Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue moon tonight... or is it?

I wrote a little bit about this before as part of a larger topic (which could stand a bit of touching up!), but figured it's an appropriate topic to re-visit tonight.

These days when one says blue moon, most people think of the second full moon in a month that contains two. This concept is actually based on a misunderstanding, however, which originated with the Sky and Telescope magazine. Originally a blue moon referred to the third full moon in a season which contained four full moons - most seasons only have three. That's the basic idea of it, and if you're interested in learning a bit more on the topic, and how the definition shifted in recent times, here's an article which explains it in more detail.

Now nothing against the monthly method - definitions change all the time, after all - but at this point in my practice I prefer to go with the seasonal method, so tonight is not a blue moon for me. (Tonight I'm celebrating the grain moon.) A blue moon isn't all that different from most other moons for me, anyway... they're neat because they don't come around often, but that's about the extent of it. I know some like to use it for long term goal planning, or other such things, but eh... works for some, but just doesn't work for me. Maybe someday it will take a more special place in the cycle, but for now...? Well, for now I have tonight's celebration to deal with, so off to prepare for that!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Sunday

Two pictures this week, to make up for missing last Sunday. (As always, click for bigger views.) I wasn't feeling well last week/weekend, and have been playing a bit of catch up since.

It's been thundering a lot this week. Morning showers with afternoon storms almost every day. Wind from one of the storms knocked several oak branches down, which I took a bit of the wood from to use later.

I spent a good part of the past week reorganizing the apartment. I picked up a short shelf unit for the kitchen, which gives me at least a little space to make a permanent working area, something I haven't been able to have for several years now. I know some just work at their deity altar(s), but I don't like my shrines to get too cluttered with working items - and beside, they're much too small anyway. (It will also be nice to have the extra storage space below it.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012


BAST (Alt. Spellings: Bastet, Ubasti - Greek/Roman: Bubastis) "She who devours" or "Devouring Lady" Possibly also “She of the bas-jar” a bas-jar being a heavy perfume or ointment jar.

A frequent spelling of Bast is Bastet, however, the ending "ET" is silent, so Her name should always pronounced Bast. "T" is a feminine ending in the ancient Egyptian language. At a point in Egypt's history, the "T" ending was becoming silent on many words, so an additional ending was put onto Bast's name, making it Bastet, to show that the original T needed to be pronounced.

"Bast guards the Two Lands. He who worships Her is sheltered by Her strong arms."

Bast is a goddess of protection, especially so of Egypt and its ruling house. She was associated mostly with lower Egypt. Since She was a protector of the king on earth, so She also became a protector of the king of the Gods - Ra. As such, She was one of several solar Goddesses given the title "The Eye of Ra."

Bast did not become associated with the moon until Greek times, since the Greeks associated Her with their Artemis. It was also during this time that much of her association with sexuality occurred, as well as becoming a daughter of Wesir(Osiris) and Aset(Isis). None of this was part of Her Egyptian form.

In addition, the idea that She is a goddess of marijuana and lesbians is very modern, and as far as I have been able to tell was made up by a few folks who scam people for money online... Luckily, these misconceptions seem have faded recently.

Because of Her name Bast is also associated with perfume and ointment jars. Bas being a type of heavy jar, which often held expensive perfumes, oils, and ointments.

It was partly due to this gentle association that the image of Bast became that of a domestic cat, rather than the lion or wild cat of earlier times. In this form, She is regarded as a patron of cats. A large number of cats were mummified and buried at her central temple. Some say these cats were killed as offerings, but it is also likely that these were the pets of local people, or even of cats who lived and died in the temple, instead. Cats were very important in Egypt, due to their ability to kill mice, as well as dangerous animals such as snakes.

Bast is often shown with kittens around Her, and as such as thought of as a goddess of fertility and a protector of children.

Bast is the mother of Maahes, and wife to Ptah. She is the daughter of Ra. Bast is also sometimes said to be the wife of Yinepu (Anubis), and the mother of Nefertem.

Bast is often associated with many other Goddesses, such as Het-heret (Hathor), Sehkmet, Mut, and Tefnut.
There is often confusion about Bast's connection with Sekhmet, since they are similar protective goddesses, with lion heads. Bast is not the gentle side of Sekhmet - it is Het-heret who becomes Sekhmet in myth.

Bast is shown either as a female with a feline head, or as fully feline. She is sometimes shown wearing a sun-disk upon Her head in her partly human form.

In later times She is occasionally shown holding a sistrum, as well as a lion mask. The lion mask perhaps hinting at Her wilder beginnings. It is sometimes thought that it may also represent the fierce protection laying under a more docile exterior.

Classical offerings to Bast include sweet food and drink (such as honey), cold water, red wine, onions, mint, perfumes, ointments, copper, meats, and cat figurines. Modern worshipers also often add things like chocolate, limes and other citrus, cinnamon, plum wine, perfume bottles, knives/swords, and stained glass items.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Prompt: Offerings

For those who perform rituals, do you give offerings? If so, what kind?
What is the meaning/purpose of offerings?

The Proto-Indo-Europeans had a concept called ghos-ti. It is the origin for our modern words of stranger, guest and host. It essentially refers to a reciprocal, or mutual relationship of giving and receiving/taking, many such relationships can be found within the universe, and in fact in some cosmologies this concept explains the very nature of the universe as a whole.

This is the reason I give offerings to the Gods and spirits. A balanced relationship can't be had by only taking. It's disrespectful to the ones you're taking from, and it's doing a disservice to yourself - you won't grow if things are always just handed to you, and you won't form a complex, deep, and lasting relationship by always taking. Imagine having a friend who always takes and never gives... you might put up with it for a while, but would it really be lasting and healthy for both individuals? It's unlikely.

Do the Gods really need our offerings? Perhaps not, but it shows them we do more than take, that we respect them, value them, and that we want to share what we can with them. The same goes for the spirits, the ancestors, and the like. Different Deities/spirits enjoy different things. Different foods, drinks, scents, colors, materials, actions, and so on. Taking the time to figure out what is part of building a relationship. We can research traditional offerings, and experiment with new ones.

So what offerings do I give? There is, of course, the standard food and drink... flour, cornmeal, barley, oats, bread, honey, wine, mead, beer, milk, cream, clarified butter, spices and herbs, cookies and cakes, parts of family meals, fruits, vegetables, nuts... well, you get the idea. Even cool water makes an appropriate offering at times. Beyond food and drink, there's flowers and other fresh plants, little crafted items, beads and charms, coins, fabrics, tools, artwork, incense, candles, and more.

Time and actions can also be offerings. Dedicating the actual process of making an item, for example. A deity of weaving might enjoy the actual act of weaving as an offering, not just the finished product. A nature deity might appreciate an offering of going out and cleaning litter. Sometimes just spending some time researching the deity, or spending time at their shrine, can be an offering - making the effort to keep them in mind, and investing time into the relationship.  

One doesn't have to go broke making offerings... sometimes a cup of water, a few wildflowers, and the sincerity of the gift is all that is needed.