Hecate of the Greeks and Romans

Beloved of Neo-Pagans and Wiccans, Hecate is their God of Witches and Magic. Because of her connection with the Dead She is the Dark Goddess. Hecate is both the Queen of the Night and the Triple Goddess of Birth, Life, and Death.

Meanwhile, Romans feel ambivalent towards Hecate since She is one of the Di Inferi, the Gods of the Earth and the Underworld. Originally from Thrace, Hecate is associated with the Greek Eleusisian Mysteries. As Hecate Trivia, She is the Goddess of the Crossroads, and of Abandoned Infants. Virgil wrote of Her, “Hecate…Three in One…whose name is howled by night at the city crossroads!” In general, Romans prefer not to invoke Her.

Crossroads are liminal places where a person could cross into other worlds, because the worlds all met there. The Gates of the Dead open up at crossroads, which is why suicides and vampires are buried there. Instead of wandering the earth, they can enter the Underworld immediately. Since the Dead congregate at the crossroads, Hecate guards the Gates of Underworld. She see that no one leaves to bother the living.

For Romans, dogs are traditional doorway guardians. Therefore, hearing a howling dog at the crossroads meant that Hecate is present. In rites made at three-way crossroads, Ovid suggests sacrifices of dogs to Her, while saying nine prayers at midnight.

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Ba’al Hadad of Canaan

The Polytheism of the Canaanites is usually contrasted with the Monotheism of the Israelites. While the nomads of Israel are usually depicted as being morally upright and virtuous, the urbanites of Canaan are always shown to be depraved hedonists who made child sacrifices. The truth is that the Israelites were ethnic Canaanites who split off during the early Iron Age. The Canaanites divided into the Israelites in the south and the Phoenicians to the north. The Canaanite Polytheistic practices that are condemned in the Old Testament are actually Israelite ones. The later editors of the Old Testament wanted to emphasize the pure Monotheism of the Israelites.

The God most often mentioned as the bane of Yahweh and the Israelites is Baal. The particular Baal in question is Ba’al Hadad of Mount Tzapunu, who is known as King and Judge. Ba’al in the Canaanite language means “Lord,” and became a way of addressing Yahweh as well.

Since Ba’al Hadad had died and returned from the Dead, the Canaanites regard Him to be the Protector of Humanity. In the Ba’al Epic, He fights with Yammu, the God of the Sea and Storms. After He defeats Yammu, Motu, the God of Death and Sterility decided to kill Ba’al. Dying, Ba’al goes to Betu Khupthati, the Canaanite Underworld. In his absence, the drought and heat destroys the earth.

Meanwhile, ‘Anatu, the Female Warrior Ally of Ba’al, searches for Him and Motu. Finding Motu, She chops Him up and feeds Him to the birds. Afterwards, Shapshu, the Sun Goddess and Protector of the Dead returns Ba’al Hadad to the Living. After She restores Motu, Shapshu referees the continuing dispute between the two Gods.

Ba’al Hadad keeps the world of humans fertile. He rides the clouds bringing the rains to ensure the earth’s fertility and abundance. These autumnal rains move from the coast eastward to the desert. Therefore, Ba’al Hadad keeps the balance between the desert of Motu and the ocean of Yammu, with his refreshing rains.

O Ba’al Hadad, King and Judge
Your Voice is Thunder.

O Ba’al Hadad, Rider of the Clouds
Mightiest of the Warriors,
You slew Lotan the Seven Headed Dragon
Lord of the Sky
Lord of the Earth
You Bring the Autumn Rains
You allow the crops to grow

O Ba’al Hadad, Protector of Humans
You calm the storms of the sea
You stay the sands of the desert

Further Reading:
Philip West, The Old Ones in the Old Book
Tess Dawson, The Horned Altar and Whisper of Stone

Gods of the Month: December

For Romans, December is a month to honor the Gods, who ensure the fertility of the earth. People are concerned about the winter sowing and the future crops. It is also a month for family and friends, including the local Nature Spirits. Saturnalia, which celebrates the Golden Age of Saturnus (Saturn), occurs in the middle of December. It is a time of lights, games, and gift-giving. Gods of the Month: December 2016

These are the Gods of the Month that I honor.

BONA DEA: December 3 is the day of women’s mysteries for Bona Dea, the Good Goddess. This Goddess of Healing also ensures women’s fertility. God of The Month: Bona Dea

TIBER RIVER AND THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME: Two festivals – one for the Tiber River and one for the Seven Hills – occur on December 8 and December 11 respectfully. God of the Month: Tiberinus and the Seven Hills

CONSUS: The second festival for Consus, the God of the Granary is held on December 15. God of the Month: Consus

SATURNUS (SATURN): Saturnalia from December 17 to 24 celebrates the time that Saturnus Pater ruled the earth. God of the Month: Saturn

OPS CONSIVA: The Opalia is held on December 19 for Ops Consiva (the Sower). This Goddess of Abundance is the Consort of both Consus and Saturnus. God of the Month: Ops Consiva

ANGERONA: At the Divalia, on December 21, Angerona, the Goddess of Secrets is honored. God of the Month: Diva Angerona

ACCA LARENTIA: On December 23, the Larentalia was held at her tomb. She is the Founder of Roman and Goddess of the Lars.

Non-Roman Gods that I honor:

FRIGGA AND THE DSIR: On the Winter Solstice which is Mothers Night, I celebrate Frigga, the Norse All-Mother, Her Twelve Handmaidens and the Mothers of my ancestral line. God of the Month: Frigga and the Disr

THE ACHEULIAN GODDESS: An ancient Goddess from Paleolithic times, the Acheulian Goddess is for me the Goddess of Beginnings. God of the Month: Acheulian Goddess of Prehistory

Fortuna, Goddess of Rome

One of the most popular Gods of the Romans is Fortuna, the Goddess of Luck and Fate. It is said that She smiled upon Rome and granted the city, its destiny of being a great empire. When She arrived in the city in 600 BCE, Fortuna discarded her wings and took off her shoes. Afterwards, She pronounced Rome to be her true home.

Since luck and fate comes in many forms, Fortuna, Herself, has many aspects. Fortuna as Fate is Fortuna Primigenia (First Born), who sets the fate of the new-born child. This ancient Goddess controls the life, fortune, and death of each person. Depicted with a ship’s rudder, Fortuna steers the fate of all. As Fortuna Viscata (the Fowler), She catches and holds people in her net. Since She is “Sticky Fortune,” Fortuna fixes their fate from which they cannot escape.

Fortuna oversees the luck of people in various ways. Fortuna Liberum watches over children, as Fortuna Barbata (boys) and Fortuna Virgo (girls) oversees their transitions into adulthood. Fortuna Muliebris cares for the well-being of women, and Fortuna Virilis for men. Fortuna Privata provides for the luck of the individual, and Fortuna Publica, that of the nation.

As “Luck-bringer,” Fortuna is worshipped in her many aspects. Some of them are Fortuna Blanda (False), Fortuna Dubia (Dubious), and Fortuna Brevis (Fickle). Fortuna keeps the balance by being fickle in bringing both good and bad luck. Meantime, Romans often paired Fortuna Manens (Enduring) with Fortuna Mobilis (Changeable).

Fortuna Bona (Good) balances out Fortuna Mala (Bad). Fortuna Mala is able to ward off bad luck since She brings it. Because Romans regard Her as a force of balance in the universe, She has an altar alongside Fortuna Bona. Together, They ensure that none have perpetual good or bad luck, and all will experience both.

Salve Fortuna Huiusce Diei!
Bring us good luck this day!

Salve Fortuna Balnearis!
Ancient Fortuna of the Baths
Bring all the soldiers, health and well-being.

Salve Fortuna Redux!
Home-bringer
Watch over the traveller.

Salve Fortuna Obsequens!
Indulgent One,
Look kindly upon us
We thank You.

Stonehenge in a Polytheistic Context

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When discussing Stonehenge, modern people often forget to place this monument into a greater cultural context. Nearby Stonehenge is a similar stone monument at Avebury, which was built around 2500 BCE. Meanwhile, there are signs of a similar circle made of timber at Durrington Walls, which was believed to be built before Avebury. Archeologist Mike Parker Pearson, who has worked at the site, said that Durrington Walls marked the realm of the living, and Stonehenge, the Dead.

Parker Pearson who heads The Stonehenge Riverside Project sees the stones as linked to the Ancestors. Durrington Walls, with its post holes of wood in a circle, is linked to the Living. The physical connection between the two realms is the River Avon, the water.

The new theory is that Stonehenge was a monument of unification. During the solstices, people travelled from as far away as the Orkneys, the islands north of Scotland. At those times, crowds would feast on the animals that they have brought with them. Stonehenge became an axis mundi for devotion, since it brought the Living, the Dead, and the Cosmos together in one place.

The building of Stonehenge can be regarded in the same light as the building of a Gothic cathedral. From the beginning of the project, the entire community is dedicated to seeing the building finished. Everyone involved understood that this construction project would take several generations to complete. Therefore, the entire community dedicated themselves to the process, and organized themselves accordingly. Some people regarded it as a fulfilling of their religious duties, while for others it was their community obligations. Although the specific vision may have been altered through the years, the newer residents of the community resolved to finish the original project. Stonehenge became a monument of devotion.
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Works Used:
Bradshaw Foundation, “Stonehenge: The Age of the Megaliths,” 2011, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stonehenge/index.php.
NOVA, “Astronomy at Stonehenge,” 30 September, 2010. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/astronomy-stonehenge-au.html
“Secrets of Stonehenge,” 12 December, 2012. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-stonehenge.html
Richards, Colin, “Rethinking the Great Stone Circles of Northwest Britain,” Orkney Archaeological Trust, 2004, http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/dhl/papers/cr/index.html.

Building Stonehenge

ndstonehenge

During the Neolithic Period (5000 – 1000 BCE), along the Atlantic coast of Europe and in the British Isles, local peoples built and maintained great stone circles and megaliths. This activity started about 5000 BCE and continued on to about 2500 BCE. These megaliths, built by Neolithic peoples, had multiple uses. The purposes that archeologists believed that Stonehenge was used for included: worshipping the Ancestors, watching the heavens, and marking the cycles of the sun and other astronomical occurrences.

One of the last monuments to be built during this period, Stonehenge was constructed in three distinct phases over a 1,500 year period, starting in 3000 BCE. The process of building this monument included digging large ditches as well as erecting the more famous stones. In the case of Stonehenge, three different cultures added their particular refinements to this monument.

The first group to shape Stonehenge into what we know today was the Windmill Hill People. Thought to be semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers, these people also grew crops. What archeologists noted about these people was their propensity to orient their burials and monuments in the east-west axis. These directions were important to them, perhaps because of the rising and setting of the sun.

In the 1960’s, when builders were excavating a parking lot near the Stonehenge site, they found four post holes that was believed to hold large pine logs. (These holes are said to be about 10,000 years old.) Ancient peoples traveling the Salisbury Plain would see these posts from miles around. Set east to west, these post holes were considered to be the first evidence of the area’s great importance.

Starting about 3100 BCE, the Windmill Hill People took the existing post holes and expanded the site. Using various tools such as deer antlers and digging stones, they dug a ditch and formed a bank, with an opening in the northeast. Call the Great Cursus, this ditch was white from the chalk underneath the grass. Outside this ditch, these people dug fifty-six pits named Aubrey Holes (after their discoverer James Aubrey). In these holes, archeologists have found cremated remains of people.

One theory is that the Windmill Hill People were commemorating their Dead and their Ancestors. When archeologists studied the remains, they realized that the Dead were mostly adult males. People were being selected for burial there instead of it being used by everyone. When Stonehenge was first built, their society was an aristocratic male one.

Many people have assumed that the Aubrey Holes had an astronomical use. Following the phases of the moon was important to peoples in ancient times. One theory is that these holes marked lunar eclipses. Another theory is that the Windmill Hill People were marking particular phases of the moon. Other archeologists have noticed that the Aubrey Holes were aligned north-east and south-west. These holes then lined up with the sun at the solstices and equinoxes. This has led to another working theory that the Aubrey holes are a calendar of equinoxes, solstices, lunar eclipses, and solar events. The underlying assumption to this theory is that many early peoples followed lunar-solar cycles for practical and religious reasons.

Archeologist Clive Ruggles, who has studied the astronomy of the site believes that it was probably not an ancient observatory. He did note that the mid-summer and mid-winter solstices do line up. For him, this indicates their importance to Neolithic peoples. Ruggles believes that the people who first built Stonehenge wanted to keep in harmony with the Cosmos.

From the beginning of Stonehenge, numerous ancient peoples have added their particular visions to the site. Each succeeding generation built on the previous one’s efforts. We modern people will never know what the original purpose to Stonehenge was, but we can stand in awe of these early peoples who built it. Whatever Stonehenge was originally intended to be, it became a monument to the vision and tenacity of the Ancestors of Europe.
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Works Used:
Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.
Bradshaw Foundation, “Stonehenge: The Age of the Megaliths,” 2011, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stonehenge/index.php.

M, Richard, “Stonehenge,” MEgALiThiA, 06 Jan. 2006, http://www.megalithia.com/stonehenge/index.html.
Magli, Giulio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy,” Copernicus Books: N.Y., 2009.
NOVA, “Astronomy at Stonehenge,” 30 September, 2010. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/astronomy-stonehenge-au.html
“Secrets of Stonehenge,” 12 December, 2012. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-stonehenge.html
Richards, Colin, “Rethinking the Great Stone Circles of Northwest Britain,” Orkney Archaeological Trust, 2004, http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/dhl/papers/cr/index.html.
Smagala, Suzanne, “Stonehenge,” August 2007, http://helios.acomp.usf.edu/~ssmagala/stonehenge/index.html.

The Theology of Core-Shamanism

Although proponents of Core Shamanism claim that they are only distilling techniques from classic shamanism, Core Shamanism does have an implied theology. Its belief system, which is human-centric, contains elements from Jung, the Goddess Religions, and New Age Religions. From Jung comes the doctrine that humans create the Goddesses to worship. These Goddesses are the archetypes of one divine benign entity, who is responsive to people’s requests. From New Age Religions comes the doctrine that the Universe is filled with friendly beings who allow humans to download information directly from them.

From the Goddess Religions comes the doctrine that we live in a patriarchy which overthrew the matriarchy of earlier times. In order to save the world, we have to end the patriarchy. This is reflected in the writings of Evelyn Rysdyk, a well-known Core-Shaman, and Theresa Dintino, a self-described Core-Shaman. Archeologist Marija Gimbutas wrote that a Goddess culture existed before it was overthrown by the invading the Indo-Europeans and replaced by their patriarchy. According to Gimbutas, this culture was peaceful and egalitarian. Since it was ruled by female shamans, the culture was a nurturing one.

In her self-published books, Theresa Dintino calls Nyame, the supreme deity of the Akan people of southern Ghana, a Goddess. However, this Deity is really the Male Creator of the world. Her reasoning is that Nyame (female) is an aspect of the Mother Goddess, who is the luminous life-giving force of the universe (the Archetype of the Womb).

Meanwhile, Rysdyk interprets The World Tree of Norse Polytheism in the context of the cosmic tree that is found in other cultures. For her, this World Tree has many connections to the Mother Goddess. She says that the Norse World Tree is a symbol for the primordial Goddess. Rysdyk echoes Dintino’s idea of the Archetype of the Womb by saying that this particular Tree acts as a cave, and is therefore a womb. Then she ewpresents Ragnarok, the end of the world according to Norse sagas, in terms of overthrowing the tyranny of the patriarchal culture.

Core shamanism also reflects aspects of monotheistic theology. In her various writings, Rysdyk discusses surrendering the ego for knowledge. In order to be a shaman, people need to strip away their egos to unite with the Mother Goddess. At her website, Rysdyk says, “Increase your personal power and feel your intrinsic sacredness through expanding your connections with All That Is.” This is similar to the objective of Christian monks to unite with God.

In the collection of essays, “Awakening to the Spirit World” (edited by Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman), various Core-shamans stress that we are here to co-create the next reality in planetary evolution. Westerners will take up where the indigenous people have given up. In other words, Westerners have come to save the world and usher in the New Age. Ingerman in “Walking in the Light,” expands on this by saying that Westerners will transfigure the world to be luminous. They will also be the new caretakers of the Earth. This reflects the Second Great Awakening in the United States which focused on Christians creating the New World for God’s Coming.

Works Used:
Dintino Theresa, “The Amazon Pattern.” Self-published. 2015
“Notes from a Diviner in the Postmodern World.” Self-published. 2016.
Ingerman, Sandra, “Walking in Light.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2014.
Ingerman, Sandra and Hank Wesselman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2010.
Rysdyk, Evelyn, “The Norse Shaman.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2016