From the Archives: Grainne – Sun Goddess/Winter Queen by Judith Shaw

This was originally posted on June 24, 2015. You can see the original comments here.

In the ancient Celtic world the Goddess was the One who expressed Herself through the many.  Grainne is such a one. She is both Winter Queen/Dark Goddess, nurturing seeds through winter, and Solar Sun Goddess, welcoming the rebirth of spring.  She is Aine’s sister or another aspect of Aine. She, like Aine, was honored at the summer solstice and the first grain harvest of early August with bonfires and torchlit processions on top of her sacred hill at Leinster, Ireland.  Remnants of these festivals are still found in folk ritual today.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Grainne – Sun Goddess/Winter Queen by Judith Shaw”

From the Archives: Brigid, Archetype of Inspiration and Activation by Stephanie Anderson Ladd

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted February 1, 2014. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Brigid, Goddess of the Fire, greets us on Brigid’s Day, February 1. She is a Celtic sun goddess whose light burns brightly, illuminating the darkness of the land, of a heavy heart, and the dark night of our soul. With her shining light to guide us, we are lifted out of the Underworld darkness where we tend to descend in Winter, to the light of the World above, teeming with life as Spring begins to unfold her wet wings.

Brigid is a beloved goddess throughout the British Isles, particularly Ireland, where she is seen as the Mother of the Land and Her people. As a feminine archetype, she activates our solar, active nature. Much like the sun rising from below the Earth’s horizon, she urges us to come out of hiding and shine our light on the world. This may be done in a quiet manner, such as sitting by the hearthfire and doing needlework, finding inspiration by a walk in nature and writing a poem, moving about the kitchen making soup, getting busy with an art or craft project, or in big ways by taking on new roles as healers, artists, and leaders and calling others to join us.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Brigid, Archetype of Inspiration and Activation by Stephanie Anderson Ladd”

Happy Thanksgiving by Barbara Ardinger

Will our families gather for Thanksgiving feasts this year? Will aunts and uncles and cousins come from near and far to sit around our dining room tables? Does anyone have a table that’s big enough for social distancing? As I write this before November actually arrives, it seems unlikely that we’ll have few traditional holiday events in our homes (or anywhere else) this year. Well, my friend, who cares? Let’s pretend our feasts will be just like they’ve always been.

Back before the turn of the century, I belonged to a group that met every month in my friend Sandy’s family room for companionship, study (we worked our way through two excellent books by Julia Cameron: The Artist’s Way and The Vein of Gold), celebrations of birthdays and other special events, and rituals honoring various goddesses. We also had potluck suppers. (That was when I found out I can’t even be in the same room with jalapeño chili peppers.) It was a friendly, caring group of about twenty-five women and a few men. Alas, many of these people have moved away, a few have died, and a couple have just disappeared. I miss this group. Continue reading “Happy Thanksgiving by Barbara Ardinger”

Mamma Mia and the Mother-Daughter Connection by Katie M. Deaver

A couple of weeks ago I went to see the new Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! movie.  In addition to being a fan of movies inspired by musicals I also loved the emphasis that was placed on the mother/daughter relationship in the first Mamma Mia and had heard that this new installment would continue to focus on that relationship.  It definitely didn’t disappoint!

This second movie takes place five years after the original Mamma Mia, and roughly a year after the death of Donna Sheridan, with Donna’s daughter Sophie preparing for the grand reopening of the Hotel Bella Donna.  This second movie also features lots of flashbacks where we are able to see a young Donna arrive at the island of Kalokairi as well as see how she first meets Sam, Bill, and Harry, her daughter Sophie’s three possible fathers.

As one might imagine, even if you aren’t familiar with the movie there is a lot going on, but the part that I found most intriguing was the very end of the movie.  At this point Sophie has given birth to her own baby and is bringing the child to the church to be baptized.  During the ceremony Donna’s spirit is there at the font with her daughter and new grandchild and you could feel this amazing sense of connection and love between not only three generations but across the lines of physical and spiritual presence and space.

Continue reading “Mamma Mia and the Mother-Daughter Connection by Katie M. Deaver”

Triple Goddesses in the Celtic World by Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw photoMany neopagans and modern Goddess worshipers mistakenly equate the triadic nature of some Celtic Goddesses with the Triple Goddess concept first popularized by Robert Graves in his book, The White Goddess. Graves stated that Goddesses were frequently found in triplets as Maiden, Mother and Crone. But there is nothing found in the ancient stories of Celtic Goddesses to indicate that they were known as Maiden, Mother and Crone. 

Continue reading “Triple Goddesses in the Celtic World by Judith Shaw”

Maiden, Mother, Crone: Ancient Tradition or New Creative Synthesis? by Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ by Michael Bakas high resoultionThe image of the Goddess as Maiden, Mother, Crone is widespread in contemporary Goddess Spirituality. The Triple Goddess honors three ages of women, in contrast to the wider culture that: affirms young women as sex objects while shaming them as sluts; celebrates mothers on Mother’s Day, while providing few legal and economic protections for mothers; and ignores older women.

Though Goddess feminists have created rituals for menstruation and birth, I suspect that a greater number of rituals have celebrated “croning.” The reasons for this are twofold. One is that women have time and space to reflect on the meaning of life in middle age. The other is that aging women are not honored and respected in the wider culture–creating a need for rituals that do just that. Many women I know have spoken of the empowerment they felt in their croning rituals.

On the other hand, many women I know have not been particularly interested in a croning ritual. Continue reading “Maiden, Mother, Crone: Ancient Tradition or New Creative Synthesis? by Carol P. Christ”

Grainne – Sun Goddess/Winter Queen by Judith Shaw

judith Shaw photoIn the ancient Celtic world the Goddess was the One who expressed Herself through the many.  Grainne is such a one. She is both Winter Queen/Dark Goddess, nurturing seeds through winter, and Solar Sun Goddess, welcoming the rebirth of spring.  She is Aine’s sister or another aspect of Aine. She, like Aine, was honored at the summer solstice and the first grain harvest of early August with bonfires and torchlit processions on top of her sacred hill at Leinster, Ireland.  Remnants of these festivals are still found in folk ritual today.

Continue reading “Grainne – Sun Goddess/Winter Queen by Judith Shaw”

An Archaic Trinity of Goddesses? Not Necessarily. by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerIn her comment following my last post which was about mythology, my friend, Carol Christ, expands on my paragraph about how the so-called “ancient triple goddess” was really invented in 1948 by Robert Graves in his book, The White Goddess. (Thanks, Carol.)

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Goddess movement was just getting up on its feet and our ovular books were being published, the idea arose that if “they” have a holy trinity, “we” have one, too. And ours is older and holier. We see it in the three phases of the moon, new (Virgin), full (Mother), and dark (Crone). Here’s a tiny sample of these books that changed the lives of so many women and men:

  • Woman’s Mysteries Ancient and Modern by M. Esther Harding (1971, but first published in 1933)
  • The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe (1974) by Marija Gimbutas
  • When God Was a Woman (1976) by Merlin Stone
  • Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths (1978) by Charlene Spretnak
  • The first edition of The Spiral Dance (1979) by Starhawk
  • The Chalice and the Blade (1987) by Riane Eisler
  • Laughter of Aphrodite (1987) by Carol P. Christ
  • The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries (1989) by Z. Budapest
  • The Reflowering of the Goddess (1990) by Gloria Feman Orenstein
  • Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book (1990) by Miriam Robbins Dexter

Triple goddess? ’Tain’t so. Our beloved triple goddess is one of our foundational myths. It’s nice and it’s perhaps inspiring, but it’s only a myth. Anyone who looks at a calendar or almanac—or up into the sky every night for a month—can easily see that the moon doesn’t have three phases. It has four: waxing, full, waning, and dark. And since the late 20th century, women have lived long enough to go through more than three stages of life. Continue reading “An Archaic Trinity of Goddesses? Not Necessarily. by Barbara Ardinger”

Brigid, Archetype of Inspiration and Activation by Stephanie Anderson Ladd

Stephanie AL_London_photoBrigid, Goddess of the Fire, greets us on Brigid’s Day, February 1. She is a Celtic sun goddess whose light burns brightly, illuminating the darkness of the land, of a heavy heart, and the dark night of our soul. With her shining light to guide us, we are lifted out of the Underworld darkness where we tend to descend in Winter, to the light of the World above, teeming with life as Spring begins to unfold her wet wings.

Brigid is a beloved goddess throughout the British Isles, particularly Ireland, where she is seen as the Mother of the Land and Her people. As a feminine archetype, she activates our solar, active nature. Much like the sun rising from below the Earth’s horizon, she urges us to come out of hiding and shine our light on the world. This may be done in a quiet manner, such as sitting by the hearthfire and doing needlework, finding inspiration by a walk in nature and writing a poem, moving about the kitchen making soup, getting busy with an art or craft project, or in big ways by taking on new roles as healers, artists, and leaders and calling others to join us. Continue reading “Brigid, Archetype of Inspiration and Activation by Stephanie Anderson Ladd”

The Found Goddesses of Good Eats by Barbara Ardinger

August 1—Lughnasadh (pronounced LOON-us-uh) or Lammas—is the first of the three traditional harvest festivals of the traditional Celtic calendar that most pagans follow today. And what naturally follows harvest? Feasting, fairs, and festivals. To help us celebrate the season, here are two Found Goddesses of good eating. The term “found goddesses” was created in 1987 by Morgan Grey and Julia Penelope, authors of a hilarious book titled Found Goddesses. After reading this book and having never met a pun I didn’t instantly love and being of a naturally satirical state of mind, I started Finding—i.e., inventing—my own goddesses shortly before the turn of the century. After I found a hundred of them, they were published in 2003 in my book, Finding New Goddesses.

When Xochitl Alvizo wrote here about the philosophy of vegetarianism and veganism in late June, I was inspired to contribute to the conversation. Although I understand the philosophy of not eating meat, I’m still a meat eater. (Though I don’t go quite as far as the so-called paleo diet.) Yes, it’s an issue of consciousness. I admit it. I just refuse to think about cows and sheep and chickens when I’m eating. But I refuse to eat lobster (because they’re cooked alive) or veal (because of how the calves are treated). I guess I’m not very consistent, and I suspect I’ve just settled for the hungry coward’s way out of the diet dilemma. Continue reading “The Found Goddesses of Good Eats by Barbara Ardinger”

Lady of the Trees by Mama Donna Henes

Donna Henes, Urban Shaman, Queen of my  self, crones,

Her roots reach to the very center of the Earth where they wind around the sacred wells, the deep source of wisdom…

Possessing the potent powers of fertility, growth, resilience and longevity, the tree is widely seen as the progenitor of the world. Family Tree. The Tree of Life. The tree goddess was seen as a sylph, an airy tree spirit who resides among the green leaves, sustaining and nurturing the vegetative forces. She is the symbol of the flow of life, a Mother Goddess who is Herself the Tree of Life.

The Maasai people claim their descent from an original parent tree. For the Slavs, the world tree is the symbol of all relationship, and as such, is held as the central philosophical image in that culture. The Maya of Central America understand themselves to be part of a great celestial ceiba tree. This silk-cotton tree, which stands for all life is the pole at the center of the Earth and serves to hold up the heavens. The Koran refers to the cosmos as a tree. Continue reading “Lady of the Trees by Mama Donna Henes”

The Full Spirited Four-Fold Goddess: The Maiden, the Mother, The Queen and the Crone by Mama Donna Henes

Donna Henes, Urban Shaman, Queen of my self, crones,

The Queen paradigm promotes a new understanding of what it might mean to be a middle-aged woman today who accepts complete responsibility for and to her self, and it celebrates the physical, emotional, and spiritual rewards of doing so.

Although I have been passionately devoted to the Many Splendored Goddess in Her complex multiplicity for more than thirty years now, I am not a believer in the Triple Goddess paradigm. It has never resonated with me because it belies what I believe to be the true nature of nature. The Triple Goddess in Her tripartite phases is widely understood to represent the complete cyclical wholeness of life. She who is Three is likened to the moon, the tides and the seasons, whose mutability She mirrors. And therein, lies the rub.

I am sorry, but forty years of researching, teaching, and writing about Celestially Auspicious Occasions — the cycles of the cosmos and the earthly seasons, and the multi-cultural ritual expressions that they inspire — I can state unequivocally that the moon has four quarters, not three, and that there are, as well, four seasons in the year. Continue reading “The Full Spirited Four-Fold Goddess: The Maiden, the Mother, The Queen and the Crone by Mama Donna Henes”

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