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April 7, 2016

Praise the Beers: Ninkasi

Perhaps the earliest goddess associated with beer was Ninkasi, from the Sumerian civilization. Sumer was located in southern Mesopotamia, and was one of the earliest civilizations we know about. Though there are a few older, Sumer was most likely the first to start farming, as early as 5300 BCE, and probably even sooner than that, but because writing wasn’t invented until the start of the Bronze Age—during the latter half of the 4th millennium BCE—that is the earliest definitive record we have. According to Sumerian mythology, Ninkasi was the daughter of Enki, the chief Sumerian god (Enki means “Lord of the Earth”). She was born from “sparkling fresh water” and created to “satisfy the desire” and “sate the heart.” Though references can be found to Ninkasi as long ago as 2800 BCE, the first nearly complete text is a tablet dated to around 1800 BCE and known as “The Hymn to Ninkasi.”
The Hymn to Ninkasi is the oldest record of a direct correlation between the importance of brewing, and the responsibility that women had with regards to supplying both bread and beer to the household. The Hymn essentially contains the first written recipe for Sumerian beer (which they called “sikaru”) and sings he praises of the beer goddess Ninkasi. The finished beer is described in the Hymn’s last lines. “Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat, it is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.” In ancient Mesopotamia, beer was both a staple of the diet and used in religious offerings and events.
No imagery of Ninkasi is thought to have survived the centuries but many Sumerian carvings depict beer drinkers and drinking beer – often through a straw.
Her legacy currently lives on at Ninkasi Brewing Co. in Eugene, Oregon, which apparently shares “the ancient Sumerian belief that beer is an important and valued part of civilization.”

April 1, 2016

Beware the Tricks of Loki

God of Mischief, Chaos and Change
Master of Magic and adept Shapeshifter 
Harbinger of Ragnarok and Rebirth of the Worlds
What is it about Loki that has made him so very popular within Western culture when we want to be entertained by a troublemaker within our books and movies? Of all of the gods from the various pantheons that are out there, he seems to be one that has captured people’s imagination the most, and it started before Tom Hiddleston played him in Thor and The Avengers. Possibly it has a little bit to do with the fact that he is someone who is so closely associated with mischief and causing trouble. There are other figures that perform that function as well (like Puck, Anansi, or Coyote), but none of them seem to have latched onto our collective consciousness the same way that Loki has. But there also may be a bit of the fact that he is able to help people get out of trouble as well (though, he’s usually helping them get out of whatever sticky situation that he got them into in the first place).
Like Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character, the mythological Loki is a complicated guy, whose allegiances are hard to pin down — but the similarities are pretty limited after that. Loki is sly, manipulative, charming, humorous, mischievous, quick to anger, and cruel. The Norse version of Loki is not Thor’s adopted brother but his friend, travel companion and maybe his fuck buddy. Also, while in early stages of Loki’s story he’s more mischievous than straight-up bad, his transition from puckish to evil takes place over time.
A sly, vengeful trickster who is always causing trouble among the gods, he is tolerated in Asgard only because of the great services he has performed in the past, such as helping to create Midgard and the wall guarding Asgard. He has mixed freely with the gods for a long time, even becoming Odin's blood brother. In his true form, Loki is a handsome young man who is always dressed in some combination of red and black.
Loki:  He is everyone’s favorite now days, thanks to the more than stunning Tom Hiddleston, but I even like the real god.  He really is not bad, per say.  It is his job to mess stuff up and in any effect, he bails the gods out of so many issues its not even funny.  He had sex with a horse for them!!!  I mean, he killed Balder, but that legend taught a valuable lesson.  Loki taught us beauty fades and even death will get those who are so dear and one can’t avoid or change their fate not even the gods.  He showed us that even the mighty Thor knows humility when it comes to the safety of others.  He also has to be the role model for lawyers.  So, no I do not care, Loki rocks! Is Tom sexy?  Hell yes he is.  BUT Loki is supposed to be handsome, too.  Also, Norse Loki is a redhead.
The whole thing sounds kind of bleak, but it has always seemed to me that figures like Loki have provided a necessary function. Without tricksters such as him, the world would become static and unchanging. I can hear you saying that there are innovators and revolutionaries, who serve much the same purpose, and they do so without causing all kinds of trouble or destruction, but that probably depends greatly on who you ask (and how their worldview is on who the “troublemakers” and “tricksters” really are).

Nature
The trickster character is a complex character, a master of guile and deception. Loki was not so much a figure of unmitigated badness as a kind of celestial con man. He would often bail out the gods after playing tricks on them, as illustrated by the myth in which he shears Sif's hair and then replaces it, or when he is responsible for the loss of Idunn's apples of youth and then retrieves them again. Loki is an adept shape-shifter, with the ability to change both form (examples include transmogrification to a salmon, horse, bird, flea, etc.) and sex.

His Children

Loki's children are powerful being that have power to aid or hinder the gods and mortals alike.

Sleipnir

Fenrir 

Jörmungandr

Hel

March 27, 2016

Origins of Easter

Easter, the principal festival of the Christian church year, celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. The origins of Easter date to the beginnings of Christianity, and it is probably the oldest Christian observance after the Sabbath (observed on Saturday). Later, the Sabbath subsequently came to be regarded as the weekly celebration of the Resurrection.
Meanwhile, many of the cultural historians find, in the celebration of Easter, a convergence of the three traditions - Pagan, Hebrew and Christian. The origins of the word "Easter" are not certain. The name "Easter" originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE), a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarly, the "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." 1 Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre."  But probably derive from Estre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The German word Ostern has the same derivation, but most other languages follow the Greek term used by the early Christians: pascha, from the Hebrew pesach (Passover).
 Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:
  • Aphrodite: Lady of Cythera and Cyprus and Goddess of Love and Beauty
  • Ashtoreth from ancient Israel, Phoenicia and Sumeria: Queen of Heaven, Mother Goddess
  • Astarte ancient Israel, Phoenicia and Sumeria: Goddess of Love and War
  • Demeter and Persephone from Greece:  The Return of Persephone
  • Hathor from ancient Egypt: Goddess of Love and Beauty
  • Ishtar from Babylonia: Goddess of Love and War
  • Kali, from India: Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction.
An alternative explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to Jesus' resurrection festival included the Latin word "alba" which means "white." (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) "Alba" also has a second meaning: "sunrise." When the name of the festival was translated into German, the "sunrise" meaning was selected in error. This became "ostern" in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word "Easter". 
In Latin, Easter is Festa Paschalia (plural because it is a seven-day feast), which became the basis for the French Pâques, the Italian Pasqua, and the Spanish Pascua. Also related are the Scottish Pask, the Dutch Paschen, the Danish Paaske, and the Swedish Pask.
The English name "Easter" is much newer. When the early English Christians wanted others to accept Christianity, they decided to use the name Easter for this holiday so that it would match the name of the old spring celebration. This made it more comfortable for other people to accept Christianity.
But it is pointed out by some that the Easter festival, as celebrated today, is related with the Hebrew tradition, the Jewish Passover. This is being celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar year. The Jewish Passover under Moses commemorates Israel's deliverance from about 300 years of bondage in Egypt.
It was in during this Passover in 30 AD Christ was crucified under the order of the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, as the then Jewish high priests accused Jesus of "blasphemy" and for Romans:  the crimes of “sedition and treason”. The resurrection came three days later, on the Easter Sunday. The early Christians, many of them being brought up in Jewish tradition regarded Easter as a new feature of the Pascha (Passover). It was observed in memory of the advent of the Messiah, as foretold by the prophets. Thus the early Christian Passover turned out to be a unitive celebration in memory of the life-death-resurrection of Jesus. However, by the 4th century, Good Friday came to be observed as a separate occasion. And the Pascha Sunday had been devoted exclusively to the honor of the glorious resurrection.
Throughout the Christian nations the Sunday of Pascha had become a holiday to honor Christ. At the same time many of the pagan (ancient and modern) spring rites came to be a part of its celebration. May be it was the increasing number of new converts who could not totally break free of the influence of pagan culture of their forefathers.
But despite all the influence there was an important shift in the spirit. No more veneration of the physical return of the Sun God. Instead the emphasis was shifted to the Sun of Righteousness and Hope who had won banishing the horrors of death for ever.

March 20, 2016

Bring in the Season of New Life with Cernunnos

At the dawn of prehistory, it is said, humanity worshiped a Goddess who often co-existed with a male Deity, sometimes depicted with horns. Such figures represent humanity's elemental search for survival and meaning in mortality, a relentless quest for unity with the divine and the interdependent nature of the existential web.
Cernunnos is a horned god found in Celtic mythology. He is connected with male animals, particularly the stag in rut, and this has led him to be associated with fertility and vegetation. Depictions of Cernunnos are found in many parts of the British Isles and Western Europe. He is often portrayed with a beard and wild, shaggy hair -- he is, after all, the lord of the forest.
With his mighty antlers, Cernunnos is a protector of the forest and master of the hunt. He is a god of vegetation and trees in his aspect as the Green Man, and a god of lust and fertility when connected with Pan, the Greek satyr God of the Wild. In some traditions, he is seen as a god of death and dying, and takes time to comfort the dead by singing to them on their way to the spirit world.
Cernunnos is a Romanized name meaning "Horned One." The name is most likely derived from "cornu," the Latin word for horn. The meaning of Cernunnos in Gaelic and Old English and Irish is the “horned one or he who has horns.” The Romans had a habit of changing local names to fit the Roman pattern: most Roman names end in "us." Thus "Cernunnos" was probably the new Romanized name given by the Gauls to all their very old horned gods, in which case its use may have been widespread through out Gaul after it became a Roman province.
This God was usually depicted in artwork wearing stag antlers and was normally accompanied by his symbols of the stag, ram, bull and holding a horned and spotted serpent or worm. He is portrayed as a mature man with long hair and a beard. He wears a torc, an ornate neck-ring used by the Celts to denote nobility. He often carries other torcs in his hands and hanging from his horns, as well as a purse filled with coins. He is usually portrayed seated and cross-legged, in a position which some have interpreted as meditative or shamanic, although it may only reflect the fact that the Celts squatted on the ground when hunting.
The earliest known depictions of Cernunnos were found at Val Camonica, in northern Italy, which was under Celtic occupation from about 400 BC. The most famous was also portrayed on the Gundestrup Cauldron, which is a silver ritual vessel found at Gundestrup in Jutland, Denmark and dating to about the 1st century BC. The name "Jutland" would correspond with the Tribe of Judah who is also known as the Phoenicians.

Lord of the Hunt 

Always bearing the horns of a stag, Cernunnos is identified with the hunted, which in turn identifies him as hunter as well - shamanistic practices across the world bear witness to the concept that in order to catch your prey, you must identify in spirit with the prey.

God of Sexuality, Fertility, and Abundance 

Stags are sexually aggressive creatures, and the antlers can certainly be considered phallic, marking Cernunnos as a god of fertility and abundance. This aspect is represented in other symbolism as well: cornucopias, fruit, grain and coins.


Lord of the Underworld 


Along with knowledge, the serpent is also a frequent symbol of death. The cycle of hunter and hunted of course intimately revolves around death and life from death. As Herne the Hunter, generally considered to be the British Celtic version the same figure, he is the leader of the Wild Hunt.
In some traditions of Wicca, the cycle of seasons follows the relationship between the Horned God -- Cernunnos -- and the Goddess. During the fall, the Horned God dies, as the vegetation and land goes dormant, and in the spring, at Imbolc, he is resurrected to impregnate the fertile goddess of the land. However, this relationship is a relatively new Neopaganism concept, and there is no scholarly evidence to indicate that ancient peoples might have celebrated this "marriage" of the Horned God and a mother goddess.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HORNED GODS?
The early Christian Church under the Catholic Brotherhood of various royal families and empires and various kings have made a decision long ago to make war on all Gnostic and pagan Gods of the past simply to maintain control and order over the world's religions. Part of this process involved various propaganda techniques that the church had mastered such as the demonization and evil connotations of all the ancient Gods and Goddesses of the past. They would adopt a zero tolerance policy to any worship or adoration of these deities whom they always strongly opposed.
Just like Pan in the East and because of his horns (and the occasional depiction of a large, erect phallus) Cernunnos has often been misinterpreted by fundamentalists as a symbol of Satan and devil. Certainly, at times, the Christian church has pointed to the Pagan following of Cernunnos as "devil worship." This is in part due to centuries paintings of Satan which included large, ram-like horns much like those of Cernunnos.

Today, many Pagan and Wiccan traditions honor Cernunnos as an aspect of the God, the embodiment of masculine energy and fertility and power.

January 1, 2016

What the future awaits?

I call the Most Powerful Goddesses of the Greek pantheon: The Fates

The Moirai (Fates) controlled the mother thread of lifestyle of every mortal from birth to death. They were independent, at the helm of necessity, directed fate, and watched that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws might take its course without obstruction. The gods and men had to submit to them, although Zeus's relationship with them is a matter of debate: some sources say he is the only one who can command them (the Zeus Moiragetes), yet others suggest he was also bound to the Moirai's dictates. They assigned to the Erinyes, who inflicted the punishment for evil deeds, their proper functions; and with them they directed fate according to the laws of necessity.
Invisible bonds and knots could be controlled from a loom, and twining was a magic art used by the magicians to harm a person, and control his individual fate. Similar ideas appear in Norse mythology, and in Roman legends. The appearance of the gods and the Moirai may be related to the fairy tale motif, which is common in many Indo-European sagas and also in Egyptian Mythology, Seven Hathor. The fairies appear beside the cradle of the newborn child and bring gifts to him.
the three Moirai were:
Clotho (/ˈkloʊθoʊ/, Greek Κλωθώ– "spinner") spun the thread of life from her Distaff onto her Spindle. Her Roman equivalent was Nona, (the 'Ninth'), who was originally a goddess called upon in the ninth month of pregnancy.
Lachesis (/ˈlækɨsɪs/, Greek Λάχεσις "allotter" or drawer of lots) measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. Her Roman equivalent was Decima (the 'Tenth').
Atropos (/ˈætrəpɒs/, Greek Ἄτροπος [ˈatropos] – "inexorable" or "inevitable", literally "unturning", sometimes called Aisa) was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of each person's death; and when their time was come, she cut their life-thread with "her abhorred shears". Her Roman equivalent was Morta ('Dead One').
Zeus; King of the Gods and Their father
As goddesses of birth, who spins the thread of life, and even prophesied the fate of the newly born, Eileithyia was their companion. At the birth of a man, the Moirai spinned out the thread of his future life, followed his steps, and directed the consequences of his actions according to the counsel of the gods. It was not an inflexible fate; Zeus, if he chose, had the power of saving even those who were already on the point of being seized by their fate. The Fates did not abruptly interfere in human affairs but availed themselves of intermediate causes, and determined the lot of mortals not absolutely, but only conditionally, even man himself, in his freedom was allowed to exercise a certain influence upon them. As goddesses of fate they must necessarily have known the future, which at times they revealed, and were therefore prophetic deities. Their ministers were all the soothsayers and oracles. As goddesses of death, they appeared together with the Keres and the infernal Erinyes.

May the Fates weave good fortune for you this year and many years to come

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