all racial, cultural and spiritual roots. Our aim is to join women together to empower and support each others love of nature and ourselves.