Saturday, September 27, 2014

Navaratri, Nine Nights of Durga



During this time of year the festival Navaratri is celebrated in honor of the Hindu Goddess Durga. The festival begins at the new moon near the equinox which was September 25 and it will last until October 3. Since the dates for this festival are according to the lunar calendar they are slightly different each year. The celebration lasts for nine nights and each day a different form of Durga is honored. The word "nava" means nine so "Navadurga" means "Nine Durga's" and Navaratri means "nine nights".

Navaratri is celebrated differently in different areas around India. In some parts people fast for nine days while in other areas people dress in the colors associated with each day and dance. In West Bengal, life-sized clay dolls or idols of the goddess Durga are made and then worshiped in the temples. 

Below is a list of the nine manifestations of Durga with the corresponding day for the festival.

Shailaputri - The first form of Durga honored on the first night of Navaratri. Daughter of the mountains and was born in the Himalayas. Also known as Sati Bhavani or Parvati. Shailaputri is the first form of Durga. She rides a bull and carries a trident and a lotus in her hands. 

Brahmacharini - The second form of Durga and honored on the second night of Navaratri. She is known as "One who observes penance" and practices celibacy. She holds a pot of water in one hand and a rosary in the other. This form of Devi stands for love, loyalty and enlightenment.

Chandraghanta - Third form of Durga and honored on the third night of Navaratri. This form of Devi has a moon (Chandra) on her forehead and carries a bell (ghanta) to scare off demons. She rides a lion and stands for power and bravery.

Kushmanda - Fourth form of Durga honored on the fourth night of Navaratri. She is considered the creator of the universe and shines brightly like the light of the sun. She rides a lion and has eight hands in which she holds various weapons as well as a rosary.

Skanda Mata - Fifth form of Durga honored on the fifth night of Navaratri. She is mother of Lord Skanda who was in charge of the army for the Gods in their war against demons. She has four arms and three eyes and is often depicted sitting on a lotus flower.

Katyayani - Sixth form of Durga honored on the sixth night of Navaratri. She was daughter to the great sage Kata. It is said that Kata wished for a daughter in the form of a goddess. He underwent penance and long austerities to receive the grace of the Mother Goddess. Durga granted the sage his wish in the form of Katyayani.

Kalaratri - Seventh form of Durga and honored on the seventh day of Navaratri. She has a dark complexion and a fearless posture. She has three eyes, a necklace of lightning and she rides a donkey. Flames come from her breath and she holds a sword in her right hand.  Kalaratri represents protection.

Maha Gauri - Eighth form of Durga honored on the eighth night of Navaratri. It is said that Maha Gauri spent a long time in the forest of the Himalayas in devotion to the goddess and her complexion became dark. When Lord Shiva cleaned her with water from the Ganges she regained her original beauty and shine and her skin was pure white. She has four arms, rides a bull and wears white clothes. She represents peace, purification and intelligence.

Siddhidatri - Ninth form of Durga honored on the ninth night of Navaratri. She is known for her supernatural healing powers and blesses all Gods, saints, yogi's and other devotees of the Mother. She is depicted with four arms and riding a lion. She is seen as being blissful and happy.

Navaratri blessings!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pachamama, Inca Goddess of the Earth


Pachamama was honored as an Earth Mother Goddess by the Inca people. She was worshiped in the Andes Mountains in an area that stretched from Colombia to Argentina which also includes Peru, Bolivia and Chile. She was seen as a dragon woman who lived in the mountains and when she moved she created earthquakes. She was also viewed as the universe itself and the Great Creatrix. Her name translates to mean "World Mother".
 

Pachamama is also honored as a goddess of planting and harvesting and as such was honored at harvest festivals. Often referred to as the "Good Mother", Pachamama is said to be the mother of the sun and moon. Her consort in myth is Pacha Camac although some sources say that it is Inti, the sun god. Pachamama and Inti were both worshiped as benevolent deities and were both seen as extremely important deities in the Inca pantheon.
 

The month of August was especially sacred to Pachamama as this was the coldest month of the winter for the Inca people. Illness was more prevalent during this time so families performed cleansing rituals in their homes in order to scare off evil entities. On the eve of August 1, families would cook a lavish meal in honor of Pachamama. Before anyone was allowed to eat they first had to give a plate of food to Pachamama. Holes were dug in the ground and if the soil was in good condition it signified a bountiful year. If not it was a bad omen for the coming year.
 

Pachamama was also honored throughout the year in many other festivities. Before every festivity people would make a toast in her honor by spilling some chicha, a fermented drink, on the floor and then drinking the rest. This toast is known as challa and it's said to be made almost everyday. Also sacred to Pachamama is "Challa's Tuesday" where people would bury food and burn incense in her honor. During these festivals people would sacrifice llama's to the goddess for good luck. The most important ritual in honor of Pachamama was said to be the Challaco. During this ritual families were said to cook a special food and take it to a nearby pond to give to Pachamama as on offering. They would then give a series of different offerings to Pachamama that consisted of drink, food, coca leaves and cigars.
 

Pachamama's sacred animals are the puma and the snake. The dragon is also sacred to her as she herself is viewed as a dragoness. The puma was also seen as a sacred animal to the Inca people in general.  Pachamama represents the fertile earth and the mountains as well as the sun, moon and stars. She is the Great Creatrix of the universe and she is the universe itself. Pachamama teaches us to care for her fertile world and if we do she will be bountiful. 




Picture courtesy of Hrana Janto

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Winner of Goddess Altar Tile!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments and ideas. The winner of the giveaway is.......Innocence and Magic! Congratulations! Enjoy your pink goddess tile. Stay tuned for the next giveaway.

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
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