Friday, September 11, 2020

Gods and Goddesses Within and Without: A Response to “The Inner Goddess Controversy: We Are Not Gods & They Do Not Live Inside Us: A Polytheistic Opinion,”by Astrea


Gods and Goddesses Within and Without: A Response to The Inner Goddess Controversy: We Are Not Gods & They Do Not Live Inside Us: A Polytheistic Opinion,by Astrea.

by Rev. Dee

             First of all let me say that I agree with some of what Astrea has to say, but I also disagree with most of her assertions. So let’s unpack this article bit by bit and see what it’s all about and why I decided to write about it.

            I agree with what she says about Fifty Shades of Gray—utter garbage, and utter misogyny at that. Astrea writes, “Lately, I’ve seen a lot about of buzz on the internet about my “inner goddess” and how to unleash her or embody her. This phrase [inner goddess] appears to have increased after it was featured in the Fifty Shades of Gray books and movies. It’s well known that the author of those books promoted a very wrong kind of BDSM–and it appears she advocates for a wrong kind of paganism as well.”

            I disagree with the whole idea that the god/dess is not within as well as without. “Thou art god/dess” has been a part of Wicca and paganism ever since I started in the Craft, which was in the late 1960’s. It’s not some invention of Teen Witch movies. And of course it goes much further back than modern paganism in Hinduism, in which each person honors the god/dess within every other person (raise your hand if you’ve ever said Namaste in a yoga class).

            I get very, very tired of people trying to tell others what the “right kind” of paganism is. Like, really, Astrea, who died and made you queen? Well, she bases her theory—that we are not gods nor do we have a godhead within us—on the following: “Ask a high priestess or a high priest who channel the gods what it’s like. They’ll likely tell you that it’s uplifting and exhilarating for a few moments, and then, the deity leaves, and it’s exhausting.” Well, ask the people I know who’ve been ridden in a Vodou or Santeria ritual. Yeah, they’re exhausted too. And this proves what exactly? Ask those who learn to channel deity or spirit and are NOT exhausted because they’ve learned to do it without expending their own energy. Yeah, there’s that too. What’s my point? Rituals are exhausting. Some people can channel and not get exhausted. So?

            And then she makes this astonishing announcement: “I expect anyone teaching a class or coaching someone about goddess energy to know about what the gods can and can’t do, and what they will and won’t do.” Uh…really? Wouldn’t you have to be a god/dess to know that? How dare she presume. Wouldn’t you, like, really, need to be much more omnipotent than anyone is to truly know what the gods can or can’t do?

            And of course she has to bash the newbies and other writers, which really honks me off. “Their articles and books have created a new tradition, along with a learning curve that they can capitalize on. They ask and answer questions such as who is your inner goddess?  How do you awaken her? … Just read the book, take the class, get the coaching sessions, and come to the retreats, of course!” I try very hard not to bash other authors, especially if they’re trying to do something positive, like, say, help to build up a young woman’s self-esteem, something we haven’t been allowed to have for several thousand years now. So, no, I don’t feel this is the “wrong kind” of paganism. And I sure as hell don’t bash beginners. Astrea, you were a beginner once yourself.

            And then I read her bio: “Astrea is the author of Intuitive Witchcraft: How To Use Intuition To Elevate Your Craft, as well as the forthcoming book Air Magic: Elements of Witchcraft Volume 2 (Llewellyn Worldwide). She also leads the fire dancing group Aurora Fire and stirs up magic for the Blessed Be Box, the service that ships a "ritual in a box" for new moons and sabbats.” Uh, yeah, and that doesn’t sound anything at all like the books and services she’s bashing, does it? Personally, I don’t see much difference.

            In talking about the gods she further states that, “I believe we’re not the gods.  We’re humans. We do very human things, like make mistakes, go to the bathroom, grow old, have bad days, and look tired at the end of a long night. The gods don’t do any of those things, as far as I know.” Well, my dear Astrea, you are clearly not conversant in world mythology if you think gods don’t do some of those things. Most pre-Abrahamic gods have very human foibles and make huge mistakes. Why doesn’t the Ifa god Obatala drink alcohol? Because when creating humankind he got drunk and fell asleep, and one of his proto-humans ended up deformed, thus ushering birth defects into humanity, and he’s been deeply embarrassed every since, so much so that he won’t touch alcohol now. The Native American trickster god Coyote talks to his own poop, and apparently sometimes it talks back to him. I guess she’s saying that these stories are all truly mythical—meaning not true—and she could be right about that. Parables and all. But don’t tell me the gods that we look to don’t have human attributes, regardless. After all, we made them.

            Yes, so far as we know, all the gods we know from Aphrodite to Zeus we have made. So if they have human attributes, like, say the Abrahamic god who gets mad and sends the Angel of Death to kill a whole bunch of innocent babies, well, someone made that shit up, folks! Maybe they channeled it, or maybe they were a prophet or the divine son of said angry Middle Eastern god. Same difference. But the gods we know to exist only exist because we say so. Can you prove otherwise? Does an anthropomorphic god that looks like an Earth human or other earthly being have any relevance on an inhabited planet hundreds of light years away? Of course not. They must have their own gods, or else they’ve stopped believing in divine beings long ago. Get real, everyone, please. There’s a reason why the book I co-wrote is called The Dark Archetype. They’re archetypes.Who created those archetypes? We did.

But let’s also see what I DO agree with besides her evaluation of 50 Shades. I agree that one cannot claim to be equal with some cosmic god, some being so immense and so powerful and so much more advanced than we are that we can scarcely comprehend it, much less access its power. And that’s why you don’t try to summon Cthulhu, kids. Yeah, please don’t do that. Such beings may exist, and if they do, they may be so huge and utterly alien that we won’t recognize them even if we do see them. They’re most certainly too big to channel. Even some terrestrial gods can’t inhabit a human; Olokun, for example, who is the Ifa orisha of the ocean, never possesses his followers, because no one could hold the entirety of the ocean in his or her head. So in that sense, I agree with Astrea.

But think about this: who made you? What was the divine spark that sent those amino acids into motion? Who told that thing to eventually walk out of the ocean and evolve into a therapsid? What is a therapsid, you ask? I’m glad you asked that question. It is an order of earth beings that evolved from reptile-like creatures in the Permian age. We’re the only ones left. We mammals are the last therapsids, or perhaps the most advanced therapsids, if you want to look at it that way. Maybe God is a therapsid, or at least the gods that we therapsids thought up might be.

Maybe all living things have a spark of the gods; if you want to really be a pantheist, then maybe rocks and all the inorganic elements do too. And I agree that something godlike that created that spark of life is probably too big and scary to inhabit us completely, but quite literally, some little part of it lives in all of us, because we exist and are self-aware.

            “We’re made of star stuff,” said scientist Carl Sagan. And as it turns out, we really are. In the Egyptian tradition, gods such as Ra and Thoth are self-created, just like that creation event that barfed up the universe around 4.5 billion years ago. Yeah, so literally, we came into being when it did. And nothing ever created is ever really destroyed, so far as we know (although it’s doubtful anything would return from a black hole). That includes Ra and Thoth and the other gods, and you and me and your cat and dog and budgie. I don’t pretend to know all about the gods, although as far as Djehuti goes (that’s Thoth to you, mister!) I’ve been hearing from him since I was a kid and I still don’t know even a tiny bit of all he is and does and knows. So I would never profess to know “all about” him or any other god or goddess.

            The most important thing here is not that you agree with me or agree with Astrea or both or neither. The important thing is that you are a miracle. You really are. Don’t let someone smash your self-esteem by telling you that you are a not a part of the divine or that the divine is not a part of you. You are star stuff. And that’s good enough for me.


Works Cited:

Astrea, “The Inner Goddess Controversy: We Are Not Gods & They Do Not Live Inside Us: A Polytheistic Opinion,Patheos, 3 Sept. 2020,

Melina, Remy. “Are We Really All Made of Stars?” LiveScience, 13 Oct. 2010.

“What are Therapsids?” Paleontology World,

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Krampus Redux

Krampus Redux: More Love and Scary Stuff,
The Day before St. Nicholas Day

             A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about Krampus, and since then, he’s become so much more famous in the U.S. that I scarcely need to introduce him. Nevertheless, here’s a summary:
            The day before the Feast of St. Nicholas, which is on Dec. 6th, a strange creature is honored in the Germanic and Central/Eastern European lands. Though he goes by more than one name, he is best known as Krampus. He’s a strange looking fellow: covered with hair, bound with chains and bells, a basket on his back and a switch in his hand. He sometimes has one human foot and one hoof, and a long red tongue. His face is frightening; he’s like a cross between a wild animal and a demon. He’s also St. Nicholas’s helpmate and friend.
            Basically, the idea is that someone dressed like St. Nick and someone dressed as Krampus will go around and visit families. Krampus will switch bad kids, and leave them coal instead of candy, and threaten to put them in his basket and carry them away if they’re really bad. It’s a stick and carrot kind of thing.
            I’m not sure I agree with some of the lore about Krampus—the link below seems to connect him to the Norse goddess Hel, but I’m not sure about that. However, his female counterpart, Frau Perchta, is definitely related to the Norse legends. She’s sometime conflated with Frau Holle, who is also reckoned to be somewhat like Hel. She looks like an old witch, and she switches you with her broom. Like Krampus she has horns, and some of his other accoutrements. According to the legends, Perchta is likely to mess with you on Twelfth Night, and she goes for the women. If you haven’t finished your housework by then, she disembowels you. Yikes!
            Rev. Dee makes a Krampus oil, and it is perfectly appropriate to wear this oil as a unisex fragrance all through the holiday season, or use it in an oil warmer (we sell those too) to perfume the room for your holiday parties or rituals. Krampus oil smells like cinnamon, patchouli, carnation, rose, vanilla, mugwort…and maybe just a bit of brimstone. If you feel moved to leave out a snack for him as well as for St. Nick, well, he likes traditional European sweets like stollen, pfeffernusse, fruitcake, marzipan, and similar seasonal desserts. Toast him with Gluhwein, Glogg, spiked eggnog or cinnamon schnapps.
            In the places where these legends are popular, Perchta and Krampus often appear together, often in big groups that parade through town in a Karmpuslauf, or a “Krampus run.” Many large cities in the U.S. now have Krampus runs, including Los Angeles. Having just attended the Los Angeles Krampus Ball at Alpine Village and being switched by no less than FOUR Krampuses, I can tell you that it’s all worthwhile. I have been punished for my sins. Now the party may begin!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

St. John’s Eve: on the Bayou, on Bald Mountain, with a Baguette at your Air BnB….

St. John’s Eve: on the Bayou, on Bald Mountain, with a Baguette at your Air BnB….

Feux de la Saint Jean - Summer Solstice – Midsummer is what they call it on a French travel site.  Kupala Night is what they call it in Poland. Most pagans call it “The Summer Solstice” because with today’s calendar it isn’t “Midsummer”; it’s the first day of summer.

I scarcely need to write anything this year, as there is so very much to read online about the Summer Solstice and how it is celebrated throughout the world. So much of the Northern hemisphere celebrates it along with the Feast of St. John the Baptist, which is how the preeminent New Orleans voodoo holiday came about: Midsummer on Bayou St. John. This year Sallie Ann Glassman is holding her annual headwashing ceremony after the ritual, and then it’s drinks at the International House. How I wish I could be there.

However, not this year. Maybe next. Witchdoctor Utu and the bunch are having a big whingding in Ontario, Canada. I wouldn’t mind being there either!

Anywhere but here. Anywhere but here, folks.

So I’m leaving the rest for you to look up. There’s the usual celebration at Stonehenge, some cool info on Mussogsky’s “Night on Bald Montain” which was supposed to have become a full-on witches’ rite-themed opera, and more.

Greet the sun and be grateful that you are allowed to see the sun.

Maybe next year things will be looking up. Let’s survive until at least Samhain, whaddya say?

Great stuff to read:
The Bittersweet Gourmet, St John’s Eve: Herbal Remedies & Ancient Rituals to Mark Midsummer
Branley, Edward. NOLA History: Voodoo and St. John’s Eve,
Cory, Blog Post 161 – Summer Saints, part II (St. John’s Eve)
Dorsey, Lilith. “Voodoo Blessings on St. John’s Eve,”
Duvalier, James. “Saint John’s Eve,”
Hofstadter, Dan, “Midsummer Magick in the Lands of the Midnight Sun,”
“Night on Bald Mountain,”
Rodriguez-Pretel, Diana. ”Magic and Rituals on St. John’s Eve.”

Monday, April 30, 2018

Happy Walpurgisnacht and Beltane, "The Other Halloween"

Happy Walpurgisnacht and Beltane, “The Other Halloween”

            And hope that everyone is having a great time there out of the Brocken, dancing with Freya and her cat-drawn chariot. Certainly the photos from this year’s celebration in Germany look wonderful…maybe Alpine Village would be into something like this next
            In any case, Walpurgisnacht and Beltane are generally celebrations of the high point of spring, lots of sexual references and all that, dancing around the Maypole and everyone who misses Burning Man leaping over the balefires. I lit some bright red guava/coconut scented candles and even lit one for Ellegua. Lit a stick of geranium incense. Flowers and fruit and fruitful beings! And that’s as it should be: as Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way…”
            But there’s another side to Walpurgisnacht/Beltane, and that’s what I’d like to talk about here.
            A little personal stuff first. Last night I woke up screaming. Really. Screaming at my mom to lock the door so the evil man can’t get in. This was not a normal dream for me, nor is it indicative of anything that has been happening. Not that my mom could ever climb the stairs to my place again, and the only man on site here is the extremely non-evil Rick, who hasn’t had any nightmares lately about the “skeleton demon” that apparently was hiding out in the bathroom doorway (wouldn’t surprise me a bit) or the other creature peeking out from under the eaves in his dream the other night. Bedroom gets a lot of smudging, kids! But the terrors of my dream weren’t supernatural at all—just a sleazy guy who was sneaking around and clearly meant to harm my mother and myself. The guy in the dream was the kind that you look at and say, “I bet he’d slit your throat for a nickel.” The fact that I dreamt it this time of year makes it seem a bit prophetic, and so I’m on my guard and am also checking the security at my parents’ home.
            Because from April 30th through May 3rd the veil is thin between the worlds—about as thin as my checking account will be when I pay the rent tomorrow. I am reminded of Shirley Jackson’s line from The Haunting of Hill House: “And whatever walked there, walked alone.” Whether we call tonight by its German name or the more common name Beltane, whose Baal-fires once burned in the Celtic lands, it not only sets the scene for the blossoming of spring but also for the parting of the veil between the living and the dead. We are now at the opposite point of the year from October 31st-November 2nd holidays of the spirits, but the effect is the same.
            That’s why tonight is when I burn not the Beltane incense or the Breath of Spring incense that I create for the spring season, but rather the Psychic Visions incense I use when preparing to read tarot or crystal gaze or for psychic dreams. I will anoint myself tonight with my Psychic Visions oil, and will do so as well tomorrow in addition to using my Beltane oil.
            Divination goes hand in hand with times in which the veil is thin between this world and the next, because many people believe that spirits—including our own ancestors—help us with seeing the future. After all, what’s time to a spirit who’s moved on? We the living only mark it as linear because that’s how we perceive our lives. On the other side, perhaps past, present, and future all occur at once. We already know that nature is a cycle, not a straight line.
            Many people, including those who follow African traditions, keep an ancestor altar all year. Most of us just do so at the Samhain/Day of the Dead season. But now would be a good time to set one up as well, or at least light a candle, set out a glass of water and a portion of what you’re having for dinner, and talk to your loved dead a little.
            And do a little divination for yourself. Yes, it’s allowed. It might clear some things up. I’m going to see if it does so for me.
Fox, Selena. “Beltane Lore and Rites.” Circle Sanctuary.
Wagner, Stephen. “Walpurgis Night—the Other Halloween,” ThoughtCo.,

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Few Thoughts on St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day

A Few Thoughts on St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day

            Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Fet Damballah! Huh? You might say. Well, I am a bit ambivalent about St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, here in the U.S. it’s celebrated as an excuse to get drunk and act like an idiot—in other words, to act like the stereotype of the drunken Irishman, the type for whom the “Paddy Wagon” was named. Now, is that really any way to celebrate a saint and an ethnicity? 
            Others in the U.S.—which has more people of Irish descent than Ireland does—celebrate it as a way to honor their Irish ancestry. Maybe it helps make up for the shoddy treatment the Irish received in the U.S. when they first immigrated—especially the poor ones. So if you haven’t seen Martin Scorsese’s wonderful film Gangs of New York, about the fights between the Irish immigrants and the Nativists, I highly recommend it.
            St. Patrick allegedly brought Catholicism to Ireland—the “snakes” he drove out were, symbolically, the pagans, for there were never any snakes in Ireland; it’s too cold. I feel very bad for the Catholics of Ireland. They suffer in many ways, not the least of which is from repressive Catholic practices such as the condemnation of birth control, divorce, and abortion. Yet I am proudly Irish at least by descent from the Catholic variety, as one of my great-grandmothers came from County Cork. But St. Patrick, who allegedly died on March 17th, didn’t drive out the snakes at all. He merely transformed them. Much of Ireland’s pagan past survives in folk tales and beliefs about the “little people” and all sorts of magical stuff. Even the Celtic-style cross is an amalgam of the Christian cross and an earlier pagan symbol. And of course, the international religious organization to which I belong, the FOI, is headquartered in Clonegal Caste in Enniscorthy, Eire.
            In Vodou, however, an image of St. Patrick is often used to represent Damballah, the “serpent” portion of the god-and-goddess couple known as the “Serpent and the Rainbow.” Damballah Wedo and Ayida Wedo represent the union of earth and sky. White is Damballah’s main color, but green is given as a secondary color. March 17th is his feast (‘fet’) day. Damballah, and all his variations, including Blanc Dani in New Orleans, is descended from the ancient African god Da, a creator deity. So how did he end up being portrayed as an old white man with a bunch of snakes? Because of the snakes, of course!
            Serpents are not evil in most pagan traditions, and they aren’t evil in Vodou. Many hounfos (Vodou houses) will have a snake, usually a white snake, in residence. Damballah is honored with an altar that contains white eggs, white flour, and a white altar cloth. Ironically, perhaps, he does not drink alcohol and is served orgeat syrup or another sweet non-alcoholic drink instead.
            In New Orleans, St. Patrick’s Day bleeds over into St. Joseph’s Day, a special feast day for the Italians in the city. St. Joseph is one of their patrons, keeping away famine, so many Italian Catholics celebrate the day with huge altars covered with food, and many of them open their homes to the public to feed their friends and anyone who needs it.
            St. Joseph’s Day is also the second-most important day for the Mardi Gras Indians, African Americans who dress up and vie with each other’s “gangs” to make the prettiest costumes. Why choose this day to do so? Some will say it is convenient, since the Italian Americans often have a parade on this day in New Orleans, too. Others might say it has something to do with the fact that this is the Fet Papa Loko, the feast day of Papa Loko, the agricultural god who knows about healing herbs and, as with St. Joseph, helps keep famine away.
            So in both New Orleans and Haiti, March 17th through March 19th are busy days for Vodouisants. And we haven’t even mentioned the Vernal Equinox yet; this year it arrives the day after St. Joseph’s Day. It is common for big Catholic ceremonies to coincide with formerly pagan celebrations; again, it is easier to overlay a party that is already in progress with a new theme than it is to cancel the party and then start your own. So Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Just don’t drink and drive.


Filan, Kena.”Happy Fet Damballah,”
Mambo Samantha Corfield, “St. Joseph and Papa Loko”
Manbo Mary, “Get to Know a Lwa: Papa Damballah,”
St. Joseph’s Day Altars,


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Hope for the New Year, 2018

Hope for the New Year, 2018

            Well, now, 2017 was a real corker, wasn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I for one am glad it’s over. I suggest that we take up, once again, Hope as our point of view for 2018. Keeping a good thought leads to good results. And if there’s only one oil you buy from Rev. Dee’s Apothecary this year, buy our Louisiana-style Van Van Oil and buy it now!

             Below you’ll find a list with explanations of all the uses of Van Van oil, but first, a little history. Most of the Van Van oil you buy in stores is just synthetic lemongrass oil in a synthetic carrier oil such as mineral oil (a petroleum byproduct.) Some of it doesn’t even smell lemony, so who knows what’s in there! Originally, Van Van oil was the name of an oil made from lemon verbena, called verveine in French and pronounced “van van” or something similar in Louisiana French dialects. So the original ingredient wasn’t lemongrass at all, it was lemon verbena. Lemon verbena (verveine) is not the same as the herb that we call vervain in English, which does not have a lemony taste or aroma. Verveine is a popular herbal tea (tisane) in France and is easy to find in the U.S.

            For those who are unfamiliar with Louisiana traditions, let me explain that we’re talking about New Orleans tradition but also traditions outside of the city such as those in Cajun Country. Many cultures put their stamp on Van Van oil in the state of Louisiana so that is why I labeled my product as such, since Louisiana-style Van Van oil is far more complex than most other styles of the product. It contains several lemony, all-natural essential oils such as lemon verbena, lemongrass, lemon, melissa (lemon balm), citronella, and a special zing from a bit of ginger oil. The herb you find floating in it is a bit of finely chopped lemongrass. I’m making new Van Van (see the picture of my worktable) for 2018 so get it while it’s fresh! It is the most versatile oil you can buy. 


Here are the most common uses:

--Cleansing is the main use, and here is how to use it for cleansing:

                        Floor wash water: Use several drops in a bucket of floor wash; pine scented or lemon scented is recommended. Use this floor wash both at home and in your business; we recommend the ¼ or ½ oz. size instead of the usual 1/8 oz. if you have a lot of floor space to wash.

                        Furniture polish: Most furniture polish is lemon-scented anyway; if using spray-can polish, just add a couple of drops to your polishing cloth or paper towel along with the polish. If using a bottled oil, you can put the Van Van oil directing in the container; in this case, it’s best to buy the larger size.

                        Spray cleaner: if you use a lemon-scented spray cleaner for counters and windows, go ahead and add the drops to the container if it opens or add a couple drops to your paper towels as you clean.

                        Work area cleaner: If you have a desk, office, or cubicle, I suggest not only cleaning your desk but also around doors and windows. This is also protecting the area; more on that in a bit.

                        Your business: If you own your own business, clean all display cases as well as floors and windows as above. See below for protection advice.

                        Cleansing yourself: If you bathe after you come home from work or school, remove any negativity you may have absorbed during the day by anointing yourself with Van Van oil while you bathe or shower. Anointing the throat chakra is optimal; some also anoint forehead and crown of head. Don’t get Van Van oil on mucous membranes; the ginger and lemon in it can irritate sensitive skin.

                        Cleansing candles: If you work with candles and they get dusty before you use them, you can cleanse them with a soft cloth or paper towel and a little Van Van oil.

--Protecting is the second most important use:

                        Workplace and business protection: After cleaning all appropriate surfaces in your business or workplace, clean around the door frame/window frame of your office or cubicle; if you own your own business, it’s important to protect it, so any possible entryways should be cleaned and anointed with Van Van oil. If you wish, you can say whatever protection prayer or chant you like while you are cleaning and anointing; that part is up to you. I always clean the desks in the office I share at college and clean/anoint the door frame. Teachers and professors can’t be too careful these days! When someone walks by and asks what I’m doing, I usually say, “My New Orleans stuff,” and they say “Oh,” and keep on walking! If you are worried about people you share the room with having allergies, just use enough water to remove the scent after you cleanse/anoint. Don’t worry; the vibes will still be there!

                        Protecting yourself: If you bathe before work or school, anoint your throat chakra while you are in the bath or shower. It’s ok to rinse it if you’re worried about the scent, but believe me, most people find the aroma divine! Saying a prayer or mantra of your choice is a good idea while you’re doing this. The Van Van oil acts like a barrier to keep out other peoples’ negativity. If you must go to work or school in a dangerous part of town, make sure you anoint yourself before leaving home.

--Other magickal uses:

                        Anointing candles: Spell candles or religious candles can be anointed; Van Van helps with all positive intentions. It can also be used in addition to other oils.

                        Anointing gris-gris, mojo bags, etc.: Van Van oil is great to anoint and re-anoint your mojos and gris-gris, especially those for gambling and for love. Lucky charms can be anointed as well.

                        Spell and spiritual work: Van Van oil is used as a primary oil in spiritual cleansing, blessing, and protection, and can be used in limpias, also known as house cleansings/blessings. In spellwork it can help to purify, cleanse, protect, add power or luck. It can be used in conjunction with other oils and dressings as a counterpart to another oil that is used for positive purposes.

Our Louisiana-style Van Van oil comes in 1/8, ¼, and ½ ounce bottles. See Rev. Dee’s Apothecary at or our Facebook page at  to order.

            To end with our message of hope, let me share with you a wonderful poem by Emily Dickinson.


“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

By Emily Dickinson, 1862
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe/Tonantzin on Dec. 12th

Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe/Tonantzin on Dec. 12th

Here’s the short version of what happened to Juan Diego in 1531 and how Our Lady of Guadalupe came to be from the Catholic Online website:
“For the third time, Juan Diego is ushered in to see the Bishop. The skeptical cleric has waited for two days to see what sign Our Lady has for him. Juan opens his tilma, letting the roses cascade to the floor. But more than the roses, both men are astonished to see what is painted on his humble tilma - an exquisite image of Our Lady.
In the image, she stands as she appeared, a native princess with high cheekbones. Her head is bowed and her hands are folded in prayer to God. On her blue cloak, the stars are arranged as they appeared in the morning darkness at the hour of her first apparition.
Under her feet, is a great crescent moon, a symbol of the old Aztec religion. The message is clear, she is more powerful than the Aztec gods, yet she herself is not God.
At the same time Our Lady is appearing to Juan Diego, and directing him to cut the flowers on Tepeyac Hill, she also appears to his uncle, Juan Bernadino who believes he is about to die. As soon as she appears, the fever stops and Juan Bernadino feels well again. She tells Juan Bernadino, she wants to be known as "Santa Maria, de Guadalupe."
            So, let’s look at the wording above: “She is more powerful than the Aztec gods, yet she herself is not God.” No, she’s not. She’s Goddess. More specifically, Tonantzin, the “great mother,” as her name means in the Nahuatl language. Ancient Aztecs list cornflowers as her sacred blossom, but of course, when the Spanish came, suddenly her favorite flower was the Rose of Castile, a type of rose that is native to Spain, not Mexico.
            I’ll let the ethnographers sort all this out; to me Guadalupe—now considered the patroness of all the Americas—is Tonantzin and vice versa. All of the energy and love that Mexicans and other Americans have poured into her image and name over hundreds of years have made her real. Yet she was already real; she was Goddess and her holiday was Dec. 12th, which, depending on which version you read, was either the second or the first date in which she appeared to Juan Diego, and so it became her feast day in the Catholic church…might as well be, right, since the day was already sacred to the Goddess.
            Guadalupe gets around. I was surprised and pleased to see a statue of her in Notre Dame in Paris. In New Orleans, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Shrine of St. Jude is one of the “voodoo churches” in the city, primarily because a statue of St. Expedite resides there. But Guadalupe is honored in the Vodou tradition too, and in Santeria and in modern Goddess religion. Why is this important to us? Because observing her day unites many faiths and versions of faiths. To some she is one aspect of Goddess, to others she is one version of the Mother of Jesus, and to others she is a symbol of Mexican indigeno pride.
            As any Southern Californian like me knows, she is most often invoked for protection. But she is often called upon for financial blessings, miracles—because of her healing Juan Diego’s uncle from an illness that was usually fatal—and interestingly enough, to conquer fear. Vodou and Santeria practitioners also call upon her to break jinxes or protect against them. In Goddess religion she is revered as the Great Mother, and she can aid all mothers with their needs or stand in for the loving mother that perhaps you never had. Some who practice an Afro/Latin tradition as well as Catholicism see her as an aspect of Yemaya, the great mother goddess of the Yoruba, or as one of the aspects of Erzulie, the Haitian goddess.
            Many people just call on her when they are at the end of their rope and don’t know whether to tie a knot in it and hang on or turn that knot into a noose and end the pain once and for all. No doubt about it: Guadalupe/Tonantzin says “Hang in there, there’s cake and ponche in the kitchen. You can’t go now. We’d have to return your Christmas presents and pay the restocking fee!”
            So on Dec. 12th I will be burning a rose-scented candle with her image on it. I’ll anoint the pre-scented candle with a little real rose oil and sprinkle around some dried rosebuds (usually labeled “Rosas de Castillo” in Hispanic grocery stores.) I’ll cry and write petitions and place them under the candle along with those of anyone who would like me to place their petitions there. I might place a Native wild rose or if I can’t find one an American Beauty rose in a vase to represent my First Nations heritage (that is what indigenous people are called in Canada, where my indigenous heritage comes from.) Lady of the Americas. Oh, Goddess, do we ever need you now!
            You can read about how Tonantzin “became” Guadalupe in a couple of the articles below, and you can find any number of discussions of this hybrid deity.

Barnett, Ronald A. “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Tonantzin or the Virgin Mary?”
Mexicolore: The Virgin of Guadalupe and Tonantzin,