October Crafting – Ancestral Offrenda & Altar Creation
Thursday, 10/20 we will meet from 5-6pm PST for a live discussion and Q&A for your Ancestral Altar Crafting. Earlier in the day, I am going to record a short video demonstration for you because there is no way for me to record live on You Tube and be able to walk and move around to show you what I want to show.
Your supplies can be anything you feel called to pace for your ancestors. This can be bones, skulls, candles, photos, gemstones, talismans, letters, cards, or anything that belonged to someone you are honoring. For an offering you can leave fruit, candy, or any food/beverage you feel called to use.
Día de los Muertos is one of my favorites holidays in this vein. Day of the Dead is an ancient, sacred holiday celebrated in Mexico, as well as throughout the Americas and in Spain. Traditional celebrations of this occasion are colorful and festive, and focus on building altars for loved ones who have departed this Earth. I know you are going to love this ritual as I do, my dear ones who revel in the celebrations of the dark parts of the year – Day of the Dead, Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows’…or however you choose to celebrate this sacred time.
The making of the ofrenda – or altar – is a vital part of the Day of the Dead traditions and this time of year when the Veil is at it’s thinnest, because each altar is designed for an individual person no longer living, and serves to welcome them to the altar.
Ancestral Altar Prep Video
October – Dark Goddesses
As we turn to October, we greet our dark goddesses. This month, we honor Hecate, Lilith, and Morrigan – the dark goddesses from various ancient pantheons. As we move into this season of darkness and shadow, the Veil between the worlds becomes thinner, so there is no better time for us to invoke the dark goddesses as we face our own darkness. In the Northern Hemisphere, we shift to the dark half of the year, and thus we move into our deep personal work with our own darkness. We work with the dark goddesses so we can call in their various energies as we go about our deep and dark work leading up to Samhain and our time of rest.
But first, let us explore what exactly a dark goddess is. It’s so interesting to me that when we talk about this topic we discover that the label ‘dark goddess’ is often applied to any female deity who has “challenging aspects.” I use the “” around those words because often these so-called challenging aspects are exactly the characteristics that as women in today’s society we are taught to hide. The aspects of our natures that we are told are less than desirable – strength, strong will, anger, rage, sensuality, sexuality, revenge, wisdom, independence, and intelligence, to name a few.
Upon closer study of the deities across the ancient pantheons, we find that even the brightest have their dark sides. Once upon a time there were no dark or light goddesses, there were simply goddesses, and depending on what our intention was, or where we needed help, we would appeal to the various aspects of whichever deity we were invoking. Dark and light came later, as deities were humanized and transformed to suit the needs of the patriarchy and the various religious sects seeking control of the masses.
There are dark goddesses associated with each and every phase of our lives as women. Many of us already honor the phases of maiden, mother, and crone. But even at birth we are greted with a primal entity, one which carried us through the transition of birth. This was once a highly mystical occurrence, as the mysteries surrounding birth from the earliest times of human civilization needed a sacred guardian for the journey to life. Before science and doctors, birth was held sacred by the entity of the Divine Midwife. Here we find an aspect of Hecate, who guards the in-between, the transitional plane crossed through during birth. Hence the aspect of crone is embodied in Hecate, the wizened protector of childbirth and women.
As we transition into puberty, we grow, we develop. Our sexuality ignites and we find our feminine power. We become the maiden, and here we connect with the energy of Lilith. We begin menstruation, something that has been controlled, subjugated, and shamed by the patriarchy. This is the pinnacle of a woman in all her powerful glory, and it wasn’t understood or able to be controlled by men. They feared the sensual power of women. Coming of age, and the arrival of menstruation was proof that the power of recreation lay within the womb of the woman, no matter how they tried to credit the male gods with all creation of life and the world. Thus as we learn in the story of Lilith, sexuality was demonized and unwholesome.
In the mother phase of our life as women, we can connect with the Morrigan. She is often depicted as a combative and sexual goddess of war. Keep in mind that throughout time it has been known that one of the most fierce and scary energies you could ever encounter is that of a mother protecting her children.
And as we come full circle to face death, we touch yet another phase of natural life that we have been taught to fear. We enter our own crone phase of life, one that was once held sacred and revered. The elders of our ancestral communities were held in esteem and honored for their experience and wisdom. Humans have grown to fear death more and more as the years pass, and we see this in the prevalent denial of aging in modern society. We should celebrate and honor the aging process, as it is a natural part of existence. In death we once again come full circle to meet Hecate, where she judges us upon entry to the underworld.
October Goddesses – Origins
Hecate is the Greek goddess of the in-between, the place between life and death, and she acts as the guardian of the crossroads. She was often depicted with a double torch, which brought light and wisdom to the world, as well as keys to open the gates between the worlds to access the hidden knowledge beyond. It is Hecate who greets you at the gate to the Underworld. Call on Hecate to see what is unseen and to guide you through indecision. Hecate is a most ancient entity, as she was one of the Titans who predates the Olympian Gods of Greece. In fact, Hecate is one of the only Titans who was permitted by Zeus to remain in power after the great Greek battle of the Gods. He shared with her, and only her, the powerful authority of giving or withholding from humanity anything she wished. She is the old, fierce, and wise one though she is often depicted as a beautiful young woman. Cousin to Artemis, Hecate is also a virgin goddess who was unwilling to sacrifice her independence for marriage!
It is often forgotten that Hecate is also a goddess of nature. In the Chaldean Oracles she is described as “the world soul and the bestower of virtues and source of souls.” She is with us at birth, through transition, and at death. Under her domain we find the divine messengers known as iynges, as well as her sacred demon dogs to hound wrong-doers. She can often be found at the crossroads, which is where offerings were once made to her on the Dark Moon. The rich would leave the offerings to honor Hecate, and the poor would be fed from these offerings. Her twin torches symbolize Venus as the morning and evening star. Hecate is often never depicted without her sacred animals, the hound, wolf, and a raven or crow. Call on Hecate when you feel lost or alone, and beseech her to grant you protection, guidance, and wisdom on your path, especially when it winds through transition and darkness or calls upon you to make tough decisions. She sometimes asks us to let go of what is familiar, safe, and secure and to travel to the scary places of the soul as is necessary for our Highest Good.
Lilith is one of the oldest known female spirits of the world. She originates in Sumerian tradition, appearing in The Epic of Gilgamesh, where she represented the branches of a tree and was a symbol of Sumerian witchcraft. Lilith is the original aspect of the Great Goddess. Her most ancient form seems to be a bird or snake, and she is associated with the Sumer Queen of Heaven and Earth, Inanna. As the patriarchal Babylonian, Hittite, and Semitic cultures infiltrated the Sumerian pantheon, we see her demonization continue. The once graceful Spirit of the Air and Maiden of Inanna’s temples, who was represented by a lily and often surrounded by owls and lions, is replaced by the ever darkening shroud of evil being written into history.
She then appears in the Bible and the Talmud, as she was absorbed into the Hebrew traditions, as the first wife of Adam. Lilith is one of the most demonized deities of all time, successfully achieving the status of demon in some beliefs; she is the embodiment of original sin, and exemplified as a woman cast out and rejected to promote the submissiveness of Hebrew women who were at the time, continuing their tradition of praying to the Great Goddess. How does a woman go from wife and equal to Adam to a notorious demon? It is told that she was created as Adam’s equal, and demanded she be treated as such – a demand which had her cast out of Eden. She was then demonized until she was written into history as the darkest, most evil pagan goddess who murders infants and unborn children, and has legions of demon lovers at her beck and call. Interesting, isn’t it? Associated with the dark moon, her themes are freedom, playfulness, sensuality, and sexuality.
Lillith is the embodiment of what man longs for and yet fears. She is woman in all her powerful glory, a sensual, empowered force to be reckoned with because she alone holds the power to control man. She is the original wild woman, the one who runs with wolves and cannot be tamed. Call on her to invoke your inner wild woman. Beseech her to ruthlessly destroy all that is not your Highest Good. She will not lead us to our goal by revealing what it is exactly, but rather by showing us and eliminating everything that it is not. I absolutely love that! The black aspect of Lilith closes all the wrong doors that face us. Call upon her when you are unsure which way to turn. She will show you which ways not to go.
Morrigan comes to us from the Celtic tradition, and she has been known by many names – Morrigu, Morgana, the Morrighan, and Morgan Le Fey — and in many forms – as the banshee, Black Annis and the Gwyrach y Rhybin. Morrigan became a deity of the pantheon of the Tuatha de Danannm, or the tribe of the Goddess Danu when they arrived in Ireland, but she could not be neatly pigeonholed when Christianity arrived, and so she was never canonized as Brigid was. Yet she still survived in various forms. She protected her people by blowing a fog over the land, the lack of visibility discouraged invading armies. She is The Witch Goddess, known for her ability to shapeshift, and is associated with water, earth, war, sex, fate, sovereignty, and magic, In addition to being the patroness of revenge, night, prophecy, priestesses and witches, Morrigan also represented the circle of life, as she was associated with both birth and death, just like Hecate. She is sometimes called Lady of the Lake, and is a triple goddess herself, with embodiments of maiden, mother, and crone, which are represented by: Anu (the fertility maiden), Badh (the boiling mother cauldron) and either Macha (the death crone) or Nemain.
Morrigan holds a very potent earthy aspect, through her connection with cattle and horses, as well as her authority to bestow or revoke sovereignty of the land onto and from the rightful king.
One of Morrigan’s roles in Celtic legend is quite similar to that of the Valkyries in Norse folklore, the female entities who decided who lived and died in battle as they flew overhead to escort the fallen souls across the Veil. She is a fierce goddess, and she also appears as the washer of the ford who cuts the thread of life and foretells of doom. She is linked to the Faeries and the otherworld, and she is representative of the primal female power of creation. Her sacred animals are crows and ravens, and she was known to shapeshift into these birds. We can invoke Morrigan when we need to work with the archetypes of crone, warrioress, and shape-shifter. Beseech her for assistance in battle, transition, flexibility, boundaries, to champion for others facing injustice, and for wisdom to learn from your lessons. She will also challenge you to grow and fulfill your potential, which is a blessing (a challenging one at times) to us who walk a spiritual path.
Hecate is the Greek counterpart to Ma’at, as the one who judges souls as they transition to the afterlife. Morrigan is akin to the Hindu Goddesses of destruction, Durga and Kali; Egyptian Bast, and Greek Erinys, and Hawaiian Pele in their realm over destruction, vengeance, and wrath. As a goddess of war, Morrigan is also akin to Athena, Sekhmet, and Astarte. Lilith is related to the Roman Venus, Mesopotamian Ishtar, Norse Frejya in their domain of sexual love and beauty. And she also shares in the domain of wisdom with her Hindu sister Sarasvati, Asherah of the Canaanites, as well as Kuan Yin, Isis, and Hecate.
- Divination, wishes, and calling spirits
- Heals, purifies, and blocks negativity
- Aids in communication with the dead and increases psychic ability
- When burned, myrrh consecrates, purifies, and blesses a space or object
- Aids contemplation and meditation
- Brings comfort when working through personal sorrows, tragedies, and mysteries
- Creates and holds sacred space
- Dream work and astral travel
- Invokes sensual, loving, and inspiring qualities
The stones of the triple goddess kit were chosen to resonate with each goddess, as well. But again, you can work with these stones as you sit fit or feel called. This is not set in stone! (No pun intended!) Have fun and do what feels right for you!
Black moonstone for Hecate, to honor her position as the guardian of the Veil and the protector of the crossroads.
- Has all the properties of white or rainbow moonstone, with a darker hue, and a deeper vibration, which allows for deep self-discovery.
- Carries a grounding benefit which makes it incredibly potent for ritual and ceremonial work.
- Helps boost creative energies and vision in the darkness.
Labradorite to honor Lilith and her association as the goddess of the new moon.
- Helps light the path, illuminating the night sky and helping you see your way through challenges.
- It can help aid your clairvoyance, telepathy, and psychic visions.
- Facilitates astral travel, access to the Akashic records, past-life recall, and communication with spirit guides.
Peacock ore to honor Morrigan’s role as the goddess of prophecy and The Witch Goddess.
- Known as The Witches’ Stone, it heals, aligns, brings wisdom, attunes you to all of the rays of light and sacred energies
- Facilitates what we call “outer realm” magic (such as astral travel), and even super charges spell work if you practice witchcraft.
- There really isn’t much peacock ore doesn’t do. It’s a powerhouse and it blocks negative energies.