Death, dark goddesses and urban folk religion are some of the common themes among the books reviewed this month…[Read more]
Tag Archives: hecate
Ever since reading various internet articles about Santa Muerte, Mexico’s “Skeleton Saint,” I have been absolutely fascinated by this deity and her fast-growing cult. A personification of Death venerated by people who identify as Catholic, yet whose worship is condemned by the Catholic church? A saint who devotees routinely included the last people we would usually think of as “spiritual,” including drug barons, prostitutes and the police who incarcerate them alike? As a Goth, Pagan, ex-Catholic and someone who has a broad interest in folk religion in general, I was intrigued and wanted to know more.[Read more]
Tonight I performed the Full Moon Esbat outside as usual. I was pretty lucky – it had been raining late in the afternoon but it cleared up by nightfall. It did mean however, that I had to deal with lots of very slimy slugs! But I did find it pretty appropriate that there was a big puddle by the West quarter of my altar, where the element of Water resides.
With Samhain approaching, it seemed appropriate to honour Hecate, who is both Goddess of the Moon and Underworld. In my prayers to Hecate, I called upon the names of all those close to me who have died, and asked Hecate to bless and protect them in the Otherworld.
Tonight being a “Blood Moon” (although we didn’t see this in Britain), it also seemed an appropriate time to call for an end to bloodshed and conflict and for peace to prevail – especially in these troubled times. I called upon Luna for peace, drawing on the Moon’s stillness and serenity.
Finally, my sister’s second child is nearly due, so I finally called upon Diana – Goddess of the Moon, women, children and childbirth.
After making my offerings and prayers to these three aspects of the Moon Goddess, as well as consecrating a few new tools, I gazed upon the moon to try and put myself into a similar “trance state” that I did last month’s Esbat. Although I couldn’t see all of the Moon because it was shining behind the trees. But it was still effective – the branches blowing in the wind across the Moon made it look like twinkling stars or fairy lights, which was magical in itself. And as I gazed on the moon, eventually the surrounding trees themselves seemed to be glowing with an aura. It reminded me of the sheer energy of the nature around me.
I finished the ritual with a simple feast (a piece of apple and some sweet wine), and took the remaining offerings up to the nearest crossroad to place there for Hecate.
Throughout the ritual I heard our local foxes calling – they always seem to be pretty active at the Full Moon. At the end of the ritual, one of the local cats also came into the garden (but seemed fairly unimpressed that I was there!).
I’m glad that I’ve still been able to perform the Esbats outdoors as autumn’s arrived. I wonder what the weather next month will be like?
Tonight I celebrated the Full Moon Esbat (although there’s some confusion between me and my Pagan friends as to whether tonight or last night was the full moon). This also coincided with O-tsukimi, the Japanese “Moon Viewing” festival. This, plus the fact that this is the final “Supermoon,” made it a rather special Esbat.
I tried to set up my altar incorporating some O-tsukimi traditions, but with a twist. In Japan, you typically offer “O-tsukimi dango” to the moon. These are small, round, white dumplings that resemble the moon, and are stacked into a pyramid. It’s also common to offer pampass grass, which looks similar to rice plants, reminding us that this is the “Harvest Moon.”
As is often the case, I had to put a bit of a Western spin on my O-tsukimi offerings. Not having time to go to a specialist Japanese shop to buy the necessary flour to make O-tsukimi dango, I substituted it for a round, white cheese, as in the West cheese is often thought to resemble the moon. I also offered an egg, which is associated with the moon in East Asia (in China you can get “Moon cakes” which have an egg yolk in the middle). Instead of pampass grass, I simply collected different types of grasses from the local park.
I placed this all on a special O-tsukimi furoshiki (Japanese folding cloth), which a friend in Japan gave to me years ago. It’s the most beautiful and delicate furoshiki I own, incorporating micro-thin layers of gold dye. It depicts a scene of white rabbits pounding mochi rice cakes – very much a lunar image in Japan, as the Japanese believe that this is what you can see in the moon (whereas in the West we think we see “the man in the moon.”) It’s very interesting that both eggs and rabbits, both symbols of fertility, would be associated with the beginning of autumn in Japan, whereas in Britain they are associated with the beginning of spring (also note that both O-tsukimi and Ostara/Easter are determined by the lunar calendar)! I think it’s a very positive symbol for autumn, as it reminds us at the season when plants and animals are disappearing, life will return again.
I made these offerings and my prayers to the Shinto moon kami, Tsukiyomi no Mikoto, as well as Diana, Hecate and two male lunar deities, Khonsu and Aphroditus. Because I’ve been reading a lot about Buddhism lately, and because O-tsukimi is considered a time for quiet meditation and artistic inspiration, I attempted to meditate before the full moon.
I kneeled on the ground gazing up at the moon, and slowly chanted the names of Tsukiyomi, Diana, Khonsu, Hecate and Aphroditus. Because the moon was so bright, as I gazed upon it, my surroundings seemed to fade away into darkness, leaving only the moon in my field of vision. And then I began to see shapes in the moon, and it seemed to glow with an aura, as if it was eclipsing the sun. My meditation was broken by a passing dog, which made me jump – a message from Diana perhaps! And earlier, a cat had approached and made me jump – perhaps a messenger from Hecate, who knows?
After this I was feeling pretty jumpy, but I had a “simple feast” (a piece of the cheese and some sweet wine) which helped to ground me. When I came in, my husband mentioned that I seemed very energised, and it’s true – before the ritual, I had felt tired and a bit lethargic, but afterwards I felt so much better. It was probably the most energising Esbat I’ve celebrated so far!
Mascots are ubiquitous in modern society. There’s no shortage of sports teams, companies, governmental campaigns and other organisations and projects that are represented by some form of cartoon person or anthropmorphisised animal or object. [Read more…]
Friday night saw a rare occurrence – a Full Moon on Friday 13th, and more so, a “Honey Moon” (a slightly more yellowy moon than normal). Like many Goths, I actually like Friday 13th – while some may see it as unlucky, others may see it as simply a time that the darker energies are heightened. For this reason, I again thought it would be fitting to honour the dark goddess Hecate once again. Additionally it also seemed very appropriate to pay tribute to the goddess Juno: June is her month, and the following day was a friend’s wedding (not to mention that next month is my own wedding!), and Juno is seen as a goddess of marriage. I prayed to Hecate for general protection and good health, as well as honouring the spirit of Gerald Gardner, father of modern witchcraft who additionally was born on June 13th. To Juno, I prayed for happiness and good luck with both my friend’s and my own marriage. As always, I followed my ritual with a prayer to Inari Okamisama, who may also be seen as a good omen for weddings due to the duality of her fox messengers, her symbolism as a deity of prosperity, and the role of foxes in Japanese folklore about marriage (they say that rain falling on a sunny day means a vixen is getting married).
Once again, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat spiritually detached during the ritual – as usual, there were so many distractions outside, such as rowdy people walking home from the nearby pub and the neighbours parking in the driveway. What’s more, the buildings surrounding my house and its orientation meant that I couldn’t see the Full Moon again. But then, something incredibly magickal happened that really gave the ritual incredible significance.
When I was returning from placing offerings of garlic (for Hecate) and honey (for Juno) at the nearby crossroads, I saw a fox on the road before me, look at me straight in the eye, and then vanish into the undergrowth. And then, as a drew nearer, a second, larger fox emerged. He looked straight at me, and then just sat down on a wall beside the road, very calm and peaceful, as if enjoying this auspicious night himself. Quietly, I sat down on a low wall just opposite him, very close by. He looked up at me every now and then, acknowledging my presence yet seeming totally unphased by me. We shared this silent moment together in the night for some time, watching each other, while I mentally thanked him for gracing me with his presence in his territory and letting me enjoy his company like this. When some more noisy people from the pub approached he disappeared, so I returned to the house, but I kept on watching from the window and I soon saw both the foxes emerge from the undergrowth and go about their lives.
As a follower of Inari, I find any encounter with foxes to be special, but this was particularly magickal due to the timing and nature of our encounter. I find it even more wonderful that we have a pair of foxes living by us – just like a mirror of the pair of fox statues I have on my Inari shrine. Whenever I see them, I cannot help but feel protected and uplifted by the spirit of Inari Okamisama.