The following is a compilation of excerpts from my forthcoming book, Holistic Energy Magic: Charms and Techniques for Creating a Harmonious Life...
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Among the preeminent deities of ancient Arabia were the Triple Goddesses of Mecca: al-Lât, al-'Uzzá, and Manât. We don't know much about them—the mosque far out-did the church in ruthlessness when it came to destruction of the past—but they certainly did cause problems for Muhammad. And, in fact, they still do.
When Muhammad had gained enough power to become a player in local politics, grandees from some of Mecca's most prestigious families came to him and said: “Look, make a place in your system for the Three Goddesses—they don't have to be on top, just make a place for them—and we'll back you.”
Muhammad was well-known for having self-serving revelations. His wife 'A'isha once remarked that it sure was convenient how Allah seemed to back him in every argument. So he goes up to Mount Nûr and, lo and behold, the angel Jibrîl whispers into his ear:
Have you seen al-Lât and al-'Uzzá,
and Manât, the third, the other?
These are the exalted cranes,
their intercession much to be desired.
A recurrent iconographic motif of Phoenician art during the early 1st millenium BCE is the “Woman at the Window.” Sometimes called by researchers “Astarte at the Window,” the motif occurs with such frequency—known examples number in the thousands—and in so many different mediums (ivory, stone, wood, bone), that it is well worth asking what it may have meant to the ancestors.
Although minor variations occur, the type is surprisingly consistent. A woman's face peers out from a window. The window itself is generally back-set in a triple recess; she looks out over a balustrade supported by four (occasionally three) elaborately-carved columns. The woman is characterized by an elaborate ringlet coiffure—perhaps a wig—bekohled eyes, and prominent ears.
Early researchers associated the motif with a cult of sacred prostitution, but contemporary scholars have laid this sacred cow of Biblical research to rest. No evidence exists for such an institution in any ancient Semitic culture; such claims in antiquity have proved to be at second- and third- hand, and are invariably attributed to other people. Whoever the Woman at the Window may be, she is no “hierodule.”
The monumental architecture of the window clearly indicates that this is a very special woman indeed; the window is an elaborate frame for what seems most likely to be a divine epiphany. Although no known examples are inscribed, it is not unreasonable to think that we may here be gazing upon the face of a goddess, and although the cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean coast knew numerous goddesses, we may well suspect that this may be the goddess known variously as Astarte, Ashtárt, Ashtéret, and Ashtarót.
Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, when I was 30 I was finally mentally and physically healthy. When the goddess Freya had claimed me for her Priestess when I was 20, she had appeared in her solar aspect. In my mind's eye, she always appeared as the white-hot light of the sun. That Light is all-love and all-life. Until I became healthy enough to reach it again, I had only experienced that Light once, during my initiation in 1989. Ten years later, I was ready to bring it inside myself.
Through writing fiction, I came up with the idea of picturing the Light and bringing that Light into my heart. After a character in my story did it, I did it, too. I pictured my hand, reached into the Light, and pushed it into my heart.
The last quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:
“I mentally reached out a hand into that shining consciousness of life-fire. I reached. I pulled. The light was within me.
A grin spread over my face and I laughed out loud. It worked! The Light of my initiation all those years ago had been there all along. I only needed a whole mind to reach it."
That Light has been with me ever since. It is ecstatic. It's always there, pouring from my heart. Anytime I wish, I can temporarily fill my body with that light and experience the sun body, a state of religious ecstasy. Then I let the light go again, and Freya's Light radiates out to the world through me.
That’s the end of the story in my memoir; it ends with becoming healthy and whole and a vehicle for the light of my Goddess. But as with all stories that don’t end with death, life went on after the happily-ever-after. I've lived 16 more years since then, and I'll continue to share the story of my journey here in Gnosis Diary.
Freya is the Light in my heart.
During this month of Light returning (Imbolc) and love igniting (Valentine's celebrations) I collaborated with a man who worships and praises the Divine Feminine expression of the one Source.The re-emergence of the Goddess has challenged everybody to question the patriarchal realm that has been dominating us for too long. With the rise of the Goddess comes a new relationship with the Divine, as well as Father God that we connect to in the Heavenly realms we have begun to become reacquainted with the Mother Goddess of the Earthly world that we are in.Although it has seemed as though it is women who predominantly worship and honour the Goddess, she is not a 'God' for women. Just as the patriarchy harms both women and men, the Goddess is an expression of Source that feeds both women and men.Once I began to know the Feminine aspects of the Creator, She became such a significant part of my life that I couldn't imagine having a long term relationship with a man that couldn't honour that side of Source. I also couldn't imagine raising children who didn't know Her face and presence. I didn't believe that I could be led to a strong, masculine man who would honour Goddess, nor one that would join me in raising Goddess conscious children. The man I was dating when I began my Priestess path would vehemently argue "why does it have to be so much about She and Her? God isn't a woman you know." I would counter, "I know, God also isn't a man, so why not use Her for a few hundred years since we've all gotten to know the Him side so well?" I could feel him bristle, he felt threatened and upset and there was nothing I could do. Shortly thereafter we parted ways.My employer at the time was only too happy to set me up on a blind date with a wealthy, successful man who was ready to settle down and have children. I was happy to go on a date, my last relationship had gotten quite tedious, and I was looking to have children in the nearish future. When I met up with this man I didn't feel the spark, but I decided to explore it. He showed interest in my spirituality, the Goddess Gatherings I attended and the Priestess training I was doing. A part of me felt vulnerable about revealing my sacred inner world to a person I had just met, but his enthusiasm made me ignore my reservations. After we parted ways I pondered how I would politely decline a future date, as I knew he wasn't for me. I also pondered how I would let my employer know that her blind date hadn't created a future marriage. I arrived at work and my boss pulled me aside."Candise, Peter (let's call him Peter) said that you seemed more into the Goddess than you were into having a family."I'm going to pause here a moment to share that I wish I could have put a halt to this insulting conversation then and there, but I was shocked, humiliated and dumbfounded.In a condescending voice my employer went on to suggest that I ease people into my lifestyle and not mention it on a first date. That night on the bus ride home I cried, devastated that I had shared about my sacred journey with this man. I felt humiliated to be discussed as though I were a piece of property and then shamed for who I am. I was desolate, certain that that I would never find a man who would honour my path, let alone join me on it.Fast forward two months later and I was flying to New York, a whirlwind of a city where I met and instantly fell in love with my husband. As we sat at a busy diner the night we met he asked me similar questions to the blind date guy, except this time I felt at home and safe. I felt as though all of my life was being coated in pink gossamer. I just fell into a conversation about who and what I was, and he was enraptured. He compared me to his psychic mother and genuinely admired my work. Months later as we dated and then moved in together he would play guitar and lead "We all come from the Goddess..." in circles that I led. He would drop me off at Priestess circles and Goddess Gatherings and join me for events where men were welcomed.
Imagine... What if Mother Goose was the ancient European Mother Goddess in disguise, hidden from the patriarchal, monotheistic church that took over Europe, appearing in print just as the Inquisition and Witch-hunts drove anything non-Christian underground? What if the Mother Goose “nursery rhymes” taught to children over the last few centuries were a way to pass on an encoded pre-Christian worldview? Are fairy tales the carriers of the Pagan values of ancestors who had to disguise them as “peasant imbecilities” to keep them in cultural memory in a stratified society, of which the hierarchical authorities wanted to eradicate their egalitarian, animistic, and earthy worldview?
These questions are explored in Jeri Studebaker’s new book, “Breaking the Mother Goose Code: How a Fairy-Tale Character Fooled the World for 300 Years” published by Moon Books. I was excited to read the advance copy I asked for, since folklore and fairy tales have always fascinated me, and I really love reading about history - especially Pagan history. I know I’m not alone in these interests, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the book after reading it.
I want you to know how much you mean to me. How much my life has changed and become fuller simply in the knowing of you. There are so many ways in which you have shown me your love and understanding and for these I am eternally grateful. And, as I sit here writing this to you, my beloved, memory of you floods through my being....