Temperance

Temperance

Upright Meaning
Balance, moderation, patience, purpose, meaning

Reversed Meaning
Imbalance, excess, lack of long term vision

Description of Rider-Waite-Smith

The central figure of the Temperance card is the Angel Michael, firey wings outspread. One foot firmly planted upon the solid earth, a toe dipped into the swirling waters, he unites the higher spiritual self with the physical world and emotional spheres. This image, which is wholy one of balance represents the cardinal virtue of Temperance, the state to which we all aspir. The case therefore represents a time of weighing up ones actions, thoughts and feelings carefully, but this should not be taken as a form of hesitancy. The water of the cups is ever flowing and the river beneath the angels feet is clear, this is not a card of stagnation and is better interpreted as being a time to advance with caution but advance you must. The very act of the angel “dipping the toe in” can itself be a clear message in a reading.

Key Symbols

The Elements

As with the Magician and other cards within the Major Arcana the four elements are in stark evidence in the form of dominant colours. The balance between Earth (green), Air (white), Fire (red) and Water (blue) sits within the wider context of balance indicated by the card.

The Angel

The figure of an angel, presumably Michael, dominates the image. They stand with one foot on solid land with the other foot in the flowing water before them. This represents more balance within the cards, the balance between our actions in the physical world and our emotions. The angel also represents the balance between heaven and earth, with the white robes representing higher spirituality and the red wings the fire of heaven, or faith. The angel brings these elements into balance with the physicality of the earth and the emotional flow of water.

The Cups

In the angels, hands are two cups with eater flowing between them. The mixing of fluids, in this case water, is an alchemical proces. The operator is required to find the right balance between two substances, or states, to be able to achieve an end. Another way to view this is that the angel is attempting to share the liquid equally across both cups, thus representing emotional balance in different way.

Temperance of the Arcana

The character represented by the Temperance card is the last of the courtiers, Volta. She is a small selft person, with red hair and a dropping eye and she is placed in charge of the food provisions of the city in times of both celebration and trouble. Unfortunately, like all the courtiers, Volta represents the inversed nature of the Temperancr card, lacking any of the cards positive attributes. She is given to over indulgence, begging and stealing food that might otherwise have been for others, and speaks often unwisely in a seeming panic. Unlike Vlastomil and Valdemar she prove redemable in the game, an unwilling participant in the plan of the Devil. When the spirit of the corrupted Arcana is expelled it is revealed to be a half starved rodent like creature with exposed ribs and spine. This is not the animal that appears on the Temperance card of the Arcana however, and Volta is represented elsewhere in the game as a white dove.

It is the white bird, which I like to interpret as a dove, which dominates the imagery of the card. Winged with gossamer and stood waist deep in water with the cups suspended between her hands as water close between them, the card has lost its balance of all four elements but the theme still remains. Air and Water are opposing elements in the magical compass, and can also be interpreted in the light of the Rider Waite Smith’s symbolism as balance between the higher spiritual and emotional selves. This should not preclude the physical and material, for the figure itself embodied the material form and should recall these qualities to you. Considering the image of the Dove herself, a creature associated in many mainstream religions as a bird of peace, she also brings to mind the peace a temperant personality and purpose.The face of the bird is calm and reposed, implying a sense of patience and self control. Actions are cautious and careful, not stagnated but taken with consideration and mindfulness and the flowing water between the cups reminds us of this and the overall theme of balance.

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Hekate Phosphoros

Like many of us our leaders are trying to find their way in difficult times. Situations change rapidly and information’s and responses can quickly cease to be relevant. The existence of “fake news” and the misuse of platform compounds this situation in the worst way possible.

When thinking of the dark impact that ignorance and fear can have my thoughts are drawn to my patron deity, the Greek Goddess Hekate. Of her many roles I think the most relevant in this discussion is that of Phosphoros which means “light-bearer” in ancient Greek.

Hekate is often described and portrayed as holding lit torches and walking through dark terrains and she is often called upon by modern Pagans as a guide in dark times. With her torch she not only casts back the darkness of ignorance and fear she brings to sight the truth for all to see.

Another reason that I think of Hekate at this time is her association with leaders of both men and god. One of the earliest Greek invocations to Hekate. In Hesiod’s Theogony (lines 405-450) Hekate is associated not only as a confidant and advisor to Zeus it is also said that “… whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgment, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people.”

With these thoughts in mind I offer this prayer-

Hekate Phosphoros, Goddess of Light, cast your guiding and protective light for all to see.
May scientist, politician, and leaders of all kinds be guided by your wisdom;
May carers, keyworkers and those touched by this illness be comforted by your presence;
May those shrouded and bound by fear and ignorance be brought back to the path and aided to overcome the barriers placed in their way so they may join us in working for a revived world.
IO Ekate

Copyright Nic Phillips & Kim Huggens 2012

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The ground which now feeds you will one day eat you…

Image © Watson Brown

Not much of a post today – I am beginning to really feel the cabin fever. I found this picture whilst randomly scrolling the internet and it reminded me of a phrase I was given by Hekate in relation to the Eleusinian Mysteries a while back.

The ground that now feeds you will one day eat you…

Not the most comforting thought but a powerful one. How does it make you feel?

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Beltane Under Lockdown

Bless, O threefold true and bountiful,
Myself, my spouse, my children.
Bless everything within my dwelling and in my possession,
Bless the kine and crops, the flocks and corn,
From Samhain Eve to Beltane Eve,
With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
From sea to sea, and every river mouth,
From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.

Be the Maiden, Mother, and Crone,
Taking possession of all to me belonging.
Be the Horned God, the Wild Spirit of the Forest,
Protecting me in truth and honor.
Satisfy my soul and shield my loved ones,
Blessing every thing and every one,
All my land and my surroundings.
Great gods who create and bring life to all, I ask for your blessings on this day of fire.

Adapted from Am Beannachadh Bealltain (The Beltane Blessing) found in Alexander Carmichael’s book on Gaelic folklore Carmina Gadelica

Under normal conditions I would be halfway up Ilkley Moor having a picnic with the family to celebrate Beltane. Things are far from normal however and this year’s Beltane has been spent making oat muffins and planning a solitary ritual to honour not only the God and Goddess but also celebrate and energise the beginning of an interfaith staff network.

However you are spending your Beltane, in nature or online, I hope your day is filled with the brightest of blessings.

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Death

Upright Meaning
Beginings, endings, changes, transformation and transition

Reversed Meaning
Stagnation, resistance, inability to change

Description of Rider-Waite-Smith

An armoured skeleton rides towards a group of people on a white horse, bearing a flag with a white rose on a black field before him. Beneth the hooves of the horse is the body of a king dressed in ermin robes, before him one dressed in the regalia of a priest. Besides the priest is a weaping peasent whilst gambling amongst them all is a small child, filled with glee. The rider is calm, unmoving and implacable, riding towards a new dawn with his tidings of transformation and new beginnings.

Key Symbols

Rider on a Pale Horse

The skeleton is an instantly recognisable symbol of death, and the colour of the horse, the rose and his bleach white bones echo the purity and calm sometimes associated with the state of death, but as a memento mori the skeleton is also a reminder of the life beyond life. Death is not an end but rather a new beginning, whether that be in relation to a life or a situation.

People

The king lies trampled, because for all his power and wealth he has no say over the King of Death. The priest attempt to interceed with death but this is futile and he will soon be carried under by the relentless gaite of the horse. The third figure weaps in terror at the sight of death for they have no abilible to influence or avoid him. The only figure that accepts the presence of death is the child, who in his innocense recognises the joy in transformation that is being heralded. The figures remind us that in this situation we should not try to oppose, reason with or bewail the change that is to come but accept it for the joy that it might bring us.

Sunrise

The scene in the background also gives insight into theme of new beginnings that lies behind the death card. Behind the figure of death is laid out a river, upon which two boats journey. Beyond the river are twin towers and rising between them is the brilliant sun at sunrise. The theme here of new beginnings and the journey that we must undertake to achieve them. The sunrise also indicates that despite the ending that Death brings there is a bright future at the end of the transformative journey.

The Death Card of the Arcana

The Death card of the Arcana predominantly depicts a skeletal horse carrying a scythe in their hand. Behind him is the sun rising into the darkness, illuminating his black and white visage. Rather than being the pale rider death is the horse itself, but all the same association remain. The figures may be gone but the scythe as the symbol of the reaper reminds us that Death implacably gathers the souls of men regardless of their station and influence. The sun in the background is all that remains to remind us of the transformative element of the card, with a new dawn backlighting the figure of Death.

In the game the Death card is represented by Valdemar, a medical doctor and member of the Court under Lucio. As a doctor dealing with a virulent magical plague Valdemar’s affinity with death might be understandable to a point but they seem to take a perverse delight in the tragedy occurring in Vesuvia. Valdemar represents the reversed qualities of death, interested in only the mechanics of bring about death, and if there is pan and horror involved so much the better. They have no interested in bringing about a true cure, and are complicit with the plans of Lucio and the Devil throughout. Within the game it is acknowledged that this is a perversion of the spirit of the Death card, who is shown to have been entirely overpowered by the will of Valdemar.

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Keeping Sane in Lock-down

How are you all doing? Still keeping chipper?

The weirdness continues and the UK at least is looking at a further three weeks of lock down though I suspect that it may be longer so those of us with kids and jobs which can be performed remotely.

My job can almost 100% be done from my bedroom/office so my work life has almost continued as normal, just with far fewer personal interactions despite being trapped in my house with three other people. Given this, there is almost no way I am leaving isolation with a new life skill or having completed something awesomely magical like the Abramelin.

I’m not even getting to read more! I did manage to read Key-bearers of Greek Temples: The Temple Key as a Symbol of Priestly Authority over the Easter holidays but I also had a two talks to turn in to a Power Point presentation and another one to plan so I didn’t make a big dent in my To Read pile. There is also no way to read a physical book whilst I’m running my job and to be honesty it is the human voice that I crave, because the kids are off doing their school thing and the husband is doing whatever the husband does 7 hours a day whilst I’m working….

So, I’ve been listening to a lot of different things on YouTube, or at least queuing them up either in playlists and I thought I would share them here.

 

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Audiobooks

Disclaimer – I have not listened to all of these videos. Those that I have are either LibriVox or people reading straight from the book. This means that as far as I know none of the audiobooks listed here are in breach of any copyright. It also means that the recording / reading quality varies … a lot.

The Golden Bough – James George Frazer

The Greek Myths – Robert Graves

The Secret Doctrine – Helena Blavatsky

Aleister Crowley Audiobooks

Sherlock Homes Stories – Magpie Audio

Various Occult, esoteric, pagan and occult-ish audio books

Steven Red Fox Garnett including A Christmas Carol, Dracula, Brothers Grimm and The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

Podcasts

Fall of Civilizations Podcast

Rune Soup

Glitchbottle

Megalithomania

History of Witchcraft – On hold / ended after 43 episodes

The Astrology Podcast

 

Lecture

The Mysteries – My random, non-exhaustive, collection of documentaries, lectures, podcasts specifically about Greek Mystery traditions.

Manly P. Hall – channel

Terence McKenna Archive – channel

Lewis Keizer “Western Mystery Traditions Lectures”

Lewis Keizer “Initiatic Mysteries of Classical Antiquity”

Joseph Hughes LLT1121 Classical Mythology

Joseph Hughes LLT 180 The Heroic Quests

William Hamblin “BYU History 485 Mysticism and Esotericism”

Donald Kagan “Introduction to Ancient Greek History”

Clive Chandler “The Concept of God in Green Philosophy”

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Hekate as a Civic Goddess

When we think of Hekate and where she might be found we think of many things but we don’t particularly think of her in an urban setting. We might imagine her walking along lonely windswept cliff top where land, sea and sky all meet, or waiting for us at desolate forest crossroads, but not so much stood at the intersection at the end of our road. Graveyards might be found in urban environments but historically this wasn’t the case, the living and the dead being separated by distance and walls for many different magical and mundane reasons and this now artificial distinction still holds true. We rarely recognise the chthonic nature of the descending steps of the underpass or tube station as being an opening to the Underworld, preferring to see Hekate as being stood before a cavern in the deepest darkest forest rather than anywhere that might be close to home. 

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Over the Wall   © Vicky Newton

In part this could be construed as being a lack of imagination on our part but a large part of it is that we really aren’t trained to think of Hekate as being a Goddess concerned with, or involved with, city life. When we play up her associations with the dead and with witchcraft we immediately cast her out of the city and into the wilderness, reinforcing the image with her associations with wild animals and the hunt. The truth of her history is far more complex than that, and if we pay attention to it confirms what some consider to be modern UPG in bring her into the city.

Celebrating Deipnon 

I’m sure everyone reading this is familiar with Deipnon, the devotional act which take place on the last day of the lunar month according to the Attic calendar to honour Hekate. Deipnon features in Aristophanes “Plutus” where the titular character say; 

“Ask Hekate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month [food placed inside her door-fronted shrines] and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served.”

Aristophanes, Plutus 410 ff (trans. O’Neill) (Greek comedy C5th to 4th B.C.)

The meals described in Plutus are most likely the remains of a family meal, with and remaining food being taken from the table and transported to the closest shrine of Hekate, which may be as close as the families own doorway, or to the nearest crossroads or public shrine for deposition. As I posit in my post Hekate and the Homeless, the food was probably deposited in such a way that only food that touched the floor was considered offering to the Goddess and that a portion of the food may have been gifted to the homeless and destitute in a manner not dissimilar to alms given in medieval times. 

It is highly likely that the Greeks, though not afraid to go the extra mile in their religious and devotional endeavours, kept as close to home as possible during a time which was fraught with many spiritual dangers. Venturing out into the countryside for long walks would have been hazardous to the physical health (bandits) and their spiritual health as it was during the hours of darkness the dead wandered the world and the living were at risk of contracting miasma, a spiritual stain which would affect not only their lives but the community at large. 

Ephesus, Turkey: Gate of Augustus

Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates Original Credit

Crossroads within the polis grid are not uncommon, nor are liminal spaces such as monumental gateways. A good example of this would be the Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates located in the agora of Ephesus. The gateway, consisting of three archways, bears a carved relief of Hekate as a triformis goddess and bears the inscription “he who urinates this place will be pursued by the avenging spirit of the goddess Hecate”. 

I do like the idea that people participating in the Deipnon would go from their home to a central point, like the agora, making idle chit chat with friends and neighbours before making their deposition and hurrying back to their homes to avoid the avenging presence of the Goddess. Meanwhile the poor and destitute take their portion before finding a space for the night. There is no evidence for this whatsoever, and I suspect those who kept this devotional act most likely did so at a shrine located in their own porch way or much closer to their property, but the words of Aristophanes make a circumstantial case for Hekate’s association with a civic matter such as homeless and poverty, one which is mirrored by modern practice as many devotees combine Deipnon with charitable donations to homeless shelters. 


Civic Processions

“Two sacred stones (guulloi) are brought. One is placed beside Hekate in front of the gates (of Miletos); it is gardlanded and a libation of unmixed wine is poured. The other is placed at the doors of Didyman. And doing these things, they march the broad road as far as the Heights, and from the Heights through the woods.”

Source

Hekate features in two processional celebrations, the first being the procession from the city Miletos to sacred temple of Apollo at Didyman where her statue, situated before the gates of Miletus, was the starting point of the Sacred Way. 

Hekate is the starting point of the Journey. Her statue is located before the gates in a position which implies protection both of the city of Miletus and of the sacred journey which participants are about to undertake. The stones described (or gulloi, a cuboid or four sided stone which may have held special powers or celestial associations such as having fallen from the sky) represent the two points by which the two cities will be joined. The position of Hekate’s statue before the gates of Miletus, and its use as a starting point for such an important journey implies that not only was Hekate considered important to the city, perhaps one of the main protective deities, but that Her protection was invoked as part of commencing the ritual journey.  

The second, and perhaps more significant to Hekate as a goddess Alone, is the Procession of the Key which took place between the city of Stratonikeia and her cult centre at Lagina, where she was the sole focus of a processional celebration. 

In this celebration a young woman, often related to the serving priest of the cult, carried a ceremonial key south from the temple at Lagina to the northern city gate and into the Bouleuterion (roughly council house or assembly house) where the rules of the religious celebrations for the cult were recorded. This act or carrying the ceremonial key, undoubtedly representing either the physical key used to secure an important door within the temple or a ritual object which formed part of the temple treasure/regalia, forged a link between temple and city. The young woman was usually referred to as the Key Bearer (klaikophoros) which is a title shared with the Goddess herself. The links between the temple and city were strong, with the civic priesthood being drawn from the ruling elite and much of the cost of celebrations being shouldered by the wealthier residents as an outward display of piety. It is clear that Stratonikeians held the Goddess in high regard, featuring her on numerous coins and incorporating her in to many friezes along side Zeus and dedicating numerous festivals to Her.

Hekate as Protector of the Poli 

Another way in which Hekate showed her concern for the Greek polis was as a protector in and hour of need. As seen in my post regarding Hekate and Epiphany, the Goddess is associated with a number of incandescent manifestations which lead to the salvation of a chosen people. In particular, the warning and illumination attributed to her during the 340/39 BCE siege of Byzantium shows that not only did people believe that Hekate was both willing and able to intervene on the behalf of a city but that she should be honoured with statues and celebrations.  

Hekatean Worship in a Civic Setting

Ancient Greece covered a very large area and given it was not the hegemony that we are lead to believe. Whilst I have referred to four different locations in the course of this post this really only represents a journey of 900km by road, crossing one international border which wouldn’t have existed in the periods we are talking about. Whilst 900km may seem a long distance Greek settlements can be found throughout the Mediterranean, extending as far as the plains of Russia and the deserts of Egypt. 900km is but a fraction of a civilisation which contained many regional variations when it came to the worship and understanding of the Gods. 

Whilst we cannot say clearly that Hekate was universally viewed as a goddess which could be found at the centre of city/town life it is clear that she was not only viewed as a denizen of the wilderness. This is something to keep in mind when placing ones own devotion within the modern landscape. 

Yes, there is something “more” to performing midnight rituals at a deserted forest crossroad, or deep within an abandoned graveyard. It is nice to be able to get out into the countryside, away from distraction, noise and invasion of privacy, and place offerings in places where they will not be found but these locations can be equally found within your urban setting. Many devotees perform their rituals within their own homes, taking offerings from the altar after the ritual is closed and placing them at a local intersection or the boundary line of their garden for deposition in a smaller secondary act of devotion. Though it may feel to some that to do so is drawing Hekate out of her liminal spaces and into the city the truth is that Hekate was already present within our cities, just has she had been close to the people of Stratonikeia, Byzantium, Miletus and Ephesus all that time ago. 

Additional References

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