Great Mother Goddesses

Great Mother Goddesses

Gods/Goddesses– Bel, the Dagda, Don, the Dagda, Bel, Cronus, Uranus, Zeus, Jupiter, Saturn, Amen, Osiris, Ra, Pachacamac, Cerridwen, Danu, Macha, Morrigu, Brigit, Anu, Badb, Rhianon, Demeter, Hera, Rhea, Hecate, Aphrodite, Gaea, Juno, Venus, Ceres, Ops, Bona Dea, Cybele, Isis, Mut, Nut, Coatlicue, Kuan Yin, Ishtar, Astarte, Inanna, Cerridwen, Danu, Morrigu, Anu, Margawse, Growth, Demeter, Gaea, Boreas, Eurus, Ceres
Color– Indigo, Black
Incense/Oil– Holly, Juniper, Yew, Myrrh, Cypress
Animals– Goat
Spirits– Dragon
Stones– Onyx, Jet
Metal– Lead
Plants– Reeds, Solomon’s Seal, Oak, Yew, Beech, Comfrey, Elm, Holly, Ivy, Horsetail, Juniper, Mullien
Wood– Oak
Planet– Saturn
Tarot Cards– Four Queens, Four Threes
Magickal Tools– Sword, Wand
Direction– West
Rituals– Stabilization of Thought and Life, Help with Groups, Comfort, Goddess Power, Developing Power of Faith

Creator Deities

Creator Deities

Gods/Goddesses– the Dagda, Cronus, Ptah, Osiris, Sebek, Khnemu, Seb, Ra, Hurukan, Arianrhod, Danu, Demeter, Hera, Rhea, Gaea, Ceres, Juno, Heqet, Isis, Neith, Mut, Tara, Nohochacyum
Color– Brillant Pure Light
Incense/Oil– Angelica, Wisteria
Animals– Hawk
Spirits– Winged Dragon
Stones– Diamond, Zircon
Metal– Gold, Silver
Plants– Shamrock, Clover, Woad, Male Fern, Aspen
Tree– Aspen
Planet– Uranus
Tarot Cards– Four Aces
Magickal Tools– Cauldron
Direction– East
Rituals– Divine Consciousness, Illumination, Enlightment, Spiritual Development/Attainment, Finding Karmic Purpose

Earth Gods – DAGDA

Earth Gods – DAGDA 

The Dagda is the Irish father god of Earth. He is the leader of the immortal race of the Tuatha De Danann. The Dagda is also known as the lord of abundance. He is the god of time and magick and the protector of crops. He is the son of Danu and Beli. His name means “good god,” meaning he is good at all of the things he does, not morally superior.

In Celtic mythology, it is the Dagda who is responsible for the changing of the seasons. It was said that he owned a magickal harp, Daurdabla, that made the seasons change when played. He acquired this harp on a trip to the Otherworld. On the same trip he obtained the Undry, a magickal cauldron said to never empty, along with the Sword of Nuada and the Lia Fail, which is also known as the Stone of Life. These three items, along with the Spear Luin, are thought to represent the four elements.

The Dagda is represented in a somewhat comical form. He is most often depicted as a large man with a paunch belly wearing a too short tunic that leaves his genitals bare and exposed, hauling around his magickal mallet in a cart. The mallet was said to kill nine men in a single blow and restore them to life with the handle. Although he was frequently the subject of jokes, the Dagda was held in the highest esteem. The Celts believed that even the highest being possessed a flaw or two.

While he was the main consort of Morrigan, the Dagda was known to have many other lovers. It was said that he was one of lusty appetites, and when he came upon the raven-haired Morrigan washing clothes in a stream, he walked up behind her and began having his way with her. The Morrigan found the interlude so satisfactory that she backed him in battle the next day.

In one tale, the Dagda was send by Lugh to spy on the Fomorians. He went to their camp and asked for a truce, which was granted. The Fomorians decided to mock the Dagda by making a porridge. The Dagda’s weakness for porridge was well-known. The Fomorians made a huge amount and proclaimed that unless the Dagda ate every bite he would be killed. He ate every bite and promptly fell asleep. When he awoke, he found the Fomorians laughing at him. The Dagda forced himself to leave, which was no easy feat considering his bloated, swollen belly. On his way, he chanced upon a girl who threw him into the mud and demanded she be returned to her father’s house. The Dagda asked who her father was, and she replied that he was the king of the Fomorians. The Dagda and the girl wrestled about and ended up making love. As she was smitten at this point, she helped the Dagda defeat the Fomorians in battle by singing spells against them.

The Dagda’s main consort was Boann, and they are the parents of the Celtic goddess Brigid. He is also the father of the fairy king Midir and many others.

The Dagda is said to rule today from the Otherworld, as his life on this plane was ended in battle by a woman named Cethlion. Once defeated, he led the Tuatha De Danann through a fairy mound to live underground in the Other world.

Brighid Lore for Imbolc

Brighid Lore for Imbolc
by Doreen Motheral

 

The goddess Brighid (also known as Brigit, Bride, Biddy and other names throughout Europe) is a goddess who is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. I like the fact that she is associated with both water (her wells in Kildare and other parts of Ireland) and fire (her fire pit in Kildare). I like the fact that she spans both the pagan and Christian worlds and some of her traditions are still celebrated today.

Since the festival of Imbolc (also called Óimelc) is this weekend I thought I’d write a few thoughts for those who aren’t familiar with her (and perhaps renew an acquaintance for those who already were). Imbolc is the time of the year that the ewes lactated, and the successful timing of this event was approximate, so the exact date of Imbolc could vary from region to region and from year to year depending on the climate. Production of this milk supply was very important to both man and animal. From the milk comes butter and cheese. Newly calved cows were also put under Brighid’s protection. Here’s an old saying:

Samhain Eve without food,
Christmas night without bread,
St. Brighid’s Eve without butter,
That is a sorry complaint.

Cormac mac Cuillenàin, who lived in the 9th century said, “Brighid i.e. a learned woman, daughter of the Dagda. That is Brighid of learning, i.e. a goddess who filid worshipped. For her protecting care was very great and very wonderful. So they call her a goddess of poets. Her sisters were Brighid woman of healing, and Brighid woman of smithcraft, daughters of the Dagda, from whose names among all the Irish a goddess used to be called Brighid” In this writing, Cormac mentions her triple aspect of three sisters, common among the Celts. I often call on one or more of her aspects of creativity, writing and healing, but she is much more than that.

The Christian aspects of Brighid and the pagan aspects often overlap, so it’s difficult to figure out which stories have pre-Christian beginnings. I think there is a seed of paganism in many of the later stories associated with her. We’ll never know for sure, but in my own private practice I take many of her current customs and use them for my own worship of her – and I don’t worry about the pre-Christian aspect of the story or not. Your mileage may vary, of course.

On the eve of Imbolc, a piece of linen, other cloth or ribbons is placed outside (some folks put them on their window sill). This piece of cloth is called Brighid’s Brat or Brighid’s Mantle. It is said that Brighid travels all over the land on Imbolc eve and if she sees this cloth, she will bless it and give it healing powers. Some folks in Ireland say that the older your brat is, the more powerful it is. Mugwort Grove (the grove to which I belong) destroys ours from year to year. We put out a whole piece of linen and tear it into strips for members of the Grove during our Imbolc ritual. People take the strips home to use for healing and some are kept on personal altars throughout the year.

Other folklore says that if the mantle gets bigger overnight, you will be especially blessed. It’s a nice tradition, especially if you have a lot of illness to overcome for the following year, and a brat is nice to have for healing rituals later in the year.

Brighid’s fiery aspect makes her the perfect goddess of the hearth – in fact, my hearth at home is dedicated to Brighid. There are many hearth prayers dedicated to Brighid, especially concerning smooring. Ashes and embers were often deposited in the fields. Also, indoor activity associated with Imbolc often took place near the hearth, and if there was a feast, an extra place was set for Brighid. It is also considered bad luck to do any type of spinning on Brighid’s Day.

There is also the custom of Brighid’s Bed. A small bed is made near the hearth and a doll (called a Brídeog), often made from a sheaf of corn and made into the likeness of a woman and is sometimes placed in the bed. In Ireland the doll was often made from a churn dash decorated in clothing (associations t milk again). Sometimes the doll was carried around town to visit houses in the neighborhood. Songs, music and dances are performed – then prayers are said to St. Brighid for blessings upon the house (this is similar to wassailing in other countries around Christmas). Then the family is asked to contribute a donation – which used to be bread and butter (there’s that dairy again!) but now it’s often money (sometimes given to charity).

There is much, much more about Brighid I could share, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. A bit of trivia – Brighid is so loved by the Irish people that in 1942 a survey was taken on “The Feast of St. Brighid”. The replies about the customs run to 2,435 manuscript pages. A great book, if you can find it, is The Festival of Brighid Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman by Séamas Ó Catháin. There are many really cool stories and legends about her.

Last but not least one of the other interesting aspects of Brighid is a prayer attributed to her from the 11th century which goes like this:

I would like a great lake of ale, for the King of the Kings
I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts.
I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family drinking it through all eternity.

Drink up!

Calendar of the Sun for Jan. 26th

Calendar of the Sun
26 Luis/Gamelion

Gamelia: Day of the Sacred Marriage

Colors: Red and green
Elements: Fire and earth
Altar: On cloth of red and green, place a chalice of water or wine, a blade, a red candle and a green one, incense, a wreath of flowers or herbs, and a branch on which are slipped two rings.
Offerings: Do something in partnership with someone else.
Daily Meal: Sweet cakes, breads, and fruit. Two of everything.

Gamelia Invocation

On this day we invoke the sacred marriage
Of the Lady and Lord,
Whether we call them Hera and Zeus,
Jupiter and Juno,
Dagda and Boannan,
Shiva and Parvati,
Ariadne and Dionysus,
Odhinn and Frigga,
Or any other two who joined not only in love
And the bonds of the fiery flesh,
But chose to be bound together
In the sight of their community
And create the keel of the ship
That was anchored by love
And that carried the hopes of many others.
For to be married is to make a commitment,
Whether that marriage is to another soul
Or to the soul of the Divine.
Come forth and show us divine love,
And may we all be in awe
Of its holiness and power.

(The ritual for this day is the Great Rite, performed by one man and one woman. If done symbolically, the man plunges a blade into the chalice held by the woman, and then it is poured as a libation. Ideally, it should be done literally, either by members of the house or by two who have come in for this purpose. If outsiders, it would be an auspicious time to conceive a child. All sit facing outwards in a circle and chant as the couple are wrapped in a red cloth and lay together in the center, and when it is done all repair to their rooms and either contemplate love or have ritual sex, alone or together.)

Brighid’s Fires Burn High

Brighid’s Fires Burn High

by Miriam Harline

 

Imbolc is a white time, a time of ice and fire. In many places, snow still sheets the ground. The fire is traditional: Europe observes this day, February 2, the Christian Candlemas, with candlelight processions, parades that go back to ancient torchlight ceremonies for purifying and reviving the fields at early sowing, according to Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend.At Candlemas, the people of ancient Europe made candles for the coming year, having saved the fat from meat eaten through the winter. Mexico, too, observes February 2, the Aztec New Year, with renewed fires and a festival that echoes agricultural rituals of early spring.

At Imbolc, the earth begins to wake from winter sleep. As Starhawk writes in The Spiral Dance, at Imbolc “what was born at the Solstice begins to manifest, and we who were midwives to the infant year now see the Child Sun grow strong as the days grow visibly longer.” At night the Wild Moon shines, illuminating the earth’s initial quickening. Seeds sown in autumn begin to stir; nature is potential waiting to be fulfilled. The Goddess too is changing: from crone to maiden, from winter to spring.

To Banish Winter

In The Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life, Pauline Campanelli writes, “Now is the time for the banishing of Winter. On the first night of February, the eve of Imbolc, gather together all of the greens that adorned the house throughout the Yuletide season, including a branch or two of the fir tree that was hung with holiday ornaments. Then, as a part of the Imbolc Sabbat rite, add these greens to the Sabbat Fire (a little at a time, and carefully, because by now they are hazardously dry), dancing and chanting all the while with words like:

“Now we banish Winter!

“Now we welcome Spring!”

Of Brighid and Her Realms

Today’s witches take many of their Imbolc associations from pagan Ireland. There, Imbolc belonged to the goddess Brighid or Bride (either is pronounced Breed), mother of poetry, smithcraft and healing.

In their Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom, Caitlin and John Matthews quote the tenth century Cormac’s Glossary: Brighid is “a poetess… the female sage, woman of wisdom, or Brighid the Goddess whom poets venerated because very great and famous for her protecting care.”Cormac’s Glossary gives Brighid the poetess two sisters, Brighid the smith and Brighid the “female physician”; Brighid thus occurs threefold, called by the Celts the Three Blessed Ladies.

The three Brighids multiply, to three times three: Caitlin and John Matthews call Brighid “a being who has nine separate spiritual appearances and blessings, which are ubiquitously invoked through Celtic lore.” Hers are the “nine gifts of the cauldron” mentioned in Amergin’s “Song of the Three Cauldrons”: poetry, reflection, meditation, lore, research, great knowledge, intelligence, understanding and wisdom. The Christianized St. Bridget had nine priestesses, the “Ingheau Anndagha,” or Daughters of the Flame, who lived inside her shrine and tended her fire, whom no man could look upon, according to Kisma K. Stepanich in Faery Wicca, Book One. Brighid is also a midwife and protector, a war-goddess and a teacher of the arts of battle.

Celtic lore makes Brighid the daughter of the Dagda, the Good God, and marries her to Bres of the Fomors, by whom she bears a son Ruadan. But, as Janet and Stewart Farrar write in The Witches’ Goddess, “The fact that Dana, though goddess/ancestress of the Tuatha, is sometimes referred to (like Brighid) as the Dagda’s daughter; the hints… that the Dagda was originally the son of this primordial goddess, then her husband, then her father; the dynastic marriage between Brighid and Bres – all these reflect a long process of integration of the pantheons of neighboring tribes, or of conquerors and conquered, and also of patriarchalization.” Like many goddesses, Brighid probably once birthed the god later called her father. Brighid’s name can be derived from the Gaelic “breo-aigit” or “fiery arrow,” but the Matthewses prefer a derivation from Sanskrit, “Brahti,” or “high one.”

The entire Celtic world worshipped Brighid. She was Brigantia in Britain, the patron goddess of the tribe of the Brigantines in northern England and of the Brigindo in eastern France, Stepanich says. The Celts continued to worship her in Christian times as St. Ffaid in Wales, St. Bride in Scotland and St. Bridget or Bride in Ireland. St. Bridget was said to be the midwife and foster mother of Christ, the helper and friend of Mary.

Making Bride’s Bed

Long before she befriended the Mother of God, Brighid was the Mother herself, her agricultural roots going back to the Neolithic. Campanelli describes an Imbolc ritual for creating Bride’s bed, drawn from ancient rituals in which harvesters at the Autumn Equinox would bring the last sheaf of wheat or other grain into the house, believing the Goddess of the Grain lived within. The harvesters often made this last sheaf into a woman’s shape, the Corn Bride or Maiden, dressing her in white.

If you have autumn harvest left, say a sheaf of Indian corn, as part of your Imbolc ritual you can create a Bride’s bed. Dress her in white and decorate her as you like, then place her in a basket or on a square of white cloth. Across her, lay a priapic wand – an acorn-tipped wand of oak – twined with ribbon, so that wand and bride form an X. Then place lit candles to either side, and chant to her something like, “Blessed be the Corn Bride! Blessed be the Great Mother!” At the height of the chant, extinguish the candles. Then, at sunrise the next morning, place the bride without her dress on your front door. There she forms an amulet of prosperity, fertility and protection, which can remain till after Samhain. Campanelli suggests you return her to earth before Yule, perhaps scattering her in the fields for birds.

Brighid the Midwife

Brighid is midwife as well as harvest mother. As late as 100 years ago in the west Scottish Highlands, the Matthewses write, the midwife traditionally blessed a newborn with fire and water in Brighid’s name. She passed the child across the fire three times, carried the baby around the fire three times deosil, then performed “the midwife’s baptism” with water, saying:

A small wave for your form

A small wave for your voice

A small wave for your speech

A small wave for your means

A small wave for your generosity

A small wave for your appetite

A small wave for your wealth

A small wave for your life

A small wave for your health

Nine waves of grace upon you,

Waves of the Giver of Health.

Brighid also protects and heals adults. She is a goddess of healing wells and streams; in her honor, Bridewell is one of the two most common well-names in Ireland, the other being St. Anne’s Well, remembering Anu, or Dana, the mother of the gods – a goddess sometimes conflated with Brighid. With Aengus Og, Brighid performs the role of soul-guardian, wrapping worshippers in her mantle of protection.

Making a “caim”

To protect themselves in Brighid’s name, the traditional Irish would recite a “caim,” the Matthewses write; “caim” means “loop” or “bend,” thus a protective circle. A caim would always name Brighid and the beings, household or body-parts to be protected.

Traditionally, you place a caim by stretching out your right forefinger and keeping that finger pointed toward the subject while walking about the subject deosil, reciting the caim. You can also say a caim for yourself. A caim can be made in all seasons and circumstances; it traditionally encircles people, houses, animals or the household fire. The Matthewses write:

“As her family prepared to sleep, the Gaelic mother would breathe these words (the caim) over the fire as she banked it in for the night…. As she said this, she would spread the embers into a circle, and divide it into three equal heaps with a central heap. To make the holy name of the foster mother (Brighid), she placed three turfs of peat between the three heaps, each one touching the center, and covered it all with ash. Such smooring customs and invocations are still performed in the West of Ireland. And so the protection of Brighid is wrapped about the house and its occupants.”

Augury in Brighid’s Name

Brighid is also a seer; the Matthewses describe her as “the central figure of the Celtic vision world.” She presided over a special type of augury, called a “frith,” performed on the first Monday in a year’s quarter to predict what that quarter would bring. The ancient Celts divided the year by Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasad, and Samhain, so the first Monday after Imbolc is appropriate for frithing.

To perform a frith, a traditional frithir would first fast. Then, at sunrise, barefoot and bareheaded, the frithir would say prayers to the Virgin Mary and St. Bridget and walk deosil around the household fire three times. Then with closed or blindfolded eyes, the frithir went to the house door’s threshold, placed a hand on either jamb and said additional prayers asking that the specific question about the coming quarter be answered. Then the frithir opened his or her eyes and looked steadfastly ahead, noting everything seen.

Frithing signs can be “rathadach” (lucky) or “rosadach” (unlucky). A man or beast getting up means improving health, lying down ill health or death. A cock coming toward the frithir brings luck, a duck safety for sailors, a raven death. About the significance of horses, a rhyme survives: “A white horse for land, a gray horse for sea, a bay horse for burial, a brown horse for sorrow.” The role of frithir passed down from generation to generation; according to the Matthewses, the name survives in the surname Freer, “held to be the title of the astrologers of the kings of Scotland.”

To perform a pagan version of frithing, fast the Sunday night before the first Monday after Imbolc and that night formulate your chief question about the coming three months. Monday morning at sunrise, say a prayer to Brighid and barefoot and bareheaded walk deosil around whatever seems the central fire of your house – maybe your kitchen stove, or if you’re not a cook your fireplace or heater. Then go to your doorway, put your hands to either side, and closing your eyes pray your question be answered. Then open your eyes, and note the first action you see. That action probably won’t be found in the traditional frithir’s lexicon, so the interpretation is up to you.

In another frithing technique, you curl the palms to form a “seeing-tube”; frithirs used such a tube to discover lost people or animals and to divine the health of someone absent. Frithirs also sometimes used divinatory stones; the Matthewses describe a “little stone of the quests” made of red quartz.

Imbolc Spells and Workings

Whether or not you try frithing, Imbolc is good for psychic work: still the dark time of the year, but looking toward spring. It’s also a good time to make your space hospitable for such work, banishing old energy to clear the way for new. Traditionally, witches purify themselves and their space at Imbolc. Any kind of cleansing or banishing will do, but consider ones that include fire and water, sacred to Brighid. Once purified, you’re ready to go further; at Imbolc, covens initiate new witches.

The spark of summer dances in the future now; Imbolc is a good time to seek inspiration, especially for healers and smiths of words or metal. To do so, try the following spell.

Bring to your ritual space a cauldron or chalice filled with earth or sand; a white, silver, green, purple or rainbow-colored candle; a candleholder; oil to anoint the candle; paper; and a pen you like or with appropriately colored ink. Ground and center, cast a circle and ask for Brighid’s presence. Then anoint your candle in Brighid’s name, and lighting it write on the paper the aspects of your work in which you want inspiration. When you’re done, raise energy and put it into the paper, then light the paper with the candle flame. Drop the burning paper into the cauldron, making sure the entire paper is blackened. Then thank Brighid and bid her farewell, and take down your circle.

The next day, relight the candle and by its light rub some significant tools of your work with the ashes. Then either sprinkle the remaining ashes onto your garden or houseplants or drop them in a park in a place that feels inspiring or pleasant.

Imbolc is a white time, burning with inspiration and protection, cool with healing and purification. Prophesy flares, painting luster on the dark. Light your candle, call on Brighid, and know that under the snow the seeds of spring stir.