Exploring the mother goddess in prehistory

This week I was researching the mother goddess in the context of prehistory. That meant exploring the art and archaeology of the neolithic, mesolithic, and paleolithic eras. Primary of my focus was looking for goddesses of creation, seas, chaos, before tiamat, but subsequently discovered that when tackling the correspondences in myth, some scholars have drawn lines of association, corresponding the lineage of tiamat (assyro-babylonian) to the lineage of nammu (sumerian). In the lineage myth, Nammu is named grandmother of Inanna, who was honored as the great goddess among the Ubaidian (5000 bce), and Hassuna civilizations (6000 bce), two of the cultures who preceded the Sumerians. Additionally statuettes featuring imagery of goddesses and serpents. So the serpentine attributes were part of the goddess’ identity long before Sumer and Babylon. Not surprising when we take into consideration the serpentine attributes of the goddesses of Egypt as well.

Yet according to the archaeological record, for 6500 years imagery of divinity were found in pairs, from 12,500-6,000 bce, in the former of a mother goddess and bearded god riding a bull or possessing anthropomorphic features such as the bull’s horns. This elicits in my mind, perhaps the early development of mother goddess and horned god. So where did this horned god go, from 6000 bce- 4000 bce, when he emerged again in Sumer?

Jumping way back, the first finds of pictorial imagery, albeit crudely drawn, dates to 17-12,000 ya, and of anthropomorphic animals (and Venus statues) is dated to 38-29,000 ya. The oldest sites, like Oldowan, have finds that date back 2.6-1.7mya, and what was found there were rich deposits of quartzite, basalt, obsidian, limestone. And i wonder, if we could trace some form of religious or ritual experience back to this time period, if we might find divinity honored in the former of the crystalline deposits. The Arabian desert has a rich history of the personification and deification of the goddess in the form of stone, not only with the beginnings of Islam, but as a rich part of preIslamic religion, in which Al-uzza, the warrior goddess was identified with a black stone, possibly a form of basalt.

Why do I write? Searching for meaning in the dark of night

This is probably some expression of the dark night of the Soul. The Jedi would call it one’s great trial; that which tests the strength of character of the student of the mysteries. The fact that I am currently undergoing a seven week alchemical distillation of the Soul, as well as a Saturn return probably doesn’t help. But it is 3am and I am lying in bed examining why I write. Many years ago I had a history professor who said the people who perform the finest research suffer from clinical depression. It’s no coincidence that those of us who closely examine the fine details of the world at large are deeply dissatisfied with our thoughts. I’ve known some people who do not suffer from such maladies and are often out of their tiny little minds.
I can remember when I was a child I began writing to express the thoughts and feelings inside of me. It was poetry first. And then journaling. Soon I discovered I had a penchant for essay writing. In school as soon as I found subjects worthy of my interest I could research them. That meant occultism, religion, women’s studies. In grad school I became very good friends with an African studies major who loved to talk. She talked to ppl because she understood wisdom was everywhere, if you know where to look. We had many of the same interests in history, psychology and poetry. Conversations on psychohistory emerged often. We loved to think about the mindset of subjects of history. What they thought and felt. I found myself writing a few of these perspective pieces and it served multiple purposes. I wasn’t just thinking about getting in the minds of historical persons, but how they would regard the world we live in, filled with people who either worship or revile them.
There are academic projects that I write because the subject matter motivates me. I am passionate about them. Writing fills a void in my heart. There are fictional projects that I write because I am using language, syntax and grammar to tell stories of the past, stories that are reflections of the times we live in, stories that somehow touch the sparks within our hearts; sparks that draw ppl together and hurl them far apart.

There is something very human about the desire for self-expression, and long before the written word our proto-ancestors used symbols to tell the stories of their lives. As our languages evolve, we will find new ways to incorporate them into the storytelling experience. Hopefully this desire for self-expression will also survive.

Standing observance

It’s February 2016 and everywhere burns the fires of political fever. I’ve watched the Republican and Democratic debates, and parts of the internet are ablaze with both blind submission and seething hatred towards the candidates. I’ve been listening to cafe conversations and dinner-table discourse. I hear the same things I always hear. I hear fear and anger in the voices of the many and the one constant among Republicans and Democrats is that people are sick to death of establishment ideas. They want new blood and are driven towards the paths of the anti-establishment. In 2012, when Ron Paul ran as a libertarian candidate, the Republican party managed to steal a large portion of his votes and his delegates. Maybe the establishment didn’t think anyone would notice. People noticed. They were disenfranchised and disillusioned, losing faith in the process. I have a friend who refuses to vote now because of it.

Recent years have also seen a growing sentiment about the shadow aspects of the collective consciousness of society as a whole. People call for the removal of statues of founders of institutions who were slaveholders, the Confederate flag, and other contentious issues of our time far too pendulous for them to face on their own. Instead of embracing the emotions they conjure within themselves, erase these icons from the collective mind of history. In many ways it is a reminder of the rallying cry of groups like DAESH who deface and destroy the icons of their past. 

Working towards the betterment of society, rising above oppression, challenging authority figures – these are all noble causes but to deface, destroy and remove the iconography of our past by dressing it in the garments of Justice is to deny ourselves the rich opportunity of facing our own shadows.  Society is filled with the shadows of the ancestors whose graves led to the foundation of our world. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t easy or palatable in the slightest. But in order to honor the spirit of free speech and discourse, we need to re-learn how to discuss things that make us uncomfortable. 

What does free discourse have to do with the Republican and Democratic debates? Everything. It begins with asking ourselves why third-party candidates are virtually blacklisted by the media. In this season of political fever, the most important discovery we can make is how we feel about the issues and not what someone else tells us to feel, whether they are politicians, journalists, or our own friends and family.

Exploring our Stories

Just in time for the new year I published a new paper on Academia. It is entitled Exploring Our Stories: The Tuatha de Danaan. It is an exploration of the biblical origins of the Danaan, and their role within the Irish Mythological record. You can read it here: https://www.academia.edu/19873718/Exploring_Our_Stories_The_Tuatha_de_Danaan

Transgender: A response

Some members of the pagan community have issued a call to write and report personal views on what has been happening as of late. It is a time of critical mass for the polarization of views on Transgendered persons and the challenge they present to previously conceived notions of gender fluidity. And apparently, certain elders of the pagan community have been less than compassionate about showing solidarity for their Transgendered brothers and sisters.

Every one to two months one of the groups I participate in, holds a oracticum, or round table where we gather to discuss our views on a given topic. This month it was the Left Hand Path. And in this I voiced my comfort when in the presence of practitioners of the LHP, and despite the reception they often receive I pointed out that dividing against ourselves makes no sense. We are already marginalized, and we are all working towards the same goal. And that goal, presumably, is to become our most ideal self.

The LGBT movement, I have come to discover was originally a Transgendered movement, but it was far too difficult to make any headway back then. It was hard enough for those men and women who fought for gay and lesbian rights to forge the path. And somewhere along the way, the agenda for gay rights lost sight of solidarity for their bisexual and transgendered brethren. So in an ironic twist of fate, many in the LGBT movement have turned away from theit constituents the way that pagans turn a scowling eye towards people who walk the LHP. I guess they dont like how we make them look, now that they’ve achieved some level of mainstream normalcy. And in some ways, how the “cured” mutants look back upon the Xmen, feeling as if the cure is going to make all those awkward inner feelings of not belonging anywhere suddenly go away. It won’t.

There is nothing worse than knowing that you’ve been betrayed by people you have grown to feel are the only ones who understand you. Doing so should give you pause long enough for your own self examination of your wants and needs. Clearly it’s long overdue.

faery magic

Earlier this year I led and performed a ritual that tapped the deep current of the mysteries of the tuatha de danaan, utilizing symbols from a UPG, and gave them shape and form. It was a teaching that I received from an old friend many years before. It raises an interesting curiosity, here and now. For those who are otherkin, who tap into the knowledge from past lives, what kind of impact might this have on ritual consciousness? I’ve read of the benefits of working with the symbols that emerge through our dreams, because we are giving form to those concepts from our unconscious. And I imagine the results in this context wouldn’t be too far off. It seems as though it is just one approach to realizing and connecting in with ones personal power. Much like any kind of sigil work or symbol work, not only are we creating our own symbols but we are manifesting through the symbols that are part of our own unique energy/magic.

An aside: At the present I am finishing up a compare and contrast of RJ Stewart’s The Living World of Faery and Orion Foxwood’s The Faery Teachings, both of which address faery magic and lore, but both of which differ from the teachings that I received regarding the TDD almost two decades ago. However, there are some details of these teachings that I suspect are clearer to me because of prior experience, UPG, tribal memory, otherkin memory and geographical ancestral memory. It is my hope that reading and analyzing these works may shed some light on my own questions about the power of personal symbols and personal magic.

The Shadow Path

I’ve recently spoken with several people about mentors and teachers who they had revered on some level, until put in situations where the persons they admired revealed a fair bit of human nature. There were things about their actions that each of these students found very low or base for the standards they expected their mentors to possess. Did they expect their mentors and teachers to be more than human? Godlike? Did they expect them to be above the fray of the tumult of human emotions?

What exactly is the problem here? Have the students’ expectations been deflated? Why are some students more star-struck by their mentors than others? What does it take to be a good teacher/mentor? And why do we expect our mentors/teachers to be somehow more spiritually evolved than the rest of us?

Though many of us in the Pagan community seek out communities and teachers, we are each singularly our own priest and priestess. That means we are responsible for how we choose to live our lives and conduct ourselves. We are all on a journey. I think of this journey as the shadow path, because we have consciously chosen to explore and embrace the shadows that swim in the depths of our souls. We walk this path, to some extent, with our mentors and teachers. There’s a very good chance that our mentors and teachers walked the shadow path once too (and continue to walk it everyday), and are probably well aware of what their own shadows look like.

Engaging in deep shadow work involves working with them, not running from them. In my own experience, I remind myself daily that we are all human and each of us have our own darkness to embrace. Each of us has to decide how we choose to conduct ourselves, and if others cannot accept that, then they need to move on. Many students who are at odds with their mentors are either rejected or choose to leave. It doesn’t mean anyone failed. It only means that they learned that their mentors or teachers’ approaches and personalities did not suit them, or that the students’ expectations revealed something that the students need to examine within themselves.

I have asked the question, “what makes a good teacher or mentor?” Over the years, most of the people who have answered did not say a teacher should be so spiritually evolved that they cannot relate to the ebb and flow of human emotions, or someone who has their lives in order, because depending on the standards from which we judge, nobody does. They said being a good teacher is about more than teaching knowledge, but finding ways of expressing how to implement the wisdom accrued in our lives. They say its about listening and understanding, patience and compassion, and learning not to judge with the critical human eye.

Recently I told a friend of mine that I don’t believe in judging others because we are all flawed, and I would be a hypocrite to act in opposition of that viewpoint.  I find immense value in walking the shadow path with people who are aware of their flaws, because there is so much to learn from other people’s scars and vulnerabilities, as well as our own.