Tag Archives: goddess

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


Bee Garden Offering

Image by Magnus Manske

A Guest blog by Heather Awen

In early spring many people’s thoughts turn to gardening. Deciding what to plant and where to plant it, some start growing seeds inside while others make a list of flowers to buy and seed savers trade precious heirloom varieties. Gardening is commonly thought of something that people with yards only do, but there are many ways to garden even if you have no private patch of land.

This year why not plant a bee garden as a living shrine to a Deity or bioregion? Bees are dying in such great numbers there is now a term for it: Colony Collapse Disorder. According to Bees Free, http://www.beesfree.biz/The%20Buzz/Bees-Dying “Since 2006, North American migratory beekeepers have seen an annual 30 percent to 90 percent loss in their colonies; non-migratory beekeepers noted an annual loss of over 50 percent. Similar losses were reported in Canada, as well as several countries in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America.”

During this time of peril for bees, the great pollinators, an offering can be made of a safe haven.  Traditionally Pagan rituals focused on the renewal of the interconnected world. Today with 2 in 3 bites of food linked to the need for bees, renewal ceremonies for the pollinators in practical form are needed. Beyond Pesticides One Page Fact Sheet http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/bee-protective

states the biggest threat is “Neonicotinoids—including, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid—are a class of insecticides that are highly toxic to honey bees and other pollinators. They are systemic, meaning that they are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets from which bees forage and drink.” They not only kill the bees, but sublethal levels cause bees to get lost.

Photograph by Onderwijsgek

Neonicotinoids were banned in the EU in 2013 but this may be overturned according to The Soil Association. “The temporary EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides is looking like a fragile barrier against the political and financial muscle of the chemical companies.”

http://www.soilassociation.org/banneonics  Unfortunately 100% of the soil samples from the UK’s hedgerows are still filled with neonics, especially the hawthorn, a favorite for bees.

Honey is connected to many ancient pagan sacred rituals while Deities of flowers are abundant. In folklore Fairies are connected to flowers. Eco-pagans working to regenerate the land where they live recognize the important role of flowers, bees and other pollinators. No matter what your spiritual path, creating a native flower garden for bees is a practical ceremony that can be a living temple or offering to whomever or whatever you consider sacred. Consider it for a group ritual or a private meditation.

Your living shrine could be a container garden, a flower box, seed balls thrown into vacant lots, guerrilla gardening or planting flowers in the land where you live. Even if you are an apartment dweller there are many ways in which you can create a bee garden.

 

Step 1: Who (besides the bees!) is your bee sanctuary a living shrine for?

In designing a garden the first thing is to decide who will be the recipient of this devotion. If you are bioregional animist take time getting to know the place where you will be gardening. Listen to its needs, to its past, intuit its hopes for its future. Research what the land was like before industrial civilization changed it so drastically. Look carefully and talk to the land about the garden and sense what it needs. There are a lot of benefits which the land may want to hear about such as bringing beauty to the people and how that could result in the land being treated differently . When doing this sort of work think of yourself as a diplomat reaching out to a land that may not have much reason to trust you. Form a relationship by being honest with your intentions and listening to the environment. Any vow that you make about tending to the garden including watering be certain you will keep. You are not just creating a place where bees can pollinate; you are reestablishing a sacred relationship with place.

Whether you are a hard polytheist, believe that the different gods and goddesses are aspects of the divine or a duotheist Wiccan and believe that all goddesses are version of the Lady and all gods to be versions of the Lord, there are many Deities connected to flowers and honey for who you can plant a living temple. If there is one with whom you have a strong relationship or one with whom you would like to develop strong relationship, consider dedicating the garden to Her or Him. You can also dedicate the garden to several Deities perhaps, arrange a section for the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone or have yellow flowers for a solar Goddess and red flowers for a sacrificed God. Most of all follow your intuition. Please take a look at the following information about the Gods and Goddesses in ancient Pagan cultures and imagine how important the bee must have been.

In the Germanic tradition we have Freya, with flowers falling from her hair; Freyr’s female helper Beyla whose name is suspected to be connected to honey, from

Photo by Umberto Brayj

which the sacred mead is made; and the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the Dawn and Spring Eostre. Brythonic Britain gives us Blodeuedd “flower face;” Flora is the Sabine Roman goddess of flowers and springtime; Gaelic Scottish Bride is the Goddess of Spring; and the Gaelic Airmid is a healing Goddess of herbalism. Maia is an ancient Italic goddess of Springtime; Mycenaean Goddess Potnia is called “The Pure Mother Bee”; and the Greek nymph Chloris is associated with flowers, transforming many Divine heroes into flowers such as Hyacinth and Crocus. Hindu goddess Parvati kills a demon by stinging him from the bees that come from her body. Bhramari is the Hindu Goddess of bees, Austeja is the Lithuanian Goddess of bees while the Mayan Goddess of bees is Colel Cab. Mayan fertility Goddess Xochiquetzal’s name means “flower standing upright;” the blossom Princess Konohanasakuya-hime comes from Japan; and the Yoruban Orisha Oshun loves honey as an offering.

 

The world of flowers and bees is not limited to the feminine. Ah-Muzen-Cab is a Mayan bee God; the Egyptian sun god Ra’s tears turned to bees when they landed on desert sand; and the Hindu love God Kamadeva’s bowstring is made from honeybees. Melissus “honey man” comes from Crete; Aristaeus is the Greek God of beekeeping; and the Lithuanian God of bees is Bublias. Chinese mythology has the 12 Deities of Flowers. In Haitian Vodou Papa Simbi is the herbal healer and magician and Grand Bois is associated with trees and herbs, often given offerings of honey. The Egyptian fertility God Min is offered honey.

Wiccans could create gardens for the Triple Goddess, perhaps focusing on the Maiden or Mother depending on the type of flowers planted. If focusing on flowers of the underworld, the shrine could be for the Crone. The Green Man is an obvious candidate for a fertility pollination garden. If you are a bioregional animist these bee gardens are be offerings to the spirits of place.

Different deities are associated with different flowers. The Lily was a symbol for Ishtar, Hera, Juno and later the Virgin Mary, and of Upper Egypt. Venus and Epona both received roses as offerings. In Scotland Bride brings snowdrops with her in the Spring. In Greece the red anemone is linked to the death of Adonis while the violet is the blood from Attis, killed while hunting a wild boar. Carnations in Mexico are the flowers of the dead. Asphodel is the flower of the underworld, sacred to Hades. Ganesh Jee is known to love red flowers. Irish Diarmaid and Grainne made beds out of Heather to hide when they eloped. Celtic water goddess Coventina is depicted holding a water lily. Freya is associated with milkwort, cowslip, primrose and daisies “day’s eye.” The roots of Aster, the “starflower” of the Greeks, were crushed and fed to bees in poor health. When Virgo scattered star dust to the earth it became aster flowers. The Greek goddess Iris led the souls of dead women to the Elysian Fields, so purple irises were planted on the graves of women. Pansies were white until pierced by Cupid’s arrow when they turned purple. A maiden named Clytie fell in love with the sun God Helios who abandoned her and the Gods turned her into a sunflower. The Brythonic Olwen’s name means “white clover.” Weyland the Smith used to be left Valerian in exchange for horseshoes.

If planting a garden for the Good People, land spirits or elves consider some of these flowers. Fairies love strawberries and St. John’s wort. In folklore fairies meet in gardens of chrysanthemums. The spear thistle is the emblem for Scotland. In Wales foxglove or Maneg Ellyllyn (“the Good People’s Glove”) is sacred to fairies. Elecompane is a good offering for the Alfar who, like the Fey, also love Sweet Cicely. The Dutch called Rosemary “elf leaf” and once believed it to be haunted by elves. Daisies are helpful with forming relationships with nature spirits who also connect strongly to the highly poisonous Lily of the Valley, which should never be transplanted lest the land be offended.

Honey is part of the ambrosia of the gods of Olympus; one of the five ingredients for the elixir of immortality in Hinduism; the basis of the Scandinavian holy drink mead, while in Buddhist myth Buddha made peace among his disciples when a monkey brought him honey to eat. Even the oracles at Delphi originally are thought to be connected with honey.

Obviously honey has been an important part of human ritual for centuries! In the nation of Georgia archaeologists have found honey in an ancient tomb about 5000 years old. The dead had three different varieties of honey for the journey to the Afterlife.

 

Photo by Severnjc

Step 2: Designing the Garden

In planning where your garden will be check where the sunlight is at different times during the day. Bees like sunny places with protection from the wind. Most packages of seeds will tell you how much sun the plant needs and may say what soil conditions are best. Some plants like sandy soil while others prefer clay. Your seed or plant seller should be able to help. In a container garden the right soil seems especially important.

Here is a list of common plants that bees especially love:

Basil Ocimum

Cotoneaster Cotoneaster

English lavender Lavandula

Giant hyssop Agastache

Globe thistle Echinops

Hyssop Hyssopus

Marjoram Origanum

Wallflower Erysimum

Zinnia Zinnia

Calliopsis

Clover

Cosmos

Crocuses

Dahlias

Foxglove

Geraniums

Hollyhocks

Hyacinth

Marigolds

Poppies

Roses

Aster Aster

Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia

Caltrop Kallstroemia

Creosote bush Larrea

Currant Ribes

Elder Sambucus

Goldenrod Solidago

Huckleberry Vaccinium

Joe-pye weed Eupatorium

Lupine Lupinus

Oregon grape Berberis

Penstemon Penstemon

Purple coneflower Echinacea

Rabbit-brush Chrysothamnus

Rhododendron Rhododendron

Sage Salvia

Scorpion-weed Phacelia

Snowberry Symphoricarpos

Stonecrop Sedum

Sunflower Helianthus

Wild buckwheat Eriogonum

Wild-lilac Ceanothus

Willow Salix

Bee balm

Borage

Catnip

Coriander/Cilantro

Fennel

Mints

Rosemary

Sage

Thyme

(Remember to make sure that they are native to where you live.)

Bees also feast on the flowers in vegetable gardens, especially:

Blackberries

Cantaloupe

Cucumbers

Gourds

Cherry trees

Peppers

Pumpkins

Squash

Strawberries

Watermelons

 

Image by Wojsyl

Bees like variety, especially the colors blue, purple, white and yellow. Because different bees have different tongue lengths, include a variety of shapes of flowers. To keep them fed all season, plant a few varieties that bloom in spring, summer and autumn.

Plants that are traditionally considered weeds are the sturdiest. They make flowers, too, and many of them are helpful medicinal magickal or culinary herbs. We have seen bees excited about lemon balm and oregano. You may want to consider having your flower shrine double as a garden for cooking, magick and medicine, which may tie into any deities to whom you devoted the garden.

 

If you are buying seeds be positive that they are organic seeds, with nothing that could kill the bees. Beyond Pesticides has a webpage dedicated to the safe companies in the US. http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/what-can-you-do/pollinator-friendly-seed-directory Look for heirloom, organic seeds if you can because those are plants in danger of becoming extinct and we want lots of diversity. Be sure to focus on native wildflowers which will be hearty and support the entire ecosystem. You do not want to risk harming the bioregion while doing something to help it. Every area has a beautiful diverse variety of indigenous plants. Many stores sell an organic native wildflower mix.  eNature has a state guide for the US, http://www.enature.com/native_invasive/ Bee Happy Plants https://beehappyplants.co.uk/ready-ship-bee-pastures/

lists organic pre-19th Century Pollinator Cover Crops (which you could buy from them) or you can look online.

 

Finally if you need to, buy organic soil at your local garden shop.

If you do not have a patch of land where you can plant flowers perhaps you have a windowsill, rooftop, stone patio or balcony where you can have a container garden. There are many resources for creating a container garden. Check your local library or these websites Rhode’s Organic Life  http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/container-gardening-101

And Popular Mechanics http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/lawn-garden/how-to/g59/container-gardening-460709/

(Please remember Popular Mechanics is not about organic gardening.) Avoid shipping pallets as they have chemicals sprayed on them to prevent rotting, plastic as it leaches off chemicals and other containers that may be toxic.

 

Another option is guerrilla gardening. From WikiHow: http://www.wikihow.com/Start-Guerrilla-Gardening

“Guerrilla gardening is a term used to describe the unauthorized cultivation of plants or crops on vacant public or private land. For some practitioners, Guerrilla Gardening is a political statement about land rights or reform; for others, it is primarily an opportunity to beautify and improve neglected, barren or overgrown spaces. Guerrilla gardening can be conducted either via secretive night missions or openly in an attempt to engage others in the idea of community improvement….”

Many of the community gardens in New York City were guerrilla gardens in the 1970s. Guerrilla gardening is very popular in Europe especially England. Where there has been gay bashing pansies have been planted and recently there was an international sunflower guerrilla gardening event. The Guerilla Gardening blog has a Getting Started page http://www.guerrillagardening.org/ggwar.html

to help you with the process as does WikiHow. http://www.wikihow.com/Start-Guerrilla-Gardening (Remember, you will have to return for watering and caring for the plants.)

 

Seed balls are actually a farming technique started by Fukuoka which has caught on with many people. “Homemade seed balls are a clever way to sow seeds (single species or a mix) without digging.  It’s inexpensive, easy and you can cover a lot of ground.  They are just scattered onto the soil surface, not buried.  Then they just sit there, ensconced in their mud-and-compost ball until it rains, safe from birds, rodents,  drying out, and they won’t blow away.  They are especially useful in areas with unpredictable rainfall.” Explains permies.com

http://www.permies.com/t/974/fukuoka/Seed-Balls-good-winter-project

with great instructions on to make them. The balls are made of clay, compost and seeds, one of which should be a nitrogen fixer like Clover. Bees love Clover. Making seed balls is not hard and it is a fun group project. The Druid’s Garden https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/making-seed-balls-and-scattering-seeds-for-wildtending/

has the most truly environmental way to make seed balls, although many of us probably won’t be able to locate clay locally. (Please note that in the Druid Garden blog post there is no nitrogen fixer added to the seed balls because these balls are going into places where there already are a lot of nitrogen fixer is growing. Their post is about restoring native medicinal plants to the land.) Other instructions may be found at Mother Earth Living http://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/how-to-make-seed-balls.aspx

 

Step 3: Ceremony for the Shrine

Let the process of gardening be an act of magic. If making seed balls, envision peace, health and safety for the community. Bless all the seed balls at the end with a sacred intention for the land. If working with a group, chanting or singing as you make them can enhance the ritual atmosphere, even creating a trance state.

Planting in your yard or containers offers you a chance to experience a new form of moving meditation.  How you approach guerilla gardening may require different enchantments. Planting at night with a lookout, you may want to ask for invisibility.  Many people have stated that planting during the day, especially if they look like a city worker (some even wear a neon vest), makes them almost invisible because they act as if they are “just doing my job, sir.” If you are on friendly terms with your neighbors, they probably will be happy you are planting flowers in the abandoned hole where once there was a tree or nailing flower boxes on to the fence. Some businesses have space for flowers but no money for landscapers and could be receptive to you brightening up their storefront or parking lot, especially when you mention you will be returning to care for the plants.

If your bee garden is going to be for a deity you might want to think about painting, wood carving or making a mosaic sign in honor of that deity, perhaps something like “Flora’s Sacred Shrine,” “Potnia’s Protection” or “The Field of Mead.” Symbols related to that God or Goddess can be painted onto the pots, buried into the ground or hung from a fence or tree. Images of bees or honeycombs, the Gods drinking their honey drinks, and open flowers are all appropriate. Finding images at the garden store for a Fairy garden should not be hard.

When the flowers are in bloom and the space feels settled consider having a dedication ceremony. Perhaps invite some like-minded people over and explain how you are working with nature to repair the damage from Colony Collapse Disorder. Let them know the dangers of pesticides. A group meditation to raise energy to attract bees or requests to the Deity for whom it is a living shrine about honey and nectar could be the central focus of the ritual. Then drink mead or eat honey sweetened cakes as people sign international online petitions about protecting bees at Care2 and http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/673/611/950/

Greenpeace http://sos-bees.org/#petition to cement the energy in the political world. Toast to the sweetness of life and bees themselves. Tending to the living temple (not needed with seed balls) continues your offering to the land, Fey ones, Deities and bees.

Imagine garden after garden united in the sacred return of the blessed bee!

 

Heather Awen’s Writing Archives
https://heatherawen.wordpress.com/


Walking without conquest

We did not go to the top of the hill, and as we skirted the side, the thought came to me ‘feminist walker does not conqueror the summit’. Exploration and adventure can often involve the language of conquest. There can be something decidedly macho about the bid for the top, or for covering the distance. Look back at older explorers and adventurers, and there’s a language of penetration, as the man takes the landscape, and the landscape is female. This is something H. Rider Haggard took to a wilfully absurd extreme in King Solomon’s Mines (the mountains that are the breasts of Sheba, and the treasure cave are, when you look at the map, pretty unsubtle).

It’s easy to have even the tamest of walks turn into something that is about achievement, in a way that has a really interesting impact on our relationship with the land itself. The top of the hill is just as much about reaching the summit and looking down on everything as the top of a mountain might be. Not that there’s anything wrong with climbing things or getting to the highest point. The issue is how motives and intent affect experience. There is more to a hill than reaching the top of it, but if we’re only interested in the summit, we may miss a lot of things along the way.

This is perhaps doubly interesting  as an issue for Pagans. Many of us see land, or the Earth as a whole, in terms of goddess. Mother Earth, Gaia; if we understand this as her body, then how we walk upon it, is worth thinking about. Are we here to penetrate the forest, or the cave? Regardless of gender, we can cast ourselves in really macho roles in relation to our journeys.

It’s a different process to walk as someone who is interested in seeing how the landscape unfolds. Being someone for whom each wrinkle, each bump and curve, is important, and engaging. To be someone who seeks out not just the pretty, picturesque faces but is willing to walk through old industrial sites and new ones, along main roads, under motorways – this too is the land. The land does not always wear the face of a beautiful virgin goddess – if previous visitors have ravaged her, she may bear scars and open wounds, lines of sorrow, and she may seem hostile.

If we simply go to take, if we walk to possess and to be gratified, seeking only what is most pleasing to us, caring only for the face of the land where other humans have not bruised that face with careless treatment, we are still colonialists. Regardless of personal gender, we are still the man in the pith helmet who wants to penetrate virgin forests to bring back prizes. We don’t have to be that. We can walk in sympathy. We can walk with empathy and with a desire to know and understand, to be present rather than to conquer. Then we find that the side of the hill has its own precious qualities, different from the summit but no less worthy, and everything changes.


Breaking the Mother Goose Code

I did not really expect to be convinced by Jerri Studebaker’s book about finding signs of ancient Goddess worship in fairy tales. I’m just not the sort of person who is easily persuaded by much, and the sleight of hand history of Dr Anne Ross, and the chicanery of Robert Graves have left me resistant, to say the least. I’m very wary of circular logic, too. Go out looking for evidence of sacrifice and you’ll see it any time there’s a dead person. Go out looking for Goddess survivals and you can all too easily infer them into anything with breasts.

I ended up persuaded to a degree that surprised me.

What makes this book such an interesting and provocative read isn’t, I thought, the main thrust at all. It’s the details. The histories of where nursery stories have come from and how they’ve changed over time. The correlations between fairy stories and other major cultural shifts. I’d not thought before about the way in which many fairy stories are really at odds with Christian stories. I was, I confess, too busy being cross about the princesses. But now I have reasons to rethink those, as well.

The historical correlations Jeri Studebaker brings together in her book are intriguing. There are many unanswered mysteries here, that will leave you wondering. She has evidence for the political use of the fairy story as a way of making commentary, and the literary place for the fairy tale in Europe as well. That’s without getting into the issues of goose footed women, egg laying, and shamanism. Oh, and magic spells. And how we might envisage a non-patriarchal world. I love this book because the author is cautious about her claims, and keen to remind us when she is speculating and the limits of what the evidence can support. Speculation is so much more enjoyable when we hold our uncertainties with such honour, I think.

At this point, whether or not Mother Goose is really, historically and provably a goddess survival seems a lot less important than what we try to do with her stories, and other such stories, moving forward. It is in the nature of stories to change and evolve over time, being re-imagined to fit the new context. Stories that survive are often stories that can be adapted, or that give us powerful archetypes to work with. So the question to ask may really be, how do we want to work with those archetypes in the first place? What stories do we want to tell, and why? Do we understand the implications of the stories we are sharing?

For me, the book raised another question as well. (Bear in mind here that I am a maybeist, not a theist nor an atheist.) If religion is imagined into existence by people, as well it might be, then to connect with the religions of our ancestors we need their stories, or whatever fragments survive. Take away its stories and Christianity ceases to exist. If religion is based on the experience of living, then through shared experiences, we can come to similar conclusions as our ancestors did. If we reverence the things life depends on, then we can find our way to the importance of the mother, the goose, the eggs and all the other ideas about life fairy tales can carry. If the deities are independently real and active, then of course things that look like them will keep turning up in people’s stories and ideas, for all the same reasons that they turned up in the first place – because they are offered to us by the divine as inspiration.

I don’t know. I still don’t know. I’m fine with this, and I enjoy books like this one that are able to challenge my carefully chosen uncertainty.

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/breaking-mother-goose-code