THE TRADITIONAL WITCH’S CALENDAR: 15-21 JANUARY...
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THE TRADITIONAL WITCH’S CALENDAR: 15-21 JANUARY...
While the labrys (the double-bladed axe) is certainly iconic of Minoan civilization, so is another symbol-cum-ritual-object: the sacred horns. (See the image at the top of this blog post.) Found on the rooftops of the temple complexes and peak sanctuaries of ancient Crete as well as in the frescoes and other art, this unique symbol was christened the Horns of Consecration by Sir Arthur Evans a century ago. But are they really horns? And even if they are, what do they stand for and how were they used?
Over in Ariadne’s Tribe, we’ve been discussing this issue for quite a while. One issue we’ve noticed is that the sacred horns don’t look at all like real cow or bull horns....
I dedicated a small doll to the grain goddess, Sif, to keep in the Spiritual Souvenir Shrine on my wall. I had had the doll for years, having bought it in the Soviet Union when I was in college, but one day I suddenly looked at it and thought "Sif." It has pale yellow hair, but its hair was all messed up from the years, so I restyled it. While I was trying to smooth her hair down, some of it fell out!
I had to fix that somehow. So, of course then I had to make the hairstyle better than before, because in the myth where Loki cuts her hair and then goes and has the dwarves make her new hair, the renewed hair was better. So instead of retying the pony tails with the orange thread the doll came with, I retied it with gold thread. I completely unintentionally re-enacted the grain myth where her hair is cut and then replaced with hair of gold, symbolizing the harvest and regrowth of the grain. Now it's a Sif doll for sure!
Image: Sif by Relotixke
Last week, a younger member of my outer community emailed me with a story that bothered her. She’d attended a ritual led by people she didn’t know and when she told one of them about her path as a Witch, they started running down a list of everything she was doing wrong in her practice. While understandably bothered, what bothered her most her disappointment. She thought that within the Pagan community, she wouldn’t run into the kind of size-you-up-what-are-you-well-that’s-stupid attitude she’d encountered in the Church of her youth.
I told her, sadly, that no communities were exempt from that attitude; even, and maybe especially, our own....
Like all the heathen gods and goddesses, Frigga is complex and has many spheres of influence. One is traditional women's crafts involving fiber, specifically spinning and weaving, but also including all the fiber arts.
Frigga's symbols include a distaff or spindle. The constellation which the majority society calls Orion was known as Frigga's Distaff. A distaff is a staff upon which a spinner wounds spun yarn or thread. Spinning and weaving were associated with magic and prophecy. In addition to Frigga's spinning the clouds, the Norns were also depicted fashioning fiber into cloth. The threads represent individual lives and the cloth represents the community, or history, which is made of individual lives, or the world. We reference that idea when we use phrases like "the fabric of the universe."
About a decade or so ago, I spent a weekend at my local Renaissance Faire demonstrating spinning with a drop spindle. I did these repetitive motions all day, and after a few hours they became meditative. Partly like the state of flow of creating art, and partly like the repetitive motion meditation of drumming, the act of spinning opened my inner awareness and brought me closer to Frigga.
Once I connected with her, I found all types of fiber art can bring me closer to her. Before the Great Recession and immediately following Not-So-Great Depression started, I used to operate a custom fabric dyeing business. I specialized in silk, but also dyed other natural fabrics, yarns, and so forth. I make quilt tops, out of both my own fabrics and other fabrics. I find making quilt tops can be meditative the same way spinning was for me. I especially enjoy making the simple, geometric blocks of traditional quilts. Making them has both the repetitive motions and the artistic feeling from choosing fabrics and appreciating the fabrics as I see and touch them.
All fiber art can be a form of dedication to Frigga, if one intends it to be. Even if I'm making a quilt with a topic that isn't one of her particular interests, or if I'm making it for someone else, the act of making fiber art is still a way to draw close to her.
Image: a traditional Log Cabin quilt I made from various silk fabrics which I hand dyed.
My friends have been on pilgrimage. They’ve walked the Camino and hiked the Himalayas and climbed Glastonbury Tor. They've made it to Dharamsala and Rishikesh. I haven’t done any of that. But I have been to the ocean in Maine. And I have walked back and forth between two points twenty feet apart for long periods. Those are my pilgrimages.
Many people in the ancient world used cosmetics: lotions, oils, and creams to moisturize the skin; perfumed oils for their scent; and color cosmetics (makeup) for lips, cheeks, and eyes. You’ve probably seen the colorful images of the ancient Egyptians with their black eyeliner, and they weren’t alone in wanting a little personal adornment. The Minoans were no different. Residues found in containers from a number of ancient sites in Crete give us an intimate look into the personal habits of the Minoans and can allow us to make our own cosmetics in very much the same way as they did.
If you have a chance to visit one of the museums that house Minoan artifacts, you’ll find a number of pottery and stone cosmetics containers listed as containing residues. These include the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno in Crete; the British Museum; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are probably others as well. So let’s get on with the details and recipes, shall we?...