Multi-Award winning Author, Julie Loar, explores feminine empowerment in today’s culture and the value of ancient wisdom…
08 Mar 2011 Leave a Comment
March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 is the 100 year anniversary of International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.
International Women’s Day honors the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s successes, and reminds us of many inequities still to be redressed. Suffragettes campaigned for women’s right to vote. The word ‘Suffragette’ is derived from the word “suffrage” meaning the right to vote. Women achieved the right to vote in America in 1920. Women’s suffrage is stated as a right under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the United Nations in 1979.
In 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a historic event occurred which has come to be known as the Bread & Roses strike. In 1845 Lawrence, Massachusetts was a flourishing but deeply troubled textile city. By 1900 the mechanization and deskilling of labor in the textile industry enabled factory owners to eliminate skilled workers and employ large numbers of unskilled immigrant workers, the majority of whom were women. Work in a textile mill took was grueling and the labor was repetitive and dangerous. Half of the workers in the four Lawrence mills of the American Woolen Company, the leading employer in the industry and the town, were girls between fourteen and eighteen.
The workers in Lawrence lived in crowded and dangerous apartment buildings, often with many families sharing each apartment. Many families survived on bread, molasses, and beans. The mortality rate for children was fifty percent by age six, and thirty-six out of every 100 men and women who worked in the mill died before age twenty-five. The mills and the community were divided along ethnic lines: most of the skilled jobs were held by native-born workers of English, Irish, and German descent, while French-Canadian, Italian, Slavic, Hungarian, Portuguese and Syrian immigrants made up most of the unskilled workforce.
Several thousand skilled workers belonged, in theory at least, to the AFL-affiliated United Textile Workers, but only a few hundred paid dues. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) had been organizing for five years among workers in Lawrence, but had only a few hundred regular members. Then, in March of 1912, 20,000 workers went on strike. “Bread and Roses” was poem written by James Oppenheim in 1912. He was present at the strike and a banner that said, “Give us bread but give us roses.” Struck by the remarkable imagery, he wrote the now-famous poem that is a reminders how precious and precarious freedom can be.
What you might ask does this introduction have to do with the Divine Feminine and a book about goddesses? A resurgence of the sacred feminine is sweeping the planet, and I wanted to know who the Goddess really is. What characterizes the feminine side of the divine? How is that different from what masculine divine energy? It seemed to me that these realities profoundly affect the way women view and value themselves and likewise how men perceive everything feminine, and that was the impetus that drove me to research goddesses from around the world and to write Goddesses For Every Day.
I can’t answer the many puzzling historical or cultural questions of why the feminine was suppressed and even demonized for roughly 4,000 years. It’s a confusing and distrubing mystery, but it is the simple truth. I believe we must become aware of what has been lost, sleeping or hidden for essentially 4,000 years. I think all of us, men and women alike, need to heal our disenfranchised feminine side. My search and research into the rich veins of memory and myth have convinced me we need to awaken from an amnesia that has lasted for millennia. The well-known words of George Santayana can serve as an important warning. He said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
It is my opinion that the world has become out of balance and that we have come to a precarious place. It’s my wish to be an agent of change, a provocateur of sorts, hopefully helping in some way to restore a sense of equilibrium. I’ve seen lots of change in three generations of what is possible as a cultural reality for my daughters and granddaughters, and that gives me a measure of hope. The revolutions in the Middle East, and the voices for organizing rights across the country, are finally being raised in protest.
My search to understand this phenomenon led me back in time nearly 34,000 years. Thousands of years ago a Great Goddess manifested as a trinity long before the masculine version of the bible. One of the earliest representations of this goddess was the bear, and scholars have evidence that she was honored in that form as long as 70,000 years ago. The Goddess was revered around the world as Maiden, Mother, and Crone, or Elder. She is still honored in many places by indigenous people. She was complex, and not always gentle, but understanding her nature, and moving in rhythm with her, was related to hunting cycles and growing seasons. Her worship involved a reciprocity with the Earth and the creatures she gives life.
I believe humanity has a deep need to revere the feminine side of the divine. This unmet need is surfacing in our time in such examples as the phenomenal popularity of The Da Vinci Code, which highlighted principles of the feminine. Apparitions of Mary, mother of Jesus, are on the rise around the world. One of the most documented in recent times was in Zeitoun, Egypt, where hundreds of thousands of people of diverse beliefs stood side by side, over a period of twenty-three years, watching as Mary appeared over a small church in a suburb of Cairo. Millions make annual pilgrimages to Fatima, Lourdes, and the site of Our Lady of Guadeloupe in Mexico. Worldwide response to the death of beloved Princess Diana of Wales also spoke to our need to revere a feminine archetype.
We can reconnect and reclaim feminine energy by learning to move more consciously in resonance with cycles: monthly, yearly, and the stages of our lives from maiden, mother and elder crone or grandmother. Embracing the deep symbolic meaning of the cycles of our blood is empowering. Indian cultures have moon lodges where women can be apart when they bleed as this is seen as the height of their monthly power. Paying attention to the phases of the Moon is a simple and powerful way to honor the constant, but ever changing, Moon. We can create a symbolic moon lodge in our own lives.
Seeking the wisdom and counsel of a grandmother can bring that stage of life back to its once-honored place. The strength of a grandmother is a potent force indeed, someone who has stood at the gates of birth and faces the portal of death. We should be willing to sit at the bedside of someone who has chosen to die consciously through hospice. These gateways were once the domain of the crone before being stolen by the patriarchy.
We can learn more about the diverse myths of global goddesses, taking in the rich legacy of feminine power that was suppressed for so long. Many of these goddesses are alive and well in Hawaii, Africa, India and neo-paganism. Ancient Egyptians said every woman was a nutrit, a “little goddess,” after the nature of the great goddess Nut. I believe it’s time for all of us to behave as if it’s true.
25 Feb 2011 Leave a Comment
Jupiter entered the astrological sign of Aries in June for a period of three months, giving us a preview of this transit, and then moved back into Pisces by retrograde motion. Jupiter reenters Aries in mid-January 2011 and will remain direct in motion until entering Taurus in June 2011. This relatively short and speedy passage through Aries is in character with the combination of planet and sign.
Jupiter in Aries is an exciting, inspiring and enthusiastic blend of energies. The natural expansiveness of Jupiter is happy to experience the adventurous nature of Aries, resulting in dynamic and vigorous expression. Jupiter expands whatever area he visits, so while he moves through Aries we might see a growth of pioneering ideas. Jupiter wants more and bigger of everything, embodying the principles of inspiration, abundance, optimism and philosophy, so Jupiter has plenty of room to move in Aries. This compatible combination can generate abundant ideas on a big scale, and there is energy and enthusiasm to carry them out. Especially if those annoying details can be delegated to Virgos.
There can be a sense of destiny in this combination of influences that gives an intense courage of conviction that borders on a crusader’s intensity. The pioneering quality of Aries is infused with the optimism and growth of Jupiter, signaling an almost gold rush mentality with the potential for enhanced gain in chosen endeavors. Aries rules the head, and Jupiter’s god of light aspect can be seen as a positive influence, perhaps contributing the element of foresight to counteract Aries impulsive fire-first-aim-later tendency. Jupiter likewise adds a somewhat scientific and philosophical bent to Aries headstrong qualities.
The Jupiter in Aries blend contains the kind of confidence that attracts abundance. This expansive combination desires to broaden horizons, reaching out to explore the larger world. This mindset could aid global diplomacy as Jupiter in Aries might engender a curious and tolerant open-mindedness about other cultures.
Jupiter in Aries will blaze a trail into the unknown if a path hasn’t already been cleared. The downside is an unwarranted level of optimism that tends toward rash action and overconfidence. Jupiter in Aries loves new challenges and is willing to take on situations that others think are impossible. However, it can be difficult to live up to the magnanimous promises that were made in a moment of well-intended largesse. On its own, this combination nobly, and with the best of intentions, believes that anything is possible. But Jupiter in Aries becomes easily bored and wants to move on to the next new, stimulating idea, so it’s vital to choose a qualified second-in-command well in advance.
Since Jupiter is seen as a god of light, who might have become a star, we can hope that his capacity to “see the light” will be increased in the first six months of 2011. Jupiter in Aries may prompt the quest for truth and meaning so evident in his own sign Sagittarius. It’s tempting to imagine that Jupiter’s inability to catch fire left a tremendous void in his planetary psyche, making him a more powerful prod in the quest for illumination.
In late February, Jupiter, at 6 degrees of Aries, will form a square aspect to Pluto in Capricorn. This is an intense cardinal friction that might bring new insights into old forms that need to change. As a nation, the focus might be the ongoing revelations of corruption in financial sectors and corporate campaign financing. Jupiter in Aries could provide an impetus for real change, but the confrontations could be tumultuous. For individuals, it’s a chance to examine where we might have compromised ourselves for the sake of perceived power or security. If we find ourselves in an ethical dilemma, it’s time to take stock.
Jupiter will then oppose Saturn in Libra at the end of March 2011 at 14 degrees. Old patterns of relationships and partnerships demand to be reevaluated. This is true individually and collectively and the dramatic political climate is evidence of these tug-of-war energies. This also sets up a powerful dynamic in the chart of the US. Saturn in the sky conjoins Saturn in America’s birth chart, and that conjunction opposes Jupiter moving through Aries, In addition, the opposition forms a T-square with the US Sun at 13 Cancer.
At issue, I believe, is who we are as a nation abroad, and what we stand for at home. Both can seem to be at odds with how the country acts out relationships and partnerships. This intense configuration will also mark the second pass of the country’s Saturn return at 14 Libra. What’s at stake, I believe, is profoundly influencing our future destiny as a nation. Will we become an increasingly corrupt plutocracy, or will there be enough collective will to realign with our founding ideals of a true democratic republic?
Even though dwarf planet Eris is larger than Pluto, she hasn’t yet made her way into mainstream astrological interpretation, and it’s too soon in the game to know how aspects to these newly identified solar system objects will express astrologically. Coming after the aspects of February and March, Jupiter will conjoin dwarf planet Eris in April and May of 2011, at 21 and 22 degrees of Aries. Eris may dramatically upset some apple carts in the status quo, asking some hard questions. Where do we need to examine situations from a completely different perspective, and how might a complete reversal of thinking change things for the better? This conjunction triggers the US Mars and could provide some helpful energy to make needed changes.
Jupiter’s transit of Aries will make issues and opportunities seem larger in scale, and perhaps this will create a sense of pressure to find solutions and seize the moment to make changes that will lead toward positive growth.
31 Jan 2011 Leave a Comment
I’ve had lots of questions since recent newspaper articles reported the sensational claim by Minnesota astronomer, Parke Kunkle that people’s astrological signs have changed. Well, that’s not true, but it does require a bit of technical explanation. Rest easy, your sign has not changed, and your identity is not at risk, but there is a bigger picture to consider.
The astrological signs are based on the seasons, and are divisions of time, beginning with spring equinox, which is the symbolic birth of the year. This is the point when the balance of light and dark achieves momentary equilibrium, before tilting toward increasing light. The opposite point is autumn equinox. Every year the Earth makes a full circle around the Sun, and every year without fail, the sign of Aries begins at spring equinox. Then, every month (or so), in thirty-degree segments of the yearly circle, a new sign begins.
However, what does change is Earth’s position relative to the stars over a very slow passage of time. Scientists believe it’s caused by the Earth’s wobble. Earth wobbles as she spins and is also inclined on her axis of rotation. This tilt creates the seasons, and the wobble creates the phenomenon called Precession of the Equinoxes. This movement goes “backward” through the zodiac instead of the annual direction that is more familiar. This slow motion causes two changes in the sky from our viewing perspective on Earth. Like a slowly spinning top, our planet’s axes trace imaginary circles in the heavens drawn by the Earth’s poles. As the orientation of the North Pole shifts relative to the circumpolar stars, a different North Star slowly moves into position over thousands of years. The same is true of the Earth’s south pole and the southern stars. This imaginary stylus moves at the rate of roughly one degree of arc in seventy-two years.
An additional byproduct of this wobble causes spring equinox sunrise (in the northern hemisphere), to occur due east against a backdrop of stars which slowly shifts. Because this event occurs on the ecliptic, (the apparent path of the sun through the year), the stellar backdrop is formed by the slowly moving starry curtain of the twelve zodiacal constellations. Astronomically, the zodiac constellations are in a circular band of sky, eight degrees above and below the ecliptic. This space contains the familiar star patterns from the Ram to the Fishes, as well as stars and deep sky objects.
Called the Great Year, and composed of twelve cosmic months, which are the astrological ages, this cycle lasts roughly 26,000 years. Because the sky shifts, the astrological signs are no longer aligned with the constellations that gave them their names. About 4,000 years ago the stars of Aries rose at spring equinox. Now it is the last of the stars of Pisces, but it is still the annual onset of spring in the northern hemisphere that heralds the sign of Aries.
In the past, different cultures have imagined the stars as different “pictures” and had different zodiacs, but since 1930 astronomers around the world have agreed on eighty-eight constellations. Zodiacal constellations are twelve of the eighty-eight divisions of space recognized by the International Astronomers Union. Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, also mentioned by Kunkle, is a thirteenth constellation that is also in the zodiac region, but is ordinarily not part of the traditional zodiac. However, the indigenous Maya have thirteen constellations in their zodiac.
For roughly two thousand years, spring equinox sunrise has occurred against the stars of Pisces, The Fishes, which rise in pre-dawn darkness before the Sun. Soon, as the backward march shifts, the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius” will be heralded as this constellation moves to center stage and defines the new world age. Three to four thousand years ago the stars of Aries provided the backdrop for spring equinox sunrise. Before that the stars of Taurus held the distinction. As the ages changed, sacrifices of bulls shifted when Moses chose the ram as the sacrificial animal of the new age of Aries. At the shift of the ages of Aries into Pisces, Jesus was both Lamb of God and Fisher of Men as the sacrificial symbol for the age of Pisces, the Fishes. Now, due to the gradual movement of precession, Aquarius has advanced to the springtime place in the northern hemisphere, and a new symbol for the Aquarian age will emerge. Perhaps the figure of the Waterbearer will be a galactic human?
Astrologically, the duration of an age is characterized and defined by the archetypal energies of the constellation whose stars rise before the sun at spring equinox dawn. Each phase of the Great Year is like a month, possessing a distinct and overarching quality of experience. The ages are like spokes of the cosmic wheel, presenting a phase shift of archetypal energy designed to provide an evolutionary schoolroom for developing humanity. Since the great cycle of the ages is a repeating pattern, perhaps we can learn about our present and future from a better understanding of the past.
As the zodiac presents an annual circle of archetypal experience, so too does the Great Year. The changing of ages has longs cusps or transitional periods, and there are no precise demarcations of the circle where one influence stops and a new one begins. We can only look back in time to sense approximately which archetype held sway and what experience humanity drew from to unfold our emerging pattern.
The signs of the zodiac are a function of the year, while the apparent shifting of the stars is a measure of an age. Like the larger cycle of the ages, the circle of the year also represents successive phases of experience. The zodiac signs have been described like stained glass windows that “color” the solar and planetary influences. Symbolically, the signs of the zodiac form a cycle of experience that provide the template of evolution through which Earth receives the influences of the Sun and planets.
So, while you are definitely still an Aries or Libra, Pisces or Gemini, it’s very worthwhile to go outside on a clear, dark night and contemplate the majesty of the stars and the vastness of the Universe of which we are a part. Humanity’s story is an ancient one, and contrary to apocalyptic notions at the current changing of the ages, the tale is far from over.
07 Jan 2011 Leave a Comment
Goddesses for Every DayJulie LoarNew World LibraryISBN: 1577319508 When I first picked up Goddesses for Every Day, I remember remarking that it might make a good reference book. That per
13 Oct 2010 1 Comment
I was surprised in my research to learn that there are thousands of goddesses from around the world. I wanted to represent many diverse cultures, so I included as many goddess as possible within the 366 days of the year, including February 29. I also wanted readers to be able to explore the goddesses in a deeper way if they felt called to do so, so I included goddesses that seemed to have enough lore in books, or on web sites, to allow for a fruitful search.
The process taught me a great deal about the nature of guidance. Hundreds of goddesses revealed their deep wisdom and showed me the many-faceted nature of feminine power. They spoke through the timeless language of symbols, myths and archetypes. I have been amazed by the depth and breadth of wisdom I discovered, and I was continually awed by a creative process that drew me along as a willing, if sometimes dazzled, participant.
23 Sep 2010 1 Comment
A resurgence of the sacred feminine is sweeping the planet, and I wanted to know who the goddess really is. What characterizes the feminine side of the divine? It seemed to me that these realities profoundly affect the way women view and value themselves and likewise how men perceive everything feminine.
The idea of wisdom, especially divine wisdom, is considered feminine in every tradition where it’s named as a construct. That includes Judaism and Christianity. But this idea has been forgotten. In the Middle Ages it was heresy to revere the sacred feminine, so this reverence went underground. An example is Sapientia, “lady wisdom,” in Latin. She was a hidden goddess of philosophical inquiry when the sacred feminine was heresy. Beautiful antiphons are still chanted to her as part of Catholic advent liturgy.
I also believe that humanity has a deep need to revere the feminine side of the divine, and this unmet need is resurfacing in our time in such examples as the phenomenal popularity of the The Da Vinci Code book and film, which featured feminine symbols. Apparitions of Mary, mother of Jesus, are on the rise around the world. One of the best documented instances in recent times took place in Zeitoun, Egypt, where hundreds of thousands of people of diverse beliefs stood side by side, over a period of twenty-three years, watching in awe as Mary appeared over a small church in a suburb of Cairo. Millions make annual pilgrimages to Fatima, Lourdes, and the site of the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. The site in Mexico is the most-visited Catholic site, second only to the Vatican. The tremendous outpouring of love and concern in response to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, also spoke to our need to revere a feminine archetype. The goddess has been known as Queen of Heaven and Great Mother in many cultures, and it seems vital that she reclaim her throne.