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Goddess Envy:  Goddess Envy has been a shared conceptual dream of Amethyst and Dragon’s for many years even before they met.   It took the two souls finding each other to make it a reality.  Both people have thrown much of themselves and their beliefs into it.  Our number one goal is to educate.  So many pagans still feel the persecution of their beilefs.  In a world where equal rights is on the forefront of many political and social topics religion should be included. We hope to bring nature back to the suburbs with a brick and mortar store in Aurora within a few years.    
Amethyst:  I came into the pagan path as a sophomore in high school.  I have since delved deeply into my own spiritual path and education.  I completed most of a year and a day program with Colorado’s Collage of Wicca and Old Lore.  I realized that I needed more solitary teachings and broke away before finishing.  I have lived a magical life for many years now as a solitary practitioner.  Growing up in Aurora, CO I -like many of my fellow practiononers - have had to travel into the heart of Denver to find the supplies and knowledge that I needed.  The thought of a store closer to home has been a dream for a long time.  I have felt a calling for Goddess Envy for a number of years and through the aid of my husband have finally been able to make it a reality.  
Dragon: 
Goddess Envy:  Goddess Envy has been a shared conceptual dream of Amethyst and Dragon’s for many years even before they met.   It took the two souls finding each other to make it a reality.  Both people have thrown much of themselves and their beliefs into it.  Our number one goal is to educate.  So many pagans still feel the persecution of their beilefs.  In a world where equal rights is on the forefront of many political and social topics religion should be included. We hope to bring nature back to the suburbs with a brick and mortar store in Aurora within a few years.    
Amethyst:  I came into the pagan path as a sophomore in high school.  I have since delved deeply into my own spiritual path and education.  I completed most of a year and a day program with Colorado’s Collage of Wicca and Old Lore.  I realized that I needed more solitary teachings and broke away before finishing.  I have lived a magical life for many years now as a solitary practitioner.  Growing up in Aurora, CO I -like many of my fellow practiononers - have had to travel into the heart of Denver to find the supplies and knowledge that I needed.  The thought of a store closer to home has been a dream for a long time.  I have felt a calling for Goddess Envy for a number of years and through the aid of my husband have finally been able to make it a reality.  
Dragon: 

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God/Goddess of the Month

Kamadeva - 

The God Kamadev or Kamadeva has been said to be the Hindu version of Cupid.  He is the Hindu God of love, passion and sensual desire.  Though there are little references through Hindu art or history, he is an integral part of the pantheon.  Kamadeva is said to be the son of Creator Brahma. 

Kamadeva is pictured as a handsome young man.  He often has a green or sometimes red complexion.  He rides on the back of a parrot and carries with him a bow and arrow.  The bow is made from sugar cane while the string is made of humming honey bees.  His arrows are made from sacred fragrant flowers- the Asoka tree flowers, the lotus, the blue lily, the jasmine and the mango flowers.  Much like Cupid or Eros a shot from his arrow will bring love to his target.  Kamadeva is often accompanied with his close friend Vasanta (the embodiment of sprint) and his wife Rati (the embodiment of passion and goddess of love, carnal desire, lust and sexual plesure).  Sometimes he is said to travel with the celestial musicians, singers and dancers. 

Kama was destroyed by Shiva and eventually granted a new existence.  When Lord Shiva’s consort Sati was killed, Shiva was distraught.  He went into a deep mediation.  His lack of presence caused the world to despair.  Sati was reborn a Pavarti and wished to wed Shiva.   She tried everything to win his attentions but his meditation prevented him from having any interest in her.  She spoke with Kamadeva and begged him to help her.  He agreed and shot Lord Shiva with one of his arrows.  Lord Shiva was enraged by the interruption.  He opened his third eye and burned Kamadeva to ash.  Covering himself in it to show his defeat over desire.  The arrow had done its job however.  Shiva fell in love with Pavarti and they were wed.  While the world was without Kamadeva – it was without love or marriage and it became barren.  Rati and Pavarti begged Shiva to return Kamadiva to the world.  He allowed Kama to be born to Krishna as Pradyumna.

As Pradyumna he was stolen from his infant bed by the demon, Sambara,and cast into the sea.  In the sea he was swallowed by a great fish.  This fish was caught and brought back to the home of the Sambara.  Sambara’s wife Mayadevi saw the child come forth from the belly of the fish.  She was informed by Narada, a Vedic sage, of the child’s identity and parentage. Mayadevi loved him and reared him as her son.  As he entered into adolescence and became quite stunning her motherly loved turned to that of a lover.  He asked her about it and she informed him that he was not her true son.  She told him of his abduction by Sambara.  Made furious by the tale, Pradyumna killed Sambara and married Mayadevi.  He then ascended back to Krishna’s house where he was reunited with his true mother Rukmini.  It was here that we also learn that Mayadevi was actually Rati who had been foretold of Pradyumna’s coming to Sambara’s house.  Thus Kama’s story came full circle and he was reunited with his wife.    

Kamadeva is often worshipped at Weddings, and child births.  He also has a subtle role in the Hindu festival Holi.  During Holi, Kama’s sacrifice to Shiva’s flame is recognized.  The legends celebrated at Holi vary, however some believe that the bonfires lit during the festival is in remembrance of Kamadeva.  People also make a salve/paste to apply to soothe his burns. 

Kamadeva has a small yet integral role in the Hindu pantheon.  He is responsible for the world’s love.  Together with his wife, they give us sensual desire and sexual pleasure along with our loving and mindful marriages.  This February while you are out celebrating your love with your partner, remember to thank Kamadeva for his influence in your life.  If you have no one in your life currently, perhaps make an offering to him and ask that he find the right person to hit with his arrow and send your way.  

Isis- 

 Isis is the Egyptian Goddess of the moon, love, motherhood, marriage, childbirth, life/ creation, rebirth, and magic.  She is one of the most widely worshipped goddesses of the world.  At one point her worship reached even Greece and Rome.   Isis has many myths and legends associated with her that gives her a long and often complicated record.

Isis is part of the Ennead – the original 9 gods/goddesses of Egyptian mythology.  Isis is the daughter of Geb (the Earth Father) and Nut (the Sky Mother).  Her siblings include Osiris, Set, and Nephthys- and in some myths the Elder Horus.  She is the mother of the younger Horus with Osiris, and step-mother to Anubus (from Osiris and Nephthys).   Her original name is Aset or Ast meaning Queen of Throne.   Here is where things get a little confusing.  Sometimes she is said to be the same as Hathor – wife of Ra- and mother to Elder Horus.  Sometimes because of the overlapping, Ra, and Horus (both elder and younger) who are both sun gods,  are made to be the same entity. 

Isis is depicted as wearing a headdress with a small throne on top.  This is often the only way to tell her apart from her sister (Nephthys- who wears a pillar above her head), or Maat (who wears a feather above her head), or Hathor (who wears a small falcon above her head.   Isis is also often depicted wearing a headdress of cow horns with a sun disc between.  Maat and Hathor also often wear similar head dresses and make it difficult to distinguish who is depicted unless there is a hieroglyph nearby.  Finally, Isis is also depicted with long beautiful wings that she uses to shelter her people. Once again Maat, and Nephthys are frequently depicted similarly – look for the item above their head to distinguish between the women.   Sometimes Isis is depicted with a cow’s head (this is another way she gets confused with Hathor).

Isis married her brother Osiris the king of pharos.  She ruled with him and spent much time with her people. She taught them the grind corn, spin flax and to weave cloth.  She also taught her people the arts of reading and medicine and even how to tame men and maintain a happy marriage. 

Isis myths are extensive and varied because of the depth of her worship. 

Isis created the cobra to bite and poison Ra (some stories say the serpent chased Ra across the sky during the days).  She told Ra that she would give him the antidote (which included a drop of Ra’s blood) if he would tell her his secret name.  He gave her the drop of blood and his name.  She healed him but along with all of his payment he gave her a bit of his power.  She became the goddess of magic and healing from this myth. 

Hathor requested that Set be punished.   She asked Isis to kill her brother Set, but Isis refused.  In retaliation Hathor cut off Isis’ head and caused a cow’s head to grow in its place.  Cows were sacred to Hathor and she often took the form of a cow.  This can be seen as the cause of much confusion between the two goddesses. 

Set (Isis’ brother) was jealous of her husband Osiris and his power and status.  Set killed Osiris and lock him in a box and hidden it in a sacred tree.  Isis cried heavily for her loss (enough to fill and flood the Nile River).  Her Step-son Anubus helped Isis find Osiris’s body.  Set learned of this and snuck into the area where Isis had stored the body for resurrection.  Set cut Osiris into many pieces and threw them into the Nile River.  Isis collected all of the pieces (other than the penis – which the fish had eaten).  She put all the pieces back together forming a new penis from wood, and worked her magic to bring him back to life.  While she was healing him she was able to use his essence to become pregnant with the younger Horus.  Once he was resurrected Osiris moved to rule over the underworld with his Son Anubis.   Isis hid Horus from Set to keep him safe as he grew to eventually become the Sun God. 

During her search for Osiris , Isis met the Queen Astarte who- not recognizing the Goddess-  hired her to be nursemaid to the prince.  Isis grew very fond of the boy and vowed to make him immortal.  She would spend time each night holding the boy in sacred flames, literally burning the mortality out of him.  On one such night Astarte came upon them was horrified she snatched the child away from this nursemaid.  This act undid the magic that Isis had been working.  It was then that she revealed her identity to Astarte and told her of her plight and search to find Osiris.  The silver lining is that Astarte heard her story and realized she knew where Set had hidden Osiris’ body and was able to tell Isis where to look. 

Isis  has many temples throughout Egypt.  It may surprise to see that she also has many temples through the Greek and Roman Empires.  Her temple in Pompeii was one of the first to be unearthed upon Pompeii’s discovery.  Isis represents the “ideal woman” to many cultures.  Her loyalty to her husband and her knowledge of house hold arts as well as her caring for her children and subjects has made her one of the strongest symbols of femininity throughout time.  Many of her attributes can be seen in the leading women of other religions- including Mary of Christianity.  We even see Isis depicted holding Horus and nursing him in the same manner as the Madonna and Child. 

What does the Goddess Isis mean to Muslims and terrorism?  Absolutely nothing!   “ISIS” is an abbreviation or acronym for The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  ISIL was coined to mean “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (Levant is a term encompassing Libya and Syria).  More recently and with continued terror attacks the French began referring to the group as Daesh.  This is also a bit of an acronym for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham “.   Loosely translated it is Arabic for  ‘to trample down and crush’ or  ‘a bigot who imposes his view on others.’   Many nations have turned to referring the terror group by this name in an attempt to take power away from them and make them less appealing to the young, lost, and begrudged.  The Great mother Astet never had anything to do with all the terror or hatred of women or western principles perpetrated by this group.  May Astet forever look over her children in Syria and keep them safe from hatred fanaticism. 

Thank you to https://newrepublic.com/minutes/123909/world-leaders-have-taken-to-calling-isis-daesh-a-word-the-islamic-state-hates and Zeba Khan for helping us to educate the world on the differences between such a great lady and a Terror Group.  

Februus-   

Februus is the Etruscan god of purification.  He was assimilated into the Roman pantheon and eventually made one with Pluto – god of the underworld.  He was also assimilated with Juno who loved February.  Thus Februus was known as god of purification, as well as money, death, love and fertility. 

The Roman calendar ended with February.  At the end of this time we are looking ahead at the spring and new life.  Thus it is the perfect time to honor the god of purification with a little “spring cleaning”.  At this time we are also honoring all that new life that we anticipate to start poking through the earth at any time.  We are anticipating our fortune and prosperity for the next year.

The Romans often held a large celebration of love and fertility to the god Lupercus in mid February.  As part of the festivities the Luperci would run through town with strips of freshly sacrificed goat skin (Februa or Februm) and touch people with it.  This was an act of purification for the men and purification and fertile blessings for women.    As a large part of this celebration was fertility, men would draw names of unwed women for whom they would be a couple with until the next Lulercalia.  This all brought about many of the lovers traditions with St. Valentines day . 

Februus was originally separate from the God Pluto.  As Februus shared many traits with the Roman God of the underworld (especially his residence); when Rome took control the two gods eventually became one.  The blending with Pluto is what made Februus a god of death and money along with his original purification role.  Although the god was eventually renamed for Pluto, the month February kept the original name. 

Pluto was not the only deity to assimilate a part of Februus.  Some will tell you that Februus was an aspect of the goddess Juno, who loved the month February.  Many of the aspects of purification and love are laid at the feet of Juno Februata.  It is said that it was in her honor that the Luperci honored women in February. 

Modern activities are still rich with honor to Februus.  Valentines day traditions, although named after a Catholic Saint, honor both Febuus and Lepercus.  Groundhogs day is a day of divination looking forward to what is to come with the spring.   Of course the tradition of purifying ones home as the spring comes is a heavy honor to Februus.  

Benten-

 Benten is the Japanese Goddess of Luck and good fortune, but also of literature, art, love, and beauty.  She is patroness to the Geisha who partake in the arts.  She is Protectress of children.  Benten was originally the Hindu goddess Sarasvti.  When she joined the Japanese Buddhist pantheon she was one of the protectors of the islands.  She has become one of the most popular deities and her shrines and temples are among the most numerous in Japan.  Her shrines are almost always located near a body of water (lake, pond, or river). 

Benten is a water goddess.  She is often seen as Queen of the Sea.  In this form she is a large Sea Dragon that travels around the islands.  She mates with the serpents that thrash around beneath the islands.  In this way she protects her people from earthquakes.  Benten descended to Earth in order to stop a terrible Dragon on the island of Enoshima from eating children.  She married him and ended his taste for human flesh.  As goddess of Dragons and the like (lizards and snakes) she used snakes as her messengers.  Even today, it is said that if you see or come across a white snake, this is very lucky. 

Benten steers the New Year’s Treasure Ship.  It is said that if you place a small ship under your pillow on New Years, Benten will bring you prosperity and financial growth in the coming year.  She is the only female of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese culture.  Women especially pray to Benten to bring the fortune and prosperity. 

Benten is a beautiful woman who is depicted as riding a large golden dragon (her husband).  She often has eight arms (carry over from her Hindu associations).  In these arms she is holding a sword or axe, a Bow and arrow, a jewel (pear or jade depending on the source), a wheel (of the year) and a key.  She is always playing a biwa (a Japanese stringed instrument similar to a lute).  She is the mother of 16 other deities, symbolic of the Buddhist deities.  15 Princes and 1 princess went forth from her to populate the world.  Many of her children hold names very similar to Japanese cities.  

Babba Yaga 

Baba Yaga is perhaps one of the best-known goddesses that no one knows.    Many Russian and Eastern European children grew up with threats that Baba Yaga would come and eat them.   She is the key character of many folktales; some of which she is a kind old woman, others she is a wicked hag.  She has even been deemed Ogress, Devil, Witch and the Grandmother of Satan.   “Baba” means Grandmother in Russian. 

Baba Yaga is a skeletal hag with a bent nose.  She lives in the deepest parts of the forest.  She makes her home in a hut whose door only reveals itself if asked in the right manner. The hut itself moves about the forest on a pair of chicken legs.  The windows act as eyes, the locks are full of teeth, and the hut makes blood-curdling screeches.  Her home is surrounded by a picket fence of human bones topped with skulls that light the forest with their eyes.  Baba Yaga travels through the air in a giant mortar using the accompanying pestle as a rudder, and sweeps away her trail with her broom made of silver birch.  

Baba Yaga guards The Waters of Life and Death.   She is the White Lady of Death and Rebirth, or The Ancient Goddess of Old Bones.  In all of these roles she helps us let go of things we cling to - symbolizing the death of ignorance- and washes us with renewed life.  She destroys and then she resurrects.   She forces us to see our darkest selves, and then grants us a deep wisdom that we can attain only by accepting the dark shadows within ourselves.

Baba Yaga rules over the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  She has three servants she calls her “Bright Dawn”, “Red Sun”, and “Dark Midnight”.  These are horsemen that represent daybreak, midday, and nightfall.  The White knight (Bright Dawn) represents purification after darkness, the Red knight (Red Sun) is the solar power and vital life force, and the Black knight (Dark midnight) represents the dissolution of personality.  Each knight takes a stage in personal transformation. 

Baba Yaga’s association with death and personal transformation leads her to be feared in many ways.  People who enter her hut rarely come back out.    With the wisdom she offers, her price is high.  She even has a bit of a reputation for eating children.  There is a theory that her aged appearance comes from aging a year for every question she is asked.    She can however, make herself appear young and beautiful. 

 Baba Yaga’s themes are the harvest, rest and thankfulness.  She is drawn to cycles.  Her symbols are corn sheaf’s, wreaths of wheat and wild flowers.  To honor her:  eat meals of multigrain breads or grainy cereals, and feast on newly harvested foods.  Make sure to thank her.  She is the Goddess to look to at times of loss, depression, and spiritual emptiness when you seek to change.   Be careful for she is rarely gentle with her wisdom and you must be prepared to face yourself – not often an easy task.   

Amaterasu :

Amaterasu Omikami  ‘the great divinity illuminating heaven’ is said to be the Japanese Goddess of the Sun.    Amaterasu taught her people to grow rice and wheat.  She taught them to cultivate silk worms and to weave.  Some say she wove the cloth of the universe.   She was born of the tears from the left eye of Izanagi as he wept in morning of his wife. Amaterasu is a Kami goddess.  In Ancient Japanese believes there are “countless” or “8 Million”(to represent an uncountable number) Kami.  The Kami are divided into two categories.  One category relates to natural phenomena that both serve or punish humans.  The second are ancestral spirits called UjiKami.  These clan deities can help individuals in the present time. 

Amaterasu had two brothers. One was Tsuki-yomi the god of the Moon born of the tears from Izanagi’s right eye.  Her other bother, born when Izanagi washed his nose, was Susanoo-wo, god of storms. Out of jealousy of Amaterasu, Susanoo-wo offended Izanagi and was ordered away.  Under the guise of saying goodbye to Amaterasu, he suggested a contest to see who was more powerful.  The contest would consist of creating gods – he or she whom created the most would win. 

Amaterasu broke her brother’s sword into three pieces and after eating it, spit out three goddesses.  Susanoo-Wo took the beads that Izanagi had given to Amaterasu and cracked them with his teeth.  From this five Gods appeared.  He thought he had won until Amaterasu told him that the five gods had come from her beads where only three goddesses had come from his sword.  Susanoo-wo was so outraged that he flooded the Rice fields and even defecated in the rice temple.  He hurled a pony that he had killed into the sacred weaving hall of Amaterasu- severely scaring her maidens and killing one maiden.   

Amaterasu ran from Susanoo-wo’s rage and offence to a cave.  Her loss meant the loss of light and she left the earth in darkness.  Despite much pleading, she refused to come out.  Finally in desperation the other gods decided to trick her to come out.  They staged a grand party outside her cave.  The goddess Uzeme danced so comically she made the others laugh very hard.  There were so many other gods that Amaterasu could not help but hear the laughter.  She came to the mouth of the cave to investigate.  She saw her reflection in a mirror that had been placed there.  She was told that the goddess was to be her replacement.  She was so enthralled by the beauty she saw, that it drew her out of the cave.  Tajikara quickly blocked the entrance to her cave so she could not go back in. 

She eventually asked her son, Ama-No-Oshiho-Mimi to rule the earth.  When he turned her down, she sent her Grandson, Ningi-No-Mikoto.  Japanese emperors trace their lineage and ancestry back directly to Ningi Amaterasu. 

This summer as we feel the heat (90’s all week in CO!) remember to honor the beauty of Amaterasu for she will only be with us in abundance for a few more months before it is time to rest.  Don’t forget your sunscreen to protect your skin and your sunglasses to keep your eyes healthy.  Get out and enjoy! 

SOL

Sol is the Norse Goddess of the Sun.  In Northern traditions the Sun is female and the Moon male.  She was born on earth with her brother.  They were such beautiful children that their father, Mundilfari, named them after the sun (Sol) and the moon (Mani).  Some versions of her story say that the Gods were offended by the arrogance of their father and took Sol and Mani to the heavens.  They were each charged with the task of taking the sun or moon across the sky. 

Sol carries the sun on her chariot pulled by two horses Allsvinn (“Very Fast”, “All Swift”,) and Arvak (“Early Rising”).  Some say they carry an amulet made by Odin above their shoulders that protects them from the heat of the sun.  Others say they carry a bag full of wind between them for the same purpose.  She is perused across the sky by the wolf Skoll.  Skoll is the offspring of the giantess Angrboda.  It is foretold that at Ragnarok she will be caught and devoured by the Wolf.  Occasionally Skoll gets close enough to take a bite of the Sun or the Moon (causing an eclipse).  Some say that at these times, the Wolf has actually captured here- at which time the villagers make a great racket.  The noise scares the Wolf and he releases her. 

Sol is sometimes referred to as Sunna.  Some stories, however, say that Sunna is Sol’s Daughter that she will bare moments before she is devoured by Skoll at Ragnarok.  Sunna will take over for Sol in the new world.  In the role of Sunna she is also a healer.    

Sol rules over the Sun, Cycles, Healing, Movement and Travel.  She gives us Energy, Time Management, Enthusiasm and Motivation.  Her colors are gold, red and green.  She loves and honors all horses.  Her stones are the Sunstone, Orange Quartz, Citrine, and Amber. 

To honor Sol spend time honoring the sun.  Do outdoor activities, include spending time with horses, and offer your help to environmental groups – especially those dealing with climate changes.  Wear yellow or orange for an outing.  

Maia- 

Maia is actually considered two different goddesses in Greek and Roman mythology.  Over time they merged and became one in the same.  Greek Maia is the eldest daughter of Titan Atlas and Nymph Pleione.  She was shy, yet very beautiful.  She has six sisters that share the constellation Pleiades.  She lived in a cave in Mount Cyllene.  It was here that Zeus, having fallen in love with her, visited her while Hera slept.  With Zeus she bore Hermes.  Later Zeus would bid her to raise Arcas (born of Callisto) after a jealous Hera killed his mother.   

Roman Goddess Maia is the daughter of Faunus and goddess of springtime, warmth and increase..  She causes plants to grow with her gentle heat.  Her name means “She who is Great”.  She is sometimes cast as the wife of Vulcan (Hephaestus).  Paired with him because they are both deities of heat, her bringing the spring flowers and new growth, where his is stronger and brings fruit to ripeness.  It is from this Roman Maia that the month of May gets its name.  She is honored in some cultures on May 1st or others on May 15th.   Farmers are cautioned not to sow grain before the time of her setting or conjunction with the sun.  As it happens, the month of May is when this conjunction happens. 

Over time both goddesses became the Goddess of Spring, gentle warmth, wisdom and midwifery.  She is sometimes known as the Mother (or Grandmother) of magic due to Hermes being the first to master the art or to invent it.  Her themes are sexual prowess, playfulness and wishes.  Many people braid their wishes in ribbons and let the winds of May take them to Maia and make them come true.  She is the queen of flowers and her festivals are celebrated with an abundance of fresh blooms and blossoms. 

We even find Maia in other faiths.  In Sanskrit – the term Maya is the illusion we see as the material world and Avidya is what makes the illusion possible.  Although this associates her with non-wisdom she is mostly seen linked with great beings of wisdom.  Maya was the name of the mother of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, the incarnation of wisdom.   In Greek mythology Hermes, her son, is not just the trickster and the messenger but he is also the God of Wisdom. 

The Pleiads became a constellation at the behest of Zeus.  It had happened that the great hunter Orion had happened upon them one day as they walked among the Boeotian countryside.  He chased them for 7 years until they begged Zeus for deliverance.  Zeus turned them into birds and set them among the stars.  After Orion died- he joined them among the stars and can be found not far away – just on the other side of Taurus. 

As a side note on Hermes- even before he was born he liked to play tricks.  He stole several of the cattle tended by Apollo.  Apollo went to Maia’s cave to demand his cattle back.  She showed him the newborn babe swaddled in his blankets and said there was no way that such a child could have stolen cattle.  Apollo was not fooled and took the matter to Olympus to present for judgment.  During the trial Hermes played a lyre for Apollo.  He played so well that Apollo wept and dropped the charges.  He even gave some of the cattle, as well as other gifts, to the child Hermes.  

Venus 

Venus is the Roman goddess of love and beauty, sex and fertility.  She started out as a goddess of vegetation and patron of gardens.  Later she was associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite.   There are two versions on her parentage.  One theory is that she is the daughter of Jupiter (Zeus) and Dione (a Titan).  Another version of her origin is that she was born from the ocean fully formed as a result of the castration of Saturn (Cronus) by Uranus.  As his genitals were thrown in to the water, a great foam formed and Venus emerges. 

Venus is punished for her vanity and pride when she scorns the other goddesses and is given to Vulcan (Hephaestus) as a bride.  Although she is married, she is far from faithful.  Being the goddess of love and beauty, she has many lovers.  One such lover was Mars (Ares).   With Mars she had several children.  Two of which were Timor (Phobos -fear) and his twin Metus (Deimos - terror) whom go with Mars in to battle, as well as Concordia (Harmonia) and Eros (Cupid).  Vulcan suspected their affair and made a special net to catch them.  Vulcan brought the lovers before other gods where they all were laughed at.  Eventually she was granted a divorce form Vulcan.  Venus was also a known lover of Hermes.  She also frequently took to loving mortals – including Adonis.  Proserpina (Persephone) was also in love with Adonis, and she kidnapped him (ironic considering her own story) .  One of the Graces ordered Adonis to spend time with Proserpina for 1/3 of the year and 1/3 of the year with Venus and the final 1/3 of the year with whom he chose.  He always chose Venus, until his death, wich was suspected to be at the hands of Mars.  Venus was also the lover of Anchesis and with him had Aeneas.  Aeneas was fated to found Rome with the guidance of his mother

April is a sacred day for her with a festival being held on the First.  Apples are sacred to Venus as well as snakes, doves, swans and swallows.  Other plant correspondences are heather, fern, sandalwood and benzoin, aloe, and rose. 

With the Earth coming alive in April- Venus opens herself to the sun.  The earth awakens and becomes alive with new growth.  Welcome her and feel your own beauty , sexuality and power.  

Renpet

  Renpet is the Egyptian goddess of spring and beauty.  She is a lesser goddess with no major cult so there is very little information on her.  She was worshipped in Memphis and Crocodilopolis.  She was often considered an aspect of Isis, although in her most well known image, she is carved separately from Isis.  She always appeared as a young woman, with a young palm shoot in her hair. 

It is her association with spring and new growth that links her to the palm frond.  The shoot she wears is young and un-notched.  Notched palm fronds represented a year for each notch.  They are seen in many Egyptian works. 

Renpet was powerful in calculation and record keeping (much like Seshat- who also wears a palm frond).   Egyptians saw the palm frond as a representation of time with the notches in the shoot representing years. The palm shoot is the hieroglyph for the word “year”.  It often appears at the beginning of the phrase recording the year of the pharaoh.  Renpet appears at the doorways to many tombs.  Her best known image is in the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, where she stands in front of a seated Osiris.  Ma’at stands behind her and Isis stands behind Osiris. 

It is possible that she and several other goddesses are one and the same.  This occurrence is common among many of the ancient religions.  Renpet may be the same yet different from Seshat, Hauet, and even Isis.  Seshat is also a young woman that wears a palm frond.  She is the goddess of writing and measurements.  Her frond is older and is open with 7 points upon it.  It is said that she gives the years to the pharaohs to live and rule (much like Isis).  Heh is one of the original gods of the Odgoad.  He represents eternity or infinity.  He can be Heh (male with a frog’s head) or Hauet (female with a snakes head).  Heh is often depicted holding two notched palm shoots representing eternity or time infinite.   Renpet is often referred to as the Mistress of Eternity.  This could mean that she is the keeper of years or this could be that she was the younger lover of Heh, whose name means Eternity.  

Hsi-Ho (Xi He, or Xi Hou)

In most stories Hsi-Ho is a sun goddess.  She is the mother of ten suns- one for each day in a 10 day cycle- that take the form of red, three-legged crows. She is co-consort to Di Jun (Emperor/god of the Eastern sky) with Chang-Xi, mother of the 12 moons.  Each day His-ho bathes her ten sons in the sacred lake and selects one to be the sun for the day.  She places the chosen son in a chariot pulled by dragons that she drives across the sky.  Some stories have them all living in the Valley of Light in the giant mulberry tree, Fu Sang.  Others stories say she would travel to the lake in the Valley of Light each day, and place her sons in Fu Sang after they were bathed.  

Due to her role in choosing a sun for the day, she is also the creator of the 10 day week calendar (no longer used).  Symbols and correspondences are: Gold- especially golden dragons, sunlight, Water buffalo and the Bear (both representing Spring).  Activities are divination.   

A common story associated with her is the story of Yi Ho.  He was the best marksman of Di Jun and lived in the tree with his wife Chang Ngo.  One day the ten suns became bored with the same routine and instead of one sun all ten went at the same time.  This caused a great spike in temperature.  The climate change caused a great drought and crops to fail and people to die.   In desperation the Emperor prayed to Di Jun for help and to get his children under control.  Di Jun sent Yi Ho to do the job, but did not expect the results.  Yi was given a bow and special arrows.  With them, he shot down 9 of the suns, killing them, and leaving only one son to travel the sky every day.  Di Jun was very upset at the death of his children.  He told Yi that he was not allowed back into the Heavens and doomed him to live on earth as a mortal.  

As we all know, more than just Christianity has long been deeply entwined with politics.  For many cultures, the “truth” of a religion or myth all depends on who is in power at the time.  This is also true for Chinese cultures.  Mix in the fact that Chinese culture is as ancient and aged as it is, and you have the ingredients for a long and confusing myth base.  Some stories say that Hsi Ho is a human male astronomer.  He is given the duty of watching the calendar.  Other stories say that Hsi and Ho are two male astronomers in charge of the calendar.  It is said that they were put to death when they did not foresee an eclipse in the form of a Dragon trying to eat the sun.  

Yamaya

January 1st has long been looked at as a time for new beginnings. The Calendar turns over and we have a chance to make some changes. This is where the idea of New Year’s resolutions comes from. The New Year can also be a time of thanks for all the blessings bestowed over the last year and all the good tidings to come. Take a trip to Rio de Janeiro at the end of December and you may get the Festa de Iemanjá. This is a festival to honor the ocean Goddess, Yemaya. 

 Yemaya is an Orisha. The Orisha started in West Africa and moved across the middle passage as the slaves were transported to the new world. The Yoruban religion survived the trip by being disguised among the Christian and Catholic masters by making many of the Orisha into Saints. The Yoruban influence/religion can be seen in Santeria (Puerto Rico), Candomble (Brazil), Shango (Trinidad), Voodun (Haiti) and Lucumi (Cuba).

 Yemaya started as a river goddess in West Africa; like her sister, Oshun, she followed her people as they were transported as slaves, becoming the Goddess of the Upper Ocean.   She shares the Ocean with Olokun who rules over the deep ocean.   Oya is her niece (daughter to Oshun) and rules over the winds.  Yemaya, Oshun and Oya form a triumvirate of power often seen with mother goddesses and are sometimes seen as one goddess. 

 Yemaya had been raped by her son, and in her anger, placed a curse of death on him. In her despair, (she is an emotional goddess – born to the sign of cancer) she wished for her own death.   She blocked herself up in a mountain and waited to die.   In her death she gave birth to the other 14 Orisha.   As her water broke, it flushed over the earth and formed the 7 seas.   She also gave birth to the first man and woman.   Yemaya is the mother of all things.   As a gift to mankind she bestowed the seashell so they may always hear her voice. 

 Yemaya above all things loves children.  She watches over and protects them through birth and childhood until puberty.  She is often called upon for fertility and at the births of children.  She can often be found in birthing wards in hospitals. 

 Being an ocean goddess – she helps to manage changes in life.   Like the ebb and flow of water, she guides us through the worst times in our lives until we reach calmer water.   She shows us that we live in a world of constant change.   She also shows us our own strength to change things (water is one of the most powerful shapers of the world) that need to be transformed.   She helps to remove blockages to success when called upon.  

 Yemaya is a tremendous ally to those involved in ocean conservation providing protective and loving guardianship for sailors, scuba divers or any who venture out into the ocean and petition her protection and show honor and respect for the sea.   Call upon Yemaya to provide platforms for positive interactions with water spirits.

 As with all-powerful goddesses, Yemaya claims certain people. Yemaya's children tend to be strong willed, independent women who know what they want and how to get it.  They sincerely care for other people and can see different perspectives.   Yemaya's daughters are domestic and protective of their children.   Generally, they're calm and don't lose their tempers easily, but their temper is terrible when it erupts.    At times they can seem a little arrogant, but only because they take their role in life seriously.  They're maternal by nature and are devoted to their children, but friendship is sometimes difficult for them. They put their friends to the test, to see how loyal they are.   They're also easily offended by anyone who lacks proper respect toward them.   They never forget a slight, although they will forgive it.  They love luxury and beautiful surroundings, and money usually comes easily to them.  They are sensual, but in a quiet fashion.   Emotional well being is what's most important to them.   Yemaya's children are always fair, but they tend to go strictly by the book, doing what's expected.  They have a deep regard for social hierarchies, and like everyone, to know their place. 

Yemaya’s correspondences are the colors blue (bright/royal), white and mother of pearl, sliver (instead of gold like her sister), all sea creatures, Peacocks, 6 pointed stars, Cowrie shells, Sea shells – especially the kind you can listen to and hear the ocean (her voice), Pearls.  She is very classy and not over gaudy.  

Oshun

West African Yoruba deities are called Orishas.  There are hundreds of Orisha, with only about 12-15 being key in most practices.  During the African Diaspora - she followed her people to the Americas, Caribbean and Cuba.  Here we focus on the Orisha -Oshun.  Oshun is the Sister (some stories make her the daughter) to Yameya and Oya (some stories maker her Oya’s mother).  At one point she was the wife of Chango. 

Oshun is the goddess of love, maternity and marriage.  Oshun is the most beautiful of goddesses.  She represents sensuality, liveliness and health.   Oshun is the goddess of love and beauty.  She is often compared to Aphrodite and Venus, however instead of their vanity and sometimes cruelty, she is kind hearted and caring.  Oshun rules over fresh water and rivers, where her sister/mother Yamaya rules over the seas and Oceans, and her sister/daughter rules over wind and storms.  

Oshun has many stories.  In one she comes across Obatala who has been tricked and had had his cloths stolen.  While he is trapped in the river, she makes a deal to get his cloths back if he will teach her the magic of divination.  He agrees and she returns with his cloths.  Obatala holds to his end of the bargain and teaches Oshun divination with Cowry shells, which she teaches to her people. 

In another story, Yamaya has thrown a grand party in celebration of the Supreme Being.  She needs all the gods to be present for the sacrifice, but Oggun is missing.  He is god of iron, and war and is very solitary.  She sends for him but he refuses.  Angry- Yamaya threatens to go get him and force him to come.  Oshun offers to go in her stead and bring Oggun to the party.  She takes with her a jar of honey.  At first Oggun refuses to come.  She spreads honey (some say her lips taste of honey- perhaps this is the honey she spreads?) on his lips and his manner changes.  She sings to him and lures him to the party.  Oshun earns the respect of all the Gods for getting past Oggun violent personality to convince him to come with her. 

Oshun has a festival in Nigeria Osogbo that began in the early 18th century.  In the sacred grove of the river goddess Osun (for which the river was named) her people begin with a feast of sweet potatoes at dusk.  The celebration stretches on and drummers play for dancers.  The dancers dance in hopes of being chosen by Oshun to be one of her priestesses. 

Oshun loves all things shiny.  She is often associated with the gold that she loves so much.  Her number is 5.  She is often associated with birds – especially macaw parrots, peacocks and vultures.  She sometimes is depicted as a mermaid with a fish tail.  She oversees conception, pregnancy and childbirth leaving the rearing to her sister/mother Yamaya.  Her colors are orange, yellow and gold.  Honey, sunflowers, mirrors and citrus fruit are sacred to her.  She is depicted as a young beautiful and sensual woman. 

Even today Oshun is one of the most celebrated goddesses.   She brings out the best in her people; helping them to find their inner strength, love and sensuality.  She gives people something to live for and inspires them.  

Danu

In a society where myths and legends are told and retold but seldom written down, it can be difficult to find those same myths and legends millennia later.  Try looking into some of the older cultures’ gods and goddesses and the details can be tantamount to an impossible mission to locate.  Danu is one of those Goddesses.  The detailed information on the life and times of Danu are limited at best.    As a side note – remember that most ancient religions are vast and varied depending on geological region and even language.  The information that exists usually comes with a bit of debate – and often a book or epic poem that was finally taken to parchment that may (or may not) have gotten it.

Danu is an Irish goddess.  I say Irish as she was pre-Celtic.  She is the mother of all things, (think, Gaia).  She is the goddess of wind and water but has connections to all elements.    She was worshipped as the goddess of wisdom, luck, fertility and prosperity.   She is also an earth goddess who presides over death and the afterlife, while at the same time giving good fortune to new and would be mothers, to bring healthy babies into the world.   She lends her name to the Danube River.  Danu is often equated with the welsh goddess Don. 

Danu has often been said to exist as the goddess Anu, though there is a bit of controversy as to whether these are two different goddesses or one in the same.   Anu – also worshipped as mother goddess to all beings and gods- was said to be consort of the Sun God Belenos.    Anu is sometimes depicted as the maiden form of the Morrighan.  It all depends on whose cultural information you take.  It is said that Anu took two acorns that fell from the first Oak timberline and created Dagda and Brighid. 

Danu is the mother of the Tuatha De Denann.  Their name actually means the children of Danann or Danu.  These people came to settle in Ireland and fought to oust the Fir Bolg and the Formorians.  Later, they were defeated by another culture, the Milesians, who eventually became known as the Celts.  The Tuatha De Danann were then forced into hiding.  They have used some of Danu’s shape shifting powers to become what we know as fairies, leprechauns and other Fae creatures.  They are said to now live in Tir na n-Og, the Land of Youth.  Their homes are subterranean dwellings protected and hidden from mortal eyes by magic.   It is also said that, to bring luck and blessings from the Sidhe (Pronounced “SHEE” - a term used for Fairy or Fae) you should plant a green and flowering garden.

Correspondences of Danu:

Blessings, creation, Earth goddess, Foretelling, A great Goddess, Great mother, Health, Luck, Magic, Moon goddess, Prosperity, Goddess of the Sorceress, Success, All bodies of water, Wisdom.
Colors:  Blue, White, Sliver, Green
Elements:  Water and Earth
Seasons:  Imbolc and Lammas also known as Lughnasadh.
Tarot: the Empress
Aspects: Mother

Animals: Mares, Snakes, Fish- like the salmon, Seagulls.
Divination: Water Scrying  
Essences: Her scent is Amber and any other "water" scents, such as rivers and all flowing waters - including the sea - are her domain
Trees: Rowan tree, the Apple tree, the Hawthorne tree  
Stones: River stones, any stones that have a natural hole in it as it is the way to fae. Holy stones, Amber, Gold
Symbols: Rivers, Sea, Flowing water, Air, Wind, Earth, Moon, Keys, Crownsand a cauldron of water
Regions:  Ireland and India, most of Europe
Attributes:  New beginnings, Chaos, Cosmos, Creation, Creativity, Fertility, Manifestations, Oceans, and all other bodies of water, Transformation.

Helios

Helios is the Greek Titan god of the sun.  He is the son to Hyperion and Theia.  He is the brother to Selene and Eos.  At one point Helios was married to Selene but was also husband of several Oceanids, with whom he fathered Aaetes, Circe, and Pasphae. Additionally, he fathered Phaethusa, Lampetia, and Phaeton.    Helios has been mentioned in some of the earliest poems including Ovid and Homer, described as the personification of the sun and an all seeing presence.

   Helios is always depicted as a young, handsome, beardless man with a shining crown and purple cape.   Helios drives a chariot pulled by four winged horses across the sky. He begins in the east from his home in the River Okeanos, and travels to the Hesperides in the west through the day.  At night he travels back in a golden cup made for him by Hephaestus, during which time his wife and sister Selene travels the sky as the moon. 

Helios had once let his son Phaeton drive his chariot, but  Phaeton couldn’t control the horses and traveled the sky erratically.  Zeus was forced to step in and brought him down with a lightning bolt killing him.  

The fact that Helios is always in the sky looking down – he is known as the seer of all things, and the tale teller to the gods.  He is the one who knew it was Hades that took Persephone. He was also able to tell Hephaestus about Aphrodite’s infidelity.

As the story goes, when the Titanes separated Gaea and Ouranos (Earth and Sky), Helios shone upon the earth and warmed the cold mud of the earth.  From the warm mud sprang forth all life- both plants and animals.  

In his Odyssey, Homer talks about Odysseus and his crew as they come to the island of Thrinacia.  They have been twice warned that if they eat the cattle of Helios that reside on the island – they will perish and never return to Ithaka.  At first they have no trouble agreeing to not eat the cattle.  As time passes and the winds are not in their favor, the fear of starvation sets in.  Eventually they fall prey to their fear and slaughter some of the cattle.  Helios pleads with Zeus who destroys their ships in a fierce storm.  All but Odysseus – who did not eat of the cattle and was fated to return to Ithaka- are killed. 

Helios was most celebrated on the lsland of Rhodes where one of his many wives lived as well as where he kept one of his sacred flocks.  He was so worshipped on the island that each year gymnastic and athletic games were played in his honor.  The sixth ancient wonder of the world “Colossus at Rhodes” was a 32 meter (~100 feet) high statue of Helios in all his glory.  It was later destroyed when it broke off at the knees during an earthquake. 

Many people will argue that Apollo is the god of the sun.  At one point these two gods were separate and very different.  It wasn’t until many years later – after the time of the Roman, Virgil that they began to be equated with each other.  It may, in part, have been the all seeing characteristics of Helios and the prophetic persona of Apollo that eventually linked the two.  

Pan- 

Pan is the god of Shepherds and flocks, beehives, hunters, mountains wilds and rustic music.  He is one of the most commonly worshiped of the Greek pantheon; his main area of worship being in Arcadia.  In Roman mythology he is known as Faunus.  He is a light hearted and lustful nature spirit.  He plays his rustic music and leads his nymphs and satyrs in dances.  He chases nymphs and tires to seduce them- only to be turned down due to his ugliness.

Pan is the son of Hermes.  The identity of his mother is under debate.  One story tells that Hermes fathered pan with a shepherd’s daughter, or a wood nymph, or possibly even Penelope wife of Odysseus.  There are a few stories that say he is the son of Zeus or Apollo and a wood nymph. 

 Pan was born fully formed as a man with the legs and tail of a goat, and pointed ears and goat horns on his head.  He has a small nub nose and a thick beard. Pan’s mother was so frightened by his appearance that she ran away, leaving him to Hermes.  Hermes took him to Olympus where he was adored.  He is a favorite of Dionysus, and spends much time with him.  Pan was raised by nymphs. 

Pan lives in mountain woods and forests. His favored past time is a mid-afternoon nap.  When travelers disturb him he is angered.  He creates noises in the woods at night to scare travelers.  Pan causes a panic in people in dark or lonely places, or creates fear and confusion in enemies during battle.   It is said that it was his tremendous voice that caused the Titans to flee during the war with the Olympians.

Pan was in love with Syrinx, a Nymph.  She had eluded his advances several times.  Finally as she fled from him she found her path blocked by the river.  She called to her watery sisters to help her.  She was transformed into water reeds on the bank of the river.  To always keep her with him, Pan cut the reeds and created a flute out of them.  He is frequently depicted playing his “pan pipes” as he dances.  Pan also tried to pursue the nymph Pitys.  She had pledged a life of virtue, much like Syrinx.  She too refused Pan’s intrigue.  She was turned into a fir tree, sacred to Pan.  Pan is often seen wearing a fir branch garland also to keep Pitys with him. 

 Pan was also in love with Ekho.  Unfortunately Ekho was in love with Narsissus whom was in love with himself.  Ekho turned down Pan and triggered his anger.  He called to his followers to kill her.  They tore her to pieces and scattered the pieces across the world.  She was taken into Gia and thus remains with the earth for all times. 

One cannot speak of Pan without mention of his demonization.  In Greek mythology Pan is a fun loving and easygoing spirit; lustful but unlucky in love. He watches over shepherds and their flocks, and hunters, often ensuring their success.  He was also one of the most commonly worshipped gods in Greek and Roman Mythology.  As the Christian church began to take over they needed to eradicate worship of other Gods for their one true God.  They began to demonize Pan.  His image of half goat, half man, already seen as ugly, was easy to connect to something evil. Beginning with Christian theologian Eusebius, his image was given to Satan around 300 A.D., the Antichrist and ultimate evil being.  It didn’t help that Pan was a notoriously sexual being.  The Christian church emphasized the need to be sexually pure, making sex a dirty and shameful act.  Circa 400 A.D. St. Augustine of Hippo covers the perils of sexuality at length in his publication Confessions, further demonizing Pan.  The Puritans brought the demon image of Pan with them when they came to America.  To this day the harmless nature spirit is seen as the devil and depicted as such in cinema, music, and pop culture. This is what leads to the common misconception of “Devil Worship” when someone who follows a Pagan or Wiccan path is seen worshiping Pan.   

Invoke the spirit of Pan as you embark on a hunting journey or any adventure into the woods. If you are looking for a little libido boost or just a bit of lust in your life, call on Pan.  He is a nature spirit and is tied closely to the earth.  Not a demon at all, he is protector and lover. 

Devi/Shakti

In its eons as a religion Hinduism (as with most ancient religions) has branched and split and become very complicated.  One thing that flows through out all of the different ideologies and frankly through that of most world religions (including Christianity in the form of Mary) is the Devine Feminine.  In Hindu she is known as Devi.  Though she takes many forms and carries literally millions of names.  Her most commonly known alternate identities is Sakti (or Shakti), Sati, Pavarti, Lakshmi, Durga, Tara, Ganga, and Kali. 

Devi (translating to “divine female”) is the consort of Shiva.  With Shiva, she creates the universe.  Bits of her divine energy live in all her children and especially her daughters.  Her powerful energy, called Shakti, is the universal power.   Devi Shakti is the power aspect of the divine feminine.  There is nothing in the manifest world that is not Shakti. 

As Sati she was the faithful bride of Shiva.  She remained faithful to him unto her death.  Shiva was so distraught by her loss that he stole away to a cave to meditate.  Shakti – as Great Mother told followers that Sati would be reborn as Pavarti.  Pavarti went through much penance to win Shiva’s affection.  Finally after being blessed she goes to Shiva’s cave and he is overcome by her beauty, and takes her as his bride.  Their love produces Karthikeya, whom goes on to defeat the daemons attacking the heavens and restore peace.  Pavarti and Shiva also produce Lord Ganesha.   They are seen as a perfect family, of love and devotion.     

Here is where stories get a little more tangled.  Pavarti is set to the task of slaying another demon.  She rides out on a the back of a Tiger , or Lion to meet the demon.  Upon meeting him she sprouts ten arms and defeats him with her spear.  Thus acquiring his name, Durga.  Some versions tell a tale of a demon that is slain by Kali , who springs forth from the fore head of Pavarti.  Kali is a dark creature with many arms, dark-skinned or dressed in the skin of an elephant (again, depending on the version).  Her eyes burn red with anger.  She drinks the blood of the demon with her long red tongue.  She is so overtaken with rage that Shiva must interfere.  He lays himself upon the ground in front of her and as her foot makes contact with him to step past – she is calmed. 

Lakshmi is the consort to Divine Vishnu.  She is the bringer of prosperity.  At her festival many homes will light lanterns to invite and guide her inside –  and thus acquire some of her prosperous blessings. 

Devi , the great mother, has many equivalents in almost all world religions.  She is Mother Nature/Earth, she is the Divine Feminine.  Shakti is the great universal power in all of us.  Our drive to return to her is what brings us to live fulfilling lives and seek transcendence through meditation, Yoga, and self reflection.  Never forget that when the family is threatened – the darker side of the perfect wife and mother may be seen to protect her children.  Thus we see Kali and Durga as dark protectors through their destruction. 

Oak King /Holly King 

As winter fast approaches, the balance of light and dark nears the fulcrum and is about to shift.   Celtic cultures recognized and celebrated a dual that took place twice per year between the Oak King and the Holly King.  Known as Cernunnos, the Horned God, and Herne the Hunter, the Oak and Holly Kings are opposite aspect of the Male Consort.  At the fulcrum of the winter and summer solstices these two aspects would battle and the balance of power would shift. 

The Oak King is young and robust, often depicted with a large rack of antlers.  He rules from Midwinter to Midsummer. He is the light twin and represents expansion and new growth.  The Holly King is the counterpart, the dark twin.  The Holly King is an older man with a beard often depicted wearing fur lined robes to protect from the cold.  He rules from Midsummer to Midwinter.  He represents the time of darkness, withdrawal and rest.

  When they do battle twice per year one twin will usurp the other, taking the throne.  For the losing twin – he withdraws into the wheel of the stars where he waits to be reborn six months later.  Some say he travels to the other side of the planet where it is the right season for him to rule, though this is a bit of a more modern thought.  

Many of the iconic and traditional symbols we see at Midwinter (or Yule) are in honor and celebration of the departing Holly King.  Even the general image of “father winter” or Santa Clause is representative of the Holly King.  We celebrate Midsummer with sun symbols and citrus fruit and flowers blooms.   This is a large part of why people frequently get confused in regards to these two kings.  The Holly King actually dies at Yule.  The Oak King- young and healthy brings with him the sun, warmth and the promise of the bountiful harvest.  

 The Oak King and the Holly King maintain the balance of the wheel of time.  One cannot exist without the other.    

Odin

As winter fast approaches, the balance of light and dark nears the fulcrum and is about to shift.   Celtic cultures recognized and celebrated a dual that took place twice per year between the Oak King and the Holly King.  Known as Cernunnos, the Horned God, and Herne the Hunter, the Oak and Holly Kings are opposite aspect of the Male Consort.  At the fulcrum of the winter and summer solstices these two aspects would battle and the balance of power would shift. 

The Oak King is young and robust, often depicted with a large rack of antlers.  He rules from Midwinter to Midsummer. He is the light twin and represents expansion and new growth.  The Holly King is the counterpart, the dark twin.  The Holly King is an older man with a beard often depicted wearing fur lined robes to protect from the cold.  He rules from Midsummer to Midwinter.  He represents the time of darkness, withdrawal and rest.

  When they do battle twice per year one twin will usurp the other, taking the throne.  For the losing twin – he withdraws into the wheel of the stars where he waits to be reborn six months later.  Some say he travels to the other side of the planet where it is the right season for him to rule, though this is a bit of a more modern thought.  

Many of the iconic and traditional symbols we see at Midwinter (or Yule) are in honor and celebration of the departing Holly King.  Even the general image of “father winter” or Santa Clause is representative of the Holly King.  We celebrate Midsummer with sun symbols and citrus fruit and flowers blooms.   This is a large part of why people frequently get confused in regards to these two kings.  The Holly King actually dies at Yule.  The Oak King- young and healthy brings with him the sun, warmth and the promise of the bountiful harvest.  

 The Oak King and the Holly King maintain the balance of the wheel of time.  One cannot exist without the other.    

Hecate- Hecate is one of the more difficult stories to follow.  Depending on the region and time period you take her story from she has differing backgrounds and images.   Some say she is the daughter of Titans Parses and Astoria, given power over heaven, earth and the underworld.  She is allowed to keep her powers as a titan by Zeus who loves her.  It is she alone that shares his ability to give and take a will.  Some say she is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter or Hera, offered permanent residence in Hades after she helps Persephone cope with the changes of her new life.    

Hecate is a triple goddess, visiting all three stages as maiden, mother and crone.  Through time the role is split and shares the triple goddess image with Persephone and Demeter or with Diana/Artemis and Selene.  Hecate is often portrayed as the Crone and is linked to the dark of the moon. 

Hecate has three main shapes that she takes.  That of the crone wearing a dark cloak over a cauldron;  that of a three headed woman (often with the heads of animals like a boar, dog and horse ) ; or that of a thee bodied woman looking in all directions.  She is almost always seen with at least one torch but often two.  She is also frequently accompanied by an owl (symbol of wisdom), a dog (commonly three headed), or a horse. 

It is said that Hecate starts her journey as a young woman wearing a bright shining head dress.  It is with her bright eyes that see in the dark that allow her to see the abduction of Persephone.  She guides Demeter through Hades with her torches.  After she takes up permanent residence in Hades she is seen more as a dark queen.  She stands at the cross roads with her torches and her three headed dog (yup – Cerberus belongs to her, not Hades) and guides newly passed souls in the right direction.

Hecate is here after attributed with some of her darker aspects. Though still seen as a midwife at child birth she becomes more often associates with death as she paves the way.   She is seen as the Crone aspect and is associated with ghosts and demons.  Some even go as far as to link her to vampires.  Her association with magic and witches is strengthened and solidified during the middle ages. 

Hecate is a protector of women – especially those traveling alone at night.  She demands tolerance of those less fortunate or outcast.  She is a goddess of justice and though often harsh, she is fair and non- biased.  Hecate is not a goddess of wisdom but her three heads or bodies gives her sight into past, present and future.  Thus she is often sought after in times of difficult decisions.  Hecate is also a goddess of new beginnings.  She helps to see the importance of letting go of the past to move forward to success. 

Hecate is associated with childbirth and nurturing the young, magic, witches, ghosts, crossroads, gates, doorways and with end of life.

Her places of worship are at crossroads, especially those with three arms.  There were often three faced masks hung at these places, or statues of Hecate placed there.  Even rituals in her honor especially on her festival days in fall were performed at crossroads.  Being a goddess of gateways one could often find similar masks hanging over entry ways to dwellings.  

Demeter - Demeter is the Greek Goddess of Agriculture.  Her name actually means “grain mother”.  She is the daughter to Cronus and Rhea.  She is the sister and wife (before Hera) to Zeus.  She is mother to (most famous of her children) Persephone, along with Areion and Despoine {with Poseidon}, Eboulous, Khrysothemis, Philomelos-Bootes, Ploutus. 

We are all familiar with Persephone’s story.  She was abducted/raped by Hades and forced to marry him.  Demeter searched for many years for her, neglecting her duties as goddess and sent the earth into  a time of eternal winter and starvation.  Zeus finally sent Hermes to tell Hades to release Persephone in order to placate Demeter.  Hades did as he was bid, but not without a little more trickery.  Knowing that no one who eats in the underworld is permitted to leave, Persephone ate nothing while in the underworld. Persephone was convinced to eat the seeds of a pomegranate before her return to her mother. Thus, she was ordered to return each year to Hades for one month for every seed she had eaten.  So each year Demeter grieves for her daughter and the earth goes through winter.  With Persephone’s return, Demeter rejoices and the earth comes back to life. 

So what is Demeter’s tale? After the abduction of her daughter she became distraught. She spent much time searching for Persephone.   Leaving rewards and punishments in her wake for those who chose to help or hinder her efforts.  She transformed a man into a spotted gecko as he mocked her while she rested and drank on her travels.  She even burned one man alive in his house for turning her away when she asked for hospitality and a rest. 

At one point she comes to Eleusis.  There, disguised as a crone, she is welcomed and given charity.  Queen Metaneire, of Eleusis, noticed a sense of propriety or a noble bearing about her.  She asked Demeter (disguised now as Doso) to nurse her younger son, Demophoon.  She agrees and decided to gift the child with immortality as reward for the hospitality shown her.  To grant immortality, she gives him ambrosia in the day and places him in a fire at night. On one of the nights, the queen spies the fire ritual and flies into a rage.  The Goddess throws the child at her feet and reveals who she is.   Metaneire was very sorry for having vexed the Goddess.  To win back her favor, Demeter ordered Metaneire to have a temple built in her name.  Soon after, Hecate finds Demeter and tells her that she heard the cries of Persephone.  The two of them asked Helios (Sun god) what happened and he informed them that it was Hades that took Persephone, and that Zeus had been in on it.  However instead of confronting Zeus, she gave into grief and for 9 days wandered the earth in sorrow.  During her wandering, Poseidon had begun to take notice of his sister.  To escape his advances, she transformed into a horse and took up with the herd of Oncus.  Poseidon changed into a stallion and lay with her.  This pairing brought forth Areion the great horse and Despine goddess of horses. 

Demeter received her daughter back from Hades and they returned together to Eleusis.  Back in Eleusis, and with time to contemplate, she confronts with anger the underworld demon Askalaphos for revealing to the gods about how to trick Persephone into eating  the seeds and then later revealing her indiscretion.  Demeter turned him into a screech owl for his treachery.  Hecate choose to join Demeter and her daughter, and they became lifelong friends and companions.  Rhea met with Demeter to convince her to return to Olympus.  Before she leaves, she goes to see Triptolemos, the elder prince of Eleusis.  He had become a favorite of hers.  She gave him seeds of grain and taught him the art of agriculture.  She also gave him a chariot drawn by snakes or dragons, and bids him take her lessons to the people and teach all mankind. 

Triptolemos did as she bade.  However, when he happened upon the northern lands of Skythian, King Lynkos slew one of the serpents and drove Triptolemos away.  Demeter, scorned, turned the king into a Lynx and denied his land the art of agriculture.  Another version of the story is that Lynkos was punished for trying to kill Triptolemos; and that it was King Karnabon of Thrake that slew the serpent.  He was punished when Demeter sent two other creatures to kill him.  Then he was placed among the stars as the constellation Ophiokhos, the serpent bearer. 

A few other lesser tales of Demeter include her turning the underworld concubine, Minthe, into a mint plant.  This was for bragging that she was much better/prettier than Persephone.  In another, Demeter was angry with King Aithon when he felled oak trees in a sacred dryad-inhabited grove  she cursed him with eternal/unquenchable hunger. 

Other stories of note reveal that Demeter had other lovers than Zeus.  She loved Ision, Prince of Samothrake (Krete), who was struck down by Zeus out of jealousy, but not before Demeter bore him three sons,  Korybas, Ploutos and Philomelos.  Some say that he and Karmanor – with whom she bore Eubouleos and Khrysothemis were one and the same.  She was also the lover of Mekon, whom she transformed into a poppy flower.  


Tailtiu-  For being one of the most celebrated goddesses, it is surprising how little information there is currently on Tailtiu.  She even had a whole festival that was devoted to her annually for many years.  Yet as the years move on her foster son takes the spotlight and her holiday is named after him and she is gradually downsized. 

Tailtiu, also spelled Tailltiu or Tailte, and commonly pronounced Talsha, was the daughter of Mag Mor, The Great Plain, whom some say was the King of Spain.  She was the wife of Eochaid Mac Eirc, High King of Ireland and last Fir Bolg ( a race of pre-Denaan giants).  Eochaid was over thrown, and killed, after a ten year reign by the Tuatha De’Denaan at the battle of Magh Tuiedh. Tailtiu survived the invasion of the Denaan and became foster mother to Lugh – Celtic sun god.  It was She who guided his training – turning him into the Jack of all trades that he is famed for.  Tailtiu did marry again – she married Duach the Dark. 

Tailtiu was said to be responsible for clearing Ireland of a vast forest to make room for and to bring agriculture to the country.  Depending on the version she was ordered to do it herself by the Denaan, or she had asked her husband or her foster son to do it.  Every version of the story links the clearing of the forest with her death.  If it was her that cleared it – the work was so strenuous that her heart literally gave out and she died.  In other versions upon her death from other means, she bade her husband or Lugh to clear the land for her to create a great burial mound (common practice in Ireland). 

It was the love of Lugh that brought forth a festival dedicated to her, and is typically celebrated on August 1.  Upon her death, she called for a funeral festival to take place and asked Lugh to make it so.  Much like the advent of the Olympic Games, contests of strength and courage were added.  And, much like modern Olympics this was to be a time of peace.  There were no fighting or disputes and acts of thievery or criminalism were kept in strict check during this time.  The games included gymnastic and equestrian exhibits, as well as many common track and field games, swimming and chariot racing.  As a part of the festival there were also literary, musical and oratorical competitions as well as singing and dancing contests.  There was of course extensive mercantile fair.  Frequently during the festivals there were many truces, marriage agreements and trade arrangements made.  These festivities were in practice up to the medieval times and were revived this century as the Tailltean Games to honor and bring back a rich Irish Culture.

Tailtiu was worshiped as a goddess of nature and more specifically of the harvest.  Her games were played in early August and lasted a full fortnight.  


Hephaestus- Hephaestus is the Greek  god of fire/volcanoes, smith craft, art, sculpture and technology. The Romans called him Vulcan.  He was born to Hera and –depending on the story version you read- Zeus.    Hera was angry with Zeus for either the birth of Athena or Dionysus independent of her so she used her magical herbs to impregnate herself with Hephaestus. 

At his birth Hephaestus was thrown from Mount Olympus.  There are a few versions of the story and each has its own reason and outcome.  One version states that he came between Zeus and Hera during an argument and sided with his mother.  For interfering, Zeus threw him out of the heavens. A different version states that he was born with a deformed foot.  Repulsed, Hera tossed the baby from Olympus.  And yet another version states that both Hera and Zeus were appalled by the lame and deformed foot and Zeus threw him from Olympus.  Regardless of how/when/and why- Hephaestus fell for 9 days and nights to land in the sea near the island of Lemnos.    He was saved by a group of Titan goddesses and water nymphs.  While on Lemnos he became a talented craftsman and inventor building his forge under the volcano on the island, assisted by the Cyclops that lived there. 

Through his skill, Hera learned to regret her decision to banish him from the heavens, and invited him back.  He declined the offer but sent a specially made throne for her.  As soon as she sat upon it, it entrapped her.  Much pleading was done to have her released, but his resentment of his parents drove Hephaestus to refuse.  Even Ares, god of War, could not convince him to release her.  Finally in an act of desperation Zeus sent Dionysus to plead with the lame god of the forge.  Not a big drinker, Hephaestus had a low tolerance for Dionysus’ wine and became intoxicated.  Drunk and slung across the back of a donkey, Dionysus dragged Hephaestus back to Olympus to release Hera.   

Zeus gave Hephaestus Aphrodite as a bride thinking marriage would tame the goddess of love.  She married him but was never true to him.  Despite his doting on her and even his gift of a magical bodice (making her irresistible to all men) she never loved him.  She had countless affairs.  Finally tired of her adultery, he resolved to humiliate her. He made an unbreakable net to capture her and her lover in bed.  He brought her and Ares before the gods just as he had captured them – nude and entwined in each other’s arms.  He insisted that they be charged with adultery and forced to stop the affair.  He was literally laughed out of court as Ares pointed out it was Hephaestus himself that fashioned the bodice to make her irresistible.  The court even fined Hephaestus for such a ridiculous suit – which was paid by Poseidon stating that seeing Aphrodite in the nude was worth every penny.   

Poor crippled Hephaestus had a very difficult love life.  He was enamored with Athena so much that though she rejected him, he tried to force her.  Using her magic she disappeared from the bed and his seed was spilled upon the earth impregnating her with Erichthonius, who was raised graciously by Athena and eventually became ruler of Athens. 

Hephaestus has been credited with many inventions and creations for the gods.  Some of these include: The winged helmet and sandals sported by Hermes, the breastplate donned by Aegis, the famous girdle of Aphrodite, Agamemnon's staff, the armor of Achilles, the bronze clappers associated with Heracles, Helios' chariot and the bow and arrows of Eros. He was also credited with: the silver bows and arrows of Apollo and Artemis, the golden chariot of Apollo that pulled the sun across the sky, the Aegis and Scepter of Zeus, and the battle armor of the Olympian armies, and the palaces of all the deities, complete with unbreakable locks.  In fact Hephaestus was credited with the first robots – autonomic handmaidens that helped with housework.    It was Hephaestus that created Pandora- first woman- and her box, from which she releases all evil upon the world.  


Ra- Ra is the father God of the Egyptian pantheon.  He, like many first generation gods, came out of Chaos alone. Ra arrived (depending on the story) as a Phoenix upon a mound of earth or as a Benben stone (a large pointed obelisque).  He brought forth (some say through masturbation – as there was no woman to help with the creation) Shu and Tefnut representing Air and Moisture.  This couple brought forth Geb and Nut the Earth and the Sky and from them we get brother- sister couples Set and Nephthys and Isis and Osiris.  This lineage makes Ra the creator of everything. 

Ra (pronounced Ray for the rays of the sun and often spelled Re) travels the sky in a boat called the Barque of a Million Years with several other gods.  He battles with Apep the serpent through the day.  Most days he is successful in defeating the serpent – cloudy or overcast days and days of eclipse the serpent triumphs.  At twilight he is swallowed by his granddaughter/mother (stay with me here) Nut.  During the night he travels the underworld bringing light to the souls.  In the Morning he is reborn from Nut (there’s the mother part) as the Scarab beetle Khepri. 

As is common with such an ancient religion, myths and stories change as new political and religious power takes over.  The earliest mentions of Ra are in Egypt’s Second Dynasty but he was highly worshiped during the Fifth Dynasty.  This era viewed the Pharaohs as sons of Ra. They also viewed Pharaohs as the embodiment of the God Horus. To top it off, Ra was seen as the King (or Pharaoh) of gods.  This triplet of beliefs led to the gods Ra and Horus becoming linked and made into one God Ra-Horakhty. Fifth dynasty rulers erected great solar temples and altars devoted to Ra’s worship.   Ra was also commonly linked with Amon as Amon-Ra and Atmun and Atmun-Ra. 

Ra is portrayed in many ways - most common of which is a falcon-headed man with the sun disc upon his head. The disc is wrapped with the serpent protector and “eye of Ra”. The man holds an ankh in one hand and a scepter in the other.  Sometimes he is seen as riding in a boat toward a star filled doorway.   He is also frequently depicted as the falcon winged scarab beetle.   

The eye of Ra has several of her own myths associated with her.  The eye was Ra’s female companion called the Daughter of Ra.  Depending on the version you read, she was sent back into Chaos to find Shu and Tefnut whom had become lost (some versions have it the other way around where they are sent to find the eye who had become lost).  From this myth is the creation of man.  They come from the tears shed by the eye either during the battle with Shu and Tefnut, or when she returns to find Ra has replaced her - all depending on the version of the myth.  Either way, in order to appease her, Ra turns her into the serpent ureas, and places her upon his crown to allow her see all and to help protect him.

At one point Ra has aged and his human followers are losing respect for him.  He overhears them speaking ill of him and it angers him.  He sends his eye as Hathor (sun goddess) to punish them for their insolence.   Hathor assumes the form of Sekhmet the lioness headed goddess.  She becomes enraged with bloodlust and almost eliminates humankind all together.  In order to stop her, Ra must trick her.  While she sleeps he has his priests place red dye in beer and pour it all over the land.  When she wakes she thinks the red beer is blood and begins to devour it.  She becomes intoxicated and reverts back to her gentile Hathor version and returns to his side.  Because of this outlandish and unrestrained behavior against mankind she is often thought of as “the Evil Eye”.  However, she is also often seen as a positive and protective force called the “All Seeing Eye” of Ra.  We find her in this particular motif on the back of the US dollar atop the pyramid.    

The eye of Ra is also tied to Horus (here is where we get a little into the chicken or the egg) sometimes being called the eye of Horus.   The god Horus is said to represent the sun at its mid day travel (remember that Ra has three forms, the Scarab at dawn, the falcon headed man at mid day and the corpse at night).  Horus’ left eye is to represent the moon and his right the sun.  Thus the right eye is the eye of Ra.  I know – now we are full circle again.  Here is a little note on the Eye of Horus (his left eye):  It was removed by Seth while he was battling with Horus for rule after Osiris’ death.  Thoth is said to have put it back together and returned it to Horus after which it is referred to as the wadjet eye.   

Sources:

http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/ra.html                                               

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/re.htm

http://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/egyptian-god-ra.html

http://www.egyptartsite.com/ra.html

Gaia -Much like most ancient myths there are many different versions of Gaia’s story.  For being one of the least mentioned Goddesses she is possibly the most pivotal and thus her story takes many different directions. 

Gaia (also called Ge, or for the Romans: Terra or Tellus ) began her existence when she emerged from Chaos.  She was not born to Chaos as much as sprang into existence out of Chaos.  She with her two siblings:  Tartarus, the Pit; and Eros, god of love were brought forth from Chaos (some versions also give rise to Nix, the night; and Erebos, god of shadow and darkness).  Gia created Uranus (the sky or the heavens), Prantus (the deep sea), and Ourea (the hills or mountains) with no father involvement.  She chose Uranus as her consort.

With Uranus she became pregnant with three Giant sons, each with fifty heads and fifty arms.  In some versions of the story Uranus was embarrassed by the appearance of the boys, in some versions he feared their superior power, and in some versions he simply was not ready for fatherhood.  In any case he refused to let them be born- forcing them back into the womb of Gaia. 

Gaia did eventually become pregnant again (yes the giants are still in there too) and was allowed to give birth to the Titans (thus called by Uranus meaning Stretchers or Strainers for their stretching of the limits of propriety).  Tired of bearing the discomfort of the Giants, Gaia pleaded with her sons to help her.    Kronos alone was brave (or arrogant) enough to promise to help her gain freedom from Uranus.  Gaia made a special blade for him and hid him in her bedroom.  When Uranus came to bed her, Kronos struck, removing the genitals from Uranus, thus severing the link between Earth and Sky.   The droplets of blood and semen from the act landed upon Gaia and she became pregnant with (in some stories they were absorbed and simply gave life to) Erinys (the Punisher or the Furies), the Giants and the Meliae (Nymphs of the Ash Tree). The remainder of the flesh from Uranus dropped (or was thrown) into the sea where it gave rise to Aphrodite, goddess of love. With the removal of Uranus’ hold on Gaia, she was able to finally birth the three giant brothers. Their freedom was brief however, because not unlike his father, Kronos feared the triplets and sent them to Tartarus to keep for all time. 

With his new power, Kronos seduced his sister Rhea to become his lover.  Gaia told Kronos of her prophecy that one of their children would usurp his power.  Not ready to give up his reign he swallowed each of his children whole at their birth.  Rhea pleaded with the great mother Gaia and together they formed a plan to trick Kronos.  When the last child, Zeus, was born, they wrapped a stone in the swaddling blanket to present to Kronos.  This he swallowed just as he had with his other children.  Zeus came back to defeat his father and with one strong kick to the abdomen forced Kronos to expel all the other children.  Thus Hera, Hestia, Poseidon, Hades and Demeter were born fully grown.  They banished Kronos and the other Titans to Tartarus and formed Olympus from where they would rule. 

Meanwhile (back at the ranch) Gaia was free from Uranus and sought out new companionship.  She found this in both Pontus, her son and Tartarus, her brother. With Pontus, she gave birth to Nereus, Thamaus, Phorkys, Ceto and Eurybi.  With Tartarus she had Typheous (some versions also have Echidna as a son of this union).  Typheous would become great enemy of Zeus and later killed by Apollo.     

Finally, Gaia pulled away, distancing herself from the lives of her children. Having learned “like father like son” from Gaia; Zeus suspended his power of fertility in lieu of patriarchy.  When the mortal woman Matis became pregnant, Zeus did not want to force her into submission or steal her child so to allow her to avoid this fate altogether, Zeus swallowed Matis.  Matis gave birth while inside Zeus, thus, the child Athena, had to come into the world from the body of Zeus, therefore, breaking any allegiance to her mother.

As a final and extra tidbit of info on Gaia:  She was the goddess of Delphi.  As we mentioned earlier when she spoke to Kronos about her prophecy, it has been hypothesized that she was an oracle.  Her daughter Themes was known as the Queen of Oracles and started the line of priestesses at Delphi. 

Gaia is often depicted as a young and sensuous woman.  Sometimes she is presenting a child to a woman.  Often she is depicted as half or partially buried in the earth.  New images of her are coming out as a young woman, late in pregnancy, often ornamented with leaves or flowers.  For those of us that grew up watching Captain Planet – Gaia was the goddess that gave the 5 rings and thus the Captain his powers to protect the earth from polluters and tyrants. 


  1. http://paleothea.com/SortaSingles/Gaia.html
  2. http://www.goddessaday.com/greek/gaia
  3. http://mythagora.com/bios/gaia.html
  4. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/gaia.html
  5. http://www.goddessmyths.com/Erzulie-Lilith.html