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An Unexpected Messenger

When this beauty first came through, she came fast and furious and when I asked her name she said Erzuli.  I was quite taken aback as I knew this name and it comes from the Vodoun* tradition.  At first I rejected that this was who she was as Vodou is not my spiritual tradition and I didn’t want to go anywhere near the realm of cultural appropriation.  I thought I had to have misunderstood.

She has repeatedly insisted, however, that she is Erzuli and her message is indeed for me.  She also reminded me that Gaia has many daughters and many traditions depending on the land we call home.  However, the essence of her messages are the same even if the visage and spiritual tradition of the messenger changes.  I also had a conversation with a good friend of mine who is a Vodoun Manbo (Priestess).  She told me that learning from a Lwa/Loa (a Spirit or Goddess) and embracing their wisdom is not the same as taking on as our own the spiritual tradition from which they come.

So she is Erzuli, a Vodoun Lwa – a type of Spirit or Goddess – with many different faces each with slightly different characteristics.  Overall, however, she is the Lwa of Women (as a fierce protector), Passion and Beauty (especially luxury and sumptuousness) and reigns over Elemental Forces, specifically water.  She is also the only Lwa who has the ability to both conceptualize and dream along with the ability of artistic expression, especially dance.  Because she appears to be so uniquely human, there is the belief that she bridges the gap between humans and the gods and is seen as an oracle, a seer, a mystic bringer of messages.  She is both dark and light and also aligns with both Kali and Nuit.

With every painting, there are always things we learn.  Artistically, painting this canvas stretched me.  It was a small, 9×12, canvas with crackle paste.  Painting a face in a small space and with the texture was a challenge and, yet, she came through quickly and was a lot of fun to bring forward.

However, as for her messages I am at a loss.  Beyond knowing her name and the attributes above, she has told me nothing specific of the why of why she has come to me.

So, I lean in, I listen, I allow.

I accept her as she has come, honoring the rich lineage from which she births while staying very clear around the ideas of cultural appropriation.  She does not come from my lineage, but she has come with a message for me and I honor that Spirit takes many forms and comes to us in the way(s) we need at any given time.

I must admit I am in LOVE with her and find myself just sitting and staring at her.  I feel that Erzuli has much to say and I look forward to having many conversations with her.

Already she has taught me not to question who comes through the portal.

 

_____________________________
Erzulie, Art and Words by Arlene Bailey, ©2019

*The religion of Vodoun/Voudon/Vodou/Vaudou is not the same as Voodoo (a Hollywood construction) nor is it Hoodoo (Southern Folk Magic and not a religion).

 

 

 

Mother Christmas, a Female Santa and Antlered Female Reindeer

There are many myths around the holy days of this time of year, but recently new discoveries of ancient stories have come to light.  According to Judith Shaw (see link below), many of the elements associated with Christmas have their origins in our Goddess worshipping past:  evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe, the wreath, lighting candles, and yes even our favorite Santa Claus and his* reindeer who both have their origins in Northern European Sun Goddesses.  (*or was it her?)

As the world has become smaller and more information has filtered out into wider circles about the Sami and other reindeer-herding peoples of Siberia and the Nordic lands, their mythology around this time of year and flying reindeer has also brought new ideas.

Did you know…

That only the female reindeer retain their antlers past the mating season which ends in early December?  Science proves Santa’s reindeer could not have been male.

or…

That the myth of flying reindeer comes from the fact that a favorite food of reindeer is the Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), a hallucinogenic also favored by the Shamans who worked closely with the deer?

or…

That deer were the spirit animals of the Shamans… a spirit you can journey with in your vision quest and… these shamans also have a tradition of dressing up like the [mushroom] … they dress up in red suits with white spots.  (Carl Ruck – see reference #4 below) and… in these early cultures shamans were mostly women

or…

That in these early cultures, shamans were most likely women?  (

As an anthropologist I am always interested in cultures and their beliefs and how that translates into their mythology, traditions and material culture.  As a goddess-affirming woman, I am especially intrigued and thrilled when older, more ancient myths come forward to show us that the ways of earlier peoples were very different than those brought forward by the modern patriarchal mindset.

As opposed to today’s mythology that has been altered and carefully re-constructed to fit a particular cultural mindset, earlier mythologies were born out of the observance of the patterns and cycles of nature and how the lives of humans were intricately and intimately interwoven with both.

If you want to know more about these ideas and earlier versions of our favorite winter holiday stories, visit the links below.  Perhaps you’ll find new ways of celebrating this very special season.

Seasonal Blessings!

 

Article – Arlene Bailey, ©2018

Art – Saule, Sun Goddess by Judith Shaw

Links to Seasonal Stories:

https://feminismandreligion.com/2016/12/18/the-reindeer-goddess-by-judith-shaw/

https://gathervictoria.com/2014/12/04/doe-a-deer-a-female-deer-the-spirit-of-mother-christmas/

https://www.livescience.com/32149-are-santas-reindeer-males.html

https://www.livescience.com/42077-8-ways-mushrooms-explain-santa.html

References in addition to links above:
The Woman in the Shaman’s body, Barbara Tedlock, Ph.D. (2005)

Max Dashu,  Suppressed History Archives – https://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/womanshaman.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing with the Dark Goddess

Oh my, yes… This Scorpio New Moon is indeed a powerful one that will take us to our depths… willingly or unwillingly… it does not matter, for Scorpio is Hecate – the Dark Goddess of this season – and she has come to take us deeper as she has much to teach us about the inner mysteries.  She is Inanna and Ishtar, Isis and Persephone.  This journey is Never easy, but always profound and deeply transformative.

My midheaven (our life path) is in Scorpio and in Shamanic Astrology, for me, this translates to the idea that I am the sorceress witch who takes you to the deepest, most mystical places in order to effect deep, regenerative transformation. Never, never easy, but I have learned to go for the teachings are food for my soul.  I go because this is my life path and the wisdom gained is profound.  I go for what I learn is my medicine and my work in the world.

Does the Dark Goddess call to you during this season of turning inward and going downward?

Is She Who Stirs the Cauldron beckoning you come and release so that you may become an empty chalice, a vessel to be refilled by the things that truly fill your soul?

There’s no sense in resisting if you are called for you will go one way or the other.

This New Moon in watery Scorpio portends a deeply spiritual and shamanic journey, so best to settle in, buckle up and hang on for life-changing AND life-affirming transitions and transformations.  Best to find that place that allows you to sink in, breathing deeply and opening to all the possibilities held in the Universe just for you.  First, though, you must identify and let go of all the trappings of the material world that hold you back.

You must Release

Release…

Release.

Shed those outworn skins just as the serpent does… transform… becoming Lilith who gives up all she is told she is supposed to be to step fully and completely into her authentic power.

Be as Inanna who, at each of the seven gates, gives up something precious to her as she searches for deeper meaning and a more authentic existence.

Embody Isis who searches the universe for her beloved, re-uniting each part of Osiris until he is whole.  Find those lost parts of yourself, re-uniting them and integrating them  into the amazing and cohesive whole that is your own beloved authentic self.

Become Persephone who – rather than being raped and dragged down to the Underworld by Pluto in the old patriarchal myth – revisions her role to go willingly into the deep and dark to learn the inner mysteries of life… death… re-birth from her Grandmother, the Dark Goddess, Hecate.  She revisions her life to follow her own authentic path.

Are you sensing a theme here?  Authenticity.  It is the elixir of woman’s innate beauty and power.  It is the manna that sustains us when patriarchy would have us be other than our deepest soul knowing.

Go willingly into the depths and there you will find your own personal alchemy.  Go willingly into the arms of this Dark Mother and she will strip away the dross to reveal your shining gold.

I leave you with a writing that came a few years back during an especially difficult Scorpio New Moon.  I have come to love these words and the idea they paint.  May they bring magic as you open to the greatest mystery of all…You.

Dancing with the Dark Goddess,
Arlene Bailey ©2014

Not all are called to dance with the Dark Goddess.  Not all are called to walk the edge between the worlds.  For those who are, who dare to risk, magic awaits.  Not easy wave-your-pretty-wand magic, but magic that is deep and rough, pulling and tugging at your very existence, plunging you into the deep, dark murky waters of all feelings from all times, until finally demanding you be willing to stand in the fires of transformation, insisting you be willing to be the dark matter that is alchemically transmuted into gold.

Not everyone will understand or feel comfortable around you.  They are not meant to.  The Dance of the Dark Goddess is for those who are willing to die and die and die again, knowing that with each death a new dance is being born, a new being is being formed, for it is in darkness that creation begins.

Not all are called to dance with the Dark Goddess but for those who are, those who have been given eyes to see in the dark and wings to fly, those that understand alchemy is born of fire, a day will come when travelling between the worlds of dark and light will be a profoundly juicy journey of depth-diving into the shadowy recesses in order to purify, mature, and perfect that which is the deepest of all mysteries… the soul of a woman.

Blessed Scorpio New Moon Alchemy, Sisters.

 

______________________
~All writing property of Arlene Bailey and The Sacred Wild, ©2018

~Art – Astarte* by Susan Seddon Boulet

*Astarte was a Semitic goddess and a counterpart of the Akkadian goddess, Ishtar, and the Sumerian goddess, Inanna.

 

 

Eyes to See, Wings to Fly: The Season of Scorpio

I never enter November or the Season of Scorpio without thinking of Owl.  I remember one Scorpio Season that was simultaneously profound and traumatic and would turn out to be the key to me understanding the necessity of surrendering to this yearly time of deep transformation.  It was a rainy evening and I was driving home.  Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, all I could see were wings and then the sound of something hitting the left front of my car.  I was actually at my exit so I took it but, instead of turning toward home, I turned around so I could go back to see what I’d hit.  I thought it was a hawk (not thinking that it was dark) and it wasn’t until I got home (yes, I put it in my trunk) that I realized it was an owl.  I was devastated.

Over the coming days and weeks, conversations with trusted friends and many hours of silence tuned into this beautiful creature and the why of our meeting, I began to understand more of why Owl had come to me.  I had been deep in the Lower World and deep in transformation and the mystery teachings for months.  While not really comfortable, this world… the Dark… was somehow – in a weird sort of way – becoming exactly that… comfortable… and while it was time for me to return to the world of my normal existence, I had no way to get there.  Though I’d learned much, I did not yet have the knowing of how to integrate the mystery teachings and bring them to the surface.

Enter Owl…

After sitting with this magnificent creature for days, I knew I had to make a decision around her body.  Yes, it was a she.  Again, after more conversations with those more knowledgeable than me and sitting with her and listening, I knew she wanted to be returned to the Mother but not before gifting me with her wings and talons.  I was hesitant at first… Ohhhh, so very hesitant so again I sat for days and listened, feeling into this idea.

Finally, I realized to refuse her gifts was to dishonor her.  She’d given her life to bring me wisdom and the opportunity to stretch my own wings with regard to how I connected to her.  With the help of one trained in sacred ceremony and indigenous ways, I accepted her offering.  Saying goodbye was the hardest part, really, but I finally placed her in the arms of the Great Mother to rest in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of NC where she would once again fly.

It took me many months to know her name and the full reason for her coming to me… many months to understand the why of the events of that dark, rainy Scorpio night in November.  Finally it hit me!  Owl had come to give me the eyes to see in the dark and the wings to fly up to the light.  She was my way out of the Dark and back into the Light.  The name she told me?  Her name was Hope and she was a Great Horned Owl.

Then… A few weeks after my encounter with Hope, I was driving through the winding and hilly backroads of the Uwharrie National Forest near my home when I came upon something in the road.  It was very early in the morning and there – seemingly unharmed and directly in my path – was an owl.  Another owl!!!  This was a juvenile Barred Owl with no marks at all on it, though sadly its neck was broken and it’s eyes closed.  So I did what any ?sane? person like me would do… I put her in my trunk.

Sitting again with the magnificence of this beautiful creature she eventually told me she too was sent.  Her name?  Athena.

 

Four years ago, on November 6, 2014 I first met Hope.  A few weeks later, Athena.  There has never been a day since that these two have not traveled with me giving me Eyes to see and Wings to fly and Wisdom for the journey.  Whenever I am called to the Dark… the Underworld and place of deep Mystery and Transformation… Hope and Athena travel with me.

Hope and Athena.

Potential and Wisdom.

The Season of Scorpio.

Credits:

~Owl with Moon – Art by GaudiBuendia on deviantART

~All Photographs by Arlene Bailey ©2014

Boudicca Rising

Though many will not like this image nor Like the post, I still feel called to share for both speak a powerful truth that most of us want to ignore and pretend is not happening.  For days I’ve been sick – literally – from the collective energy surrounding the current attack on women.  Sure, I could call it the current political climate, but in truth it is the ultimate assault on women and women’s rights.  We. Do. Not. Matter.  Not just in the grand scheme of things, but – to these men – we do not matter at all.  We are merely an impediment meant to be stomped on, an irritant to shackle and control, if not completely eradicate.

AND…

Women ARE Rising.  I know this.  I see this.  Sadly, though, as long as these privileged white men have the power they have and the monetary support that holds them in place, our battle is far from over.  In fact, it is becoming larger and larger  As women we HAVE come a long way in changing things, but if we think our fight is over or less, then we are not paying attention.  It’s about to get a whole lot worse.

AND…

As I’ve read in many places from other writers, Patriarchy has just awakened the Sleeping Dragon… Kali… Lilith… the Morrigan… Sekhmet… Pele… the Amazon.  By their callous disregard of women and women’s lives and safety, they have called forth Boudicca, the Iceni Queen who raged against the Romans for killing her husband and raping her daughters.  Just. Because. They. Could.  Sound familiar?

AND…

Now, each of us is reaching our tipping point.

For me, it was a few days ago and, as often happens with a tipping point, it began with an irritating, but insignificant (in the grand scheme of things), event.  Through it all, what, or rather who, kept coming to mind was Boudicca.  I kept thinking what she’d do.  Not just about this stupid event that was my tipping point, but about all the insidiousness happening to women at the moment.  The only words that made any sense in my cluttered mind – the only ones clear – were Boudicca Rises.  Then more words began to come and I knew that phrase was bigger than a mere passing thought.

Like a raith raised from a haunted rest, Boudicca would not go away… her sword cutting through all the thoughts, all the feelings, all the bullshit until she had my attention, my tears, my rage, my full bodied attention.  Every hair on my arms, my hair… raised like antennas sensing, feeling.  Words pulsing through my brain like an emotional hurricane until I knew what was coming.  Knew what was birthing.  She.  SHE.  Boudicca.  The raging Queen of the Iceni was rising through me and she would have her say… have her wrath expressed… on the page… on the canvas.

But first the tears had to flow and words had to flow outward into the void…

I write with a broken heart, though I do not know why.  I have good things in my life, good people.  Some of both really good.  Then why do I feel this rage building and my heart cracking wide open?  Why do I feel lower than the lowest worm?  Why do I not matter?  Why am I scorned and spit at and revolting to so many?

 It is because I, a woman, exist.  Not that I exist here or there, but that I simply exist. 

Why did I choose to come to this time, this fucking time, as a woman.  Have I not been ridiculed enough in previous life times?  Have I not been murdered and tortured, burned and buried alive before?  Why risk that again? 

 There is a primal scream in me this time.  A primal rising that says NO MORE! 

 All I hear in my soul is BOUDICCA RISES!

And so SHE comes.  Sword in hand with a death scream that rents the very fabric of the cosmos.  Patriarchy came for my daughters once… had its way with them and then tossed them aside… killed my beloved and took my crown.  Well, not this time.  Not as long as my hands hold a sword and my voice speaks.  Not as long as women continue to wake up – really pay attention – and use their voices.

Make no mistake, we are at war – not just for the soul of women, but for the soul of Lady Liberty and America and, indeed for every woman on this planet including Mother Earth herself.  We are at war and it is going to take commitment from every woman, every girl, every man who stands with us.

Each individual who will commit to the idea of NOT ON MY WATCH…

Each woman who will stand and shout…

I AM WOMAN.

I WILL BE SEEN.

I WILL BE HEARD.

Each woman who listens as

Boudicca rises within

and The Morrigan screeches.

As Kali wails and

Pele spews forth her fire.

Each woman who listens as

her own tears fall

raising the raith within.

Each woman who allows

the primal scream,

adding her own experience,

her own unique voice.

Each woman who listens.

Each woman who sees,

Each woman willing to act.

Listen Sister.

Listen.

 

 

 

Boudicca Rises by Arlene Bailey, © 2018

Art by Bruce MacKinnon, Editorial Cartoonist

When the Old Antlered One Calls

About 5-6 years ago, the name Elen began coming to me in my dreams.  I had no idea who Elen was nor that there were legends of antlered women and female deer that ran through my lineage.  I knew nothing of this entity nor her mythology but I was very intrigued and felt I’d found a part of me.  I was aware of the Artist, Jude Lally, and had long admired her work with the  needle felted dolls she created, knew also she worked in the realm of women and mythology and Celtic and pre-Celtic lineage, so I contacted her. I told her of my dreams and asked if she knew much about an ancient deer goddess – specifically Elen of the Ways.

chescapotterladyoftheways

Chesca Potter, Artist

After many talks with Jude, I learned about the Old Antlered One/The Ancient Deer Goddess/Elen of the Ways.  After more talks and research I asked if I could commission a doll.  I really felt I needed a tangible representation of this entity who was very insistent about connecting with me and becoming part of my life.  Jude was aware and together we created my vision of who had been coming to me.  That vision was pretty limited as I only knew she had antlers, carried a drum  and wore a purple cloak.  Oh and she had silver hair with a few red streaks left – just like my red hair that was becoming silver.

Elen Altar

My Altar to Elen and the Old Antlered One

I have walked with this ancient one and her more modern naming in close harmony for these past years continually learning and expanding my knowing of exactly who she she was and who she is today.  Most importantly, perhaps, is the why of why she came to me and why she is coming to so many women in this particular time.  To know I am a daughter of the ancient antlered one… a sister of the female deer of ancient memory… is one of the most profound discovery of my now 65 years.

SuziEdwardsGooseSuzi Edwards Goose, Artist

Sooo…  I’d thought I’d share a few resources for my sisters interested in the mythology of female deer and women.

The work of Jude Lally

FB – Sisterhood of the Antlers

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1634210959937363/?ref=br_rs

Website – https://www.pathoftheancestralmothers.com/

Other FB groups

Elen of the Ways
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElenoftheWays/

Finding Elen – The Quest for Elen of the Ways
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1499206050378902/

Books and Articles

Following the Reindeer Goddess, Linda Schierse Leonard (older version called Creation’s Heartbeat)

Finding Elen, The Quest for Elen of the Ways – Caroline Wise

Elen of the Ways, Elen Sentier

Following the Deer Trods, Elen Sentier

Two articles by Judith Shaw,

Elen of the Ways by Judith Shaw

The Reindeer Goddess by Judith Shaw

Cehr-SuziEdwards-GooseSuzi Edwards Goose, Artist

a99257b2a96f811162af00631f0407e9Jude Lally, Artist

If you feel the call, I welcome you to the circle of antlered sisters.  As you feel her call… feel the creativity stirring within… the Old Antlered One awaits.

Final 9-13-wmAutumn Deer Goddess by Arlene Bailey, Artist

Blessed Be!

Per Google Image Search, Feature photo at top from Omnia’s video, I Don’t Speak Human.

Storm Crone Musings

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Florence… about Mother Nature and her power.  Many, including me, have said she is angry and this hurricane is her expression of that anger.  Then I began to think of how a mother is with her children.  She would never intentionally want to hurt them and violent weather hurts not only humans, but animals and indeed all of nature in the path of storms.  All are her children… So why?

I look out my window at the wind and rain… all the leaves and branches on the ground… no sight of birds – not even the hummers at the feeder.  I wonder if Mother Nature… Pachamama… Mama Gaia… is angry or is she simply reminding us that she is here, that she was here before humans and animals and will be after we are all long gone.  Are storms simply a reminder of her wildness, her power?  Are they a means of clearing away that which is no longer needed?

Our current cultural mindset – a product of patriarchy – centers around the idea that human life is the pinnacle of all life and anything that adversely affects human life is bad.  It would have us believe that Mother Nature is violent, destructive, unpredictable, a bringer of senseless death and something to be managed, controlled and even altered if that suits human pursuits.  When humans bring violence and destruction and death to Nature, it is considered necessary – a right even – so that humans can have food, access resources from the body of the Mother, control and alter her so she is not in the way of human expansion or… from the most patriarchal of patriarchal ideas… our manifest destiny.  However, when Nature brings violence and death to humans, it is considered an atrocity, evil even.  Wow… What an egocentric, human-centric, anthropomorphic view!

We are now living in a world where fewer and fewer people (especially children) consciously engage with Nature on a daily basis.  Fewer and fewer go outside, much less venture into forests, onto lakes, into the mountains, etc. to connect with the peace and beauty of our Mother… to listen to her wisdom, receive her healing, embrace her love or hear her cries of pain as her heart breaks wide open over what was, what is and what will be if things do not change.  Fewer and fewer humans engage in sacred relationship with all that supports us.

What if storms are Mother Nature’s only way of getting our attention to say I have a right to exist too?

What if storms are her way of saying… Remember me?  I provided food and shelter and a spiritual connection for you in the infancy of this planet and human kind… the time when you honored me and saw your life mirrored in my life and my cycles mirrored in yours… the time when you saw me as divine as you saw the women of your kind… Remember?

What if storms are her way of shouting about the abuse forced upon her day after day after day, until she screams enough is enough?

What if she is reminding us of her innate wildness and power as if to say woman remember yours?

[Sigh]

If only there were clear cut answers to these questions.  In some ways, I believe there are hints of knowings, but it takes a mind willing to step away from everything we’ve been taught about the value of a human life vs. the value of any/all life out in Nature.  It takes a cultural mindset of living in balance with all that is and that would take a radical cultural reset.  Truly, if only…

For now, these are simply the musings of a woman walking her path searching for grace and understanding… wondering, as she always looks for the deeper meaning in things… wondering, as her heart too breaks wide open at the disconnect that exists between mother and child.

For now, I bow to Mother Nature, Mama Gaia, Pachamama, Papatūānuku, Máttaráhkká – in all her forms and namings – and her wildness, her power, her beauty, her spirit that imbues ours and the bond that does and can still exist.

As a woman deeply connected to women’s ancient ways and knowings, these musings turn me to the energetic workings women have done for ages.

As a Crone deeply connected to the land and the Mother… to Goddess…  I turn to visioning,  bow to her ancient ways, her ancient land and offer her my blessing.

And So It Is.

~Arlene Bailey, © 2018

 

Artist Unknown (Google Image Search revealed no definitive artist)