Review: Naming the Goddess

untitled2
Okay, I’ve been promising to say something about Naming the Goddess for some time, so here it is. I lent the book to someone who refused to give it back, but thankfully I bought several copies. Naming the Goddess, edited by Trevor Greenfield, is an anthology by Moon Books on the subject of Goddess worship. It has a section on more general issues related to the Goddess of about eighty pages and a longer section of about 250 pages on various individual goddesses. I have been reading the book as I imagine most people will, by flipping back and forth between different sections in no particular order. Since the sections on individual goddesses are short, this is a book that you can carry around with you and read during brief moments of down time. In terms of sales, this is already one of the best-selling anthologies that Moon Books has put out, so by that measure it is an unqualified success.

I’ve been following the reviews on this book, and they have been positive. One reviewer said she thought the whole book should have been devoted to more general essays like those in the first section of the anthology. The essays in the first section are very good. Selene Fox’s short history on the goddess of liberty, Libertas, is fascinating. Robin Herne’s provocative piece asks us to consider how certain aspects of myth may be continuing to validate rape culture. My own essay is a response to the anti-Goddess backlash currently trending in the more trendy Pagan circles. Many women have come forward to thank me for writing this piece, although I have a feeling others will scratch their heads and wonder what I’m talking about. If you read my essay and have no idea where it came from, good for you. Hopefully you never will.

A criticism I have also heard is that there are already many books of this type on the market, meaning that there are a lot of encyclopedic compilations on various goddesses available. However, I think this second part of the book does fill a slightly different niche. The “goddesses of the world” texts are generally better researched, putting worship in historical and cultural context and alerting the reader to the process of syncretism, yet they lack the immediacy of an exposition penned by devotees with a true relationship with each goddess. A lot of anthologies discuss personal relationships to the Goddess, but they are more narrow in focus. There are so many entries to this section – over seventy – that while it is not comprehensive, it covers some serious ground. Also, there is a longer description of more obscure deities, such as Aine or Eris, than are generally found in encyclopedic texts. I don’t think this book duplicates anything that’s out there.

I too would like to see Moon Books come out with an anthology with longer essays such as those found in the first section of this one. These articles suggest that there is time and talent for another groundbreaking book such as Carl Olson’s 1989 anthology The Book of the Goddess Past and Present. But we’ll have to wait on that one. In the meantime, I recommend you peruse Naming the Goddess as a potential resource to add to your collection.

Leave a comment

New Webinar About the Wolf

wolfhowl
I am pleased to be bringing you another animal-focused webinar, this one about the wolf and her shapeshifting cult – in other words, werewolves! I will have many pictures I was not able to include in my book Invoking Animal Magic and I will talk about the wolf-coyote hybrids now colonizing the Northeastern United States and Canada. I think this will be of interest both to people who are familiar with these hybrids and those who are not. The werewolf herself is a type of hybrid, being a human in wolf form. I will not be ignoring the sensationalized aspects of werewolves, but this webinar will look at the phenomenon more from a historical and occult-scientific point of view. From the book:

The werewolf is a complex creature that is part science, part magic, part tradition, part superstition. She embodies a concept that has become confused over the centuries as Christianity and science have attempted to understand the phenomenon in their own terms. Fears and misconceptions about shapeshifting have been projected mainly onto wolves, which makes the werewolf a good study on the crazier side of shape shifting.

The Real, True, Totally Authentic and Genuine History of the Werewolf
Monday, February 9, 2015
7:00 – 8:00 pm Eastern Time US
Cost: $25
Attend live or stream later

Pre-registration Required

Leave a comment

Artemis and the Golden Deer

Diane_de_Versailles_Leochares_2
Is the “stag” that accompanies Artemis really a reindeer doe? A new article I have at Moon Books Blog explores this tantalizing question.

Leave a comment

Animal Art in Chauvet Cave

chauvet small replica
I have a post up at Return to Mago this week about animal art at Chauvet Cave.

Leave a comment

Deer in Early European Cave Art – A photo essay

Doe on ceiling at Altamira Cave, Spain. 16,000 bce.

Doe on ceiling at Altamira Cave, Spain. 16,000 bce.


Megaloceros. Lacaux Cave, France. 17,000 bce.

Megaloceros. Lacaux Cave, France. 17,000 bce.


Lascaux Cave (replica)

Lascaux Cave (replica)


Altxerri Cave, Spain. 36,000 bce. Head of reindeer with fox head inside. Photo Gipuzkoa Kultura.

Altxerri Cave, Spain. 36,000 bce. Head of reindeer with fox inside. Photo Gipuzkoa Kultura.

Lascaux. Photo Professor Saxx.

Lascaux. Photo Professor Saxx.


Lascaux. Photo Pline.

Lascaux. Photo Pline.


Drawing by Jose-Manuel Benito Alvarez. La Pasiega Cave, Spain. 12,000 bce.

Drawing by Jose-Manuel Benito Alvarez. La Pasiega Cave, Spain. 12,000 bce.


The webinar Mystick Path of the Deer is on track for Monday, January 12th.
Register here.

Comments Off

Mystick Path of the Deer – corrected link

The link to the webinar Mystick Path of the Deer has been corrected. Here it is again:

http://hearthmoonrising.com/webinar/

This webinar promises to answer many of your questions, including why I’m misspelling the word “mystick.”

Comments Off

Deer Shifters

deerlarge
Several years ago a North Country man shot and killed a member of his hunting party, the girlfriend of his son. This is an all too frequent tragedy, not worth a mention anywhere but the local news. The man said he thought the girlfriend was a deer, which is also not so unusual. More perplexing is that the woman was standing not far away from the shooter and was immobile, leaning against a tree. Regardless, the victim’s family and the prosecutor believed this was an accident, and the shooter was offered a reduced prison sentence that left some observers looking askance. Was it plausible that a sober man with good eyesight could accidentally shoot a person at close range, no matter how crazed he was to “get his buck”?

Or, could the victim-hunter – thinking about the deer, struggling to perceive the deer, trying to get in the mind of the deer, willing the deer to come closer – actually have turned into a deer? This alternative may seem more fantastic than the first, yet I have seen women (always women for some reason) momentarily turn into deer.

Moreover, I once received validation of sorts for my perception, during a women’s ritual. I glanced over to the woman beside me and saw that she had turned into a deer, and I thought I must be mistaken. This woman was very infatuated with bears, and I would never have associated her with deer. She was not fazed by this, however, explaining that her Cherokee great-grandmother had believed her to be attuned with the deer and had lobbied unsuccessfully to give her a deer name.

In the story of Sadb and Oisin the Irish heroine Sadb is turned into a fawn by one of her father’s enemies. She evidently retains the power to change back and forth, because she becomes the lover of the hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill after he spares her cervid form during a hunting expedition. The enraged druid changes her back into a doe, this time permanently, and in this form she gives birth to their son Oisin. The child appears human in all ways, save for a fawnlike forelock of hair, yet he can run as fast as a deer. (A slightly different version of this story appears in my book Invoking Animal Magic.)

The Scottish hag Beinne Bhric changes into a gray deer, echoing legends of the Cailleach Bheur, the giant crone who keeps a herd of magic deer. The generic Scottish word for a shape-shifting charm, fith-fath (fee faw), literally means to take the shape of a deer.

Make no mistake: women can take the shape of deer, at least some women can. It is the stuff of legend, but nonetheless true. Serious inquiry has not been made into the qualities of the children of doe-mothers, but perhaps this is how shape-shifting ability is passed on. If you think you might be part deer, make your way carefully in the woods.

Sources:

Celtic Mythology. New Lanark, Scotland: Geddes and Grosset, 1999.

Matthews, Caitlin and John. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom: The Celtic Shaman’s Sourcebook. Shaftsbury, UK: Element Books, 1994.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. New York: Checkmark Books, 2008.

Learn more about deer magic in the upcoming webinar,
The Mystick Path of the Deer

Comments Off

Sun through the Zodiac

Nut as sky goddess. Note the red sun disks on her body and at her mouth and vulva.

Nut as sky goddess. Note the red sun disks on her body and at her mouth and vulva.


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.

Barbara Lesko in The Great Goddesses of Egypt shares this interesting perspective on the Winter Solstice:

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.

2 Comments

Pine Yard in a Grove of Deer

Few things are more exhilarating than running through the woods on a spongy trail and hitting your stride. I was moving in that effortless state of freedom on a late afternoon run when my partner pulled up suddenly and commanded me to stop. We were in a large open stand of pine with little undergrowth.

“Don’t move,” my partner whispered.

“I don’t see anything,” I replied.

“Shhh! Right in front of you,” he said – and then I saw it. A large doe a few feet away, standing perfectly immobile. She was relying on her coloring and her stillness for camouflage, and I would have passed close by her if I had not been alerted. Yet I am a fairly observant person. I can’t help but wonder if pine trees change into deer when they have a hankering for movement, or if deer swiftly turn to pine when they need to disappear.

Can you spot the spotted deer in the forest? It takes a willingness to move between worlds, and by acquiring this depth of perception you greatly enhance your psychic abilities. The upcoming webinar The Mystick Path of the Deer will focus on better understanding and attuning with this remarkable creature.

The Mystick Path of the Deer
Monday, January 12, 2015
7:00–8:00 pm Eastern Time
Attend live or stream later
Cost $25
Pre-registration required

More information and registration here

DSCN2994

Comments Off

Deer Webinar Scheduled!

stag
The Mystick Path of the Deer
Monday, January 12, 2015
7:00–8:00 pm Eastern Time
Attend live or stream later
Cost $25
Pre-registration required

More information and registration here

Comments Off