Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A Hades Journey by Starlitenergies

This meditation has been written by one of our lovely students Starlitenergies, it was so good we had to share it with you all...

A Hades Journey

This meditations intent is to descend into the Underworld and meet with a Dark Goddess. I’m assuming you would already have a vague idea if you were going to undertake such a meditation that it’s not likely to be an easy journey to take… You may not like what you see or experience.

You should also be aware when journeying in the Underworld to not eat or drink anything offered to you while still there, keep it for safe keeping or politely refuse. Speaking of being polite, the creatures and beings you may potentially encounter deserve respect, thank anyone that you interact with, and remember this isn’t fluffy bunny stuff, they’re not going to look like angels, well maybe the avenging kind! LOL! ;)

If you free yourself enough to truly experience, I expect there may be eye water, and how do I know this? Well it happens to me every time!! LOL!

Before starting this meditation it’s useful to have something to hang on to, it’s really easy to get lost down there. Before journeying I like to burn frankincense as a blessing to the Theoi, I also like to make an offering, usually wine! I also hold on to something real - a crystal, usually a Labradorite (my personal preference)! OK here we go!


Find a comfortable position, sitting or laying down; keep your arms loose and your legs uncrossed.

You’re at the top of a winding staircase…

As your foot touches the first step, a wave of blissful tranquillity passes through your entire body.

You arrive at the second step, feeling calm and relaxed.

You step down a third time, sliding deeper into a state of relaxation.

Now you take a fourth step down, feeling even more relaxed.

And now you take a fifth and final step. You are feeling completely safe, and completely relaxed.

A sunlit field opens up around you, animals and insects in the long grass. Wild flowers bloom and carry scents on a warm breeze.

You notice a beautiful brilliant bloom. You bend to pluck it from the earth.

As you straighten, the earth underneath you begins to shake and rumble. The entrance to a cave rises in front of you.

Do you hear voices? Laughter? Shouts? What do you smell?

You step forward… your bare feet moving toward the dark cavern, toward the voices. A cool breeze lifts your hair and prickles your skin.

You cross the threshold, and the earth rumbles once more, sealing you inside. You’re not afraid, you’ve come here for a reason. You know with certainty that you must take this journey.

You reach out, and discover a flaming torch within your grasp. You take it from its holder and move slowly forward.

The path you follow lit only with your torch slopes downwards. You follow, listening.

What do you hear? Can you smell anything? Can you see anything?

You reach an intricate iron gate. A cloaked figure asks you to leave something behind… anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, suspicion, revenge. You are accepted once you’ve shed something. You move forward.

The floor beneath you has changed; it feels warmer, cobbled stones.

The cavern opens up to a lazy river; on the other side you see a domed island.

You notice a beautifully carved boat and a ferryman cloaked in deep green robes. You reach into your pocket and find a golden coin. A voice speaks to you. It asks you to give something else up so you may cross the river…

Ushered off the other side by tall muscular warrior guards you face a carved wooden gate. You are asked to leave something else behind before entering…  

You move forward into a square. White marble, columned buildings rise from paved streets. People and creatures mingle around you. It’s gloomy here. Beings queue up to meet their fate. (The Erinyes)

You glance up, a crossroads sign pointing in different directions. You choose your path.  

As you walk what do you notice? The path is lined with offering bowls, wheat, barley, olives, crystals, herbs, wine, water,  what do you pick to take with you?

You reach what seems like the edge of the earth, and step through another intricate iron gate. Shady groves of trees surround you. There is a dark tree (a poplar tree) in the middle of a meadow alive with sporting and musical activities. Ribbons sway in a breeze off the tree limbs.

You are asked if you are ready to meet your Dark Goddess. You must answer.

You are instructed to strip naked, to bare all. You are instructed to leave your offering here and sit under the tree. You are left alone.

You hear distant beating drums and turn to see a female figure approaching you.

What does she look like? What does she say? Does she give you anything? Remember… do not eat or drink. Accept and keep for later. Be polite. Thank her.

When you are ready she will guide you away from her realm. She will take your hand and you will move, fast. She will leave you at the entrance to the cave.

You walk through the entrance into the sunlit meadow and towards the steps. Upwards you must travel.

As your foot touches the first step a wave of awareness washes over your mind and body.

You arrive at the second step, able to hear your surroundings in reality.

You step up a third time, feeling the weight of your body, your surroundings.

Now you take a fourth step up, you are able to wriggle your toes and fingers.

You take a fifth and final step. You open your eyes and you’re back. Rest… 



Friday, 24 April 2015

Celtic Gods Oracle Cards and Course...

As you lovely people seemed to like our Celtic Goddess Oracle card set so much (for which we humbly thank you) we decided that they needed a companion...so we have created the Celtic Gods Oracle card set...a bit of balance...you can use the oracle card sets independently or you can mix them up and use them together.

The cards will be published on 1st June but are availble to pre-order now via our online shop www.kitchenwitchhearth.net

As a little thank you we are also running a competition, everyone that pre-orders a set of Celtic Gods oracle cards will be entered into a draw to win a £10 Kitchen Witch gift voucher which can be used in our online shop against any of the products or courses.

We also have a new 8 week course launching on 1st July:

Celtic Gods Online Course (open worldwide)
Set over eight weeks and sent direct to your inbox (we also use dropbox.com)
Taking you on a spiritual journey of discovery with eight of the Celtic Gods:
Aengus MacOg, Balor, Cernunnos, Dagda, Gwyn ap Nudd, Lugh, Manann, Wayland
PDF booklets & MP3 meditations for each of the gods packed full of history, myths, correspondences, crafts, recipes, spells, offerings and daily devotions. You will also receive access to a private facebook group.

Details in our online shop or via www.goddesspathways.com


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Passing over by our Hellenic Witch Starlitenergies...

Passing over by our Hellenic Witch Starlitenergies...

The rites performed at death can either be in remembrance of the person who has died, or passed over, or can be for those who are left behind. The rites can be a celebration of the person’s life, or a sombre remembrance of everything they did and what they meant to others.

This rite of passage may also be held for a person who is still alive, but who will soon be passing away. It may provide a great deal of comfort for them to have their life honoured by their friends.

For Wiccans and I think for witches as well, death is not an end but the beginning of the next chapter. It’s believed that we travel to the Summerlands in our death to await rebirth. Death seems to be a peaceful time and generally agreed that it’s simply part of the cycle of life. For some, a “funeral” won’t even be conducted at all, since Samhain is the time for remembering and honouring the dead. Most prefer to be cremated it seems and spread in nature, or buried in natural wicca coffins which decompose.

The ancient Greeks believed that the moment a person died, their psyche – spirit – left the body in a puff or a breath of wind. Proper burial was incredibly important to ancient peoples, and to not give a loved one a fully ritualised funeral was unthinkable. It was however, used as punishment of dead enemies, but only rarely. Funerary rites were performed solely to get the deceased into the afterlife, and everyone who passes away was prepared for burial according to time-honoured rituals.

A burial or cremation seems to have four parts: preparing the body, the ‘prothesis’, display of the body, the ‘ekphora’, funeral procession, and the interment of the body or cremated remains of the deceased. Preparation of the body was always done by women, and was usually done by a woman over sixty, or a close relative who was related no further away from the deceased then a second cousin. These were also the only people in the ekphora. The deceased was stripped, washed, anointed with olive oil, and then dressed in his or her finest clothes. They also received jewellery and other fine objects. Coins were often presented to the dead, laid under the tongue or even on the eyes; these were payment to Kharon, the ferryman who would help the dead safely cross the rivers Styx and Archeon.

During the prothesis, the body was put out in the courtyard of the family home for a day, placed on a brier. Relatives and friends came to mourn and pay their respects. Everyone, but women especially, grieved loudly and respectfully. It was possible to hire professional keeners, who sang ritualised laments and chants, tore at their hair and pounded their chests in an expression of grief for the dead. The more grief that was shown, the higher the level of respect…

Right before sun up on the next day, the ekphora took place. At this time of day, not too many people were outside yet, and this way, miasma was limited to only the grieving family. Women played a major role in funerary rites, a much bigger role than men, but both walked the procession. Men cremated or inhumed the body and gave the final offerings. They also, obviously constructed the tomb or grave. Men led the way to the cemetery – carrying the bier – followed by the women, and then the children. There was a flute player who served as an indicator that there was a funeral going on, so other inhabitants of the city or village could avoid miasma.

After arriving at the tomb or cemetery, the women turned back, most likely to prepare a large supper at home, and certainly to purify it. The men remained and burned the body (mostly) or otherwise sort the body out. A related mourner first dedicated a lock of hair then provided the deceased with offerings of honey, milk, water, wine, perfumes, and oils mixed in varying amounts. Any libation was a khoe; a libation given in it entirety to the deceased. None was had by the mourners. A prayer to the Gods – most likely Hermess Khthonios (messenger of the dead) – then followed these libations. It was also possible to make a haimcouria before the wine was poured. In a haimacouria, a black ram or black bull is slain and the blood is offered to the deceased. This blood sacrifice, however, was probably used only when they were sacrificing in honour of a number of men, or for someone incredibly important. Then came the enagistmata, which were offerings to the dead that included milk, honey, wine, celery, a mixture of meal, honey and oil called pelanon, and the fresh fruits of the crops with dried fresh fruits called kollyba.

Unlike the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Hellenes placed very few objects in the grave, maybe some dice or a board game because it was thought the dead would play games in the underworld! But monumental earth mounds, rectangular built tombs, and elaborate marble statues were often erected to mark the grave to ensure the deceased would not be forgotten. Grave gifts were allowed in many places, but could not cost more than a set amount all together. These elaborate burial places served as a place for the family to visit with offerings that included small cakes and libations. The goal was to never be forgotten; if the dead was remembered always and fed with libations and other offerings their spirit would stay alive forever. That said, especially in Athens, names on grave markers were restricted to women who died in childbirth and men who died in battle.

After the burial, the family stayed in mourning for a month. During this time, or perhaps a little less long, they were ritually polluted due to exposure to the underworld through the deceased. As such, they could not take part in festivals, nor offer the Theoi (Olympians), nor visit temples. They would frequent the grave or tomb often, however and present the dead with khoes and burnt sacrifices of cakes and fruit.

All of these offerings and loud grief was all to do with appeasing cerebus (guard dog of the underworld) and more importantly the Judges of the Underworld who would decide where to send the soul of the person. The soul would end up in Elysium, Tartarus or the Asphodel Meadows.

Tartarus is not considered to be directly part of the underworld, it is described as being as far beneath the underworld as the earth is beneath the sky. It is so dark that the “night is poured around it in three rows like a collar round the beck, while above it grow the roots of the earth and the unharvested sea.” Tartarus is the place where Zeus cast the Titans along with his after Cronus. The fields of punishment are a part of Tartarus, this was a place for those who had created havoc on the world or committed crimes specifically against the gods. It’s thought Hades himself would make the individual’s punishment of eternal suffering based on their specific crime.

The Fields of Asphodel or The Asphodel Meadows is a place for ordinary or indifferent souls who did not commit any significant cries, but who also did not achieve any greatness or recognition that would warrant them being admitted to the Elysian fields. It was where mortals or did not belong anywhere else in the underworld were sent.

There is a place off of this called The Vale Mourning – where those who were consumed by unhappy love went.

Elysium is a place for the especially distinguished. It is ruled over by Rhadamanthus, and the souls that dwell here have an easy afterlife with no labour. Usually those who had proximity to the gods were granted admission, rather then those who were especially righteous or had ethical merit. Heroes such as Kadmos, Peleus, and Achilles were transported here after their deaths. Normal people who lives righteous and virtuous lives could also gain entrance such as Socrates who proved his worth sufficiently through philosophy.

The Isles of the Blessed were islands in the realm of Elysium. When a soul achieved Elysium, they had a choice to either stay or to be reborn. If a soul was reborn three times and achieved Elysium all three times, then they were sent to the Isles of the Blessed to be sentenced to eternal paradise!



Thursday, 26 March 2015

Croning and Sagehood by our Hellenic Witch Starlitenergies...

Croning and Sagehood by our Hellenic Witch Starlitenergies...

Croning and Saging are rites of passage for women and men, respectively, who are entering into their older years. Generally speaking, a woman enters her crone stage around the time when she begins menopause. Saging for men would also occur sometime around the mid-50’s or retirement. This rite marks the time when one can enjoy the fruit’s of one’s labour, and perhaps be considered an honoured elder of their community, passing on knowledge to others. Croning and saging sit in the North West of the Wheel of the Year, and correspond to Samhain.

People very rarely made it to what we consider old age therefore women rarely made it to menopause in ancient times. But the woman was fairly regularly made a widow at quite a young age. If you think about they married in their teens, while the men have to wait until their thirties. Aristotle seemed to think menopause happened around the age of 40. Uh-oh! There is very little written about it and in reality more value was placed on the younger woman having babies in ancient times.

In Ancient Greece, taking up the role of priest was fairly easy, but to be a priestess women needed to be infertile, a virgin or beyond the menopause.

Some think that the elder women renewed their virginity (this usually meant remaining abstinent from sex for a few weeks) and were therefore able to reach a level of purity within ritual which was hugely important to the ancients. Elder women would have a bigger role to play in some festivals especially the Chthonia – a festival of the dead; in fact a lot of older women were given roles of assisting the dead to the afterlife. They were even the chance to become a ritual slaughterer typically a male thing. In fact it’s generally agreed that these wise women were freed from the constraints their gender put on them in their youth and mother phases all together because the men no longer saw them as a threat… little did they know eh?!

The males continued on, no one really paid attention to them when their hair started greying and things started to make their way south, but the women who didn’t become priestesses were suddenly “cold and dry”, “weak and wretched” and usually cast out of the community. This I believe is where some people get the notion that Hekate is a crone and it’s only bent over crinkled old women who are witches. Hekate is a guardian of witches; witches in ancient times were mostly these cast out older women… makes sense to me! And all the while the males were celebrated as leaders, priests, heads of households, and military heroes right up until they died.

OK let’s face it, the girls in Ancient Greece were treated pretty badly they were seen as inferior and at child bearing age they were simply vessels of procreation. It seems that it was only when they were seen as “useless” to the male driven world that they got a little bit of power and notoriety.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Handfasting...and handparting by our Hellenic Witch Starlitenergies

Handfasting...and handparting by our Hellenic Witch Starlitenergies

Handfasting (wedding)


The oldest symbol of unity, the handfasting ceremony is a deeply spiritual representation of the lifelong bond between lovers.

From the Mayans of South America to the Hindu Vedic community of the Middle east to the Celtic culture of Scotland, tying of the hands is one of the oldest matrimonial traditions. The modern expressions, “tying the knot”, “bonds of matrimony” and “hand in marriage” all hail from these ancient traditions of twisting the bride’s and groom’s clothing together or wrapping their wrists with braided cords, grasses or vines.

Despite its primeval origins, the knot tying ceremony continues to be a central part of weddings, especially among Scottish, Greek Orthodox, Wiccan/Pagan, and most recently, same-sex couples since the versatility of the ritual is easily adapted to ceremonies of any faith.

Although there are countless variations on the practice, the symbolic act typically involves fastening a couple’s hands together with cording, ribbon, twine, or a silk sash while prayers are recited and vows are exchanged. Couples can opt to use a single string or braid three strings together to represent the intertwining of the two individual lives into one. Generally four to six feet in length, the threads can consist of any colour or material and may contain specific gemstones or charms to bless the marriage.

Traditionally, the marriage knot is secured at the end of the ceremony to symbolise the couple’s final pledge to blend their lives together. There seems to be five common knots used in a handfasting ritual.

Fisherman’s knot – forms one of the most durable bonds. The binding consists of two interlocking, overhand knots that create a symmetrical figure of eight. The simple knot strengthens under pressure and becomes sturdier when it gets wet.
God’s knot – the God’s knot consists of three cords to represent the spiritual union of a husband and wife and their covenant relationship with God. During the ceremony, the couple work together to braid the three cords – purple for the groom, white for the bride and gold for God.
Infinity knot – According to gaiashandfasting.com, Wiccan couples form the infinity symbol by crossing their arms and joining their hands, creating a figure of eight. The official then wraps a ribbon around the couple’s hands three times. While most couples choose to release the binding before the ceremony ends, some opt to wear it throughout the reception until they are able to consummate the marriage. 

Mystic knot – Among feng shui practitioners, the infinity-shaped mystic knot is believed to bless a marriage with good luck, harmony and longevity. Considered an auspicious object, the ribbon is wrapped around the couple’s hands six times creating a seamless, never-ending binding to symbolise the endless cycles of birth and rebirth.
Trinity knot – The triquetra is most commonly seen in Irish wedding ceremonies. Historians estimate that the ancient Celtic symbol dates back to 600 AD. Among pagan followers, the three points represent the mother, maiden and crone, while Christians use the well known symbol to signify the father, son and the holy spirit.

In ancient Greece brides-to-be spent the night before the wedding away from their husband-to-be, it’s a time of looking backwards as well as forwards. Remember the childhood items that were dedicated to Artemis at the bear festival? These are burned in sacrifice recognising the protection of Artemis during childhood and preparing the girl for sexual intercourse and pregnancy.

It’s also thought that the bride-to-be spends the night bedded with a boy, in magical anticipation of childbirth. Healthy himself, with two healthy living parents, the boy represents the hoped-for outcome. It is the magic of the contact and simulation (they don’t actually engage in anything) which makes the difference.

Evidence from Athens shows that marriage had two parts: the engue (pledge), which was a pubic contract between the two families, and the ekdosis, the transfer of the bride from her parents’ house to that of her new husband. The engue dealt primarily with financial matters, such as the specifics of the bride’s dowry, and could take place even before the girl reached puberty.

The traditional time for the ekdosis ceremony was in the month of Gamelion (January/February), the month of the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera. The first element of the ceremony was the progameia, a sacrifice at which the bride cut off a lock of her hair and dedicated it to Artemis. The programeia was followed by a ritual bath in water drawn from a sacred spring. The bride would then be dressed in a white dress with a crown. She would also carry pomegranate or other seeded fruit to represent fertility. A feast in the bride’s house followed; the bride remained veiled and sat apart from the men and her husband to be with the women. At this point she was blessed by her family and the finals of the dowry were accepted by the husband and his family. The father of the bride also offered sacrifices at the family altar, rigorously announcing that he was giving his daughter away.

At nightfall, the groom fetched the bride in a nuptial cart and transported her to his house. The groom sat between the bride and his groomsman, usually his best friend! A torchlight procession and wedding hymns accompanied them. At the groom’s house he would sweep the bride off her feet as if to abduct her and carry her over the threshold. At the groom’s home, the bride was met by her mother-in-law, and was taken to the hearth, given a piece of sesame and honey cake along with fruit such as dates and quinces and led to the hearth. Some was thrown into the fire and a blessing was said to Hestia as acceptance by all as a member of the household. Although the bride didn’t actually become a member of the family until she gave birth to her first child. The couple was then showered with nuts and dried fruit and given a basket of bread, symbolising wealth and fertility. At the height of this ceremony, the bride removed her veil and was led to the wedding chamber by her new husband, presumably to consummate the marriage. Hymns were sung outside the door. On the following day, gifts were sent to the newlyweds, and the two families gathered together. The bride’s possessions would later be brought to her new home.

Handparting (divorce)

It seems that a handparting ideally needs the couple of have come to the decision that the relationship is over but also that they want to remain friends and part peacefully. Although not 100% necessary this seems to be the ideal. This is a ceremony where the symbolic ties of marriage which were tied at handfasting are cut and the relationship is ended, the cords are often burnt in sacrifice during the ceremony.

It appears to be a ceremony where the couples can share the lessons they have learnt from their time together. One particular ceremony I found took place on a bridge over water at the end of the ceremony the couple parted ways and went in opposite directions away from each other and their martial home and did not look back this can be done within a circle where the couple part at different sides of the circle. There also seems to be time for silence and like ritual mourning. This isn’t a happy time, and the feast that follows so many of the “celebrations” is often water and crackers rather then cake and wine.

There are no religious prohibitions against divorce on the Hellenic path or in ancient Greece as far as I can tell. A separation can be initiated by either partner. But if th woman was seeking it she would need permission from her father or male guardian. In ancient times the dowry and any land was returned to her family (father or closest male relative) and in Athens, responsibility for her welfare reverted to her guardian but she would have been shunned by the community. Women seldom sort divorce but the men did, and it wasn’t known as divorce or handparting it was known as dismissing and would be done in a very public way. The ex husband would usually retain custody of any children. There are no traditional rituals that I can find in relation to divorce. However I have spoken to another Hellenic witch who suggested that in they may have prayed to Zeus and Hera before parting ways as it was frowned upon. They would have dismantled any altars and burnt offerings of bread and fruit and nuts to appease Hera and Hestia (goddesses of hearth, home and marriage) who would have been pretty annoyed. Once the dowry was returned to her family, they would seek to marry her off again as soon as possible… women were treated pretty badly in Ancient Greece – good job I’m a modern Hellenic witch then eh?! J