Greetings and Welcome to the Season of Light!

Beltane, Goddess, Seasonal Greetings

Greetings! Saturday is the First Day of Summer, the cross-quarter day between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, often called Beltane or May Day. If we think of the summer as the Season of the Light, then we can see that now it is definitely lighter in the mornings (am I the only one waking up at 5am?).

We are entering the season of light. It is a moment to allow the life-giving light of the sun to energize us to the very marrow of our bones. It is a time to breathe in the vitality and vigor of the season and allow it to move us forward on our path and bring our dreams to fruition.

As we enter through the gate of Beltane into the light of summer, what is your heart’s desire? How and where do you want to light up and shine? Open your heart’s petals to the rejuvenating and revitalizing light of the Sun, and may your blossom bring grace, beauty, love and power to all.

Note on Dates: Traditionally Beltane is celebrated on May 1st or the eve before. Astrologically, the First Day of Summer may be calculated as the date the Sun is at 15° Taurus (Tropical system), which currently Falls around May 4th to 5th. See more here.

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Coyolxauhqui: She Who Is Adorned with Bells by Anne Key

Divine, Goddess, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico, Priestess, sacred sites, The Jade Oracle, Vision, Women

One of the most fascinating deities of pre-Columbian Mexico is Coyolxauhqui. At first glance, a deity named “She Who is Adorned with Bells” might seem to be a dancer, until we read that warriors wrapped strings of bells around their calves before going to battle. Then we see Coyolxauhqui (Nahuatl: coyolli = small metal bells) as a warrior, suiting up for battle.

The image of Coyolxauhqui is beautifully rendered in the massive stone relief that was found at the Great Temple (Templo Mayor). Construction of this temple began in 1325 CE, and it was the main temple of worship for the Aztecs in their capital of Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City). The Templo Mayor was dedicated to two deities, Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli. Tlaloc (Lord of rain) was most likely a local deity before the Aztecs arrived. Huitzilopochtli (Left Hummingbird) was the warrior deity of the Mexica, accompanying them on their sojourn from northern Mexico to Tenochtitlan, which resides in the altiplano, or high plains, of central Mexico. The Templo Mayor may have been a symbolic representation of the Hill of Coatepec, recounting the story of Huitzilopochtli’s birth and Coyolxauqui’s demise.

The Templo Mayor was a large structure at 328’ x 262’ at its base. Rebuilt six times, its excavated ruins are on the northeast edge of the zócalo, or city center, of Mexico City. The Spanish used the stones from the temple to build what is now known as the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, a massive structure situated atop the Templo Mayor. But careful excavation, and some lucky breaks, have brought both the temple and many of its monolithic sculptures to light.

In February of 1978, while workman for an electrical company were digging, they discovered the giant disk of Coyolxauhqui. The stone disk is 10.7 feet in diameter, almost a foot thick, and weighs over 9 tons. Her discovery set off a wave of archaeological work on the Templo Mayor.

Coyolxauhqui is the second largest sculpture found in the temple. This exquisitely carved disk encircles her. She is dressed in full battle gear with balls of eagle feathers in her hair, attesting to her bravery and courage. A large ceremonial headdress sits atop her head, and her ears are adorned with pendulous earrings. A “warrior’s belt knotted from a double headed snake” winds around her waist (Kroger 189). Her belly is puckered, showing that she has given birth. She is a mother and a warrior.

Looking closely at her stone relief, we see a curious space between her limbs and torso, between her neck and head. Her arms and legs, attired with the pads and bindings of a warrior, are dismembered. A bit of bone sticks out from each thigh and upper arm. Her head is also separated from her body, almost unnoticeable. Even dismembered, she is resplendent with dynamic warrior energy, the circular stone emphasizing her strength, evoking the idea that she is hurtling forward.

When I stand in front of her, in the museum at the Templo Mayor, the first emotion I feel is strength and bravery. Her dismemberment does nothing to diminish her power, for she continues on in spite of all the odds. She is unstoppable.

When I meet her in visions, Coyolxauhqui barely has time for me. She is surrounded by training warriors, shouting directions and giving orders. She looks me straight in the eye and says “don’t you dare make me fit into whatever story you want to tell.” She requires me to tell her story, unapologetically.

She exudes the power and potency of warrior women, both mythic and contemporary: Boudica, Athena, Joan of Arc, Hyppolita, Atalanta, Wonder Woman, Xena, and Trinity.

Unfortunately, the myth of Coyolxauhqui is not in her own words. The story we have of her is one that reinforces a patriarchal worldview, showing favor on women who are kind, all-loving “mothers” and killing upstart rebels. This is a pattern we know well.

When I approach the story of Coyolxauhqui, I work to find the “back story,” to fill out the entire narrative sequence. We will start with the myth as it was written by the Spanish cleric Bernardino Sahagún in The Florentine Codex. This mytho-historic account begins, and ends, with Huitzilopochtli, for this story, written by the victors, can be read as a myth explaining how the Mexica inserted their deity into the local lore, and how he was victorious.

This mytho-historical saga takes place during the migration of peoples from Aztlán, the ancestral home of the peoples that came to live in the place that is now Mexico City. Aztlán was possibly located in northern Mexico or the Southwest of the United States, and the migratory groups consisted of many tribes, including the Mexica. Along the way, the migrating group encountered many villages cultures, and one of these was the peoples of Coatepec.

The myth of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, which contains the only story of Coyolxauhqui, says very little of her strength, courage, and power. Instead, it paints her as the instigator of her mother’s assassination. Huitzilopochtli was a traditional Mexica deity, and he is the embodiment of male strength and warrior energy. He was one of the most celebrated deities of what would become the Aztec civilization.

The myth recalls a time during the migration from Aztlán when the people settled briefly at Coatepec, the “hill of the snake.” The deities living at Coatepec were Coyolxauhqui, her mother Coatlicue (She of the Serpent Skirt) and her 400 brothers (the Centzon Huitznahua). The myth opens with Coatlicue sweeping the temple.[1] She finds a bundle of precious feathers, picks them up, and keeps them underneath her clothes. These feathers make her pregnant.

When her sons, the 400 brothers, and her daughter, Coyolxauhqui, discover her pregnancy, they are enraged, saying that the pregnancy “insults us, dishonors us” (Markham 382). They ask her who fathered the child, but she does not answer. Coyolxauhqui leads the brothers in a plan to kill their mother, Coatlicue.  While this seems a strong response, later we find out that the child in Coatlicue’s womb is Huitzilopochtli, the warrior deity of the migrant peoples, the Mexica.[2]

Meanwhile, Huitzilopochtli, from the womb of his mother, Coatlicue, tells her: “Do not be afraid, I know what I must do” (Markham 382).

In the myth, Coyolxauqui “incited them, she inflamed the anger of her brothers, so that they should kill their mother. And the four hundred gods made ready, they attired themselves as for war” (Markham 383), including tying bells (oyohualli) on the calves of their legs.

Let’s take a moment and unpack what has happened so far. We have a group of migratory Mexica bringing a new deity to an existing culture. This becomes the story of how Coyolxauhqui defended her land and culture from the Mexica, presenting her as the military leader, the defender. And, it paves the way for Huitzilopochtli to insert himself (literally!) into the myth of Coatepec, converting the primordial mother of the Coatepec culture into his birth mother and shaming their greatest warrior, Coyolxauhqui.

Returning to the myth, Coyolxauhqui is marshalling the troops for war. One of the 400 brothers, Cuahuitlicac, turns against the rest of his family and informs Huitzilopochtli (still in Coatlicue’s womb) of the plan of attack.  At the moment Coyolxauhqui and the 400 brothers approach their mother, Huitzilopochtli is born in full battle gear. He takes the Xiuhcoatl, the fire serpent, and strikes Coyolxauhqui, cutting off her head. Her body rolls down the hill of Coatepec, arms and legs separating as she falls.[3]

Huitzilopochtli drove the 400 brothers off Coatepec, slaughtering them. Some escaped to the south, but those killed by Huitzilopochtli were stripped of their “gear, their ornaments,” and Huitzilopochtli “took possession of them…introduced them into his destiny…made them his own insignia” (Markham 386).

This myth can be seen as a cautionary tale of women’s diminished power in the newly formed Aztec society. M. J. Rodríguez Shadow, in her book La Mujer Azteca, writes that there is ample evidence of matrilineal and matrifocal societies in Mesoamerica before the 14th century CE (1997, p. 68). However:

During the epoch of the Aztecs the religion glorified masculine values, erasing whatever vestige of that phase [matrifocal] existed, quickly and efficiently, replacing them with male gods and men, destroying allegorically the feminine figures (like Coyolxauhqui) that could have occupied positions of power or discrediting those [female figures] that they wanted to retain (like Malinalxóchitl).[4] (p. 69)

Moreover, in this myth Huitzilopochtli appropriates Coyolxauhqui’s warrior aspect. Art historian Janet Berlo puts this myth in context:

But one of the central myths of the Aztec empire is the struggle between the newly born male warrior god and the warrior goddess who preceded him. I believe this myth structurally embodies the ideological struggle between the Great Goddess of the Central Mexican past and the new Aztec order in which the significant ties of mythic kinship are redrawn to emphasize the male lines of Huitzilopochtli…. In this fraternal kinship network, the northern invaders and their ancestral god Huitzilopochtli are firmly linked with the Central Mexican past… (Berlo 1993)

The giant stone sculpture of Coyolxauhqui was found at the foot of the stairs of the Templo Mayor, on the side dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. It may have been hurtled down the stairs, just as she was thrown from Coatepec. While it may have been put there as a symbol of defeat, the sheer size of it is a reminder of the threat she presented.

On a personal note, living in these times, I feel like the dismembered Coyolxauhqui. I feel as if all I have worked for to make life better for myself, my students, my friends and neighbors in this great country is being dismembered. But, like Coyolxauhqui, I remain whole and strong. #metoo, #marchforourlives, #blacklivesmatter and so many more have grown from this fractured political environment. Coyolxauhqui is a testament to the power, strength, and resolve of those who have been defeated. In the Museum of the Templo Mayor where she resides, her spirit pervades the space, a permanent reminder of the warrior women and cultures that are in the earth and spirit of Central Mexico.

References:

Berlo, J. (1993).  Icons and Ideologies at Teotihuacan: The Great Goddess Reconsidered. In J. C. Berlo (Ed.), Art, ideology, and the city of Teotihuacan (pp. 129-168). Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Markman, R. H., Markman, P. T. (1992). The Flayed God: The Mesoamerican Mythological Tradition.  San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Rodriguez Shadow, M. J. (1997). La mujer Azteca [The Aztec Woman].  Mexico City, Mexico: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.

[1]Sweeping has a deeply ritual context for the ancient Mexicans. An entire festival, Ochpaniztli, was dedicated to sweeping the streets, private homes, and temples, preparing for harvest. Tlazohteotl, another Goddess, is shown with a broom, showing her connect to this festival.

[2]This brings up a number of different ideas. Did Coatlicue “change sides,” going against her people? Was she raped? Or did Coyolxauqui and her brothers know that if this god was allowed to birth through their mother, that it would be the end of Coatepec as they knew it?

[3]The statue of Coatlicue that once stood in the Templo Mayor replaces her arms with the Xiuhcoatl. Could it be possible that the Xiuhcoatl was a symbol of the culture at Coatepec, and that this was coopted by the migrating Mexica?

[4] En tiempos de los Aztecas la religion enaltecía los valores masculinos, borrando cualquiere vestigio de aquella fase y consolidando con eficacia y rapidez la sobresaliente posición de los dioses masculinos y los varones, destrozando alegóricamente las figuras femeninas (como Coyolxauhqui) que podia ocupar el poder o desacreditar a las que desearan compartirlo (como Malinalxóchitl).

Click here for more information on the Jade Oracle.  Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.

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$45 until May 5th 2018 (Cinco de Mayo)
Find out more and purchase here.

Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.

_______________________________________

Anne KeyPriestess, instructor, writer and dancer – Anne Key, Ph.D. has traveled, researched, and written about Mesoamerican culture since 1990; her dissertation investigated the pre-Hispanic divine women known as the Cihuateteo, and she is co-founder and guide for Sacred Tours of Mexico. She was Priestess of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, located in Nevada and has edited anthologies on women’s spirituality, priestesses, and Sekhmet as well as written two memoirs, Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love. An adjunct faculty in Women’s Studies, English and Religious Studies, she is co-founder of the independent press Goddess Ink. Anne resides in Albuquerque with her husband, his two cats and her snake, Asherah.

Come see Coyolxauhqui and other wonders with Anne and Veronica Iglesias with Sacred Tours of Mexico!

Balance and Re-calibrate: Spring Equinox

Goddess, spring equinox

Today is Spring Equinox, the day the sun rises and sets at exact east and west, the day when the northern and southern hemispheres are bathed in equal light. By the Celtic calendar, this is mid-Spring, halfway through the season. From this point on, the light will continue to grow until we are drenched in sunlight at the Summer Solstice.

No matter the weather and temperature outside, the sun is stretching its life-bringing light over more hours each day. In the last week, more “seeds” have sprung open, more “shoots” have pushed their heads into the daylight, and more “flowers” have bloomed. This growth spurt can be exhilarating and dizzying.

Take time today, in this moment of balance, to re-align yourself. Is your internal compass true? Take a look at all of the green shoots sprouting in your life. They won’t all come to fruition, and some might crowd what you’d rather have bloom. Consult your inner compass and decide what needs to go to make way for the new. Use the energy of the season for a bit of spring cleaning, within and without.

Brightest Blessings to you at the turn of the wheel — Anne

More about Spring Equinox: Spring Equinox is often called Ostara, or Eostre, named for a goddess of Germanic origin who is the namesake of Easter. For the Northern Hemisphere, Spring Equinox is Mid-Spring, signaling the height of the season, occurring at 1° Aries in Tropical system. History and ritual ideas: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/spring.html .

The Jade Oracle: Bringing the Wisdom of Ancient Mexico to a New Generation

Divine, Goddess, Goddesses of the Americas, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico, Priestess, ritual, Women

“These images would make an amazing oracle deck.” We heard this phrase over and over after our presentations on the Goddesses from ancient Mexico. But moments after the first time it was uttered, we, Veronica Iglesias and Anne Key, knew that this would be a beautiful way to connect people to the deities and customs of a culture that we have given our lives to studying and practicing, a culture that is often misunderstand and little known outside of academic circles and initiates. IMG_0964

The sacred images of ancient Mexican deities are very different than the sacred images of European culture, which we in American – and even Mexico – are far more accustomed to seeing. Instead of a smiling saint in flowing robes, these images have unfamiliar symbols – green feathers, skulls, snakes, nose ornaments – and unfamiliar names: Xochiquetzal, Huitzilopochtli, Tecuciztecatl for example. But these sacred images and names open the door to a profoundly magnificent culture that reveres the connection of the earth and Her inhabitants, that celebrates the small and grand cycles – that infuses ritual and attention to the sacred in daily life.

Both holding advanced degrees in Mesoamerican studies and practicing priestesses, we could translate the beliefs and culture to a new audience, writing a divinatory meaning for each card. But to create an oracle deck, this project needed a visionary artist to design images that were true to their heritage yet inviting to the modern eye, and at some moment we both realized the one artist that we wanted to work with: Ramona Teo. Renowned for her graphic design, murals, and fine art, she was a perfect match for this ambitious project.

Then the two became three, and the Jade Oracle birthed from an idea to reality. This is a story about the interwoven paths from the Northwestern US and Mexico City that converged in Albuquerque, bringing us together to make magic.

Hear the creators tell their story in their own words!

Like tarot cards, the Jade Oracle is a spiritual tool used for divination and introspection. The difference is they are not structured by traditional tarot suits. Each card brings a new form to a universal archetype, giving us a window to our soul, a new lens in which to see ourselves. We named this the Jade Oracle because exquisite green jade was one of the most sacred stones in ancient Mexico, as the color represented the teeming bounty of life. There will be 52 beautifully illustrated cards accompanied by a booklet that guides you through understanding the mythology and interpretations of the cards.

We feel that when we understand another culture, we understand ourselves in a deeper way and are one step closer to connecting with our global family and celebrating this magical land that we share. And for those of us with Mexican heritage, this is a path to understanding, and living, our lineage.

Group Pic crop

About the creators of the Jade Oracle:

Ramona Teo was born and raised in New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” where the diverse culture and thriving arts community has inspired her to explore her creative calling. She earned her Bachelor of Art’s Degree at the University of New Mexico in the Cinematic Arts Department with a focus on Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & History.

Her passions include painting, drawing, clothing design, jewelry making, graphic design, experimental filmmaking and belly dance. Always the creative entrepreneur, Ramona started Guerrilla Graphix (original art t-shirts, custom design and printing services) in 2008 and Divine Nature Arts (her personal brand of clothing, jewelry & sacred art) in 2015. A constant theme in Ramona’s artwork is sacred geometry and the mandala. In 2015 she became a certified Mandala Facilitator and guides workshops on healing with mandalas.  Ramona is currently a stay at home mother of two (Zena, 11/5/15 and Rafael 2/1/17) and is in the process of illustrating The Jade Oracle Deck.

Maria Veronica Iglesias was born in Mexico City, Mexico. She has a Bachelor´s degree in Library Sciences and a Master´s Degree in Mesoamerican Studies from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico). Initiated as a sahumadora (bearer of the Sacred Sahumerio) when she was 8 years old, she studied about medicinal plants, crystal therapy and healing with gems. She was initiated in the sacred knowledge of Mesoamerican shamanism and became a Portadora de la Palabra, bearer of the Sacred Word. A Priestess of Ix´Cheel, the Mayan Goddess of Medicine, Veronica researches gem stones and their therapeutic use, Pre-Hispanic medicine, rites of passage and Goddesses from Mesoamerica and is co-founder and guide for Sacred Tours of Mexico.

Priestess, instructor, writer and dancer – Anne Key, Ph.D. has traveled, researched, and written about Mesoamerican culture since 1990; her dissertation investigated the pre-Hispanic divine women known as the Cihuateteo, and she is co-founder and guide for Sacred Tours of Mexico. She was Priestess of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, located in Nevada and has edited anthologies on women’s spirituality, priestesses, and Sekhmet as well as written two memoirs, Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love. An adjunct faculty in Women’s Studies, English and Religious Studies, she is co-founder of the independent press Goddess Ink. Anne resides in Albuquerque with her husband, his two cats and her snake, Asherah.

Imbolc, Candlemas, Brigit’s Day: Welcome Spring

Goddess, Imbolc, ritual, Seasonal Greetings

This Saturday February 3 is the mid-point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. This auspicious day heralds the first day of Spring, the day Winter passes and Spring emerges. This is often the day that we begin to notice that it is getting lighter – brighter a little earlier in the morning, and night falls a little bit later at night. And on this day as we celebrate the beginning of spring, we honor Brigit.

Brigit, Celtic Fire Goddess and Christian Saint, is associated with healing, poetry, and smithcraft. At this time of year, when the newness of spring is just under the ground and tucked within the buds forming on branches, I am reminded of the power of creation that bubbles all around us.

On this beautiful morning, I open my arms to breathe in this energy of creation and call upon Brigit to guide. She reminds me to create beauty in this world, and to do it with love. I am re-inspired by Anne Herbert’s phrase: Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty.

Take a moment now as we perch on the verge of Spring. Hitch onto the power of the season and create beauty, for it is sorely needed in our world. A smile, a kind word, a lovely note, an exquisite image, a heart-felt touch – let Brigit guide us all to honor and utilize our power of creation. Then, open yourself to be blessed by the beauty all around you.

A note on date and nomenclature: This day—called a “cross-quarter” day because it falls between the solstice and equinox—is known variously as Imbolg (a Gaelic or Old Irish word meaning “in the belly,” referring to pregnant ewes), Candlemas (originating from the Church of England), or Brigit’s Day (honoring the Celtic Goddess and Catholic Saint). Imbolg is traditionally celebrated February 2nd, or the night before, on February 1st. For the Northern Hemisphere another more exact way of calculating it is when the Sun is at 15° Aquarius (in the Tropical calendar), which this year falls on February 3rd. See more about the seasons here http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/2015.html .

Solitary Ritual at the Cross Quarter

Goddess, ritual

Tomorrow is the cross-quarter day between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice, often called Samhain (traditionally celebrated on Oct 31/Nov 1). This day heralds the beginning of the Season of the Dark, the first day of Winter.

Though daylight savings brings more light in the morning, we feel the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer. There is a part of me that longs for this cozy-curling-up time of year, ready to put aside the hustle of the last season of harvest and incubate until the light returns at the beginning of February. But, alas, at the breakneck pace of all of our lives, that is not entirely possible.

While the traditional celebration of Samhain, All Hallows Eve, and Halloween are often in groups, I find particular solace in a ritual at the actual cross-quarter day. My obligations as priestess and costume-fancier are over, so now I can spend time in solitary ceremony. At our full moon ritual last Friday, we cast the circle with salt. I had forgotten how powerful a salt circle can be; I felt completely held and protected between the worlds. So tomorrow night, I am going to make time for a solitary ritual: me, a salt circle, a candle, and flowers as an offering.

Take a moment for yourself at this powerful cross-quarter day. Release some of the excesses of the harvest season; anything that you do not need for the coming winter should be left behind as compost for the spring. Lighten your load, and get ready for the curling-up time of year.

Blessings of the Season to you – Anne

A note on seasons, names and dates: The Greeting of the Dark is the first day of Winter, celebrated on the cross-quarter day at the midpoint between Mid-Autumn and Mid-Winter. This day is at the cross of the quarters, the quarters of the year being the equinoxes and solstices. Astrologically, the First Day of Winter may be calculated as the date the Sun is at 15° Scorpio, which currently Falls around November 6th and 7th (Other methods for determining the cross-quarter days and charts showing the date ranges for the seasons can be found at: http://www.archaeoastronomy.com.) This festival is commonly called Samhain (pronounced sow’ en, from the Gaelic, meaning “the end of summer”), traditionally celebrated October 31st. The term Halloween, common parlance in the United States, descends from the Catholic tradition of All Hallows Eve, or Hallowe’en, which is observed on October 31st, literally the “eve” of All Hallows Day. All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows Day, occurs on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd.

Autumn Equinox: Balance

Fall Equinox, Goddess, Seasonal Greetings

The Equinoxes are the points in the year when all parts of the planet receive the same amount of light from the Sun. It is a moment of planetary balance. And, it is the one day of the year that the sun rises and sets at exact east and west. Here in Albuquerque, the Equinox is on Friday 9/22 at 2:02 pm (find your time here  or here).

My daily-life calendar and the solar/earth calendar don’t always match up. For earth, this is a time the harvest winds down; it is the height of autumn, moving us on the path inward for winter. For me instead of winding down, this is the time that things get very busy. School starts, classes are full, and this year I have new projects coming into being.* Finding balance seems an elusive dream.

But this year, I’ve marked out time on Friday afternoon to sit and let the sun and the earth hold me in their balance. Just as plants die away and leaves fall, I’m figuring out what I’m leaving behind to bring myself into balance.

Take a moment to find out when the Autumn Equinox happens in the place where your feet will connect to the earth (find your time here  or here) and mark your calendar. Give yourself even just a few minutes, outside if possible. Feel the gravity of the earth pull you towards Her, and sink into Her embrace. Breathe in the moment of balance and allow clarity to wash over you. Give thanks for the beauty and bounty of our lives.


Historical and Astrological Tidbits on Mid-Autumn:  Mid-Autumn is the Fall Equinox. Equinox means “balance”, and this is the point when the dark and light of the day are most at balance. On a global scale, the equinoxes are at the points of the year when the entire world is in balance, with both Southern and Northern hemispheres receiving about the same amount of light. The equinox has another important feature as well: it is the only point during the year that the Sun rises in exact east and sets in exact west.  For while the Sun “stands still” at the solstices, the Sun moves very rapidly across the horizon at the equinoxes, leaving only one day to calibrate to the east and west. The Fall Equinox festival is also called Mabon (derived from Welsh mab meaning “son” or “boy”);Harvest Home (in British Isle traditions the time when the harvest is complete); and the Witches’ Thanksgiving. Astrologically, Mid-Autumn may be calculated as the date the Sun is at 0° Libra, which usually occurs between September 21-22.

Award winning writer Anne Key is the author of two memoirs. The first, Desert Priestess: a memoir, relates the three years she spent as Priestess of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, located in Nevada. Her second, Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love: A Memoir of Life under the Albuquerque Sun, recounts her time in Albuquerque performing under the stage name Annie O’Roar. She is co-founder of Goddess Ink.  

*Her newest collaboration is the Jade Oracle deck, featuring deities from Ancient Mexico.  

Harvest

Goddess, lammas, Priestess, Seasonal Greetings

Sunday August 6th is the midpoint between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox, at the cross of the quarters, signaling the first day of autumn (see note below). The sun is rising a little later in the morning, the night coming just a bit sooner; the change of season is in the air. Welcome to the time of harvest.

Here in Albuquerque, our tomatoes and figs are ripening beautifully, and the corn tassels sway in the breeze. But somehow I am not feeling “as without so within.” In my internal garden, I see so many plants that have faltered. Did I not give them enough water? Should I have added more nitrogen to my internal soil? What did I neglect?

Part of this answer is that sometimes seeds do not sprout; sometimes plants do not thrive. Maybe I should consider the two tomato plants that we pulled out this year, or the geranium that just did not make it. Maybe I should come to terms with the fact that sometimes, no matter what I do, that some things will not come to fruition.  And that the two tomato plants and the geranium are in the compost pile, decomposing into the rich soil that will feed the future.

This is the time of harvest, and abundance takes many forms. Let’s celebrate our place in the cycle of life, and ride the wheel of fortune all the way around. Embrace every moment, using its lessons to enrich our lives. Take some time for stillness today in gracious gratitude for our harvests.

With love from my heart to yours-  Anne

N.B.: This cross-quarter festival is commonly called Lammas (from the Anglo-Saxon for “loaf mass”) or Lughnasadh (from the Irish god Lugh), traditionally celebrated August 1st. Astrologically, the First Day of Autumn may be calculated as the date the Sun is at 15° Leo, which currently Falls around August 6th and 7th.

Xochitecatl and the Pyramid of the Flowers: Ceremonial Center for Women’s Mysteries

Goddess, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico, sacred sites

The Pyramid of the Flowers at Xochitecatl has a deep resonance with women’s mysteries.  It is believed that this site was used as a ceremonial center.  Perched atop an extinct volcano, the vista from Pyramid of the Flowers offers 360 degree panoramic views of the entire Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley and three volcanoes: Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, and La Malinche.

The Pyramid of the Flowers faces La Malinche; in fact, the pyramid seems to be a mirror

Malinche

La Malinche

image. The platform of the pyramid base is approximately 144 meters east to west and 110 meters north to south, similar to that of Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Moon. Because of the large volume of the pyramid, tons of rocks and boulders would have been brought up from the lower slopes. Most of the volume dates to the Formative era (700 BCE), but some of the construction was performed during the Late Classic (650-900 CE), showing the many centuries of use. 

On September 29th, from the summit of the Pyramid of the Flowers, the sun rises directly over La Malinche. This date corresponds to the festival celebrating the Archangel Michael in the town of San Miguel del Milagro, just a few miles to the east of Xochitecatl (read about the celebration here.) For those of us looking for the roots of women’s ceremony and mystery, this seems to point to the idea that this date held significance prior to the coming of Catholicism to the region. And, because of its connection to Pyramid of the Flowers and La Malinche, this day may have been significant to the rituals held there which most definitely centered around women’s mysteries.

The site itself has only one small structure (Pyramid of the Serpent) that might have served as a residence, leading us to believe that the complex was

In the Mesoamerican Cosmovision, Cihuatlampa, (cihua = women; lamp= place) was the

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Step of the pyramid, made from a metate.

designation for west, one of the four cardinal directions. Cihuatlampa was also the celestial home of the Cihuateteo, women who died in childbirth. The Pyramid of the Flowers faces Cihuatlampa, further showing its connection to women’s ritual.mostly used for ceremonial reasons, unlike most other sites (Serra Puche 2012:42-46).

The stairway of the pyramid is literally built of women’s tools. There are a number of metate’s, stones for grinding corn, used as stairs. There were offerings of female figurines found embedded in the staircases. Nearly 500 spindle whorls were found, further linking this place to women’s culture (Puche 268).

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Sunken pool in front of the steps of the Pyramid of the Flowers.

In front of the stairway are two ritual basins, one above ground and one sunk into the ground. Four sculptures were found in the sunken basin: a toad, a mythological serpent with a human face in its open jaws, and two human faces. Toads are a religious symbol for Mesoamericans, possibly relating to the hallucinogenic properties of their secretions. The serpent with the human face could be a reference to Cihuacoatl, the snake-woman. It has been theorized that the two basins were part of child birthing rituals. The image of La Malinche is reflected in the sunken ritual basin.

La Malinche is locally called Matlalceitl, Lady of the Blue Skirt. This name may be connected with Chalchiuhtlicue, the Goddess rivers, closely associated with childbirth and purification (the name “La Malinche” was not given to the volcano until the 1600’s CE). Streams flow from the volcano, and springs with drinkable water surround the base, adding to the idea that the volcano is closely associated with Chalchiuhtlicue.

There were thirty-two burials found near the bottom of the staircase of the Pyramid of the Flowers, mostly females and infants The burials span the entire use of the ceremonial complex, from Formative Era (pre-800 BCE) to the Late Classic (900 CE). Burials were individual and collective, primary and secondary (Puche 269). These burials show the connection of this sacred place to the mysteries of life and death.

Although Xochitecatl’s dedication to a specific deity is still the subject of debate, its geographic location shows that it was a cosmic center of primary importance. This is evidenced by the orientation of the site toward dawn on a particular date, its special relation to La Malinche, and the fact that Pyramid of Flowers is a copy of that mountain itself. Together, these observations reveal a site where ceremonies were performed in which women played the main roles…where other ritual activities, such as baths and offerings, took place. All of these factors point to ceremonies dedicated to the Earth Mother, as personified by the female volcano. (Puche 279)

Xochitecatl holds the sacred energy of thousands of years of ritual dedicated to women’s mysteries. Visit and experience it for yourself!

References:

Mari Carmen Serra Puche, “The Concept of Feminine Places in Mesoamerica: The Case of Xochitécatl, Tlaxcala, Mexico.” In Gender in Pre-Hispanic America, Cecilia F. Klein, editor. Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2001.

To visit Xochitecatl in person, join Sacred Tours of Mexico for a Women’s Retreat in the Heart of Mexico, Puebla and Cholula November 2017. For more about the sacred side of Mexico, join our Facebook group and sign up for our newsletter.

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Anne in front of the Pyramid of the Flowers

Award winning writer Anne Key is the co-founder of Sacred Tours of Mexico. She has been traveling and researching in Mexico since the late 1980’s. With a Ph.D. in Women’s Spirituality, Anne brings both her expertise and love to each tour. Her dissertation and articles on Mesoamerican Goddesses are often cited. She is the author of two memoirs (Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love: A Memoir of Life under the Albuquerque Sun) and is a co-founder of Goddess Ink.

 

 

 

Spring Equinox 2017: Ready, set, grow!

contemplation, Goddess, Gratefulness, Seasonal Greetings, spring equinox

Spring Equinox 2017

Today is the Spring Equinox, when the northern and southern hemispheres are bathed in equal light. It is a day to search for balance within and without. Spring is the transition from the dark womb of winter to the brilliance of summer, and we are at the moment when all the underground growth breaks surface.

I’ve had a bit of a dark womb winter this year, and I feel like a part of myself was either hibernating or hiding. There have been times I have wanted to come out of the cave, to pull back the heavy blankets, but I just wasn’t ready.

But now, I’m ready. The sunflower seed bursting from its shell:

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.  Cynthia Occelli

This is where I am today, just beginning to break open through the seed. Its carcass is still on my leaves.

Take a moment today and consider where you are. Let growth take its natural course. Breathe into the beauty, vigor, and newness that is Spring.

Blessed be – Anne

PS: This sunflower seed was planted at the full moon during a wonderful and powerful ritual. I’m ready to shake myself awake!

More about Spring Equinox: Spring Equinox is often called Ostara, or Eostre, named for a goddess of Germanic origin who is the namesake of Easter. For the Northern Hemisphere, Spring Equinox is Mid-Spring, signaling the height of the season, occurring at 1° Aries in Tropical system. History and ritual ideas: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/spring.html .