Welcome to the Sacred Forest story time. A time to weave the fabric of history & folklore to the mysteries of the present world to learn, grow and embody the magic of those who came before. Today I’d like to share with you a tale of Cerridwen. From the myths and mysteries of Welsh and Celtic lore, Cerridwen was an enchantress, an herbalist, a Goddess. She was known as the Dark Mother, a witch, a shapeshifter…and represented rebirth, wisdom, divination and inspiration. She is the keeper of the cauldron of the underworld, where Divine inspiration flows like rivers under the surface of the Earth. This is a tale of her fierce commitment to her child, her despair, her wrath, and her birth of transformation, wisdom and a return to the essential self.
Her tale begins at her home on a peaceful lake with her husband, a most beautiful daughter whose loveliness enchanted all who’s eye layed upon her. She bore yet another child, a son of an unfortunate fate. Her son was plagued with an ugliness and grotesqueness so profound, his first given name was Morfran, meaning ‘sea cow’. Cerridwen was truly concerned her son would not be taken into society in any useful form, and her anguish grew of the child’s fate so great that she eventually renamed him Afagdu, meaning ‘utter darkness’. This sweet soul deserved as much as a chance as her beloved daughter among the nobles of the land, and she was determined to give him that chance.
Cerridwen tapped into her prophecy and magic to construct a plan to give her son the gift of Prophetic Spirit and a way to embody all the knowledge and secrets of all the worlds and the entire Universe. With this brilliance beyond all measure he would earn his place among the highest in the land and his appearance would be no match for all he could offer the world. For this she would collect sacred herbs and plants from the lake around her home under specific alignments of the planets and the stars. With these herbs she would place them in a cauldron filled with water over a blazing fire. And for a year and a day she would construct this magical brew that would contain Awen, the Universal flowing source and magical essence from which we all came. Awen is the essence of life in which everything swims. It is the trees, the sun, the stars. It’s the music and inspiration in all that we do, and said to be the soul of the universe itself.
After this enchanted brew comes into being, it shall spit only 3 sacred drops containing the Awen. And for whom the drops fall upon will then embody all the magic Awen has to offer. The rest of the liquid is destined become nothing more than a powerful poison. She recruited a blind man to keep the fire burning, and a young boy named Gwion Bach to stir the bubbling liquid for a year and one day. As they tended to her cauldron she would continually forge the herbs to add to the concoction day and night. So day after day they sat, stirred, mixed and tended to this precious creation. Upon the mark of a year of the brew simmering into being, she set her son near the cauldron to await for the magic to arrive. In her exhausted state she lay down upon the trees and fell soundly asleep to the wooing of the birds who too knew the magic was coming.
As the young boy Gwion stirred and stirred eagerly, three drops sprung from the cauldron, landing upon his bare thumb. The scolding liquid seared his flesh, and he instinctively placed his thumb in his mouth, immediately absorbing the magic of Awen. In an instant he knew all the secrets and mysteries of all the worlds, of past, present and future. His eyes turned black with the vastness of the universe as wisdom, clarity and prophecy fused his entire being. The remaining bubbling liquid which was now poison cracked the cauldron in two, spilling upon and poisoning the earth. It was with his new insight he could see his fate when Cerridewen awoke to see what he had done, and he chose to flee. Cerridwen rose in a fury when she discovered what had happened, and after the boy she went.
With his acquired abilities he ran from Cerridwen in anyway he could, and a game of shapeshifting began. He first fled as a hare, Cerridwen then becoming a greyhound to hunt and sniff him out. He then became a fish, then she an otter. He then took to the skies and became a bird…. Cerridwen a mighty hawk. Finally he sought refuge among bails of grain, and Gwion turned into a single grain of corn. Cerridwen searched among the bails, shifting into a black breasted hen and plucked him right into her belly. Consuming the boy she finds herself with child and grows a new manifestation of young Gwion within her womb. Furious, she vows to destroy the boy when he is reborn. She is now the cauldron, the vehicle of transformation for the being of all knowing.
When the boy is born she stares into his eyes and cannot with a mother’s love destroy him. She instead wraps him in a leather pouch, sending him along a river to float for what becomes 40 years at sea. He is found by a nobleman who sees the magic in his eyes, naming him Taliesin, or he with the radiant brow. He is the mighty prophet of all knowledge, whom some come today to know as Merlin, and bestows many gifts upon the world.
There are many lessons to this tale, but if you want to know the true essence of Awen it’s a matter of seeking and finding that essential truth. The cauldron is of great significance in many ways. It’s a symbol that brings nourishment and transformation, but it also represents the Divine Feminine. The great mother and creative womb space from which we all came. Gwion flees through many stages as his newly enchanted self. In these transformations he becomes creatures of the earth, sea and sky. A full cycle of life to be consumed and then reborn. Settling in the channel of Awen yet again for regeneration, growth and rebirth.
So the son and Gwion represent the light and dark, yin and yang aspects to oneself? A tale of balance, transformation and rebirth? As a shapeshifter one is multi-faceted, able to choose the facet that best suits your circumstance. You too are a shapeshifter, a vehicle for inspiration and transformation able to adapt to any given situation. Sit with Cerridwen and feel her Divine inspiration, what magic lies within you? What are your many facets? A lesson to never give up, to find growth and inspiration through transformation. The cycle of life may not be literal life, death and rebirth, but instead the death of different chapters of our lives. To learn the lessons, to shapeshift, to grow, adapt and transform.
Awen is the ebb and flow of all existence. We swim within it in the womb, and when we are born and move through life feeling we’ve lost that connection, that we are separate from it. It feels as though it is something to be obtained, to search for. But what we find is that it is indeed inside of each and every one of us, and we can take the tales of history and our ancestors to guide us back to it. What a gift it is to realize that you already contain all of the love and answers in life you will ever need, you simply need to be guided back to them. The pilgrimage you seek is the journey to yourself. You are AWEN.
You can work with Cerridwen with stones of emerald, obsidian & onyx. Use her sacred herbs of sandalwood, patchouli, vervain and sage, and the elements of earth and water during her time of late autumn and winter. Place acorns and apple seeds on her altar and give thanks to this great mother for the power of transformation and a return to the essential self. Live your magic today and every day……my beautiful shapeshifter, Namaste.
Listen to this tale on my new podcast, Modern Goddess Living here.......
We all require our own space from time to time. A place where we can be alone, quiet, reflective, or creative. I've discovered how important it is to have a space like this for myself, a place where I can retreat to write, read and create. The more I settle into my connection with nature, the cycles of the moon, and using ritual and meditation for manifestation the more I find my sacred space to be just that, sacred. And even if you don't have an entire room to dedicate to such endeavors that doesn't mean you can't sprinkle it among your home-which I do as well!
I have several altar spaces set up around my home, some simple and subtle, others more elaborate. I may set up a spring altar in my main living space with symbols of the season; newly sprouted plants, eggs, bunnies, items which represent fertility and renewal. I place sprigs of lavender and rose petals around the rooms with crystals for creating a peaceful and loving home. I've fashioned my own special curio for my oils and herbs I like to use in my bath and to anoint my candles for meditation or ritual.
The kitchen is a magical place, as I love to cook and entertain! I put out fresh herbs, flowers and fruit, and when a bouquet of flowers or herbs is on its way out I simply dry them and decorate the table or save for sachets, dream pillows or other uses. I love to sprinkle dried herbs and petals onto candles, to infuse elements of nature into all I can within my space. I feel as though I am embraced in a warm hug from Mother Nature and can find meaningful expression of my moods, my desires and what I honor in life.
I'm fortunate to have my own den at home, where I choose to surround myself with 100s of books, art, and all my treasures. I've created a meditation station/altar space for daily contemplation and sacred ceremony, and have my desk where I can write my classes, workshops, stories and this article! Even if you have a small space in your yard, front porch, or anywhere you can have a special chair or cushion, you don't need much to create your own sanctuary in and around your home.
Here are some ideas on creating a sacred space and bringing a little more magic and nature into the home:
Love thyself.....words we all need to hear and probably practice more often than we do. In light of the #metoo movement and the call so many women are waking up to answer, women are stepping back into their power, finding their voice and taking back control over their sacred bodies-who can see them, who can touch them, and who can honor them. In addition to that we often fall into the business of life, taking care of others, or for any other reason, find the beliefs of our own beauty and Divine feminine essence can get diminished, stifled or even forgotten with insecurities, the media and stereotypes, or a disconnection to our sensual nature. Well, no more, I say!
Loving yourself and feeling good in your own skin is essential to any kind of growth or healing. Our internal power is limitless and we find we can tap into that part of ourselves for self expression, intimacy and yes-self love. Goddess archetypes can serve as an extension of aspects already within ourselves, and whom we can petition to reawaken the spark that already lays smoldering within our being.....so I've taken the liberty (and had fun doing it!) of creating a self love ritual working with the West African Yoruban Goddess Oshun.
Oshun-Goddess of luxury, beauty, fertility, sensuality, divination, the rivers, prosperity, sexuality, sweet waters and dancing. She is your girl to call upon to get your self love groove on. She teaches us how to love ourselves and our bodies, and there are many tales of her compassion and healing of the earth, while maintaining her independent and sensual nature. Used in the Yoruban traditions as well as Voodoo and Santeria, there is no doubt that she will help deliver your devotion to yourself so that you may practice giving, receiving and expression love for yourself as well as others.
This ritual involves tokens to her and a means to connect to your intimate self and bring out the Divine Goddess waiting to express herself. Many things are sacred to her, including honey, mirrors (to love herself, of course!), water, peacocks, yellow copper and more, and she is said to be connected to our solar plexus or Mani Pura chakra which rules our personal power, self esteem and confidence.
Oshun Altar Tool Ideas:
First be sure to give some quiet time to yourself, preferably with an empty house if possible. This is sacred space and love is for only you....for now anyway.
Remember you are a beautiful goddess capable of not only giving but receiving all of the love in the world. We can be forces of compassion and healing, while remaining our strong, independent and bad ass selves. Give yourself some love this Valentine's Day......you deserve it! Want another bad ass goddess to work with for some sensual self expression, check out a new moon ritual working with my other girl, Lilith!
Happy Valentine's Day, beautiful one.....
Shadow Work & Dark Goddess Magic-Embracing your Darkest Self to find Personal Alchemy and Healing
In modern day spiritual evolution and practices we are often told to stay positive, overcome our flaws, and only embrace the light along out path to enlightenment. However, is it possible that if we ignore the darker, repressed, untamed and fearful parts of our psyche that we are robbing ourselves of personal alchemy, cohesion and full transcendence?
Psychotherapist Carl Jung made popular the idea of different parts of psyche-including the shadow, the light, the persona are a ways we become fragmented from childhood to only show what we think the world wants to see and hide away that which is taboo or not socially accepted. The word persona is derived from a Latin word meaning mask, and he suggests that we put on a persona with certain archetypes of roles we play in life, the social masks we wear, if you will. These archetypes are fragmented parts of ourselves to organize how we experience life in different roles, what we would like to be or how we wish to bee seen in the world. (the mother, the co-worker, the spouse, etc.) Some say in today's modern day it's simply our persona we put on social media, not expressing the deeper, darker aspects that may not be accepted. This of course all up for debate, and I certainly don't accuse anyone of not living a full, authentic life, but I find this is something to explore....so let us dive a little deeper.
The shadow according to Jung is the hidden place within our own subconscious that holds repressed ideas, beliefs, weaknesses, impulses, fears, embarrassments, perversions and the untamed and chaotic parts of ourselves. That these accumulate along our life journey and often time ignored causing a block of living a fully authentic life and to truly love ourselves. If we allow ourselves to acknowledge these core wounds and dark spaces with full ownership can we then work to let go of anger, guilt or shame? Can we change the pattern of self-sabotage if learn that we hate to feel vulnerable and weak?
We've been taught our whole lives to be afraid of the dark, but there is a strong creative energy in that space that longs for you to shed your light upon it. Seeds take roots in the darkness and we can often find a fertile underground just waiting to be tapped. There cannot be light without the darkness, and we are after all the sum of all of our parts...so why not explore, acknowledge and walk boldly and lovingly into our darkest of places? We are all light and dark, weak and strong, and can find a balance of all that we are with love.
I love to find creative ways to move towards transformation, and I'm all about ritual and Goddess work to bring about aspects of myself I want to explore and shift. So here are a few ways to can delve into the darkness for creativity and exploration, and Dark Goddesses we can call upon when doing our own shadow work.
How to Explore your Shadow Self:
Now these woman are not to be feared, but revered! Working with Dark Goddess energy can bring about a sense of personal power, protection and creativity. These Goddesses embrace the shadow, follow the darkness and tread where others only fear. Create your own ritual to call upon one of these bad asses of the dark to illuminate your truest self so that you may wrap your arms around every aspect of yourself-mind, body and spirit.
Kali-The Bad Ass Destroyer
Kali, meaning black, is the Hindu Goddess of destruction, chaos, transformation, rebirth and primal energy. She helps to liberate us from who or what we think we are, so that we may find wholeness. Call upon her to help slay some demons and explore the darkness from which the entire universe was created. Read more about Kali here.
Hekate (Hecate)-Queen of the Underworld
The Dark Moon Goddess-of the night, and of the crossroads. Hekate is the guardian of the spirit world, protectors of travelers of the crossroads & Goddess of all witches, magic, ghosts and witchcraft. Her sacred animal is the black dog and she is depicted holding two torches-call upon her for protection, insight and guidance in the dark. Petition her for direction at the crossroads and she will give you the key to taking your own, truest direction.
Persephone-The Balance between Darkness & Light
The story of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, is one that leaves her another Queen of the Underworld. Abducted by Hades, Lord of the Underworld, she became a symbol of the cycles of the seasons as well as death and rebirth. When first abducted Demeter called upon Hekate to help find her child. This Goddess of harvest and fertility was made to live among the shadows and the dead for half of the year, and each time she left her mother Demeter dried up the earth, creating winter. When she was allowed to return into the Upperworld in the spring, the earth would then come back to live with new growth. She was tricked into eating pomegranate seeds during the negotiations of her return, and she's forever obligated to make this return to the Underworld each year.
Inanna & Ereshkigal-Sisters of Light and Dark
Inanna, Sumerian Goddess of Heaven and Earth, love and war. Ereshkigal, her dark sister of the Underworld, and represents the unseen parts of ourselves. There tale tells us that neither side is more important than the other. When Inanna ventures into the Underworld her sister kills her, they then merge into one reminding us that that we are both the light and the darkness. Read their full story here.
To work with these Goddesses follow your own intuition to invoke these energies.
Create your own ritual to petition for guidance and support as you explore your Shadow as well as your Light. Some ideas for ritual can include:
The definition of invocation is the action of invoking something or someone for assistance or as an authority, also the summoning of a deity. Often times in life we find ourselves seeking guidance; for reassurance, divine strength, healing, courage or fiercelessness. To do our own inner work we must sometimes call upon the quiet wisdom of the ones who came before us. The resonance of their grace lives all around us, in the trees, the moon, the stars. Through presence and intention we can call upon the Original Goddesses, those who throughout history have inspired, nurtured, captured hearts and destroyed fears. Whether these woman come from mythology, folklore, ancient tales or lived not so long ago they embody aspects we carry within ourselves. We can beseech them or gently call for guidance, drawing in their essence to awaken our own power.
When you find yourself challenged and not sure where to turn, see which version of the Goddess you can call upon. Perhaps Lakshmi for prosperity, or Flora for fertility, Tara for liberation and protection or Kuan Yin, the Goddess of mercy. These deities and Goddesses serve to empower us; to allow us to draw in strength and direction for our lively endeavors or the healing of our souls. When you sit down for meditation, ritual or invocation choose your inspiration and write their name down or place a picture on your altar. Connect to the divine essence of which you seek, and allow the magic to happen. Know that there is always the Divine essence and goddess light within you, they are here to simply help you find it.
Blessings, love and light lovely ladies.
Join us February 20th, 2017 for our next meetup to get an introduction the 'original O.G.s'. Learn and discuss some of the most inspirational women of history and lean a ritual for the moon goddess. Plus take home a new moon ritual a time to plant seeds and set intention. Space is limited, learn more here.
Kali. Or Kali Ma to others. She isn't your average Hindu God, oh no. She is the bad ass Mother of Demons, first of her name. The goddess of time, creator of change. The Queen of destruction and preservation she is the breaker of chains to our ego and the liberator of all men. And yes, if you are following my Game of Thronesreferences she too was born of fire, but to devour blood. I'd like to tell you a story of Kali Ma. She is Enlightenment herself, a mother of tough love meant to lead us to find true transformation & release our pre-conceived notions of who we think we are or think we should be so that we may find Moksha, or liberation. She is the powerful, hungry feminine who wears a string of skulls around her neck and a skirt of severed arms. She wears infants for earrings and carries a severed head in one of her 4 arms and a sword in another. But we'll get back to that.
First we'll begin the story of how she came to be. It's a plot fit to be in a popular HBO series, but much fiercer and with greater reward. She was born during a battle between the Gods & the Titans. Durga, the Mother of the Universe rode into battle on the back of a lion to slay many demons & the Asura King. However, every time one of her 10 weapons in her 10 hands ripped through his flesh, each drop of blood that touched the Earth created a clone of the king. Hundreds of replicas appeared as quickly as she wielded her swords. Feeling the crushing weight of defeat Durga did something out of desperation, frustration & anger. She emanated her most gruesome & compelling aspects of herself. And from her brow the Goddess Kali was born. Designed with a lust for blood and a cyclonic wrath, Kali worked to quench the demon fire that was sure to lay waste to the heavens. Her tongue reached for every drop of blood that hit the ground; devouring the army of kings & eventually the king himself, restoring peace among the Gods.
So. Earning her bragging rights on slaying demons and killing kings, Kali continues to live on offering us peace by bestowing comfort and wisdom with the protective fury of a mother for her children. So lets get back to that skirt. Her appearance can be construed as frightening but has much more meaning than death and destruction and straight up slaying everything in her path. Her face is often depicted as dark blue or even black, representing the vast darkness in which the universe was created and which will be its eventual destruction. Her goal is to protect us from evil & release us from our egos which ultimately come from our connection to our physical body. It's said that one can only reach liberation when there is a release of the attachment to our physical form and we connect with our true eternal self. Death. Transformation. Liberation. So the skulls and body parts represent her trophies in victory for liberating her children from their ego through knowledge. In one hand she holds the Sword of Truth, the other a severed head dripping blood. This represents destruction of the ego through knowledge. Her tongue is out ready to lap up the blood of those slained, ready to kill some demons. Her breasts are bountiful and her womb fertile. A true nurturing mother who will do anything to protect her children.
Her many strengths include her compassion & ability to consume. She is the essence of life. When we find ourselves in battle with inner demons or challenges of the world we can invoke our inner Kali, draw in a fiery fierceness to stand up to our demons and fight. The ability to absorb into yourself or consume your enemy allows you to fully own your fear. To experience it, know it, and eventually move toward peace and resolution. But don't misunderstand to assume engaging in confrontation. Our internal strength is used to understand and slay what lays waste to our eventual liberation. Confrontation only breeds more aggression and conflict.
So when you're up for battle remember this mantra: Om Krim Kalikayai Namah.... I bow my head to the Goddess Kali, Mother of Demons, First of her name. The Queen of destruction and preservation she is the breaker of chains to our ego and the liberator of all men.
Channel Your Inner Kali and Live Forever!
Hello lovelies. Thank you for letting me express my journey of discovering my magic and Divine Feminine. I am happy to share my experiences with you to heal, love, and evolve.