Leo Goddesses – The Cobra

“With power comes great responsibility.”

From Goddesses for Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine Around the World

The Goddess Sign for Leo is the Cobra, and she is arguably the Queen of Serpents.  Around the world serpents and dragons are connected with the wisdom of the sacred feminine.  Many cultures also imagine the apparent motion of the Sun, the ruling planet of Leo, crossing the sky as a serpent.  Dragons are creatures of fire, and in myth cobras are seen as “spitting fire” at their enemies. Leo goddesses include radiant solar goddesses, great cats from different cultures, and also those who represent the creative principle of fire in the form of dragons or serpents.  Leo goddesses represent nobility, the principle of light, and the fire of the Sun.  Sometimes these goddesses are daughters of the Sun.

Wadjet is an Egyptian goddess who was depicted as a golden cobra on the crown of the pharaoh.  Sometimes she is pictured as lion-headed and crowned with a sun disk and the ureaus, the cobra symbol.  She was a fierce fire-spitting serpent who was the symbol of mastery and regent of the northern part of Egypt.  Her name is the ancient Egyptian word for “cobra” and “eye.”  One of her aspects was the “avenging eye of Ra,” the Sun.  In a mystical sense she is like the Red Lion of alchemy who wields the magic of fire and burns away the impurities of our personalities.  Budhi Pallien is another great cat goddess of the Assamese people of northern India.  Their native language derives directly from Sanskrit.  She roams the jungles of the area in the form of a great tigress, protecting her territory.  She possesses a great deal of natural wisdom and is able to communicate with other animals and send messages to humans when necessary.  

Saule is the great goddess of the Lithuanian and Latvian peoples from the Baltic area.  Her name means “little white sun.”  She was also called Queen of Heaven and Earth and was envisioned as the sun itself.  She was also the goddess of amber, which comes from the Baltic region.  In contrast to some other capricious solar deities, Saule was loyal and hard working and was greatly admired.  Hae-Soon is a Korean sun goddess.  As she sets off on her daily journey across the sky people come out to look at her.  At first she blushes dimly, but as she feels stronger she burns brighter and lights up the day.  After a time she shines so brightly that people cannot look at her directly.  Akewa is a sun goddess of the Toba people of Argentina.  She journeys across the sky, bringing light to the world each day. Sometimes a great jaguar swallows her, causing solar eclipses.  But she is too hot, and the jaguar spits her out, returning sunlight to earth.

Python is a very ancient Greek goddess in the form of a great dragon.  Python was the original underground guardian at the ancient shrine of Delphi in Greece, long before the priests of Apollo hijacked the site.  Dragons are magical creatures of fire.  In myth she was born to the goddess Hera, without the participation of Zeus, indicating her antiquity. Mahuika is a Maori goddess of fire.  Like Python, she lives deep in the underworld where she preserves the secret of making fire.  Her story is called the “spark of Mahuika.”  To this day the Maori of New Zealand say rubbing together the dry wood of her sacred tree can awaken the sleeping child of Mahuika and bring forth a flame.  

Amaterasu is a Japanese sun goddess.  Long ago her brother savagely destroyed her garden and killed her animals.  She fled inside a cave to hide and deal with her sorrow, and the world became dark and desolate.  Over time eight hundred deities gathered outside the cave to coax her out.  The goddess Uzume performed an outrageous and bawdy dance, using a magical mirror called Yata no Kagami.  Everyone laughed and Amaterasu came out to investigate.  Her brilliance was reflected in the mirror, and she became convinced to return her much needed light to the world.

Sunna is a Scandanavian goddess whose title is Mistress Sun.  She carries the sun across the sky each day in her chariot pulled by horses.  Her mother’s name is Sol.  Belisama is a Celtic sun goddess whose name means “bright light.”  She represents the brightness of summer and is a goddess of fire, including sunlight, starlight, and the fires that forge metal for weapons and crafts.  Shapash is a goddess of the sun who was worshiped at sunrise, noon and sunset by the people of ancient Ugarit, part of modern-day Syria.  One of her names was Torch of the Gods.  Like many solar deities she has an affinity with serpents and was said to have the power to cure snakebites with her burning light.

We are close to the midway point between summer solstice and autumn equinox.  Already we can sense a shift in the nature of the light but the power of the sun, and the goddesses who serve and embody this fire, is strong and intense.  We can make conscious use of this fire to burn away what no longer serves us, freeing ourselves to radiate more of our own brilliant and purified light into the world.

http://www.JulieLoar.com

Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA  www.newworldlibrary.com  

Pisces Goddesses — The Grail

“An awakened heart is full of compassion.”

Goddesses for Every Day

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Pisces is a Mutable Water sign and can be seen as the universal solvent, which both dissolves the boundaries of separation created by all the preceding signs, and creates the fluid environment in which the seeds of a new cycle can germinate. In Pisces the sorrows and joys of others are keenly felt and this is the sign where compassion is born. More than any other sign Pisces must lose a sense of the personal self in service to something higher. Pisces contains the knowledge of the underlying unity of all things, which is the reality behind the world of manifested forms.

The Goddess Sign for Pisces is the Grail, the chalice that contains the waters of collective consciousness. The Grail is a symbol of the quest toward immortality and conscious union with the Divine.  Pisces is traditionally symbolized by two fish swimming in opposite directions in the ocean of existence, but tethered at the tails. Pisces can represent illusion, not seeing clearly or refusing to see, or divine inspiration. This stage of the journey requires faith.  Pisces endows knowledge of the alchemical “Below,” the deep reservoir of collective existence, which engenders empathy. Pisces goddesses include mermaids, fish deities and mother-creators from the sea, as well as those who embody the principles of sacrifice and compassion.

Kwan Yin, who is called Mother of Mercy, is a Chinese bodhisattva and the embodiment of the principle of compassion.  She is usually depicted in a flowing white robe, holding an urn containing a substance called the “water of life” in one hand and a weeping willow branch in the other. In Japan she is called Kannon; in Bali, Kannin; in Korea, Gwan-eum; and in Thailand, Kuan-eim. One legend says Kwan Yin has a thousand arms with which to reach out and respond to the countless cries of humanity.

Ganga, whose name means “swift goer,” is the Hindu goddess whose body is the holy Ganges River in India. The origin of her waters is believed to be in heaven, where she circles the celestial Mount Meru three times.  In iconography she is depicted with a full vessel, which symbolizes her life-giving potential as well as her cleansing waters.  Britomartis is a goddess from ancient Crete who was addressed as “sweet maid,” and is thought to represent the maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess—Maiden, Mother and Crone.  Britomartis was also called Lady of Nets as she bestowed the gift of fishing nets to her people.

Oba is a great goddess of the Yoruba people of western Africa, who were savaged during the period of slave trading. The waters of the river that is named Oba represent her. Some stories say she has a difficult relationship with her sister Oshun, who lives in another river. As proof, the waters are turbulent and dangerous where the two rivers meet.  Ma Tsu is a Taoist goddess of the sea from ancient China.  Her name means “mother ancestor.” She is still revered by more than a hundred million people in the coastal areas of southeastern China where her devotees come from seafaring lineages.  Sedna is a goddess of the Inuit people of the frigid Artic north who were once called Eskimo.  Her myth is a story of a beautiful girl who was tricked by a potential mate and then betrayed by her father when she called for help. Her father cast her out of his boat to save himself, even cutting off her fingers as she clung to the side. Her appendages became seals, walruses and whales.  Sedna is now Queen of the Sea and is the guardian of all the food the Inuit hunt.

Maya is a Hindu and Buddhist goddess who is the universal creator of all forms in existence, and she is the divine power that allows the evolution of the world.  She is worshipped as Mother of Creation and Weaver of the Web of Life. She represents the continual exchange of matter and energy, and seems to be the embodiment of Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2.  Amphritite is a Greek goddess who ruled the sea long before Poseidon/Neptune. She is perhaps better understood as the ocean itself.  In art she is depicted in a chariot drawn by hippocampi, fishtailed horses.

Hina-Ika is a Hawaiian goddess known as Lady of the Fish.  She is regarded as the mother-creator of the island of Molokai.  In Polynesia she is known as Ina, and in New Zealand she is Hine-tu-a-manga, meaning “goddess of waters.” She is the guardian of the sea and all its creatures. The whales are her siblings and she retaliates when they are killed.  Ningyo is a Japanese mermaid goddess who is depicted with long black hair and the tail of a fish. Legend says that when Ningyo cries, her tears become precious pearls.

Lady Of The Lake, who is often called Viviane, is a Celtic goddess who appears in several guises.  She appeared in the Arthurian legend, and in some versions she was the foster mother of Lancelot.  She was also the guardian of the Hallows of Kingship, sacred objects related to the principle of sovereignty. Modjadji, which means “ruler of the day,” is a rain goddess of South Africa and an earthly manifestation of the goddess Mwari. She is called “transformer of clouds.” Modjadji is a rain queen who is thought to posses the secret of creating rain by interacting with cloud spirits.

As the wheel of the years turns toward light in the northern hemisphere, and winter snows become spring rains, we can call upon these water goddesses. Their healing waters can help prepare the fertile fields of our imagination to receive new seeds. Pisces goddesses can help us connect with these strong currents to bring rivers of healing and potential fertility into our lives.

 

Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA

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Sagittarius Goddesses

Aim for the Stars and Keep Your Feet on the Ground

The Goddess Sign for Sagittarius is the Bow and Arrow

Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign and embodies the idea of illumination that results from the joining of balanced power in the two prior signs, Scorpio and Libra.  Sagittarius energy is philosophical in nature, seeking wisdom and an understanding of fundamental archetypal principles.  While its opposite sign Gemini tends to gather information, Sagittarius looks for wide and varied experiences that ultimately lead to spiritual understanding.  The path of Sagittarius is to learn the patterns that lie at the root of our problems and challenges.  This search can lead to true perception and the ability to focus and direct the fire of aspiration.

The Goddess Sign for Sagittarius is the Bow and Arrow, and this symbol affirms that we should aim for the stars and keep our feet on the ground.  In traditional astrology, Sagittarius is symbolized by the Archer, who is a centaur.  Many goddesses, in fact some of the most ancient, are huntresses who live in primeval forests and guard the animals who live there.  For these goddesses hunting is not sport but a sacred act of reciprocity that is represented in women’s lives and the Earth herself.  The Sagittarian hunt can also be seen more symbolically as the quest for wisdom, engaging the fire of aspiration that takes us into a larger view of the world.  Goddesses that are included in Sagittarius represent wisdom, dreams, providence, fortune, the voices of oracles, and horse goddesses who are kin to centaurs.  Because Sagittarius is ruled in astrology by the sky god Jupiter, a mythical latecomer, goddesses of light, wisdom, thunder and lightning are also included.

Diana is the Roman goddess of the hunt.  She is equivalent to the Greek Artemis, although Diana is thought be of earlier Italian origin.  Diana was envisioned as riding across the sky in a chariot drawn by two white stags.  Much later, she and her twin Apollo were born on the Greek island of Delos.  Many temples to Diana were later converted to churches dedicated to Mary.  Danu is the ancient mother goddess of the Celtic Tuatha De Dannan, the “people of the goddess Danu.”  They were believed to be a magical race of beings skilled in the lore of the Druids.  They are linked to the legendary fairy folk who live beneath the hills.  The root of Danu’s name means “overflowing abundance,” which is a likely connection to a Sagittarius goddess.  

Fortuna is the Roman goddess whose domain is good fortune, as her name suggests.  She was worshipped far and wide in the Roman world.  People visited her shrines to appeal for her positive intervention in their changing fortunes, and she was usually depicted on a grand scale.  Tyche, whose name also means “fortune,” is a Greek mother goddess who likewise has dominion over fate and luck.  She is usually depicted standing on a wheel, blindfolded and winged.  A statue found in Petra, Jordan, shows Tyche’s face within a zodiac, which is supported by the winged goddess of victory,  Nike.  It was said no ruler of Antioch had the ability to act without Tyche’s favor. 

Bilquis is an Arabian goddess from Yemen who scholars equate with the legendary Queen of Sheba. Bilquis was half djinn, or genie, on her mother’s side, and was endowed with magical powers and great wisdom.  One lineage considers her to be the mother of Menelik, the king of Ethiopia, who was Solomon’s son and part of a dynasty that extends to present-day Rastafarians.  Minerva was the goddess and keeper or guardian of Rome itself, although she is Etruscan in origin.  Her name derives from an Indo-European root that means “mind.”  Minerva was seen as the actual embodiment of wisdom.  Athena, or Pallas Athena, is a famous Greek goddess of wisdom.  The owl, who is able to see in the darkness, is her sacred animal.  The Greeks named the city of Athens for her in gratitude for the gift of the olive tree.  In a contest for the honor, Poseidon struck a rock on the Acropolis and created a spring, but Athena won the day when her olive seed sprouted and bore fruit. 

Sapienta, whose name means “feminine wisdom” is another archetype of wisdom.  Wisdom was sophia to the Greeks and chockmah to the Jews.  The Latin Sapienta thrived as a hidden goddess of philosophical inquiry between the fifth and fifteenth centuries when the sacred feminine was considered heresy.  In a similar way, Shekinah, the feminine side of God in the Jewish tradition, is seen as the principle of light that dwelled at the very heart of the Jerusalem temple. Sarah, who is described in the Bible and the Quran, is really a goddess in disguise.  Her name means both “goddess” and “princess.”  In rabbinic literature her gifts of prophecy were greater than those of her husband, Abraham, since Sarah received her prophecies directly from God rather than from angels.  As a human woman she was a Chaldean princess who brought both wealth and status to her husband.  

Pandora was a Greek goddess whose name means “all giver.”  Her story is an example of how powerful goddesses were diminished as the patriarchy ascended to power.  In the early myths, Pandora was married to Prometheus and she dispensed only good gifts to humanity   The identification of “Pandora’s box” was a later invention and a translation mistake.  The container was a honey jar, a pithos, which poured out only sweet blessings.  Bona Dea, the “good goddess,” was a healer whose special rites were celebrated on December 4, the date she is honored in Goddesses For Every Day.  She was shown seated on a throne and holding a cornucopia.  She was worshipped in gardens of medicinal herbs where sick people were tended.

Rhiannon is a Welsh horse goddess who name derives from Rigantona, which means “great queen.”  She was made famous in modern times by means of the popular song of the same name written and sung by Stevie Nicks.  In the magical and mysterious ways of the Goddess, Nicks liked the name when she read it in a novel but was unaware of the myth until after she wrote the enduring song.  Rolling Stone magazine rated Rhiannon as one of the greatest songs of all time.  

Wherever the idea of wisdom is found in traditions around the world it is always seen as feminine.  I believe it’s because wisdom can be seen as a container in which we gather our experiences and knowledge.  Because vessels are always feminine, and true wisdom involves compassion, it is an essentially feminine and receptive quality—something we attain and hold.  During the time of Sagittarius we can call upon powerful goddesses of wisdom and light to guide us through the dark time of the year.

Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA www.newworldlibrary.com     

Earth Day

“A religion without a Goddess is halfway to atheism.”    

Dion Fortune

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As I ponder Earth Day my mind and heart are drawn to a contemplation of the Divine Feminine. I experience Earth as a goddess, as a mother, and my love for her is deep.  I was drawn to this image of Green Tara, a goddess in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Within Tibetan Buddhism Tara is regarded as a bodhisattva of compassion in action and came to be seen as an expression of perfected wisdom. Green Tara and White Tara are the most popular representations of Tara.

Tara embodies many of the qualities of the feminine principle. She is known as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion. She is the source, the female aspect of the universe, which gives birth to warmth, compassion, and relief from bad karma as experienced by ordinary beings in cyclic existence. She engenders, nourishes, smiles at the vitality of creation, and has sympathy for all beings as a mother does for her children. Green Tara offers help and protection from all the unfortunate circumstances one can encounter within the world of sorrow. As White Tara she expresses maternal compassion and offers healing to beings who are hurt or wounded, either mentally or psychically.

Nearly forty thousand years ago a Great Goddess was revered, and clay figures of her are the earliest depictions of humans that have been found.  Cultures were more agricultural, time was experienced as circular, and the growing cycles of Earth were honored.  Seasonal festivals celebrated the annual ebb and flow of life as people moved in conscious resonance with shifting cycles of light and dark, life and death.  Western culture no longer moves in harmony with natural cycles.  In fact, we can no longer see the stars.  Earth Day celebrations bring back the honoring of the Earth and her cycles. 

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 Guadalupe in Mexico.  Worldwide response to the death of beloved Princess Diana of Wales also spoke to our need to revere a feminine archetype.

The feminine is half of all that exists. At this time I especially honor the feminine principle that is the Earth as well as all the growing things.

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Give someone you love a gift of 366 goddess for Earth Day or Mother’s Day. Click on the book to order.

My deepest thanks.

Julie

Has your astrological sign changed?

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.

Julie Loar
January 2011