The Goddess Way: Ancient Stories for Modern Hearts

Judith Shaw both paints and writes about the Goddess, great symbol of life, death and the natural world. For the past few years she has focused on the Celtic Goddesses, whose stories are explored here in The Goddess Way.

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Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw, a New Orleans native and graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has always been interested in myth, culture and mysticism. Her work, inspired by the goddess, nature and sacred geometry, combines whimsy and the esoteric - whimsical tree paintings which often look like women dancing are intertwined with esoteric symbols such as those found in sacred geometry. After graduation, while living in Greece, the Goddess first appeared in her artwork. The Divine Feminine, in all of Her manifestations in this world, continues to inspire Judith.    Judith has also lived in Mexico and visited France, Italy, Turkey, China, Guatemala, and Jamaica. She now lives in Albuquerque where she divides her time between painting, writing, yoga, gardening, bee keeping, and hanging out with friends and family.  She is putting the final touches on a deck of Celtic Goddess cards which will be published soon.  

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Fand, a Shapeshifting Goddess for Samhain

 

We are nearing Samhain, a day in which pagans honor the ancestors and prepare for the coming dark of winter. It is the time of year when communication between the two worlds of the living and the deceased is the thinnest. The Celts did not honor any particular deity on this day, but rather recognized the whole spectrum of supernatural forces. Fand, Celtic Sea Goddess and gatekeeper to the Otherworld is a fitting goddess to remember during this period

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Artio, Goddess of Wild Life, Transformation, and Abundance

Artio, Celtic Goddess of Wild Life, Transformation, and Abundance, is one of the more obscure goddesses in the Celtic pantheon. She is often shown with baskets of plenty and surrounded by animals. Artio is frequently depicted as a bear. Her name comes from the old Celtic word for bear, arth(e), which the Roman’s Latinized to Artos.

Artio arrived in western Europe with the Helvetii, a Celtic tribe, who migrated to Switzerland around 450 BC. They worshipped Her as the “She-Bear”. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw says #
    Hi Thessel, Sorry but I do not really know much about the Old Europe script except for what I referenced here. I'll see if I can
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    Can you tell us more about the Old Europe script?

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Arduinna, Gaulish Goddess of Forests

Arduinna, Gaulish Goddess of Forests and Hunting is one of the many Celtic Goddesses who is associated with a particular region or body of water. She was worshipped in the heavily forested regions of the Ardennes, located in what is current day Belgium and Luxembourg with small portions found in France and Germany. She was also associated with the Forest of Arden in England. Her name has its roots in the Gaulish  word “arduo” meaning “height”.  

Arduinna’s stories have not survived into modern day. We only know for sure that she both hunted the forests of Ardennes and protected its flora and fauna.   

She is associated with the forest, the boar, and the spear. Some scholars assert that she is also associated with the moon. Many ancient cultures connect the boar with strength and courage. Arduinna’s favorite beast was the boar, which she road whenever she hunted, making her own strength and courage clear to all. Plus it is important to note that throughout Gaul the wild boar was abundant and a vital food source for the population. Arduinna’s association with the boar thus shows her importance as a protective and nurturing goddess. 

The only surviving image of her is a small sculpture of a woman riding a boar. This statue has lost its head and some scholars dispute the belief that it is a representation of Arduinna.  

We are left with only assumptions about Arduinna’s original function and stories. It is assumed that she is the Gaulish equivalent of the Irish Flidais, a complex Celtic Goddess called Lady of the Forest by modern Celtic pagans. Once Roman influence began on the continent Arduinna became associated with Diana, Roman Goddess of the Hunt and Forest. 

Arduinna as a Woodland Goddess represents our wild nature. With no tame, domesticated castle or demesne to call her own, she ran free in the forests of the Ardennes. She is the untamed spirit in us all, never tied down by the commitments of love or motherhood. But being Celtic, she was not chaste like Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Forest. As a free spirit, she would have enjoyed amorous liaisons when and where she chose.

The natural world is her domain which she protects with the ferociousness of a mother bear protecting her cubs. Woe to the human who causes harm to the forest or over hunts the animals. Then she steps in with her justice and extracts a hefty fine. Here we see her in her fierce aspect, standing strong and tall as she protects her domain. 

Many sacred woods throughout Northern Europe were named after goddesses. This association protected sacred trees all over the continent. Punishment was expected by divine intervention. Anyone who cut them down could be struck with palsy or other ailments.  

Such a sanctuary existed at Margut, dedicated to Arduinna. Her following was so large that in the 6th century Saint Walfroy attempted to eradicate her cult by installing himself atop a pillar he had installed close by. He vowed that he would live on only bread and water and would not descend until Arduinna was abandoned by her followers. 

Her nature also manifests in a gentle way. It’s more than likely that like Flidais and Artemis, Arduinna functioned as a healing goddess, protecting and healing the fauna, human and otherwise, living in her region. In this aspect one can image her tending a wounded man, a sick child, a dying elder as dappled light filters through the trees of her forest, bathing her in a soft glow. 

Arduinna calls you to a full expression of your untamed spirit. Through her you can claim your right to your “wildness.” She is by your side when the need to protect yourself and your own arises. She helps you access your own strength and courage. Call on Arduinna when you need a healing touch or you are giving a healing to others.  May Arduinna’s power to protect, heal and run free be with you.

My deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is ready for publication. You can pre-order a deck on my Indiegogo campaign. Click here

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw says #
    I also find it interesting how there is so much crossover of associations between the goddesses. The boar must have been importan
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    The boar iconography makes me think of Freya.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Dahut, the Once and Future Goddess

With all of the flooding in the world right now I thought now would be a good time to re-visit the story of Dahut, Breton Goddess of Love and Sexuality, whose city of Ys was destroyed by a flood.

Dahut Ahes, Breton goddess of Love and Sexuality is a Celtic Goddess whose origins are obscured by patriarchal tales which cast Her as wanton and depraved. By weaving together the tales as they are today with an understanding of the life-affirming nature of the old pagan ways Dahut emerges as more than a glittering goddess of beauty. She is revealed as an ancient goddess in a long line of goddesses holding the rebirth of the old ways in Her loving arms. 

Her story begins with Her parents.Her father, Gradlon King of Brittany was originally Pagan but later converted to Christianity with the pressure of the times. Her mother, Malgven was believed by some to be a goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the ancient deities of the Celtic world. Others believe Malgven to have been a Druid or a Sorcerer from the land of the Picts, the original inhabitants of Scotland. 

On one of Gradlon’s campaigns in the North, they met and fell in love. But Malgven was married to the old King of Siaelland (Denmark). In the tradition of the ancient ways in which the old king dies, making way for the new, Malgven and Gradlon conspired to kill the old king. Then they fled together as King and Queen of Brittany on Morvac’h, Malgven’s magical horse, who blew fire from its nostrils and could ride across the sea.

The couple remained at sea for a year and a day, during which time Malgven gave birth to Dahut. Some versions of the story recount that Malgven died in childbirth. Others say that the time had come for her to return to the faery world. Legend records that before she disappeared she asked King Gradlon what he saw in their daughter.

“I see you,” he says.

 “Then she will be ever thus,” she answers.

Malgven, Herself descending from a long line of Goddesses who upon hearing the call to return home passed the baton of the earthly mantle on to their daughters, now passed that lineage on to Dahut.

King Gradlon mourned the absence of Malgven and poured all of his love into his daughter. In their honor King Gradlon built a magnificent coastal city named Ys (Kêr-Is in Breton). It became an important trade center and the most beautiful city in the world. 

As Ys was built below sea level it was  protected by a massive wall with a tall floodgate. The floodgates were opened at low tide, allowing boats to enter and to leave. Gradlon wore the golden key, the only key, that controlled the floodgates around his neck at all times.  

All versions of the story blame Dahut for the destruction of Ys. This is an old tale retold in many lands - the tale of how woman and her sexuality destroyed a city, a garden, a  paradise, the world. But following the Way of the Goddess we can construct a different tale for Dahut.

Dahut grew to be a great beauty, just like her mother. She was sough after by many men. She loved life and all the gifts the goddess has bestowed on us. She loved her city, Ys, with its beautiful rooms, towers, gardens, temples, and courtyards. 

Dahut is of the Sea, She rules that deep consciousness of our desire for life; for all the pleasures that life offers. 

She loved Her people and wished only the best for them. Dahut, during her incarnation as daughter of Gradlon and Molgven, felt pain at seeing the joys of life denied and demonized by the priests of Christianity. The seasons had turned many, many times and the Ancient Ways of the Goddess were being overpowered by the New Religion, which increasingly adapted more and more flesh-hating, life denying ideas and practices.  

As her foremothers had done, She sought her King, she sought the balance of the female and male principles. But every man who came before Her was mired in the new ways, full of violence and hatred, greedy and power hungry, deniers of life, haters of women. So every morning She sent each suitor away and her heart sunk further into sadness at the state of the world.   

More and more madly with each passing day, Dahut and her people danced and sang, drank and made love, hoping to bring back balance, to bring joy back. Until finally one day Dahut could no longer bear the depravation, the loss of beauty, the loss of pleasure, the loss of happiness.  Knowing, like only a destroyer goddess can know, that death always precedes rebirth, she knew the time had come to wipe the slate clean. She stole the golden key to the floodwater gate from her father. She opened the floodgate, calling on the Goddess and the waters of the sea to drown the city of Ys. 

Her father rushed to save Her with his magical horse, the gift from Her mother. But in the end he yielded to the demands of the Christian priest, Guénolé who cried out for Gradlon to let Dahut drown. And so he let her go to the sea.

Yet the sea is from where she came and to where she was destined to return. She has passed the centuries in Her sunken city of Ys with Her people. There they practice the Old Ways, honoring life, honoring the natural world and loving each other. And there they wait until the world is ready for the rebirth of the Goddess Way.

Dahut, The Once and Future Goddess, holds the sacred ways of love, of sexuality, of spirit manifest in this physical world in Her heart, Her mind and Her soul. Call on Dahut when you  need to reconnect with the beauty and joy of our physical lives. 

My deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is ready for publication. You can pre-order on my Indiegogo campaign page. Check it out - Please share!

 

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Boann, Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and Creativity

Boann, Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Fertility, Inspiration, Knowledge and Creativity was one of the Tuatha De Danann (People of Danu). She was associated with the 70 mile long river Boyne in Northeast Ireland and its source the Well of Segais. Some bards say that long, long ago when the world was young and wild places were everywhere, Boann initiated that spring by walking counter-clockwise around stones found there, causing the water from under the earth to spring forth with great strength and rush down to the sea. The pool formed by the spring was encircled by nine sacred hazelnut trees, whose nuts could impart knowledge when eaten. The salmon of wisdom swam in the waters of this hidden pool from which the river Boyne flows. 

Other sources recount the creation of the river Boyne a little differently. In this version, Boann goes to the source of all knowledge at the Well of Segais. While walking around it counter-clockwise, the waters rose up and forcefully pursued her to the sea. She was turned into a salmon during this event, becoming the salmon of wisdom herself and the Goddess of the new River Boyne. She released the waters for all people, becoming the mother of many of the world’s important rivers.

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Grainne, Sun Goddess/Winter Queen

In the ancient Celtic world the Goddess was the One who expressed Herself through the many. Grainne is such a one. She is a Solar Goddess, welcoming the rebirth of spring and the fullness of summer and the Winter Queen/Dark Goddess, nurturing seeds through winter. She is Aine’s sister or another aspect of Aine. She, like Aine, was honored at the summer solstice and the first grain harvest of early August with bonfires and torchlit processions on top of her sacred hill at Leinster, Ireland. Remnants of these festivals are still found in folk ritual today. 

Grainne is a part of the triple goddess formed by Herself and Her two sisters, Fenne and Aine. Both Grainne and Aine were beautiful, golden-haired goddesses who visited their fields and hilltops to protect and nurture the land, people and animals.

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Aine, Celtic Summer Goddess

Aine, (pronounced AW-neh), was originally worshipped as a Sun Goddess. Like so many Celtic goddesses and gods, Aine has assumed many other roles over the years, being seen as a Moon Goddess, a Goddess of Love, a Fertility Goddess, a Healing Goddess, and a Sovereignty Goddess. Aine is also known as a Faery Queen. She is often called Aine, Goddess of Love, Light, and Fertility. Her name means “brightness, glow, joy, radiance; splendor, glory, fame” and she is associated with the abundance of summer.

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