Tag Archives: ritual

A picture is worth 1000 words, maybe more

evans-sacred-grove-fresco-complete

The ancient Minoans were a literate society but we can’t read what they wrote. Their script, Linear A, has yet to be deciphered. So how on earth can we tell how they practiced their religion? We may not have words, but we sure have a lot of pictures.

The Minoans were consummate artists. Their art style was more naturalistic and softer than the art of their contemporaries in Egypt and Mesopotamia. One of their favorite painting methods was the fresco: The artist paints the picture directly onto wet plaster on a wall or other surface, so when the plaster dries, the paint is locked into it. Frescoes are incredibly durable, which is a good thing, because most of the Minoan ones are nearly 4000 years old!

The image at the top of this post is the Sacred Grove fresco. It’s a small piece (usually labeled as a miniature) that was found in the temple complex at Knossos. And it depicts, of all things, a ritual being performed before a large audience on the west plaza at Knossos. Those stone sidewalks you can see angling behind the priestesses? They’re still there – you can walk on them today. It’s from artwork like this that we know the Minoans put on large public rituals, possibly mystery plays, for the public in addition to the private ceremonies they conducted within the walls of the temple complex. Unfortunately, we don’t know for certain what the ritual in the Sacred Grove fresco involved beyond what we can see in the picture. But we have other sources for even more detail, like this one:

This is the Hagia Triada sarcophagus, a rectangular box that was used for burial in late Minoan times. What’s so amazing about it is that Minoan funeral activities were painted on the sides. So we know all kinds of things about this aspect of Minoan spirituality: what kinds of offerings and sacrifices were made, what the priesthood wore, how the musicians accompanied the activities. That’s a lot of information from a painted box.

From Akrotiri, a Minoan city on the island of Thera (modern name = Santorini) we have a bunch of frescoes that show the puberty coming-of-age rites for both girls and boys. Here are some of the more famous ones:

We can see the kinds of symbols and objects that were important in these rites: saffron (picking it and offering it to the goddess), the goddess with her attendant monkey and griffin. Other frescoes from this same building show that blood was an important aspect of the girls’ rites (obviously) and some kind of ritual bathing was apparently important for the boys’ rites.

So even though we can’t read what the Minoans wrote (yet – I refuse to give up hope), we still know an awful lot about how they practiced their religion. When I look at these beautiful frescoes, I feel like I could reach through and touch the living, breathing people. Maybe that’s what the Minoan artists intended, to keep their culture alive forever.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: January 7

Lots going on in Ancient Egypt today, which happens to be one of my favorite cultures. I also think its fitting because this month is Women’s Empowerment Month here at P&P.

One thing Egypt has is very strong and empowered women. In fact, one of the things that I admired most of this culture was the fact that their women didn’t cling to any Great Gods to save them but rather took matters into their own hands and saved themselves.

We have seen a lot of Sekhmet and today is no different. Once again, because she is most deserving, she’s honored in Egypt. Sekhmet was not only testament to all women–being a strong warrior and protector, but she also brought the Dead cake and wine in the Underworld daily.

Also today in Egypt, there will be a festival of Isis. Now Isis was the Goddess of many things (why she is called the Goddess of a Thousand Names) but today she is remembered for being the Patron of Women, Children, Magic, and Medicine.

So on this day, whether you are Pagan or not, perhaps you could take some time to yourself…let your mind heal, so to speak and get in touch with your inner Goddess—the real woman that lives inside of you. Maybe you can see your children with new eyes and you’re importance to them. Remember that you are their protector and Patron. Remember that your love has the power to change the world you live in….because when it comes down to it, it is your world. Remember that magic isn’t divining tools and cauldrons but something that lives inside of you—energy. And that you can make anything happen no matter what the odds.

 

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: November 28th: Egypt’s’ 3 Fold, A Goddess Month and Runic Month Begins

Well it seems the Egyptians have triple blessings to celebrate on this day in our Ancient Calendar. A feast for Hathor and Sekhmet will kick things off, but also, they honor Ma’at.

~

Now while the Egyptians are doing their thing, the Greeks will once again be doing theirs.

Today marks the beginning of their Goddess Astraea. Yep, this is her Goddess month and we think she deserves it because Astraea happens to be the Goddess of Justice. We all know we need a lot of that in this world.

~

Now while her month begins, so does the Runic half month of Is.

Is- ‘I’-ice.

This is a time of forced rest.  No movement, no growth. Just rest.

If you draw this rune in a spread, it means…

Isa:  A vertical line.

Normal: Winter has come upon you.  You seem to be
frozen in ice and can not move.  Positive
accomplishment is unlikely now.  A cold wind is
reaching you over the ice flows of outmoded habits.
Try to discover what it is that you are holding onto
that prevents the spring from arriving.  Shed the
outdated, and the thaw will follow.  It may be that you
have no control over the conditions causing the winter.
In this case remember that this is the way of Heaven
and Earth; winter follows autumn, but spring will
always follow winter.  Watch for signs of spring.

 

Source

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays : November 27th : Sacred Fleece & a Farewell to Cailleach, for now…

In Ancient History….

Today, the Greeks are having a Pompaia of the Sacred Fleece!

In classical Greece, a Pompaia was a formal celebration of rituals that took place in many cities and towns by tons of people—people being the key. In this particular one, many  would carry the skin of a sheep that had been sacrificed in honor of Zeus. As they walked together holding the fleece, a priest of Zeus would hold up a Caduceus (a staff of Hermes intertwined with snakes) and lead them onward.

Zeus was said to protect all those participating in a Pompaia.  This particular one was meant to drive away storms so that the newly planted crops would not be harmed or destroyed. However, there are other purposes for this day as well. One of them being evil. If someone had been doing lots of evil deeds and wanted to be purged from the evil itself, they could place a left foot on the fleece, and the fleece’s power would drain all the evil out of them.

The Goddess Month of Cailleach Ends today.

 

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: November 20th: A Greek Initiation and An Egyptian Goddess Linked to New Age Vampires

 

Today, Greece is holding a festival for Praetextatus & Paulina.

Praetextatus & Paulina happen to be the keepers of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Today an initiation ritual would have been preformed by the Greeks and their Priestesses. That’s what the Eleusinian Mysteries are, initiation of the initiate, along with whatever celebration and ceremony that moment called for.

These mysteries belonged to Demeter and her daughter Persephone. These mysteries, not to be confused with lesser ones, were the greatest and most sacred in all of Greece.

In Egypt, we have another feast going on. This one is for Sekhmet—a goddess you really don’t hear too  much anymore unless you frequent Vampire communities online or, maybe, in life.

Vampires or those who are into that lifestyle, having their own reasons, have adopted this Goddess into their own personal pantheon, but in Ancient Egypt, no such belief existed *winks*—least not on this day of course.

On this day, Egyptians would have held  a huge feast in Sekhmet’s honor and homage paid to her Purifying Flame.

Her name means power or might. She sustains the spirits of those who have died by bringing them food in the Underworld.  If you are living, she would be important to you to as well. For if you have need of conquest, vengeance, or punishment for wrong doers, then you would skirt off to a Temple of Sekhmet.

Beginning as a warrior, she was all about protection. The Pharaohs’ depended on Sekhmet greatly for protecting them. It is said that her breath created the deserts.

Sekhmet (Sakhmet) is one of the oldest known Egyptian deities. Her name is derived from the Egyptian word “Sekhem” (which means “power” or “might”) and is often translated as the “Powerful One”. She is depicted as a lion-headed woman, sometimes with the addition of a sun disc on her head. Her seated statues show her holding the ankh of life, but when she is shown striding or standing she usually holds a sceptre formed from papyrus (the symbol of northern or Lower Egypt) suggesting that she was associated primarily with the north. However, some scholars argue that the deity was introduced from Sudan (south of Egypt) where lions are more plentiful.

Sekhmet was represented by the searing heat of the mid-day sun (in this aspect she was sometimes called “Nesert”, the flame) and was a terrifying goddess. However, for her friends she could avert plague and cure disease. She was the patron of Physicians, and Healers and her priests became known as skilled doctors. As a result, the fearsome deity sometimes called the “lady of terror” was also known as “lady of life”. Sekhmet was mentioned a number of times in the spells of The Book of the Dead as both a creative and destructive force, but above all, she is the protector of Ma´at (balance or justice) named “The One Who Loves Ma´at and Who Detests Evil”. Source

Links for further reading:

The Ecole Initiative: The Eleusinian Mysteries

Eleusinian Mysteries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sekhmet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ancient Egyptian Gods Online--Sekhmet

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Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: September 16th: HARVEST MOON & ECLISPE!!!!!

I am publishing this one a day early so everyone has time to prepare!

It is Harvest Moon day AND we will be having a Harvest Moon Eclipse, around 12:45 PM, I think Eastern? Here is the Old Farmer’s Almanac link and a TIME, WHERE and WHEN to help you figure out your area.

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For Witches or those of the Craft,  those who practice Divination or anyone needing a boost with their fertility magics, make sure to hold onto to your seats and get ready for a super-powered punch because not only is today the Harvest Moon, but it’s also packing the punch of an Eclipse!

The Harvest Moon is Ancient & Pagan Calendars generally fall on the first full moon on or after this date (15th). With it being on this day , the 16th) and an eclipse to boot, well I’d say we are all in for a special treat.

For those wanting to be pregnant or use a fertility rite in other areas of your life, this is or was said to be the day that such magics could happen. It is said that more women conceive under the Harvest Moon than any other.

This will also be the FINAL eclipse of the Moon for the remainder of the year.

Quoting: It will be visible across Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Those across North America and South America will have to wait until 2017 to see another eclipse. Source  : End Quote

The Harvest Moon originated in Europe, but also, it came from the American Indians because the Moon itself told them when it was time to Harvest their Corn. The light given from this Moon allowed and allows Farmers to work longer hours in order to bring in their harvest.  The Harvest Moon stretches across the globe into many Cultures. Even China.

This is a penumbral eclipse. That’s when the Moon, itself, travels through the outer edges of the earth within’ the planet’s shadow.  The Moon or part of it will darkened but not completely disappear. Some say this is when the Moon has the power of ALL Moons.  This is when the energies of the Moon, the Earth and the Sun all combine.

This is a great time to Draw down the Power of the Moon, or give honor to Lunar Goddesses and Gods. It is a fabulous time for healing or well, any sort of productive ritual—even the final completion of one- a time to harvest the benefits of all your hard work.

If you wish to increase your physic powers or use divination or strengthen your intuition, well, jump on the moon wagon. Tonight if your night!

This is a time for Dark Magic (Not evil, but Dark, as in how all life began, in the womb.) It is a great time for Sidhe magic and even connecting with the Otherworlds.

This is a time of the Crone. Think Hecate, if you need a mental aspect of that or Sekhmet of Egypt.

Egyptian Priests believed the Moon was the Mother of the Universe. What I think is particularly interesting right now is, we have just had Lammas, a time when the God (Sun) enters the Earth (the Mother’s Womb) where he dies in order to bring life to the Grain—where in spring, he will be reborn like the Grain.

With this Eclipse, the Moon (the Mother) will become one with the Earth (her womb) and the Sun (the Father & Son).

Moonstruck or moon-touched was said to be the doings of the Great Mother, who was picking out her chosen ones. Those who were moonstruck were described as “Silly” which happened to be a word that originally meant, “Blessed.”

Regardless of your intentions or needs, prepare for a powerful burst of energy that will affect all.

Get Ready!

Darkness – Birthplace of Light

In Celtic tradition we begin our celebrations on the Eve of the feast day, in the darkness.

In my post Sun Wise I talked about the way the sun appears to go round in opposite directions depending on whether you live north or south of the equator. In either case it is the two poles, north and south, that are the places of darkness. They are the womb which births the light.

Whether or not the ancient Celts knew about the lands south of the equator, they were certainly bright enough to realise this fact about the sun. And they knew that the poles are the womb of creation in this way, the darkness before dawn.

Bosch's Hell

Christianity has made a devil of the darkness and many people are afraid of the dark, partly as a result of the innate myths perpetrated by this religion. The peopled it with nasty beings, all out to do you down, all the critters in Hieronymus Bosch paintings. This is not how it is at all, as the Celts and other shamans know very well.

The darkness is the darkness of the womb, of potential, of creation. The chrysalis where the caterpillar transforms into the soup of Life and then remakes him or herself into a butterfly.

Knowing this is why the Celts work from the pole, the place the sun never travels through, to the dawn, then the zenith ending at the nadir where the sun sets. As I said in the previous post, this is from the north round to the west in the northern hemisphere, and from the south round to the west in the southern hemisphere.

Midwinter is the shortest day of the year, as far as sunlight goes. At the poles, the sun doesn’t rise at all.

–       Remember, midwinter for the north is midsummer for the south! I’m writing from the place where I am, the northern hemisphere and Britain. If you live in the southern hemisphere then the same ideas apply but you transport them 6 months down the line.

Meditations for the season of Sun-Return, the midwinter solstice, often call up these concepts of birth, and of death. TS Eliot’s words in his poem “The Journey of the Magi” are very apt – whatever your spiritual beliefs …

… were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

Eliot hits the nail on the head with his usual acumen, “were we led all that way for Birth or Death?”. This is how it is for the shaman. He describes the death as “hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death” and so this transit of the year is for the spiritually aware. Change is like that and this change, from the going down into the darkness to the coming out into the light is just such a one. Richard Bach put it very well, “what the caterpillar calls a nervous breakdown, the master calls a butterfly”. However, we all know how hard it is to see that from the caterpillar’s perspective!

Eliot goes on to say, “no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, with an alien people clutching their gods”. I find this very profound. On the surface we cans see the Christian pulling away the skirts from that which might contaminate. But go deeper. We all feel this as we grow and change, as we re-enter the womb, decompose and then recompose again, are birthed into, what is to us, a new world. We are no longer at ease with the way things were/are. We see friends and neighbours even as aliens, clutching at different beliefs to those we now have. Part of us often wants to crawl back into the womb so we don’t have to live in the new world in which we find ourselves … but we can’t. We have to continue, to live, to grow to change.

It can indeed feel like living in one of Bosch’s paintings. But contemplation and meditation, working the shaman’s way, asking one’s Familiars, one’s Totem group, asking all the elders of the world – all of creation, which is far older than us – to guide and guard and keep us through this time of change really works. It really does help. I do it myself every season and I help others to do it too.

Being brave enough to go down into the dark, to die to the past, to go into the womb of the mother and ask to be reborn … these are the good and beautiful things of this season of Sun-Return.