Monday, 24 April 2017

Bye Bye Sharks, Hello Ducks


Huzzah! The Edmonton Oilers have advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by defeating the San Jose Sharks, taking the best-of-7 series in 6 games! How sweet it is to a city that's been shut out of the playoffs since 2006!

You know, I don't even need to watch a game on TV to know when the Oilers win. I've mentioned before that I live about 4 blocks from Edmonton's new downtown arena, Rogers Place. Whenever the Oilers win, the entire arena of 18,500 fans ("the Orange Crush") empties out into my neighbourhood, cheering, screaming, partying and driving their vehicles up and down the street with flags flying and horns honking. Until after midnight. So all I have to do is wake up, note groggily that the Oilers must have won, and go back to sleep.


And this is the case even if the Oilers are playing an away game, such as they did Saturday night in San Jose. Rogers Place still sells out and the crowd simply watches the game on the huge TV screens over centre ice. For the away games, seats are just $5 each and all the money goes to charity. Pretty sweet deal that allows people to go to Rogers Place who otherwise couldn't afford a series ticket to a home game. Plus, of course, all the die-hard fans who will attend any Oilers-related event.


So bring on the Anaheim Ducks! I don't care if I get no sleep at all for the next three weeks, if it means the Oilers defeat them and advance further in their quest for hockey's Holy Grail!


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Singing My Prayer Beads

Most prayer beads are recited using spoken prayers. However, I prefer to use sung prayers (chants) with my Triple Goddess prayer beads. The chants I picked for this purpose are some favourite beloved chants used at my Women's Drumming and Goddess Chanting Circle which I facilitated for 13 years here in Edmonton. But I learned these chants many, many years earlier.


For the Alpha and Omega:

To start and to complete the prayer beads ritual, I sing the beautiful chant There is a Secret One Inside three times at the Alpha commencement point and then later, three times at the Omega endpiece. I learned this chant about 25 years ago from a witch in North End Winnipeg. The chant's bead imagery is perfect for this ritual!

There is a Secret One inside:
All the stars in all the galaxies
Slip through Her hands like beads.

To hear the chant, click the mp3 link here.

For the Turquoise Separator Stones:

At each turquoise stone, I sing this chant once. We All Come From the Goddess is the first modern goddess chant ever written, composed by the Dianic witch Z Budapest in 1970. It's also the first goddess chant I ever heard and learned about 30 years ago. Its imagery of the Goddess as a vast Ocean and humans as tiny drops of rain coming from and returning to Her is so appropriate for these water-blue beads.

We all come from the Goddess
And to Her we shall return,
Like a drop of rain,
Flowing to the ocean.

Here is a short rendition of the chant so you can hear what it sounds like:



For the Maiden, Mother, Crone Beads:

I sing the appropriate verse of the Triple Goddess Chant for every bead of its corresponding Goddess sequence. In other words, each verse is sung nine times in succession. Not only does each verse honour one aspect of the Triple Goddess, it also incorporates the moon phase imagery for that aspect.

1. For each bead of the Maiden sequence:

Holy Maiden Huntress
Artemis, Artemis --
New Moon,
Come to us!

The Greek Moon Goddess Artemis is the twin sister of the Greek Sun God, Apollo. She is forever unmarried and untamed, living wild in the forests of Mount Olympus with her band of female huntresses, all wearing short tunics and short hair. Uh-huh, sistah! Her Roman equivalent is Diana.


2. For each bead of the Mother sequence:

Silver Shining Wheel
Of Radiance, Radiance --
Mother,
Come to us!

This verse invokes the power of the Full Moon rather than a specific Goddess.


3. For each bead of the Crone sequence:

Ancient Queen of Wisdom
Hekate, Hekate --
Old One,
Come to us!

Hekate is the Greek Goddess of the Crossroads, so ancient that She predates the deities of Mount Olympus. She was the only one willing to help Demeter find her daughter Persephone who was abducted by Hades. Hekate alone was powerful enough to descend to the Underworld and return again, leading Persephone back to the surface.


I learned ever-so-slightly different words for this chant than the ones used in the following video. Traditionally, chants are taught by oral tradition, passed from one person to the next, within circles or gatherings and so small differences in words and music sometimes arise.



This concludes my series of posts about my Triple Goddess prayer beads. Bright Blessings to you for persevering through them, LOL!

[Prayer beads photo by My Rare One, 2017]

Monday, 17 April 2017

Maiden, Mother, Crone


Because my prayer beads honour the Triple Goddess, the sacred number 3 is repeated throughout the set. There are 3 separate sequences of glass beads, each sequence comprised of 9 (3 x 3) beads. Every one is separated from the next by a silver placer bead which promotes ease of handling during use.

Each glass bead in the 3 sequences represents the Goddess and so is identical in size and shape to all the others. But each sequence is colour-coded differently because they represent the 3 aspects of the Triple Goddess:

White -- representing the Maiden aspect of the Goddess. In women's lives, this is the youthful, dynamic energy of young women from birth until they reach their childbearing years. The Maiden is "complete unto herself," needing neither spouse nor children for a sense of purpose or completion. Her energy goes into creating and becoming herself.

Red -- representing the Mother aspect of the Goddess. In women's lives, this is the full power of female creative energy during their childbearing years until menopause. It is when women nurture new life through childbirth or child rearing, accomplish their life's work in other areas of endeavour or otherwise produce and build their greatest achievements in the world.

Black -- representing the Crone aspect of the Goddess. In women's lives, this is the time when wisdom, spiritual knowledge and existential understanding culminate from menopause until death. In patriarchal culture, "crone" is a devalued term used in derision and contempt, but in Goddess spirituality it is a term of honour, restored to its rightful place.

Each sequence of coloured beads is separated from the other elements by a faceted piece of turquoise offset on each side by 3 silver placer beads. Turquoise is traditionally characterized as a sacred stone of protection and good fortune. The turquoise separator stone's purpose is guidance. It allows anyone who is praying with their eyes closed to be able to identify, by touch alone, the commencement and end of each sequence. For that reason as well, its size and shape are also markedly different from the other beads.

Next time, my final post will discuss how I use these prayer beads.

[Photo by My Rare One, 2017]

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Alpha and Omega


To reclaim (or perhaps to co-opt) some traditional Christian imagery, the first and last items attached to my string of prayer beads may be symbolically understood as representing "the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end." This classic Biblical description of the Divine means, of course, that the Divine is eternal, being both the source from which we come and the source to which we return at the end of our lives. This symbolism and imagery are equally applicable to the Great Goddess of All.

I provided both these alpha and omega items to my sister for incorporation into my prayer beads.

Alpha:


In Goddess spirituality, the five-pointed star-within-a-circle (pentacle) of the Goddess represents the four sacred elements of earth, air, fire and water plus the fifth element of spirit. This pentacle features a green peridot gem, my birthstone for the month of August.

The pentacle is framed by a beautiful Celtic knotwork moon. The moon is one of the most ancient symbols of the Divine Feminine because its phases correspond to the triune nature of the Triple Goddess -- Maiden (waxing crescent moon), Mother (full moon) and Crone (waning crescent moon). Depending on the angle of your perspective, all three phases of the moon (and therefore of the Divine Feminine) are represented in this item's design.

I bought this as a 50th birthday present for myself 10 years ago. It's meant to be worn as a necklace of course, but I've never been much of a jewelry wearer. It will serve a much better function here in my prayer beads!

Omega:


This double-headed axe is called a labrys. It is an immensely old fertility symbol that was used by the ancient goddess-worshipping civilization of Minoa (Crete).

Designed to stylistically represent the vulva's butterfly-like double labia, the labrys is so inextricably associated with women that classical art often portrayed it as the favourite battle weapon of the Amazons, the mythical female warriors who fought against patriarchal domination.

This symbolism led to the labrys being adopted in the feminist 1970s as the symbol of the Lesbian Nation. The modern women's spirituality movement has now also revived its original spiritual meaning. The labrys is an extremely resonant symbol for me personally because what it represents -- feminism, lesbian rights and women's spirituality -- have all been central to my own life.

I bought this labrys nearly 30 years ago in Winnipeg. It was handcrafted by a talented lesbian silversmith and jewelry-maker in that city. It too is meant to be worn as a necklace but will serve a higher function now as the omega of my prayer beads.

My next post will explain the colour-and-number symbolism of the prayer beads themselves.

[Image # 1 from the internet; photos #2 and #3 by My Rare One 2017]

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Prayer Beads

For centuries, prayer beads have been used by people in many spiritual traditions, including Islam . . .


. . . Buddhism . . .


. . . Christianity, specifically Roman Catholicism . . .


. . . and Paganism too. Our oldest visual depiction of prayer beads comes from Ancient Greece. Even our modern English word "bead" comes from the Old English "bede," which means "a prayer."

Prayer beads are also commonly used today in the Hindu, Sikh and Baha'i faiths.

Prayer beads help people to focus their minds, to give structure to their communion with the Divine and to keep track of where they are in a prayer cycle.

Some contemporary pagans use prayer beads as well. Last autumn, I felt a pull to design my own set of prayer beads to honour the Triple Goddess, using some suggestions and examples from the internet. I then gave my personalized design to my sister, who is a talented beader and jewelry maker. She did an absolutely fantastic job of beading it for me as a Yule-Christmas gift! Needless to say, of course, these prayer beads are extra special to me because of the infusion of our "sister energy" in their creation. Here's the finished set, displayed (as goddess prayer beads should be when not being used) in the Sacred Spiral of Life arrangement:


In a series of upcoming posts, I'll be explaining the spiritual and other significance of the first and final attached items, the number-and-colour symbolism of the various beads, and how I will be using these prayer beads.

[Photos #1 and #3 from the internet; Photo #2 by Debra She Who Seeks (Japan) 2013; Photo #4 by My Rare One 2017]

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Vimy Ridge Centenary


Today is Vimy Ridge Day, which commemorates the First World War battle that has become a Canadian symbol of achievement, nationhood and sacrifice. Mainstream historical interpretation holds that Canada became a truly independent nation at Vimy Ridge, no longer viewed simply as part of the British Empire.

2017 is the centenary of the battle of Vimy Ridge and it is being marked across Canada this weekend by many events.


Vimy Ridge is an escarpment in France near Arras. The German army captured it at the beginning of the war in 1914. Neither the French nor the British succeeded in taking it back and, as a result, they believed Vimy Ridge to be untakeable.

But on April 9-12, 1917, the Canadian Expeditionary Force captured Vimy Ridge, thanks to "a mixture of technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support, and extensive training, as well as the failure of the German Sixth Army to properly apply the German defensive doctrine." (Wikipedia)

Like all such victories, however, Vimy Ridge came at a terrible price -- 3598 Canadian soldiers killed and 7004 wounded. German casualties are unknown but 4000 prisoners of war were taken.


Today, a hundred years later, the landscape of Vimy Ridge is still heavily scarred from the battle, scars which are easily visible in the following aerial photograph. The whole area remains honeycombed with tunnels, trenches, craters and unexploded munitions. As a result, much of the site is closed off for public safety. Only sheep are allowed to wander those spots, in order to graze and keep the grass short.


Vimy Ridge is now dominated by the huge Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Designed by Canadian sculptor Walter Allward, the Memorial is constructed of white limestone bonded to a cast concrete frame and features 20 sculpted figures. Its towering twin pylons represent Canada and its ally France. The Memorial took many years to design and build after World War I. Its purpose is not to glorify war but to memorialize our national grief about the human price of victory.


Our country's grief at the terrible cost of Vimy Ridge and World War I is encapsulated in the central figure of the Memorial -- standing at the front, framed between the twin pylons -- the statue called Canada Bereft. She stands on the high parapet, looking down at the stone sarcophagus of the war dead found at its base. Before her stretches the Vimy battlefield. She is facing east, where each new day dawns.


Designed to evoke the Mater Dolorosa, the grieving mother Mary of Michelangelo's Pieta, Canada Bereft grieves for all time, on sunny days and in the rain, day and night, in summer, winter and all the other seasons of the turning year. The laurels of glory and victory hang forlornly from her hand.


The only personal connection my family has to World War I is a soldier named Charles Walker who was mortally wounded at Vimy Ridge and died about a month after the battle. I will post his story next month on May 8, the centenary of his death.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Back to My Roots


I'm off to Manitoba again for a few days' visit. Will be back in the blogosphere in about 10 days' time.