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This continues the story I began last week. Catherina is my 2x great-grandmother; Agnes is my 2x great-aunt; Johanetta is my first cousin, 3x removed, and my step-2x great-grandmother; Henry is my 2x great-grandfather. It is true that Henry had eighteen children with two wives. It is also true that Henry and Johanetta married and had a child soon after Catherina's death. Some of the other details came in waking trance as I allowed the ancestors to tell their stories through me.
Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: I thought the day Catherina left for America would be the worst day of my life. I did not know I would see Catherina again. I did not know I would outlive my two little sisters and both of my brothers. I did not know what my daughter would do. I read Catherina’s letters from America through my tears. How I wanted to be with her on her wedding day. How I wished she had been with us when we buried our sister Johanetta. My heart nearly burst when Catherina wrote that she longed to take my hand when she gave birth to her first child. My mind contorted itself trying to envision her living in a big city, in a big building, climbing up and down stairs, her feet never touching the earth, her hands never working the soil. What kind of life was that?
As I've often said before, one of the things I appreciate most about The Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr -- and one of the reasons its a key tool in my practice -- is how multicultural it is. I appreciate the inclusion of indigenous Goddesses from around the world alongside the more familiar European Goddesses. And I also appreciate that these Goddesses are never drawn in a stereotypical or fetishized way, and their stories are treated with the appropriate respect and reverence. I have learned so much about Goddesses from traditions with which I was largely or wholly unfamiliar. And while I realize that the cultures these figures hail from might see them as Goddesses in the same sense of the word that I use, I appreciate that they are included alongside all these other powerful female figures.
This week's Goddess is one such Goddess -- Glispa, the Navajo/Dine Goddess of Healing and Transformation. It is said that Glispa undertook a dangerous journey to the land of the Snake People, who taught her the sacred Hozoni healing chant, which she brought back to the Dine. (One lovely version of her story can be found here.) In undertaking her journey and in learning these healing songs with the Snake (or Serpent) People, she represents not only healing but transformation. Just as snakes are constantly shedding their skin and transforming, Glispa reminds us that we can grow, heal, and transform into something new. That when we have outgrown old patterns, old hurts, old beliefs, we can shed them -- not painlessly and not easily, but shed them we can....
Sky Woman (Haudenosaunee). Spider Woman (Pueblo). Copper Woman (Pacific Northwestern nations). Selu (Cherokee). To nearly all Indigenous nations of Turtle Island (most of the Americas), the ancient creators of the Earth, her inhabitants and humanity are Women who are complemented by a male either through Her offspring or a partner.
Indigenous Women Creators made life from their bodily fluids, from their thoughts, from their words and actions. Because of Their creative powers, these very things became holy in human women forever after: our menstrual and childbirth blood, our thoughts, our words, and our actions are holy. We are holy. Traditional Indigenous peoples know this, practice this, and to this very day keep the rituals and laws that demonstrate that belief....
Do you know we are all on fire? Life is literally a fire burning in our bodies. Our biology magically takes in energy in tiny increments so we don’t ignite. Still, it’s a wonder more of us don’t just spontaneously burst into flames! Beltane is a traditional time to renew, reawaken our fire—inner fire, hearth fire, community fire, sexual and fertility fire of people, animals, plants, the land.
What about when there’s way too much fire everywhere: in wars, in forests, in collapsed nuclear reactors, even freak fires in the arctic? What about depression—not enough creative fire, soul fire, wemoon fire, to bring balance and healing to offset the devastation? No way to get there from here? Today is our holy moment to quantum jump over the impossible and make love to the Possible. (If your head can’t do it, let your heart try.) Newborns of the body or imagination conceived on Beltane are “Merry Begots,” full of enough aliveness, love, joy, humor to confound the toughest logic and direst doomsday predictions.
The 1st of May marks the ancient Celtic fire festival of Beltane, once honoured on the 5th of May, or the nearest full moon when the hawthorn is in blossom. The Beltane season is traditionally a time of lovers and the sensual, erotic lure of nature as new life bursts forth all around us and the promise of summer unfolding ahead of us raises both our spirits and our life force. Ancient festivities for Beltane included leaping the Beltane fire to receive the blessing of the sun god Bel to mark this rise in our vigour. But this is also a time traditionally related to the sacred marriage, the union of the god and the goddess of the land to bring us all fertility for the coming year- partaking in the 'rites of May'- heading off into the woods and the wild to spend the night with your lover at this time was in many ways an established custom all across Europe for hundreds of years, and is mentioned in Shakespeare's 'A midsummer night's dream' as an explanation for the lovers disarray when they are discovered.
Beltane and May Day lore always involves some kind of dissolution into our primal selves, where every man and woman may embody the divine for a while and partake of this sacred marriage within our own souls as well as with sexual partners. Traditions from adorning and worshipping at the phallic maypole, and crowning a May Queen to represent the old pagan fertility goddesses remain a fixed feature of many May Day celebrations in the modern era, but stranger ones such as the Cornish Padstow Obby Oss have also survived and seen a passionate revival in modern times, reminding us of the inherent chaos and wildness of the season- beneath all the May Day fairs and village cake competitions there is still a suggestion of something strange afoot- this is a spirit time, when forces beyond our everyday world may still make themselves felt....