Wednesday, July 8

The Sea Goddess at Lammas

I can't tell you how it started, but our family has a growing tradition of honoring the sea and ocean spirits at Lammas, right alongside the usual sun and grain spirits.  Our First Harvest altar has always been bedecked in sun imagery, sheaves of wheat, ears of corn, and the like, however as the years go by, it is becoming crowded with sea glass, shells, turtles, mermaids, and sea creature crafts made by the kids, as well.

We seem to honor male deities through the harvest but our Goddess energy comes from the seas, rivers, and oceans at Lammas time.  Almost any book you'd read recommends honoring Goddesses of the Harvest and Earth Mother archetypes, such as Corn Mother and Demeter.  Personally, I find that I associate these ladies more with Mabon, when the harvest time is deeper and stronger.

This has been an informal incorporation in the past.  Our ceramic corn plaques and wooden sun shapes still dominate the altar, with our sea-green Goddess elements keeping to the fringe.  However, this year I'd like to fully accept water spirits as part of our celebration.  I'd like our water dish to be filled with water from our favorite beach.  I'd like our bowl of soil to be replaced with beach sand.  I foresee a bundle of shimmery blue-green cloth splaying across our altar like a river running through a field.

Lammas can be a blazing hot time, and perhaps this is a magical way of bringing balance to the day.  Last year we also adopted the growing tradition of Tailteann Games on Lammas but spent a lot of time in the pool as well (before we had to duck and cover from the rain!)

Anyone wishing to honor an aquatic goddesses has many to choose from.  Aphrodite was born of the sea by her Greek ocean mother Thalassa, after an unfortunate incident with those gruff boys Cronos and Uranus.  Asherah, often referred to as the 'Queen of Heaven', is an ancient Middle Eastern/Semetic goddess of motherhood and the sea.  Mazu is a Chinese sea goddess dressed in red who tames storms for sailors.   Mami Wata is a powerful Vodou and Santerian water goddess who takes the form of a mermaid, at times.  Tiamat is a creator goddess and ocean mother in Sumerian culture who birthed all of the gods and created dragons.  Namaka is the Hawaiian goddess of the sea and all powerful sister of Pele.  Salacia, Roman goddess of the Ocean, is the wife of Neptune and patroness of salt water.  In Hinduism, Ganga is the sacred yet stubborn patroness of the Ganges river.

Along with goddesses, water spirits and mythological creatures abound across the globe.  Oceanids, water nymphs, mer-people, sea dragons, and sirens fill mythology.  SJ Tucker (one of our household favorites when it comes to modern Pagan music) offers up the song 'La Sirene' to these creatures.

I am most touched by the Greek goddess, Tethys.  She is featured only in archaic Greek mythology, never having more than a passing mention as Oceanus' wife in classic Greek myths.  She was a Titaness who become mother to all of the Oceanids (water spirits) and gave birth to the rivers of the world.  While this cements her as a mother figure, she is also revered as a grandmother spirit.  There are very few depictions of her in Grecian art, but her face is always full and her hair thick, as if woven with sea grasses.

Tethys and her husband Oceanus. 
The power of sea goddesses is strong for me at Lammas time.  Again, I cannot explain where this influence came from.  Perhaps it comes from a July spent in the water.  An entire month spent swimming and gathering nature's trinkets from beaches and creeks.  We spend days in my mother's pool, cooling ourselves from the blazing sun.  Doodle Bug's skin takes on a warm tan that cuts off just at his tailbone, where his swimming trunks are usually placed.  Baby E's hair has gone summer-blonde, bleached by sun and chlorine.  Inevitably, we visit the aquarium in Pittsburgh and spend hours watching jellyfish, eels, piranhas, and sharks living it up in the water.  It is my witchlings' favorite part of the zoo. 

We spend rainy days painting watercolor turtles and wire-wrapping river rocks.    All of this tapers and blends in nicely with the August activities of corn-dolly making and berry picking.  It flows for us and so has become our unintentional tradition.

If the idea of embracing water spirits at Lammas time, or any other sabbat as I imagine this would also fit Litha/Midsummer very well for some folks, appeals to you... here are some groovy ideas I have come across.

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We have made mermaid-style strings of dime-sized mirrors (glue them back to back with twine or fishing line in the center), shells, and glass beads to drape around our altar this year.  I image one could even dangle green and blue crepe streamers if the weather cooperated.  A quick trip to Goodwill produced the blue cloth I will use to create our river.  This children have also used shimmery acrylic paint to spruce up a few clam shells.

I have eyeballed these Water Bottle Spirals from Happy Hooligans this year and feel that they will blend perfectly.

Crystalized sea shells bring that glitz we all love to see on the altar.  It's also a quick science lesson for your witchlets. These take a few hours to set.  Little Bins For Little Hands has the scoop.

Think Crafts has these rockin' jellyfish, although we may do something in more oceanic colors than neon.

And how adorable is the Puffer Fish???  He's made from paper plates and straws, along with a bunch of glue.  Visit Danielle's Place for instructions. 

And that bucket of stones, driftwood, and shells can be made into a mobile with very little effort.  Thrifty Fun instructs you hand bore holes in your items with a screwdriver... however we've had much less cussing simply using a power drill LOL.

Making mock coral and sand dollars will allow you to be more ocean-critter friendly by leaving these valuable habitat finds behind for the animals living there to use.  My Pinterventures has the recipe and some great tips.

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