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Archive for the ‘Dark Goddess’ Category

It has been a while since I left a blog here, but I often say to my clients and students…’life happens’!

So it did for Simon and I. Earlier this year everything turned on its head in the space of a few days. It was the start of an emotional rollercoaster that began with the full Moon on Valentine’s Day and followed the New and Full Moons thereafter until the New Moon on the 26th July when we completed the purchase of our first house. By the Full Moon on the 10th August we had fully moved in – us, the cats and the trees!

We now find ourselves living in the Land of the Red Dragon – Wales – exactly 2 degrees of latitude due north of where we lived in Devon and 170 miles away, by road.

The translation into English of our new address is – ‘The sacred house of Saint David, on the ridge by the wood near the Church of St Cadmarch’. We look out to the Hills of the Wild Horses to the south and the Welsh Mountains to the north. Beautiful!

Mostly settled in my new home, I am now turning my attention once more to the unseen energies of the Land.

Looking at the energies of the forthcoming New Moon and eclipse it is interesting to note that Mars hugs its biennial spot on the galactic centre (27-28 degrees Sagittarius). Hopefully this will bring wider understanding and a practical approach to the difficulties in the world at this time. This is an opportunity when a new balance could be found if people, both individually and collectively could act less selfishly.
There is still plenty to be uncovered/discovered and the truths that emerge eat away at the constructed beliefs that all are fed and many still do not question. The knack is to habitually look beyond what is obvious, to try to understand the processes that are in play.

This eclipse, at zero degrees Scorpio, is also conjunct Venus. A karmically laden eclipse if there ever was one! Venus in Scorpio needs a lot of effort to transform it from continuous lack of self-worth, deep resentment and jealousy into an insightful, powerful healing energy. Yet, at a quintile ( 72 degrees) from Pluto in Capricorn the spiritual drive is there to complete the change.

Samhain/Halloween may be less than two weeks away, but the transformation drive of the so-called ‘dark’ aspects of the Goddess are being reflected in this eclipse cycle. In her many guises she challenges us to change, to let go of what holds us back, to reassess where we are going and what we are doing. Time spent reflecting on these challenges in the next few days will be time well used!

(The solar eclipse will be visible in the north of the USA and the north Pacific)welsh dragon

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Whilst visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum in London recently we came across this lovely sculpture of St Margaret and a Dragon:
Far from the dragon being at all scary, this one looked more like a pet.
StMargaretsmall
St Margaret is recorded as being a patron saint of childbirth, pregnant women, kidney disease and wronged people. The childbirth and pregnancy angle is initially very surprising as she was venerated for her virginity. However, one of the stories goes that on her refusal to marry she was tortured. It was also said that she was tempted by or eaten by a dragon. When the dragon swallowed her she fought back and killed it with her crucifix – hence her sometimes being referred to as ‘St Margaret, the Dragon Slayer’. Here, the assumption being that the dragon was a representation of Satan. It is thought that this is where her patronage of childbirth came from – as she herself was safely delivered from the innards of the dragon.
In the Roman Catholic Church her feast day used to be the 20th July, but in the fifth century it was first suggested that decided that her story was ‘apocryphal’ (of doubtful authenticity) and only in 1969 was the date was withdrawn from the calendar. In the Eastern Orthodox Church her feast day is the 17th July. St Margaret is still recognised as one of the saints that spoke to Joan of Arc and indeed there are many churches that bear the name ‘St Margaret’ – including Westminster Abbey.
Delving a bit further, here are some of the lines that give reference to St Margaret, taken from a mediaeval poem:
“Holye mayde Margarete loked her besyde.
There sche sawe a lothelye dragon in a corner glyde,
Brennynge as the blake fyre. His mouthe he gaped wyde.
That mayde wexed alle greene as the gresse in someres tyde.” (lines 179-182)
“Holy maid Margaret looked her beside.
There she saw a loathly dragon in a corner glide.
Burning as the black fire. His mouth he gaped wide.
That maid waxed all green as the grass in summer time.”

 

The final line is very interesting as ‘waxed all green as the grass in summer time’ was a well-known, subtle way of referring to promiscuity.
So what do we have here? Is this a description of seduction? Is this yet another tale of deriding women for being women? This does seem to sit easily with some religious traditions that make it clear that if a woman is raped, she is the one to be punished. Similarly, with a situation of sex outside of marriage when the woman is blamed and vilified, yet the man walks ‘free’.
Is the ‘dragon’ also another way of referring to woman’s sexuality, women’s ability to give birth and women’s power?

Not as far-fetched as one might think and there is a religious commentary on the story of St Margaret and the dragon that says:

“Surely this is because giving birth is not unlike a dragon splitting open to reveal a saint!”

Ouch!

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maatsmall

Maat or Ma’at, was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law and justice.

Maat was also personified as a goddess who regulated the movement of the planets and stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities. In this way she set the order or logos of the universe. Egyptians believed in an underlying unity in the universe and that proper conduct in public life upheld that (21st century politicians please note!). In short, everything, everywhere was linked to and part of Maat.

Early records indicate that Maat is the status quo for nature, society, in every dimension. Her role in and after creation is to prevent the universe from returning to chaos. Pharaohs were often depicted with the emblems or images of Maat to highlight their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.

Maat was depicted as a young woman, usually holding a sceptre and ankh. Sometimes she is shown as having wings and nearly always has a feather as part of her headdress.

Her energy is often thought of as a combination of the planet Saturn (law, tradition, stability) and the zodiac sign of Libra (The Scales). The stone Lapis Lazuli has close connections to her.

She also had a role in Egyptian mythology as the person who dealt with the weighing of souls that took place in the underworld, after death. The departing soul (the heart) was weighed against her feather to determine whether the soul would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully. You can find a list of the questions that the soul was asked below the main text. These questions are comprehensive and anyone telling the truth would answer ‘no’ to at least one, consigning the soul to another incarnation.

Anubis/Thoth would then weighed the heart against Maat’s feather and if the scales were balanced the soul was released into the afterlife.

Maat has a temple dedicated to her in Karnak and there have been hints in documents that suggest that there were at least two others ( Memphis and at Deir el-Medina)

Having done Kabbalistic pathworkings linked to Maat when much younger, I can vouch that when working with her energy one has to be clear about one’s motives, completely truthful and honest or all hell will break lose!

Here is a translation of the 42 Negative Confessions. Some of them may seem repetitive, but this is caused by the inability to translate the exact intent and meaning of the original language.

1. I have not done iniquity.
2. I have not robbed with violence.
3. I have not stolen.
4. I have done no murder; I have done no harm.
5. I have not defrauded offerings.
6. I have not diminished obligations.
7. I have not plundered the neteru.
8. I have not spoken lies.
9. I have not uttered evil words.
10. I have not caused pain.
11. I have not committed fornication.
12. I have not caused shedding of tears.
13. I have not dealt deceitfully.
14. I have not transgressed.
15. I have not acted guilefully.
16. I have not laid waste the ploughed land.
17. I have not been an eavesdropper.
18. I have not set my lips in motion (against any man).
19. I have not been angry and wrathful except for a just cause.
20. I have not defiled the wife of any man.
21. I have not been a man of anger.
22. I have not polluted myself.
23. I have not caused terror.
24. I have not burned with rage.
25. I have not stopped my ears against the words of Right and Truth. (Ma-at)
26. I have not worked grief.
27. I have not acted with insolence.
28. I have not stirred up strife.
29. I have not judged hastily.
30. I have not sought for distinctions.
31. I have not multiplied words exceedingly.
32. I have not done neither harm nor ill.
33. I have not cursed the King. (i.e. violation of laws)
34. I have not fouled the water.
35. I have not spoken scornfully.
36. I have never cursed the neteru.
37. I have not stolen.
38. I have not defrauded the offerings of the neteru.
39. I have not plundered the offerings of the blessed dead.
40. I have not filched the food of the infant.
41. I have not sinned against the neter of my native town.
42. I have not slaughtered with evil intent the cattle of the neter.

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ekajati2

Ekajati, whose name means ‘one single birth’, or ‘one braid of hair’ is probably one of the fiercest and most powerful of the ‘dark’ goddesses, mamos8 or dakinis9. She is found in both Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

She has a special place in the Tibetan traditions of  Bön1 and Dzogchen2 teachings as she is regarded as one of the three protectors3 or guardians the teachings. According to legends her right eye was damaged by Padmasambhava 4 so that she could help him deal with Tibetan demons.

In her Tibetan manifestation she is seen as having a chignon or bun of hair and only one eye – the latter being a nod to the legend that Padmasambhava pierced the other – but also indicative of non-dual vision, the lack of separation between the universe/creator and the self. Her single tooth shows that she destroys or eats through obstacles and the single breast feeds those who correctly follow the teachings and traditions that she protects.

Like many images of the ‘dark’ goddesses, she is depicted naked or sometimes wearing a skin (in softer imagery a tiger skin, but in more wrathful imagery – a human skin!) and dancing on the corpse of the ego. Her headdress if often composed of skulls as is her necklace. What she hold in her hands can vary – skull cup5, grigug6, khatvanga7 or  in some designs a  corpse of a perverter of the teachings as her sceptre in one hand and the heart of an enemy or betrayer in the other.

As one of the ‘21 Taras’ her energies are also seen as Mahachinatara (Dark Blue, Wrathful or Ugra Tara) and in Blue Tara (where she depicted with the head of a wolf). She is regarded as a liberator, with the power to remove fear and barriers on the path to enlightenment.

Mantras and practices linked to Ekajati are kept secret or only released after an initiation process as many teachers accept that working with her energy can be destructive if a practitioner does not have the capacity to handle the effects. Disrespect, carelessness and laziness will be dealt with by her destroying egos and pushing a practitioner onwards to ultimate realization. This may sound like something one would aspire to, but the effect, without appropriate guidance and support would likely be fatal!

Notes:

1Bon: is the native, ancient Tibetan practice that has its roots in shamanic and animist traditions and now runs parallel with later Buddhist practices.

2Dzogchen: translated from Tibetan as ‘The Great Perfection’, sometimes also called ‘Atiyoga’

3Protectors: Ekajati is generally considered one of the three principal protectors of the Dzogchen and Nyingma lineages. The others are Rahula and Dorje Legpa.

4Padmasambhava; also known as the ‘Second Buddha’ and Guru Rinpoche. He introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet.

5Skull Cup: Implement used in ritual to remind the practitioner of the impermanence of life.

6Grigug: Implement used in ritual to represent a knife used to remove skin from a corpse

7Khatvanga: a long staff with depictions of 3 skulls and ribbons of the 5 colours of the elements

8Mamos: Wrathful goddesses, usually pictured as furious, ugly women. They can be dakinis acting as protectors. Ekajati is their queen. If reacted to negatively, mamos appear to be aggressive, destructive and wreak chaos.

9Dakini or Khandro: Energy beings often but not exclusively in female form, messengers, bringers of wisdom .

ekajati

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 The Goddesses who Spin and Weave

The weaver and spinner goddesses come from many cultures and traditions. ‘Weavers and Spinners’ are those energies that activate and guide events in our lives that help us develop our own individuality and disentangle us from becoming blind followers of what is considered ‘normal’- no sheep or lemmings here! This process of individualisation is often accompanied by change, transformation and challenge that are seldom comfortable. The processes help us to understand the relationship we must have with life itself and the balance we need to have within ourselves to move forward.

 These archetypes themselves and the effects of working with them, bears a close relationship with the facets of the dark goddess from Tibetan Buddhism and Hindu philosophy. Contacting these goddess energies directly can be a terrifying experience unless well-prepared. Touching the underworld of our souls is not for the faint-hearted!

In Greece the ‘Fates’ – Clotho (spinner), Lachesis (allotter) and Atropos (unturnable) were the three crones who controlled the destiny of an individual by spinning their life with a spindle and distaff. Athena was also linked to spinning and condemned the arrogant Arachne to life as a spider. Ariadne, from Crete, helped Theseus escape the labyrinth with thread she had woven after he had killed the Minotaur.

Neith was the goddess of weaving in Egypt prior to the dynasties we are all familiar with. She was renowned for her wisdom but is most widely identified as a goddess of war and protector of women.

Ragnell comes to us from a 15th century English poem as she who seriously challenged Gawain (one of King Arthur’s knights) with the classic question …..‘what is it that women desire?’.

(The answer to this question is subject of the song mentioned in a previous blogpost on March 13th 2013 ‘King Henry’ by Steeleye Span). Ha!

 The tales of the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm – ‘The Three Spinning Women’, Rumpelstiltskin (Mr Gold in TV’s ‘Once Upon a Time’) and the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson – ‘The Lady of Shalott’ all remind us of the pitfalls of spinning and weaving.

 Pulling the whole imagery of the weavers and spinners together, brings into question how much freewill we have or think we have – and how much of our lives are at the whims of ‘fate’.

 When we know we are ‘stuck’, repeating the same patterns, with the same responses and recreating the same problems – what do we do? The ‘dark’ aspects of the Goddess might be a way forward….. but make sure you have a good guide! Few of us are as innocent and honourable as Gawain!

weaversmallred

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VenusScorpio

I have been pondering the placement of Venus in my natal astrology chart over the last few days. My Venus is in the sign of Scorpio, 5th house, and is, at present, being influenced by the planet Saturn, as it passes though Scorpio (transiting Saturn conjunct natal Venus), Saturn takes about 28 years to complete one cycle through the zodiac, so this is the second time I have experienced this effect of Saturn on my Venus.

 The first transit occurred between December 1983, allowing for retrogrades, it left the proximity of my Venus, in September 1984. I can remember little of that time. My younger daughter would have been between 21 months at the beginning and two years 6 months at the end. It was probably one of the most financially secure times in my life. Emotionally and mentally it was also quite stable as I had had none of the postnatal depression I had experienced four years earlier. Spiritually it was time for reading and it was also when I resumed my studies as an astrologer. (I gave up whilst my daughter was very small, due to ‘baby-brain’!)

 If you look at standard astrological assessments for natal Venus in Scorpio, they are usually focused on the sexual and erotic nature of the Venus/Scorpio mix and often not that flattering! Having said that, several people in public life also share this placement with me – Leonardo de Caprio, Mahatma Gandhi, Hugh Jackman, Bill Gates, Demi Moore, to name a few, plus (Goddess forbid!), Vladimir Putin, with whom I also share my birthday! (His ascendant is 3 degrees Scorpio, mine is 18 degrees Cancer)

 In the superficial astrological blurb available, Venus in Scorpio focuses on the sensuality and passion of the Scorpionic energies – deep, not easy to read, stubborn, jealous and intense – all of which I can relate to though as far as jealousy is concerned not something I would easily admit to. It is not jealousy of others, their possessions or position in life, but a type of jealousy aimed when others take more than a friendly interest in my partner. I relate this to the ‘all or nothing’ element of commitment with this planet/sign mix, to the extent that one of my favourite quotes is ‘Do or do not  – there is no try’, attributed to Yoda in ’The Empire Strikes Back’. Commitment and loyalty are 100% until betrayal by another party, then I simply withdraw completely and walk away.

Venus in Scorpio is also considered to be a karmic placement for the planet with regard to relationships. The crunch is on the ability to love, accept and tolerate oneself and to have a sense of self-worth. Lack of these is often displaced onto other people as wariness, distrust and a need to manipulate. From a soul point of view, the destructive and transforming nature of Scorpio would activate in any relationship that does not help with the development of the higher self. (A good excuse if ever I heard one for giving a partner the elbow!)

From a holistic viewpoint Venus in Scorpio has the capacity to change the vibration of energy, like a rheostat does in an electrical circuit, stepping up and stepping down the power. The capacity to heal is therefore powerful but it needs to be harnessed in a way that the amount of energy given out or taken in would not damage the healer or client. Physical therapies would therefore be attractive, if there was a mechanism to do this within it – like I found in several of the therapies I trained in. The ability to see into the murky depths of any person or situation does give an unnerving skill to see to the truth or possibilities available. This can be used in psychological investigations, counselling and mentoring. Venus in Scorpio is very much the ‘Lady of the Lamp’ who can show the soul the way forward.

I think the depth of perception is what makes many people scared of me, both men and women. I always thought this was because of the strong Uranian energy that I carry (the rebel, the square-peg-in-a-round-hole who never fits in and was never meant to!), but now I am not so sure. Having learned the hard way to ground and anchor my personal energies to keep me safe, I forget how this must come across to others, especially those I do not know well.

So what of this Saturn transiting natal Venus in Scorpio? Certainly, this time, the financial security is not there (downturn and all!). Other areas of life are steady, at the moment. The current trend with Saturn started at the end of January 2013 and leaves my Venus at the end of October 2013. Saturn will be here to anchor the Venusian energies, allowing them to become manifest in the world. It is also certainly marking a time of reassessment and reappraisal.

Being well into my ‘crone years’ it may be no surprise that I have been drawn back to exploring the nature of what are called the ‘Dark Goddesses’, those creative embodiments of merciless clarity, reflected in what I see as the ‘Venus in Scorpio’ energy. They give the ability to wield power with compassion to heal and transform oneself and then maybe allow anything that is left to ooze out, into the world.

 Over the coming months I will be blogging on the Dark Goddesses from differing cultures and belief systems – so watch this space.

goddesses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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