Well, I got my manuscript polished and sent off this week. Now it’s time to buy presents and send cards, and to take a break both from work and getting worked up. Happy Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or whatever other holly/holy day you celebrate!
I’ve written a lot about deer, especially reindeer, this year. Here is a poem about the Saami reindeer sun goddess Beiwe.
She rides across heaven in antler wagon. She rides across heaven in antler wagon. Holding her daughter, she defines the day. Holding her daughter, she defines the day. She crosses antler heaven holding her daughter,
defining a day in the wagon ride.
Bring peace to hearts in the blackness. Bring peace to hearts in the blackness. Offer red blood of white reindeer. Offer red blood of white reindeer. In the heart of the blackness offer red blood. White reindeer bring peace.
Bring light to wake forest in springtime. Bring light to wake forest in springtime. Make rings of birch branches. Make rings of birch branches. Birch forest light rings, bring branches, make time wake the spring.
Her reindeer daughter brings heart. Her reindeer antlers hold the light of day. In the forest she wakes blood in birch. Time branches, crosses heaven, makes an offering. Black, red, white define the wagon ride. Peace.
The online review of women’s spirituality books published in 2015 will be this Wednesday December 16th at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. You can access the program meeting room starting at 2:45 pm with this link:
Stay in touch with emerging concepts in Goddess spirituality. Join us for a review of spiritually oriented books published in 2015. The program will be live at 3:00 pm EST on December 16th. There will be a mixture of essays, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.
Type your name and enter as a guest: no registration needed. Program can be accessed by desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. You may be asked to download an add-in by Adobe Software if your device is not configured for the meeting room. Go ahead and click okay; it’s safe and fast.
A link to the recording will be available the day following the program on this blog.
The program will include a live interview with Elizabeth Hardy, author of Female Sperm Whale … and other [feminist] poems
The following books will also be featured:
Healing Your Feminine Essence: A Transformative Journey Within for Women Who Wish to Be Free by Marie de Kock
Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots and Restoring Earth Community by Pegi Eyers
Locust Girl: A Lovesong by Merlinda Bobis
The Mago Way: Re-Discovering Mago, the Great Goddess from East Asia (vol i) by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang
She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? edited by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang and Kaalii Cargill
On December 16th, as part of the Mago Nine Day Solstice Celebration, I will be hosting a program on Goddess/Feminine Divine books published in 2015. This will be online, and you can join through a link the way you may have participated in online meetings. The link will be posted here and probably a few other places as well. I will have slides of these books and I will read a brief description of the books and authors. There will also be a few interviews.
The program will be live at 3:00 Eastern Standard Time on December 16. I will be recording the event and the recording will be available for nine days.
I still am looking for submissions. Anything of a feminist spirituality slant is acceptable; it doesn’t have to be about goddesses. The book can be non-fiction, fiction or poetry. Also, you don’t have to be interviewed to have your book included. More details about submitting your work here.
Regarding last week’s call for contributions for the book program, here is more information:
“We anticipate the Nine-Day Solstice Celebration to be an event of joy, solidarity, and self-empowerment for us, Goddessians/Magoists and all in WE! Why the Solstice season? Celebrating the day of December Solstice would be a way of balancing ourselves, as human members of the terrestrial community including the moon, with the songs and dances of the cosmic community. Traditionally, Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere marks a new beginning of the year’s cycle for the earthly community in the North. We would take this seasonal mark as a symbol for us to recognize the oneness of the whole community, as our ancient ancestors did.”
Day 1 (Dec. 14): Opening by Mago Sisters and Mago Circle Members hosted by Helen Hwang, Trista Hendren, and/or Kaalii Cargill Day 2 (Dec. 15): Mothers and Daughters hosted by Trista Lee Hendren Løberg Day 3 (Dec. 16): 2015 Published Goddess/Female Divine Books hosted by Hearth Moon Rising Day 4 (Dec. 17): Seeking Inner Voice of S/HE (Meditation Guides) hosted by Marie de Kock Day 5 (Dec. 18): She Rises Contributors Speak hosted by Barbara Daughter Day 6 (Dec. 19): Goddess Pilgrimages hosted by Kaalii Cargill Day 7 (Dec. 20): Day 8 (Dec. 21): Day 9 (Dec. 22): The Collective Rising: Our Visions and Dreams for 2016 hosted by Trista Hendren, Kaalii Cargill, and/or Helen Hwang
More information and links for accessing the programs will appear closer to the event.
Happy Solstice everyone! This Sunday-Monday marks the time when, from our perspective, the sun is at its southernmost arc on the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere or its northernmost arc in the Southern Hemisphere.
A professional astronomer has recently published maps of the pre-dawn Egyptian sky as it would have appeared in the predynastic period on the morning of the winter solstice. The Milky Way exhibits an amazing likeness to the outsretched figure of the goddess Nut, with her feet on one horizon and her hands touching the other. The sun would have appeared in the winter solstice in the correct area of the figure’s anatomy to suggest to observers that it was being born by Nut. Nine months earlier, at the spring quinox, the sun began to rise an hour and a quarter after sunset in such a position that it appeared to fall into Nut’s mouth, which would have easily suggested the idea that the great female in the sky was swallowing the sun, only to bear him nine months later during the last days of what is now December.
Could this explain why the birth of the Sun King is celebrated at this time?
Here is another scientific explanation of sun movements and weather patterns.
Frejya has appeared to me as a stocky young woman against a backdrop of tall spruce forest, standing on the snow beside the kind of weaving, shallow streams that develop in the north as winter moves into spring. She comes as a spring goddess, evidenced by the height and intensity of the sun. (One of the nice things about a vision is that you can look directly into the sun without feeling pain in your eyes.) When I say she is stocky, I don’t mean fat: her shoulders are broad and she is proportioned like a tall woman. Her rib cage is large, like the stout breast of the gyrfalcon. She has a brown cloak, curling brown hair and glistening brown eyes. Some describe Frejya as blond, but to me she appears in falcon coloring. What those who have seen Frejya mostly comment on, however, is her mouth: a small, very red, well-shaped mouth with lips curved in a joyful yet seductive smile. It is an entrancing smile, a smile that says she knows just about everything. I do not believe that Frejya would have had to have slept with the dwarves to obtain the Brisingamen Necklace; she must have done so only to please herself. To obtain the necklace she would only have had to spread those red lips in the smile no creature could resist. But I digress.Frejya’s Amazonian proportions and her seductive manner place her in the “maiden” category for those who see goddesses in terms of maiden-mother-crone. Yet the fertile, family-focused boar is usually associated with motherhood, and Norse pagans appear to have regarded Frejya as a benevolent goddess bestowing wealth and favors. Her rune is among the most auspicious, and Cooper describes its divinatory meaning as “Good fortune, fertility, increase in property and success in endeavors.” These are qualities that proclaim “mother.”The point of intersection between the fir, falcon, and boar is, of course, death. The gyrfalcon is a fierce hunter who winters in the frozen world. The Norway Spruce thrives in cold environments and remains forever green. The boar is also fierce in her own way, and carrion is a major part of her diet. As described in the last post, there are dying and resurrecting gods and goddesses from other European and Middle Eastern cultures with pine, pig, or falcon associations, but we don’t really need these examples to establish the point. Frejya’s representation throughout the lifecycle suggests an affinity with the sun, which defines the cycle of the year. Her association with both the winter and the summer solstices reaffirm this connection, as does the Yule fire and the summer bonfires. Frejya’s amber necklace represents her command over the sun and hence the passage of time. Those who see Frejya as blond may be focusing on her sun aspect, perhaps dazzled by the brightness of her nimbus. It is interesting in this regard that the Egyptian sun god Horus also takes the form of a falcon.Although Frejya is a goddess for all seasons and all ages, I want to explore Frejya’s death aspect more closely. I will do so in a later installment of this series.
So what does boar, fir and falcon say about Frejya?Let’s look first at the falcon. Freya’s falcon is probably the Gyrfalcon (JER-falcon), the largest falcon, who likes the northern climates. If she migrates at all, she is driven by scarcity of food, and she will sometimes winter at sea over ice. The Gyrfalcon is the preferred falcon for hunting. She mostly hunts birds, including other raptors, although she will also take small mammals. Other predatory birds leave her alone, as she is fierce. She has a varied hunting strategy and is considered very intelligent. The goddess Frejya has a cloak of falcon feathers reaching to the ground. With her characteristic generosity she loans this cloak to the other gods when they need it to move quickly. Falcons in general are associated with the sun or with death. Other important falcon deities include Circe, the witch who trapped Odysseus and changed his sailors into pigs, and Horus, the Egyptian sun god who avenged the death of his father Osiris and performed an important funerary rite for him.The boar is the wild predecessor of the domestic pig. While only the male domestic pig is called a boar, in the wild there are boar sows and boar piglets. Boars like most wild animals prefer to avoid people, but both males and sows will charge anything that threatens them. With their huge size and thick skulls they are formidable, even more so if they are adult males with curving tasks. Boars chase away other predators to eat carrion. They are mostly scavengers, digging up roots and grubs in addition to scavenging dead carcasses. Sows prefer to raise young together, and males remain with their mothers until they are full grown. Boars are prolific breeders, something that was never a problem until they became protected in certain areas. The boar has always been preferred quarry for hunters – originally because he provided a great deal of tasty meat, only later because the danger involved provided excitement for sportsmen. The boar was also prized for his dense fur. Frejya often rides on the back of a boar. Her brother Freyr can also take the shape of a boar. Sows in general are associated with motherhood, probably due to their large extended families and high fertility rate. These qualities, plus their generous size, may account for their association with abundance. The crepuscular scavenging and carrion eating habits of boars may account for their being linked with death and the underworld. In both Celtic and Germanic cultures boar was eaten at the winter solstice feasts. Goddesses associated with the boar or sow include the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility Demeter, the Welsh goddess Cerridwyn in the form of a white sow, and the Continental Celtic goddess Arduinna. The Babylonian god Tammuz, the Egyptian God Osiris, and the Greek God Adonis die after being gored by a boar.The fir or conifer tree thrives in all but the driest and coldest environments. Conifer forests define “tree line” at extreme latitudes and altitudes, the point where plant growth becomes scrubby. Freya’s fir is the Norway Spruce, which despite its name is prevalent throughout the northern and mountainous regions of Eurasia. Like most spruce trees it is a cold loving tree and it is hardy to the Arctic Circle. It is a particularly beautiful tree that is planted as an ornamental in North America. It grows very tall, 100 feet or more, and typically lives a few hundred years. It produces a nice canopy and is used as a wind breaker. It is a fragrant tree that produces a sweet smelling resin. The cones of the Norway Spruce grow very long, up to 8 inches, and they are quite attractive. The fir’s link with Freya probably comes from the evergreen boughs that decorated halls of feasting during the Winter Solstice observances. These festivities lasted several days or weeks. In a sense, with the great fire, drinking, roast boar, festive attitude, and greenery, Pagans were re-creating Freya’s hall of Sessrymnir, while the dark, cold and frozen landscape outside created a simulation of death. The Norway Spruce used to be the quintessential Christmas tree, although the Scotch Pine works better in today’s commercial environment. Trees in the pine family are associated with winter, rebirth, immortality, strength and sometimes fertility, possibly due to the phallic shape of the cone. Pine has been a preferred wood for coffins due to its association with immortality as well as its availability and workability. Other deities associated with trees in the pine family include the Anatolian Cybele, with her dying and resurrecting lover Attis, the Roman-Persian sun god Mithras, the Greek resurrecting god Dionysus, and the Greek healing god Ascelpius. The pine tree is one of the seven important “chieftan trees” in Celtic druidry, associated with the hero Bran who brought the Irish tales of the isles of paradise in the west.So this is some background on the boar, fir and falcon. With some reflection you can see how the three fit together to give a deeper understanding of Frejya. I will examine the connection between the three more thoroughly in next week’s post.
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