Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Giveaway! Colorful Goddess Altar Tile!



I decided to have a giveaway for one of my colorful hand-painted goddess altar tiles. The colors I have available are pink, green and red. In your comments please specify which color you would like. Also if you don't know about my etsy shop Sage Art please check it out. I do custom orders as well so if there is something you want painted and don't see please let me know and I'll try my best to accommodate you.

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment about which color tile you would like and how you plan on displaying your tile. On an altar or just to match the decor in a room I'd love to hear your ideas! Also be sure to leave your email address so that I may contact you if you win. I will choose the winner randomly using random.org and will announce the winner on Saturday. Have fun! Thank you for looking! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sacred Dance in the Ancient World

 
Sacred dance in ancient Egypt

Sacred dance was prevalent all over the ancient world and it is a very ancient form of worship. Evidence of sacred dance has been found painted on cave walls dating back to about 10,000 + years ago. Dance can transport the soul to another dimension and guide the dancer into a trance. It's no wonder that sacred dance was a part of so many cultures around the world. Sacred dance was performed in the ancient world during temple ceremonies, rites of passage, funerary ceremonies and marriage among many other events. It was used as a way to connect with the deities through movement and trance. Sacred dance was also seen as an emotional release for the body.
 

Dance in ancient Egypt was very popular and the first evidence of it dates back to about 4000 BCE. Paintings on pottery and temple walls show scenes from different ceremonies with women, men and gods dancing. The Goddess Hathor was known as the Mistress of Dance and her priestesses would perform sacred temple dances in her honor. Ancient Egyptian dance was performed for magical purposes, to induce trance and to honor the gods among many other things. Egyptian dancers used musical instruments such as rattles or sistra, tambourines, drums, bells, flutes and a variety of other instruments to enhance their dance. Some dancers were said to be nude while others were said to have worn loincloths, transparent robes, jewelry, headdresses and makeup.
 

Sacred dance in India was based on stories of Indian mythology and was seen as the dance form of the stories. It was also seen as a way to communicate with the gods. Sacred dance in India is called Indian Classical Dance and there are eight different forms. These are  Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Sattriya, Odissi, Manipuri, Kathakali and Kathak. Sacred dance was performed by temple dancers who were women that dedicated their lives to dance and were known as Devadasies. During the dances the women would do different postures and poses as well as hand poses called mudras. The dancers would wear intricate and beautiful outfits that consisted of silks, bright jewels, a jasmine garland in their hair and little bells on their feet.
 

In ancient Greece there were many forms of dance. Two of these forms of dance were known as Apollonian and Dionysian. The Apollonian dance style was said to be slow and thoughtful and was performed during religious ceremonies, marriages and funerary rites. The Dionysian dance style was ecstatic, passionate and filled with desire. It seems that in Ancient Greece dance was part of the education of all people. In Ancient Rome dance was typically practiced during religious rites.
 

Dance can be incorporated into any of your own personal rituals in any fashion. Adding ecstatic dance to a ritual will greatly help with achieving a trance-like state. There is no right or wrong way to dance. Just slowly allow your body to move with the rhythm of the music. Trust your body. Once you get a good rhythm going allow your intuition to guide you into the type of dance you need.  You will feel the energy rising. When you are finished with your ritual dance you will feel it in your body too. You have expended the energy for your rituals intent.
 

Personally for me incorporating dance into my rituals has brought me closer to my goddess and given me a deeper spiritual practice. If you have never danced in ritual you must try it! Such a freeing feeling!




Picture courtesy of Tour Egypt

Monday, July 14, 2014

Magic Monday, Herbal Magic



Summer and Spring are the best times to plant herbs and can also be a great time for herbal magic. There are many different types of herbs one can grow during the summer such as yarrow, lavender, basil, St. John's wort, mugwort and sage among many others. If you have a green thumb you may wish to grow your herbs from seed or you can buy already grown herbs at your local nursery. Growing from seed can sometimes be challenging but also very rewarding!

You may also wish to add some herbs/flowers to your garden that attract faeries or are good for faery magic. Herbs such as thyme, foxglove, rosemary and a rose bush are all associated with faeries and faery magic. Once you have your garden plants sorted out, call on the elemental's or the faeries to bless your garden space. Plant your magical garden and nourish your plants as they grow. Remember to leave offerings to the faeries or elemental's every so often.

Once your herbs/flowers have grown you can make magical herb sachets with them. If you are not able to have an herb garden, you may purchase dried herbs from any reputable source. If you choose to do the latter, make sure to bless your herbs before you do any magical workings with them. This will cleanse them of any energies other than your own.

Magical Herb Sachet


What you will need:

One small sachet of any color (lavender for peace, green for money, pink for love, white for protection or any color you have on hand)

Herbs you can use:

Lavender - peace and calmness. Induces sleep and peaceful dreams. Can also be used in a tea with chamomile for a feeling of tranquility. Lavender is also good for purification and love.

Yarrow - used for divination, prophetic dreams, love and psychic abilities. Yarrow can be added to a dream pillow along with lavender and mugwort for dream divination.

Basil - used for good fortune and money magic. Place a basil leaf in your wallet to attract money to you. Basil is also used in love spells.

Mugwort - used for protection, divination and dreams. Mugwort can be used with sage to make smudge sticks for cleansing a sacred space. Mugwort is also associated with travel and can be placed in your car for protection.

Thyme - enables one to see faeries. Sprinkling thyme in front of your doorstep will invite faeries into your home. Thyme can be used to cleanse a sacred space. It's also good for increasing ones courage and can be used in a dream pillow to prevent nightmares.

Rose - a rose plant will attract faeries to your garden. Roses are good for love, happiness and protection for the evil eye.

St. John's Wort - a summer herb used at the summer solstice. Used for divination, love, healing and invincibility. St. John's wort is also used for protection against faery magic. This ancient herb has been used for centuries for healing and is also said to be associated with women's mysteries.

You may choose to use some or all of these herbs in your magical sachet. Grind your herbs down and mix them together, then place them in your sachet. Bless your magical sachet in your garden or at your altar. Ask your deity or the faeries to bless your herb sachet with whatever magical purpose you are using it for. Place your sachet in your purse, car, altar, garden, hanging over your door or over your bed. You may also wish to substitute essential oils for any herbs you might not have and you can also add crystals to your sachet for extra power.

Have fun making your Summer magic herb sachets with the faeries!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kupala, Slavic Goddess of Water and Summer



Kupala is the Slavic goddess of water and is associated with springs and rivers. Her name translates to mean "to bathe" as her worshipers would honor her by bathing in rivers. Kupala was also associated with herbs, fertility and sorcery. Her sacred trees and flowers were ferns, birch wood and wildflowers.

Kupala was honored during the Summer Solstice where her worshipers would throw flowers in the rivers in her honor. They would then bathe in the rivers as a ritual of purification. Fire was also honored at this time as the two elements, fire and water, were both seen as purifying. Big bonfires were constructed in honor of Kupala and people would jump over them or dance around them in her celebration. Also at the Summer Solstice and effigy of the goddess was made from straw and was either burned in the fires or thrown in the rivers until next summer.

On the day of midsummer people would go out in the morning and walk amongst the morning dew in the grass while gathering herbs. Or it is said that they would leave a rag outside the night before to collect the morning dew and then would bathe in it. Women would gather wildflowers, herbs and ferns to make wreaths which they wore in their hair.  Herbs in honor of Kupala were also used to help with magical visions on the night of the summer solstice.

The male aspect of Kupala is known as Kupalo and he was also honored around the Summer Solstice in the Christianized festival of St. John the Baptiste. This festival, known as Ivana Kupala, is still celebrated to this day in Russia. This modern celebration is still honored as it was in ancient times. Bonfires, song and dance, ritual to the deities of summer and and effigy of the goddess is constructed, burned and then buried. Garlands made from Kupala's sacred herbs are made, candles are put in the center and then they are put in the rivers to float downstream.

To honor this ancient goddess of purification, throw some flowers into a river or spring. Or throw some in your bathtub at home and then bathe in it to purify yourself in Kupala's magic. You may also put a rag outside at night and collect it in the early hours of the morning and bathe in the dew of Kupala. Fertility rites and summer magic can also be held in her honor. Gather wildflowers, ferns and herbs to make a wreath to wear in your hair.









Picture courtesy of Ivana Kupala Day

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Durga, Divine Mother of India


Durga is one of the incarnations of Devi or the original Mother Goddess in Hinduism. She represents the power of the Supreme Being and stands for righteousness. She protects mankind from evil by destroying evil forces such as jealousy, hate, greed, anger and arrogance. She is depicted as a warrior woman with eight arms and rides a tiger or lion. In each hand she carries different symbols such as a conch, sword, lotus flower, bow, and a trident among other things.
 

The lion she rides symbolizes uncontrolled animal-like tendencies such as anger, selfishness, jealousy and hate. By her sitting on top of the lion she represents the ability to tame and control those tendencies that all beings have. Durga represents pure positive energy or divine light and is the embodiment of divine feminine energy. She is seen as the Divine Shakti or powerful female force and is the primary deity in Shaktism.
 

The story of Durga says that she was born fully grown and created from the flames which came from the mouth of  the Gods in heaven. She was created so that she could destroy a buffalo-demon named Mahisasura. This fierce demon was said to be terrorizing the Gods in heaven and the men on earth. Durga was given an army of Gods to fight with her and a lion upon which to ride and was sent to kill Mahisasura.
 

Her festival, Navrati, or Nine Divine Nights, is celebrated for nine days and takes place around October during the harvest. During this festival the nine aspects of Durga or Navadurga are meditated upon one by one. Another celebration that is honored is Durga puja which takes place for five days annually. During this festival the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon Mahisasura is celebrated which represents the victory of good over evil.
 

To pray to Durga here are some mantras in her honor:  Om Sri Durgaya Namah
It is said that by chanting this mantra daily the Mother Durga will remove all obstacles from our lives. Another mantra is Om Hreeng Dung Durgaayai Namah. It is said that chanting this mantra will bring you success in all areas of life.
 

Jai Maa Durga! (Victory to the Mother!)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Medusa, Ancient Snake Goddess



Medusa is said to be an ancient deity and was originally known as a snake goddess. She was worshiped as a dark goddess in ancient Libya and was seen as a three-fold snake deity. She is known to be a gorgon who were said to be scaled and winged female monsters. In Greek myth she was the only mortal of three sisters and daughter to Phorcys and Ceto, who were chthonic monsters from an archaic world. Medusa was mother to the winged-horse Pegasus and the giant Khrysaor.

In classical Greek myth Medusa was a mortal priestess of the goddess Athena. She was said to be beautiful with long blonde, luscious locks of hair. As a priestess of Athena, Medusa had to pledge her celibacy and herself solely to the honor of the goddess. Although the god of the sea, Poseidon, took a strong liking to Medusa and ravaged her in Athena's temple thereby taking her sacred vows away from her. The goddess Athena upon hearing this became enraged with Medusa so she turned her into a terrible monster with snakes to replace her beautiful tresses.

If Medusa was looked upon by anyone, her gaze would turn them into stone. Athena instructs the hero Perseus to kill Medusa so he finds Medusa and decapitates her. When she is beheaded, her children Pegasus and
Khrysaor spring forth from her blood. Although Medusa has been killed, her head still has the power to turn men into stone even in death. Perseus uses it as a weapon to turn some of his enemies into stone, then gives it to Athena who puts it onto her shield. It is said that blood dripped from Medusa's head in the Libyan desert in which created many venomous snakes. This is said to be the cause of the many venomous snakes in Africa.

It is said that the reason that Athena punished Medusa so severely is because she and Poseidon were long time rivals. Some think that Medusa represents the destructive aspect of Athena. Other sources say that Medusa won a beauty contest over Athena which made Athena jealous. It seems to me that these myths are highly in favor of the male forces at play. Women turning against one another and a woman being punished for being raped. Sounds a little too patriarchal for my taste.

There are many messages within this myth. Some say that Medusa became more powerful in death than in life as her head still held it's power to turn man into stone and the ability to create life with her blood.  Some feminist groups today say that Medusa's head is a symbol of feminine rage. And that her head turning man into stone represents her warning to stay away since she was raped.  In classical antiquity the image of Medusa's head was used as an evil-averting, protection symbol.







Picture courtesy of Gaks Designs

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Experience at the Ashram

Entrance to the Ashram

Some of you may know that this past weekend I stayed at the Yoga Shakti ashram in Palm Bay, Florida for about three days. My experience can be described as spiritual, eye-opening and unforgettable. Although even those words will not do it justice. Sometimes it's hard to put a spiritual type of experience into words because you are dealing with feelings, energy and higher levels of living. What I can say though that as soon as I left to come back home my energy levels immediately dropped very low and I honestly didn't realize how high my energy level was while there.
 

I arrived on Friday afternoon and was greeted by the lovely family that runs the ashram. The ashram is seated in the middle of a forest on about 20 acres of land. There were different cottage-like houses on the property along with the screened pavilion where yoga was done any many of us slept. It was not glamorous living by any stretch of the imagination and even though I love that, it's not for everybody. I slept on my yoga mat on the floor of the pavilion with a lite blanket. Showers in the morning had to be quick as we were all sharing and we only had about 45 minutes to get ready in the morning. No shaving my legs or styling my hair and of course no makeup! :) The days were hot and the only place that had A/C was the temple which thankfully we were in much of the time. Surprisingly the nights cooled up quite a bit and I was grateful for that since I was sleeping in the screened pavilion. 

Statue of Ganesha in the Pavilion

Each morning we were woken up at 5:00am for morning meditation and prayer. The first morning we were awoken by someone playing a flute and the second morning the guru walked around the ashram reciting a chant that we had all learned the previous night. If any of you know the morning and evening Hindu prayers, they are very long and they're in Sanskrit so it was hard to follow along in the beginning. After that we had an hour yoga class taught by the guru. Throughout the day the guru taught us some of the Upanishads which are a collection of Vedic texts. Basically Hindu philosophy.
 

The philosophy behind what Hindus believe and practice rings the most true for me. Even though I do consider myself to be Pagan, Hindu philosophy is the most correct in my opinion. They believe that God (or Goddess for some of us) lives inside you and we all have the ability to connect with our higher selves through meditation and basic self awareness. To
understand and fully accept who you really are and to love yourself. I have always been of this mindset but didn't truly understand it until now. Many of us (myself included) search for external sources to satisfy us like material things or new careers or even love. What we need to understand is that what will fulfill us the most is looking on the inside to satisfy our needs. If you feel full and happy on the inside you will no longer need to keep searching for all the many external factors to satisfy yourself.
Statue of Krishna and Radha in the Temple

After lunch sometimes we had free time for a bit so I either walked the property or wrote in my journal. In the evening we had another session of the Upanishads and we learned some chanting as well as other meditation type exercises. We were sent to bed at 9:30 and lights were out. On my second night there after our nightly lecture from the guru, we were all given an exercise in silence and from 9:30 that night until we arrived for morning meditation the next day we were not supposed to talk at all. Even though I'm naturally a quite person, this was a little harder than I expected!



Statue of the Goddess Durga in the Temple
The family and others cooked every meal for us which was amazing. They grew much of their own own vegetables and herbs on the property so everything was organic and very pure. Every meal was vegan and incredibly delicious and satisfying. I'm vegan normally as well but I still noticed a difference in the food because it was so incredibly pure. While I was there I felt so lite like if I jumped too high I might float up into the clouds. You can feel the energy just buzzing around that place. It's palpable and I instantly felt a big shift in my energy the moment I drove off the property. I wanted to go back! I will go back at another time for sure.
 

I had never encountered a guru in my life so this was quite a different experience for me. They are strict so as to teach you discipline but you have to understand that it's nothing personal. I had a hard time with this at first but I understood why and now I totally respect it.  They are there to teach you and they are highly respected, revered and even worshiped people. Guru's are filled with knowledge and experience and they can literally see right thru you with no problem. They can be seen as being psychic even but I think it's just an extreme awareness to be able to see people for who they really are, and they will not hesitate to call you out on it.


I enjoyed my time at the ashram immensely and I can honestly say that this experience has changed my life in ways I still don't understand. All I know for sure is that this is something I will be experiencing more as it's left it's mark on my soul.
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