Tuesday, December 23, 2014

'Tis the Season

The Wheel of the Year has turned once again and we find ourselves at the Midwinter Festival of Light, one which has been celebrated in many mythologies and under many names for eons.

At this time in the Northern Hemisphere, the light of the sun is reborn and the days begin to grow longer, waxing toward spring. Very frequently midwinter is celebrated as the birthday of the Sun God; always, it marks a time of renewal. It is a time of light in the midst of darkness, warmth of spirit and heart to counter the cold of the weather and a harsh world.

In actuality, the story of the birth of the Sun God, the Divine Child of Light, has its origins in the stars of the winter sky. The hours of darkness have gradually increased since the Autumnal Equinox as the longest and darkest night of year, the Midwinter Solstice, approaches. The actual moment of Solstice marks the time when the Sun moves from the sign of Sagittarius into that of Capricorn. At midnight on Midwinter Night, the constellation of Virgo, holding her sheaf of wheat, rises in the eastern sky. And so the Virgin gives birth to the Child of Light in the very depths of the darkness. His light, the newborn sun, will rise at dawn.

The newborn Light will bring growth and abundance—and therefore, life. So it’s not surprising to find that, in the Christian tradition, the Child is born from the House of Bread—Bethlehem’s literal meaning—who is the Virgin holding the sheaf of grain. He is laid in a manger—the small glowing starry cloud of Praesaepe, or Manger/Crib, which is in the constellation of Cancer, the astrological sign of the Mother, the nurturer. He is surrounded by ox and ass— respectively, the constellation of Taurus and the star group Aselli, the Asses, in the constellation of Cancer, with one ass positioned on each side of his Manger.

Three wise men—called kings or magi—come seeking him. The stars that form the belt of Orion, which rises in the southeast on Midwinter Night, were often called the Three Kings. The Kings/Magi, who were said to be astrologers, have come because they “followed his star,” which rose in the East. Was it Sirius, brightest of the stars and associated by the Egyptians with Isis, whose light they followed? Or perhaps a special planetary conjunction that lit up the night sky in the months just before midwinter? 

Angels sing to herald this birth—bending low to the earth from their homes in the high heavens. Angel means “messenger,” and stars were looked upon as messengers of the divine. The angels’ song poured forth the message of the new birth—and its accompanying flow of spiritual energies—that ushered in a new era of light, love, growth, and abundance to come. The angels sang of this new birth to shepherds in their fields; the constellation of Bootes, near Virgo, is known as the shepherd or herdsman, while the constellation of Auriga is known as the shepherd’s crook.

And so the sky tells the story of the birth of the Holy Child of Light. At Midwinter, this Light is born again, and will shine forth—bringing light, warmth, joy, and abundance to all the world.

This time of the year is a time of sharing, love, and good cheer. May you all experience these holiday delights of the spirit, which far surpass any material gifts.

© Margie McArthur, 2005-2006; All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Communion of Light in the Chapel of the Stars

~ Here is another vision journey for this Time of the Returning Light ~



Take a slow deep breath, then exhale, and relax. Be still for a moment, and feel your body as you sit upon the couch, chair or floor. Take another deep breath.…and let it out. And another. And with each one, you feel yourself becoming relaxed and calm, receptive and aware.

As you gaze at the candle flame in the center of the room, you feel your own, inner flame, the spark of  divinity within you, awaken in response. Close your eyes now and see the candle flame with your inner vision, and watch as it grows in size, strength, and brightness. Take another slow deep breath, and as you exhale you watch the flame growing...and feel your inner flame growing stronger and brighter as well, and your awareness and receptivity increasing along with it.

With your inner vision, you watch as the candle flame increases in size till it becomes a wall of fire, a curtain of flame.

You step through the curtain of flame and find yourself to be in a very different kind of place. You are standing at the edge of a woods, looking into a clearing, in the midst of which sits a small stone building. It is a cold wintery night, and overhead the stars shine brightly in the deep blue sky. The tiny crescent of the waning moon is visible to the west, but the stars are bright and provide illumination.

You walk towards the stone building, and as you get closer you can see it is a chapel of some sort, with three wooden stairs that lead up to a porch and a wooden door. You spend a few moments looking at the carvings on the wooden door.....then climb the stairs, push the door open, and enter the chapel.

The starlight gleams down into the roofless, giving a dim illumination to the interior. You see a cobbled stone floor, a few icons on the walls, some wooden benches, and at the front of the chapel, a stone altar. On the altar is a beautiful golden cup.
                                   
You walk up to the altar and go around it to the other side, so that you are facing the body of the chapel and the door through which you just entered. You feel pulled to place your hands down upon the stone altar and do so, allowing your awareness sink within the stone......

Suddenly you become aware that the chapel, which had looked empty and deserted, is actually full. You hear the rustle of a great crowd of beings. You cannot see them, but you can sense them. You sense animal spirits, plant spirits, tree spirits. You sense humans, faeries, elves...and angels. There is a sense of expectancy and subdued excitement in the room, and yet a feeling of reverence as well.

Your eyes are drawn upward to the sky above the chapel. The great cobalt dome of sky sparkles with stars. But your attention is pulled behind the stars, to the vast sea of space itself, and within that great sea of space you sense a vast presence, and a consciousness almost beyond human comprehension. You feel tiny by comparison. Yet despite the vastness of this consciousness and your relative tininess, you feel it’s attention and caring... as it gazes at you with its thousands of eyes.....

You look now at the stars, and notice that two of them seem particularly bright...brighter than the rest, and that these two seem to be moving slowly and majestically across the sky to a place where their paths will intersect. You watch as this happens..... and as they come into conjunction, their lights blend together, forming one huge bright light, one enormous star. Beams of light begin to pour forth from this huge star, streaming downward toward the earth, and as you watch this, you hear music — a kind of wordless singing of many voices, in beautiful harmony.....

On instinct you place your hands on the golden cup that is sitting in the center of the stone altar. As you sense all the unseen faces in the chapel turning skyward, you lift the golden cup to the sky. The beams of light pouring down from the large star flow into the cup, filling it with a light both silver and golden, a light that fills the cup to the brim, and then overflows. The beams of light from the sky flow onto your head and into your body, as well. They splash onto your shoulders, run down back and front, run down your arms and onto your hands. The light is infusing your body, and you know it is infusing all the other beings in the chapel, as well.

And everywhere on and in you this light reaches, you feel warmed, cleansed, blessed, and healed. You spend a few moments allowing yourself to fully experience and absorb this…… 

After a while, the outpouring of light from the huge star slows…. its brilliance begins to slowly decrease..... You lower the cup to the altar, and as you do so, you become aware of the presence of an immense angelic being just behind you. The angel places its hands upon your shoulders, and as this happens you feel a great and powerful blessing pour through you, and into the contents of the cup....    Lifting the cup, you take a sip, then extend your arms outward and offer the cup to the unseen beings in the chapel. You hear a great rustle of movement as they all come forward. And as each comes forward to drink from the cup, you find that you can see them as they take their sip. As they take their sip, each one looks at you, and you look upon them — faeries, elves, angels; plant spirits, animal spirits, nature spirits, and even some human spirits — and you feel the bond of joyful kinship that unites you with these other creatures of earth and sky....

When this is done you place the cup down upon the altar. You stretch your arms out again, and feel the power of blessing flow forth from you, and out into the world…. You sense that the spirits in the chapel, who have also partaken of the starry nectar, are doing likewise. You feel the power of blessing streaming out of you and out of the other beings, out of the chapel and into the world, to places and beings who are suffering — in pain of mind, body, emotion, and spirit. The blessings — of peace, of comfort, of joy — stream forth for a long time…... till finally... it feels complete, and you slowly lower your arms....

A moment of silence follows.... and then you feel the great angelic presence behind you slowly withdraw its energy from you.... After another moment, you again hear a rustle of movement, as the spirits arise and depart from the chapel.

Finally you are alone in the chapel....all is silent and still. You look at the cup, and see that, despite all who have drunk from its contents, it is still brimming and overflowing with silvery golden light. In fact, this light continues to spill over the top, flowing down onto the altar, and to the stone floor of the chapel. It soaks into the stones of both altar and floor, and it flows in tiny gleaming rivulets out the wooden door and down the wooden stairs, where it soaks into the earth. And you are aware that it is infusing all that it touches with blessing, cleansing and healing.

You feel now that it is time to leave this place. You walk around the altar, through the chapel, and step over the threshold and out into the night. You close the wooden door behind you, and walk down the wooden steps and out into the clearing. After a few more steps you pause... you look upward again at the sky and feel the vast consciousness there. The moon is on the far horizon. The bright star still gleams above you; the other stars twinkle brightly in the dark sky. As you gaze upon them, your vision shifts, and you see that the stars outline the form of a woman swaddled in a long hooded cloak. Her womb is glowing, and she holds a child in her arms.... You feel her presence, and that of the child she holds..... As you watch, rays of light begin to stream forth from both mother and child... touching the earth.... You feel bathed in this light, and renewed....

Then your vision shifts again, and although you still feel the presence of mother and child, you see only a starlit sky. You begin walking across the clearing, and just past tree line, you see a fire burning in the distance...You walk toward the fire, and find that each step you take brings you more and more into your normal waking awareness. You reach the fire, step through the flames, and find that you have come back to this time and this place, into a room where candles glow and perhaps, a hearthfire burns.... You are back…. And when you feel ready you may open your eyes.




Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mother Night, Winter Solstice, and the Chapel of the Stars

The Germanic pagan traditions celebrate the feast of Mother Night on eve of the winter solstice. Mother Night marked the beginning of the twelve day long festival of Yule that celebrated the return of the sun. Mother Night was sacred to the Goddess Holle (also rendered as Holla, Holda and Hulda) and the disr - the ancestral mothers of the people. On this night people gathered to give honor to Holle (or Frigga in the Scandinavian traditions) and those ancestral mothers.

Falling as it does on solstice eve, which is the time when Mediterranean and southern European cultures celebrated the rebirth of the sun child, it is hard not to associate the two festivals. While the Germanic cultures did not celebrate Yule as the rebirth of the sun child in the same way as did the Mediterranean cultures, they did celebrate it in terms of a rebirth or regeneration of the light of Sunna/Sol, the sun goddess. No matter which way it’s looked at, Yule—the Winter Solstice—is a celebration of the return of the light, and also a celebration of how light comes forth from the darkness.

I found this to be a great significance. So often the attention is given to the sun child only and not the mother who bore him, except perhaps in a round-about way. Yet here was a festival which seemed to be honoring First Mother, the great mother of all manifest life—Mother Night, she who gives birth to Light (in the form of the stars), and therefore, Life. She is indeed the great Ancestral Mother of all, and the idea of celebrating her on Solstice Eve appealed to me greatly. In the great cosmic scheme of things, Solstice Eve represents the time of her confinement, the time when she labors to give birth.


"Ave Maria" by Henryka Ternier

Let our celebration of the return of the sun child’s light and warmth begin with due honor to the mother who bore him/her—the darkness who gives birth to the light. 

Here is a Vision Journey from my book, Lady of the Sea: The Goddess Who Births the New Age, that you may find a useful addition to your Solstice ceremonies.

Create an altar. It can be as simple as a candle on a small table (or even the floor), or one that uses an altar cloth and symbols of the season. I use a midnight blue altar cloth and a beeswax  candle in a safe candle holder. Sit silently before your altar, breathing deeply till you are in a relaxed and receptive state of being. 

Meditate for a few moments on how this is the darkest time of the year; the time when, in the natural world, all life and movement has slowed to a seeming stop before the sun is reborn and the wheel of life begins to turn again. The moment may be likened to the end of labor, when, although the mother is working hard to birth her child, for the rest of the world around her there is a sense of waiting, of regular time suspended, as all focus on the impending birth and await the joyful sound of the infant’s first cry. When you have meditated upon these things, and feel sufficiently relaxed and calm, light your candle and begin the Vision Journey just below.

Journey to the Chapel of the Stars

Become aware now of the Four Directions that surround you—East, South, West, and North—and  focus your attention for a moment on each of them in turn.... In your mind’s eye, see the candle that burns at the center of your altar.... Focus on its flame.... As you gaze at this flame, you feel your own inner flame, the spark of divinity within you, awaken in response.... You watch as the candle’s flame begins to grow, increasing in size, strength, and brilliance..... and you feel your inner flame growing stronger and brighter as well, and your awareness increasing along with it.

With your inner vision, you watch the candle flame grow in size till it becomes a wall of fire, a curtain of flame. You step through the curtain of flame and find yourself in a very different kind of place. You are standing at the edge of a wood, looking into a clearing, in the midst of which sits a small stone building. It is a cold wintery night, and overhead the stars shine brightly in the dark clear sky. The moon has set but the stars are bright and provide illumination. You walk toward the building in the clearing, and as you get closer you can see it is a small chapel, with three wooden  stairs that lead up to a porch and a wooden door.

You reach the porch, and spend a few moments looking at the carvings on the wooden door…. Then you climb the stairs, push the door open, and enter the chapel, closing the door behind you.

To your surprise, the chapel has no roof ... Starlight gleams down, giving a dim illumination to the interior. You see a floor of roughly cut flagstone, with a spiral carved into one of the larger stones just beyond where you stand. You see a several icons on the chapel walls, several rows of wooden benches that start just beyond the spiral, and at the front of the chapel, a stone altar. You gaze at the carved spiral on the floor, and it comes to you suddenly that you must walk this spiral. You feel incredulous about this because the spiral is so small, you know your feet will not fit within the measure of its lines. But the impulse to walk it is strong, so you step gingerly onto it, feeling large and clumsy, with your foot just touching the opening of the spiral. As you step into it further, the urge to walk intensifies, so you take another step, then another, and another.... As you walk, you become aware that your consciousness is changing, deepening…. Taking the next step you notice that walking the spiral is not as difficult as you thought it would be. You take another step, wondering if you have grown smaller or the spiral larger. With the next step, you know that it doesn't matter… and that somehow, you are doing what is necessary to do.

You have an awareness, now, of those nameless others who have walked this spiral path before you. In your mind you hear a voice say, "Many have walked this path before you and many will walk it after you." As you continue watching your feet move along the spiraling line, the room around you seems to disappear, and the spiraling path you are walking seems to grow larger. A thought comes to you of the soul’s spiraling path into and out of incarnation.... You continue walking, focusing your attention on each step as you take it. With each step, your consciousness expands, and your awareness of your surroundings dissolves… only the path remains, and your feet, treading it…. The spiral grows smaller… tighter… smaller… and tighter, as you spiral inward, step by step….

At length you reach the center of the spiral, and look up. You find that you are within a vast, starry expanse. Directly in front of you the brighter stars seem to form the outline of an oval shape, larger at the bottom than the top. As you gaze at it, noting the dimmer stars twinkling within it, you are aware that "It" is a presence, a feminine presence, and most definitely alive—in fact, pulsating with Life. You realize that She is very lovingly aware of you. Her size and power are awe inspiring; you feel blessing and beneficence radiating from Her. You know that you are in the presence of the Source of all creation. You pause for a few moments to simply BE in the presence of this enormous Being....

As you gaze at her, you notice that there is a particularly bright star gleaming in her center, the area of her heart and womb.... Suddenly it bursts forth brilliantly, shooting out many bright sparks. A large spark shoots toward you, enters you, floods through your being, filling you with its light and enlivening power, and comes to rest in your heart center.... Other sparks shower through the sky and down toward the earth... you sense that they are filling the planet with their divine light, coming to rest in the body of the earth—in the mountains, the plains, the deserts, the rivers, and the oceans... and in all beings, including humans.

As this happens you become aware of a sound… it is the sound of many voices singing a wordless but harmonious melody. The melodious voices stir your soul, open your heart, and expand your being; you feel full of love—love for life, love for all of the wondrous creation, love for all that is.... You spend some time experiencing this....

After a while... you know that it is time for you to return, and that you must set your feet once again on the spiraling path and travel outward, returning back the way you have come. You pause and give thanks for the love and blessings you have been given. With the star spark glowing within you, you turn, and looking down at your feet, you begin walking clockwise ... out of the spiral ... step after step.... As you walk, the path broadens ...you feel your consciousness begin to shift... Beneath your feet you see once again the flagstone floor of the chapel… and the carved lines of the spiral….A few more steps... and you step out of the carved spiral... and become aware once more of the chapel in which you are standing....

As you stand there, you feel that something else is required of you....You walk up the center aisle to the altar… and reaching into yourself, you take a spark from the glowing star spark within your heart. You place it upon the stone altar with a prayer.... The spark blazes up for a moment, then sinks into the stone... becoming one with it....

You feel now that it is time to leave. You turn and walk down the center aisle to the back of the chapel. You step over the threshold, out into the night, closing the wooden door behind you. You walk down the wooden steps and out into the clearing. After a few more steps you pause… looking upward at the sky... feeling the vast consciousness there. The stars twinkle in the dark sky... and as you gaze upon them, your vision shifts, and you see that the stars outline the form of a woman swaddled in a long hooded cloak. Her womb is glowing, and she holds a child in her arms..... As you perceive this image, you feel her presence and her motherly love.... Then your vision shifts again, and although you still feel her presence, you see only a starlit sky ....

You begin walking across the clearing, and just past the tree line, you see a fire burning in the distance.... You walk toward the fire, and find that each step you take brings you more and more into your normal waking awareness. You reach the fire, step through the flames, and find that you have come back to this time… this place… and into a room where a candle burns.... You are back .... Settle into your body, and when you feel ready you may open your eyes.

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Peace and blessings to all on these Holy Nights!

 



Friday, December 12, 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe



Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In my book, Lady of the Sea: The Goddess who Births the New Age, I wrote a short piece about the Virgin of Guadalupe, which I will quote here:

In the early years of Spanish rule in Mexico, during a time in which the Indians were being (often forcibly) converted to Catholicism, she appeared on December 9, 1531, to an Aztec Indian man, remembered now by his adopted Christian name, Juan Diego. It was early and Juan was on his way to Mass when he passed Tepeyac, a hill previously the site of a sacred shrine to the Corn Goddess,  Tonanzin -- whose name means “Our Mother.” He was surprised to hear birds singing -- apparently rare in the winter -- but even more surprised when he saw a lovely young native woman standing near the top of the hill. She greeted him with maternal affection, calling him her “little son.” A golden mist surrounded her, and she was wearing a dress covered with traceries of flowers and leaves, and a blue cloak with  eight-pointed stars on it. (In the past the eight-pointed star has been a symbol of Inanna and the planet Venus) She identified herself as the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and said she wanted a temple built for her at that place.

In the days that followed, she appeared a few more times to repeat the request. It took several visits to the bishop by Juan and a stunning miracle on the part of the Lady to convince the bishop of the truth of the apparition, but the cathedral eventually built on the spot still stands today in Mexico City. And the miracle -- her image on Juan’s cloak, complete with the miraculous winter roses and the moon beneath her feet -- hangs above the cathedral’s altar for all to see. (1)

The more closely I examine pictures of this miraculous cloak, the more interesting it becomes to me.

Her cloak is blue, with stars on it. This would seem to represent the night sky, lit only by stars. Her gown is covered with images of flowers and plants, traced in a deep reddish-gold against a pale rose background, clearly representative of the earth’s plant kingdom. Taken together, the cloak and gown seem to represent the star-filled night sky and the plant-filled fertile earth. She wears a black sash, which to the Aztecs of the area signified pregnancy. She stands upon a crescent moon that is held by an angel. The angel holds the edge of her gown in one hand, and the edge of her cloak in the other, as if to show the union of heaven and earth, and to indicate that she is important in both realms.

She is encased in an oval whose shape is reminiscent of an auric field. She is surrounded by what appears to be rays of light, the source of which—mostly likely the sun—seems to be behind her. All this fits rather precisely with the description of the woman in the Book of Revelation, who was “clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet.” While the Virgin of Guadalupe does not wear a crown of 12 stars as the woman in Revelation does, she does wear a crown (more apparent in the older images than the more recent ones), the spikes of which blend in with the rays of light that surround her.

The woman in the Book of Revelation is pregnant, about to give birth, and “travailing in labor.” As I mention in my book, I feel the woman described in the Book of Revelation to be the Goddess giving birth to the new age—at that point in time, the Age of Pisces. The image of the pregnant Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, so closely fits this description that it seems to me that she might well be indicating the goddess who births our new age, Aquarius.  While the Age of Aquarius was not was not dawning in 1531, it was just below the horizon – so to speak – and a new way of being was certainly on its way to the world, particularly the “new" world of the American continents.

The Lady also appeared to Juan Diego’s dying uncle, Juan Bernardino, curing him of a disease and telling him the name by which she wished to be known: “The Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary of Guadalupe.”

But Guadalupe is a Spanish word, and the Lady would have spoken to both men in their native tongue. Many believe the word was actually Coatlaxopeuh, which in the Nahuatl language meant “She who crushes the head of the (stone) serpent.” In addition to the fact that there is a biblical reference to the woman  (interpreted as Mary) who will “crush the head of the serpent,” the word Coatlaxopeuh sounded very much like the Spanish word Guadalupe, which was the name of an important Black Madonna shrine in Spain. At least that must have been how the bishop heard it because that was the name given to the apparition and the site. The Spanish word “Guadalupe” actually comes from an Arabic word that is said to mean, quite appropriately in this case,“river of love.” (2)


The Guadalupe apparition was an extremely significant event for many reasons, not the least of which was that it marked a time that, with the intermarriage of the Spanish (and later other Europeans) and the Indian peoples of the Americas, a new ethnicity was about to come into existence. The Lady of Guadalupe is, in a very real sense, the mother of these people, and of all the mixed blood people of the Americas, and may, indeed, be America’s own “Black Madonna.”


Over the course of the apparitions, among the words spoken by the Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego were these: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”

Truly, the words of a mother. She is our mother indeed!


UPDATE:  Just after I'd finished posting this I found a most wonderful article about the Lady of Guadalupe. Written by Ani Williams, it has even more detail about the image on the tilma than I have provided! Read it here --
http://aniwilliams.com/?p=5276

Sources:
(1) McArthur, Margie; Lady of the Sea: The Goddess Who Births the New Age, pp 78-79
(2) Ibid; also  - wad-i al-hub; Arabic Place Names, www.billcasselman.com/place_names_of_the_world/arabic_place_names_one.htm , and
http://archive.today/5wNax

Images:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe#mediaviewer/File:1531_Nuestra_Se%C3%B1ora_de_Guadalupe_anagoria.jpg
http://www.sancta.org/art/OLG_top_4x6.jpg

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception





Once again, here is my posting on this Marian feast day, originally posted a few years ago.


The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

It's an excerpt from my book, "The Lady of the Sea: The Goddess Who Births the New Age." This book was published earlier this year and is available through Amazon.com

Lady of the Sea: The Goddess Who Births the New Age

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lady of the Sea: The Goddess Who Births the New Age

A New Book! 

Over the last few years I’ve posted to this blog a few excerpts* of a book I’ve been working on for many years. I am pleased to announce that the book has now been published and is available for purchase.



"Lady of the Sea" is a book about the Divine Mother — her place in the religious history of the western world, our relationship to her through the centuries, and her re-emergence and return to us in this era, as evidenced by dreams, visions, prophecies, and earth changes.

As we move through the threshold of the Age of Pisces and into the Age of Aquarius, the Lady of the Sea — “the woman clothed in the sun, crowned with stars, and with the moon under her feet" — calls to us to recognize her presence and importance in our lives and in our world; she offers hope, healing, and balance as we seek to meet the challenges that confront us in this turbulent time of change. 


You can find it at Amazon

And CreateSpace

Signed copies may be obtained by ordering the book through my website. My shipment of books has not yet arrived, so please note that it will be a few weeks before I can ship your order.

Also, please be aware that as of now, the book is available only through Amazon, CreateSpace, and my website. Any other sellers who are listing it on Amazon or elsewhere do not possess copies.

*  Excerpts are here and here