Hearth Moon Rising

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Hearth Moon Rising is a Dianic Priestess living in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. She blends goddess magic and folklore in her blog, http://hearthmoonblog.com/.

She is the author of Invoking Animal Magic: A guide for the Pagan priestess. http://invokinganimalmagic.com.

(Candlemas essay) Groundhog Medicine by Hearth Moon Rising

 

Pregnant groundhog eating peanuts. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Pregnant groundhog eating peanuts. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Outside the deep recesses of my trance, the voice summoned the animal to me. This was an important day. Though a novice in the Craft, I knew power animals were fundamental to any shamanic tradition. Like a princess dreaming of her prince, I had often wondered what my animal would be. A jaguar or a cougar?  I loved cats. A raven or an owl?  I courted wisdom and prophesy. A horse or a hawk?  I was willing to take risks. What about a bear or an eagle?  Majesty, power, yeah!  “Your spirit animal is here now,” the voice intoned. “Look to your left. Look!”  My mind cleared and in the space ahead I saw….

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(Video) 2015 Published Goddess/Female Divine Books by Hearth Moon Rising

day 3 copy[Editors’ Note: This video presentation was created as part of 2015 Nine Day Solstice Celebration, a special event sponsored by Mago Academy and The Girl God.]

“2015 Published Goddess/Female Divine Books” hosted by Hearth Moon Rising

Stay in touch with emerging concepts in Goddess spirituality. Join us for a review of spiritually oriented books published in 2015. The program was aired live at 3:00 pm EST on December 16th. There is a mixture of essays, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

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(Review) Reliable and Readable Scholarship on Ancient Egypt: A Bibliography by Hearth Moon Rising

Re-Osiris, Wikimedia Commons

Re-Osiris, Wikimedia Commons

Most modern Witchcraft and Paganism draws significantly on ancient Egyptian religion, which is only natural since ancient Egypt has had such a profound influence on European culture. Although the general public is not so well informed, most Witches and Pagans are hip to the fact that, in addition to living on the African continent, ancient Egyptians were dark skinned and had African features. Aside from how this invalidates white supremacist notions, however, many of those drawing on ancient Egyptian culture have not considered the implications of this. Ancient Egyptians were ethnically distinct from Indo-European, Old European, and Semitic groups. They were African, sharing a cultural pre-history with the rest of northeastern Africa. This means that when looking at Egyptian goddesses or Egyptian medicine or Egyptian spells, acquiring a basic knowledge of Egyptian perspective is important.

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(Book Announcement 3) She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality by Helen Hwang

[Note: She Rises Vol 1 has been published June Solstice, 2015.]

She Rises Book Reviews include the following:

“There are many contributors with names you may be familiar with, such as Carol Christ, Starhawk, Barbara Daughter, Vicki Noble, Max Dashu. Other excellent contributors will be new to you, but you may find yourself looking for more of their work. I feel honored to be included in such illustrious company. The articles are short, so they can be read over a long time period….though you might find it hard to put the book down. I was touched by how often the names Mary Daly, Merlin Stone, Marija Gimbutas, and Monica Sjoo appeared in this volume, and it seemed to me that these early pioneers were also contributing through other women.

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(Essay) Good Morning Little Dove by Hearth Moon Rising

Mourning Doves. Photo by R.L. Sivaprasad.

Mourning Doves. Photo by R.L. Sivaprasad.

The Iseum (space of worship) chartered through me by The Fellowship of Isis is called The Temple of the Doves. Why doves? The dove is one of the feathery creatures most beloved of the goddess, and a particular favorite of a divinity close to my heart: the goddess Ishtar.

Reverence for the dove is ancient and enduring, possibly extending back to the Stone Age. According to Marija Gimbutas, “Small birds were sculpted, engraved, and painted throughout prehistory. In Minoan Crete they appear perching on shrines, pillars, and the Goddess’s head. Unfortunately, it is not possible to recognize the species of birds portrayed, except in a very few cases.” Since doves and other pigeons like to roost in large buildings, and the first building complexes were places of worship, the religious significance of the dove may have grown up around the temple. Devotees would have assumed the doves came to bring messages from the sky gods or to carry prayers back to them. These doves would not have been exclusively the subjects and messengers of any god in particular, instead serving the deity of the temple where they lived.

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(Special post) The Goddess Inanna: Her Allies and Opponents by Hearth Moon Rising

Inanna with her priestess. Circa 2300 B.C.E. Photo Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Inanna with her priestess. Circa 2300 B.C.E. Photo Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld is one of the most fascinating myths ever told. Not just because it is profound and enlightening, although it is certainly that. It’s an exciting journey that ignites the imagination, and female characters are at the hub of the action.

This is a tale of power: power that is demanded, power that is won, power that is appropriated, and power that cannot be escaped. The story follows the fertility goddess Inanna, who brought civilization to Mesopotamia, as she seeks to expand her realm by venturing into the world below. Inanna’s experiences in the great below, her escape, and the wild events that unfold as a result of her caper are the focus of the tale.

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(Essay) Aphrodite and the Myrtle Tree by Hearth Moon Rising

Myrtle in flower. Photo Giancarlodessi.

Myrtle in flower. Photo Giancarlodessi.

Our tree this week is the myrtle, sacred to Aphrodite. Myrtle trees were planted in Aphrodite’s temple gardens and shrines, and she is often depicted with a myrtle crown, sprig or wreath. Most people are familiar with Aphrodite as the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sex. Aphrodite is guardian of the gates of birth and death, symbolized by the vagina. As poets well know, myrtle rhymes with girdle, and Aphrodite has a very famous and coveted girdle that she sometimes lends to other goddesses. This is not the modern girdle that restricts breathing; this is a belt tied around the waist that makes the wearer sexually irresistible.

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(Review) Animal Magic in Chauvet Cave by Hearth Moon Rising

HMR caveofforgottendreams

One of the most intriguing glimpses into the perspectives of Europe’s Paleolithic people is documented by the artwork of the Chauvet Cave in southern France. These paintings originate from about 30,000 B.C.E. and continue over a span of more than 5,000 years. (To put that in perspective, 5,000 years before today the great pyramids of Egypt had not yet been built.) The cave was rediscovered in 1994 by a spelunker, and given the breadth and quality of the art this relatively recent discovery was fortuitous, since degradations in other cave paintings in France and Spain have taught important lessons about the fragility of Ice Age art. For this reason, admission to the cave is limited to select scientists and art historians, and even their access is severely circumscribed.

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(Essay) Gratitude Stalks You by Hearth Moon Rising

HMR DSCN0861-1024x768Gratitude stalks you
Unawares you are ambushed
Smile in surprise

Earlier this week I was in the woods at a stream swollen with spring, and a familiar situation overtook me. It’s similar to coming upon a beautiful scene by surprise or having an unusual interaction with an animal–and of course you left the camera at home. This is the situation of coming upon a sublime space, maybe in some ordinary place where you’ve been many times, and your heart is unexpectedly opened and full to overflowing. Perhaps you can hear the voices of water, rocks and trees. This is the time for ritual, but you have no offering. A simple thank you does not seem like enough. What gift can you leave to signify the importance of this moment?

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(Essay 4) The Old Sow by Hearth Moon Rising

The belief among many Christian sects, as well as Jews and Muslims, that pork is “unclean” has influenced to some extent the health focus of the New Age. This belief appears to have been vindicated by the discovery of Trichinella spiralis in undercooked pork, but in fact pigs are not the only vectors of this parasite, which is also found in commonly eaten wild game. The “unclean” label from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Levant probably did not refer to any primitive understanding of trichinosis in pork. Mesopotamian cooking instructions emphasize the importance of cooking all meat, and a favored Mediterranean way of slandering the tribes outside the city states was to accuse them (probably unjustly) of not cooking their meat. The problematic nature of the trichinosis theory notwithstanding, pork products as they are marketed in the United States often are unhealthy, filled with nitrites and other chemicals or produced in high fat forms such as fried pork rinds. Perhaps the association of pigs with poor diet contributes to the Pagan neglect of pig deities.

Cylinder seal with boar. Iran, seventh century b.c.e.

Cylinder seal with boar. Iran, seventh century b.c.e.

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(Essay 3) The Old Sow by Hearth Moon Rising

Read Meet Mago Contributor Hearth Moon Rising.

The Hebrew prohibition against pork was a product of the agricultural realities of the Levant. While Egypt and Mesopotamia were able to amass large stores of grain that could outlast prolonged drought, the harvest in this region was sparse and uncertain. It did not make sense to divert precious grain stores for porcine consumption when much of the arid land would only support grass. Goats and sheep were better suited for the region even though kids and lambs grow more slowly than piglets.

Detail from temple wall showing pig with other domestic animals. Malta.

Detail from temple wall showing pig with other domestic animals. Malta.

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(Essay 2) The Old Sow by Hearth Moon Rising

Meet Mago Contributor Hearth Moon Rising.

The pig was domesticated shortly after the sheep and cow, about 12,000 years ago. This ushered in the era of pig goddesses, who were probably originally boar goddesses like Freya. Boar lore became transferred to the domestic cousin, but grew in complexity due to the relationship between pigs and cereals. Unlike ruminant animals raised for consumption, the domestic pig requires grain in order to thrive since she does not digest grass. Thus the sow goddess had a vested interest in grain production and she was propitiated for an abundant harvest. The appearance of animal husbandry at roughly the same time as agriculture was not an accident. Pigs were used to clear fields after harvest, aerating the fields as they rummaged. They helped reduce garbage and provided manure for fertilizing cropland. In some forested areas pigs were allowed to forage as a way of reducing groundcover and managing woodlands.

Ceres, Greco-Roman counterpart to Demeter. Note the torch in her right hand and the sheaves of grain on her crown.

Ceres, Greco-Roman counterpart to Demeter. Note the torch in her right hand and the sheaves of grain on her crown.

The goddess Demeter is the best known of the sow-grain goddesses. She is often depicted carrying a torch, used for traversing the dark underworld, symbolizing her association with death as well as motherhood and sustenance. The main ceremonies once associated with Demeter were Thesmophoria, a women-only retreat where piglets were sacrificed, and the Eleusinian mysteries, the reenactment of Demeter’s loss and reunion with her daughter Persephone.

Sculpture of Adonis by Guiseppe Mazzouli, 1709 c.e. Photo Yair Haklai.

Sculpture of Adonis by Guiseppe Mazzouli, 1709 c.e. Photo Yair Haklai.

In myth the Semitic vegetal gods Adonis and Tammuz are gored by a boar, again emphasizing the death aspect of the boar. The sky goddess Nut is sometimes represented as a sow, which was probably her earlier form. The ithyphallic vegetal god Min, whose cult was overtaken by Osiris, is the son of a white sow. In some legends the Egyptian god Osiris is gored by Seth in the form of a boar. The Sow Goddess was important in pre-dynastic Egypt, but her worship steadily declined as the pig established a reputation as an “unclean” animal. This also occurred in Babylonia, and it was rooted in the pig’s need to regulate body temperature, which must have been especially great in these hot dry climates. A pig greatly prefers to cool off in clean mud, but will wallow in sewage if there are no other options. In the highly populated areas in Mesopotamia and along the Nile cleanliness was a persistent concern, while opportunities for ideal pig wallows were probably becoming scarcer. Neither culture forbid pork consumption, but the meat did grow out of favor for those who could afford cattle. Egyptians continued to carry pig charms and use pig ingredients in spells and healing remedies. Sow pictures or figures are occasionally found in tombs from all eras.

Egyptian pig amulet in blue-glaze faience. Raised area on back is probably meant to signify erect bristles, emphasizing sow’s ferocity. 600 b.c.e. Drawing HMR.

Egyptian pig amulet in blue-glaze faience. Raised area on back is probably meant to signify erect bristles, emphasizing sow’s ferocity. 600 b.c.e. Drawing HMR.

 

To be continued. Read part 1.

Hearth Moon Rising is a Dianic Priestess living in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and the author of Invoking Animal Magic: A guide for the Pagan priestesswww.invokinganimalmagic.com. She blogs at www.hearthmoonblog.com.

Sources:

Barrett, Clive. The Egyptian Gods and Goddesses: The Mythology and Beliefs of Ancient Egypt. London: Diamond Books, 1991.

Bottero, Jean. The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Cooper, D. Jason. Using the Runes. Wellingborough, UK: The Aquarian Press, 1986.

Germond, Phillippe. An Egyptian Bestiary: Animals in Life and Religion in the Life of the Pharoahs. London: Thames and Hudson, 2001.

Gimbutas, Marija. The Living Goddesses. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999.

Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989.

Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. London: Penguin, 1960.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948.

Green, Miranda. Animals in Celtic Life and Myth. London: Routledge, 1992.

Johnson, Buffie. Lady of the Beasts: The Goddess and Her Sacred Animals. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1994.

O’Sullivan, Patrick V. Irish Superstitions and Legends of Animals and Birds. Dublin: Mercier Press, 1991.

“Pigs,” Ancient Egyptian Bestiary, http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/bestiary/pig.htm

“Pigs in Egypt,” Tour Egypt, http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/pigs.htm

“Welcome to Eleusinian Mysteries,” Eleusinian Mysteries, http://eleusinianmysteries.org/SubjectIndexP_Z.html

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