A Rose by Another Name

I was skimming through Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2014 and landed on this entry for the 28th of September: “Desert Rose, a stone formed by lightning strikes on sand, holds tremendous power.”

Well, that makes sense, I mused. It would carry the power of all four elements: sand (earth), lightning (fire), and it would be shaped by wind and water.

After doing some digging (could not resist the pun!), I discovered that there are two types of stones that go by the name of Desert Rose. One is comprised of Selenite and Barite. The crystals form in arid conditions from the evaporation of shallow salt basins, and they result in lovely rosettes. This seems to be the more commonly known Desert Rose crystal used for healing work.

Desert Rose Crystals

Desert Rose Crystals

But the stone I was actually looking for is Fulgurite. According to the Gemstones Advisor website:

Fulgurite (or fulgarite) is named after the Latin word ‘fulgur’, which means thunderbolt. The temperature of lightning, air-temperatures over 30,000°C have been measured, is far higher than the sand melting point of 1800°C. The silica, which makes up the sand, fuses together at this extreme heat, creating the so-called lightning glass or lightning sand.

Fulgurite

Fulgurite

Most examples of Fulgurite aren’t very attractive, but they are collectable simply because of how they are made. The metaphysical properties associated with this naturally created glass are quite impressive, though. In The Book of Stones, internationally acclaimed author and teacher Naisha Ahsian says, “Fulgurite is especially helpful for those ready to experience major breakthroughs and to release habit patterns that no longer serve. This stone carries a pure expression of Storm element energy, so it can create deep cleansing and purification on all levels” (162).

In short, this is not a rock you want to play around with unless you are ready for major transformation on all levels at a lightning-quick pace. Although this whole year has been about changes and letting go of old forms, it has happened gradually. It’s still happening, in fact. I’m not so sure I’d want the intensity of Fulgurite, but it caught my attention nonetheless. When something keeps nudging at me like that, I go into detective mode to see what I’m supposed to learn.

I looked for a goddess that I could associate with this stone, and the most relatable one is Fulgora, the Roman goddess of lightning.

Fulgora

Fulgora

Not much was written about her at all, unfortunately. Maybe the Romans just wanted to assign a deity to lightning, and then they respectfully backed away to give her some space?  She’s not one I’d ever think of calling upon, but if you have experience with this, I’d love to hear about it!

The Obscure Goddess Online Dictionary fills in a few gaps by providing some background on how the Romans classified those thunderbolts from the sky as omens for good or ill. The same friend/foe concept is also present in the all-too-familiar lightning strike of The Tower card in the Tarot.

RW-Tower

It can mean that your whole world has to come crashing down in order to wipe the slate clean, or it can mean that you receive a sudden jolt of inspiration or a paradigm shift that sets you on a better path. It can be catastrophic…or it can be just enough. Lightning is tricky that way.

Colette Baron-Reid conveys the same general idea through the “Lady of Lightning” card in her Wisdom of the Hidden Realms deck:

the-lady-of-lightning

As an Ally, [she] brings powerful forces of changes in your life…Perhaps a situation you weren’t anticipating arises and offers you the opportunity of a lifetime (97).

If she arrives as a Challenger, however:

Unpleasant news, an unexpected shock, or an overall sense of powerlessness are the aspects you may experience…This is a time when you may be forced to make a change you don’t want to make (98).

Again, there’s that dual nature of lightning. Even in the physical world, it barely touches some and leaves others forever altered. According to the National Weather Service, 90 percent of lightning strike victims survive, but it’s common to see lingering health issues afterward.

Looking at it from a metaphysical perspective, I’ve never met an individual who has undergone sudden and severe trauma of any kind without suffering mentally, physically, and spiritually. We are human, after all, and we can only stand so much before we break.

When I was just beginning to learn about energy balancing, I remember being warned against having a Kundalini awakening, which is the spiritual equivalent of being struck by lightning. I was told that it would lead to insanity and instability if that much energy suddenly blasted up through the seven chakras, especially if the person wasn’t properly prepared for such an experience. Preparation could take decades…perhaps a lifetime of yogic practices. Then I came across personal accounts from various individuals whose Kundalini awakening happened spontaneously, sometimes following a near death experience. In most cases, this fast track to enlightenment wasn’t something they desired, at least not consciously. Emily Dickinson captured this idea quite well in her poetry:

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —

Personally, I’m okay with being dazzled gradually, so I’m not planning to look for a big chunk of Fulgurite anytime soon. Researching it has already taught me plenty…mainly that I’m grateful for the aha moments, for flashes of insight, for synchronicities, and gentle awakenings.

Blessed Be

 

References:

Simmons, Robert and Naisha Ahsian. The Book of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach. Vermont: Heaven & Earth, 2005. Print.

Baron-Reid, Colette. Wisdom of the Hidden Realms Oracle Cards Guidebook. New York: Hay House, 2009. Print.

Season of the Dark Goddess: Balance and Integration at Mabon

Autumn arrives slowly here on the Georgia coast. It is a couple of days before Mabon, and everything is still quite lush and green. Temperatures remain in the 80s, and it would be easy to pretend that summer is eternal…but I have always been infatuated with fall. I long for crisp mornings, thick fog, turning leaves, and all things pumpkin. I get ecstatic over corn mazes and bonfires and county fairs. I delight in a hearty soup on the stove and crusty bread in the oven. Most of all, though, I want the internal shift from action to contemplation, from outward to inward, from sowing seeds to taking stock.  

This is the work of the Dark Goddess, as she stands ready in the field with her sharpened scythe. She cuts away what is no longer needed, what we’ve outgrown, and what doesn’t fit into our soul’s purpose in this lifetime. It can be difficult to view this process as love; yet, it is both loving and necessary. It allows us to focus on the good that we’ve manifested without getting tangled up in the weeds. It gives us clarity and vision, even if we don’t always like what is revealed.

The core teaching of Mabon is the balance of dark and light, not only in the natural world, but also within. As day and night become equal in length, we have the opportunity to look at our shadow side without judgment. There is a place for wrath, rebellion, grief, and destruction. Goddesses like Kali Ma, Lilith, Morgana, and Hecate remind us that cycles of creation and destruction are a natural part of living. If there were no darkness, how would we recognize the light? Do the moon and stars not shine even brighter when the sky is deepest black?

Because of her cyclic nature, Persephone is one of my favorite dark goddesses to work with at this time of year. Hades initiates her transformation from vulnerable maiden to empowered woman by taking her far away from her mother into his underworld realm. As D.J. Conway notes in Maiden, Mother, Crone, “Kore-Persephone made the terrifying journey downward by Herself; Demeter could not accompany Her daughter. Each of us must make the journey through the labyrinth of our minds alone” (31). So this, too, is a principal aspect of the autumnal equinox—the weighing and balancing of our positives and negatives is very much a personal and solitary undertaking.

Hades and Persephone

Hades and Persephone

There are various interpretations of this myth, but I believe Persephone willingly follows Hades and that the abduction/rape part of the story was a patriarchal revision. When the earth split open before her, Persephone had an opportunity to go deep into her own subconscious with Hades as her guide. She crosses a threshold with him and knows that it’s impossible to go back to her former self. By swallowing his pomegranate seed, she secures her place in the underworld, not as a victim, but as a queen who has integrated both dark and light in equal measure. Demeter also ceases to mourn the loss of her daughter at this stage of the tale. “As soon as she knows the seed has been eaten, there is no more said on the subject—all is joy. Persephone has eaten the food of Hades, has taken the seed of the dark into herself and can now give birth to her own new personality” (Luke, 195-196).

We, too, have the same ability to journey inward, to face our greatest fears, to own our darkness, and to be reborn. As the sun enters Libra on Monday, we can take an honest look at the scales again. Perhaps something needs to be added to make them equal. Maybe something needs to be taken away. Your heart always knows.

May you be abundantly blessed and balanced this Mabon.

References:

Conway, D.J. Maiden, Mother, Crone Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 1994. Print.

Luke, Helen. “Mother and Daughter Mysteries.” The Long Journey Home: Re-visioning the Myth of Demeter and Persephone for Our Time. Ed. Christine Downing. Boston: Shambhala, 1994. 195-196. Print.

Helpful Links:

Essential Secrets of Psychotherapy: What is the “Shadow”?

The Myth of Persephone: Greek Goddess of the Underworld

“Persephone” by Kellianna

Mabon Balance Meditation

Celebrating World Goddess Day

The wisdom of woman, gained through her identification with her body, with the Goddess, and with the earth, was no longer revered, but ridiculed and rejected. Once honoured as prophetess and seer, woman was now scorned. Her instincts and intuition, through which she perceived the elemental energies in the cycles of nature and her knowledge of healing, were rebuked and humiliated. –Judith Duerk “Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself”

Those of us in the Goddess community have known for quite some time that the Divine Feminine force is at last reemerging in the world. We know the scales have been out of balance for too long. Although it would seem that war, destruction, illness, and poverty are raging at an all time high, we also know that events sometimes have to reach critical mass before something better can be born. That is where She Who Is really shines. She takes the royal mess we’ve made of things and creates beauty. She reaches down into the muck and plants seeds that will thrive. Where we may see nothing but a wasteland, She sees potential.

So today, in honor of the Lady in her many forms and manifestations, people all over the globe will celebrate World Goddess Day. Perhaps there is an event in your area that you can attend, or maybe you can find the time to have a quiet ritual of your own. I chose to express my devotion through art by crocheting a Harvest Goddess for my altar. It was a labor of love that took several days to complete, and now it will be ready for the upcoming full moon and the Autumn Equinox.  You can find the free pattern for the body here.  How you decorate and adorn Her is entirely up to you!  Get creative!  Blessed Be

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THE BACKLASH HAS BEGUN: GODDESSES, PRIESTESSES, WITCHES – STAND YOUR GROUND WITH GRACE AND POWER!

Jennifer R. Miller:

Brilliant post by Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam, Ph.D. for all of us who love and serve the Goddess.

Originally posted on Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam:

105-a_suspected_witch_before_the_tribunal_of_the_inquisition

All around us, we see signs of suppression, of rising hostility towards the Divine Feminine and Spiritual Paths and Persons who honor Her in ways that challenge deeply rooted patriarchal norms. Whether it’s the abuse of ISIS, or the mis-guided morphing of Goddess Kali Ma’s image with the spectre of religious extremism… Whether it’s the ousting of a sacred grove to Goddess Cybele, or a judge willing to consider outlawing witchcraft and tarot readings …. Or even that email you get in your inbox with one claiming that you cannot possibly be living a life of Love aligned with Spirit because you do not share their faith.

The signs are there – and so many of us, women priestesses in particular, have strong memories of the kinds of suppression, persecution and condemnation that can result – in this life, and in others. Those born as male may also share similarly…

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The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Pass Through the Mother

Jennifer R. Miller:

This is a wonderful, thought-provoking post from Womb of Light.

Originally posted on Womb Of Light:

Patriarchy is the social organization of a culture in which men hold more power than women. There is a common misconception that men are the only problem of patriarchy. Many continue to believe that only men perpetuate patriarchal thinking. However, women also perpetuate patriarchal attitudes.

Maria Pace-Wynters

Most of us learn patriarchal thinking in our families and it is usually taught unconsciously by mothers. This can be particularly damaging for daughters and their ability to flourish as empowered women because a mother’s treatment of her daughter gets internalized as her own sense of self. The patriarchal messages daughters receive from their mothers are more insidious and damaging than any of the cultural messages combined. Why? Because they come from the one person the daughter must bond with in order to survive.

The mother wound is a product of patriarchy. On a personal level, it is the mother’s projection of her own unhealed…

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Four Letter Word Starting with “S”

When four psychologists studied the phenomenon known as “slut shaming”—defaming a woman for the presumed frequency of her sexual activity—they learned the extent to which women shame each other, often for reasons that actually have little to do with promiscuity.

The quote above was excerpted from a longer article published in Psychology Today that snagged my attention.  I wanted to ignore it and just let the whole thing pass by without comment, but I’m being prompted (read: cattle-prodded) to meet it head-on.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “slut” has been around since the 15th century, although the spelling has changed a bit.  It was slutte in Middle English.  Even so, the definition has remained the same:  a slovenly woman; a promiscuous woman, especially a prostitute; a saucy girl.

Hmmm.  Really?  If saucy = slut, then I am all that, baby, and then some.  I hope you are, too!

So, both men and women have been tossing this damning little word around for over 600 years, all because of prudishness and some very warped views about sexuality that grew like weeds right along with the church’s dogma.  Whew.  Could we just stop giving that word so much power, please?  We have reduced it down to four letters.  I think it’s time to wipe it out entirely.

While slut shaming is nothing new, the article does at least shed some light on why women go there in the first place.  It appears to be more of a class divider, and that only serves to keep women locked in the same downward spiral of catty competitiveness that prevents us from being stronger together.

Passionate Woman by AnastassiaArt

Passionate Woman by AnastassiaArt

Listen, my dear sisters.  Whatever you do with your body is your business.  Whatever I do with mine is my business.  Our foremothers fought very hard to give us more sexual freedom than they ever enjoyed, so why destroy that by shaming each other?

We are all just spiritual beings in human form, learning our lessons and doing the best we can on this earthly plane of existence.  How about we make it a little easier on ourselves?

Let us erase “slut” from our vocabulary.  Let us all stop passing judgement upon each other long enough to realize that we are all goddesses.  We are all free to express our wild, juicy selves in whatever way that brings us joy.  We are stronger than the labels history has passed down to us if we choose to be.  Real power and real social status is achieved by women who inspire others and lift them up, not by scared little girls who climb to the top of a ladder by pushing everyone else off.

Blessed Be

Flowing Gracefully

Yoni Mudra by Sofia Minkova

Yoni Mudra by Sofia Minkova

Part of me felt like it’s something I should have gotten over by now…something I should have dealt with and integrated. After all, I turn 40 this year. You would think that after 28 years of monthly cycles, I would be a pro at dealing with all things menstrual.

But how can any woman be totally comfortable with something to which she has never been properly and lovingly introduced? Where was the Red Tent when I was 12 and shackled to a religion that still believes wholeheartedly in Eve’s curse?

I really wanted to make peace with my womb after all this time, so I found a wonderful companion for the journey: The Moon and You: A Woman’s Guide to an Easier Monthly Cycle by Barbara Hanneloré.

Having practiced Wicca for many years, I am always aware of whether the moon is waxing, full, or waning. I usually note the Zodiac sign she’s traveling through as well, but I wasn’t charting my own cycle. I had sort of pushed that aside while I dealt with other matters, but I missed being more connected with Luna and flowing with her each month. I wanted to approach my cycle with more awareness, instead of just getting through it and feeling annoyed at the “intrusion” on my life. Fortunately, The Moon and You provides monthly and annual calendar pages for easy charting. I’ve use the annual calendar for the last seven months, and the insights, both physical and emotional, have been profound.

One of those revelations is that the natural rhythms of my body run parallel with my creative life. The author compares the phases of a woman’s cycle to four seasons, each having its own unique energies and contributions. I began to see a pattern with having lots of new ideas, plans, and accomplishments in the first half of my cycle. Any writing project I attempted just seemed to move along with no resistance. Then I would retreat into a more reflective mode after ovulation. I wasn’t inspired as much. I would spend more time thinking or evaluating and less time doing, but I’m learning to value stillness just as much as activity.

Simply acknowledging where I am in my cycle and what I need at that time has been the greatest step toward feeling balanced and at ease with these ever-changing rhythms. As Hanneloré notes, “The pre-menstrual time is a powerful personal time: visionary, creative, and inwardly focused. This is in direct conflict, of course, with the expectations of modern culture for constant accomplishment, and for women to be always available and accommodating of others” (22).

Whenever I’ve ignored the need to slow down a little, or when I’ve said “yes” to a social engagement against my better judgment, I’ve paid for it with all the classic symptoms of PMS. (I detest that acronym, by the way, and I don’t think of it as a syndrome. It’s simply a reminder to treat myself better).

It’s easy to fool the mind, but never the body and certainly never the womb and second chakra. What we can’t or won’t acknowledge on an emotional level will inevitably find its way to the physical level—until we finally pay attention. Hanneloré’s gentle guidance through this often overlooked aspect of menstruation helps women shine some much-needed light on caring for our inner selves as much as our outer lives.

Part Three of the book addresses nutritional needs, vitamins, supplements, exercise, and alternative therapies. Engines don’t run very well on the wrong type of fuel, and bodies don’t function well on suboptimal diets. Sometimes, having a better cycle may just be a matter of getting a little more of whatever is lacking nutritionally. We really are products of what we eat and how well we maintain ourselves.

Many of my friends are massage therapists, and most do Reiki or some other form of energy balancing as well. All of them will attest to the fact that women are great at talking themselves out of getting the care they need. They will either put everyone and everything else in their lives first, or they feel like they don’t deserve a massage to relax and alleviate pain. I don’t know where we got the idea that suffering is noble. We’re not going to earn a trophy for holding on to whatever is hurting us, and I’m quite certain the world won’t end if we lock the door and soak in the tub for an hour.

That brings me to the next topic in the book, which delves into modern views and attitudes toward menstruation. We have drifted very, very far from how our ancient ancestors thought and felt about a woman’s sacred ability to bring forth new life. Hanneloré points to the way industrialized nations tend to glorify a 24/7 lifestyle in the name of progress and how this impacts the way women are valued: “Since menstruation is not ‘useful’ in the practical sense, what good is it in a culture like this? It slows us down; it’s messy; it can be painful and unpredictable; and modern culture jokes about it, tries to fix it, or ignores it altogether” (115).

Consider some of the slang words used for menstruation: the curse, Aunt Flo, crimson tide, riding the cotton pony, bitch time, the red river, shark week, on the blob, opening the flood gates, etc. All of these derogatory words and phrases (and even the cutesy ones) just illustrate one more way that women have given away power. We don’t have to take this, and we shouldn’t perpetuate it, either. We can reclaim what was lost and set better examples for future generations.

One great way to start is with ceremony. I could write pages on the absence of meaningful ritual in our culture, but I think I’ll save that for another blog post. The final chapter of The Moon and You is about your own initiation into womanhood—how it was handled (or perhaps not even acknowledged) and how you would have preferred to cross that threshold from girl to woman if given a choice in the matter.

Personally, I would have wanted a circle of women around me—strong, wise women all dressed in red who would welcome me with open arms into this new life passage. We would drum and dance around a bonfire. They would anoint me with sacred oil and paint symbols of the Goddess on my forehead and my belly. We would chant songs of power and creation until dawn. They would tell me stories only women know, stories that would become my anchor and my backbone, stories that would carry me through all the births and deaths to come. I would walk into my destiny with a new name and a new song, sure of myself and supported by my tribe.

It’s no mystery to me that girls struggle so much with self-esteem from puberty onward. Without a distinct rite of passage that initiates them into female selfhood and the positive aspects of menstruation, they are left with the media and the dominant views of our culture as teachers—and we know how much damage that has already done. Along with The Moon and You, Hanneloré has also written How to Celebrate Your Daughter’s Coming of Age to help mothers and mentors everywhere. I think we need even more books like this, more open dialogue, and more honest and genuine treatment of all the cycles of a woman’s life.

Looking forward, it’s up to all of us to build a better foundation. We have to heal the wounds within ourselves first, which will have a ripple effect on every generation that follows. Women can begin to support each other through Red Tent circles. We can teach girls to honor and embrace the power in womanhood. We can create new traditions and initiation ceremonies. We can, at last, be the change we wish to see.

Blessed Be.

Hanneloré, Barbara. The Moon and You: A Woman’s Guide to an Easier Monthly Cycle. Goleta, CA: Bell House, 2013. Print.  

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