Until quite recently, if you wanted anything but a standard Church of England wedding in the UK, you were out of luck unless the registrar could also come along, and even then only if the building were recognised for marriages.
In many churches and other recognised locations, the “ceremonial” part of the wedding is then followed by the legally required registration. And it’s not uncommon in the UK for even Christian clergy not to be qualified to perform this part of the wedding.
If you were pagan, or wanted to join with your beloved in sacred space before the goddess, you were out of luck altogether, and most people had to be satisfied with a handfasting and a quick trip to the registry office for the legal bit.
How wonderful, then, not only to have a Goddess Temple – Britain’s first for thousands of years – recognised as a legal place for marriages and but also two trained Priestess Registrars!
Healing sweets: herbal honeys, syrups and cough drops - Part 2
by Susun S Weed
Herbal syrups are sweetened, condensed herbal infusions. Cough drops are concentrated syrups. Alcohol is frequently added to syrups to help prevent fermentation and stabilize the remedy. Cough drops and lozenges, having less water, keep well without the addition of alcohol.
Bitter herbs, especially when effective in a fairly small dose, are often made into syrups: horehound, yellow dock, dandelion, chicory, and motherwort spring to mind in this regard.
Herbs that are especially effective in relieving throat infections and breathing problems are also frequently made into syrups, especially when honey is used as the sweetener: coltsfoot flowers (not leaves), comfrey leaves (not roots), horehound, elder berries, mullein, osha root, pine, sage, and wild cherry bark are favorites for "cough" syrups. Continue reading "Be Your Own Herbal Expert – Part 8"
This archipelago has an almost mythical hold on many people, drawing them to visit, and in the past was almost legendary, as the islands disappear and re-appear faintly on the horizon like some version of Tir nan Og, tantalising viewers in the Western Isles of Scotland. I too was ‘called’ by them over several decades before finding an affordable way to physically reach them.
These remains of an ancient volcano, whose cliffs rise sheer from the clear deep bottle-green ocean, were inhabited from prehistoric times, being a likely stopping-off point as people hopped round the coasts from Scandinavia to Ireland. There is little early evidence as stone used in buildings was continuously re-used for later development, but advances in archaeology enable finds which push back the dates of habitation. Continue reading "The Amazon Woman of Kilda: Part 2"
In his book Egyptian Myth and Legend the great Scottish folklorist Donald Mackenzie mentioned that one of the stories of the Scottish Cailleach, or Hag, has her as the ‘chief of eight old women or witches.’ He goes on, “This group of nine suggests Ptah and his eight earth gnomes, the nine mothers of Heimdall, the Norse God, and the Ennead of Heliopolis.” Here he is clearly thinking about Egyptian mythology but his reference to Scotland and Norway is merely scraping the surface of a theme in myth and legend that is effectively world-wide.
My interest in what is best described as the Nine Maidens comes from the fact that a story of them survives close to where I was raised, on the north side of Dundee in Scotland. In this local tale the nine are sisters who were the victims of a dragon-like creature who was later killed by the betrothed of the eldest sister and the site is marked by a Pictish Symbol Stone, Martin’s Stone. The Picts, often cited as a mysterious, painted people, seem in reality to be the indigenous peoples of Scotland1. They left no literary records of their own and much of what we think we know of them relies on Roman sources. What has survived in Scotland from the time of the Picts - in previously accepted thinking the 3rd to 10th centuries of the Christian era - and been the cause of much discussion, and fantasy, is a vast corpus of carved standing stones with intriguing symbols, a considerable number of which are clearly pre-Christian. Some of the later Christian stones continued to use some of these earlier symbols. Just as Christianity spread by utilising previously sacred locations in many places so it seems that the early missionaries in Scotland co-opted an already established tradition of carving sacred stones to help spread their new message. Continue reading "The Goddess and the Nine Maidens"
Healing sweets: herbal honeys, syrups and cough drops - Part 1
by Susun S Weed
Honey has been regarded as a healing substance for thousands of years. Greek healers relied on honey water, vinegar water, and honey/vinegar water as their primary cures. An Egyptian medical text dated to about 2600 BCE mentions honey 500 times in 900 remedies. What makes honey so special?
First, honey is antibacterial. It counters infections on the skin, in the intestines, in the respiratory system, or throughout the body.
Second, honey is hydroscopic, a long word meaning "water loving". Honey holds moisture in the place where it is put; it can even draw moisture out of the air. A honey facial leaves skin smooth and deliciously moist. These two qualities - anti-infective and hydroscopic - make honey an ideal healer of wounds of all kinds, including burns, bruises and decubita (skin ulcers), an amazing soother for sore throats, a powerful ally against bacterial diarrhea, and a counter to asthma. Continue reading "Be Your Own Herbal Expert – Part 8"
Opening Ritual. Allison calls together the flotsam gathering of royal blue-adorned women on the patio of the main hall at Piersol Group Camp at Meeman-Shelby State Forest outside of Memphis, Tennessee. The outline forms an amoeboid shape, prompting the traditional singing of Trudy's famous “We are a polygon, within a polygon, and we go on and on... and on and on and on...” (Sung to the common chant “We are a Circle”.) This is Daughters of the Moon, 2014.
On Saturday, a collective of women gather in one of the Triangle rooms, spilling out onto the patio in a randomly wandering circle. It's another amoeboid shape, but a very different one. We sit facing outward instead, and each of us holds a scarf and a pillow. Rootz gently guides us into a place of safety, leading each to turn and face the woman beside her to whisper the assurance: “You are safe here.” Then to the other side... and we rest in that safe space. Pillows become a manifestation of our younger selves, a baby girl, toddler, elementary schooler, teenager, young woman. As directed, I and the others wrap our scarves around the pillows, symbolically wrapping our Inner Girl in care and love. Continue reading "I Can Hear Them Drum: Daughters of the Moon Turns 15!"
You the one who Opens Hearts. You who defy this westerner’s preconceived ideas and bring me to the ground in surrender, time after time. Heart opening, tears flowing. You the dark one, Kali awesome power.
You who are the creator of worlds – whether through lovemaking with Shiva, or through menstruation – you the Cosmic Creatrix, Black Time, Mother of Worlds, Dark Mother, Dark Matter. From whom all is breathed out, and to whom all returns.
You who slay the demons of oppression, greed and war on the planet when no one else can, in consort with your sister warrior goddess Durga. You who lick up the blood of demons to stop them from multiplying. You who shake the worlds with your bloodlust dance until you recognize your lover Shiva laying on the ground, and invite him to play with you. Continue reading "Heart of Kali"
There I stood before the Goddess. As her timeless gaze fell upon me, I shuddered. She was a pure combination of power and gentleness. At once fierce warrior, undefeated, and gentle guardian, bestowing her love and wisdom upon her people. Beyond anything else, in that instant, I realized I was receiving an image of the feminine I had forgotten existed.
As I stared up at the monumental bronze statue, crafted by blessed hands more than two thousand years ago, I wondered what our lives would have been like if we too, as a civilization, had grown up to cherish and worship such an image of woman. Strong and courageous, intelligent and wise, protectress of arts and science, crafts and inspiration… she embodied the fierce strength of nature, the utmost refinement of the mind, and the all-seeing wisdom of an open heart. All in one being. Whole. Continue reading "She of the Brilliant Eyes"
We are living in incredible times, when a new wave is surging, washing over and through the old paradigm. No area of life is left untouched. Rising within this wave is the voice of the feminine, that which has been quieted, shut down and ignored is now awakening. Rumblings from the belly of the Earth mother herself, calling us to stand up and speak from our hearts. Within this rise of the feminine which can be seen through the numerous and inspiring projects emerging all over this beautiful planet, is the voice of woman. Women are rising, remembering our sacred innate connection to the Earth, reclaiming our shared voice and power as we gather in circles, round fires, in fields, woods, village halls and sitting rooms. Continue reading "Celebrating Women’s Voices"
I was delighted when Geraldine asked me to write something for this first edition of the Goddess Pages magazine. I wish her all the very best of luck with it.
There are not that many magazines dedicated to Goddess/goddess spirituality or indeed women’s spirituality; at least not that I am aware of here in Britain. There is the excellent Goddess Alive!
There must be others like myself whose life does not include computers and the internet in any great way, so I hope that one day Goddess Pages may become a paper magazine. How I treasure my boxes and filing cabinet drawers full of old and wonderful magazines from decades ago. It is amazing how the internet reaches all over the world, but it can also be very transient. I print everything I want to read properly not just that which I want to keep. Even long e-mails. But, the Internet has brought my work to many who would otherwise not know of it, so I am not complaining. I just feel that sometimes it is forgotten that the Internet is only one of many ways of communicating, not the only way. Continue reading "Wishes for Goddess Pages"
The Rule of Mars: The Origins, History and Impact of Patriarchy (KIT Press, Late Spring 2006, $40) is a new collection of the best writings by leading scholars on the subject of patriarchy -- how it came to be the dominant social system, how it has been maintained, and its impact on contemporary life. Inspired by the work of archeologist Marija Gimbutas, editor Cristina Biaggi, Ph.D., has assembled 31 compelling essays that explain the underlying dynamics of our political and social life and encourage new ways of thinking. Dr. Biaggi contributes an essay that expands on Gimbutas’ Kurgan studies and examines why the Kurgans became warlike, as a model for an investigation into the advent of patriarchy.