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~ February 2008 Supplemental ~


Kids Realm


This cute little rodent, whether it be a mouse or a rat, is absolutely adorable!  A cute craft for Chinese New Year or a rainy afternoon.


What you will need:

∙  1-1.5” diameter wooden ball

∙  1-2.25” diameter clay pot

∙  Gray paint

∙  Gray and red felt

∙  Miniature pink pompom

∙  1 skinny black chenille stem (pipe cleaner)

∙  2 small wiggle eyes

∙  Small scrap of white paper or card stock

∙  White craft glue

∙  Hot glue gun and glue


How to make it:

  ∙  Turn clay pot upside down and glue the wooden ball to the center.
  ∙  When glue is dry, paint the pot and the ball with gray paint. Let dry.
  ∙  Cut four small circles for the paws and cheeks and two larger

      circles for the ears from gray felt.
  ∙  Cut a bow tie from red felt.
  ∙  Cut the chenille stem into 6 pieces about 1” in length each.
  ∙  Glue the bow tie on the clay pot, just below the wooden ball.
  ∙  Glue two small circles of gray felt below the bow tie for the paws.
  ∙  Glue the other two small circles of gray felt to the wooden ball for

      the cheeks.
  ∙  Glue the pink pompom to the center of the cheeks.
  ∙  Glue two wiggle eyes onto the face.
  ∙  Cut a small rectangle from white paper, draw a thin line down the

      center for the teeth, glue below the pink nose.
  ∙  Trim the ends of the larger circles to give them a flat edge. Put hot

      glue on the flat edge and attach to the head. Repeat on the other

  ∙  Use hot glue to attach three chenille stems pieces to each side of

      the face for the whiskers.


∙  Don’t bother buying gray paint. Make your own by mixing black

   and white.

∙  Use white glue for most of the steps above except where the

   hot glue gun is indicated.

∙  Instead of a wooden ball and clay pot you can use a Styrofoam

   cup and Styrofoam ball.





Religious Discrimination In Prisons


Continued . . . As the National Coordinator of the Lady Liberty League Prison Ministries Program, and a member of the National Advisory Council of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, McCollum was closely involved with efforts by those groups which resulted in a policy change within the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to include the pentacle symbol on the list of approved symbols permitted to be inscribed on the headstones and markers of fallen soldiers. As the newly appointed Director of the Chaplaincy Program of Cherry Hill Seminary, McCollum specializes in courses which address issues encountered by chaplains ministering in institutional settings, such as prisons. Cherry Hill Seminary provides distance-learning graduate-level higher education for Pagan ministry. “It is an honor to be invited to participate in the dialogue and to share a Wiccan’s point of view,” said McCollum in a recent interview. “Those in minority faiths are seldom the opportunity to be heard, even when the issue concerns their rights. I am hopeful that this invitation is indicative of what we can expect going forward; that there is truly a desire on the part of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to ensure that inmates receive equal treatment, and a willingness to better serve minority religions."


For more information about this story, please contact Holli Emore, Cherry Hill Seminary, at 888.503.4131, or CHS@cherryhillseminary.org, or Rev. Angie Buchanan, Circle Sanctuary, Lady Liberty League, at 608.924.2216 or 847.456.4833, or angie@circlesanctuary.org.


Watch for the March Between the Columns for further news.



Chinese New Year ~ Year of the Rat


Continued . . . Behind that sweet smile, though, Rats are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas. This Sign is motivated by its own interests, which often include money; greed can become a problem if the Rat isn't careful to keep its priorities straight. This Sign's natural powers of charm and persuasion can definitely come in handy! Although they are often hoarders, Rats can be very generous to those in their pack, namely friends and family members who have proven their loyalty. Others might perceive them as quick-tempered and sharp-tongued, but never boorish. Verbal jousting is a great pleasure for the Rat, a Sign that everyone around will quickly learn either to love or to hate.


Rats enjoy being on the outside looking in, as the outside affords a view into the inner workings of a system or situation. The Rat's keen mind always seeks out new knowledge to be stored away for future use. This ever-curious Sign also welcomes challenges as a way to stay sharp. If boredom sets in, the Rat is no fun at all, but that isn't likely; this Sign knows how to keep itself entertained.


A valuable lesson for Rats is to learn to consider others above themselves, at least sometimes. If they can develop their sense of self and realize it leaves room for others in their life as well, Rats could find true happiness.





Quest for Love


Continued . . . Had this been the Creation Myth we all grew up with, the world would be a very different place. So let us suspend disbelief for today as we talk of the many faces of love - Love for ourselves, our own families, our human family and love for the Divine. Let us be together here in a sacred space where this myth is our past, present and future. Let this be our New Truth where we have learned to love each other, the Divine, and everything on Earth from the very beginning - and if we want to, there is nothing stopping us from making this Creation Myth a part of our lives and the source where our love flows.


Our Eternal Quest for Love and Wholeness


Looking back into the past of many cultures, we see the Divine Source embodied both the Masculine and Feminine. Ometeotl, an androgynous Aztec creator deity embodied the principles of the Divine Masculine, called Ometecuhtli alongside the Sacred Feminine, or Omecihuatl. We often see images of the Hindu Goddess Parvati and the God Shiva embodied within one statue, with Shiva himself often depicted having very androgynous features. Examining a culture perhaps a bit more familiar with us in the West, we take a closer look at Aphrodite and Eros, also known as Cupid. Eros is sometimes thought of as the son of Aphrodite, but he is really an enigma. Eros is first mentioned as an early Creation God appearing alongside Gaia and Chaos. He is said to be hatched from the Egg of Night, the force that separated the two halves of the Cosmic Egg, or Heaven and Earth. Similar to Aphrodite’s appearance at the birth of creation, she and Eros are placed at the moment of disunion of the cosmos. They are depicted as hermaphrodite beings, descended from the moon, sliced in half by Zeus, after which each half yearns and searches for the “other half” to be complete.


I was reminded of the dichotomy of love and disunion as I walked through the Louvre Museum in Paris and gazed upon the statue of  Hermaphroditus. Hermaphroditis is one of the famous pieces of art in the Louvre. At first glance, one might easily miss the full potency of what the statue represents and the deeper meaning it might tend to convey. When you approach Hermaphroditis from one side, her backside, she appears to be a beautiful woman lounging naked on a divan. Walking around the piece, looking at the front view, you see the woman also has male genitalia. Hermaphroditis never fails to elicit staring and whispers from museum-goers, with most never learning the story behind this work of art or thinking beyond their immediate titillation.


Hermaphroditis was the son of Mercury and Venus. When the boy was 15, he and the nymph Salmacis were so in love with one another that they prayed they would never part. Hearing their plea, the gods took action and when the pair embraced, the two became as one, with a body both male and female. 


While some just see this as a simple story of two young lovers, there are varying ways to look upon this and the aforementioned myths if we want to mine the depths of the symbols and meaning within these ancient love stories. Some see this joining of Hermaphroditis and Salmacis, as simply a reflection of  “every man and woman”.  Or they might imbue their joining with deeper meaning and see them as embodying Divine Order and Balance. They might also represent the ultimate symbol of the Heiro Gamus or Sacred Marriage - the divine mystery of procreation, our life force, later deemed corrupting, taboo or as sin in the Bible. 


The joining of Salmacis and Hermaphroditis, like Parvati and Shiva, Aphrodite and Eros, or Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl could be looked upon as representative of the true and natural essence of the Divine Source, which embodies both the Divine Masculine and Feminine, together, as THE ONE. Taking that a step farther, both woman and man, whether joined together and in their divine separateness, were both equally created in the image of the Supreme Being. Only the Judeo-Christian patriarchs conveniently omitted half of the spiritual equation from their creation myths as they sought to elevate man above woman and unbalance the natural order within creation.  Patriarchy’s choice of disunion and disharmony is seen by many as the catalyst creating the chaos and negative reverberations heaped upon us today for having swept the Sacred Feminine from the world stage and from so many human psyches. 


On a personal level, the stories of Aphrodite and Eros, and Salmacis and Hermaphroditis certainly reminded me a great deal of each person’s continual yearning for love and their burning desire to be enveloped within love’s womb of warmth. This seeking might be referred to as unrequited love or the search for our soul mate. But even more than that, it speaks to the necessity for each of us to not just find love outside ourselves, but from that source where it lives within, even if it might be buried deep. It reflects the importance of embracing wholeness, sometimes referred to as the masculine and feminine within ourselves.  Perhaps taking it a step further, it might suggest, when we are comfortable in our own skin and accept and love ourselves, then we are able to love another, or reach out beyond our immediate circle and have love for humanity or the Divine.


By Rev. Karen Tate      www.karentate.com


New Orleans: A Sacred Place of Goddess Survives Our Arrogance


Continued . . . Yet in spite of everything, the Vieux Carre, itself that jewel that so aptly personifies New Orleans, literally stands on high ground and has managed to survive the devastation that surrounds it. Not unlike the Sacred Feminine herself, surviving in a world gone mad, a world destroying itself for the sake of greed, with leaders intent on wielding power and control over others, the Vieux Carre maintains a presence.  This oldest section of the city endures, like a  beacon, for the people and a city hoping for a future that reflects these ideals of the Sacred Feminine.


The Vieux Carre, recognized as a sacred site of Goddess because of the many faces of the Divine Feminine represented in this melting pot of diverse peoples and traditions, and for the city’s spirit that exudes the nature of Goddess, stands at a precipice like the Divine Feminine herself. Do we believe in what she stands for enough to make the necessary investment for real change toward a direction of sustainability for all? Or will it continue to be business as usual, with society continuing to suffer at the hands of those who value power, control and wealth above all else?


While growing up in New Orleans, I did not have the awareness to see her sacredness. It took moving away and glimpsing her from a distance to recognize her beauty, grace, and that joie de vie that makes her a sacred site of Goddess. Today she is a city in mourning. She grieves for her children scattered and cast upon the winds. For those trapped in toxic FEMA trailers, victims of social injustice who are suffering all the more. She weeps for her empty streets and for the times past that gave New Orleans its mantra,  Le bonne temps roule, or let the good times roll. Needless to say I miss her. And I wonder if her tattered dignity will ever be properly restored.


That being said, I would like to introduce you to the Vieux Carre of New Orleans and invite you to see this great city through the lens of the Sacred Feminine.



The Vieux Carre of New Orleans, Louisiana

A Sacred Site of the Divine Feminine


Excerpted from Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations


The essence of the Goddess, as a celebration of life, holds sway in New Orleans within the core of the people. Life here moves at a slower pace and New Orleanians see no reason to catch up. It is a city proud of its diverse cultural and ethnic heritage, where people look for just about any excuse to indulge in the pleasures of life. There is a sense of life being a bit more in-sync with natural rhythms and life’s simple pleasures. Despite the influence of the Catholic Church, the lifestyle in New Orleans is hardly dogmatic or puritanical. In the Big Easy, as the city is often called, the spirit of the Feminine is also reflected in the Old World charm of the architecture of the Vieux Carre, in celebrations such as Mardi Gras with its pagan roots dating back to the rituals of the Lupercalia, Cybele and Attis, and in the worship of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and various goddesses in the Yoruban pantheon.


Goddess lives in the steamy heat of the city whose motto is “let the good times roll,” and where Stella’s raw sexuality in  A Streetcar Named Desire exploded onto the screen. Goddess is alive in the women who gather at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on the fringe of the Vieux Carre (or French Quarter) to say their rosary and pray the novena for their families. Her spirit lives in the flora and fauna of the dense bayous, the groves of oak trees with their Spanish moss, and in the luscious and heady scent of the exquisite flowers of the magnolia tree. It might even be said she lives in the strength and determination at the center of the Southern Woman who might sit ladylike in her finery on the verandah sipping a Mint Julep one day or found wearing her old blue jeans to pull up crab traps the next.


Goddess lives in the rituals of the Catholic Church which assimilated what it could not stamp out. She is an embodiment of life’s earthy pleasures, and nowhere in the United States does she manifest her robust essence with such fun and flair as in her many faces that peak from behind her carnival masque in the Vieux Carre of New Orleans. Author Samuel Kinser cites carnival origins starting in an urban and country reaction to strict Lenten rules and a groundswell of interest in a variety of social and agricultural practices in pre-Christian Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, and Roman sun, wind, and water worship.


On the other hand, Henri Schindler, a local author in New Orleans and an expert on Mardi Gras, believes the carnival season in New Orleans has its origins in Spring rites of the Greek and Latin world, namely the two celebrations of the Lupercalia and those of the Goddess Cybele and her consort, Attis. The ecstatic festival of the Lupercalia, held on February 15th, was associated with Romulus and Remus, said to be the founders of Rome, who had been suckled by a She Wolf (a metaphor for Mother Nature) when they were infants. During the Roman festival dogs and goats were sacrificed in a cave at the foot of Palatine Hill and the meat consumed. Some of the animal’s skin was turned into whips, and its blood used to ritually paint the priests and two youths who were then wiped with wool dipped in milk, the nourishing fluid from the Mother. During the celebration priests chased naked men and women around the Palatine Hill of Rome and through the streets of other towns where the celebration was held, lashing out with their whips, with the intention, according to Schindler, of forgiving them of their sins. We are reminded of self-flagellation as a penance for sin.


Other sources say women sought out the priests, thinking a touch from their bloody thong would cure them of barrenness, in a form of fertility magic. Schindler states the sacramental strips of the whip were called Februa, so it might be a good time to mention Mardi Gras, like Lupercalia, is usually held in February! When there were not enough priests to perform the rituals, laypersons took over the duties and flayed themselves until they felt purified. It is no coincidence Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the culmination of the carnival season, followed the next day by Ash Wednesday and the beginning of 40 days of Lent, when Catholics fast and pray and ask forgiveness of their sins. Lent then ends with the celebration of Easter, which marks the resurrection of Jesus, who Christians believe died and arose for the sins of humankind. It was at Lupercalia, that Antony, the consul at Lupercus, offered a royal diadem to Caesar in 44 BCE. The festival of Lupercalia survived until at least 494 CE when the Bishop of Rome banned the rite and absorbed it into the Feast of Purification for the Virgin.


As one might imagine, the Church was not happy with these celebrations, but they could not quash the traditions. In the 5th century some control was managed when they adapted the celebration and veiled it in Christian significance, renaming it Carnelevamen, a “consolation of the flesh,” which came to be called carnival. In 600 CE, Pope Gregory officially set the often fluctuating date for Easter (which celebrates the resurrection of Christ) at the first Sunday following the Vernal Equinox. Thus the Christian celebration of Easter would for all time overlay the spring rites of Cybele and Attis, Ishtar and Tammuz, and the Druids. Also it must be remembered that this time was set aside for the more ancient Goddess Aostara rituals. Eventually the ancient rituals to appease the gods and goddesses and ask their forgiveness on a seasonal basis gave way to daily services on altars often without personal interaction by the masses. As Shindler puts it, mirth became taboo.


Long story short, carnival came to New Orleans with the French. New Orleans was founded in 1718 and the first Mardi Gras parade was held in 1837. The parade and masqued ball was a theatre-like performance meant for entertaining the members of the carnival club and was usually based on a particular theme drawn from mythology or history. The very first theme in North America portrayed Demon Actors from Milton’s Paradise Lost with Persephone, the Fates, Furies, Gorgons, and Isis all making their acting debut in the New World.   Subsequent parade themes such as Egyptian Theology have produced floats representing ideas of temples, tombs, palaces, pleasure, sacred animals, and resurrection. Since then, masked groups, called “krewes,” wearing very androgynous looking costumes, have looked to the Feminine for inspiration as their organizations have taken the names of Pandora, Aphrodite, Diana, Isis, Rhea, Diana, Ishtar, Juno, Hestia, Nemesis, Hebe, Hera, Helena, Oshun, and Cleopatra. Obviously one of the carnival krewes of Mardi Gras did their homework because the Krewe of Babylon has as its Captain, King Sargon, the namesake of Ishtar’s royal father.


Oddly enough, New Orleans may even have some Egyptian connections – and we certainly know Egypt influenced Greece and Rome! According to scholar, R. E. Witt, “the carnival of medieval and modern times is the obvious successor of the Navigium Isidis,” an ancient festival that began in Egypt, but in time with the spread of Isis’ worship, began to be practiced throughout the Greco Roman world. In this festival, which included cross dressing, processions, and all manner of hilarity, music, and revelry, a ship laden with gifts being offered to the Goddess Isis was launched upon the waters in exchange for her blessings for anyone dependent on the waters and sailing season. It should be noted in the fishing villages south of New Orleans an annual Blessing of the Fleets is performed by Christian clergy for safety and abundance of the fisherman and their ships. This is an obvious remnant of the Isidis Navigium festival of ancient times.


Witt also cites the Christian Feast of Lights, or Epiphany, with roots in the rituals of the priests of Isis. Interestingly, the Feast of the Epiphany, on January 6th is also known as Kings Day in New Orleans and it is the kick-off of the carnival season in “the city that care forgot.” Beginning on Kings Day, New Orleanians begin a series of King Cake parties. Within the cake is a plastic doll. The person getting the piece of cake with the doll hidden inside is obligated to host the next party, thus the party season continues until Mardi Gras.


Neo-pagans have taken to the idea of reclaiming the tradition of the King Cake and associating it with the ancient custom of cakes, bread, or the preparation thereof, as being sacred to the Goddess or the Queen of Heaven. And in one last association between Goddess and January 6th, a date with such special meaning in New Orleans, Witt cites that within Gnosticism, this is the date Aeon/Horus was born to the Goddess Isis.


Like her sister cities of New York and Miami, the Goddess is also within the New Orleans View Carre in the guise of the worship of the Yoruban goddesses of Voodoo spirituality. Religion scholars who track such things cite the Yoruban deities being worshipped more in the New World than in the Old whence they came. While some believe shops selling voodoo dolls are just for the tourists (some are!) there is a thriving community here that seriously worships the Goddesses Yemaya, Oshun, and Oya. The Voodoo Temple run by Priestess Miriam on North Rampart Street, along the fringe of the Vieux Carre, is one such example of the authentic practice of this spirituality.


With New Orleans and the Vieux Carre located along the crescent of the Mississippi River, the aforementioned river goddesses are right at home and their serious practitioners make an attempt to dispel misconceptions and teach those interested in their faith. There is an annual Voodoo Fest in New Orleans where visitors can get up close and personal with the reality of Voodoo in New 'Awlins' where practitioners are involved in a hybrid version of syncretised Christian and Yoruban traditions. (Side Note: In New Orleans, the name of this religion is still spelled Voodoo.)


The aforementioned Neo-Pagan community is actively involved in Goddess Spirituality here in New Orleans, while others venerate the Feminine Divine in the guise of the Virgin, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the latter having a church honoring her on the outskirts of the Vieux Carre.


When coming to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the most expensive time to visit for airfare and hotels, remember the parades begin about seven days prior to Fat Tuesday, culminating with Rex and Comos, the oldest clubs, hitting the streets on Mardi Gras day and night. The larger, more elaborate parades are the weekend prior to Fat Tuesday. Scoring an invitation to a masqued ball is quite difficult unless you have some local connections. And remember, when that doubloon comes your way from the masqued rider on that float, let it drop to the ground, step on it, and when the crush of the crowd eases off, then bend over and pick it up! Don’t forget to yell to those masked revelers on the passing floats, “Throw Me Somethin’ Mister” because Mardi Gras is not about waving to the pretty girls sitting on the back of convertibles. It is about how much loot you can grab, then going to Bourbon Street, having a drink and eating a good meal.  Aahh - sacred pleasures!  Just don’t forget your mask!


Rev. Karen Tate is the author of Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations which can be purchased through the Temple bookstore.