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Goddesses of Love and Inspiration

February is usually considered to be just about love and romance because of Valentines Day, but with the pagan celebration of Imbolc, the month is truly a time for creativity and inspiration. Here is a list of related Goddesses and basic info for those looking to plan out rituals and spells this month. This short list can also aid those writing new sensual stories with Pagan themes! Look up some of the myths of these Goddesses and let them inspire you.

Aphrodite – Greek goddess of love and war. Daughter of the sea, Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty, love, and pleasure. Though she rules marriages and the love within them, she is also the goddess of illicit affairs. Thought to have originated from the Mesopotamian goddesses Astarte and Ishtar, Aphrodite has been associated with war and battles. She teaches dedication and love of the self, and is known for her quick and sometimes unscrupulous responses to petitions (remember it was Her response to a petition that was the basis of the Trojan War!) Her symbols are the ocean, doves, apples, roses, and the mirror.

Brigid – or Brigit, Brighid, Bride: Irish goddess of the Sacred Flame. Brigid is a threefold goddess, each one her faces representing her dominion over poetry, healing, and smithcraft. Called the Great Goddess, she is keeper of the holy wells and rivers of healing and rebirth, as well as the sacred flames of creativity and inspiration. Her festival Imbolc is celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, when sacred bonfires are kept burning all evening long to call forth the sun from hiding. Brigid is the mother of inventions and craftsmanship, the wise woman of healing, as well as the patroness of poets and priestesses. As Christian thought invaded the ancient world, thegoddess Brigid was morphed into Saint Brigid of Kildare.

Ch’ang O – Chinese goddess of the moon. Ch’ang O and her husband were banished from heaven and forced to become mortal and live on the earth. Seeking to return to her place of glory, Ch’ang O took a full dose of an immortality pill meant for both her and her husband. She floated to the moon, destined to spend eternity alone. During the moon festival in China, women pray to Ch’ang O to bring them their soul mate. Ch’ang O is offered sweet foods and incense, and the hare is her sacred animal.

Lajja Gauri, also Aditi – Hindu goddess of the sky. Her name means “free,” “unbound,” or “limitless.” Ancient art throughout India  shows Lajja Gauri as a lotus-headed goddess, naked and adorned with jewels, her legs raised in a birthing or sexual position, exposing her vulva. She is the Infinite Mother, ruler over the conscious and unconscious minds, the past and the future, and the universe. The ultimate protector, she provides her children with safety, spiritual enlightenment, and material wealth; she also grants her worshippers an easy path to their heart’s desire. Lajja Gauri is mentioned in the sacred Vedic texts as the Mother of All Gods, and the mediator between the mortals and the Divine.

Ninsun – Mesopotamian goddess of knowledge. Ninsun is primarily a Sumerian deity, though some scholars believe her to be a reflection of the Babylonian Gula. Her name means “Lady Wild Cow,” and she was worshipped by farmers and herdsmen to bless their animals and crops. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as the hero’s mother and counselor. She is the keeper of wisdom, and an interpreter of dreams.

Snake Woman, also Minoan Snake Woman – Goddess of Crete. While many historians believe Snake Woman to be a household and fertility deity, other sources cite her as High Goddess and Priestess of Crete, and a powerful, seductive sorceress. She represents the feminine mysteries and holds all the magickal powers of the serpent. Her statuette depicts her in Minoan dress with her breasts exposed, and snakes in each hand.

Sarasvati: Hindu goddess of words. Sarasvati is the creator of the  arts, including music, dancing, and poetry. She is the maker of sciences and mathematics, invented the Sanskrit language, and rules all aspects of teaching and learning. Referred to as “The Flowing One,” Sarasvati inspires devotees to great heights in intellectual and creative endeavors. She is depicted as a white-skinned woman, usually with a peacock.

Yemaya, also Yemoja, Iemanja: African goddess of water. Yemaya is honored throughout West Africa and the Caribbean as the mother of the sea and the moon. She is the keeper of the female mysteries and a guardian of women. Yemaya is also a goddess of love, blessing those who call to Her with romantic opportunities and marriage. She aids in the conception of children and their births, protecting and blessing infants until they hit puberty. She is a healing goddess, showing compassion and kindness to those in need. Yemaya is the personification of rivers and bodies of water, and is often depicted as a mermaid.

Just some ponderings …

Happy New Year, everyone.

Pagans get a bad rap. We’re at the bottom of the barrel of the religious pecking order. The common conception of pagan is not a friendly one; yep, us pagans are crazy folk, evil folk, yada yada yada. Tell someone you’re Protestant or Catholic and they probably won’t bat an eye. Tell someone you’re pagan, and they are likely to back away slowly then turn and bolt for the door.

This annoys me.

In a country that prides itself on religious freedom, we still get little respect. I’m hoping that, as the green movement snowballs, people come to realize that for a lot of us, it’s a matter of finding divinity in the natural world. No, I don’t worship trees. I just love them. No, I’m not out there killing goats or plotting the destruction of the universe. But the misconceptions continue. And the odd thing is, when you start looking back in history, you find the roots of all religions entwined, at some point.

Religion, like everything else in life, is a matter of choice. For me, I find the bardic path of druidry fits me perfectly. Why? Well, for one, I’m a writer. By definition, that means I’m a storyteller. People have been telling stories since we lived in caves. We’ve always had the capability to imagine, to dream. Whether it’s  cavemen telling stories of, one guesses, the hunt, a shaman at a campfire speaking of the Raven, the trickster god, or a Viking retelling stories of Odin, storytellers do more than spin tales. They tell us who we are and where we’ve been, and force us to believe, if only for a moment, the unbelievable. And though the mediums change, from primitive ink scratched on a cave wall to the sheer memorization skills of the druids, from pen and quill to our current electronic medium, there is something sacred about that. Druidry recognizes that, and it recognizes the divinity of creation, something no other religion does. For two, I absolutely love the forest. I feel nothing in a church, but put me in a pretty little wood and suddenly I feel one with the universe. For three, I just feel an affinity to the old ways. But even so, I’m just not really into ceremonies.

Personally I think there are points of validity in all religion. And really, all faiths lead to pretty much the same place. I kind of think arguing over it is like arguing which road is the best one to take.

After all, freedom of religion means any religion.

Holiday Memories.

‘Tis the season… for thinking back to those exciting days of yesteryear.  It’s funny as I get older (heading inevitably towards both my dotage and grumpy-old-man syndrome) I think back upon childhood.  Christmas, with all its frantic and heart-pounding anticipation is often brought to mind.

I am wierd, no seriously.  I never get excited about something like Christmas until the day before and then it’s multiplied by 1,000,000.  I would be the first one up waiting the “go” signal. 

 You see our Christmas tree was downstairs in the rec room, not upstairs.  We, the Newman children, were forbidden to go downstairs until our parents got up.  My father, the eternal jokester would have to have his coffee and cigarette before we could plunge into the ripping, tearing and shrieking of joy.   So like runners awaiting the starting gun, we were perched upon the top of the stairs with trembling nerves and quivering legs.  There was a lot to plan, for that mad dash.  Our steps lead down to the front door, curved around a foyer and went back down to the basement.  Then there was the narrow hallway that lead into the rec room.  You had to watch cutting the corner of the foyer lest you slam into the banister on the right or make your turn too wide and smack into the banister on the left.  Aside from all that you were in slippers, an aptly named set of footwear, which made rounding a bend as dangerous as telling Donald Trump his hairstyle sucks.  Once onto the carpeted second set of stairs the basement floor had a door on the left (to the garage) and then two more in the hall facing one another (the laundry room and the closet).  Doorknobs are useful things.  But slamming into one with an unprotected elbow or hip wasn’t pleasant.  Plus it would put you in last place in the Christmas Race.  Also you had to prepare for the basement floor’s icy linoleum, treacherous and slick.  Once into the rec room the frenzy could take place in earnest.

But back to my Father.  Smirking and sitting in the kitchen, puffing slowly on a cigarette and sipping daintily on his coffee we would glance over our shoulders at him in desperate anticipation.  He would chuckle and tell us to be patient, he was almost done.  Then he’d go back to smirking, smoking and sipping.  I swear he could make those two things last all day!  They were the slowest, most leisurely cup of coffee and nicotine stick of the ENTIRE year.  Often I would accuse him of lighting a second one or refilling his mug—he didn’t it just FELT that way!  Then he’d crush out the cigarette, down the last dregs of his java and say….”Go ahead”.  The race was on!

My poor sister, the youngest and smallest of us would be buffeted by her two older brothers as we leaped into action!  Being the eldest (and for the longest time the biggest) I would easily shove past my brother and take the lead.  It didn’t last since he was faster than me and due to my clumsiness I always managed to bash my arms, hips and elbows into the banister and doorknobs slowing my frantic progress.  In the end somebody always fell on the foyer or the basement floor but all pain and agony was forgotten when we burst into the rec room to find Santa’s booty (presents that is, get your mind out of the gutter this is a Christmas or if you like Yule story). 

To this day when I see a staircase I wonder how to best dash down it and beat all comers to the ground floor…



Paranormal Writing

I’m not talking about writing paranormal things, but the experience of the writing itself acquiring a paranormal element.

The process of creating stories is an arcane one at the best of times. Characters, situations and settings materialise out of the air. Where does inspiration come from? There are times when it feels more like channelling, than invention. Every now and then, I write something, and it turns out to be true.

The first time it happened was in my teens, I wrote a character whose grandfather died, and within about a week, my grandfather died. That unsettled me. Then at college, I borrowed one of my tutors for a private investigator character, and then later found out that he had a love of Noire and PI stuff. I wrote a story for a Bisexual anthology, featuring a capricious, theatrical lass with long red hair and trouble forming deep relationships. Six months later she turned up in my life – older than the fictional character, but otherwise uncannily similar.

 Most of the time I don’t base my characters too much on one person – there are exceptions, but largely I make composites, drawing influences and traits from multiple sources. But, inspired by a very musical friend of mine, I set about writing a novel involving a band – fantasy setting. I knew my friend was in a band, but not much about them. So it was rather odd going to a gig of his, and seeing the guys he played with, and realising I had written them. I’d got a lot of how they looked, and temperament, stage presence etc.  That’s a few examples. It happens rather a lot to me.

 When I’m working on a story, I often have no sense of where it’s coming from, or what elements of it might turn out to be true. Looking back afterwards can be peculiar to say the least. Stories are alive, they have minds of their own, and their own peculiar relationship with the rest of reality.