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about the author Michelle Skye (Massachusetts) is a Pagan Priestess. She teaches classes, leads workshops, and founded the Massachusetts Pagan Teens and Sisterhood of the Crescent Moon. Her articles have appeared in Circle Magazine, SageWoman, and Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac.

to write to the author If you wish to contact the author or would like more information about this book, please write to the author in care of Llewellyn Worldwide and we will forward your request. Both the author and publisher appreciate hearing from you and learning of your enjoyment of this book and how it has helped you. Llewellyn Worldwide cannot guarantee that every letter written to the author can be answered, but all will be forwarded. Please write to: Michelle Skye ⁄o Llewellyn Worldwide 2143 Wooddale Drive, Dept. 978-0-7387-1080-8 Woodbury, MN 55125-2989, U.S.A. c

Please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for reply, or $1.00 to cover costs. If outside U.S.A., enclose international postal reply coupon.

Many of Llewellyn’s authors have websites with additional information and resources. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.llewellyn.com.


Michelle Skye

goddess 

A live!

Inviting Celtic & Norse Goddesses Into Your Life

Llewellyn Publications Woodbury, Minnesota


Goddess Alive! Inviting Celtic & Norse Goddesses Into Your Life © 2007 by Michelle Skye. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Llewellyn Publications except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. First Edition First Printing, 2007 Book design by Donna Burch Cover art © 2006 by Kris Waldherr Cover design by Ellen Dahl Edited by Andrea Neff Interior illustrations © Kris Waldherr Illustrations on pages 87 and 150 by the Llewellyn Art Department Llewellyn is a registered trademark of Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. Excerpts of The Mabinogion translated by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones reprinted by permission of Everyman’s Library, Northburgh House, 10 Northburgh Street, London EC1V 0AT, United Kingdom. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Skye, Michelle. Goddess alive! : inviting Celtic & Norse goddesses into your life / by Michelle Skye.—1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN: 978-0-7387-1080-8 1. Goddesses. 2. Goddesses, Celtic. 3. Goddesses, Norse. I. Title. BL473.5.S59 2007 293'.2114—dc22

2007015991

Llewellyn Worldwide does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business transactions between our authors and the public. All mail addressed to the author is forwarded but the publisher cannot, unless specifically instructed by the author, give out an address or phone number. Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific location will continue to be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to authors’ websites and other sources. Llewellyn Publications A Division of Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Dept. 978-0-7387-1080-8 Woodbury, Minnesota 55125-2989, U.S.A. www.llewellyn.com Printed in the United States of America


other works by michelle skye Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac (contributor, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006) Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac (contributor, 2006, 2007)

forthcoming works by michelle skye Goddess Magic (Llewellyn Publications, 2008)


I dedicate this book to all my wonderful family and friends, but especially to: my parents, Rui and JoAnn, who always supported, my husband, Michael, who always encouraged, my daughter, Neisa, who always inspired, and my best friend, Amie, who always believed.


contents Acknowledgments viii Starting on Your Journey 1

the turning of the year The Winter Solstice: Cerridwyn, Welsh Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal 15 Imbolc: Brigid, Irish Goddess of Fire 35 The Spring Equinox: Eostre, Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring 57 Beltane: Freyja, Norse Goddess of Love and War 75 The Summer Solstice: Aine, Irish Goddess of Faeries and Fertility 93 Lammas/Lughnasadh: Danu, Irish Mother Goddess of Wisdom 117 The Autumn Equinox: Modron, Welsh Mother Goddess of Mystery 137 Samhain: Hella, Norse Goddess of the Underworld 157

the faces of the moon Waxing Moon: Branwen, Welsh Goddess of Sovereignty 179 Full Moon: Maeve, Irish Goddess of Personal Power 195 Waning Moon: The Valkyries, Norse Goddesses of Battle Magic and Soul Journey 217 Dark Moon: Morrighan, Irish Goddess of Magic and Death 235 New Moon: Rhiannon, Welsh Great Queen and Horse Goddess 255 Bibliography 273 Index 277


acknowledgments With heartfelt respect and admiration, I thank the staff at Llewellyn for giving me the opportunity to bring the wisdom of the Celtic and Norse goddesses to the world. I especially want to thank Elysia Gallo, editor extraordinaire. She is a gem and deserves a raise! This book would not have been possible without the wonderful site managers at www.sacred-texts.com. Their library of mythological and legendary texts, from the medieval to the modern era, is phenomenal and truly a researcher’s dream. They have done the world a great service by cataloging such diverse and unique literature in one, easyto-use place. And anything I could not find at Sacred-Texts was provided for me by the wonderful reference librarians at the Town of Bridgewater Public Library. Ladies, thank you for your patience, your hard work, and especially your smiles.

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Hail and welcome! May your path to the Goddess lead you where you need to go. This book, Goddess Alive!, is a celebration of the many faces of the Goddess, focusing exclusively on the Irish, Welsh, and Norse cultures. Through ritual, invocation, guided meditation, and hands-on activities, you will welcome these goddesses into your life, allowing their lessons to guide you and their energies to transform you. The heart of your experience with each goddess will be the guided meditation, during which you will meet, get to know, and talk to her. Guided meditation is a relatively easy activity that everyone can enjoy. You do not need to have any prior meditation knowledge or skill in order to experience a wonderful, fulfilling, and magical journey. In fact, I believe that guided meditation is one of the best ways to introduce the body, mind, and spirit to meditation as a life practice. All you need to do is sit back (or lie down), relax, and allow me to guide you through the labyrinthine passages of your mind and heart to the center of the universe, to the center of the earth, to the divine energy as manifested in the Great Goddess. Throughout time, ancient peoples have worshiped the image of the Goddess, as protector, provider, and creator. She is the grain that feeds our bellies, the midwife who helps us birth, and the water that sustains our lives. She is the sun, the moon, the earth beneath our feet. She nurtures animals and babies, giving of her warmth and love. Yet the Goddess, like us, is not one-dimensional. When provoked or wronged, displays of her power can be as violent as lightning and as wrathful as a woman scorned. She has






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gone to war and returned, covered in mud, the blood of her enemy on her spear tip. She has rejected society’s rules, to live as a woman alone, without husband or fealty, dominant in her own right. She has learned and excelled at skills considered to be “manly” or “masculine.” She is herself—caring, powerful, loving, strong, determined, nurturing. The duality of the Goddess allows us to look into our deeper selves and know that there is both darkness and light within us. We learn, through her example, that both are equally important to achieve balance in ourselves, in nature, and in the universe. In this book, you will meet thirteen different goddesses from the ancient Irish, Welsh, and Norse pantheons. Some people view these culturally specific goddesses as facets of the all-powerful Great Goddess, who, along with the Great God, is the energy of the divine. Others see these goddesses as separate entities, complete and whole unto themselves. Whatever your beliefs, know that each goddess has a different energy and has a specific lesson to teach you. Be open to that lesson, to the teaching of the divine female spirit. This knowledge will lead you closer to your true self and the path you are supposed to walk. Do not run from it, but embrace it and begin.

in the beginning In order to truly experience the guided meditations in this book, you must be able to perform and master a few necessary skills. Just as you cannot run without first learning to crawl and then to walk, you cannot pathwork without accepting into yourself several abilities that are indispensable for the journey. So take out your magical, meditative backpack and prepare for the trip! The first activity of extreme importance when meditating is grounding. Grounding focuses your mind, body, and spirit on exactly where you are in the world. It helps you connect to the energies around you and to the energies of Mother Earth, on whose body we live and breathe. Grounding helps you tap into her power, allowing it to buoy and strengthen your own innate energy. There are many different ways to ground. Perhaps you’ve grounded without even knowing it. When your day at work has been awful or you’re feeling a little sad or depressed, have you ever reached for bread, crackers, oatmeal cookies, or something else made from a grain product? Have you walked outside barefoot (or even with shoes on) and felt lighter and more focused afterward? These are two of the simplest methods for grounding, for connecting yourself to the earth and to your place and location in the


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world. They help alter your mind, bringing you to a relaxed state, which is extremely important in order to fully experience a guided meditation. Although the simple grounding methods work wonders when your everyday life feels a tad out of control, a more detailed grounding method is necessary when entering into a journey or guided meditation. Since our goal when grounding is to connect to the earth’s energies, take a few minutes right now to close your eyes and think of a plant. It can be a flower, an herb, or a tree—anything to which you feel an emotional attachment. I use a willow tree when I ground, but any green, growing vegetation will work, even seaweed or grass. Once you’ve decided on a plant, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and feel your spine lengthening, burrowing into the soft, rich soil. It is becoming the stem, the stalk, the trunk of your chosen plant ally. As you breathe in, envision the energy of the earth filling your body, and as you breathe out, release any stress, fear, anxiety, and worry, pushing them into the soil. As your spine lengthens and burrows farther and farther into the earth, know that any negativity that is released into the earth will be recycled into positive energy. Continuing to breathe in and out, notice that your spine has branched out and started to form roots in the earth. The roots grow, drawing more and more of the earth’s energy into your body and releasing more and more of your worries and fears. When you feel that all your negativity has been released and that your entire body is filled with the earth’s energy, feel the energy inside your body leave through the top of your head and, like the branches of a tree, the petals of a flower, or the leaves of an herb, arch back down to the ground, creating a circle of energy. Now, the earth’s energy is entering your body through your spine, mingling with your own energy, and then leaving through the top of your head, arching back down to the ground, creating a connection between you and the earth. After several minutes of this, you should feel completely relaxed and at ease. You are grounded! If grounding connects you to where you are in the world, then the next exercise, centering, connects you to who you are in the world. Centering focuses your mind, body, and spirit on acknowledging and accepting yourself as an individual, as a divine creation, and as a conduit for divine energy, knowledge, and will. It helps you see yourself as a perfect and whole human being, with all your faults, your assets, your weaknesses 1. This grounding technique is a modified form of the Tree of Life exercise explained in the book The Spiral Dance, written by Starhawk (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989), p. 58.




Starting on Your Journey

and strengths. In essence, centering allows you to come to terms with the whole you, stripped of pretense and false fronts. You will get to know and receive yourself in your entirety, while focusing on the positive traits that you bring to the people around you and to the world as a whole. As with grounding, there are many different techniques that can focus your attention on yourself as a manifestation of the divine. The following technique is the one that I use and have taught to others with great success. Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out. Focus your attention on the center of your body, near your heart, right in the middle of your breastbone. This is the location of your heart chakra, one of seven energy points in the body that help keep the body’s systems running together efficiently. The heart chakra helps create a balanced emotional center, allowing you to nurture healthy relationships with others and with yourself. It is usually visualized as a ball or disc of green or pink light. Once you have the chakra visualized, feel it spinning in a clockwise direction. If you looked down at your chest, it would spin from right to left. The clockwise-spinning chakra indicates a healthy, open chakra that is working at an optimum level. If your chakra is spinning slowly, not spinning at all, or spinning in the opposite direction (counterclockwise), then you are probably experiencing some emotional or relationship problems or have experienced them in the past. Work with the chakra so that it is spinning in the clockwise direction easily, without a struggle. Do not go on to the next step in the centering process until your heart chakra has a strong color and is effortlessly spinning in the clockwise direction. After you have aligned your heart chakra, feel the energy of the chakra spreading throughout your entire body in the form of either a green or pink color. It flows from your breastbone down through your belly, out to your ribs, and up to your throat and shoulders. The energy continues to ebb and flow, down your thighs, down to your elbows, around to your back, and up to your face. The colored energy maintains its path, pouring into your fingers, your legs and toes, and your head. Just when you feel that you can hold no more of your heart chakra’s energy, it radiates out of your body in shining pink or green light and, just as quickly, collapses in upon itself and centers once more in your heart chakra. You are now completely centered and ready for any type of pathworking.


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pathworking Any time you choose to visit another realm of existence, you are pathworking, moving outside of yourself to experience something or someplace new or different. It sounds difficult but is actually a lot simpler than you might think. Have you ever watched a movie and experienced the theater fading away around you? Your entire focus is on the movie, and you feel as though you are alone. When this happens, the movie becomes your reality and the myriad noises of the crowded movie theater no longer exist. You are pathworking. This type of experience can also be felt when listening to a great song or reading a well-written book. If the world blurs around you and your whole mind and body connect to the song or book, then you are pathworking. Generally, however, pathworking refers to soul-visiting other realms of reality, such as the angelic realm, Faerieland, the land of our ancestors, and the homes of the gods and goddesses. Soul-visiting is not quite astral projection, nor is it dreaming, but is something in between. While in a relaxed state, your spirit reaches out to a reality beyond the physical senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. In most cultures, this reality is divided into three sections: the Upper World, Middle World, and Lower World. For the purposes of this book, we will be working mostly with the Upper World, the world of the gods and goddesses, spirit guides, and angels. While you are soul-visiting this Otherworld, the faeries, angels, animal and spirit guides, ancestors, and gods and goddesses will give messages to you that are filtered through your own individual mind, through your memories and life experiences. In essence, you will be raising your energy, or vibration, in order to interact with them, while they will be lowering theirs to interact with you. There are many techniques that can be used to raise your vibrational energy. Drumming, chanting, singing, smelling herbal incenses, or imbibing of ritual potions are just some of the techniques. For our purposes, we will be raising our vibration through meditation. There are three distinct forms of meditation: inward meditation, guided meditation, and journeying. Inward meditation is the type of pathworking that we usually associate with Buddhist monks high in their mountainside temples. It is the achievement of stillness and peace within the body, mind, and spirit, allowing the divine to descend upon you. It is a knowingness, a feeling of being deeply connected to your present, to the time 2. This concept was first explained to me by Trish Casimira, a wonderful healer and shaman of Cherokee ancestry. Contact her at http://www.souljourneying.com/home.html. (This shamanic idea is also stated in numerous scholarly and spiritual books.)




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and place in which your body rests. You feel a tie with all living organisms on the planet and know that they are all directly connected to Spirit. This type of meditation takes years to perfect and, although important, is not our focus in visiting the goddesses. We will use the other two types of pathworking, guided meditation and journeying, in order to access the realms of the gods. Guided meditation is like listening to a story. It harks back to our childhood days, when magic was everywhere! Our clothes magically appeared in our bureaus, and our food magically appeared on the table. We had few worries, many questions, and a lot of time to explore, always sure of our parents’ love, which served as our tether or safety net. The words and images of the guided meditation are your safety net as you begin to venture into the Otherworld. They allow you enough freedom to become familiar with soul-visiting the places and beings in the Otherworld, without becoming overwhelmed. You will be able to interact with other realms of existence without worries, in the comforting parameters of the story. Journeying takes away that safety net and leaves you to fend for yourself. You have grown up and no longer need limitations on your movements. When journeying, you choose the purpose of your soul visit, sometimes even the entity you wish to visit, and then you raise your vibrational energy and journey there. There is no meditation to guide you; you simply move into the Otherworld on your own. Some of the guided meditations in this book have journey sections in which you talk to a goddess on your own or perform a task or learn a skill that she puts forth just for you. These sections allow you to try a less structured form of pathworking while still attaining a goal and keeping the original intention in mind. Pathworking, in the form of guided meditation or journeying, is usually undertaken for a specific purpose or intention. You might choose to go on a pathworking journey in order to effect change within yourself, to find answers that you seek, to learn about past lives, or to explore the ramifications of various choices in your life. Some experienced pathworkers and shamans will journey in order to help other people, but this should be done only after years and years of learning. Indeed, any kind of pathworking should not be undertaken lightly, as the experience will change the way you view yourself and the world around you. There are also dangers within the landscape of the Otherworld. Dark places and dark entities reside there, right beside the crystal palaces and beings of light. It is important that you stay focused on the guided meditations as you take your first forays into other realms of reality. The guided meditations will steer you through the


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maze of the Otherworld, allowing you to become used to the beings who reside there and the new sensations in your body and mind. Remember, even if on a guided meditation, you always have the ability to leave the journey and return to your own body, your own time and place. One of the best ways to remember your free will while performing a pathworking is to have a protective talisman. This is either a physical object or a thoughtform that protects your spirit and body while you are journeying in the Otherworld. It could be a mantra or chant, a memory, or an ancestor, guardian angel, or spirit. You might find that your protective talisman is a stuffed animal, or a picture of your daughter or son, a crystal, rock, or herb, or even a particular incense scent, like sage. Whatever form your talisman takes, it will remind you that, should things become too uncomfortable in the Otherworld, you can leave and return to your own body at any time. The following mini-meditation will help you find your protective talisman. As with all the meditations in this book, I recommend reading the meditation onto a cassette tape or CD or having a friend or family member read it aloud, in order for you to truly experience the full power of the pathworking. Also, you might want to create a journal of some kind to record your experiences with each meditation. You can then look back on your notes and see if there are any connecting threads throughout the meditations or if they correspond to events that occurred in your everyday life.

meditation to find your protective talisman Take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take another deep breath, filling your stomach, your diaphragm, and finally your lungs. Hold this breath for five seconds . . . 1-2-3-4-5 . . . and exhale, allowing the breath to exit your lungs first, then your diaphragm, and finally your stomach. Take one more deep breath, and as you breathe in, feel the energy and the wonder of the world around you in your fingers, your toes, your legs and shoulders, even the top of your head. Hold the breath for seven seconds . . . 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. As you exhale, feel all tension leave your fingers, your toes, your legs and shoulders, even the top of your head. Feel the ground under your body touching every nerve ending and muscle. The ground is warm and radiant. Continue breathing deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow the earth to hold and support your body, cradling you in warmth and comfort. You have never felt so relaxed, so secure, so calm.




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You are lying in a spring meadow. To your right is a forest. Birds play among the branches of the trees. You hear their sweet songs and see their intricate patterns against the sky. The sky is soft blue. Fluffy white clouds float above your head, cooling the rays of the bright, warm sun. You stretch and feel the heat suffusing every muscle in your body, making you more and more relaxed. A wooden staff of perfect height and weight rests next to you. It is made of oak and inscribed with symbols and glyphs of protection. (pause) You trace the carvings with your finger, and they glow with a golden gleam. You know that nothing can harm you while the staff is nearby, guarding your resting form in a circle of light and security. Inches from the staff, a bag rests next to you. Your fingers graze the soft material and pull the bag closer to you. Leaning up on one elbow, you look inside. What do you see there? A bouquet of wildflowers? A bird feather? A gleaming stone? Or something else, completely different? (pause) Whatever you see, take it out of the bag and lie down on your back. Rest the object on your chest, placing it over your heart. Feel the energy of your heart reaching out to this object, making it one with you and with the universe. (pause) This object protects you and is your gateway to the Otherworld. It allows you access to the houses of the gods, to the realms of angels, to the land of faerie, and the domain of our ancestors, where you can move and fly free. (pause) At the same time, this object connects you with your body here on the earth. If you should wish to return at any time, you need only touch the object and you will be once more in your body. (pause) The object sparkles brightly with the universal life force. It is warm and comforting in the palm of your hand. Squeeze the object lightly and place it in your pocket for safekeeping. Know that any time you undertake a journey to the Otherworld, you need only reach your hand into your pocket and your protective talisman will be there. Begin to focus, once again, on your breathing. Take deep breaths in and out, in and out. (pause) On the next deep breath in, feel the energy and the wonder of the world around you in your fingers, your toes, your legs and shoulders, even the top of your head. As you exhale, wiggle your fingers and toes. Shake your legs and move your shoulders up and down. Take another deep breath and, as you exhale, move your head from side to side. Feel the ground under your body touching every nerve ending and muscle. Hear the rustlings of the people around you. Notice the movements outside. Continue breathing. Stretch your arms out above your head. You are returning to the present, to the here and now. Continue stretching. Continue breathing. When you are ready, open your eyes, blink and focus, and sit up.


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self-journeying After performing the protective talisman meditation, take a few minutes to write down your impressions of the journey. What talisman did you receive? What was your favorite and/or least favorite part of the journey? What seemed clear to you and what seemed hazy or foggy? Did you stay within the structure of the meditation or did you deviate from it? Everyone experiences a guided meditation differently, as we all put different life lessons, memories, expectations, and personalities into our pathworking backpacks, along with our magical meditative tools. Therefore, everyone receives a unique message, meant just for him or her. So write down that message and pay attention to its meaning! The gods are talking to you! Not only does our individuality affect our encounter within the meditation, but it also affects how we perceive each meditation. Since most guided meditations are written as though the story is enfolding right before our eyes, they are often very detailed visually. However, not everyone experiences a journey through the eyes. We can also undergo a meditation through the ears, fingers or skin, or heart or spirit. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me at the end of one of my meditation classes and told me that they didn’t see a thing. However, when I ask them if they felt something or knew something was happening or heard a specific noise, they nod their heads vigorously. Don’t think that just because you didn’t see anything that nothing happened. It did! It will! It does! You just have to understand your body, mind, and spirit’s unique way of interpreting the message. Visual interpretation is the meditative perception most understood by the general public. You listen to the guided meditation and literally see the images behind your closed eyelids. You feel as though you are watching a movie but, oftentimes, with the sound off. If the meditation states, “The wind is blowing softly,” then you will see the treetops moving or your scarf billowing, but you won’t hear or feel anything. As a visual perceiver, you see colors, people, places, and events with ease, but if you need to ask a question, you will often have a hard time getting an answer that you can understand, as the answer will be symbolized in the pictures before your eyes. Audio interpretation, on the other hand, will often give you very clear answers to questions, but you won’t see any picture when you close your eyes. You will, however, hear sounds and voices very easily. When the meditation suggests wind, the person with


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audio perception will hear the wind as it whips through the trees but won’t see the trees moving or feel the wind on his or her skin. Feeling is what the person with sensory interpretation does best. The sensory perceiver not only will feel the wind on his or her face, but also often will sense how other people or animals in the meditation are feeling emotionally about the wind. Sensory interpretation is all about touching and connecting, physically and emotionally, with the environment of the journey. When asking a question, the sensory perceiver will receive an answer in terms of emotions or tactile contact. Intuitive interpretation is the most difficult meditative perception to explain. You do not see, hear, or feel the experiences in the meditation, but rather you simply know, innately, from deep within yourself, what is happening within the meditation and along your journey. Intuitive perceivers often will know the wind is blowing before the meditation actually states that fact. They will know about the environment within the meditation even though they cannot see, hear, or feel anything about it. The most difficult aspect of having intuitive interpretation is trusting that the messages you receive are from the Otherworld and not from your imagination. After some time, you will be able to make the distinction. Until then, know that if you have grounded and centered correctly, then you can trust that the messages are from the divine. Most people incorporate multiple interpretive styles into their meditation experience, although one of the four usually comes more easily than the others. When you first begin to integrate guided meditation into your regular daily or weekly practice, notice which interpretation is easiest for you. Once you feel comfortable with the messages you receive on your pathworking experiences, you may find that a second interpretive style materializes without conscious effort. Although this growth is exciting, don’t limit yourself to subconscious development. Taking classes or reading books will help you develop your other interpretive styles as well. Don’t be discouraged if your new techniques don’t work at first. Remember, you are exercising sections of your brain that have not been used before. Be patient and know that any kind of development takes time. Above all, have fun and stay open to the words, wisdom, and wit of the goddesses you meet! Before long, they will feel like old friends. Each chapter in this book focuses on one specific goddess. On your journey to get to know this goddess, you will read 3. This theory of fourfold interpretation was passed down to me by a talented Reiki healer and hypnotherapist, Katie Malloy-Ramaci, when I attended her past-life regression class in 2003. Contact her at http:// members.aol.com/womnwisdom.


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about her mythological stories and learn how she relates to you and the world around you. Each goddess will help you access knowledge about the earth and sky and about yourself, as each is paired with a seasonal holiday (Sabbat) or a moon phase (Esbat). A brief section on the Sabbat or Esbat will familiarize you with the natural setting of the goddess, while the guided meditation will allow you in-depth exploration. In addition to the meditation, you will have the opportunity to open fully to the knowledge of each goddess through an invocation, a ritual, and an activity at the end of each chapter. These will allow you to connect to the goddess through words and sound, as well as through actions and deeds. Enjoy your visit with each goddess, and be open to the lessons that she has for you! These lessons will help you find your true calling, your true self, your true path in life. Don’t feel obliged to follow the chapters in order. There are no rules and regulations here. Although each goddess is connected to a specific holiday or phase of the moon, she may call to you at a different time, when the time is right for you. Go with your gut instinct! Follow your own truth, and know that the Goddess loves each and every one of her children. May the blessings of the Goddess shine brightly upon you as you open your heart to her teachings.


the t u r n i ng of t h e y e a r


meeting cerridwyn, welsh goddess of rebirth and renewal T he Winter Solstice

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Cerridwyn, Welsh Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal

cerridwyn: goddess of movement Cerridwyn is one of the most magical of Welsh goddesses. She is the quintessential, stereotypical “hag witch”—hunchbacked, cackling, stirring her cauldron full of magic potion. Powerful in her isolation, on her island beneath the waves, she relishes her solitary existence, as it gives her time and space to perfect her art, to attain her goals and dreams. Yet this image is but one side of the great goddess Cerridwyn. Cerridwyn is also a mother, to a dark boy named Morfran and a beautiful girl named Creidwy, and a wife to the giant Tegid Foel. Her family means a great deal to her, and her magic stems from her need to help them. She seeks to protect her family, to remove obstacles on their paths. Like all good parents, she wishes the very best for her children and strives to provide for them. No young, virginal maid, Cerridwyn has the resources, selfconfidence, and inner power and wisdom to forge ahead and aid her family members. And this is Cerridwyn’s true divine personality. She is magic. She is protection and aid. But, above all else, she is movement. Cerridwyn does not sit back and wait for her goals to appear before her. She strides forward, tackling the night and the dawning day, and wrests her wishes from the very air. She acts. She does. Not content to allow fate to shape her life, Cerridwyn creates her own destiny. She gifts us with the strength to accept our own power and shape our own lives. In the Welsh medieval epic The Mabinogion, we meet Cerridwyn on her isolated island home, in the middle of Llyn Tegid (now known as Bala Lake) in the northwest section of Wales. Her daughter and husband play no part in her story and, presumably, due to their respective beauty and size, are making their way peacefully through the world. Her son, Morfran (“Great Crow”), on the other hand, plays a prominent role. Also known as Afagddu, or “utter darkness,” Cerridwyn’s son has a gloomy disposition and an ugly outward appearance. She fears for him once he leaves the protection of her island home. Believing he will never be afforded the respect he deserves, she seeks to award him with other gifts that will compensate for his ugliness. Cerridwyn studies long and hard, delving into her books of magic and sorcery, and finally alights on a spell that will help her son. She must gather herbs, whose properties will impart intellect, wisdom, inspiration, and skill. Through knowledge of the stars, she must throw them into a boiling cauldron at varying times throughout an entire year 1. Patrick K. Ford, trans., The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1977), p. 162.


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plus one day. The cauldron of inspiration and knowledge must be continually boiling during this entire time. After a year and a day, the combined power of the herbs and the stars will coalesce into three drops of the potion, forming a heady magical brew. The rest will be deadly poison and will cause the cauldron to explode, seeping into the earth. Armed with this information, Cerridwyn works nonstop for a year, gathering herbs, consulting her books, and reading the stars. She pours the waters of prophecy and inspiration into the cauldron, along with each herb and root and the foam of the ocean waters, all according to the movement of the stars. So that she can focus on her magical goal, she employs a young boy, Gwion Bach, to stir the cauldron, and an old blind man, Morda, to tend the fire. Her son, during this year and a day, does not help at all. And so, in the end, he receives exactly what he deserves, according to his work ethic. Absolutely nothing. Near the end of the year and a day, Cerridwyn, exhausted from her labors, having said all the incantations and added all the herbs, takes a much-needed rest. And somehow, during her slumbers, the three drops of power and wisdom and inspiration fall on the hand of the servant boy Gwion instead of her beloved son Morfran. Some sources state that the drops simply fall on Gwion’s hand while he is vigorously stirring the pot, and instinctually he licks them off. Other sources paint Gwion to be a trifle more calculating. They state that before she falls asleep, Cerridwyn places Morfran in front of the cauldron, telling him that the drops will spill out of the pot at the appointed time. When they do, Gwion pushes Morfran out of the way, stealing the potion’s powerful attributes for himself. However the incident occurs, as the cauldron explodes from the powerful poison still inside, Cerridwyn wakes to find her son deprived of the potion’s power. Gwion, with his new knowledge and wisdom, realizes the full extent of Cerridwyn’s power and her rage and tries to escape to the lands of his family. Incensed with having worked an entire year for nothing, Cerridwyn beats the old man Morda with a heavy log, causing one of his eyeballs to pop out. “Mistress,” Morda says, “wrongfully hast thou disfigured me, for I am innocent. Thy loss was not because of me.” Cerridwyn acknowledges his wisdom and races off after the boy Gwion Bach. 2. Shamyn Whitehawk, “Cerridwen,” Draeconin’s Background Designs, http://draeconin.com/database/ cerridwen.htm (accessed April 2007). 3. L  ady Charlotte Guest, trans., The Mabinogion (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1877), p. 427, from http:// www.sacred-texts.com.


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The chase becomes a battle of magical wills as each magician shapeshifts from one animal to another. Gwion, upon seeing the furious Cerridwyn running after him, changes himself into a fleet-footed hare. Cerridwyn counters with the speed and grace of a greyhound. Just as her teeth nip at Gwion’s fuzzy hind legs, he morphs into a slippery fish and slides into a nearby river. Cerridwyn responds by transforming into a sleek, sharp otter and deftly glides after him. Feeling her pointed nails on his scales, Gwion alters his shape into that of a bird and rises above the earthbound Cerridwyn. She replaces her otter skin with that of a bird of prey, a sharp-eyed, sharp-taloned hawk, and soars after him. Realizing his mistake and tired from hours of using his new shapeshifting skills, Gwion spots a pile of newly winnowed wheat on a barn floor. Dropping close to the ground, he shifts into a grain of wheat and burrows amid all the other grains, sure that his disguise will confound the enraged Cerridwyn. However, Cerridwyn is more comfortable morphing from one animal to another and does not feel as tired as Gwion. Sensing his deception, Cerridwyn lands on the ground and changes into a high-crested black hen. In her new form, she promptly eats all the grains of wheat in the pile, including Gwion. In seed form, Gwion takes root inside Cerridwyn, and before long, she is pregnant with him. Understandably upset and feeling thwarted, Cerridwyn vows to destroy Gwion as soon as he is born. She carries him for nine months, but after his birth, she does not have the heart to destroy the beautiful, golden-haired baby. Instead, she wraps him in a leather bag and tosses him into a raging river on April 29. He is found a day later by the son of a wealthy nobleman. Struck by the beauty of the boy, he names the baby Taliesin, which means “radiant brow.” Taliesin recalls all of the knowledge and inspiration that he learned from Cerridwyn’s cauldron when he was Gwion. With such wisdom, he becomes the most noted, most talented of Celtic bards and poets. The shapeshifting chase of Cerridwyn and Gwion has long been a source of fascination for scholars of mythology and legend. Many attribute the chase to the obstacles and far-reaching goals put forth from teacher to student, from mentor to apprentice. They believe that Cerridwyn is actually instructing Gwion, testing him for his worthiness, reaching beyond her anger to a deeper understanding and knowledge of Gwion’s future role in Celtic legend. Although this theory is plausible, Cerridwyn’s character, in the tale, seems more straightforward than this underhanded explanation warrants. Her person-


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ality appears more forthright, as if she acts on her emotions and does not overthink the consequences. (Cerridwyn’s beating of Morda is a good example of her frankness.) Another explanation for the chase is that the animals represent some of the different clan totems in Celtic society. Many Celtic clans adopted an animal to represent their strength and skill in battle or their deep wellspring of wisdom and inspiration. The fish (or salmon, to be more specific), hare, hawk, and bird are magical animals in Celtic mythology. And grain is often seen as the essence of an agricultural god who gave his power and strength to help the grain grow. (The medieval song “John Barleycorn” is an example of this belief lasting well after the arrival of Christianity.) However, the otter, greyhound, and hen are rarely seen as possessors of magic, so the theory cannot be used for all the transformations. Noted Avalon scholar and priestess Jhenah Telyndru, in her book Avalon Within, likens the chase to different stages of the soul as it transforms from unconscious shadow to conscious will. In this scenario, each pair of animals is connected to an element. The hare and greyhound represent earth, the fish and otter are water, the bird and hawk stand for air, and the hen and grain symbolize fire. To take this metaphor one step further, the transformations and their corresponding elements could easily symbolize a person’s life. Air would be birth, fire would signify young adulthood, water would represent maturity, and earth would stand for old age and death. Since Gwion is reborn anew in Cerridwyn’s womb, after death, the ending of the tale reinforces the Celtic belief in reincarnation, or the return of the soul to earth to live another life in a different body or form. The magical chase emphasizes Cerridwyn’s role in the natural cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Her movement, her motion, is not random and scattered but rather is circular and measured. She and her cauldron are the beginning and the end, the pink dawn and the midnight black. She is the force that helps us be reborn anew, from disappointment, frustration, illness, and death. Forever spiraling, Cerridwyn reminds us that from every ending there is a beginning and from every beginning there is an ending, and that life and death are but one aspect of the ever changing, ever moving, ever whirling cosmos. “Do not be afraid,” she calls from over her steaming cauldron, “for in every failure there is success.” She smiles secretly, returning to her cauldron, helping us attain our goals, find the strength to continue in adversity, and seek the light at the moment of death.

4. Edain McCoy, Celtic Women’s Spirituality (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1998), p. 40. 5. Jhenah Telyndru, Avalon Within (South Carolina: BookSurge, 2005), pp. 10–11.


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winter solstice: the longest night of the year The winter solstice is the longest, darkest night of the year. Usually falling between December 21 and 23, it is traditionally celebrated with nature-based holiday decorations (such as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen boughs), a sumptuous feast, creation of a Yule log, and a lot of singing and merrymaking. Sound like Christmas? Absolutely! Many of these activities were adopted by early Christians in an effort to combine the Pagan festival with the Christian celebration. Both traditions celebrate the birth of a son. In Christian mythology, the son is Jesus, bringer of the light of salvation. In ancient Pagan customs, the son was literally the sun, bringer of the light of warmth and fertility. To agricultural and pastoral societies, the sun represented a vital life force. Without it, grain would not grow and meadows for pasturing would be bare. All aspects of survival depended on the sun, and the day when it hid in darkness was considered a magical and spiritual day. Often hearth fires would be lit throughout the night on the winter solstice and candles would shine from every window, in an effort to tempt back the fiery energy of the sun. Since Cerridwyn is the goddess of cycles, seasonal cycles as well as life cycles, it is fitting that she would be the midwife to the sun, aiding and assisting in his rebirth. She is the crone of winter basking in the warmth of the child sun, as the Wheel of the Year turns, once again, to the light. Spring is far away, but the promise of warmth has arrived, just as it does every year, with the help of Cerridwyn.

the pathworking Visiting with the gods and goddesses requires certain skills. You have attained these abilities by reading and following the exercises in the previous chapter. With these tools at your fingertips, it is time to dive into the great pool of knowledge and reach for the Otherworld, for that which is just beyond the material realm. It is time to put into practice all of your newfound wisdom. The meditative path to Cerridwyn is long but not especially fraught with danger. It is, however, a time of testing. You will be asked to see, hear, smell, and feel throughout the guided imagery. This is a time for you to explore your senses, opening them up to


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the spectacular world of the divine. Immerse yourself in their world and you will return with a keener viewpoint of your own life and the world around you. Don’t worry if you have difficulty smelling Cerridwyn’s potion or feeling the biting chill of the solstice night. Note the struggle, but do not allow your mind to dwell on it. Continue with the flow of the meditation. This is easier said than done, so don’t become discouraged if you lose sight of the meditation at some point during your journey. When you notice your mind wandering, gently nudge it back to the meditation and remind yourself that you can recall the difficulty later. After the guided journey is complete, you can list the senses and meditation areas that gave you trouble and work on attuning them to your meditative needs by revisiting the exercises in the introductory chapter. Above all, enjoy this time away from your mundane, everyday world. Relax and let your emotions soar with the birds!

guided meditation: new life amid the chill of winter Take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take another deep breath, filling your stomach, your diaphragm, and finally your lungs. Hold this breath for five seconds . . . 1-2-3-4-5 . . . and exhale, allowing the breath to exit your lungs first, then your diaphragm, and finally your stomach. Take one more deep breath, and as you breathe in, feel the energy and the wonder of the world around you in your fingers, your toes, your legs and shoulders, even the top of your head. Hold the breath for seven seconds . . . 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. As you exhale, feel all tension leave your fingers, your toes, your legs and shoulders, even the top of your head. Feel the fertile earth under your body, expectant and waiting—waiting for the burgeoning warmth of the sun, waiting for the frost to lift. Cool to the touch yet bracing, the earth sweeps away any of your hidden fears. You are free of worry and anxiety. Free to frolic with the snowflakes on the wind. Free to expose your wild side to the white wonderland around you. Take a deep breath in and feel the icy air stimulating every nerve, every cell, in your body. Continue breathing deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow the earth to hold and support your body. Allow the wind to blow away any remaining fear and anxiety. You have never felt so relaxed, so secure, so calm. You are walking in the depths of a great forest. It is night, but the moon is full and the stars twinkle brilliantly in the midnight-blue sky. The tree branches are bare, allowing the


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glow of the moon to light your way from above. You are on a path that is covered with snow and mud. Snow rests on some of the tree branches, and as you look up to inspect them, you sniff, smelling snow on the wind. An owl hoots off to your right. You see his big, round eyes flash briefly in the dark before his wings swoop past you. Your boots are sturdy with a thick, steadying tread, yet your toes are numb from the cold. Your fingers in their mittens are also chilled to the bone, and you can no longer feel your nose. You wrap your woolen cape more snuggly around your body and trudge onward. Clasping your protective talisman between frozen fingers, you look down at the muddy, snowy ground on either side of the narrow path. Not relishing an evening sleeping outdoors, you hope for a tavern up ahead. The forest is thick and dense with pine trees. No sound greets your ears, save the whispering sigh of the breeze through the pine needles. You sigh along with the wind, seeing your breath form a white plume before you. Even an abandoned hunting cabin would suffice at this time of the night, you think to yourself. You glance at the movement of the stars. The Wheel has almost completed its turn. You pull your weary gaze from the star-strewn sky and skid to a stop. There, before you, in a small clearing, stands a small, stone cottage. White smoke belches from the tiny chimney, and a lantern in the window sends a soft, golden signal of welcome. You walk to the cottage (pause) and raise your fist to knock on the dark-red door. Before you can land even a fingernail on the door, it swings open and a white-haired woman steps out, a bucket in hand. “Good,” she exclaims as she tosses the contents of the bucket over your shoulder and into the cottage yard. “We’ve been waiting for you.” She bustles back into the house, one hand holding the bucket and the other fumbling around in her pink-flowered apron. You stand at the threshold, completely surprised by your welcome. “Well, don’t just stand there letting all the warm air out.” The old woman looks at you crossly. “Come on in!” You step up into the cottage and the door slams shut behind you. “Give me your cloak, dearie. You won’t need that here.” The old woman is suddenly behind you, nimbly unclasping your cape and placing it on a wrought-iron hook next to the doorway. “Can you put another log on the fire?” she asks you, pointing to the enormous fireplace that takes up the whole right-hand wall of the cottage. “The time is almost here,” she states, striding toward some shelves with jars on them in the darkened recesses of the cottage. “I must prepare myself.” She is swallowed by the darkness and


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you can no longer see her. However, the click and clatter of glass jars being moved remind you that she has not vanished entirely. You walk over to the fire and pick up a heavy log. A very large cauldron hangs over the fire from a blackened chain. You peer over its side and sniff hesitantly. A noxious smell invades your nose. You pull back, eyes watering, nose running, sneezing uncontrollably. “I asked you to put another log on the fire,” the old woman calls from the back of the one-room cottage, “not poke your nose where it doesn’t belong.” You give one last final sneeze, your cheeks burning from exertion and embarrassment, and throw the log on the fire. The flames leap up, greedily devouring the wood, and the contents of the cauldron boil fitfully. The room grows warmer. “Ah-ha!” The cry of triumph is followed by the strident gait of the old woman as she walks toward the cauldron and toward you. “Got it!” She holds a bit of greenery aloft. Scampering to the window, she looks upward at the stars, pauses for the space of two heartbeats, and then, quick as a fox, throws the herb into the cauldron. Yellow smoke puffs from the cauldron, followed by a loud burp. “Now’s all we have to do is wait, dearie,” the old woman says, rubbing her hands. “Help me with this.” The old woman shoves a huge bundle of unbleached cotton into your hands. It is soft to the touch, and you stagger under the sheer size of the cloth. You take a step backward and trip over a low, solid item that you’re sure was not there a few moments before. Your feet fly out and you land with a thud on your bottom. The cotton cloth slips from your hands, landing all around you. You feel warm, moist pressure on your hand. Surprised, you pull your hand away and push aside the cloth. Two softbrown eyes look up at you from the narrow, plump face of a white sow. “Pepper, Pepper!” The old woman leans down to scratch behind the ear of the sow. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear that her hand disappeared into the sow. You shake your head. Obviously the fall addled your brains. You laugh to yourself, scratch behind Pepper’s other ear, and gather the cotton cloth. “Don’t mind her,” the old woman says, loading more cloth into your arms. “She gets underfoot sometimes, but she’s a love. Won’t harm ya a wink!” She winks then, a sparkle of mischief in her icy-blue eyes, and pats the large, rough-hewn wooden table. “Put the cloth on here, dearie.” She darts to the back of the cottage, leaving you to struggle with the cloth on your own, with Pepper’s warm, wet nose pushed up against the back of your knees.


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For the next several hours you straighten the cloth, separate it into three piles, and fold it. Just as you think you are finished, the old woman asks you to put another log on the fire, and when you return to the table, the pile of cloth has grown bigger and messier. Throughout the long, dark night, your work continues and the old woman scuttles back and forth from her jars to the fire, throwing in herbs and flowers and muttering incantations. (pause) Just when you feel that you could not fold another piece of cloth, the old woman exclaims, “It is time!” The sow runs to the cottage door and noses it open. The piles of cloth lie neat and tidy on the table, and the fire radiates a low, warm heat. The old woman stands before the cauldron, arms outstretched. She watches the sow, who, in turn, watches the sky. The sky is no longer midnight blue. The gray light of predawn seeps down from the clouds. The trees sway and the first fingers of dawn reach across the sky—pink and light blue and lemon yellow. And then, with a triumphant burst of energy and light and daring and courage, the sun pops above the tree line. At that exact moment, the sow squeals with joy and the old woman reaches her bare hands and arms into the boiling cauldron. A strangled cry of warning dies in your throat as she removes a perfectly formed baby boy from the fiery depths. She cradles him in her arms, ducking down and protecting him with her body . . . as if she knows. For in the next instant, the cauldron explodes with a loud blast, leaving nothing but a pile of dust and a few shards of twisted metal. The old woman stands and turns toward you. You bring her a cotton cloth and clean the perfectly formed face of the baby boy in her arms. “The sun is reborn,” the old woman says in a hushed, awe-filled voice. “From the darkness of the longest night, he has come to warm the earth and all people and animals and plants upon it. Feel his warmth in your heart.” Smiling, despite your fatigue, you reach down and kiss the baby. His almond eyes flare open, touching you with their wisdom and knowledge. A ray of sun envelops him, you, and the old woman in a warming embrace. Now, take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take another deep breath, filling your stomach, your diaphragm, and finally your lungs. Hold this breath for five seconds . . . 1-2-3-4-5 . . . and exhale, allowing the breath to exit your lungs first, then your diaphragm, and finally your stomach. Breathe deeply once more, and as you breathe in, feel the energy and the wonder of the world around you in your fingers, your toes, your legs and shoulders, even the top of your head. As you exhale, wiggle your fingers and toes. Shake your legs and move your shoulders up and down. Take another deep breath and, as you exhale, move your head from side to side. Feel the


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ground under your body touching every nerve ending and muscle. Hear the rustlings of the people around you. Notice the movements outside. Continue breathing. Stretch your arms out above your head. You are returning to the present, to the here and now. Continue stretching. Continue breathing. When you are ready, open your eyes, blink and focus, and sit up.

invocation to cerridwyn Wise woman. Hag. Crone. Mother. Teacher. Cerridwyn. You comfort the dark sky And midwife the sun. Possessor of energy and wisdom, Creatrix of meaning and movement, Lend me your strength. Teach me your knowledge. By the great cauldron, Awen, I taste your greal And know your power! I transform my shape And learn your wisdom! I begin my quest And hear your inspiration! Beginning. Ending. Birth. Death. Rebirth. Cerridwyn.


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activity: create and use recycled gift wrap To most of us, the holiday season includes the gifting of presents to loved ones and friends. Why not give back to the earth as well and wrap these gifts in recycled wrapping paper? Throughout the year (or for at least a few months before the holidays, depending on the size of your gift list), ask for paper bags, instead of plastic, at your local grocery store and make your own wrapping paper from them! Cut off the bottom, “square” section of the bag, creating an open, hollow shell of paper, with openings on both ends. Then cut down the seam of the paper bag and lay it out flat. You now have a fairly large piece of sturdy, brown paper. You can throw away the bottom section of the bag or use it to wrap small, flat items, such as books, gift certificates, music CDs, or DVDs. Gather together stamps, ink pads, stencils, and paint, and use these to decorate the plain side of your paper. I decorate with a yellow sun stamp and green leaves; however, you can choose any design. Once you’re done decorating, let the paper dry. (If using stamps, the drying time will be only a few minutes. Stencils and paints take longer, so be sure to include that time in your gift-wrapping schedule.) Once the paper is dry, you can wrap your gifts as usual. I recommend using well-made, brand-name tape. Some of the generic tape is not made to hold the thicker paper of the grocery store bags and will “let go” at the most inopportune times. Now you are not only giving a gift to a loved one, but you are giving the gift of life to a tree as well!

ritual: a winter solstice celebration Celebrating a seasonal holiday strengthens your ties to the earth, to nature, and to the world around you. You are recognizing a sacred time of the year; thus, the celebration will reflect the season, as much as your own personal, individual needs. In this winter solstice celebration, you are taking on the role of Cerridwyn’s assistant in the birth of the sun. Essentially, you are serving as midwife, lending your energies to the Great Mother, who is in the throes of labor. You are taking part in an ancient celebration of light and life.

6. This ritual, written by Amy Berthelette and Michelle Skye, was originally performed by the Sisterhood of the Crescent Moon in December 2003.


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Things You Will Need: • a Yule log • a white candle, a red candle, and a black candle • candle holders for the three candles • a plate of bread and butter • birdseed and sunflower seeds • an apple • a small bell • several cookies in the shape of snowflakes or suns • juice or wine • a medium-sized bowl • a drum, tambourine, or music CD (optional) • any solstice decorations for your altar (optional) Place all of your items on the altar, grouping the three candles together and making sure you have a place to burn your Yule log, either in a fireplace or fire pit. Standing in front of your altar, ground and center as you usually do. Walk to the east and, with your arms extended, say: Hail to the Guardians of the East, Powers of Air! I ask for your light and warming breath On this most sacred of nights, Solstice Eve. Once you feel the presence of the knowledge of the east and the freedom of air, move to the south, extend your arms, and say: Hail to the Guardians of the South, Powers of Fire! I ask for your heat and burning love On this most sacred of nights, Solstice Eve. Noting the warmth of the south and the heat of fire, move to the west, extend your arms, and say: Hail to the Guardians of the West, Powers of Water! I ask for your depth and fluid emotions On this most sacred of nights, Solstice Eve.


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Feel the emotions of the west and the wetness of water on your face and in your heart. Then walk to the north, extend your arms, and say: Hail to the Guardians of the North, Powers of Earth! I ask for your strength and sturdy comfort On this most sacred of nights, Solstice Eve. Sense the power of the north and the strength of earth and return to your altar. Take a few moments to conjure up an image of the young Maiden Goddess and then say: Maiden Goddess, Protectress of youth and innocence, Sweet and pure and lovely above all things, Join me this Solstice Night. The God is reborn; The sun returns. The Maiden Goddess comes and walks among us! Hail and welcome! Feel the innocence and beauty of the Maiden settle at your feet and in the palms of your hands. Then light the white candle. Breathe deeply three times, allowing an image of the nurturing Mother Goddess to flood your mind. When the image is complete, say: Mother Goddess, Protectress of babies and animals, Creative and giving and lovely above all things, Join me this Solstice Night. The God is reborn; The sun returns. The Mother Goddess comes and walks among us! Hail and welcome! Sense the fruitfulness and creativity of the Mother settle in your womb/belly and heart. Then light the red candle. Again, take three deep breaths, seeing the image of the allknowing Crone Goddess in your mind’s eye. Once the picture is finished, say: Crone Goddess, Protectress of life and death, Wise and powerful and lovely above all things,


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Join me this Solstice Night. The God is reborn; The sun returns. The Crone Goddess comes and walks among us! Hail and welcome! Feel the wisdom and clarity of the Crone settle in your third eye, and then light the black candle. Take your bread and butter from the altar and hold them above the three candles while stating: On this, the longest night of the year, I celebrate and revel in my connection to the faery folk. I offer bread and butter to them as a symbol of my wish to continue as friends. In honor, in trust, in fun, and in frolic, I pay homage to their spark of life. If inside, place the bread and butter back on the altar so that you can dispose of them outside after the ritual. If you are outside, place the offering anyplace that feels right to you. Take the birdseed and sunflower seeds from the altar and hold them above the three candles, saying: On this, the longest night of the year, I celebrate and revel in my connection to the animals on earth. I offer birdseed and sunflower seeds to them as a symbol of my wish to continue as friends. In honor, in trust, in hope, and in faith, I pay homage to their spark of life. Place the gifts to the animals either back on the altar or, if outside, someplace on the ground. Lift the apple from the altar and hold it above the three candles, stating: On this, the longest night of the year, I celebrate and revel in my connection to the priests/priestesses who have gone before me. I offer the fruit of life, the apple, to them as a symbol of my wish to continue as friends and to learn and grow from their example. In honor, in trust, in love, and in commitment, I pay homage to their spark of life. Return the apple to the altar or, if outside, place it on the ground. With reverence, pick up the Yule log and hold it up to the sky while saying: Since the beginning of time, people of the earth have gathered in this season to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun. On the winter solstice, the darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother, and once again gives birth to the Sun—beginning the yearly cycle anew, bringing new light and hope to all the world. On this, the longest night of winter, the spark


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of hope flares strong and bright. It is the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World. I gather here to welcome the new light, midwife to the Goddess. As I join the Goddess in birthing the renewed Sun, I also welcome the new light within myself. Place the Yule log back on the altar. Keeping one hand on the log, ring a small bell with the other hand after each of the next four lines. Blessed be the Lady, giver of life! (ring bell) Welcome Lord, bringer of warmth! (ring bell) Tonight darkness has reached the limit of its power. (ring bell) Now the light of our God is victorious over darkness! (ring bell) Take your Yule log and bring it to your fireplace or fire pit. If you have a fire already going, then place the log in the flames. If you need to start one, wait to add the Yule log until the fire is very hot and bright. Once the Yule log has caught fire, exclaim: I light this flame for the infant solstice sun, The light of hope that pierces the winter darkness. He arises pure and beautiful From the depths of the Mother’s womb, Bringing warmth and love and joy. May his gifts spread hope throughout the world! The Sun King will be reborn this night, returning to the world in brilliance and glory. As the Goddess’s helper on earth, aid his passage through her and back to the world by chanting: Hoof and Horn Hoof and Horn All that Dies Will be Reborn. Corn and Grain Corn and Grain All that Falls Will Rise Again.

7. This chant was created by Ian Corrigan, Archdruid Emeritus, ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin).


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Say this chant over and over again in order to raise power and activate the magic. You should go faster and faster with each round. You may wish to drum and/or dance around the fire as well, or play music. Once the power has reached its apex, place your hands over the fire, sending the power to the birthing Mother and the newborn God, and say: Tonight our God is reborn! Feel the energy pulse into the fire, and when your fingers stop tingling, return to your altar. Take the plate of cookies and hold them over the candles and then over the fire. Say: As the Mother births the Son, I toast her power and strength with food. Hail the Mother, giver of life! Place a bite of food in the libation bowl and feel free to eat some yourself. Then return the cookies to the altar and pick up the juice or wine. Once again, hold it over the three candles and the roaring fire, and say: As the Mother births the Son, I toast her power and strength with drink. Hail the Mother, giver of life! Pour a small amount of drink in the libation bowl and drink some yourself. Then return the juice or wine to the altar. After you have savored your food and drink, turn to your altar. Calling up the image of the Maiden Goddess, state: Maiden Goddess, Protectress of youth and innocence, Sweet and pure and lovely above all things, Thank you for joining me this Solstice Night. The God is reborn; The Sun returns. Hail and farewell! Snuff out the white candle. Thinking of the image of the Mother Goddess, say: Mother Goddess, Protectress of babies and animals, Creative and giving and lovely above all things, Thank you for joining me this Solstice Night.


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Cerridwyn, Welsh Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal

The God is reborn; The Sun returns. Hail and farewell! Snuff out the red candle. Recalling the image of the Crone Goddess, say: Crone Goddess, Protectress of life and death, Wise and powerful and lovely above all things, Thank you for joining me this Solstice Night. The God is reborn; The Sun returns. Hail and farewell! Snuff out the black candle, turn to the direction of the north, and say: Guardians of the North, Powers of Earth! Your presence this night has anchored and strengthened me. I thank you for your many blessings. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell! Turn to the direction of the west and say: Guardians of the West, Powers of Water! Your presence this night has soothed and cradled me, Connecting me to my first home—the sea. I thank you for your many blessings. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell! Turn to the south and say: Guardians of the South, Powers of Fire! Your presence this night has opened my heart to life and to love. I thank you for your many blessings. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell!


Cerridwyn, Welsh Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal

Turn to the east and say: Guardians of the East, Powers of Air! Your presence this night has brought the first stirrings of the new Sun. I thank you for your many blessings. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell! Turn back to your altar and say: Blessed be the Goddess and God. Blessed be creation. Blessed be the darkness. Blessed be the light!

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Goddess Alive!  

The changing of the seasons, phases of the moon, even our personal experiences-all are reflections of the Divine Feminine. Create a stronger...

Goddess Alive!  

The changing of the seasons, phases of the moon, even our personal experiences-all are reflections of the Divine Feminine. Create a stronger...

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