Until now, this series on moon goddesses has focused on a different culture every month. Yet I am not trying to proscribe to others which goddesses should be honored in which months or which cultures should be considered. It is more a template of how you can explore different energies and invite the blessings of goddesses into your life.
I have explored a wide variety of cultures because it is important in today's mixed and matched world where families and nations often represent more than one cultural root--to stretch our muscles of inclusivity and to understand that what binds us together and what differentiates us in goddess-centered circles.
Still there are other ways, other templates for exploring goddesses beyond a cultural theme for each month, it is quite possible to focus on a topic, region or element. For May--the Flower Moon--I have chosen to focus on goddesses connected to elementals, the Fay and denizens of the Otherworld.
Many cultures call these "fairies" and they are--in the most basic sense. But in ancient times, they were not seen as frilly little pixies with pretty wings and dresses. Instead they were usually understood as powerful land and nature spirits, connected to the sovereignty of a country.
This then is the focus for the Flower Moon and because I live in this land, I will stick to Europe for this month with goddesses that did not fit neatly into the cultural themes in previous months. (That's bound to happen. Culture has few hard and fast boundaries and many goddesses belong to more than one culture or only belong to part of a larger culture. They do not respect human borders drawn upon maps or even our narrow ideas of tribe and ethnicity.)
The Maiden for the Flower Moon is the Albanian fairy goddess Zana, the Mother is Danu the ancient goddess of rivers and hollow hills, and the Dark Goddess is Morgan Le Fey of legend, fate and the fairy realm.
The Waxing Moon
Zana is the fairy maiden of the Albanian mountains. She leaps on sheer and wild mountain sides, singing in the eternal spring dawn, accompanied by three prancing goats. (Lurker 1987) She can be headstrong like a little mountain goat, but her spirit is that of freedom and nimbleness in mind and body.
She is close to the land where I live and folklore points to similar figures throughout Central Europe, though their names have been lost to time. Zana is a good name to use, because hers is still known. She is the youthful goddess of the growing things and the animals of the land I live on and thus a connection to the to the natural world.
Her symbols are mountains, goats and wildflowers. You can connect with her by visiting a place where plants and animals are able to live wild and untamed. Dance is also good.
The Full Moon
Archaeological evidence and linguistic roots trace the emergence of Celtic culture to the upper part of the Danube River in the heart of old Europe. The name Danube and the names of many other rivers in the region, such as the Dnieper, can be traced to an ancient Indo-european word for “flow” or “river,” which is very likely synonymous with the name of the goddess Danu, who has been carried into modern times by the Irish. (Koch 2006)
It is impossible to know for certain that there was an ancient goddess called “Danu” or something similar in Central Europe as well as in Ireland, but it is likely. There are certainly plenty of unearthed goddess figures from that ancient culture and many cultures have associated rivers with goddesses. (McLeod 2014)
There was a goddess in this ancient land and Danu is as good a name for her as we have. The hills in Central Europe are gentle and resemble illustrations of sleeping dragons, half sunk into the earth. The rivers flow between them, carrying the life blood of the land. Danu’s symbols are here in the old hills--metamorphic rock such as marble--and in the water, rivers and marshes.
One way to connect with Danu would be to engage in flowing, fluid dance. Another way would be to trace Celtic knot work or a triple spiral goddess symbol in a flowing unending pattern as a meditation.
The Waning Moon
Much fantasy has been written of Morgan Le Fey and it is difficult to find any certain truth, unless you are willing to trust to dreams and personal intuition. She is a well-known legendary figure but also an older or even crone goddess connected to healing, fate and transition to the Otherworld. (Slocum 1992) She may be another form of the Irish triple goddess of death, war and destruction, the Morrigan. Her symbols are lakes, a barge, a sword or a crown.
In Arthurian legend she is sometimes seen as a wise healer, sometimes as a malevolent destroyer and strangely also as both the enemy who causes hurt and the healer who nurses those she injured, according to some sources. Whichever way you choose to take her, she has been a powerful figure for hundreds and possibly thousands of years. She is the mystery of fate which may not have a clear line from cause to effect or deeds to consequences.
You can connect with her by considering the role of fate and consciously choosing to face needed changes. Light a black, white or silver candle and let it reflect in a bowl of water. Consider that fate may not be set in stone and it may also not be a matter of getting what you deserve. Fate is just the part of what happens that is not within our control. As you accept that you cannot control all the important things in your life, you accept Morgan le Fay--her potential for healing and her potential for destruction.
- Auset, B. (2009). The Goddess Guide: Exploring the Attributes and Correspondences of the Divine Feminine. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
- Caputi, J. (2004). Goddesses and Monsters. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
- Hunt, L. (2001). An Illustrated Meditation Guide: Celestial Goddesses. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
- Jordan, M. (2004). Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses. New York, NY: Facts On File, Inc.
- Koch, J. T., Ed. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc.
- Leeming, D. and Page, J. (1994). Goddess: Myths of the Female Divine. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Littleton, C. S. Ed, (2005). Gods, Goddesses and Mythology, Volume 4. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.
- Loar, J. (2008). Goddesses for Every Day. Navato, CA: New World Library.
- Lurker, M. (1987). A Dictionary of Gods, Goddesses, Devils and Demons. New York, NY: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.
- McLeod, S. P. (1960). The Devine Feminine in Ancient Europe. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc. Publishers.
- Monagham, P. (1997). The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
- Monagham, P. (1999). The Goddess Companion. Woodbury, MN. Llewellyn Publications.
- Monagham, P. (2014). Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. Novato, CA: New World Library.
- Motz, L. (1997). The Faces of the Goddess. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Reid-Bowen, P. (2007). Goddess As Nature. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.
- Slocum, S. K. Ed. (1992). Popular Arthurian Traditions. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.
- Sykes, E. (2002). Who’s Who in Non-Classical Mythology. New York, NY: Routledge.