Category Archives: Folklore

Mara

Goddess Mara (Morena) Artwork by Margo Kai https://www.instagram.com/margo_kai/

Modern artist’s conception of the Slavic Goddess Mara (Morena) – the Goddess of Winter, Death, and Rebirth.

Some modern Slavic pagans celebrate her on or around November 1, which they call Day of Mara. Another old name for that time of the year is Dedi (Dzyadi) – meaning, Grandparents or Forebearers. On that day the veil between the worlds of spirits and men, the living and the dead grows thin and both worlds can easily mix.

Mara covers the earth with white snow so that Nature can sleep and rest and gather strength to get ready for the new cycle of life in Spring. She is called the Goddess of Life Eternal and Resurrection.

Saint Martha and the Tarasque

According to the Golden Legend “There was, at that time, on the banks of the Rhône, in a marsh between Arles and Avignon, a dragon, half animal, half fish, thicker than an ox, longer than an horse, with teeth like swords and big as horns, he hid in the river where he took the life of all passers-by and submerged vessels.”
The Tarasque was said to have come from Galatia, which was the home of the legendary Onachus, a scaly, bison-like beast which burned everything it touched (this creature is similar to the Bonnacon)

The sea monster constantly threaded the population. Holding a cross in her hand, Martha sprinkled the beast with holy water. Placing her sash around its neck, she led the tamed dragon through the village.

(sources: “Sainte Marthe”. L’Abbaye Sainte Benoit;””St. Martha”, Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish” )

image: Charles Lepec – La Tarasque, 1874

Hecate

Hecate.Goddess at Pompeii
Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale. Cubiculum M, second panel from south end of west wall. According to Barnabei, this wall painting depicts a golden statue of Diana Hecate bearing torches.


“She was the goddess who scattered her benefits on the end of life on those who protected it. She welcomed them, in peace underground, among the ranks of the blessed in the happiness of Elysium.
In the painting she has a gold crown with serpents’ heads and necks on the top. Her chest was crossed by a white band to which was attached the quiver, visible behind the right shoulder. She is within a sacred portal wrapped in yellow ribbons. From the portal hangs a bearded mask of an old Silenus above which a lintel is supported on the wings of two swans. On top of the lintel are two silver urns and between them is a round gold shield. At the base is a small red walled area with an altar with offering on top and two vases on benches. Either side are red columns painted with flowers and climbers.”

See Barnabei F., 1901. La villa pompeiana di P. Fannio Sinistore.
Roma: Accademia dei Lincei. p.74, Fig. 17.
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“Hecate: The Virgin Mother Goddess
The Greek Magical Papyri repeatedly refer to her as the Great Mother, using the epithets of Geneteira and Pammetor. An example comes from the Spell to the Waning Moon: “Mother of all who bore love.”

The judeochristian depiction of a virgin woman who brought to life the son of God, displayed in a metaphorical way the connection between the Acausal and the physical realm.

This is one of the hidden aspects of Hecate, the one who holds the keys between the Acausal and the Causal.

Reviewing the existing literature about Hekate reveals that her three-formed nature is reflected in her maternal roles. She can be considered Mother of the Gods, Mother of All Things and a mother to individuals.

In addition, her long history portrays her as the Mother of Witches. Contemporary Hekate is often seen as The Dark Mother, which reflects NAOS’ interpretation of her.

Hekate is a complex goddess that presents herself in different forms throughout the ages and to those seeking her, as reflected in her various maternal roles.

(1) Hecate has even been linked to the Virgin Mary through Mary’s indirect link to Lilith (as the second Eve) and through the association of both with the holy day of August 15. This is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin when Mary is petitioned to avert storms so that the fields can ripen. A festival for Hecate was held on August 13. She too was invoked for help in preventing storms so that the harvest could be gathered.

(2) She was at one time the goddess of all aspects of the moon but eventually this dominion was split into three with Persephone/Artemis as the virgin/new moon and Demeter/Hera/Selene as the mother/full moon.

She was connected to all three of the life stages. She was there at the time of fertilization and birth. She could open the womb of all living creatures. As the mistress of gates, doors and the abyss she was the symbol of the feminine womb. She was the guardian of women in child birth. She was a nurse of the young. She had associations to growing and the harvest through her relationship to the phases of the moon and her suppression of storms. She was the goddess of healing and magic. And at the end of time she was the Queen of Night, Mistress of the Lower Way, Opener of the Way to Death.

As the Queen of Death, she ruled the powers of regeneration as represented by her association with the serpent.

Haire Aghia Hecata!
Haire Nyktairodyteira Despoina!”

From N A O S at http://www.Noeton.org

The enduring traditions of St. Brigid’s Day

Imbolc, also known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring on February 1. It is one of the four major ‘fire’ festivals (quarter days, referred to in Irish mythology from medieval Irish texts. The other three festivals on the old Irish calendar are Beltane…

Source: The enduring traditions of St. Brigid’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

grsnake

Bring back the snakes (i.e. the ancient Celtic religions) to Ireland. Let today be a celebration of the snakes returning 🙂

From Niall O’Riordan:
“I believe St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is an allegory. In many cultures the snake is a symbol of wisdom. Therefore, this could be interpreted as him driving out the ancient wisdom of the Celts. And you know where that got us…
Ireland is a holy land, it has a rich heritage, wisdom and magic waiting to be reclaimed. My beautiful country is slowly recovering from the abuse, oppression and superstition the Roman Catholic church has inflicted for hundreds of years.
So, today I will be celebrating all that is good about Ireland and dedicating my magical work towards Ireland rediscovering those snakes!
May she awaken!
Have a great Paddy’s Day!”

Fairy tree

ftree

 

Fairy Tree, Dingle, Co Kerry. Usually a lone Hawthorn, treated with great respect. People leave gifts in the hope of good fortune, receiving healing, or for prayers to be answered. Fairy trees were often seen as doorways to another realm, and offerings were a form of appeasement. With later Christianization, trees often became dedicated to the local saint and offerings continued.

Miyazaki’s Shinto spirits

totoro02

Excellent article on one of my favorite filmmakers.

The Gods and Spirits (and Totoros) of Miyazaki’s Fantasy Worlds

“There’s a moment in Hayao Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro that’s stuck with me since I first watched it a decade ago. Satsuki Kusakabe is searching for her missing sister, Mei. Looking for help, she sprints towards the huge camphor tree where the magical creature Totoro lives. She pauses for a moment at the entrance to a Shinto shrine that houses Totoro’s tree, as if considering praying there for Totoro’s help. But then she runs back to her house and finds her way to Totoro’s abode through the tunnel of bushes where Mei first encountered him. Totoro summons the Catbus, which whisks Satsuki away to where Mei is sitting, beside a lonely country road lined with small statues of Jizo, the patron bodhisattva of children.

It’s Satsuki’s hesitation in front of the shrine’s entrance that sticks with me, and what it says about the nature of spirits and religion in the film. We don’t really think of the movies of Hayao Miyazaki as religious or even spiritual, despite their abundant magic, but some of his most famous works are full of Shinto and Buddhist iconography—like those Jizo statues, or the sacred Shimenawa ropes shown tied around Totoro’s tree and marking off the river god’s bath in Spirited Away. Miyazaki is no evangelist: the gods and spirits in his movies don’t follow or abide by the rituals of religion. But the relationship between humans and gods remains paramount.”

Miyazaki’s gods and spirits aren’t explicitly based on any recognizable Japanese “kami” (a word that designates a range of supernatural beings, from the sun goddess Amaterasu to the minor spirits of sacred rocks and trees). In fact, whether Totoro is a Shinto spirit or not is a mystery. He lives in a sacred tree on the grounds of a Shinto shrine. The girls’ father even takes them there to thank Totoro for watching over Mei early in the film. But Satsuki calls Totoro an “obake,” a word usually translated as “ghost” or “monster.” Miyazaki himself has insisted that Totoro is a woodland creature who eats acorns. Is he a Shinto spirit? A monster? An animal? A figment of the girls’ imaginations? The film—delightfully—not only doesn’t answer the question, it doesn’t particularly care to even ask it.”

totoro01

 

“… Miyazaki’s films don’t invite us to any particular faith or even belief in the supernatural, but they do invite us to see the unexpected, and to respect the spirits of trees and woods, rivers and seas. Like Totoro and Gran Mamare, their true nature and reasoning are beyond our comprehension. Call them kami, or gods, or spirits, or woodland creatures, or Mother Nature, or the environment. They are there if we know where to look, and their gifts for us are ready if we know how to ask. We have only to approach them as a child would—like Satsuki, Mei, Chihiro, and Sosuke—with open eyes and open hearts.”

Three Kings

3kings

dream of the three kings ‘Salzburg Missal’, Regensburg ca. 1478-1489 (München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 15708 I, fol. 63r)

 

Article from Rudolph Steiner:

The Festivals and Their Meaning:
I
Christmas

Schmidt Number: S-0994

On-line since: 23rd December, 1999

VI

On The Three Magi

(Extract from a lecture)

Berlin, 30th December, 1904

You will remember that I have spoken of the meaning of the Christmas Festival in its connection with the evolution of races, or, better said, the epochs of civilisation, and indeed the significance of the Festival lies in this very connection both in respect of the past and of the future.

I want to speak to-day about a Festival to which in modern times less importance is attached than to the Christmas Festival itself, namely, the Festival of the Three Kings, of the Magi who came from the East to greet the newly born Jesus. This Festival of the Epiphany (celebrated on the 6th of January) will assume greater and greater significance when its symbolism is understood.

It will be obvious to you that very profound symbolism is contained in the Festival of the Three Magi from the East. Until the 15th century, this symbolism was kept very secret and no definite indications were available. But since that century some light has been thrown on the Festival of the Magi by exoteric presentations. One of the Three Kings — Caspar — is portrayed as a Moor, an inhabitant of Africa; one as a white man, a European — Melchior; and one — Balthasar — as an Asiatic; the colour of his skin is that of an inhabitant of India. They bring Myrrh, Gold and Frankincense as offerings to the Child Jesus in Bethlehem.

These three offerings are full of meaning and in keeping with the whole symbolism of the Festival celebrated on the 6th of January. Exoterically, the date itself throws some light; esoterically, the Festival is pregnant with meaning. The 6th of January is the same date as that on which, in ancient Egypt, the Festival of Osiris was celebrated, the Festival of the re-finding of Osiris. As you know, Osiris was overcome by his enemy Typhon: Isis seeks and eventually finds him. This re-finding of Osiris, the Son of God, is represented in the Festival of the 6th of January. The Festival of the Three Kings is the same Festival, but in its Christian form. This Festival was also celebrated among the Assyrians, the Armenians and the Phoenicians. Everywhere it is a Festival connected with a kind of universal baptism — a rebirth from out of the water. This in itself points to the connection with the re-finding of Osiris.

What does the disappearance of Osiris signify? It signifies the transition from the epoch before the middle of the Lemurian race to the epoch after the middle of that race. Before the middle of the Lemurian race, no human being was endowed with Manas. It was not until the middle of the race that Manas came down as a fertile seed into men. Manas (Spirit-Self) was now disseminated among men and in each single individual a grave was created for Manas — for the dismembered Osiris. The Divine Manas was disseminated and thereafter dwelt in men. In the Egyptian Mystery-language, the bodies of men were called the ‘graves of Osiris’ Manas was fettered until it was freed by the new revelation of Love.

What is the new revelation, the new manifestation of Love? The descent of Manas somewhere around the middle of the Lemurian epoch, was accompanied by the penetration into mankind of the principle of desire, or passion. Before that time there had been no desire-principle in the real sense. The animals of the preceding epochs were cold-blooded; even man himself at that time, had no warm blood. In the Old Moon period and, correspondingly, in the Third Earth-Round, men may be likened to fishes, in the sense that their own warmth and the warmth of their environment were equal in degree. Of this epoch the Bible says: ‘The Spirit of God brooded over the waters.’ The principle of Love was not within the beings, but outside, manifesting as earthly Kama (that is to say, earthly passion or desire). Kama is egotistic love. The first bringer of Love free of all egoism is Christ Who appeared in the body of Jesus of Nazareth.

Who are the Magi? They represent the Initiates of the three preceding races or epochs of culture, the Initiates of mankind up to the time of the coming of Christ, the Bringer of the Love that is free of egoism — the resurrected Osiris. The Initiates — and so too the Three Magi — were endowed with Manas. They bring gold, frankincense and myrrh as their offerings. And why are their skins of three colours: white, yellow and black? One is European — his skin is white; one is Indian — his skin is yellow; one is African — his skin is black. This indicates the connection with the so-called Root Races. The remaining survivors of the Lemurian race are black; those of the Atlantean race are yellow; and the representatives of the Fifth Root Race, the Post-Atlantean or Aryan race, are white.

Thus the Three Kings or Magi are representatives of the Lemurians, the Atlanteans and the Aryans. They bring the three offerings. The European (Melchior) brings gold, the symbol of wisdom, of intelligence which comes to expression paramountly in the Fifth Root Race. The offering of the Initiate representing the Fourth Root Race (Balthasar) is frankincense, connected with what was intrinsically characteristic of the Atlanteans. They were united more directly with the Godhead, a union which took effect as a suggestive influence, a kind of universal hypnosis. This union with the Godhead is betokened by the offering. Feeling must be sublimated in order that God may fertilise it. This is expressed symbolically by the frankincense, which is the universal symbol for an offering that has something to do with Intuition.

In the language of esotericism, myrrh is the symbol of dying, of death. What is the meaning of dying and of resurrection, as exemplified in the resurrected Osiris? I refer you here to words of Goethe: “So long as thou hast it not, this dying and becoming, thou’rt but a dull guest on the dark earth.” Jacob Boehme expresses the same thought in the words: “He who dies not ere he dies, perishes when he dies.” Myrrh is the symbol of the dying of the lower life and the resurrection of the higher life. It is offered by the Initiate representing the Third Root Race (Lemurian). A deep meaning lies in this. Jesus of Nazareth is a very highly developed individuality. In the thirtieth year of his life he gives up his own life to the descending Christ, the descending Logos. All this the Magi foresaw. The great sacrifice made by Jesus of Nazareth is that he gave up his ‘ I ’ to make way for the Second Logos. There is a definite reason for this sacrifice. Not until the Sixth Root Race will it become possible, and then only gradually, for the human body to receive into itself the Christ Principle from childhood onwards. Only then, in the Sixth Root Race, will mankind have reached such maturity that the body will not need years of preparation but will be able from the beginning, to receive the Christ Principle. In the fourth sub-race of the Fifth Root Race it was necessary for a body to be prepared for thirty years. (In the Northern regions we find something similar, in that the personality of Sig was so prepared that he could place his body at the disposal of a higher Being, and, in fact, did so). In the Sixth Root Race it will be possible for a man to place his body at the disposal of a sublime Being, as did Jesus of Nazareth when Christianity was founded. At the time of the founding of Christianity it was still necessary for an advanced individuality to sacrifice his own ‘ I ’ and send it into the astral realm, in order that the Logos might dwell in the body. This is an act upon which light is shed by the last words on the Cross. What other meaning could these words contain: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” These words give expression to the mystical fact then consummated. At the moment of Christ’s death, the Divine Being had departed from the body, and it is the body of Jesus of Nazareth that utters these words — a body so highly developed that it could voice the reality. And so these words give expression to an event of untold significance. All this is represented by the myrrh. Myrrh is the symbol of sacrifice, of death, the sacrifice of the earthly in order that the Higher may come to life. In the middle of the Lemurian epoch, Osiris came to his grave; Manas drew into human beings. Men were educated under the guidance of the Initiates until the principle of Love (Budhi) could shine forth in Christ Jesus. Budhi is the heavenly Love. The lower, sexual principle is ennobled through the Christ Love. Kama is purified in the fire of the Divine Love.

Melchior is the representative of the principle of wisdom, of intelligence — the task of the Fifth Root Race. This is symbolised by his offering — gold.

The principle of sacramental offering is represented by the frankincense. This offering symbolises the principle that was dominant in the Fourth Root Race, the Atlantean. The task of Christianity is fulfilled in the Sixth Root Race, when material existence will be fraught with sacramentalism and sacramental deeds. Sacraments have very largely lost their meaning to-day; the feeling of their significance has disappeared. But this feeling will be kindled to life again when the higher man is born. It is this that is symbolised by the frankincense.

In the Lemurian Race, Osiris meets his death, in the Sixth Root Race, Osiris is resurrected.

Thus the offerings made by the Three Kings indicate the connection of the Festival with the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Root Races. By what are the Three Holy Kings guided, and whither are they led? They are guided by a Star to a grotto, a cave in Bethlehem. This is something that can be understood only by one who has knowledge of the so-called lower, or astral mysteries. To be led by a Star means nothing else than to see the soul itself as a Star. But when is the soul seen as a Star? When a man can behold the soul as a radiant aura. But what kind of aura is so radiant that it can be a guide? There is the aura that glimmers with only a feeble light; such an aura cannot guide. There is a higher aura, that of the intelligence, which has, it is true, a flowing, up-surging light, but is not yet able to guide. But the bright aura, aglow with Budhi, is in very truth a Star, is a radiant guide. In Christ, the Star of Budhi lights up — the Star which accompanies the evolution of mankind. The Light that shines before the Magi is the soul of Christ Himself. The Second Logos Himself shines before the Magi and over the cave in Bethlehem.

The grotto or cave is the body wherein dwells the soul. The seer beholds the body from within. In astral vision, everything is reversed — for example, 365 instead of 563. The human body is seen as a cave, a hollow. In the body of Jesus shines the Christ Star, the soul of Christ. This must be conceived as a reality, taking place in the astral world. It is an enactment of the Lesser Mysteries. There, in very truth, the Christ Soul shines as an auric Star, and it is by this Star that the Initiates of the three Root Races are led to Jesus in Bethlehem.

The Festival of the Three Kings is celebrated every year on the 6th of January, and its significance will steadily increase. Men will understand more and more what a Magi is, and what the great Magi, the Masters, are. And then understanding of Christianity will lead to understanding of spiritual science.