Tag Archives: goddess

Sabrina

Content Warning.

Sabrina offers me the comfort of her arms. She promises to hold me like a mother holds a small child. She will comfort me, and take away the pain. There will be peace in her embrace, and relief, and release and none of this will matter anymore. Sabrina invites me to sleep in her arms.

She offers this invitation widely, gathering to her the lost and distressed, the hopeless and despairing. She will hold anyone who can no longer bear to breathe. She will take anyone into her keeping who has nothing left to live for and no faith in the future.

Once she had a reputation as a river that kills. The Severn always gets her man, they used to say. With her tides and mud and unpredictability, she was never kind to the careless. These days they come willingly, when they can take it no more. She does not need to lure the fisherman or tantalise the careless child.

She calls to me. I hear her promises, her reassurance. It is a brutal mercy that she offers, a killing kindness for those who can take no more. She is always there, always offering to be the end of the journey, the place of rest. ‘Sleep in my arms,’ she says ‘and forget.’


Encountering the Dark Goddess – a review

Encountering the Dark GoddessEncountering the Dark Goddess, by Frances Billinghurst isn’t out until March 2021, but I saw it and I had feelings so I’m doing an early review. It was the book I needed to read, as I felt my own life plunging out of control (again).

Dark journeys happen. Dark nights of the soul happen. Sometimes we have no choice but to crawl on bloody hands and knees through some kind of personal Hellscape for a while. Working with Dark Goddesses, or The Dark Goddess as an aspect of the Goddess, is about having the tools for those journeys. Find yourself in the thick of one and you may reach for a book like this for guidance and wisdom.  Being prepared won’t save you, but it will help you make sense of things.

This is an excellent book. Frances takes us through 13 Goddesses of the dark. Each one is put in their mythological context and we get information about their cultural context, and who honoured them and when. It’s a good overview on this front, enough to give you a sense of place, people, culture and to put modern devotion into some sort of context too. From there, if you want to dig deeper, you have a strong starting position and the clarity that deities exist in contexts and that those matter.

Each section includes something personal that the author has written in response to the Goddess, and an exercise that you can do to explore that Goddess. These are guided visualisations, and they’re very good.

This is a book that will work no matter what you believe. If you’re exploring Goddess as archetype and energy, with no particular belief, then this book will work for you. If you believe that all goddesses are aspects of one great goddess, this book will work for you. If you are a hard polytheist seeing each Goddess as a specific being with their own personality and intentions, this book will work for you. It’s been written with great care and inclusivity, and there is room for all outlooks here so long as you are at least broadly interested in the subject matter.

I found it a helpful read during a hard time. There is wisdom here, compassion and life experience. I can entirely recommend getting a copy.

More about the book here – https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/moon-books/our-books/encountering-dark-goddess-journey-shadow-realms 


Pagan Portals Aphrodite – a review

Pagan Portals Aphrodite by Irisanya Moon is a new introductory title from Moon Books. It is a small book, easily read and digested and designed for the non-expert who would like to find out more about this Goddess and how to work with her. If that’s you, this is a good book to pick up.

If you’re established as a follower, dedicant or priestess of Aphrodite, this book is not for you. And that’s fine because you don’t need it!

I have a confession, and it is something I’ve not really talked about directly. I’ve had an attraction to Mediterranean Goddesses of love and sex ever since reading Jane Meredith’s excellent book, Aspecting the Goddess. I picked up this book because I am reading around this topic and actively seeking inspiration. It’s part of a personal process to try and heal. I was taken with the way Irisanya talks about Aphrodite as a Goddess of heart healing.

What affected me the most was the content in this book about beauty. There’s a lot of exploration of what beauty means and how it might manifest in our lives and how we might work with that. Not beauty in the narrow, conventional ways in which mainstream western culture defines female beauty. Something wilder, more expansive, loving and inherently magical. This book has caused me to ask some serious questions about the role beauty plays in my life and the changes I need to make. I’ll be back on this topic.

I still don’t know whose temple I would dance in if there were temples I could dance in. I’m still looking for a name, a sense of connection, a deity associated with the landscape I inhabit. I may never find that, but the looking is important to me all the same. This book has been a useful part of my journey. It wasn’t written for me, I am not seeking a relationship with Aphrodite, but even so it has given me maps I can use on my own journey, and it has taught me things about love and beauty that I really needed to hear.

More about the book here – https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/moon-books/our-books/pagan-portals-aphrodite 


Persephone – a review

Pagan Portals – Persephone: Practicing the Art of Personal Power by Robin Corak is a new title from Moon Books.

I picked it up because there are a number of things that interest me about Persephone. I’m not Hellenic and this isn’t a Goddess I identify with especially. So, to be clear, I am not the intended audience for this book. It’s written for someone who want to follow, work with or otherwise devote themselves to Persephone. If that’s you, this is a good place to start with an array of meditations, historic insights rituals and tools to help you build a relationship with this Goddess.

One of the things this book offers is a re-reading of Persephone’s story. This was one of the things I was particularly looking for. Conventionally, Persephone is presented as an innocent girl who is kidnapped and raped by Hades, rescued by her mum – Demeter – but tricked by Hades so she has to go back to him for a part of each year. However, there are other ways of telling her story, and I’m interested in how different women are doing this. Robin has a Persephone story for us that is about the journey from innocence to experience, and about finding your own way when you seem to have only limiting, binary choices.

Persephone is most assuredly the Goddess of not being limited by narrow identity stories. She is both the spring maiden and the Queen of the underworld. What meaning you take from her story depends a lot on how you relate to two key scenes from it. Do you see her as the abducted victim, or do you see her seeking adventure and opportunity? And do you see her as force fed the pomegranate seeds that keep her tied to the underworld, or do you see her taken them of her own free will because there is no going back to her child-life?

Find out more here – https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/blogs/moon-books/persephone-practicing-the-art-of-personal-power/

 


The Temple I am Building

I have known for years that there is a temple I am called to dance in. It does not have a name. When I see it, it is a place of cool stone, quiet beauty, shafting sunlight, comforts and pleasures. I have been dancing there most of my adult life, but it isn’t something I’ve talked about much. I dance where I can, and when the music, the atmosphere and my dancing are just right, I also dance in the temple.

Of course it is a Goddess temple. But there has never been a named Goddess, or any sense of presence or interaction. I dance in the temple because it’s what I do, and there is a sense of sacredness and significance, but not of specific deity. I’m not very good at deity, or at belief. Aside from some distant experiences in my late teens, this just isn’t part of my life. But the temple has a kind of reality for me.

There is no physical temple I can dance in, and I do not have the resources to build a temple. There isn’t a suitable space I could hire. So the question of how to make the temple a bit more real, how to honour it and work with it, has been on my mind for years.

In recent weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of music I dance to and why. I realise that some of my sense of the temple comes out of the goth nightclubbing experiences of my youth. I started putting together a playlist of songs that gave me a sense of the temple dancing. Most of them are goth tunes from that time in my life, but I’ve found other things along the way and there are a fair few steampunk bands with songs that fit. It has a definite tone – passionate, sensual, deliciously, shamelessly a bit sleazy. Sexy and totally in control of that. Active, not passive. Playful, expressive.

I dance because I want to. I dance because this is my body and I am entitled to enjoy it. I dance to delight others, but I get to say who I dance for, and I get to say what happens around that and dancing most assuredly is not consent. I dance as an act of rebellion because this body is not the sort of body my wider culture considers sexy or appealing – which is true for most of us. I dance as an act of reclamation.

I have built a temple playlist. It may be the only temple I ever build, but for now, it will do.


The Hidden Goddess – a review

The Hidden Goddess, by Laurie Martin-Gardner explores feminine divinity in Jewish and Christian tradition. It’s a book that looks at texts, historic practice and modern interpretations and in a small space covers considerable ground.

The book is written in a narrative style, and while there are enough references that you can get in and check things if you want to, this is not an academic text. It is immensely readable and ideal for someone who just wants to get in and explore the ideas. It’s not a book claiming to have exclusive insights or unique knowledge, but it is a bringing together of sacred femininity evidence from traditions that, superficially at least, seem to lack for that sort of thing.

For me there was a mix of the familiar and the wholly unknown here. One of the consequences of reading this book is that I feel inspired to try and read the Bible and look at this for myself. I have tried to read the whole Bible before (and failed) but to go in looking for these details might make a lot of odds.

I think this is the ideal read for anyone who has moved to Paganism from a Christian or Jewish background and who wants to find ways of balancing their old path and their new one. It will also be valuable for anyone whose ancestor work has felt difficult – seeing how the Goddess has always been present in these traditions may help bridge the divide between modern Pagans and our immediate ancestors. For Christian Druids I think it’s a must have (unless you’ve already covered this ground somewhere else!).

I found it an enjoyable read that expanded my knowledge and that may have set me on a reading adventure.

Read the first chapter here – https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/blogs/moon-books/the-hidden-goddess-chapter-one-the-quest-begins/


The temple I am building – a poem

The temple I am building

 

There are no temples I can dance in

And while I glimpse in myth the names

Of women who may once have been

Goddesses of land, I can only guess

At whose temple I should dance

And there is no sacred music for me

And the steps are entirely lost

If they ever existed.

 

There are no temples I can dance in

But I will honour the call of music

With passion embodied. I will dance

The imaginary steps for a nameless Goddess

Wherever I can, I will shake my hips,

Open my thighs, raise my arms in salutation

In spiritual offering, make sacrament

Of rhythm, make sacred the energy

Of limbs and loins.

 

I make temples I can dance in

The width of my open arms

Any tune is my holy ground, any beat

Or song so long as there is sweat

And presence, breath and pulse,

Where there is desire I will build my temple

In the shadowed edge of your stage

In your club, your field, your kitchen

Summon ancient magic

And dance what enchantment I can.


Aspecting the Goddess – a review

I really like Jane Meredith’s books – I’ve previously read Aphrodite’s Magic, and Journey to the Dark Goddess. While I can find a lot of Goddess writing alienating or difficult to connect with, I never have this problem with Jane’s work. She writes about Goddess in a way that I can relate to.

Part of what makes her writing so great is that she tries to avoid assuming anything too much about the reader. You can come to her work as a devout Goddess worshipper, sure. But if you’re more interested in archetypes and psychology, that’s fine too. If you’re ambivalent, uncertain, even if you find gender issues difficult, there’s room here.

Aspecting the Goddess offers the reader a range of ways for working with Goddess. This goes from how to make the most tentative explorations through to drawing down a Goddess in ritual. There’s a wealth of detail here the like of which I’ve not seen before. At every turn, Jane offers multiple approaches and possibilities, methods she’s tested, and permission to explore and experiment. While it’s a book that goes confidently into some really woo-woo territory, it does so in an utterly grounded way, with wisdom and good sense and regular reminders that just because things can get magical, doesn’t mean they always will.

Alongside the practical insights, Jane tells stories of her own experiences working with Goddesses in different contexts. There’s an array of deities from different pantheons, and experience that is personal, for community ritual, that which is sought and that which is unexpected. And again, the clear voice of a woman with both feet on the ground, who is not turning her Goddess experience into dogma or personal power, who shares the awkward bits, the anxious bits, and the things that did not go as planned. It’s ultimately a very human, very relatable body of work.

This book is a beautiful piece of writing, full of ideas and stories to engage with. Anyone interested in Paganism and Goddess will find treasure here.

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/aspecting-goddess 


Gods, feudalism and power over

It isn’t an accident that so much traditional spiritual language has a feudal tone to it. Lord and Lady are terms of nobility. Christianity is full of the language of kings, sovereignty and power over. Pagans use ‘Queen’ as a term for Goddess. For a good chunk of European history those who had taken power and wealth by force of arms were keen to create the impression of divine sanction for it. The King in his castle, sucking up the bounty, is God’s representative on Earth. God the Uber-King looks down on all from Heaven – a very literal expression of being over the top of the rest of us.

The stories modern Pagans turn to were recorded, for the greater part, by people who were part of that power-over arrangement. God the Uber-King in league with the physical monarch bestowed a lot of power on the church, giving the church every reason to support the logic of the system. Plus, in a less cynical way, we tend to make sense of things through the filters of our own experience. There are reasons to think that some mythology may have grown out of the deeds of actual people, actual Kings, Queens and rulers. It may be that much of Paganism itself is rooted in monarchic cultures.

The language of democracy doesn’t really work for religion. Any notion of elected to power seems a bit odd when talking about beings who have more power than us. Chairman of the Gods is funny, but lacks a certain swing. Perhaps this is in part because one of the key things we want from Gods, is that they be bigger and more powerful than us and therefore able to protect us from terrible things. Powerful enough to protect you from other things – ie other Kings, has always been part of the marketing for feudalism.

There are other languages out there although I can’t claim deep familiarity with them. From what I’ve read, a lot of indigenous people use the language of family to talk about the spirit powers they encounter. Grandfathers and grandmothers. Brothers and sisters. If you aren’t operating in a patriarchal/feudal structure to begin with, God the father has a very different feel to it.

The language of monarchy and feudalism tends to give humans a sense of power over the non-human world, which is doing us and the world no good at all. Perhaps it is time to start questioning our word choices and habits of thinking. I don’t have any suggestions for word replacements at the moment, except to acknowledge that I find the language of monarchy and feudalism really uncomfortable and I wish we didn’t use it.


Book reviews, and ancestors

Boneland, Alan Garner. This is an adult sequel to the two children’s books, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and The Moon of Gomrath. Here we find Colin as an adult, troubled, and deeper into the mysteries of the edge than ever. It’s quite a challenging reframing of the first books. The writing is incredible, evocative, reality breaking, heart breaking, ambiguous, glorious… and bloody difficult to talk about without spoilers. If you love Alan Garner’s work, it’s a must, if you haven’t read anything else, you could read this, it would stand alone without knowing the two previous books in the set. I usually like talking about books, I loved this book and I don’t want to talk about it – an unusual reaction, but this is a unique piece of writing.

More about the book here – https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780007463251/boneland

 

British Barrows: A Matter of Life and Death, Ann Woodward. A fascinating book for anyone obsessed with ancient ancestors in the landscape. The author is an academic, and much of the book is based on her field observations, and her assessment of finds and records of other digs. There’s a lot of technical information – hard on the non-specialist, and a lot of visual thinking to do – a nightmare for me, but scattered through are incredible ideas, observations and possibilities. Perhaps the most exciting is the possibility of a crane bag – with no reference to crane bags or Graves, only to bags, and graves. I also didn’t know before reading that many barrows have no evidence of burials in them, these are places for the living as well as for the dead.

More about the book here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-British-Barrows-Matter-Life-Death/dp/0752425315

 

Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages & Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy
by Karen Tate

Eco-spiritual-feminism. In a series of powerful essays, Karen Tate explores the relationships between politics, gender issues, spirituality and activism. Reclaiming Goddess in our lives is very much about reclaiming healthy, balanced, sustainable relationship with everything else on this planet. For the weary activist courting burnout (and I fear that’s the majority of us) this book is a real lift and contains a lot of much needed hope and inspiration.

There is a section of meditation working with Goddess imagery – meditation is a rather personal thing so whether the exact content will work for you is impossible to predict, but if you know how to take and adapt things to suit, there’s a wealth of raw material here and inspiration for approaches to meditation. I found it a really good read. If this sounds like your sort of thing, I can definitely recommend it.

More about the book here – http://www.changemakers-books.com/books/goddess-calling