Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More About Goddesses: The Norse Goddess, Freya (New Column)

More About Goddesses: The Norse Goddess Freya
by Tim Kavi

Freya (also commonly spelled Freyja) is the Norse goddess of love, fertility, and sexuality.  Her name is derived from the Old Norse word for “the lady.” In Norse mythology, she is a member of the Vanir deities, together with her brother Freyr (“the lord”), her father Njoror, and her mother, whose identity is unknown.  Her husband is a god named Odr, and partly due to the similarities in name (Odr and Freya, Odin and Frigg), many scholars believe that these two couples are one and the same.
Freya’s afterlife field is known as Folkvangr, and that’s where half of the soldiers killed in battle go to, with the other half going to the god Odin’s Valhalla
Life of the Party, and Then Some
It can be said that Freya is the “life of the party” among Norse deities, given that she represents the aforementioned love, fertility, and sexuality, and also has a love for material trappings.  One can even say that Freya is a “player” of sorts, in informal terms.  The poem Lokasenna describes how Loki had accused Freya of sleeping with all the gods, and even her own brother Freyr.  But Freya’s seeming proclivity for decadence is just one of the many facets of her personality. 

Freya as a Master of Seidr
Freya is also known as the first to introduce seidr, a form of Norse magic, to the Aesir, also introducing the art to humanity indirectly. Seidr mainly deals with changing the course of destiny, and can be used in a number of ways, including manipulating any human destiny documented in Old Norse mythology.  

Seidr practitioners are known as volvas, and in Viking times, they traveled across different towns, performing this form of magic in exchange for food, shelter, or other types of compensation.  Due to the shamanistic nature of their craft, people reacted to Freya and other volvas with ambivalence, some respecting and exalting her and others treating her with scorn.

Freya and Frigg – Are They the Same?
It has been a much-debated topic as to whether Freya and Frigg are the same goddess, or similar, yet ultimately different goddesses from each other.  Migration Period mythology (400-800 AD) suggests that Freya was Odin’s wife, while Old Norse literature points to Freya’s husband being a god named Odr, which is very close to Odin.  This similarity in name is arguably the main reason why several experts do not differentiate between Freya and Frigg, instead considering them one and the same.
Other similarities include Freya and Frigg both being accused of infidelity while their husbands were away.  Tales such as Frigg sleeping with Odin’s brothers while he was exiled from Asgard refute the belief that Frigg differed from Freya by being more chaste.  Furthermore, the poem Lokasenna clearly shows Frigg as a volva in the same way that Freya is.

Freya after Christianization
The Christianization of Scandinavia resulted in the demonization of the Old Norse gods, though Freya remained revered by people even in modern times.  This was despite her sexual nature going against the epitome of an ideal woman for Christians – a chaste virgin.  Freya was still prayed to as a fertility goddess as recently as the 19th century, specifically for the purpose of ensuring a prosperous harvest.

About the image: The image is from the painting “Freyja and the Necklace” by James Doyle Penrose (1890)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Crying in the Night (New Poem)

Crying in the Night
by Tim Kavi

screeching in the night
calling out in darkness
searching the hidden
for any hope
of dawning light


the Owl of Athena
looks over the fields
the fields of the world
are stained
crimson with the blood
of many peoples
from many lands

She is ashamed
at what is done in many names
adds to the horror
of the great many acts
of fear and terror
the dismantling of honor

She says
Intolerance is Murder
the council of elders
replies with judgmental sighs
must we tolerate evil?

She says
there is still a way
to define what something is
when one finds the words to say
any doctrine
teaching far and wide

that murder is right
that stealing from another
killing the heart of the Other
chaining the spirits
of those who long to be free

is justifiable

then we know what is evil
and in all cases who or what
can be truly not tolerated
and must be abolished
in the hearts of all

who joined in community
who empowering the disenfranchised
realize what is wrong
or what is right

makes the day bring light

So the Owl of Athena
blinks her eyes at what She sees
in the darkened night

she will still watch the world
as a New Year approaches
but taking hold of hope
and changes in our hearts
see to it that She need not abandon Earth
in Her celestial flight.

"A Poem of Hope for the New Year"~~TK

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Consolations: Songs of Grief Surprised by Life and Love (new poem)

Consolations: Songs of Grief Surprised by Life and Love
by Tim Kavi

in the consolations
of the dearly departed
there are the memories
of sad longing songs

Oh! To find each other again!

but high up in the arms
a grand scheme
are the absent ones
come again
to comfort us 
in the sweet compositions
of enduring love.

I grieve the colors
of my parents
my childhood
my wandering youth

always the others too

in the approaching grays
a sunset
where in the horizon--I see appearing
in the face of my true love
mine and ours --
the kids
and the everlasting
dialogue of all my teachers
and friends.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

More About Goddesses: Pachamama, Incan Goddess (New Essay)

More About Goddesses: Pachamama, Incan Goddess
by Tim Kavi 

Pachamama is the Incan goddess of the Earth and the goddess of fertility, specifically harvesting and planting.  Her name means “mother of space and time” in English.  As a deity independent from others, she is able to, on her own, sustain life on the planet for animals and plants alike.  She also presides over the Andes Mountains and has the power to cause earthquakes.  

Most artist conceptions show Pachamama as a goddess capable of ensuring a prosperous harvest for potatoes and coca leaves.  In Inca mythology, there are four cosmological Quechua principles, namely Earth, Moon, Sun, and Water, and all trace their primordial origin to Pachamama.  

A Goddess of Agriculture

One of Pachamama’s main manifestations is as the Incan goddess of agriculture.  Incans had performed daily rituals in tribute of her, with women in particular going to the fields to pray to her, occasionally sacrificing an offering of cornmeal.  The Incans compared the mountain peaks of the Andes to her breasts, the rivers to her milk, and the fields to her womb.

Beware the Wrath of Pachamama

While considered to be a good and benevolent goddess, it is believed that Pachamama can also get angry in a significant way.  If she feels that people are not honoring her like they should, she reminds them in the form of earthquakes.  She is also said to be close to the Incan gods of thunder and lightning, and can wreak havoc accordingly when she is not worshipped or thanked.  

Pachamama in Modern Times

Even in today’s modern, post-Christianity society, Pachamama is still worshipped in certain parts of the Andes, whose people see her as a “good mother” and offer a toast to her prior to meetings or special events.  Her worship day, Martes de Challa (Challa’s Tuesday), involves people sacrificing food and incense and throwing candies.  There are even some worship celebrations where yatiris, or traditional priests, follow the ancient rites and go as far as sacrificing animals such as llama fetuses and guinea pigs.  This celebration takes place at the same time as Carnevale and Mardi Gras in other parts of the world.

In August, worship to Pachamama reaches fever pitch, as this is the coldest winter month in the southern Andes.  As a result, people are more susceptible to illness and believe that this is a time when evil spirits play tricks on them.  To ward these spirits off, Andean people burn plants and wood, and drink the South American beverage mate for additional good luck.  The first of August is when Andeans cook all night long, and offer a plate of food to Pachamama before anyone is allowed to eat.  Leftover food is also cast to the ground, prefacing a prayer to Pachamama.

One interesting way in which today’s people pay tribute to Pachamama is the Sunday parade.  Since 1949, Andean women, especially seniors, take part in this festival, where the oldest woman in a community is named the Pachamama Queen of the Year.  This is because elderly women are thought to epitomize tradition and wisdom, as well as reproduction and fertility.

About the photo: The image 'Pachamama' is drawn by Adam Ketelsen.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Voices of the Silver Winged Fathers (new poem)

Voices of the Silver Winged Fathers
by Tim Kavi

voices of the
silver winged fathers
your voices
sing like snowbirds
across history and time

instructing me
as a child
guiding me
as an adult
surrounding me
even when wise

there is only
spoken truths that linger
that shine
even in prisons
of my mind

the sadness
the sorrows of your passing
have all faded away

in thinking that longs to be free

guidance to
all that will be
voices of the fathers
still speak to the young
if only they take
the heart to listen

where not one moment
is lost;
we still live
and where life is
there's always remaining
a hope

that we can still
save ourselves
from weapons
from war
from streams of
flowing blood

you see?
your storied regrets
are not unheard
high and low

from mansions
of perceived greatness
to the crumbling
erosion of beating
waves against sandcastles
of faithless Divine
cast into the sea

we gather their
muddy clumpy remnants
to new vistas
new shores
and a faith in time

oh breathing
breathes of silver winged
fathers; yet you breathe!
we need
to listen
to sing your refrains
to not forget
the ways made plain

'lest it all be lost
we ride your heavenly
angelic wings

we won't forget what
you taught us
nor how you shined

for in your voices
never silent
and never silenced
echoes across generations
reaching but never

voices of silver winged fathers.

Poet's Comment: It has been a little over a month since my father passed away, still I hear his voice and feel his angelic wings. ~~TK

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Towards the golden Light, Unknown Goddess (new poem)

Towards the golden Light, Unknown Goddess
by Tim Kavi

When in all your going
you had escaped
freedom's grasp
slavery seemed your undoing

the country was collapsing
farms and crops dust
food was rotting on the docks
your neighbor's fields a battlefield

there was hurrying and scurrying
hiding and fleeing
you taught yourself
in the darkness
no man was there seeing

you had no rights
where governments
led you to paths
of new meanings
always ignored

but you are
the truest goddess
your ego smashed
and destroyed
ruined temples unexplored

it was then
after you woke up
that the weapons all broke
that the all knowing
were silenced

and you walked down
the road
your golden light
revealing yourself as the
Goddess you always knew
you really are.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

New Column: More About Goddesses: Athena: Queen of the Air and Breath of Inspiration by Kelli M. Webert, guest blogger

More About Goddesses: Athena: Queen of the Air and Breath of Inspiration
By Kelli M. Webert, MA*

Athena is commonly known as the goddess of wisdom, but in her early inspirations she was associated with wind and storms. Like the wind, Athena was portrayed as being cool and clear, which later led to depictions of her being clear, rational and objective. As a goddess who was focused on the strength of mind rather than the strength of body, she eventually lost her association with weather and became a figure associated with inspiration.

In Greek culture, it was believed that the organs which were located higher on the body were more important. This meant that the brain or the mind was the most vital organ in the body, making a goddess like Athena especially important to their culture. Mythology reveals her to be the favorite daughter of Zeus, one of the most powerful characters in the religion. She would often show favor to those who were shown to be shrewd, industrious or moral. These associations made it natural for her to be used as a symbol of inspiration for thoughtful members of Greek society.

Athena was often known to teach the Greeks about aspects of technology which would help improve their society. One of the most well-known examples of this was the creation of a navy which helped the Greeks win many important battles to help preserve their land. This type of work combined her role as a goddess of inspiration and the wind, since both were needed to create and power the vessels.
Athena is often portrayed as an owl, due to her association with wisdom. Owls are known to be very shrewd and cunning animals, making it the ideal fit for a goddess thought to offer battle tactics, philosophy and other bits of inspiration to those she favored. The owl was also a creature known for soaring quickly to hunt and maneuver, which once again ties in the original idea of associating Athena with wind or storms.

This goddess, among many others, is associated with battle due to her tendency to offer tactics to the sides she favored. Because of this, Athena is often depicted as a strong woman, more often than not a warrior watching over her people. Her goal was often to restore peace to troubled lands so that society could continue to grow and prosper, creating beautiful works of art and inventing new forms of technology. She would also act as a muse for artists and craftsmen. It was not uncommon to associate those who did especially well at their craft with the work of Athena.

Above all, Athena would always strive to bring order where there was none. Like the wind, she would gently cool the chaos around her by ushering in a gentle, cooling breath. Though Ares is in charge of war, she would often step in to calm the wreckage his battles left behind by creating viable strategies for the soldiers to use to end the war. These divine tactics make her an incredible inspirational piece as well as a fierce contender in Greek mythology.

*Guest blogger for this column. Reprinted with permission from the Foreword of: Athena Queen of the Air by John Ruskin  ( I (Tim Kavi) also have a piece on Athena in the same book).~~TK