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GODDESS SPELLS for Busy Girls
GET RICH, GET HAPPY, GET LUCKY
By Jen McConnel
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2014 Jen McConnel
All rights reserved.
Don't Forget to Take Your (Magic) Vitamins!
Once a week, I attend an intense and satisfying yoga class with a friend. I am comfortable there: I place my mat in the back, near the windows, and I breathe as evenly as I can, content that no one is judging or observing me.
But last summer, I stepped away from the studio. I made plans to meet a friend and carpool to the local minor league baseball park, where our community was convening for an hour of outdoor yoga practice. The thought of trying something new with the support of a trusted friend wasn't daunting, and I cheerfully got up early on a Saturday morning. I was just finishing breakfast when I heard from my friend. She was ill, and wouldn't be joining me.
To be honest, I seriously considered staying home. Without the security of a known companion, I wasn't sure I wanted to enter such a large group of strangers. What if they were are truly serious yogis, and what if they realized that I was still very much a beginner? What if everyone there was skinnier than I was?
As my thoughts spun and I prepared to give up on attending, another what-if changed my mind. What if I didn't go? As soon as I voiced the thought, my spirits fell. I really wanted to attend this event, so despite my nerves, I grabbed my green yoga mat and headed downtown.
When I surged with the crowd onto the grassy outfield, I spread my mat close to a row of women and sat down, trying to find my center before beginning the practice. My eyes kept flickering open, though, and I found myself watching the people around me. Young, old, in between like me, there were men and women of every shape and size. Gradually, I began to relax.
Once the practice began, I melted into the community. We raised our arms to the heavens together, breathing deeply and enjoying the fresh air and warm sunshine. The "om" at the end of practice was the most amazing thing: it was like a hive of bees, pulsing and buzzing together. Laying back in corpse pose, a thought filled my heart and exploded into my body. It's not about me, I realized; it's about we.
As women, we tend to run out of time or energy when it comes to caring for ourselves. Work, family, school, everything stacks up in importance, bumping little old you down to the bottom of the list. And let's face it: things that end up that far down the list rarely get tackled.
The spells in this section address three aspects of being well: there are spells for health in times of sickness, spells for memory retention and clarity of thought, and spells to help you connect with your own divine nature. Athena, the first goddess of this chapter, is a great partner when you are seeking a clear mind. Sekhmet will help you heal your body, while Amaterasu rules body image and feelings of worth. Work with Sarasvati to infuse your life with beauty, and call on Oya when you just need to be purified. Remember to approach each deity with respect, and be prepared to listen to her teachings.
Titles: Grey-Eyed One, Lady of Snakes, Pallas Athena
Attributes: Wisdom, Council, Judgment, Strength, Battle
Colors: White, Gray, Blue
Animals: Owl, Snake
Culture of Origin: Pre-Greek, Hellenistic
Although she's one powerful goddess, Athena's traditional followers didn't include a lot of women. She tended to favor flawed, foxy heroes like Odysseus while changing uppity girls like Arachne into spiders. But that doesn't mean you should ignore this motherless goddess: Athena values knowledge, and she's willing to assist those who are genuine in their search for understanding. Do not, under any circumstance, make the mistake of calling on this goddess to help in matters of the heart: Athena may be queen of the mind, but when it comes to relationships, her track record isn't exactly glistening.
Athena was born in an unusual way, even for a goddess. In the Greek version of her myth, she is the child of the king of the gods, although there is some evidence that she predates the Hellenistic culture. This story is the most well-known and has become the most associated with Athena's conception.
Her father, Zeus, was a bit of a ladies' man, and even though he'd been warned not to, he hooked up with Metis, the crafty goddess of thought and wisdom. Afterward, he was hit with remorse and worry: what if this goddess bore a son who would destroy him? To keep that from happening, Zeus swallowed the woman. He thought trouble had been averted, but then the headaches started. Zeus was in so much pain that he finally had to ask his blacksmith son, Hephaestus, to crack open his skull. Out popped Athena, fully grown and clothed in beautiful armor. This fierce and unexpected goddess instantly became the favorite child of Zeus.
Athena is not just another figure of war: her armor signifies protection and thoughtful confrontation, rather than hotheaded combat. As a goddess who never took a lover, Athena is viewed as a perpetual maiden, wise beyond imagining but without the chains that sometimes hamper goddesses who are tied to men. She values honesty, wisdom, and clear thought, and if you approach her for help in any of these areas, you will find her willing to listen.
This is also a goddess who is familiar with disappointment. She went up against Hera and Aphrodite to compete for the title of the fairest, most worthy goddess. Not only would the winner get the glory, she would also get an enchanted golden apple. Competition between the goddesses was fierce. Their judge, the mortal prince of Troy named Paris, couldn't decide. Each goddess offered him a bribe hoping to sway his vote, and he foolishly spurned Athena's offer to become the wisest ruler the earth had ever known. Instead, he awarded Aphrodite the apple and collected his prize: a girl named Helen who was already married to another guy. Although she was bitterly disappointed, Athena didn't sulk and whine: she backed the Greeks when they waged war on Troy and got even with Paris. I'm sure you know how that story turned out: it took ten years, but eventually, Athena felt that her slight had been repaid. This is not a goddess you want to cross!
When working with this goddess for clarity and better judgment, do not expect things to happen quickly. Athena's wisdom is passed on slowly and only as you are ready: nothing with this goddess will occur in the blink of an eye. Be patient and tell her truthfully what you seek, and if she believes you truly need it, Athena will come to your aid.
SPELL FOR MEMORY RETENTION
This spell is ideal when you are working on a test or project that requires a clear head with facts and figures at your disposal.
YOU WILL NEED
A small jar with a lid
1. Pour the olive oil into a small jar. (The kind you cook with is fine or whatever is on hand. Athena appreciates practicality.) You don't need more than a cup, and less is fine, too.
2. Into this jar, put:
Five basil leaves (preferably fresh, but dried is fine)
A slice of lemon (feel free to squeeze the lemon juice and save it for later)
3. Seal the jar and give it a few swift shakes. While the jar is sitting, run a cool bath. (Not so cold that you can't stand it, but not too hot: aim for just below room temperature.)
4. While the water is running, pour half the contents of the jar into the bath. Ease yourself into the water and empty your mind. Feel your thoughts swirling around you like the water. Watch the way the oil collects on the surface, making patterns.
5. When the bath is as full as you would like, shut off the water and sit in silence for a few minutes. Contemplate what you are asking Athena for: why do you need help with your memory?
6. When you feel that your thoughts are orderly, speak your request aloud to Athena. "I ask you, great Athena, for clarity of thought. Help me to retain these facts _________ so that I might honor you with wisdom in this situation __________."
7. Anoint your temples and your third eye with some of the remaining oil. When you drain the bath, pour what's left of the oil over your feet as you stand in the tub. Seal the spell by saying, "Like you, Athena, I hope to walk in wisdom."
8. It's fine to shower after this spell if you don't like the oily residue on your skin; Athena won't mind.
SPELL FOR CLEAR THINKING
Use this spell anytime you are feeling cloudy or muddled. When the charm breaks, don't repair it: burn it, and make a new one.
YOU WILL NEED
Five strands of thread, about three times as long as your ankle (You can use yarn, ribbon, twine, hemp, or embroidery floss. I prefer embroidery floss or hemp, but whatever is on hand is perfectly fine.)
1. Tie one end of the threads together with a knot. Spread the threads out so you can see each one (this helps if the threads are each a different color.)
2. Take the far left thread and tie one knot around the thread beside it. Still using the same thread, tie a knot on each successive thread, moving from left to right. The far left thread has now become the far right thread.
3. Repeat this process. As you begin to find a rhythm in your work, let your hands take over. Speak words like "clarity," "thought," "intelligence," "wisdom," "free," "light," and any other words that spring to mind when you think of clear, level thinking. You might find yourself repeating words, and your speech may slip into a chant. Don't question yourself: whatever you are doing or saying is exactly right. Athena listens to the words of the heart rather than to prepared speeches.
4. Eventually, the thread will begin to resemble a small weaving. Keep tying knots, left to right, moving the thread across and starting with the next thread, until you've created something that looks a bit like the friendship bracelets girls still make.
5. When you are done, knot the loose threads in one knot at the end of the weaving. Tie it around your right ankle, and snip any threads that are too long.
6. Once you are wearing your charm, stand up with your legs spread shoulder-width. Raise your arms above you in a strong V, like a gymnast taking a bow. Seal the spell by saying, "Through my hands, clear thought and wisdom come to me. Blessed be, Athena, Lady of Snakes." (The snake has long been seen as a symbol of wisdom around the world, and some of Athena's ancient images show her with snakes at her feet and upon her shoulders.)
7. Know that as you walk through your day, the wisdom of your fingers is working in your mind. When the charm breaks or falls off, burn it and give thanks to Athena. If you still feel that you are lacking in clear thought, make another one, but wait at least a week after the original charm is finished doing its work: you never know what may happen between spells!
SPELL TO ELIMINATE SELF-JUDGMENT
We all have a voice inside that compares us to others. Silence that voice with Athena's help.
YOU WILL NEED
A surface appropriate for cutting
1. First, listen to the voice of self-doubt in your mind. Let her hurl her slings and arrows: feel the sting of each insult.
2. When she's worn herself out, slice the apple horizontally across the core. You will see a five-pointed star inside the fruit when you do this.
3. Offer half of the apple to Athena. Say, "Mighty Athena, I know that you are filled with great worth. I give you this apple as a token of the respect you are due." (Leave this half of the apple outside, or if that isn't possible, bury it in a houseplant.)
4. Prepare to eat the other half of the apple. Before you do, say, "Athena, I ask that you take away my negative perceptions. Let me view the beauty and power that I possess without criticism. Help me to love my flawed self." Eat your half of the apple.
5. Seal the spell by saying, "Thanks to you, Athena, I will no longer judge myself harshly. I am a woman of strength and intelligence, and like you, I will walk proud."
Titles: Eye of Ra, The Destroyer, Great Mother, Lady of Pestilence
Attributes: Battle, Destruction, Protection, Solar Deity
Colors: Red, Orange, Yellow
Animals: Lioness, Cat, Cow
Culture of Origin: Egypt
While the images of Sekhmet that have survived into the modern era hold a certain kind of serenity, this goddess is anything but passive. Sekhmet is the battle form of the great cow goddess, Hathor (we'll discuss her later on), and as such, she is depicted with a female body and the head of a regal lioness. Her breasts are proudly bared, and her feline smile makes you think she knows a secret ... or she just ate a herd of gazelles.
In her primary myth, Sekhmet is an unrestrained force of rage. When the sun god Ra grew weary of the people on the earth, he called on Sekhmet to rid him of their lazy, destructive ways. You don't have to ask this goddess for help twice: she immediately came to earth and began flattening everything in her path. Everywhere she looked, she saw people who didn't respect the gods, and as her anger grew, she started to enjoy the slaughter.
As Ra and the other gods watched her, they became increasingly worried that they wouldn't be able to curb her enthusiasm for destruction. The sun god had a change of heart and decided at the eleventh hour that he wanted to spare the human race, but he was frightened of the goddess he had unleashed. He called all the gods together to discuss the problem, and they finally concocted a plan to stop Sekhmet. If it worked, humanity would be saved. If it didn't, well, the goddess might turn her wrath on the rest of her pantheon. Despite the risk, the gods took the plunge and crossed their fingers.
The gods brewed a huge vat of beer and colored it with crushed ocher. When they poured the beer out in Sekhmet's path, it looked like the ground was bathed in blood. Battle lust overcame her, and she fell to her knees, lapping up the crimson booze. It was only when she had drunk it all that she forgot about the destruction of humanity. Drunk and docile, she transformed back into lowing Hathor, and the gods breathed a sigh of relief.
Although this myth might seem to portray Sekhmet as something to be feared or mocked, there is strength at the heart of this tale. Sekhmet is a good reminder that even the kindest and quietest woman has the strength of a lioness within her. This goddess may not burst forth very often, but when she makes her presence known, the world trembles.
Despite her attempted destruction of humanity, the ancient Egyptians worshiped Sekhmet as the patron of surgeons and healing. Her statues once lined the border of Egypt, and it's been suggested that pharaohs would occasionally have her images dusted with poisonous spores to infect any invading armies that came by. Whether this is true or not, Sekhmet is inextricably linked to health and is an ideal goddess to invoke when working on your physical body. Her aid is swift, and sometimes larger than expected: working magic with Sekhmet indicates that you are 110 percent committed to the change you seek. She never does anything halfway, and she expects the same thing from the people who call upon her.
Resist the temptation to do the following spells for minor ailments: seek out Sekhmet in times of real illness, and she will answer your call with fierceness and speed. A cold can be dealt with without magic, but if you are facing the flu, for example, you need all the help you can get. Charms for everyday wellness can invoke this goddess, but remember to keep the lines of communication open: this is not a one-way goddess. If she feels unappreciated, her legendary rage may surface. Always, always, always remember to say thank you! Be specific when working with this goddess, and let her fierce heat fill you with health.
SPELL FOR PREVENTING ILLNESS
Whenever you feel vulnerable to illness, whether it's due to a change in the weather, travel plans, or unhealthy work conditions, spend a few minutes each morning on this spell. The more you do it, the better you will feel!
YOU WILL NEED
Some uninterrupted time
1. First thing in the morning, before you shower or even brush your teeth, stand and face the south. Close your eyes and raise your hands above your head, standing in the shape of a Y. Visualize the red-hot glow of the sun on your face. Feel the heat washing over you, making your skin prickle as if you are about to get a bad sunburn. Let the heat fill you.
2. When you are warmed to the core, repeat this chant at least nine times: "Sekhmet." Clip your words, making each syllable sharp and distinct. As you chant, gradually increase your volume.
3. When you feel the vibration of the words deep in your chest, draw your hands together over your head and pull them slowly down the front of your body, coming to rest in a prayer in front of your heart center, right between your breasts. Stop chanting.
4. Keep breathing slowly and steadily, feeling the heat of fire flow through your body. When you open your eyes, keep your hands at your heart and bow to the south.
5. Repeat this spell daily as needed.
Excerpted from GODDESS SPELLS for Busy Girls by Jen McConnel. Copyright © 2014 Jen McConnel. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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