Sunday, May 30, 2010
We arrived home from our trip over the weekend, filled with new experiences and stories to share. Ireland is truly a beautiful and magical country, and the people are some of the nicest I've ever met. It's a country rich in fascinating history and folklore, and we got to experience that firsthand. Signs of it's ancient and sometimes brutally violent history are all around you.
Dublin is a cool city, very busy, kind of reminded me of New York, with all the cabs buzzing about. We loved sitting in the pubs enjoying a nice drink with the locals. But the best part of our trip was exploring the country side. From Glendalough to Kilkenny, Cashel and so on, every town has it's own little story. Glendalough was just beautiful, this was an old monastic site dating back from around the 10th century. After this we made our way down the coast of Wicklow to Arklow and then over to Kilkenny. This was probably my favorite city, it's a medieval city with a magnificent castle at it's center. We would have liked to have spent more time in Kilkenny, but we had to move on to our next stop.
Cashel castle was bigger than I expected! Also the town of Cashel was very quaint as well. After this we got the pleasure of exploring Grange stone circle at Lough Gur. This huge stone circle is made up of about 100 stones. It dates back to the Neolithic time period, and it is said that this stone circle aligns with the sunrise on the summer solstice. Visiting this sacred place has spiked my interest to learn more about it's secret history. You will see one of the photos I posted is of the stone circle.
After this we headed over to the Cliffs of Moher. This is the most strikingly beautiful landscape I've ever seen. You will see in the photo how steep these cliffs really are! We also got to see puffins which are native birds to that area of Ireland.
Any amount of words and pictures just doesnt give justice to this beautiful and mysterious country. It's history is so vast and ranges all the way back from the Neolithic time period, to the Viking invasions, Christianity and so forth. I recommend anyone (especially if your pagan) to visit Ireland! We had a wonderful time. Enjoy the pictures!
Posted by Tara at 2:23 PM
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tomorrow I embark on a journey to the place of my ancestors. A place I've dreamed of visiting since I was a child. A place where faery tales really do come to life, this magical place is Ireland.
My fiance and I have been planning this trip for about 3 years now, and we couldn't be more excited! I have planned to visit many Goddess sites around the country. We plan to stay 2 days in Dublin when we first arrive, and then we are going to drive around the country until we get to the other side at the Cliffs of Moher. Our trip sites are as follows:
* Second day in Dublin we take a private day trip tour to Newgrange and the Hill of Tara
*First day on the road we visit Glendalough, Wicklow, and hopefully end up in Kilkenny that night.
*Second day on the road we plan to stop off at Cashel (family history here) and then go on from there to Lough Gur and the Grange Stone Circle. That night we stay in Adare, Limerick.
*Third day on the road we go to the Cliffs of Moher and see The Burren. That whole day is pretty much going to be spent at the cliffs.
*Our last day on the road, on our way back to Dublin, we plan to stop at Clonmacnoise monastery, and Charleville Castle.
I plan to write all about my experiences with the Goddess in Ireland. I decided to bring small offerings of quartz crystals and mini kyanite wands to leave at sacred sites. I wont be posting for about two weeks now. I cant wait to share this life changing experience!
Photo courtesy of Photos.Igougo.com
Posted by Tara at 3:27 PM
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Today starts the month of the Hawthorn tree on the Celtic calender. It goes from May 13 - June 9. This is a great time for magic concerning peace, prosperity, protection, fertility and marriage.
The Hawthorn tree can be seen in variations of trees and shrubs. The druids were said to use it's leaves and flowers to make medicinal teas. And the wood from the Hawthorn was known to provide the hottest fire. The Greeks and Romans saw the Hawthorn as a symbol of marriage. Although in Medieval Europe, the Hawthorn was associated with witchcraft, and was therefore seen as unlucky.
In Ireland, Hawthorns covered in "clootie" prayer strips guard sacred wells. These are little strips of cloth blessed in the well, and then tied to the tree with a prayer. This magical little tree is also associated with the faeries. It is said that a Hawthorn growing on a hill near a sacred well is a marker for the faery realm.
To celebrate the Hawthorn tree, pray to the Goddess Cardea, for the Hawthorn was her sacred tree. She is known as the Goddess who protects the home, put a piece of Hawthorn over any windows or doors in your home for protection from this Hawthorn Goddess.
For more information on the Hawthorn tree, check out : Dutchie.org
For more information on the Goddess Cardea, check out : ThaliaTook.com
Photo courtesy of TypesofFlowers.org
Posted by Tara at 2:38 PM
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I found the story behind this ancient island to be truly fascinating. Samothrace is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. The myth behind it involves the Amazon Queen Myrine.
It is said that the queen of the Amazons wanted to settle in some of the islands in the Aegean. On her quest to conquer these islands, she and her crew got caught in a violent storm. In the chaos, she prayed for safety to the Mother of the Gods. She was then carried to one of these uninhabited islands, and decided to make this place sacred to the Goddess, and set up great altars and shrines. She then named the island Samothrace, which in Greek means "Sacred Island".
This island was known for its mystery religious cult. Here they performed secret ceremonies and initiations. The pantheon of Gods they worshiped were primarily chthonic deities, with focus on one central figure, The Great Mother. People from all over came to this island to partake in sacred ceremonies and rituals. Some of the Goddesses they were said to have worshiped here, were variations of Cybele, Hecate and Demeter.
The Amazons were known to be warrior women who worshiped female deities. They defended their territory quite successfully, like they're neighboring male dominated societies. On the island of Samothrace, they worshiped their Great Mother at sacred rocks, here they made great sacrifices to her. Archaeologists have found inscriptions on some of these rocks in characters of an unknown language. It is said that this was the sacred language of the Samothracian Mysteries. Some say that the Amazons were just a myth, some believe otherwise. There has been some evidence found, of a possible female warrior society. Whether the interpretation of these findings is correct remains to be seen. I don't think it would be so outrageous to think that there could have been an all female warrior society.
For more information on the island of Samothrace and its sacred temple complex check out Wikipedia
For more information regarding the story of the Amazons on the island of Samothrace, check out this great article: Amazon Research Network Article
Also if you are interested in learning more about the Amazons check out the Amazon Research Network Website
Photo courtesy of Old Vagabond
Posted by Tara at 2:28 PM
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Beltane is the last of the three spring fire festivals. Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into two primary seasons, winter and summer. As Samhain is about honoring death, Beltane is about honoring life. This is also a time when the veils between worlds is thin, as it is at Samhain. It is a time to connect with the faeries and other nature spirits. A time to celebrate life, rebirth and sexuality.
At Beltane, we honor Blodeuwedd, the flower maiden. Blodeuwedd was created from the flowers of oak, broom and meadowseet, and was known as a flower Goddess. The purpose of her creation, was to be the bride of Llew, the son of Arianrhod. For the Goddess Arianrhod deems her son shall never marry a mortal woman. Soon after they are married, Blodeuwedd falls in love with another man, and has her husband killed. Since her husband is immortal, he doesnt die and turns Blodeuwedd into an owl as punishment.
Some people say that the meaning behind Blodeuwedd being turned into an owl, symbolizes her transformation into the wise crone. There are many things to do to celebrate Beltane and Blodeuwedd. You could make a tiara of flowers to wear at your ritual, or you could make a May basket. I chose to make the latter of the two. You could decorate your basket with ribbons, and fill it with picked flowers. Or, if you can't pick wild flowers for this, just purchase some from your grocery store.
Fire is another big part of this sabbat. Bonfires were very popular in the ancient pagan days on this holiday. Since many of us today cannot have bonfires, a candle will do.
There is a poem about Blodeuwedd that was featured in Robert Graves book "The White Goddess"
I am formed from nine blossoms,
Nine buds of various kinds,
From primroses of the mountains,
Broom, meadow sweet and cockle,
From the bean in its shade bearing,
A special white army
Of earth, of earthly kind,
From the blossoms of the nettle,
Oak, thorn and bashful chestnut,
Nine powers of nine flowers,
Nine powers in me combine,
Nine buds of plant and tree,
Long and white are my fingers,
As the ninth wave of the sea.
Have a blessed Beltane!
This amazing drawing courtesy of Fine Art America
Posted by Tara at 11:44 AM