Thursday, April 28, 2011

Deity of the Month: Selene (Updated)

Selene (Luna in Roman) was a lunar deity. Her parents were the Titans Rhea and Hyperion. She fell in love with a mortal king named Endymion who reined in Asia Minor. She asked Zeus, her cousin, to grant Endymion to grant him eternal sleep so that he would never age, and never leave her. Endymion himself made the decision to sleep forever. Every night Selene slipped down behind Mount Latmus near Miletus to visit him. His sanctuary at Heracleia still exists as a horseshoe shaped chamber with an entrance hall and pillared forecourt.

Selene and Endymion had fifty daughters, the Menae. Selene also had a daughter with Zeus, and some sources claim she was the mother of the Nemean Lion.

In Roman mythology, she drove a chariot drawn by white oxen. In Greek, it was drawn by long-maned horses.

Eventually, she would be replaced as the primary lunar deity by Artemis (Diana in Greek).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What is Witchcraft?

Most people that are new to religions other than Christianity, Judaism and Islam have many questions and preconceptions. Most are based on Hollywood or what they were told by religious leaders. Many of these preconceptions are false, however.

Witches do practice magic, but it's not like Harry Potter, Charmed, the Wizard of Oz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Bewitched. It's a subtle movement of energy. Some claim to be able to do more obvious magic, such as turning one substance into another, but I have never seen it work in real life so I can't say for certain if it's true or not.

Witches are not Satanic, and do not practice "black" magic. They follow religious laws. The first is the Rule of Three, which is primarily a Wiccan law. This rule states that anything you do will come back to you three times greater. So, if you do a love spell to gain a lover that is already with someone else, three future partners will leave you for someone else. Another law is the Wiccan Rede, which states "an it harm none, do what ye will". To translate, it means "you can do what you like, as long as it doesn't bring harm or trouble to another person". Others believe in Karma, which is every action has a single consequence or reward. Also, in my opinion, there is no "white" or "black" magic. All magic is grey, neutral. It takes intent and outcome to make it "black" or "white".

While we're on the Satanic idea, most witches do not worship Satan. Some are Wiccan, some are members of other Pagan faiths, some are atheists, and some are even Christians. Witchcraft is a tool that can be used by anyone, regardless of their religion.

Witches, also, do not deal with demons. Some believe in them, some don't. But no witch I know will deal with a negative entity, regardless of the name given to it.

With the exception of Traditional Scottish Witchcraft, warlocks are not male witches. The word witch is actually gender-neutral. The accepted etymology (the study of the history and origin of words) of the word Warlock is the Old English word wǣrloga, which means "oath-breaker" or "deceiver". In traditions other than Scottish, the word is used to describe someone that betrayed other witches or an entire coven.

Cottage witches, kitchen witches, garden witches, green witches, hedge witches and hearth witches are examples of different kinds of witches. There are probably others I missed or have not heard of at this time.

Actual spells and rituals vary from witch to witch, depending on their personal views. The religion one might follow dictates certain rules. Sometimes even down to the tools used, and the clothing worn. The rituals can also vary, depending on if there are minors in attendance.

All in all, witches tend to be good people. They live within the boundaries of society and the law. You probably wouldn't even know one if you saw one on the street, as most keep their religion to themselves. All they want is to be allowed to live without persecution from the majority faiths.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Arachne (Updated)

Arachne was a mortal woman (in some stories a princess, others a farmer's daughter) who was a gifted weaver. Not only was the finished product considered art, but the very act of watching her was something to see.

It was said that Nymphs would abandon their fun to watch her weave. Some commented that Minerva (Athena in Greek), the Goddess of crafts, must have taught Arache herself. Arachne was offended by this comment, and announced that she was a better weaver than Athena.

Athena was irritated at Arachne's claim, but decided to give the mortal a chance at redemption. She visited Arachne disguised as a crone and warned the woman not to offend the Gods. Arachne told Athena to save her breath, and that she welcomed a contest with Athena. And she also said that if she lost, she would accept any punishment Athena thought necessary.

Athena welcomed the challenge and revealed her true form. The nymphs shrank back in fear at the sight of the Goddess, but Arachne stood her ground. She had made her claim, and there was no backing down now.

The contest began as each sat before their loom. Athena began to weave the scene of her contest with Neptune (Poseidon in Greek) for the city of Athens. A beautiful scene developed , showing Poseidon and the salt water spring and Athena with an Olive Tree. The bystanders marveled at the work of the Goddess.

Arachne created a tapestry showing scenes of Zeus' infidelity. Leda with the swan. Europa with the bull. Dana and the golden rain shower. The mortal managed to make the scenes life-like.

Athena, even though she had respect for the mortal artist, was offended by the presumptuousness of her choice of subjects. Added to the anger of being challenged, Athena stood and tore Arachne's tapestry to pieces and destroyed the loom. Then she touched Arachne's forehead, making sure the mortal felt guilt for her actions. Arachne was ashamed, but the guilt was too great for her and she committed suicide.

Athena took pity on Arachne, especially because she didn't mean to drive the mortal to suicide. She brought Arachne back from Hades, but not as a human. Instead, Athena sprinkled her with the juices of aconite and transformed the woman into a spider.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Flood of Deucalion

Deucalion was a king in Northern Greece, with Pyrrha as his wife. Deucalion was the son of Prometheus, while Pyrrha was the daughter of Pandora (the first woman). They were born in the time of the Bronze Age of Man, which was a war-like race. This race was very corrupt, and Zeus was angered by their impiety. He sent a great flood to destroy this Age of Men.

Prometheus warned his son and daughter-in-law in time to save them. The couple climbed onto a buoyant chest and sailed to the peaks of Mount Parnassos, which were still dry. Other regions also claimed survivors. King Dardanos sought refuge on Mount Ida. Kerambos was rescued by Nymphs. Megaros fled to mount Gerana. Arkas and Nyktimos were on Mount Kyllene. The tribe of Parnassos fled to high places above Delphi. Io and Epaphos also survived in Egypt.

Zeus and Poseidon caused the waters to recede nine days later. Deucalion, believing they were the only survivors, consulted the Oracle at Delphi (in some versions, it was an Oracle at Themis) about how to repopulate the earth. The Oracle told them to "cover your head and throw the bones of your mother behind your shoulder". After thinking about this, they realized it was a riddle. Both picked up stones, also called the bones of Gaea (the mother of all living things), and tossed them over their shoulders. Each stone Deucalion threw became a man, and each stone Pyrrha threw became a woman.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Pagan Children's Prayer

Now I lay me down to rest
I pray all the world be blessed.
Lady Moon and Sister Star
Watch over me from afar.
Mother Earth is always there,
And keeps me safe within her care.
The Lord of Dreams will dance and sing,
And happy dreams will to me bring.
And when I wake to greet the day,
Brother Sun will light my way.

I am unsure who wrote this, but I know it wasn't me. If you know who did write this, please leave a comment so I can give them proper credit.

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