Mythology

Meeting the Wolves of Eclipse Season

 

The origin of the word eclipse comes from the Greek ékleipsis, meaning to abandon, forsake, or fail to appear. Our modern understanding of the word is that light is being dimmed or obscured by something else. We apply it to astronomical phenomena as well as our inner light, fame, or stardom. There are many ways that one can be eclipsed.

Every culture has its own myths about why the sun and moon seem to disappear temporarily at certain times. Eclipses were mysterious and a bit frightening for our ancestors, so they created their own fanciful explanations. Though we have scientific data now, there is still value in studying the ancient tales. They reach into the psyche and help us work with what we’re feeling and experiencing, not just what we’re seeing in the heavens.

One that has grabbed my attention during this extremely potent eclipse season is the Norse myth of Sól, goddess of the sun, and her brother Máni, god of the moon.

According to one version of the story, Sól didn’t start out as a goddess. Her father, Mundilfari, thought she was so lovely that he named her after the sun, and he named her brother after the moon. That didn’t sit well with the gods, so they forced Sól to drive the chariot of the sun as punishment for her father’s arrogance. Sól had to race quickly across the skies to avoid being devoured by the wolf Sköll, who chased her continuously. On rare occasions, Sköll (repulsion) would get close enough to nip at Sól’s chariot, causing a solar eclipse. Máni suffered a similar fate, as he had to drive the chariot of the moon while being chased by the wolf Hati (hatred). When Hati got close enough to take a bite, a lunar eclipse resulted.

What are we to make of this tale, and how can it help us now?

It would be easy to demonize Sköll and Hati, those “evil” wolves that never give Sól and Máni a break. That would be a mistake, however. What the wolves represent, at least in my own interpretation, is everything we haven’t integrated, or the lingering, unfinished business of our lives. The past continues to chase us until it finally catches up. Sköll and Hati are the unacknowledged parts of ourselves, and the eclipse is the moment when we must deal with whatever we’ve been trying to outrun.

We’re in a time of radical shifts, abrupt endings and beginnings, and profound awakenings. Do you know the wolves that are chasing you? Can you call them by name? Is it possible to turn around and befriend them this time, so that they don’t have to bite to get your attention? We can look at eclipse season with dread, or we can embrace it as an opportunity for growth and change. The choice is ever ours.

There are plenty of articles out there on how to get through an eclipse. Most advise slowing down, practicing radical self-care, and becoming aware of what needs to be released. I would also look at where the lunar and solar eclipses are showing up in your natal chart. See which areas of your life may be impacted. It happens to be the 5th and 11th houses for me, and much of that energy is already being stirred in the areas of creativity and community in a positive way. Grab your Tarot deck, and try this helpful spread by BiddyTarot if you’re so inclined. Above all, walk through this gateway consciously and mindfully with infinite love for yourself and others. Take a lesson from Söl and Máni, as you drive your chariot onward. Learn from your wolves. Reach down to pet them this time.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

Goddess, Mythology

Laughing Out Loud: Goddesses of Mirth and Revelry

I remember chatting with a friend at a coffee shop after a period of intense cosmic energy that had left us a bit flabbergasted. We were getting mighty tired of feeling like pinballs in the inscrutable game of life, and both of us were wondering when things were going to feel lighter, easier, or at least not quite so darn Saturn-ish.

“Is there a goddess of laughter? Because I need that one!” she said.

“Actually, there is! Look up Baubo,” I said. “She’s a Greek goddess who rules laughter and all things crass and unmentionable.”

I hadn’t studied much about Baubo up to that point—I just knew she was the goddess in the Eleusinian mysteries who made Demeter cackle so much that she ceased mourning for her daughter Persephone. This was no small act, considering that the Earth was suffering under an endless winter without Demeter’s attention. Restoring her spirit gave her the courage she needed to secure Persephone’s release from Hades, thereby allowing spring to enliven and quicken the land again. Powerful magick, indeed.

terracotta_baubo_figurine
Greek terra-cotta figurine of Baubo holding a lyre.

Laughter is good medicine, and Baubo is the queen of deep belly laughs, dirty jokes, and unbridled sexuality. I would compare her to Mae West or Amy Schumer. She is a goddess who speaks directly from her genitals, and your approval is neither sought nor required. Precious little survives of her likeness and her story, but the unearthed figurines of her depict either her face in her belly with the vulva forming her chin or an exaggerated vulva between her legs. Whatever she was hiding under her skirt certainly gave Demeter the giggles.

If you invite Baubo into your life, be prepared to find humor in just about everything, to laugh until your sides hurt, to flaunt your fabulous self, and to stop apologizing for being “too much” for the curmudgeons. If they can’t laugh along with you, dear one, it’s their loss.

Another goddess who gives no fucks is Uzume (pronounced oo-zoo-may) from Japanese mythology. She is a shaman goddess who found herself in a similar role to Baubo as court jester, clown, and one who saves the day through raffish humor.

unnamed
Uzume, from The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky

As the story goes, Amaterasu, the life-giving, compassionate goddess of the Sun, had hidden herself in a cave. She was severely depressed and grieving over the violent actions of her brother, Susano-o. He was quite jealous of her power, so he went on a rampage, slaughtered a young horse (a sacred animal to the goddess), and threw its carcass into her weaving room. He destroyed her looms, ruined all of the valuable fabric, and terrified all of the women who were working there at the time. In some versions of the story, he kills all of the attendants and wounds Amaterasu as well.

Her refusal to come out of the cave after this episode was beginning to distress all of the other gods and goddesses. The rice fields were dying, and the situation was getting desperate. They had tried to lure her out with no success, and then Uzume showed up at the cave entrance. She begins by looking quite serious and refined and then proceeds to lift her kimono for a frenzied, erotic dance that made all the assembled deities howl with laughter. When Amaterasu became curious enough to venture outside, the others sealed the cave so she could not return. Balance was restored to the land once again by a goddess who understood the power of comedy.


So here we are about halfway through a Mercury retrograde, and I know it’s eclipse season, and the Equinox is less than two weeks away, and the holidays are coming, and the election is looming, and the world is exploding, and Winter is coming…yeah, I get that.

But laugh. Really. Find some cat videos on YouTube. Go see some live stand-up comedy. Check out the People of Walmart. Do whatever it takes to laugh so damn hard that tears roll down your face, and ask Baubo and Uzume to help you.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

 

 

SaveSave

Goddess, Mythology, Shamanism

Weaving with Grandmother Spiderwoman

michael-podger-43123Anyone who has seen my Facebook page will tell you that I have a deep love for crochet, because I’m always posting photos of my latest projects. What I once viewed as an old lady hobby has become both art and therapy, as I chain and stitch my way through a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. Something about the repetitive motion and the weaving that can be done with a simple hook and a ball of yarn seems to grant peace of mind, at least for a few hours anyway.

I believe women have always enjoyed this mental escape through the craft of weaving from the time that looms were first created—and some of those date back to 9,000 B.C.—on to the finer needlework that we still enjoy today. My great-grandmother raised sheep, spun her own yarn, and excelled at both crochet and knitting. My aunt followed in her stead and put her crochet hooks to good use through most of my childhood.  Being part of this abundant, matriarchal legacy brings to mind one of my favorite chants:

We are the flow and we are the ebb,
We are the weavers, we are the web.

My favorite crochet patterns are usually those that require stitching in rounds. They begin with a tiny circle that spreads wider and wider to become a hat, a purse, or whatever my heart desires. When I am working in rounds, I cannot help but think of spider webs—how intricate, strong, and highly functional they are—and of the spider herself, the ultimate weaver. No doubt she was the inspiration for prehistoric humans to expand their wardrobes beyond animal skins and furs, much to the relief of our four-footed friends. (While I have nothing against leather loin cloths, it’s rather hard to imagine life without cotton and wool).

Native Americans, especially the Pueblo and Navajo tribes of the Southwest, recognized the wisdom and grace of the spider and gave her a prominent place in their myths and legends as Grandmother Spiderwoman.  They envisioned her as a Creatrix who spins the world into being with all of her thoughts and ideas. She is constantly weaving the cosmic web of life, and we are co-creators in this process as we also think, dream, imagine, and build our own unique webs and connections.

Perhaps my crochet habit was influencing me, but I decided it was time to visit Grandmother Spiderwoman through a shamanic journey. I truly wanted to understand more about the connective strands in my own life, and who better to answer such a question than the wisest of all the weavers?

Letting the drumbeat carry me, I found myself floating before the largest spider web imaginable.  Each strand glittered with crystals, and in the center, I met Grandmother Spiderwoman herself. Her black dress billowed around her, and her white silky hair hung down past her shoulders. Her piercing gaze met mine, and she asked why I had come to see her. I explained the purpose of my journey, and she had plenty of advice—far more than I can relate here. She cautioned against spinning too much for the future and advised releasing old webs that serve no purpose. “The best web,” she said, “is the one you are creating right now. It is the culmination of all you have thought or imagined. The strands you hold dearest—those that tie you to everyone you love—will always remain strong. So, keep weaving with your words, and keep making connections. You are always at the center.”

Aho. Gratitude.

Spider Medicine for the Soul
The following links were useful to me in researching Grandmother Spiderwoman.

Mythology

Experiences

Weaving the Web

SaveSave