Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ostara: Time to Hatch Out

All life springs forth from the egg.

The origin of the cosmos has been symbolized by the egg among many cultures - like the Orphic Egg of ancient Greek mysteries (shown here) and the Akasha of Hinduism.

To be a witch is to bend and to shape. Hence the nature religion Wicca, like the processes of nature herself, is all about change. [1]

The first half of the Sabbat wheel have passed. In Samhain, Yule, and Imbolc we have learned about death, birth and purification which are all in fact different modes of transformation.

The season of Ostara is a time for awakening. The name Ostara itself refers to the breaking of the dawn in the east. It is aptly celebrated in the time of Spring Equinox or, in astrological terms, when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries - the sign of action. The change that Ostara brings is radical and forceful change; such as to the point of breaking one's own limits. No other symbol represents this idea as perfectly as the ancient emblem of life itself - the egg.

To us it is a soft and fragile thing, but for the delicate chick inside it its shell is a sturdy barrier that stands between life and death. It must have been a huge challenge for the weak and blind creature to break free from its prison with such a tiny beak. It is worthy to observe that the mother hen offers no aid to her offspring; the chick has to break the shell all by himself.

I find it fascinating that such a short and simple drama in nature offers so many useful life lessons:
  • Real change happens when we break free from our comfort zone.
  • Our limitations are based on our belief in our own abilities.
  • Enlightenment begins when we become aware that we are in the dark.
  • A strong will can break a strong wall.
  • If you want something done, you've got to do it yourself.
  • Evolution is essential to survive.
  • Think outside the box. A huge world is out there.

Raising the cone of power - the Philippine Wiccan Society held an Ostara ritual during the wee hours of the morning to meet the rising sun, symbolic of freshness and renewal.

Eggs were painted in honor of the gods who have died and resurrected, namely Dionysus, Jesus, Osiris, Shango, Adonis, Mithras, et al.

Basbasan Nawa!

[1] The word Wicca comes from the Old English root wic, meaning "to bend" or "to shape".

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Bathala's Pentacle

    "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names."

    Aleister Crowley was notorious for "bastardizing" words of magic and names of gods: from ABRACADABRA to ABRAHADABRA, from AUM to the awkward-looking AUMGN, from the Egyptian god Heru-Behdety to the Thelemic god Hadit. All of these name-changing were not done on a whim though; the new spellings were conscientiously formulated in order to give the words more meaning and power.

    It's important to remember that the names of the gods are not their actual names, but titles given to them with respect to the archetypal forces they represent.

    Sa Ngalan ni Bathala (In Bathala's Name)

    The name of the supreme god of the ancient Tagalog people, Bathala, is traditionally spelled with three baybayin characters: B H L. Bathala's name, spelled thus, is in and of itself a symbol embodying a classical, naturalistic philosophy:

    The bosom-shaped Ba stands for babae (the feminine/passive principle), while the phallic- or lightning-shaped La stands for lalake (the male/active principle). Together they are joined by the syllable Ha, an S-shaped glyph, similar to that which conjoins the Yin and Yang in the Taijitsu symbol. I would like to think that this Ha stands for hangin - the air that we breathe - which is also the essence of life. Hangin in this sense is similar to that concept of the universal, life-giving energy known in various philosophies as prana, ch'i, ashé, mana, élan vital, et cetera [1]. For this reason I personally associate the baybayin Ha with Halmista, the god of  magic of our ancestors.

    In many mystical traditions, each character that comprises the name of god is associated to one of a set of universal concepts, so that the name of god taken as a whole signifies the unifying and all-encompassing principle. Examples of these are the Kabbalistic YHVH, the Gnostic IAO, and the Pythagoreans' YGEIA [2].

    Fortunately babayin, like Hebrew letters, due to its apparent lack of vowel characters, are very capable of mystical wordplay [3]. As a supplement to B H L which symbolizes the heavenly forces, I formulated the spelling B' A T H L to illustrate the earthly forces (the realm of the elements). Each of the baybayin character stands for one of the classical elements of Western Esotericism or the Hindu Tattwas. Note that the order of the elements, fire-water-air-earth, corresponds to the four worlds of the Kabbalah:

    B - binhi - akasha or the cosmic egg, the quintessence
    A - apoy - fire, tejas
    T - tubig - water, apas
    H - hangin - air, vaju
    L - lupa - earth, prithivi

    Tala ni Bathala (The Star of Bathala)

    The five-pointed star, a timeless symbol of cosmic order, and the pentacle, a tool used by Western esoteric traditions to represent the material plane, is an apt symbol for Bathala as lord of the earth. On the pentacle, the five characters of the name B A T H L is assigned to each of the five points of the star in a clockwise manner. The pentagram is surrounded by hangin (the baybayin Ha) depicted as flowering vines, to symbolize its life-giving essence and all-permeating quality.

    Bathala, the god who is neither male nor female, is the laws and forces of nature themselves. To submit oneself to Bathala is to let the natural course of things unfold. In our modern culture, we are taught to become tough and to persevere and are often advised against yielding and letting go. But I am Pagan. I have my faith in nature. As we Filipinos say: "Bahala Na."

    Or in the older tongue...

    Bathala Nawa!

    [1] In the Hebrew language, air, breath and spirit uses the same word: ruach
    [2] YHVH and YGEIA, are associated with the four classical elements earth, air, fire and water, with idea being the fifth element in YGEIA. IAO comprises of the first, last, and middle vowels of the Greek alphabet.
    [3] The literal Kabbalah is a practice wherein Hebrew letters are manipulated to find or develop new meanings from an existing word.

    More Reading:
    [3] Reviving Baybayin:  http://baybayinalive.blogspot.com/
    [4] Modern baybayin fonts:  http://nordenx.blogspot.com/

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    El Mio Altar de Orishas

    Yemaya / Our Lady of Justice. Mother of the orishas. Ruler of the moon and the seas. At her feet is a dried sea poison which is her favored offering. Elegua / Santo Nino de Atocha can be seen in the background.

    Oshun / Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre. Orisha of love, beauty, prosperity and mirth. Her image sits on top of a squash, which is sacred to her. On the foreground is Our Lady of Loreto, representing a camino (aspect) of Oshun: Oshu Ololodi, the wife of Orunmila. My opa iku (death staff) is painted green, in honor of my principal ori, Ogun.

    Shango / San Miguel. The orisha of thunder and fire. A bundle of six (drying) okras is offered to him.

    Oya / Santa Teresa. The skull represents iku (death); the graveyard is Oya's domain. Oya is distantly related to St. Briget of Ireland through her syncretism with Our Lady of Candelaria, hence the Briget's cross.

    Obatala / Mary Mediatrix of all Graces. Obata, creator of man, is presented as both male and female, signifying transcendence from duality.

    Babalu-Aye / San Roque. Orisha of healing. It is said that Babalu Aye both causes and cures disease.

    Ogun / San Pedro. Orisha of war, iron, and technology. Beside him is his sopera, painted in his color: green. By his feet is the caldero de oggun, containing miniature weapons, as well as some ashes from the ile ocha.

    Orunmila / San Francisco de Assissi. The lord of divination, the seer of the orishas. The obsidian crystal ball is part of orunmila's herramientos (tools).

    Maferefun Orisha!

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Las Siete Potencias: Birth, Death, and Rebirth

    The male orishas of the seven African powers: as a Pagan and a mystic, their qualities and parables hold a deeper meaning for me.

    We embark on our journey in life at the crossroads as ELEGGUA, the child, foolish and carefree.

    As we face adversities in our chosen paths we are hardened and become the warrior that is OGUN, lord of iron.

    We learn that there are forces that are beyond our control, and as we become wiser we understand the value of yielding. The warrior becomes the king, SHANGO, who in defeat hanged himself on the tree of Ayan.

    And through this act of self-sacrifice, we are born anew, resurrected as OBATALA, king of kings, radiant in white cloth, whose wisdom shines upon all.

    As child, warrior, king, and wise man, their stories represent the stages of man's journey towards enlightenment and the mysteries of birth, death, and resurrection - mirrored in the narrative of the Horned God of Wicca, the myths of the solar gods, and the life of Jesus Christ.

    Maferefun ELEGUA.
    Maferefun OGUN.
    Maferefun SHANGO.
    Maferefun OBATALA.

    Maferefun OLOFIN.


    Basbasan Nawa!

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Las Siete Potencias: The Triple Goddess

    The women of the seven African powers: YEMAYA, nurturing mother, ruler of the deep waters of the sea, the womb of the earth; OSHUN, fragile and youthful beauty, she who dances in the flowing river of life; and fearsome OYA, who holds the destructive powers of storm and wind. They are the spark of birth, the fullness of life, and transformative death. Maferefun Maiden, Mother and Crone!

    Basbasan Nawa!

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