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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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

Fand, meaning Pearl of Beauty or Tear, is a beautiful Sea Goddess whom some scholars believe originated as a Manx sea deity. The Manx were the original inhabitants of the Isle of Man. Over time she turned from goddess to Fairy Queen. She was then known as Queen of the Fairies. 

Fand, Goddess of Earthly Pleasures, was married to the Irish Sea God, Manannan Mac Lir. But she fell in love with the mortal Cuchulainn, the greatest Irish hero of the mythical era, thus linking our world with the mystical Otherworld.

We first meet Fand as a sea bird from the Otherworld in the Ulster Cycle tale, Serglige Con Culainn (The Sickbed of Cuchulainn). Fand and Her sister Li Ban, in their form as seabirds, were flying with a flock of enchanted birds. Each pair of birds was joined together by a silver chain but Fand and Li Ban's magnificence was revealed by the gold chain which joined them.

Our hero, Cuchulainn saw the flock and wanted to capture one of the birds for his wife, who longed to have birds fluttering about her like the Welsh Goddess, Rhiannon. He wounded Fand when his stone pierced Her wing. This infuriated her and she vowed revenge. 

Later she and Li Ban, now in their form as women of the Otherworld, confronted him on the shores of a lake. Perhaps to Cuchulainn it was like a dream. Yet this dream had real life consequences as they beat him senseless. Maybe he was physically wounded or maybe he was lovesick, but nevertheless, upon waking he fell ill or into a stupor and lay abed for a year.

During this period of Cuchulainn's illness, Manannan Mac Lir had left Fand alone and defenseless against Formorian warriors in their attempt to control the Irish Sea. The Formorians were an ancient, magical race of dark-haired, dark-skinned giants believed to have inhabited Ireland before the Tuatha Dé Dannan arrived.The Formorians are associated with chaos and the destructive powers of nature. Fand, being a Goddess of Healing and Earthly Pleasures was in no position to combat these warriors. 

Fand’s sister Li Ban and Cuchulainn's charioteer, Laeg, negotiated for Cuchulainn's return to health in exchange for his help against the Formorians. An agreement was reached and at Samhain Cuchulainn's year of illness was over.  At this time when the veil between the worlds of the human and the supernatural is the thinnest, he was able to pass more easily from his world to the Otherworld. 

Cuchulainn was victorious over the Formorians. Fand and Cuchulainn fell in love and become lovers. Then Cuchulainn's wife, Emer, passed between the worlds also, angrily claiming her right to her husband. But upon arrival in the Otherworld and seeing the depth of Fand's love for Cuchulainn, Emer offered to step aside. Fand, not wanting to be outdone in the magnanimity department by a mere mortal, decided to leave Cuchulainn to Emer and return to her husband. Seeking to maintain the purity of the faery world Manannan Mac Lir wrapped Fand in His magical cloak making her forget the human hero. Back on Earth with the help of the Druids, Manannan gave the gift of forgetfulness in the form of a magic potion to our hero and his wife, returning them to their original states also.  

Fand as Lady of the Sea is gatekeeper to the Otherworld. Together with Manannan, Fand stands at that gateway, guiding us as we seek passage from our everyday awareness into an altered state of consciousness, one where magic rules and miracles occur. Call on Fand, the Shapeshifter between worlds, for safe passage between the inner and outer states of consciousness, for emotional healing and for a mystical awakening to your deepest truth.

Call on Fand, Goddess of Earthly Pleasures, for blessings in your love life. She supports awareness of the joy of earthly delights and of the consequences of our actions. She helps us navigate the waters which merge these delights with awareness and responsibility.  

Judith's deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards with accompanying booklet will be available for sale and shipment by the end of November.  You can still pre-order, making sure you get one of the first 100 produced. Click here to order.


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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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