The timing of the winter solstice is marked when the sun reaches its furthest north position in the sky and starts to move back towards the south. As it does, it marks one of the main turning points in the year, the others being the equinoxes as well as the summer solstice (that occurs in December). The timing for the winter solstice this year is today, Sunday, 21 June at 7:13 am (ACST time). From this moment onwards, days start becoming longer and night times shorter. However with the worse of the winter weather yet to arrive, this thought is not often the first that comes to mind.
In ancient Europe the winter solstice (the timing of which in the Northern Hemisphere takes place in December) was seen as a time of celebration. The Romans had a week-long celebration called Saturnalia during which all wars had to stop and courts did not try criminals. Later this festival became Dies Natalis of Sol Invicti, or the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun, celebrated on 25 December each year.
Within the mythos contained within contemporary witchcraft, this is the time when the God is reborn and emerges from the Underworld, where he passed into at Samhain. His rebirth will bring warmth and fertility back to the land.
The eve of the winter solstice, however, belongs to the Goddess who is likened to a hibernating animal, residing deep within the Underworld as she readies herself for the pending birth of her son. The child conceived at the festival of Bealtaine, which marks the commencement of summer, is about to be born. This birth is also the sign that life is about the return to the earth once again after many bleak months of winter. Just as she labours to bring forth her son, the “Child of Promise”, the young hero, we also wait with much anticipation for the sun to appear. The rebirth of the sun confirms that darkness will be overcome by light and we step into the waxing half of the year. We are reborn. The year is new.
The following “Solstice Prayer” by Thorn Coyle reflects the anticipation of waiting for the first rays of the sun to appear over the horizon:
We wait in the dark for the light to appear, Mother, give birth to our brother the Sun. We wait in the dark for the light to appear, Mother, give birth to our brother the Sun! We wait. We watch. Out of the cold comes the promise of newness. We wait. We watch. Out of the cold comes the promise of day!
The Child of Promise is the new sun, which is small and weak at this time of the year, but will grow stronger as the sacred Wheel of the Year turns. As such, the winter solstice is a time for celebrating new beginnings and to focus on what you wish to bring into your life.
According to Debbie Ford (best-selling author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers and The Secret of the Shadow), the shadow contains all the parts of ourselves that we try to hide, deny or suppress. It is the keeper of all the aspects of ourselves that we dislike and the qualities that we judge as unacceptable. The shadow wears many faces: angry, critical, fearful, lazy, controlling, selfish, weak, pathetic. These are the faces we do not want to show the world and the faces we do not want to show ourselves.
Most of us expend huge amounts of energy trying to get rid of or control these unwanted aspects of ourselves. We hope that by hiding or fixing our “bad qualities” we will have the peace, success and happiness we desire. Most of us are convinced that we are flawed and inadequate so we become masters of disguise, and go to great lengths to hide our bad qualities from those around us – even from ourselves.
The result of turning our backs on our dark side? A life that slips by only half lived. Dreams that are never realized, or worse, that lay buried under years of resignation and shame.
Until we make peace with our shadow we will continue to be at war with ourselves and our outer world will mirror our inner struggle. What we resist persists – and we will create and attract from others that which we most dislike in ourselves. Until we feel authentic compassion for each and every aspect of ourselves, we will continue to draw forth people and events that will mirror the negative feelings we have about ourselves. Until we take back our power and forgive ourselves for being human we will attract people who push our buttons and reactivate our emotional wounds. And until we find the courage to love ourselves completely, we will never truly be able to experience the love from those around us.
We do not need to guess how we really feel about ourselves at the deepest level, all we have to do is look at how the outer world treats us.
If we are not getting the respect, love and appreciation we desire from the outer world, it is more than likely we are not giving these things to ourselves. This is the benevolence of the universe in action. The whole world is a mirror of our own consciousness, and when we make peace with the disowned aspects of ourselves, we make peace with the world.
Registrations are currently open for the online month long sadhana (spiritual journey) that I will be hosting that incorporates exploring the shadow under the guidance of the Dark Goddess. Starting on Saturday, 6 June 2020 (just after the full moon) and concluding just before the following full moon on 4 July 2020 the Encountering the Dark Goddess sadhana journey is specifically designed to take participants into the realm of a chosen “darker” aspect of the divine feminine to explore the various aspects of their own shadow self in order to commence positive change at the deepest level.
Throughout the month long journey you will be provided with detailed information about the various Dark Goddesses, instructions as to how to set up altars and undertake daily devotional work, suitable prayers and a list of offerings for your chosen goddess, weekly emails containing metaphysical and psychoanalytic concepts regarding working with the Dark Goddess and the “Shadow Self”, group rituals and much more.
Whether you seek healing from past trauma, release from fears or acceptance of the “unacceptable” aspects of your self through the power of meditation, ritual or inner journeying, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms offers itself up as a guide to assist you to embrace the ever changing aspects of life.
From my own personal experience (of which I share in this book) I am of the belief that when we connect the Dark Goddess, we are able to find the light within the darkness and our lives are enriched through the integration of all aspects of our soul as a perfect whole.
The June Gathering Around the Cauldron will once again take place in the form of a discussion that will be live streamed on the Temple of the Dark Moon‘s Facebook page. This month we will be looking at the concept of deity as it appears within contemporary witchcraft, and in respect to the perception held by the Temple.
In my forthcoming book, Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life, I explain how the belief in deity is central to contemporary witchcraft. is the belief in deity.
What sets contemporary witchcraft apart from some other forms of witchcraft is that we believe our gods to be real. They go beyond the concept of “archetypes” and often manifest as entities in their own right. It is believed that all historical deities are facets of the divine in that they each represent someone’s understanding of divinity, and all are valid in their own way.
The June Gathering Around the Cauldron will be taking place from 7pm ACST on Thursday, 4 June 2020. If you have any specific questions that you would like be to discuss, these can be left on the Facebook events page.
Last week I received the email from my publisher that all authors hang out to receive, the one that contained details as to when their book will actually be published and available. The date scheduled for the release of Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms is 26 March 2021. While this date seems to be half a lifetime away (some 11 months) apparently that is normal within the publishing world as it gives a lot of the behind the scenes things to be put into process, ie having the book listed in various trade magazines, in order to maximize long-term success of the book.
“The author presents the reader with a dark gift – a treasure in a sense – but one not to be accepted lightly. My sense is that once opened, it will never go back into the box.” (Jimahl diFiosa, author of A Voice in the Forest, All the King’s Children and A Coin for the Ferryman)
Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realm
The Dark Goddess is often associated with the Underworld where she leads the uninitiated through a transformative journey of self-discovery, change and soul renewal. She is connected with the unwanted, the forgotten, the ignored or even ashamed parts of our psyche. However there is more to her than that.
Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms guides you through what this challenging facet of the Divine Feminine, the Dark Goddess, is truly about, and encourages you to step through the veils into her hidden realm to explore 13 aspects of herself.
Whether you seek healing from past trauma, release from fears or acceptance of the “unacceptable” aspects of your self, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms offers ways for you to transform and heal your life through the power of meditation, ritual and inner journeying with the Dark Goddess into her shadowy realms. Use the 13 goddess myths as a guide to discover how to remove the stagnant and unwanted and embrace the ever changing aspects of life that can drag us into the pits of despair.
When we connect the Dark Goddess, we are able to find the light within the darkness and our lives are enriched through the integration of all aspects of our soul as a perfect whole.
The parts of the construct we call the “self” in Norse traditions are actually very advanced and complex, difficult to translate into modern English . Our language is very cold and rigid, theirs was full of feeling and conviction, but also with an odd fluidity where words related to many other words and the collective concepts all had something to do with one another. This later facet is seen in what the Nords called “kennings” and is the basis of much rune lore and galdr magick, but that is a whole other subject. This article taken from Dr Hawk’s Conjure Kitchen explains some of the more advanced concepts behind the various parts of what makes us human from the Old Norse perspective.
The accepted parts of the human in Norse tradition are Líkamr and Hamr, Hugr and Munr, The Fylgja, and The Hamingja.
Ǫnd, óð, lá, læti and litr are all part of the likamr. These roughly translate to “breath”, “inspiration”, “form”, “movement” and “health” respectively and are listed as the gifts of Odin (and his brothers) when He (they) created the first humans out of an ash and an elm tree. Of course, these too are more complex concepts. Ond, for instance, is probably best described as equivalent to the Hindu concept of Prana. it is both the physical breath and the life-force of the universe as transmitted through breath while óð (also written odhr) is strangely translated as both “sense” and “madness” depending on context and is probably better described with the Welsh word awen or the Old Irish Imbas and refers to the Divine Will as transmitted from God through mankind.
Lá, læti and litr link the Likamr with the Hamr. Lá is the actual physical form or shape, læti is movement and force or energy as transferred via the body, and litr is the vital essence which gives the color and “spark” of life to living flesh. These combined manifest the Hamr which is the personal sphere of existence, the “analog” if you will between the self and the world around you. The interesting thing about Hamr is that while it is generally regarded as the physical body, it is very much a changeable thing. Hamr can be thought of as how others perceive you and, through certain spiritual and physical disciplines, can be altered so that one is perceived in different ways. The ancient notion of “shape-shifting” is rooted in this discipline. Modern witches may refer to it as “glamour” or a form of telepathic suggestion wherein another perceives what one wills them to perceive.
Hugr and Munr are best known through the names of Odin’s ravens “Hugn” and “Munin” or “thought” and “memory” which is satisfactory, but still falls short. Hugr is the analytical part of the brain, the rational, reasoning, logical form of thought. Munr is the artistic, emotional, and intuitive side of the mind, which is seen to be rooted in past experiences, but also in connection with Divine Will. As such, it is translated as “memory” but it is also the bridge which connects the mind and spirit by way of the óð, thus linking past, present and future through thoughts, memories and actions. The Fylgja and The Hamingja are the most esoteric.
The Fylgja is often modernized as “fetch” and is seen as a sort of “familiar” or “totem” when it is perhaps best described as the astral body… yet, still, this is not completely accurate. Fylgja is sometimes translated as “follower” though, more often than not, it precedes the physical body. I often think of the scene in “Donnie Darkko” when the eponymous character sees the odd orb of viscous, shimmery, substance which leads him through the house to his father’s gun. Fylgja is the outer manifestation of will before it comes into formation. It is the “quantum observer” if you will, that which influences the outcome as an extension of what is expected. There is another word, “Mægen” commonly translated as “might” but is really the active force or collective power of an individual and all their various parts as discussed herein. Mægen is that which connects the Fylgja and the Hamr. It is the collective energies of all the other parts of the self which the Fylgja then seeks out the best match for. Mægen is therefore translated into “might” because the more all of those energies are in alignment, the more focused and potent the Fylgja which, in turn, makes the will all the more difficult to overcome. A Fylgja with potent Mægen is practically an unstoppable force.
Then there is the Hamingja. It is commonly described as “luck” though, in reality, it is more likely that what we call “luck” is more a byproduct of the Hamingja and Fylgja. Hamingja is connected with the ancestors, their collective deeds, as well as your own. Hamingja can be made stronger or weaker by way of right or wrong actions and mindfulness. It is embodied in the rune “ēðel” or “othila” which is translated as “estate” which itself is the physical embodiment of the legacy of a family and its name. Hamingja, therefore, is sometimes regarded as a sort of guardian spirit which hovers over and guides the individual in life. Like the Fylgja, it could be regarded as having a mind of its own, but it is important to remember it is not exactly conscious. Like a computer program, its actions are determined by the energies or “code” put into it. If there is a lot of “bad juju” in your family history, it then falls to you to balance out and contribute good energy to your Hamingja and to overcome that which guides you down the same paths as your ancestors. In this way, Hamingja is somewhat linked with the concept of “karma” which the Norse also have some interesting concepts for.
Wyrd and Ørlög make up what we might call “karma” and, like everything else discussed here, are unique to Norse ontology. Both can be described as “fate” but Wyrd is the fate that you weave through words and deeds while Ørlög is the predetermined and inescapable product of natural law. To draw a parallel with Hinduism they would be like karma and dharma respectively, but, again, they are not exactly the same. Everything you do and say affects your Wyrd, which in turn affects your luck and the ongoing flow of your life. Ørlög is more primal, less defined, and less changeable. Ørlög extends quite a lot from your Hamingja while Wyrd can be seen more as an extension of Hamr. The relationship between the words “Hamingja” and “Hamr” is apparent and Wyrd and Ørlög are the bridges between them and between the energetic world of the Divine with the physical world of mundane life. If Hamr is the self in the current form and Hamingja the self, or selves, which manifest this current form, then wyrd is the fate shaped by this form and Ørlög the fate shaped by the other.
In later day traditions there is a sort of “demon” or spirit called “Loke” who can be appealed to in various ways to influence luck as evidenced by a variety of later day staves or sigils designed to bring luck in various ways such as at market or fishing. The spirit is associated in many ways with “shimmering” things, light, fire, etc. There is every likelihood that this spirit is Derrived from the “trickster” God, and Odin’s blood-brother, Loki. It is also interesting that the descriptions and etymologies of various words related to “Loke” bear a striking resemblance to those of the name “Lucifer” the fallen angel and erstwhile God of various denominations and lineages of traditional, old-world, witchcraft. It may be that when one must overcome their Hamingja, or perhaps attempt to influence their Ørlög, that this is the spirit to which one must appeal.
The current climate has seen a change in how things are done and for me, it is almost like a cosmic “hurry up” to finalise something that was initially drafted about six or seven years ago – producing online version of Encountering the Dark Goddess.
And finally it is here.
Commencing on 6 Juue 2020, the Encountering the Dark Goddess online version is a month long online sadhana (or spiritual exploration) into your deep shadow self through the connection with various “darker” aspects of the Divine Feminine in order to commence positive change at the deepest level.
The word sadhana is a yogic term referring to any spiritual exercise aimed at progressing the sādhaka (seeker) towards the very ultimate expression of their life in this reality. Therefore, as a “sadhana”, this online journey will present you with the unique opportunity to step through the veil and into the realm of the Inner Self, to meet and embrace your Shadow Self, to remove the unwanted and to reclaim what has been missing.
During the month online journey you will receive: :: Detailed information about the Dark Goddesses we will be exploring and working with over the month, :: Instructions regarding how to set up altars and undertake daily devotional work, :: Prayers, mantras, and offerings that relate to specific goddesses, :: Daily emails consisting on appropriate metaphysical and psychoanalytic concepts regarding working with the Dark Goddess and the “Shadow Self”, :: Meditations, :: A private Facebook group to connect with others who are undertaking this journey, :: Group ritual, and much more.
As the online journey lasts for a month, it is essential that you are able to commit yourself to the sadhana (spiritual) practice.
To take place over the Southern Samhain – from 6 June 2020 (ACST) to 4 July (ACST).
Investment: AUD$222 $150 (special introductory rate) Register online through Paypal**
Once registered, please email me with your preferred email address and Facebook profile so you can be invite to the secret Facebook group.
** Direct deposit is available for Australian participants only. Please email me for my bank account details.
This coming Saturday evening (18 January) will see the annual Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters ritual held down at Grange, Adelaide. For over ten years I have lead a special beach side rite honouring the Yorùbá Orisha or Goddess of the living ocean Yemaya (also spelt Yemoja and Iemoja). Normally it takes place around the first Full Moon of the calendar year. However, due to personal commitments, it is taking place a week later. After experiencing a run of extremely hot weather, Adelaide is forecasted temperatures around the mid 20Cs, bringing with it the anticipation of it being a rather pleasant evening.
Originally from West Africa where her name means “Mother whose children are like fish”, Yemaya is the owner of the Ogun River and a lake named for her. As the African diaspora occurred, Yemaya traveled with her children to the Americas and Caribbean, where the Mother of Waters became known as Mother of Oceans.
Being an “open” ritual, everyone is most welcome to participate in this event which will include a water blessing that included part of a prayer from Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Thanh. After all the great waterways of the world are honoured, participants will be invited to empower their offerings with their desire which will then be presented Yemaya.
The standard offering to Yemaya is the sea-shell as this was the first gift she gave humans so that her voice could always be heard. Flowers (preferably white) are also welcomed, as is champagne, molasses, even pebbles and melon. All offerings will be cast into the sea for Yemaya.
Slices of watermelon (sacred to Yemaya) will be shared amongst participants after a libation is given to the Goddess of the waters, the seas, the oceans and the rivers.
Water is such a precious gift that we often take for granted. Australia is currently facing an environmental crisis that is sparked from lack of water for such a long period of time, resulting in raging bush fires. There are also a growing number of communities without fresh and clean drinking water, a basic yet vitally important, necessity.
If you would like to join me on the 18th, then gather on the grassed area along the forefront in front of the Grange Hotel (look for the purple banner) by 8:00pm. Shortly after that time I will be heading down to the shore and will be commencing the rite around 8:20pm.
With respect to the recent bushfires, gold coin donations will be collected for the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Parkto help with veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures, etc.
** I have been asked in recent times why I do not honour a local Aboriginal deity. As far as I am aware the local Kaurna people (whose traditional lands include Adelaide and the Adelaide plains) do not appear to have a deity associated with rain. The closest is Akurra, the great serpent of the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges, who is sometimes referred to as the rainbow serpent. There is also the snake-god, the Wollunqua, the mythical ancestor of the Wollunqua clan in the Warramunga nation (northern Central Australia).
A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew, And the young winds fed it with silver dew, And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light. And closed them beneath the kisses of Night.
And the Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
The Sensitive Plant by
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
As the sun moves into the sign of Libra, it gathers in strength and makes its way across the equator to warm the southern part of the earth. Nature echoes the increasing warmth as blossoms burst forth and new growth makes its presence felt. As the sun’s strength increases, so do the visible signs of activity upon the earth’s surface. It is as if, were you to close your eyes for a moment, you would miss the experience of another aspect of creation being reborn all over again.
In areas where the ground was still too cold to plant seeds at Imbolc, or the weather too uncertain, by the Spring Equinox (taking place on 22 September this year), both the soil and weather offer a perfect environment for seed planting.
The hours of darkness and light are equal now. Life appears with great vigour and abundance. There is an urgency in the air, as if life were both trying to make up for the months of delay during winter, and getting all the plants fully established before the heat of summer arrives. Here in South Australia, we can experience extremes in climate with both cold winters on the one hand and stifling hot summers on the other. These Summers can arrive as early as October and last until the end of March – there can be some six months of baking the ground.
Echoing what is occurring in
nature around him, the young God increases not only his strength but also his
knowledge of the role he plays within the sacred Wheel of Life. He realises his potential, his masculine
power and he ventures out into the world, ready to establish his rule and prove
his manhood. He is now mastering his own
Mysteries, that of the Divine Masculine.
His rough-and-tumble childhood games serve little purpose as he matures
into the Hunter/Warrior. Eager to
impress, to make a statement and to announce his arrival, he bounds forth with
great exertion – that is until he is distracted by the sight of his beloved
Under his nose she has blossomed
into a creature of exquisite beauty, shyly toying with him to gain his
attention. However, she is not as naïve as
she may first appear to be. She too has
been schooled in the Mysteries and knows only too well the cycle of life and
the roles that she and her beloved God will play within them.
The Goddess is ready to fulfil her role, to become pregnant in order for life to continue, while the God is holding the potent seed of life itself. The pace quickens. Their eyes meet like in a classic Hollywood romantic movie and the game commences. Both are aware of their own sexuality and their role within the Wheel of Creation.
Brighid’s Cross was a symbol derived from ancient solar symbols known from early times in Europe. There were several regional forms but none resemble the classic Christian cross. The crosses were made from straw, sheaves of grain, rushes, or grass, depending on the region of origin. They were hung in the house and farm buildings as protection against illness and other misfortune.
In the Scottish Highlands, women also made Brighid crosses before a wedding and placed one in the mattress of the marriage bed to ensure fertility.
Making the crosses themselves was a ritual. The exact procedure varied and in some places the crosses were made ahead of time to be distributed as part of the bríde óg procession. But in most places in Ireland, they weaving material was ceremonially brought into the house and laid under the table where the feasting would occur. After the meal, the household created the crosses. A farmer might also make circlets to hang round the necks of lambs as they were born. Any leftover materials were used to create a bed for Brigid or sprinkled in the byre for good luck. The crosses were hung the next day.
To make a Brighid’s Cross, you will need about 28 reed, each approximately 30 cms in length.
Position two reeds across each other so that they make a “+” sign. Turn the weave 90 degrees and fold the vertical reed down over the top of itself. Turn the weave 90 degrees again to repeat with the now vertical reed. Turn the reeds again 90 degrees and add the third reed, placing it to the right of the vertical folded reed and under the horizontal folded reed. Fold thee added reed, turning the weave once again to add the fourth and final reed to this round in the same fashion.
Continue to add folded reed. Avoid letting them bunch up or lie on top of those in a previous round. Build the weave outward, resting the reeds side by side. At first, you may find it difficult to hold the arms together and at right angles, but as the weave gains substance, this will prove easier. Just remember to watch for gaps and fill them by repositioning and tightening the reeds as necessary.
When all 28 reeds have been incorporated, tie each arm off about 6cms from the centre of the design. Trim the ends of the reeeds and threads.
As the reeds dry, the cross will become loose. To remedy this, untie the ends, pull the reeds tight again before retying.
Brat Bríde The brat or cloak or mantle of Brigid was a ribbon, piece of cloth, or an article of clothing. They were left outside on the evening before the feast of Imbolc to receive the blessing of Brigid as she passed through the household. After wards, the cloths and ribbons were used as talismans of protection and healing, particularly aiding childbirth. Ribbons and strips of cloth were sewn into clothing or carried in a pocket. Articles of clothing were worn in times of stress and need; for example, a woman might wear a man’s vest while giving birth. Shawls that had been blessed might be laid on ailing human or animal while a prayer of healing was recited.
Críos Bríde The críos or girdle of Brigid was a rope of plaited straw or rope three or four meters long and formed into a circle held vertically aloft while those gathered ritually passed through, reciting a charm. The ceremony appears to have symbolized regeneration.
It is that time of the year again that despite the ever lingering daylight savings, a definite change can be felt as the earth’s wobbling rotation pulls away from the sun here in the Southern Hemisphere. The mornings are distinctively darker and the sun lingers longer below the horizon, and there is an ever slight chill in the air. Yes, the time of the Autumn Equinox draws near (21st of March to be exact for this year).
As such, it appears time again to point out an erroneous association that first appeared in the 1970s and which, despite numerous attempts to rectify over the years, still perpetuates itself within modern Paganism – that being the usage of the term “Mabon” as an alleged alternative name for the Autumn Equinox.