Thursday, February 24, 2011



Yemaja has always been my patron goddess. From the moment I heard her name I felt an affinity for her, much the same as the affinity I felt for The Goddess Tarot. I have since begun to expand and look for other Goddesses that speak to me, but Yemaja will always be my Mama.


Yemaja is an Orisha of the Yoruba Tradition - she known as Yemoja in Africa. In Yoruba, an Orisha is an entity that possesses the capability of reflecting some of the manifestations of Olódùmarè, which is the Supreme entity, the totality of the Divine. Since Olódùmarè is all encompassing, it has no gender or face, it is all genders and all faces. Hence, Olódùmarè is commonly referred to as "it" or "they". "They" are the owner of all 'heads', for during human creation, they gave "êmí" (the breath of life) to humankind. The Orishas are the individual dieties that possess the capability of reflecting some of the manifestations of Olódùmarè. The each own a 'head', which the Olódùmarè own all of. The word "Orisha" actually means "owner of a head".

Mother Goddess of the Sea and of all women, and patron of all pregnant women and birth, Yemaja is the Mother of all saints. Her name is a contraction of Yoruba words "Yeye emo eja" that mean "Mother whose children are like fish." She is the amniotic fluid in the womb of the pregnant woman, as well as the breasts and the milk which nurture babies.

She was married to Aganju (the Volcano Orisha) and had one son, Orungan, who ravished her. As he tried a second time, Yemaja fell and burst open, and fifteen Orishas came forth from her, including Ogun, Olokun (considered the patron Orisha of the descendants of Africans that were carried away during the Transatlantic Slave Trade), Shopona and Shango, who is one of the most popular Orishas as the divinity of thunder and lightning. Other stories would say that Yemaya was always there in the beginning and all life came from her, including all of the orishas.


Yoruba was brought to the New World and of course, went through some evolution. In Haiti, the Orishas are worshiped as a part of the Voudou religion. Practiced mainly in Cuba, Venezuela, Panama, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and the diaspora of these countires in the US, Santeria is a marriage of the Yoruba religion and Roman Catholic and Native Indian practices. This is where the name Yemaja comes from. In Brazilian Umbanda, Orishas are seen as saints and worshiped within a largely Roman Catholic framework. Yemaja is present in both these religions: in the former she is the patron of shipwrecked sailors and goddess of the sea, and in the latter she is called Yemanja and is the equivalent of the Catholic saint Our Lady of Regla, one of seven main Orixas. She is also seen in some rural towns as a goddess of Love and Passion, being a water goddess, she is viewed as being extremely emotional and sometimes temperamental, and she can destroy as easily and she gives and nutures Life. Other names for her include La Siren (Haitian Voudou), Iemanjá in Uruguay, and Yemana in the US.

Yemaja is often portrayed as a mermaid goddess, and loves shells, mirrors, bright shiny baubles, combs, pearls, flowers, lipsticks, and other items of vanity. She is seen as an equivalent of Brigid, and in Brazil is remembered on Feb 2nd as the patron of women, but on New Years' day she is pictured as a woman rising out of the sea and is given offering of flowers floated out to sea on little boats. In African Dahomey she is seen as the Crone Nana Buluku, goddess of swamps, earth and mud, wears black and purples and is very earthy and organic. In Cuba her colours are blue and white, and her favourite offerings are honey and molasses, whole fried fish, pork rinds and melons.


Another interesting note is that in Santeria, Orishas are seen to have many 'paths' (manifestations) called Caminos. Yemaja has seven caminos:
  • Ogunte: In this path, she is a warrior, with a belt of iron weapons like Ogun. This path lives by the rocky coastlines. Her colors are crystal, dark blue and some red.
  • Asesu: This path is very old. She is said to be deaf and answers her patrons slowly. She is associated with ducks and still or stagnant waters. Her colors are pale blue and coral.
  • Okoto: This path is known as the underwater assassin. Her colors are indigo and blood red and her symbolism includes that of pirates.
  • Majalewo: This path lives in the forest with the herbalist orisha, Osanyin. She is associated with the marketplace and her shrines are decorated with 21 plates. Her colors are teals and turquoises.
  • Ibu Aro: This path is similar to Majalewo in that she is associated with markets, commerce and her shrines are decorated with plates. Her colors are darker; indigo, crystal and red coral. Her crown (and husband) is the orisha Oshumare, the rainbow.
  • Ashaba: This path is said to be so beautiful that no human can look at her directly.

I think what I love about her is that she encompasses so many religions, she is ever present and beautiful. She is Maiden, Mother and Crone, goddess of love and emotion, and she is a dark goddess as well. there are so many facets of her that she is almost always relevant for my prayers. I have always loved mermaids and ethereal water spirits like Sprites, and so she appeals to me aesthetically as well.


I envision her as a voluptuous velvety-dark-skinned woman wearing silvery white sea foam or water, pearls and shells at her wrists and ankles, necklaces of pearls between her breasts and flowers in her long, thick flowing hair. I imagine that she loves the night time and the moon, since the moon draws the tides. I imagine her face to be beautiful but unable to truly be held in memory. Sometimes I envision her as a mermaid, swimming through the tides, or I see her as dancing upon the surf among the waves in the moonlight. She is mysterious and powerful, benevolent and harsh, nurturing and dark.


She is my Mama Yemaja.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baba Yaga: Faemore's Arch-Patroness Deity

Baba Yaga is the bone crone of Slavic folklore and her realm is the birch forests of old Russia. She is a deity of death and rebirth, regeneration and transformation. She is the wild woman and the wolf goddess, the dark mother and the mistress of the forest, the archetypal witch in the wood. She is the guardian of the Otherworld, and of the fountains of the waters of Death and Life. She is the Healer. She is the old woman of autumn, who lives in the last kernel of the last sheaf of the harvest grain and corn. She is an ancient Slavic goddess of death and rebirth. She is the ancient mysteries. She is mighty and worthy of veneration.

Baba Yaga is the bone crone of Slavic folklore.

Baba Yaga is tall, but her back is so bent from age that she touches the ground with her head. She is as bony as a skeleton and has razor-sharp iron teeth, that gnash and glint. She has a pointy head, long, silvery grey hair and eyes that penetrate. Her nose bends down low - hooked like a bird of prey - her chin curves up high - wizened like the waning moon - and she has warts from handling toads. Her nose is so long that it rattles against the ceiling of her hut when she snores, asleep on her oven. Her chin is lightly grown with bristly hairs and her bosom hangs down to her knees. She has nails that are brown, ridged and long. She is fearsome to behold. She is worthy of awe.

She has nails that are brown, ridged and long.

Baba Yaga rides in a large mortar. She travels perched in it with her knees touching her chin, pushing herself across the forest floor with its pestle. She sweeps away all traces of her trail with a broom made of the silver birch of the trees of her forest. She flies through the air and sky in her sturdy, grinding mortar, paddling with the pestle, concealing her path and erasing the marks of where she's been with the whisk of her besom. The mortar and pestle she uses as a method of transport are symbolic of the destructive (grinding) and nurturing (preparing) qualities of this ancient Dark Mother. The mortar and pestle are the deadly yet regenerating nature of Baba Yaga and the thorough way Nature grinds up and reuses her children. Nothing is lost, all is recycled.

Baba Yaga rides perched in a mortar, with her knees touching her chin, pushing herself across the forest floor with its pestle, sweeping away all traces of her trail with the whisk of a broom made of the silver birch of the trees of her forest.

Baba Yaga lives in a magickal, chicken-legged hut in the deep dark of a birch wood forest. It meanders about on its large bright yellow chicken legs, continuously spinning around and changing direction as it makes its way through the woods. It emits blood-curdling screeches, only coming to a halt - amid much creaking and groaning - to stand at rest with its face to a visitor, when a secret incantation is uttered. Then it becomes eerily still and lowers itself down on its chicken feet, throwing open the door with a loud crash. The windows of the hut are its eyes. The hut is surrounded by a fence made of bones - that moves with it as it moves - topped with skulls whose eye sockets blaze and glow, illuminating the dense darkness of Baba Yaga's domain. The hut has feet for knockers, hands for hinges and mouths filled with filed teeth for keyholes.

Walk through the gate of bleached white bones, set with grinning skulls whose eyes glow with fire. Here is the home of Baba Yaga, on the border between the world of mortals and the world of spirits. Ever watchful, restless, creaking, groaning, it spins on its chicken legs, dancing on the edge of reason.

Baba Yaga's hut is the place where transmutation and divinatory magick occurs. It is the dark heart of the Underworld, and the dwelling place of the dead ancestors who are symbolised by the grinning skulls around her house, which have an eerie green fire in each of them. From such bones, Baba Yaga also brews new life and her home is a great source of abundance. But one cannot just simply show up at her doorstep expecting a meal, since she is also the protective wolf goddess who will quickly devour anyone who enters her den naively and unwitting. When a visitor enters her hut, Baba Yaga will ask them whether they came of their own free will, or whether they were sent. Only one answer is right.

She is the protective wolf goddess who will quickly devour anyone who enters her den naively and unwitting.

Baba Yag rules over the elements. Her faithful servants are the White Horseman, a white rider on a white horse, the Red Horseman, a red rider on a red horse, and the Black Horseman, a black rider on a black horse. She is fond of these mysterious horsemen, and when asked who they are, she replies, "My Bright Dawn, my Red Sun, my Dark Midnight." They are the dawn, the day and the dusk. Also amongst her servants, are three bodiless and somewhat menacing pairs of hands, which appear out of thin air to do her bidding. She calls them "my soul friends" or "friends of my bosom" and she is more than a little taciturn about discussing them with anyone.

Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom, the Bone Mother.

Baba Yaga is a terrifying old crone, but also a helper and a wise woman. The dark mother, though often wild and untamable, destructive and deadly, can also be kind and merciful, gracious and good. Baba Yaga is honourable and keeps her word once it is given. As a wise hag she gives advice and magickal gifts to her devotees and the pure of heart; to those who respect her, who are willing to stand up to her, who carry out her tasks. Her domain is wisdom, knowledge and truth. She is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-revealing to those who would dare to ask. Baba Yaga is the spirit guardian of the fountain of the waters of Life and of Death. She is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom, the Bone Mother. She is a wild nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death of ego, rebirth.

Whenever she appears on the scene, a wild wind begins to blow, the trees around creak and groan and leaves whirl through the air. Shrieking and wailing, a host of spirits often accompany her on her way.

Baba Yaga is an ancient goddess of the Underworld. She rules over symbolic death and birth, the initiation into adulthood when children let go of their playthings and are born anew as adults and responsible, contributing members of society. She will bake the disrespectful child in her oven. In her enormous oven on which she sleeps, she will use a large spatula to shove them and then lock the oven door as they cook. She will eat them once they are done. She eats an enormous amount of food - enough for ten men. She devours her victims. Baba Yaga is the all-powerful, terrifying Dark Mother. She is the Triple Goddess. She is all at once destructive, nurturing and regenerative. She gives life and she takes life away.

Baba Yaga devours her victims.

I have entered Baba Yaga's world, where she reigns in all her terrifying glory as the guardian of initiatory mysteries. I have safely entered her domain; but there are laws. Laws of civility in dealing with her sacred energies. She expects companionship and love, and a sharing of energy that becomes forever a part of whoever partakes. But before bread can be broken with Baba, one must first know how to ask for it, for such food is not freely given to strangers. Baba Yaga should be approached with great humility and intelligence. The difficulty lies in how to speak the truth about complex things. This is essential if you plan to survive in her world. Oversimplification means certain death from this Bone Mother.

Baba Yaga should be approached with great humility and intelligence. This is essential if you plan to survive in her world.

As terrifying as it may be to face Baba Yaga, to survive is to be forever transformed. She would much rather kill our ignorance than ourselves by forcing us to examine ourselves in the dark mirror of the Underworld, and then to resurrect us, pouring forth the Water of Life upon us, and granting us the deep wisdom that only a close bond with the Underworld may bring. Restoration, renewal, nourishment and enlightenment can all be found by surviving a journey to Baba Yaga. It is a difficult journey, which in the past may have been acted out through initiatory rituals. The day you visit Baba Yaga's hut however, is the day you will surely be dragged on a journey towards the spinning vortex of the Underworld.

Blessed be,
Faemore Lorei.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Tarot Journey

My name is Selene Lilitu, the Moon that belongs to the Night. I am a Diviner. We all are, in some way. We all read signs around us to understand what came before, what is happening around us, or to tell a story of what will happen in the future, whether it is five minutes or five decades from now. People will argue that if they see clouds ahead and say it will rain that it is a scientific fact, not mystical. My answer to that is that everything is mystical, even science. Everything on earth moves in time to the beat of a drum none of us can hear, but we can feel in the turn of the seasons, in the birth of babies, in the very breath and life of our Mother earth. No Scientist can ever tell us why we are, why the earth is, and the only how they know is the mechanics of the thing, We cannot grasp what Hand it is that flips the switch, we cannot fathom what entity keeps the cycle spiraling.

By that token then, all methods of discovering information about our present, past or future are equally valid and simply take practice. As with anything, we are all drawn to different things. Scientists are drawn to their science, they are the pragmatic kind that like to know the nuts and blots of everything, right down to molecular structure and energy synapses. And on the opposite side of the Wheel are the ladies who read tea leaves, those who watch the face of the moon, stare into a mirror or crystal ball or smooth pond, swing a pendulum, who read Cards. We are the ones who believe the same as the scientists but who call things by different names, and who embrace the part of our world we cannot see: the Divine. We understand that a thought or a feeling is a real, tangible, measurable thing, and we understand the power that we have to channel energies the way batteries and lasers do, and with the strength of our will, we can affect the things around us. So we pour our energies and belief into our chosen forms of Divination, and by so doing we can see the signs and their outcomes as clearly as others see the clouds that mean a storm. Subjective or not, we get the answers from the Divine in the way that is exactly right for each of us.

I confess that growing up under a cloud of Christianity I was a little wary of Tarot, but intensely curious. My step-mother was a very affected church-goer - I do not consider her a Christian - and my Gran was very much a Christian, my family was generally Christian-minded just because it was how they grow up and it was the climate they lived in and none of them were really soul-searching types. The country I live in is mind-numbingly closed-minded Christian. It's not that I intrinsically thought there was anything bad about Tarot, but it had been denounced so often during my childhood by almost everyone in authority that I was a little scared at first, and I was worried I could get in trouble. Then I went to University and a friend had a pack. I never touched it but she did a few readings for me, and I enjoyed it very much. When I returned hom from university, I had begun to investigate all the questions about everything I had been taught. They had been plaguing me for years, and I resolved to get to the bottom of it all. It was in this way that I came to Wicca. Paganism sat well with my soul, and when I came across the topic of Divination, my first instinct was to go back to Tarot.

The very first Tarot deck I ever actually held in my hands was The Aquarian Deck, seen below.


It belonged to my new boyfriend at the time (who became my husband two and a half years later). I had come to Wicca recently and was fascinated by anything minutely Pagan/Occultish, and was yet unaware as to where I could find such things in Barbados. He is buddhist, but had also always loved Tarot, specifically The Aquarian Deck, and a friend brought it for him from Canada. I thought it was beautiful, and ornate, and I tried to study with it, but it never really connected with me. Although it is based on the standard Ryder-Waite deck it is much more involved and detailed, and I had no book to study from. Broad-based Tarot books didn't help.

The first deck I owned was the Morgan-Greer Deck. Beautiful and colourful, is is almost exactly the same as the Ryder-Waite. The illustration style is different, as you can see from the two Fools, but the imagery is nearly identical, and so any book I could find on Tarot was helpful enough in learning the cards, their meaning, spreads and readings.

The Ryder-Waite Fool


The Morgan-Greer Fool

Then my spirit-sister Faemore opened up my world. I don't believe in coincidence. I do not know what inspired her to get me the Goddess Tarot as a gift, as opposed to some other deck. She knew that my Moran-Greer had taken a beating, and that I was ready to move on to something more advance. I had always known I would not use Morgan-Greer forever, that it was just a learning deck for me. On her trip to Atlanta in 2008, Faemore picked up a Ryder-Waite Tarot and The Goddess Tarot for me. The Ryder-Waite because she couldn't find a Morgan-Greer and she thought I might want a similar deck in the interim, and The Goddess Tarot because she thought I would like it. But when me eyes first fell on The Goddess Tarot I did more than 'like' it. I knew that this would be my most favourite deck in the world, for the rest of my life, no matter how many other decks I studied or used. It's kind of like when you meet your soul mate, if you have been fortunate enough to have that meeting. You realize how wrong you were about all your other mates, thinking they were it, but the moment of understand is so powerful.

There is something about the aesthetics that I love, the paintings by Kris Waldherr, the creator of The Goddess Tarot. I also very much like the way the major arcana centers around different goddesses and their experiences,, and that the minor arcana is drawn from four major societies in history: Egyptian, Viking/Norse, Roman and Indian. It is a very feminine deck, and I know through meditations that I am very feminine in my energies, and so I feel a kindred with this deck. The Major Arcana follows a similar path as that laid out for the Fool in the Ryder-Waite and similar decks, but changes the terms used for the cards in some instances, for example the term "Beginnings" instead of The Fool.

I have since had occasion to use other decks such as The Motherpeace Tarot, Shaman Wisdom Cards, and Manga Tarot. I now have in my possession The Dragon Tarot, Unicorn Tarot, and Osho Zen Tarot, in addition to the Aquarian Tarot and my Goddess Tarot.

The Dragon Tarot



Unicorn Tarot


Osho Zen Tarot



I also have the Tarot of the Witches in my possession, but it isn't a deck that I feel an affinity for, somehow. It kind of came to me by accident and I'm keeping it until I can either return it to its former owner or give it to someone that it speaks to, since I don't believe in destroying anything of value, and I do think it has value, though it is of no use to me. The imagery does nothing for me on a vibrational level, I do not feel these cards in my soul, which is no fault of the creator, but merely means that the aesthetic is not for me.

Tarot of the Witches


My Morgan-Greer deck was passed on to a friend for learning and practice, and it continues to serve well, as it did for me. The Ryder-Waite was also passed on to a friend. The Dragon, Unicorn and Osho Zen were gifts from a friend, there are technically on loan to me. I am safeguarding them until she has need of them again.

That latter deck, Osho Zen, is a breathtaking deck, and very spiritual in its nature, using clouds (Air), Rainbows (earth), Fire and Water as suits, and cards like Existence, No-Thingness, Aloneness, Change, Thunderbolt and Past Lives in the major arcana. It is a very specialized deck, more complex than most and yet so simple, and comes with its own book. Dragon Tarot is interesting and fun and speaks to our more animalistic side. The symbolism and imagery is very similar to the Ryder-Wait or Morgan-Greer except that instead of human figured, it is all dragons. The Unicorn deck is the same kind of deck as the Dragon, using standard imagery and symbolism but always with at least one unicorn present. It is whimsical and fun, and speaks to my day-dreamer's heart.

But The Goddess Tarot will always be the one I return to. I feel the most affinity with it and I get the most out of readings with this deck. I will do a blog later specifically about the Goddess Tarot and some of my favourite cards.

I encourage all to experiment, to search for you perfect divination tool. You might get lucky and find it right away or it might take years of searching. But almost as the Wand chooses the Wizard in the Harry Potter series, so too your divination tool will choose you. Keep looking!

Blessed Be,