Mother Holda  

Posted by Stella Clark

Mother Holda Image
In Germanic, pre-Christian folklore, Hulda, Holle, Holda, and Frau Holle were all names used to denote a single Goddess. Holda was both a light and a dark goddess....which is reflected by Her changing appearance. At time She appears as a beautiful young woman, clothed in a shining white dress while on other occasions, She is seen as a hunchbacked, old crone with long, tangled gray hair and glowing red eyes. The young Holda is invoked to increase fertility and bring prosperity into the home, but when She feels slighted, She becomes the Crone whose gifts are misfortune, illness, and death. It is in this form that She brings the snow and the fog. As the Crone, we find Her riding the winter skies in Her wagon and shaking out Her featherbeds to make the snow fall.

Holda was the protectress and guardian of the woodland animals. She has many totem animals which include wolves, hounds, pigs, horses, and birds of prey with the wolf being one of Her most sacred of beasts. December is Her month, and in Germany, December was well-known as the 'Month of the Wolf' or the 'Wolf Moon' in honor of Her.

She is your typical dark goddess of death, the underworld, and winter. She was the patronness of women who were spinners and weavers, and She punished those who failed at this craft or produced sloppy work. Women would pray to Her for help when spinning. She was a symbol of hard work and and virtue. She promotes the independence of housewives which is probably why She is much maligned today. Her sacred season is between Yule and New Years, and during the 12 days of Yule all spinning ceased in Her honor, and bad luck struck anyone who defied this custom.

You honor Holda anytime you give of yourself in your housework or cooking. Any work around the house can be done in honor of Holda. Take a day between Yule and New Year's to ready your home and prepare for your New Year's Eve celebration. Burn red candles with spicy scents throughout the home. Honor Her on New Year's Day with rest and relaxation.

You know, I have been thinking a lot about Holda, and I wondered as I wrote this if this is where one of my family's traditions came from. After all, my maternal grandad was German. My mother, grandmother, and now myself all believe that if your house isn't clean on New Year's Day and your laundry has not been done, you will be working hard throughout the year...forever cleaning house and doing laundry. So, everything is always completed in my home before the clock strikes midnight.

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Discovering The Maiden Goddess  

Posted by Stella Clark

Discovering The Maiden Goddess Cover
Shekhinah Mountainwater is a long-time Muse and lover of the Goddess. She offers teachings, rituals, music, writings, runes, tarot, workshops and more to the woman-spirit community. For a catalogue send $1 to Shekhinah Mountainwater, PO Box 2991, Santa Cruz, CA 95063. She is currently working on two books, one of Tarot and one on theololgy, both of which will contain images and discussions of the maiden Goddesses....

A group of sisters in Oregon put on a Goddess gathering one summer, featuring the topic "Is there a fourth aspect to the Goddess?". Hearing about this got me thinking that the answer might be yes, the Dark Maiden.

I first learned about this Goddess from a lover, who used to call me her "dark maiden," and point out the waning crescent in the late night sky.She would explain that there are two crescents and two maidens. The Bright Maiden corresponds to the waxing crescent, curving towards the right. The Dark Maiden corresponds to the waning crescent, curving towards the left.Over the years, I have discovered the beauty of this symbol system and its potential to give healing and enpowerment to women.

We all know about the great triad : Maiden, Mother and Crone. This three fold archetype resonates deeply in our psyches as Begining, Middle and End of all things, and is likely to be with us always. Yet a fourth aspect might appear within the triad -- as well as a fifth or sixth. "When the myths come alive for us they change," says Starhawk. Truly, there are no limits to the Goddess, and all things are possible.

But why the special attention to the Bright and Dark Maidens? For one thing, they make a marvelous all-female alternative to the male-opposite- female symbolism of patriarchy. The Bright Maiden who waxes, moves towards the Light and the Sun. She is the young Goddess who is growing, the Amazon, the woman who takes her powers of freedom, action, strength and independence. She is the risk-taker, the woman who dares. in other words, she is all things our society tells us should be considered "male." Because of our loss of Her image in our psyches, women find themselves accused of becoming "like a man," when they express Her qualities. Known to us as Diana, Artemis, Boudicea, the Amazon Warrior Woman... the Bright Maiden is more familiar to us than the Dark.

The Dark Maiden who wanes, moves towards the Underworld, The Crone. She is associated with aging, descent, introspection and magic. The Dark Maiden is teh enchantress, She Who Pulls. In her positive attributes, She represents some of the lost powers of woman. She surrenders to the flow and pulls, like the pull of the moon, the suction of the undertow. This is the magnetism of magic, our power to draw to us all that we require. Images of the Dark Maiden appear to us as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, the Mermaid, Sirens, Sorceress.

In patriarchy the Bright and Dark Maidens tend to appear in negative expression, and because of this, our impression of them can become destorted. Patriarchs love to keep our Dark Maidens weak and dependent upon them, and if we decide to act out of our Bright Maiden selves, they insist we do so "like a man." These are some of the reasons why it is so important for us to find woman-identified symbols for these parts of ourselves; Goddesses that are soft and strong, magickal and free -- female expressions of these qualities.

DARK MAIDEN:AFFLICTED LIBERATED

WeakSurrendering
FlakySpontaneous
PassivePulling
Victim Supporting
Self-SacrificingCompassionate
"Loser"Gentle
Myopic Subjective
Over-reactingIntuitive
DeludedImaginative

BRIGHT MAIDEN :AFFLICTED LIBERATED

Hard BoiledStrong
SuperficialIn control
Hyper-rationalOrganized
MilitantDisciplined
AloofIndependent
UnemotionalObjective
MechanicalScientific
Power-overPower-from-within
CarelessPlayful

The main thing to remember about the Dark Maiden is that She has the power to Respond. She is the receptive and sensative part of us, which we need for successful magic as well as personal wholeness. She is tender and vulnerable, and it is important to keep our Bright Maiden qualities so we can protect Her. Too many women with Dark Maiden qualities become victims in our society, subject to the will of others. And too many Bright Maidens become cold and hard. Feminist spirituality teaches us that we have been programmed to act out these qualities in ways that men have devised. Liberation lies not in discarding them, but in learning to reclaim them in their older, female expressions.

Inevitably, this process will lead us back to the Three-fold and Five-fold expressions of the Goddess, because they offer flow and continium.They teach us that any one quality when isolated at the expense of the others becomes destructive and limiting. WHile the Bright and Dark Maidens do pair off and become partners, companions and lovers...they can be seen within the larger contexts of Maiden, Mother and Crone, or Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Spirit. Sometimes I picture the two Maidens as Warrior and Priestess within a cycle that includes Mother, Grandmother, and Lover.Sometimes I see them as the Fall and Spring Equinoxes, known to the ancient Greeks as the Anados (Goddess arising) and Kathados (Goddess Descending).Thus we can integrate the duality of our Bright and Dark Maidens into the three-fold, five-fold and eight-fold (the eight holy days of the year) cycles of Life and Being.

This article is but a glimpse into the possibilities. I invite you to search within yourself, in myths and amoung symbols that you know, for signs of the Bright and Dark Maidens.

by Shekhinah Mountainwater



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Goddess Mokosh  

Posted by Stella Clark

Goddess Mokosh Image
"MOKOSH IS THE WATER AND EARTH GODDESS OF THE UKRAINE. SHE IS WORSHIPPED IN THE SLAVIC COUNTRIES AS THE GODDESS OF RAIN AND FERTILE SOIL. ACCORDING TO FOLK BELIEF SHE SHEARS SHEEP AND SPINS THREAD. HER NAME IS DERIVED FROM THE WORD COMBINATION "MATY KOTA" WHICH MEANS "MOTHER OF THE CAT," THAT IS, MOTHER OF GOOD FORTUNE. SHE IS THE PROTECTOR OF WOMEN AS WELL AS OCCULT KNOWLEDGE AND DIVINATION. BECAUSE IT IS SHE WHO SUPPLIES THE MEANS FOR SURVIVAL, SHE IS ALSO ASSOCIATED WITH LIFE AND DEATH MATTERS.

SHE WANDERS AS A MASKED WOMAN AND VISITS HOUSES PERFORMING DOMESTIC DUTIES. AT NIGHT, A PIECE OF HAIR WAS LEFT AS AN OFFERING TO HER. SHE IS USUALLY DEPICTED WITH RAISED HANDS AND FLANKED BY HORSES, STAGS, AND BIRDS. FROM HER BODY GROWS THE "TREE OF LIFE". MOST IMPORTANTLY, SHE BEARS THE ABSTRACT SYMBOL OF THE SUN DISK ON HER FOREHEAD. DURING SPRING FESTIVALS, GIRLS HUNG RITUAL TOWELS ON THE BRANCHES OF BIRCH TREES TO INVOKE THE FERTILITY OF NATURE.

"MOKOSH "IS RELATED TO "HECATE "AND "APHRODITE" IN CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY HER SACRED DAY IS FRIDAY; HER FEAST DAY FALLS BETWEEN OCTOBER 25TH AND NOVEMBER 1ST. AT THIS TIME, SHE IS OFFERED VEGETABLES, A FOCAL POINT OF THE FEAST DAY. HER POPULARITY CONTINUED EVEN AFTER CHRISTIANITY BECAME THE STATE RELIGION, AND ALTHOUGH NO NEW SANCTUARIES HAVE BEEN DEDICATED TO HER SINCE THAT TIME, SHE IS STILL VENERATED BY RUSSIAN WOMEN TO THE PRESENT DAY.

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