May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial's Day

Freya (Freyja)
Goddess of Love and Beauty
Goddess of Magic and War
Queen of Valkyries
Freya (fray-ah) is a mysterious and loved lady, surrounded by shouting Ragnarok-bound beefcake, can always use a spotlight moment! She is the Goddess of Female power in numerous forms; she is the Goddess of Sex, Beauty, Love, and all things romantic and steamy, frequently called upon by women during her time of worship to give them her blessings and famous for her sexual exploits with gods and other creatures.
She is also a warrior and the leader of the Valkyries, who collect the slain from the battlefield and deliver half their souls to live in eternal bliss.  Freya actually going onto the battlefield, she would gather them up and take them back with her to spend the after-life in her home in perpetual rest and recreation in her pleasant fields and hall of Folkvangr. A sweet and generous woman, she always invited their wives or lovers to come and live with them. The other half of the heroic warriors, who belonged to Odin, would be gathered up by the Valkyries and taken to Valhalla where they were able to live in comfort and honor. She was also called upon to comfort those who were dying, to ease their transition into Valhalla, serving as a guide and companion on the journey to Valhalla for many Viking heroes who had died nobly. When Freya and the Valkyries rode forth on their missions, their armor caused the eerily beautiful flickering light that we know as the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.
As one of the three Vanir deities traded to the Aesir in order to keep the peace between the two pantheons, and the only woman at that, she occupies an odd political niche; she is invaluable to both the ongoing truce and the gods themselves, who are very protective of her and almost universally fond of her (or at least somewhat dazzled by her beauty and sensuality). Of course, Freya doesn't need the Aesir dudes to save her from most things; most of the time, they're helping her because they have caused problems for her in the first place, and want to avoid her wrath coming down upon them if they don't handle it.
Of all the goddesses in Asgard, she is the most beautiful. She is revered as the “bride of the Vanir” and has a reputation as a flirt. Loki has accused her of having an incestuous relationship with her brother Frey (which is known to be acceptable among the Vanir, but not the Aesir). Because so much of Norse mythology is passed down by Christian writers, in fact, and because Freya's sexual nature made her such an easy target for Christian proselytizers who considered virginity the feminine idea, the few mentions of people getting down on Freya for her behavior might have been later additions or interpretations rather than original to Norse myth.
Freyr: Brother of Freya
God of Fertility and Sexuality
In fact, Freya's sexual nature is an important part of her helpfulness to humanity and the entire world; because she is associated with love and sex, acts that relate to the fertility of humankind, she's also associated with the fertility of the land, helping plants grow and bountiful harvests become a reality for those who pay her homage. It's a role she shares with her twin brother Freyr, and with the whole of the Vanir, in a symbolic sense; the Vanir are often theorized to function as deities representing nature and the earth itself, as opposed to the Vanir representing more human ideas such as civilization and warfare.
Freya had many other lovers, although she deeply loved her consort Od. Aphrodite's amorous escapades pale by comparison with those of Freya, whose unbridled sexuality was legendary. Usually depicted as a strawberry blonde with stunning blue eyes, none could resist her. To make matters even worse, like the Greek goddess Aphrodite, she possessed apparel that made her irresistible to men . . . a magical necklace reputedly made of amber and rubies that was called a "brisling" or "Brisingamen”, which is renowned as the most beautiful piece of jewelry in existence and gives her great status among the goddesses of Asgard.
Freya had left it a bit late to leave her friend's house to start home. The sun set and it began to snow. Soon she was becoming disoriented and frost-bitten. Luckily she was found by four dwarves who rescued her and took her to their home. The dwarves were named "North, South, East, and West".
Freya volunteered to pay them for their hospitality and the four dwarves cheerfully agreed, saying that they would like to be repaid by having her sleep with each of them for one night. Freya wasn't at all interested and promptly declined.
Until . . .
She saw the incredibly beautiful necklace that they had just made. She had to have it and offered to return after the storm and pay for it in gold. They may have been dwarves, but they weren't stupid -- they told her it was not for sale at any price, but countered with an offer that they would be delighted to simply give it to her if she were willing to pay their price for her room and board during the storm. When Freya returned home after the storm subsided, she was wearing the stunning "necklace of desire".
Odin: King of the Gods
Odin later confiscates the necklace and tries to shame her about the method by which she acquired it. His demand that she create an unceasing forever-battle in which two warring kings' armies resurrect to continue the fight whenever they fall is fulfilled by her in short order - an interesting part of the myth, since it's hard to tell why that was what Odin wanted from her, and why he, also a major war deity with ties to the dead, didn't or couldn't just have done it himself. Freya started a war in retaliation.
She's the object of desire for every God, every man, and the envy of every woman. Even the Frost Giants crave her for their own, often devising devious plans to trick or force her into marriage. But Freya is proud and strong, with the cunning to escape her enemies and ruthlessly retaliate. Every rose bears thorns, but this one wields swords.

May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms around the world. Mom, they wear many hats. They are the teacher, protector, nurse, counselor, and 1st fan to name a few. Famous great mothers through history is Princess Diana, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria,  Ann Maria Jarvis founder of Mother's Day to a few. There history humanity calls to the Mother or a mother goddess for protection, love and/or feeding the nation with nature's bounty. One of many mother goddess is age is Isis. The article is focused on Isis's Roman aspect.

Isis is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She is worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the Goddess of nature and magic. She is the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the exploited, and she listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats, and rulers. Isis is the goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility. 
Isis ("Aset" in the native Egyptian language) had her start as a comparatively minor deity of Egypt. She was a protector of the throne of Egypt and Royal Power. But she had been subordinate in the official Egyptian pantheon to deities more intimately connected with the great King of the Gods, like Ra and Horus. Isis is an interesting contradiction: on the one hand, she's beloved as a benevolent mother figure, lauded for her protection of children, patronage of the pharaoh and renowned dedication to her family, making her the ultimate model for every Egyptian woman to aspire to. And on the other hand, the tales of her adventures make it clear that she is also a lady with such ruthlessly crafty scheming chops that she would win the Game of Thrones in one month flat and then get on with her hobbies. (In fact, she did that, basically.) Isis is simply a social powerhouse; where other goddess influence events by using their great beauty to confuse or entice others into doing it for them, Isis gets right in there and gets her hands dirty, pulling the strings herself and never shying away from becoming the power behind the throne in a very direct and real way. She is the ultimate in love to those she cares about - and the ultimate threat to anyone else who might try to take anything away from them that she considers theirs. Stay in her good graces!
The collapse of the Old Kingdom brought about several sweeping changes in Egyptian religion. Eternal life, which had once been viewed as the sole province of the King, came to be seen as the reward for all those willing to submit to the proper cults (sound familiar). In this new paradigm Isis took center stage and became the central goddess in the popular religion of the Egyptian people.
The conquest of Egypt by Alexander opened a new era for the cult. In trying to find a religious cult that would unite both Egyptian and Hellenic subjects, Ptolemy Soter crafted the Isis cult as it would be introduced into Greco-Roman society. Osiris was renamed Serapis and identified with a variety of Greek gods (Dionysus, Helios, Hades). He became a god of healing and the underworld. Isis was identified with Demeter or Aphrodite. Greek iconography was introduced to the cult which made it visually appealing to the Greeks.
Isis, Osiris and Horus were honored by Greeks and by Egyptian immigrants as a kind of holy trinity, but always it was Isis who was the dominant member of the trio. Isis became the protector of family (especially women), the goddess of fertility and good fortune, and the goddess whose magic could cheat Fate and Death. She was also thought to be a protector of sailors, and sailors sailing from the great port of Alexandria took her cult all over the Mediterranean. Backed by the Ptolemaic regime, the new cult spread throughout Egypt.
The subject of the ethics of the cult is a complicated one. We know that Egyptian culture as a whole was free with sexuality compared to Roman culture. Isis was in fact rather popular with courtesans and other such professions, and there are speculations that Isiac cults may have promoted a kind of "positive sexuality" among a more conservative Roman population. Augustus and Tiberius took this as proof of a "pornographic" cult. Yet the Isiac cult also demanded regular periods of sexual abstinence from its adherents for purposes of ritual purification, and even apparently courtesans readily submitted to these observances. Curiously enough, the early Christians who were quick to complain about the degeneracy of pagan cults could not offer as much criticism about Isis as they could about some other cults in the Empire.
The cult of Isis had the numbers and the appeal to mount a serious threat to Christianity. Some scholars assert that the Holy Trinity of Isis, Serapis and Horus were not really defeated - they were merely absorbed into the new Holy Trinity of Christianity. Osiris: Father, Horus: Son and Isis: Holy Spirit. The reverence for Mary among high Christian churches is similar to faith in Isis. We should consider at the very least that many chapels to the Virgin were built purposely on the remains of temples to Isis, and that furthermore the iconography of the Mary and Jesus is quite similar to Isis and Horus.
Today, Isiac religion is undergoing something of a revival. Among New Age crowds, Isis is a popular symbol among those seeking an alternative to "patriarchal" religions. In fact, Isis worship is part of the "Goddess Spirituality" movement promoted by feminist and other postmodern identity groups. However, their understanding and practices related to Isis are sometimes more conditioned by revisionist politics than by anything resembling history or archaeology. Nonetheless, alternative religious movements have coincided with periodic bursts of "Egyptomania" to open the door for a second look at the Isiac cults.

April 22, 2015

Magna Mater Cybele

Happy Earth Day everyone

I want to introduce to you a great and feared Earth Mother: Cybele (Kybele)

During the first millennium, B.C.E., or possibly even as early as the Paleolithic period, the worship of the Great Mother Goddess, Cybele, began. Cybele was originally worshipped in the form of a black meteorite, by the inhabitants of Phrygia, Lydia and the surrounding mountainous areas, which were located in the western part of the region that is now known as Turkey. This area is one of great historical significance, with the Plains of Illium, and the ancient city of Troy, lying slightly to the west. Cybele was known by several titles, in that mountainous region, including the “Great Mountain Mother,” and the "Lady of Mt. Ida," and she later gained an assortment of other names, which included the "Magna Mater (Great Mother)," “Dindymene,” “Kubaba,” and “Agdistis.” Even though Cybele had originally been worshipped as a classic Earth Mother Goddess, she eventually became identified with fertility, and with unrestrained sexuality. In her role as a fertility or nature Goddess, she was believed to have total control over all the wild things on Earth.
Rhea: Titan Goddess of Fertility
The Greeks, however, looked upon Cybele as just another name for their Goddess, the Titan Rhea, who was the wife of Chronos, and the mother of the mighty God Zeus. The Greeks also believed that Cybele may have been an aspect of their Goddess Demeter, who was a fertility Goddess, or their Goddess Artemis, who was also a Goddess of the wild. To her followers, however, Cybele represented the pure power of nature, and both she and Artemis, were Protectresses of wild animals, while each laid claim to the title the “Great Huntress,” who was the Great Patron Goddess of the ancient Amazons.
Cybele’s crown appears to be the turreted wall of a fortress, which exemplifies her role as a mighty defender and protectress. It is extremely apparent, as well, that she preferred to spend her time in the company of lions, or other wild animals, rather then embrace a child in her arms. These differences from the nature goddesses  of the ancient world only help to make it extremely clear that Cybele was an independent and individual Goddess, and those are only a few of the many reasons why Cybele has been considered to be one of the most unique Goddesses, to ever be worshipped in Rome.
The individual and unique Goddess Cybele, however, was known as a Great Mother Goddess. She was frequently depicted wearing her turreted crown, while she was seated on a throne, with either a lion lying in her lap, or else being flanked by two lions, with one of them lying on each side of her. Cybele has also been pictured, driving a chariot which was drawn by two lions.
Archeologists discovered a figurine at Çatal Hüyük, dating back approximately 8,000 years, which depicts the Mother Goddess flanked by two leopards, squatting, while in the process of giving birth. Many centuries later, lions replaced the leopards. That change occurred, in all likelihood, as a way of correcting the ancient belief that leopards were actually female lions.
Lions have frequently been used to symbolize a wide variety of things, including strength. Since lions were frequently associated with Cybele, they might signify that she was the mistress of wild nature, or that her power was so great, that lions became meek, whenever they happened to be in her presence.
Cybele has frequently been depicted holding a frame drum, which she was known to play. It is considered to be one of her most important symbols, and it is believed to represent the moon. A famous picture exists, showing Cybele holding a frame drum in her left hand, painted red, while in her right hand she holds a lotus bowl, from which a liquid is pouring forth.
The lotus bowl, also known as the patera, is believed to represent the great cosmic vulva, from which the water of life continuously pours forth. Many different liquids have been used to represent the water of life, including honey, wine, milk and even blood. Ishtar, an aspect of Cybele, has also been depicted pouring the water of life, as it flowed endlessly, from a jug.
When the Cult of Cybele was in its early stages, only priestesses were allowed to perform the sacred rites. That practice changed dramatically when Crete was overthrown, and the Cretan priests of Zeus, the Curates, migrated to Phrygia, where they joined with the Corybantes and became Galli. Legend tells us that the Corybantes were the half human sons of Chronos. It was their wild dancing, and the loud noises that resulted from the banging of their shields and weapons together, that prevented Chronos from hearing the cries of his infant son Zeus. If Chronos had, indeed, heard the cries of Zeus, he would have swallowed him whole, just as he had done with all of his other children. Chronos swallowed his own children whole as soon as they were born. He saw it as a way of protecting himself from the possibility, that one of them might castrate him, just as he had previously done to his own father, Uranus.

These priests, like the Galli before them, became complete eunuchs. They grew their hair long, dressed in women’s clothing and perfumed themselves with fragrant oils, in a manner that was quite similar to Dionysus, who had been raised as a girl rather then as a boy. Becoming total, or complete eunuchs, required the initiates to go through more then just a simple castration. They actually had to take their transformation into women one step further, by having their entire penis removed. The amputation of their penis left an opening, where the root of that organ had once been, and they used that opening during sex, in the same manner as they would a woman's vagina. That particular metamorphosis, which changed men into women, actually required more then just the removal of their total genitalia. In order for a priest to truly seem like a woman, who had actually been born a woman, then he also had to cause his body to periodically bleed, as a way of imitating menstruation. The priests achieved this periodic bleeding by committing acts of self-mutilation.

The Galli first became a part of Cybele’s worship, around approximately the same time that the Cult of Cybele and Attis first began. That was, indeed, in extremely ancient times, since that happened more then 500 years before the founding of Troy. Even in the very early days of the Cult, Attis never once appeared as a living and breathing entity, independent and separate from Cybele. Rather, he existed solely as a part of the worship of Cybele.

The Temple of Cybele was devoted to all things that were feminine, and while it may have strongly glorified women, it just as strongly denied men the right to worship in any of its ceremonies or rites. The Cult of Cybele believed that men should worship their own, male Gods, and perform their own ceremonies and rites, with a congregation of worshipers that consisted solely of men. That is why almost no men ever appeared in the worship of Cybele.

A few exceptions were made, however, which allowed three separate and unique groups of men to worship in the Temple of Cybele. The first exception was for a man who had become a woman. Since he had actually become a woman, then there was no problem with her worshiping in the Temple of Cybele. It was not sufficient for a man to simply dress in female clothing and assume a feminine pose. If a man truly wanted to be a part of the Cult of Cybele, then there was only one road for him to follow. He had to either go through the process of castration, or through the severing of his complete genitalia.
Those particular acts of self-mutilation were sometimes referred to as "the Rites of Attis." Many men performed those Rites when they became caught up in the throws of wild and reckless abandon, during the Lupercalia, which was the annual celebration of those Rites. During that celebration, those severed sexual organs were frequently offered up to the Goddess, and while there may have been some of those men who regretted doing what they had done, the majority of them looked upon their actions as being necessary if they seriously wanted to become permanent members of the Temple.
The second type of man was an extremely handsome or sexy man, who was considered to be extremely desirable to women. Everything that the temple could offer him was his, for one full year. Then, when that year finally came to an end, he was offered up to the Goddess as a human sacrifice.
The third and final type of man, who was accepted into the temple, took on the role of a High Poet. His role was to spend every single moment, of every single day of his life dedicated in every way, shape or form to the worship of the Goddess.
The Punic War was also being fought, at that exact same period of time, and Hannibal's presence in Italy posed a clear and present danger to Rome. Needing direction on how to proceed in the war, the Roman Senate ordered that the Sibylline Books be consulted. The Oracle advised the Senate, that if a foreign enemy ever invaded Italy, or declared war upon it, then that threat could be defeated, and driven out, but only if Cybele, the Idaean Mother of the Gods, was brought from Pessinus to Rome. Not everyone was convinced, however, so as a further means of corroboration, the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi was consulted, and she, as well, advised the Romans that success would be imminent, but only if the Magna Mater was brought to Rome.
The Romans followed the Oracles' advice, and began to make the necessary arrangements to acquire Cybele, and then bring her from the Phrygian city of Pessinus, which was the center of her worship at that time, to Rome. To facilitate that endeavor, Rome sent an envoy to Attalus, the King of Pergamum, requesting his assistance in that matter.
Attalus, however, was extremely reluctant to allow Cybele to be taken to Rome, but he soon came to realize that he had no real choice in the matter, after the voice of Cybele spoke to him after an earthquake, and told him: "Rome is worthy of becoming the meeting-place of the Gods." For that reason, the Roman ambassadors were allowed to enter Pessinus, acquire the black cube-shaped stone that was Cybele, and then carry her back with them to Rome.
Cybele's rites were extremely orgiastic in nature. They had served their purpose well when they had been performed in Phrygia, since their purpose there had been to increase human fertility. Ritual prostitution was also a normal way for the Phrygians to worship Cybele, and it was looked upon as a way of giving a gift to the Goddess. The Romans, however, viewed those acts quite differently then the Phrygians and they refused to have anything to do with them.
Two hundred years after Cybele had first landed in Rome, and became a national Goddess; her worship had become so popular that it was one of the three most important cults in Rome, sharing that honor with the Cult of Isis and Serapis (Osiris), and the Cult of Mithra. Amazingly, her worship, and that of Isis and Serapis, continued to exist until the fall of the Roman Empire, when Christianity began to reign supreme as it gained great strength and power in Rome. Then, during the 4th Century, C.E., the Emperor Constantine outlawed all mystery cults, and from that point forward the worship of the Magna Mater in Rome was no more.

Legend of Cybele and Attis

April 10, 2015

Origin of Fairy Tales

How our classical fairy-tale that we heard the stories and see the movies (thanks to Disney) as children. Fairy tale we know today are tamer than in past due to the fact that the target audiences were adults. First up is Cinderella. Cinderella is one of the most well-known stories around the world. This story appears in the folklore of many cultures. There are between 350 and 1500 different versions of this story in the world today. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a young woman who has not at some point in their girlhood dreamed of being the ‘Cinderella’ figure - the Belle-of-the ball that is swept off her feet by a 'Handsome Stranger' and ferreted off to his ‘Castle’ to live ‘happily ever after’.

Rhodopis the Egyptian Cinderella
This Ancient Egyptian version of Cinderella is considered the oldest version of the story, recorded by the Roman historian Strabo in the first century BC.
Long ago in the Ancient land of Egypt were the green water of the Nile River flows into the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea lived a young maiden named Rhodopis. She born in Greece but had been kidnapped by pirates and carried to Egypt where she was sold into slavery. Her owner was a kind old man and because he spent most of his time sleeping under a tree sleeping; he never saw how the other servant girls in the house taunted and teased Rhodopis because she looked different to them. Their hair was straight and black while hers was golden and curly. They had brown eyes and hers were green. Their skin had the glow of copper, but she had pale skin that burnt easily in the sun so they called her Rosy Rhodopis. They made her work hard, shouting at her all day, "Go to the river and wash the clothes. Mend my robe. Chase the geese from the garden. Bake the bread." 
She had no human friends only the animals. She trained the birds to eat from her hand, a monkey to sit on her shoulder, and an old hippopotamus would slide up, out of the mud, onto the bank to be closer to her. At the end of each day, if she wasn't too tired, she would go down to the river to be with her animal friends and if she had any energy left from the hard day's work she would sing and dance for them.
One evening as she was dancing, twirling around lighter than air with her feet barely touching the ground, the old man woke from his sleep and watched as she danced. He admired her dancing and decided that one so talented should not be without shoes. He ordered her a special pair of slippers. The shoes were gilded with rose-red gold and the soles were leather. Now the other servant girls really hate her for they were jealous of her beautiful slippers.
One day, word arrived that the Pharaoh was holding court in Memphis and all in the kingdom were invited. Oh how Rhodopis wanted to go with the other servant girls, for she knew there would be dancing, singing, and lots of wonderful food. As the other servant girls prepared to leave in their finest clothes they turned to her and gave her more chores to be completed before they returned. They poled their raft away leaving a sad girl on the bank. As she began to wash the clothes in the river she sang a sad little song--"wash the linen, weed the garden, grind the grain." The hippopotamus grew tired of this little song and splashed back into the river. The splashing of the water wet her slippers. She quickly grabbed them up, wiped them off and placed them in the sun to dry. As she was continuing with her chores the sky darkened and when she looked up she saw a falcon sweep down, snatch one of her slippers, and fly away. Rhodopis was in awe for she knew it was Horus, God of the Pharaoh, who had taken her shoe. Rhodopis, now with only one slipper, put it away in her tunic.
Now the Pharaoh, Amasis, King of upper and lower Egypt was sitting on his throne looking out over the people and feeling very bored. He much preferred to be riding across the desert in his chariot. Suddenly a falcon swooped down and dropped a rose-red golden slipper in his lap. Surprised, but knowing that this was a sign from the god Horus, he sent out a decree that all maidens in Egypt must try on the slipper, and the owner of the slipper would be his queen. By the time the servant girls arrived the celebrations had ended and the Pharaoh had left by chariot in search of the owner of the golden slipper. 
After searching on land and not finding the owner he called for his barge and began to travel the Nile pulling into every landing so that maidens could try on the slipper. As the barge rounded the bend in front of the home of Rhodopis everyone heard the sounds of the gong, the trumpets blaring, and saw the purple silk sails. The servant girls ran to the landing to try on the shoe while Rhodopis hid in the rushes. When the servant girls saw the shoe they recognized it as Rhodopis' slipper but they said nothing and still tried to force their feet into the slipper. The Pharaoh spied Rhodopis hiding in the rushes and asked her to try on the slipper. She slid her tiny foot into the slipper and then pulled the other from her tunic. The Pharaoh pronounced that she would be his queen. The servant girls cried out that she was a slave and not even Egyptian. The Pharaoh responded with "She is the most Egyptian of all...for her eyes are as green as the Nile, her hair as feathery as papyrus, and her skin the pink of a lotus flower."

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

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