A Prayer To A Gentle Lady

Goddess Comments & Graphics

PRAYER TO A GENTLE LADY

The bright blue of the sky

is Her eyes in the morning.

The sunshine, Her love glowing

in the morning’s birth.

The soft calling of birds

is Her singing to Her people.

The breeze, Her arms embracing the world.

Gentle Lady,

Watch over me as I find my path in life.

Guide my steps. Bring me to the end of

the day fulfilled.

Keep those I love safe. Goddess,

be at the side of those who need you.

And may they always be worthy of your devotion.

So Mote It Be

 

~Magickal Graphics~

What is Santeria?

by Efun Moyiwa

This article can also be found on Efun Moyiwa’s World Wide Web page, OrishaNet (http://www.seanet.com/~efunmoyiwa/welcome.html).

Santería, or La Regla Lucumí, originates in West Africa in what is now Nigeria and Benin. It is the traditional religion of the Yoruba peoples there. The slave trade brought many of these people to the shores of Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Trinidad and Puerto Rico, among other places. But along with the bodies being brought over for sale into a life of misery, something else was being brought along. Their souls. And their religion.

First of all, Santería is not a “primitive” religion. On the contrary, the Yorubas were and are a very civilized people with a rich culture and deep sense of ethics. We believe in one god known as Olorun or Olodumare. Olorun is the source of ashé, the spiritual energy that makes up the universe, all life and all things material.

Olorun interacts with the world and humankind through emissaries. These emissaries are called orishas. The orishas rule over every force of nature and every aspect of human life. They are approachable and can be counted on to come to the aid of their followers, guiding us to a better life materially as well as spiritually.

Communication between orishas and humankind is accomplished through ritual, prayer, divination and ebó or offerings (which includes sacrifice). Song, rhythms and trance possession are also means with which we interact with the orishas and with which we are able to affect our day-to-day lives so that we may lead deeper and fuller lives during our stay in this world.

In the New World, the orishas and much of the religion was hidden behind a facade of Catholicism, with the orishas themselves represented by various saints. The slave owners would then say, “Look at how pious this slave is. She spends all of her time worshipping Saint Barbara.” Unbeknownst to them, she would actually be praying to Shangó, the lord of lightning, fire and the dance, perhaps even praying for deliverance from that very slave owner. This is how the religion came to be known as Santería. The memory of this period of our history is also why many in our religion regard the term Santería as a derogatory.

The traditions of Santería are fiercely preserved, and full knowledge of the rites, songs and language is prerequisites to any deep involvement in the religion. Initiates must follow a strict regimen and are answerable to Olorun and the orishas for their actions. As a person passes through each initiation in the tradition, this knowledge deepens and their abilities and responsibilities grow accordingly. In fact, during the entire first year of their initiation into the priesthood, the initiate or iyawó or “bride” of the orisha must dress in white. The iyawo must not look into a mirror, touch anyone or allow themselves to be touched, and they may not wear makeup or go out at night for this year.

La Santería is famous for its “magic.” This magic is based on a knowledge of the mysteries or orishas and how to interact with them to better our lives and the lives of those who come to us for the aid of the orishas. We live under the premise that this world is a magical one. This knowledge seems “supernatural” only to those who don’t understand it, but it really is quite natural.

Although the people were yanked away from their homes in Africa and enslaved in the New World, the orishas, the religion and its power could never be chained down, and the religion survives now – not as an anachronism, but ever-growing, even now in such places as France and the Netherlands.

Maferefún gbogbo orisha!

Gnostic Paganism

Gnostic Paganism

Author: Howard Winkleman

“We do not know what God is. God himself doesn’t know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being.” ~ John Scotus Erigena 840 AD

What’s this then? Am I about to declare some sort of absolute truth? In the same mold as those I have been unable to commit to my entire life? No, I don’t think so. It’s just not that easy.

I have tried on numerous occasions to choke down dogma for a couple of different faiths; ultimately however it always comes right back up! Truly and sincerely, I had given Catholicism, Wicca and Asatru a real effort, as well as Catholicism for my lovely mother who I always trusted and wanted to please.

Wicca was my next spiritual interest (between the ages of 12 to 19 and after Catholicism) , seeing as how one is bombarded with the subject when perusing alternative faiths and I already being a lifelong occultist of sorts. To me, having been raised in a family of Catholics — who fascinated me with some of their superstitious practices that I did not recognize at the time as being candle magic (lighting prayer candles to petition the saints) and divination via playing cards — Wicca seemed like home. Then finally I gravitated toward Asatru for the sake of my ancestors and myself as I wanted to honor my blood, and folk soul through the revived religion of the Germanic people.

I however knew” there was, for me, something ‘not quite right’ about them… and all other established religions. I felt that I had to keep searching. And as it turns out, that’s what Gnosticism is all about: the search for “gnosis”, or knowledge.

What kind of knowledge you ask? Well, that is a very personal knowledge of god and the creation. The true Gnostic seeks to discover for himself, through mystical means, the true relationship between himself and the creating force.

Knowing that the gods are immeasurable, incomprehensible, and beyond all mortal grasp, arcane, and occult knowledge is used to pursue the loftiest of all purposes: light. Light is the only way to see in the darkness of this world. To seek this light is to seek the keys to the kingdoms beyond.

And what are we left with? Truth? We have hopefully by this point ascertained that truth is truly obfuscated in its subjectivity, so we pursue light in an attempt to see.

So what are all these religions people are on about? Well, considering what I have just said, I am certain of the existence of a grand architect of the universe — the all father, progenerator of that first spark, the one to start the first domino fall leading through the aeons to this day — as well as a whole host of lesser deities, arch beings, spirits etc.

The various pantheons known to men are composed of these forces, some by different and varied names, some ancestral and unique to a people. Do I feel that all the established religions are rubbish? Certainly not. Their elitist, pompous, only what they say is ‘right’ mentality is the rubbish.

Men have written ALL the books. Some have had divine inspiration, and or, intervention, so the authors say. I choose Odian paganism as my personal path, yet I am well aware that all religions simply put the truth into a cultural context, which resonates for them.

Gnosticism is a perspective that can be incorporated into any worldview as a philosophy, Thelema being the best example of this. Paganism is the lens through which I choose to view things.

While Gnosticism is at the heart of my beliefs, the model in which I choose to work and bend from are Heathen, British isles, and heretical Christian all at once. While Gnostic is at it’s core, that aspect should never even be considered except on rare moments of reflection. One should be able to be a good pagan and know the gods are real and active in one’s life.

While the gods are unique individuals, you will find many correspondences across the board from one system to the next, hinting to me, at the underlying, ultimate truth: the All-Father — creator, that ancient unknowable entity, beginning of mankind and all worlds seen, and unseen — the thread that runs through everything, connecting us all to truth, to him. He is the spark of life that unfolds into men and gods, who merely play at existence atop this slumbering giant. The ancestors know the secrets; you will only discover after you join them.

So embrace your particular version of the gods, be it a Celtic perspective, Asatru, Hindu, Cthulhu or what-have-you! If you find it difficult to stick to a pantheon, then don’t. It should not be a challenge; it should feel as natural as what I have just shared with you does for me. We just need to know in the old way.

To know you need light. If you cross a room in the dark, you may believe your keys are here or there, yet with the lights you see them and know. We should all seek light until we one day KNOW. Know where we stand, who we are, and why… thus granting us the ultimate relief, peace and wisdom. No religion required there.

I have a strong belief in the “other world” as it were. I believe that within this world reside spiritual beings who are hierarchical in the sense that some are more powerful than others, just as some men are more powerful than other men. The most powerful among them could be deemed gods. I am comfortable doing so. Knowing this, I also know that these forces are unknowable in the mundane sense of knowing.

All things considered, I believe gods to be representations of cosmic forces, timeless and nameless. If you were to invoke the archangel Michael for example, you would truly be invoking the protective force he represents. The same force may be invoked by another tongue in other words.

Know they are there and powerful. Just don’t try to pin them down. You will be run about in circles trying to catch them. I have tried to no avail.

Saint of the Day for July 12th is St. Francis of Assisi

Saint of the Day

St. Francis of Assisi

Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181.

In 1182, Pietro Bernardone returned from a trip to France to find out his wife had given birth to a son. Far from being excited or apologetic because he’d been gone, Pietro was furious because she’d had his new son baptized Giovanni after John the Baptist. The last thing Pietro wanted in his son was a man of God — he wanted a man of business, a cloth merchant like he was, and he especially wanted a son who would reflect his infatuation with France. So he renamed his son Francesco — which is the equivalent of calling him Frenchman.

Francis enjoyed a very rich easy life growing up because of his father’s wealth and the permissiveness of the times. From the beginning everyone — and I mean everyone — loved Francis. He was constantly happy, charming, and a born leader. If he was picky, people excused him. If he was ill, people took care of him. If he was so much of a dreamer he did poorly in school, no one minded. In many ways he was too easy to like for his own good. No one tried to control him or teach him.

As he grew up, Francis became the leader of a crowd of young people who spent their nights in wild parties. Thomas of Celano, his biographer who knew him well, said, “In other respects an exquisite youth, he attracted to himself a whole retinue of young people addicted to evil and accustomed to vice.” Francis himself said, “I lived in sin” during that time.

Francis fulfilled every hope of Pietro’s — even falling in love with France. He loved the songs of France, the romance of France, and especially the free adventurous troubadours of France who wandered through Europe. And despite his dreaming, Francis was also good at business. But Francis wanted more..more than wealth. But not holiness! Francis wanted to be a noble, a knight. Battle was the best place to win the glory and prestige he longed for. He got his first chance when Assisi declared war on their longtime enemy, the nearby town of Perugia.

Most of the troops from Assisi were butchered in the fight. Only those wealthy enough to expect to be ransomed were taken prisoner. At last Francis was among the nobility like he always wanted to be…but chained in a harsh, dark dungeon. All accounts say that he never lost his happy manner in that horrible place. Finally, after a year in the dungeon, he was ransomed. Strangely, the experience didn’t seem to change him. He gave himself to partying with as much joy and abandon as he had before the battle.

The experience didn’t change what he wanted from life either: Glory. Finally a call for knights for the Fourth Crusade gave him a chance for his dream. But before he left Francis had to have a suit of armor and a horse — no problem for the son of a wealthy father. And not just any suit of armor would do but one decorated with gold with a magnificent cloak. Any relief we feel in hearing that Francis gave the cloak to a poor knight will be destroyed by the boasts that Francis left behind that he would return a prince.

But Francis never got farther than one day’s ride from Assisi. There he had a dream in which God told him he had it all wrong and told him to return home. And return home he did. What must it have been like to return without ever making it to battle — the boy who wanted nothing more than to be liked was humiliated, laughed at, called a coward by the village and raged at by his father for the money wasted on armor.

Francis’ conversion did not happen over night. God had waited for him for twenty-five years and now it was Francis’ turn to wait. Francis started to spend more time in prayer. He went off to a cave and wept for his sins. Sometimes God’s grace overwhelmed him with joy. But life couldn’t just stop for God. There was a business to run, customers to wait on.

One day while riding through the countryside, Francis, the man who loved beauty, who was so picky about food, who hated deformity, came face to face with a leper. Repelled by the appearance and the smell of the leper, Francis nevertheless jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper had disappeared. He always looked upon it as a test from God…that he had passed.

His search for conversion led him to the ancient church at San Damiano. While he was praying there, he heard Christ on the crucifix speak to him, “Francis, repair my church.” Francis assumed this meant church with a small c — the crumbling building he was in. Acting again in his impetuous way, he took fabric from his father’s shop and sold it to get money to repair the church. His father saw this as an act of theft — and put together with Francis’ cowardice, waste of money, and his growing disinterest in money made Francis seem more like a madman than his son. Pietro dragged Francis before the bishop and in front of the whole town demanded that Francis return the money and renounce all rights as his heir.

The bishop was very kind to Francis; he told him to return the money and said God would provide. That was all Francis needed to hear. He not only gave back the money but stripped off all his clothes — the clothes his father had given him — until he was wearing only a hair shirt. In front of the crowd that had gathered he said, “Pietro Bernardone is no longer my father. From now on I can say with complete freedom, ‘Our Father who art in heaven.'” Wearing nothing but castoff rags, he went off into the freezing woods — singing. And when robbers beat him later and took his clothes, he climbed out of the ditch and went off singing again. From then on Francis had nothing…and everything.

Francis went back to what he considered God’s call. He begged for stones and rebuilt the San Damiano church with his own hands, not realizing that it was the Church with a capital C that God wanted repaired. Scandal and avarice were working on the Church from the inside while outside heresies flourished by appealing to those longing for something different or adventurous.

Soon Francis started to preach. (He was never a priest, though he was later ordained a deacon under his protest.) Francis was not a reformer; he preached about returning to God and obedience to the Church. Francis must have known about the decay in the Church, but he always showed the Church and its people his utmost respect. When someone told him of a priest living openly with a woman and asked him if that meant the Mass was polluted, Francis went to the priest, knelt before him, and kissed his hands — because those hands had held God.

Slowly companions came to Francis, people who wanted to follow his life of sleeping in the open, begging for garbage to eat…and loving God. With companions, Francis knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places. He read the command to the rich young man to sell all his good and give to the poor, the order to the apostles to take nothing on their journey, and the demand to take up the cross daily. “Here is our rule,” Francis said — as simple, and as seemingly impossible, as that. He was going to do what no one thought possible any more — live by the Gospel. Francis took these commands so literally that he made one brother run after the thief who stole his hood and offer him his robe!

Francis never wanted to found a religious order — this former knight thought that sounded too military. He thought of what he was doing as expressing God’s brotherhood. His companions came from all walks of life, from fields and towns, nobility and common people, universities, the Church, and the merchant class. Francis practiced true equality by showing honor, respect, and love to every person whether they were beggar or pope.

Francis’ brotherhood included all of God’s creation. Much has been written about Francis’ love of nature but his relationship was deeper than that. We call someone a lover of nature if they spend their free time in the woods or admire its beauty. But Francis really felt that nature, all God’s creations, were part of his brotherhood. The sparrow was as much his brother as the pope.

In one famous story, Francis preached to hundreds of birds about being thankful to God for their wonderful clothes, for their independence, and for God’s care. The story tells us the birds stood still as he walked among him, only flying off when he said they could leave.

Another famous story involves a wolf that had been eating human beings. Francis intervened when the town wanted to kill the wolf and talked the wolf into never killing again. The wolf became a pet of the townspeople who made sure that he always had plenty to eat.

Following the Gospel literally, Francis and his companions went out to preach two by two. At first, listeners were understandably hostile to these men in rags trying to talk about God’s love. People even ran from them for fear they’d catch this strange madness! And they were right. Because soon these same people noticed that these barefoot beggars wearing sacks seemed filled with constant joy. They celebrated life. And people had to ask themselves: Could one own nothing and be happy? Soon those who had met them with mud and rocks, greeted them with bells and smiles.

Francis did not try to abolish poverty, he tried to make it holy. When his friars met someone poorer than they, they would eagerly rip off the sleeve of their habit to give to the person. They worked for all necessities and only begged if they had to. But Francis would not let them accept any money. He told them to treat coins as if they were pebbles in the road. When the bishop showed horror at the friars’ hard life, Francis said, “If we had any possessions we should need weapons and laws to defend them.” Possessing something was the death of love for Francis. Also, Francis reasoned, what could you do to a man who owns nothing? You can’t starve a fasting man, you can’t steal from someone who has no money, you can’t ruin someone who hates prestige. They were truly free.

Francis was a man of action. His simplicity of life extended to ideas and deeds. If there was a simple way, no matter how impossible it seemed, Francis would take it. So when Francis wanted approval for his brotherhood, he went straight to Rome to see Pope Innocent III. You can imagine what the pope thought when this beggar approached him! As a matter of fact he threw Francis out. But when he had a dream that this tiny man in rags held up the tilting Lateran basilica, he quickly called Francis back and gave him permission to preach.

Sometimes this direct approach led to mistakes that he corrected with the same spontaneity that he made them. Once he ordered a brother who hesitated to speak because he stuttered to go preach half-naked. When Francis realized how he had hurt someone he loved he ran to town, stopped the brother, took off his own clothes, and preached instead.

Francis acted quickly because he acted from the heart; he didn’t have time to put on a role. Once he was so sick and exhausted, his companions borrowed a mule for him to ride. When the man who owned the mule recognized Francis he said, “Try to be as virtuous as everyone thinks you are because many have a lot of confidence in you.” Francis dropped off the mule and knelt before the man to thank him for his advice.

Another example of his directness came when he decided to go to Syria to convert the Moslems while the Fifth Crusade was being fought. In the middle of a battle, Francis decided to do the simplest thing and go straight to the sultan to make peace. When he and his companion were captured, the real miracle was that they weren’t killed. Instead Francis was taken to the sultan who was charmed by Francis and his preaching. He told Francis, “I would convert to your religion which is a beautiful one — but both of us would be murdered.”

Francis did find persecution and martyrdom of a kind — not among the Moslems, but among his own brothers. When he returned to Italy, he came back to a brotherhood that had grown to 5000 in ten years. Pressure came from outside to control this great movement, to make them conform to the standards of others. His dream of radical poverty was too harsh, people said. Francis responded, “Lord, didn’t I tell you they wouldn’t trust you?”

He finally gave up authority in his order — but he probably wasn’t too upset about it. Now he was just another brother, like he’d always wanted.

Francis’ final years were filled with suffering as well as humiliation. Praying to share in Christ’s passion he had a vision received the stigmata, the marks of the nails and the lance wound that Christ suffered, in his own body.

Years of poverty and wandering had made Francis ill. When he began to go blind, the pope ordered that his eyes be operated on. This meant cauterizing his face with a hot iron. Francis spoke to “Brother Fire”: “Brother Fire, the Most High has made you strong and beautiful and useful. Be courteous to me now in this hour, for I have always loved you, and temper your heat so that I can endure it.” And Francis reported that Brother Fire had been so kind that he felt nothing at all.

How did Francis respond to blindness and suffering? That was when he wrote his beautiful Canticle of the Sun that expresses his brotherhood with creation in praising God.

Francis never recovered from this illness. He died on October 4, 1226 at the age of 45. Francis is considered the founder of all Franciscan orders and the patron saint of ecologists and merchants.

Copyright 1996-2000 by Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved.

Magickal Goody For June 15th: Medieval Rosary Beads

Medieval Rosary Beads

4     cups rose petals

4     cups distilled water

1     teaspoon sandalwood oil

1     teaspoon rose oil

Finely chop rose petals into an iron pot, adding enough distilled water to cover the petals. Heat, uncovered, for 1 hour without boiling the petals. Cover and leave overnight to set. Repeat the process for 4 more days. Then begin to roll the petals into beads, rubbing your hands with 1 drop each of sandalwood and rose oil first, repeating every 5 beads. Press out any liquid as you roll the beads. Thread with a large needle and thick (or plastic) thread. Allow to dry. Makes 60 beads. Separate every  10 beads with a space and 1 isolated bead.

*Personal note* Rosary Beads are not just for Christians anymore. Their popularity in the Pagan culture is growing and being used.  Whether you plan on using a Rosary or not, this would be a beautiful collector’s item.  One more thing at the end of the Rosary beads where normally a Cross would go, use a Pentacle (that’s what I did). I kept trying to win a Pagan Rosary on Ebay with no luck. So I made this set. I got some Rose essential oil and sprinkled it on the Rosary and then attached a beautiful Pentacle to it.  I believe any Pagan would be proud to own it.