“Precious pearls are formed by friction.” Goddesses for Every Day
Cancer is a Cardinal Water sign that marks the Summer Solstice and adds the powerful quality of emotion to the mental nature of the preceding sign. Cancer acts like the womb, and is the Universal Mother principle, providing the vessel from which all forms are born. Cancer energy is highly instinctual, nurturing and protective, longing to make a home and build emotional connections. Learning to stabilize and steady the emotions is the path of Cancer.
The Goddess Sign for Cancer is the Clam Shell, symbol of the ocean from which Cancer’s traditional symbol of the Crab emerges. The Goddess Sign for Cancer expresses the sentiment that precious pearls are formed from friction. Shells, which are containers of the life that emerges from the ocean, appear in numerous cultures as images of the goddess. Sometimes it is the Cowrie shell, which is widely revered, and is suggestive of a woman’s anatomy. The goddess Venus also mythically emerged from the ocean on a clamshell. The sign of Cancer is ruled by the Moon, so Goddesses which appear in the sign of Cancer include lunar goddesses from diverse cultures as well as goddesses of the sea. Cancer goddesses are nurturing, often creators, and are linked to the ocean which is the source of all life. They are protective mothers who guard the home, keep the hearth fires burning, and honor their ancestors and ancient traditions.
Hestia was the firstborn Olympian, older even than Zeus, and was the daughter of the Titans Kronos and Rhea. Her name figures in an ancient Greek expression, “start with Hestia,” Meaning “Begin at the beginning.” She is the symbol of the hearth fire at the center of the home. Satet is an Egyptian goddess who was thought to release the Nile flood each year at the summer solstice. Each year the great goddess Isis shed one magical tear, which would be caught by Satet in her jar and then poured into the river to begin the flood.
Mari, like the Egyptian Isis and the Hindu Devi, is an overarching Great Mother goddess who is the source of all life. Her name and nature has come down to us in many forms, including Mariamne in Greek, Miriam in Hebrew and the English Mary. Hina is a great goddess of Hawaii who is the eldest of the indigenous Hawaiian pantheon. She is known all over Polynesia and the Pacific. Nu Wa, called Lady Dragon, is a Chinese creation goddess who sculpted humanity from mud long before the similar story appeared in Genesis.
Oshun is a goddess of the Yoruba people of West Africa, and is one of their seven great Orishas, or spirit beings. Her domain is the fresh water of rivers and it is believe that she is the owner of the rivers. Leucothea, whose name means “white goddess” is a Greek sea goddess. Her nature comes from the image of whitecaps on the ocean or in the foam of the tides. In one story it is Leucothea who rescued the hero Odysseus from drowning. Ajysyt is a mother goddess of the Turkic Yakut people of Siberia. Her name means “birth giver,” and she is also called Mother of Cradles. She is present at every birth, and women invoke her to relieve the pains of childbirth.
Devi is the Sanskrit world for “great mother,” and was merged into many Indo-European names. Devi is cosmic force, and she is the creator, annihilator, and re-creator of the universe, which she holds in her womb. Kaltes is a goddess of the Uguric people of Siberia. She is a moon goddess who watches over birth and sometimes she is a shape-shifter like the moon. Ngame is a lunar creator goddess of the Akan people of Nigeria. She creates all things by shooting life into new beings through the power of her crescent-shaped bow and life-giving arrows. She is also the mother of the Sun.
Mother Goose is the familiar character from children’s nursery rhymes, but her origins are ancient. Egyptians recognized the Nile Goose, called the Great Chatterer, who laid the cosmic golden egg from which the sun god Ra emerged. Birds appear as companions of the goddess across cultures and reaching far back in time. Selene is a Greek goddess of the full moon. In classical times she was the daughter of Thea and Hyperion. Selene was depicted with wings and sometimes she was shown riding on a bull. More often, she rode across the night sky in a silver chariot drawn by two white steeds. Ilithyia is a Cretan goddess who acts as a divine midwife. Women in childbirth prayed to her as a “liberator” who freed the infant from the womb.
In the northern hemisphere it is high summer and the time of greatest light. It is a common time for weddings, starting a home and honoring the hearth. We can celebrate a symbolic bonfire, releasing energy from the past that needs to be available for new forms. It’s liberating to invoke these great mothers and dance around a bonfire, dreaming of what we desire to birth.
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