Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Goddess Kali

Other names for this goddess include Kalika, Kala (in the feminine form, meaning black or dark, also ‘appointed time’ or death), Kali Ma, Kal (time) and she is typically protrayed as the consort of Shiva.

Associations for Kali include war, time and change / force of time, eternal energy, creation protection and destruction and the mother goddess.

Other goddesses revered as Kali are Bhavatarini, Durga, Bhadrakali, Sati, Rudrani, Parvati and Chamunda.

Kali is a very misunderstood Goddess in that while her outward appearance is fierce and horrible, with her garland of fifty skulls (which actually represent the fifty letters of the Hindi alphabet and thereby also refer to great knowledge) and skirt of disembodied forearms, she is actually a peaceful and loving Goddess. The physical aspects of Kali represent the ego and once stripped of this exterior, she symbolised the loving, nurturing spirit of the divine mother.

Kali is typically represented as having either four arms, one of which carries as sword and another of which holds a severed head, or as having ten arms. The sword she carries signified Divine Knowledge and the head is that of the demon Raktabija, who when she fought she found that for every drop of blood of his that she spilt to the ground, another clone of his emerged. In some pictures Kali is holding a bowl or skull cap under the severed head to catch the blood so that it could not spill to the ground and cause the demon to multiply, another reinforcement of Divine Knowledge prevailing.

She is often depicted standing with one foot on the thigh and the other on the breast of her husband, Shiva. Kali is usually shown with either black or dark blue skin, representative of the nothingness from with everything is born and to which everything will return. The colour of her skin is likened to the colour of the night sky being black, yet of all that creates it being colourless, and the colour of the sea being blue but of water itself up close having no colour.

Kali is often depicted in a cremation ground where she meditates and challenges us to overcome our fear of death by facing her in this location. The purpose is not to glorify death or to enhance the ego with the challenge to meet on these terms but to highlight the contrast between the temporary physical body and the eternal spirit that exists once the impermanent body is surpassed.

Kali does signify death, but not physical death. She is symbolic of the death of the ego and therefore the release of the spirit, our true, liberated selves. She is sometimes referred to as the Goddess of death, sex and violence but this is only true in that death and sex are required for rebirth and violence in terms of battling one’s demons. In essence, Kali is the goddess of enlightenment and liberation.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Persephone Myth

There are many variations of the myth surrounding Persephone, so I have taken the common elements and created a summary that feels a little more 'whole' than any individual stories I've read. I'm sure you would be able to find a large number of variations in different aspects of this tale but this is just my interpretation from my own research and feelings.

Persephone was the only child of the union between Zeus, the King of the Gods, and Demeter, the Goddess of Agriculture. Demeter doted on Persephone and she grew up knowing the love, nurturing and tender care of her mother as well as the playful sisterhood of her half-siblings, Athena and Aphrodite.

As Persephone grew, Hades, King of the Underworld, who was also her father’s brother, fell in love with her. Hades was often jealous of Zeus’ power and appealed to Zeus for Persephone’s hand in marriage. Zeus, wanting to appease his brother, agreed, but neither Zeus nor Hades shared their plans with Demeter or Persephone.

In order to make Persephone fall in love with him, Hades planted a beautiful narcissus flower in Demeter’s garden. As the lovely Persephone amused herself picking flowers one day, she noticed the narcissus flower and while she was distracted by it, Hades took the opportunity to abduct her and take her to the Underworld.

When Demeter discovered that her daughter was missing, she was distraught. She neglected her duties in her grief and all that grew began to die. She searched everywhere on earth for her daughter but when she could not find her she appealed to Helios, the God of the Sun, who could see everything. Helios told Demeter of Persephone’s abduction by Hades and of the agreement with Zeus.

Demeter was furious and confronted Zeus. Zeus saw the crops dying and knew that he needed to take action so that Demeter could return to her duties. He agreed to negotiate with Hades for the return of Persephone.

With Persephone’s great capacity for love, she came to know Hades not just as her abductor and saw that the actions he had taken were motivated by love for her. She came to understand Hades and accepted from him a pomegranate, eating six of the seeds and thus binding her to Hades in marriage. Through this marriage she also took the title, and accepted the responsibilities, of Queen of the Underworld.

Persephone enjoyed the responsibility and the power of her new role and began assisting those who were having difficulty transitioning from the land of the living to the land of the dead. She often gained their confidences and through their confessions and her powers of insight and empathy, she became the keeper of much secret knowledge.

Knowing that he was breaking his agreement with Hades, Zeus sent Hermes as the messenger to demand Hades return Persephone. When Hades explained that Persephone had become his wife, through the symbolic eating of the pomegranate seeds, Zeus ordered a compromise, declaring that Persephone should spend six months of each year in the Underworld with Hades and the remaining six months should be spent with her mother, Demeter, assisting each with their respective duties during the time she was with them.

This is a multi-layered story. It gives us the myth of the seasons as Persephone’s return to her mother is reflected in the spring as Demeter then tends to her responsibilities and things begin to grow again. The fertility of the land continues to grow into summer but when Persephone returns to Hades, Demeter again begins to mourn and neglects her duties so things begin to die in the autumn and winter months. In this way, Persephone is the goddess of life, death and rebirth.

Another aspect to this story is of Persephone as The High Priestess with her role as the Queen of the Underworld. This is reflective of our subconscious and the secret knowledge that she holds as obtained from the information passed on to her through her communications with those entering the spirit world. The idea that we can learn more and develop our psychic abilities through times of physical hibernation thereby allowing us to be guided from within is also represented here. The importance and relevance of our dreams is pertinent as well.

The link to Persephone as the Queen of the Underworld is also a comment on the connection to the spirit world; sometimes it is an indication that we need to explore our fears and learn what is haunting us or what our own personal demons are. This is an acknowledgement of the darker side of life as being necessary to the light that we would otherwise hope to move in each day.

One of Persephone’s great strengths is that she did not dwell in the tragic situation that befell her. She was abducted as a Maiden Goddess and taken from her family in the midst of her innocence but instead of taking on the role of victim, she embraced the necessary aspects of this and rose to be queen over it all. This is a wonderful inspiration to those who have experienced pain, suffering or seeming injustice and Persephone can be a powerful ally to regaining your own personal strength. The point in the story where Persephone willingly (although in most versions of the story, unknowingly) partakes of the pomegranate seeds and then accepts her responsibilities and the consequences of her actions through upholding her marriage to Hades is another lesson that has great relevance and power. Her transition between Maiden and Queen of the Underworld symbolises power born from vulnerability and her message to us all is to accept all aspects of yourself.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Amethyst is a variety of quartz with a purple to lavender appearance, which is derived from its iron content. It is commonly known for its healing abilities and works most effectively with the brow (third eye) and crown chakras. It is the birthstone of those born in February.

Amethyst is frequently used in its raw form in densely packed geodes of short crystals that point towards the centre of the hollow. While always typically purple in colour, this can range from an almost black intensity through to a subtle, light violet. Amethyst may sometimes be found with a darkened yellowish tinge, known as pineapple amethyst.

Due to its very high vibrations, amethyst is an excellent crystal for working with the third eye and spiritual development. Its ability to enhance intuition by placing it on the forehead or above the crown makes it a popular meditative aid. Chevron amethyst is thought to be the most powerful third eye stimulator.

As a healing and protection stone, amethyst helps to cleanse the aura and brings harmony to the immune system. Its grounding properties make it particularly effective for both spiritual and physical work.

In magic, an amethyst crystal is often used in pendulums or fixed at the end of a wand. Amethyst is associated with the planets Jupiter and Neptune, the element water and the deities Bacchus, Dionysus and Diana. It has the power to enhance dreams, healing, peace, love, courage, happiness, protection and can assist in overcoming alcoholism. Amethyst is also symbolic of commitment in relationships and is the equivalent of rose quartz in its attraction of women when worn by a man.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Georgian Wicca

Founded in 1970 by George ‘Pat’ Patterson, Georgian Wicca is highly eclectic in that, although it follows many Alexandrian and Gardnerian beliefs and practices, it encourages practitioners to seek their own inner guidance and develop their own rituals. The focus is on ‘whatever works’ for each individual practitioner and while there is solid foundation in tradition, questioning is openly encouraged as a means to greater understanding of the Wiccan path.

According to the Georgian Tradition website, the Georgian Manifesto outlines the aims and purposes of the Georgians as follows:

* to honor the Gods of the Old Religion,
* to aid the members to progress and improve themselves mentally, physically and spiritually;
* to work magick for the benefit of members and any others who may seek out aid for right purposes;
* to aid others in learning the Craft who truly desire the knowledge of the Craft for proper reasons;
* to combat the untruths and to spread the truth about the Craft to those outside the Craft;
* to work for peace, harmony, and unity among the various branches of the Craft;
* to work for a better understanding of and a better relationship between man and nature.

Georgian Wicca includes an initiatory system and require covens to be lead by a High Priestess or High Priest who is at least a third degree initiate according to the Georgian Council of Elders. The actual details of the initiatory system are covered in secrecy, which all Georgian Wiccans are oath bound to protect. The Georgian Tradition is usually passed from male to female and female to male.

Georgian Wiccans follow the path of the God and Goddess and celebrate the eight sabbats. Circles are usually by invitation only, often choosing to work sky clad. Although George Patterson passed away in 1984, current members span the United States, Europe and Australia.