“All things bear fruit according to their nature.” Goddesses for Every Day
The Goddess Sign for Virgo is the Sheaf of Wheat, which appears in depictions of the constellation of Virgo as the bright star Spica that is held like a staff in the hand of the goddess. The mutable earth sign Virgo relates to the stage of spiritual unfolding which focuses on specialization of forms. Virgo represents the stage in the cycle when the soul’s experience is focused on assimilation of knowledge. In this phase matter is organized, purified and refined into specific and recognizable objects. Here we might say the Grand Plan of the Cosmos is carried out in detail. Metaphysically Virgo is the matrix and represents the womb of the inner spiritual self, containing the seed and eventual fruits of the Spirit. Seeds germinate in darkness, breaking their way out of their shell casings, and sending roots into the Earth. Like the abdomen and intestines, which Virgo has dominion over, this phase distills the qualitative pearls from life.
In every case I have been able to find except Egypt, the Earth is always seen as feminine. She is a great mother goddess who gives birth to and sustains her children from the substance of her body. This expresses through the fertility cycles of the seasons. Virgo goddesses include goddess of agriculture and grain, as well as the harvest, and the annual descent into the underworld while the Earth grows barren for a time. Icons of these goddesses include generous platters of fruits, overflowing cornucopias and waving fields of grain.
Virgo is the only female among the zodiacal constellations, and other than the twins, Castor and Pollux (Gemini), she is the only human figure. Author Richard Hinkley-Allen says, “Those who claim very high antiquity for the zodiacal signs (15,000 years ago), assert that the idea of these titles originated when the Sun was in Virgo at the spring equinox, the time of the Egyptian harvest.” Australian astrologer Bernadette Brady has remarked that, “Whatever image is chosen across time and cultures, what is contained in Virgo is the archetype of the harvest-bringing goddess, pure and good, independent of the masculine. She gives the four seasons and is the source of the fertile Earth.” The more ancient concept of “virgin” described a woman who was independent and free to love whom she chose.
Demeter was the Great Mother earth goddess of the people who preceded the Greeks. Her sacred rites, known the Eleusinian Mysteries, were celebrated for nearly two thousand years, as long as Christianity has existed, in what is now mainland Greece. People came from all over the known world to participate in these secret ceremonies. We don’t know many details of these activities, as the penalty for revealing their contents was death. Some aspects are known or suspected however, as the high point of the ritual was said to be a “sheaf of wheat reaped in silence.” The Eleusinian Mysteries are similar in significance to the annual celebration of the mysteries of Isis and Osiris in Egypt. I believe the deeper meaning is learning move in resonance with shifting seasons of light and dark in order to harvest blessings in their time.
“Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” Mark Twain
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is an 1865 short story by American author and humorist Mark Twain. The story was actually his first great success as a writer and brought him national attention. Something captured America’s attention and remains a compelling influence. Since 1928 an annual event inspired by Twain’s story has been held at the County Fair in Angels Camp in Northern California’s Calaveras County. Similar events are held in Indiana, Ohio, Washington, Maine, Missouri, Louisiana, New York, and also in Manitoba, Canada.
This May I witnessed the qualifying pre-trials from the bleachers as hopeful entrants coached their frogs into top performance. The contest is simple–which frog jumps the farthest in the one-minute time allowed per contestant. The record holder in Calaveras County is Rosie the Ribiter, who jumped 21 feet and 5 3/4 inches in 1986. Frog jockeys can win a $750 prize, or win the grand prize of $5,000 if a competing frog were to break Rosie’s record. It’s not clear what the frogs get out of the experience.
With 4,000 contestants in 2007, the Calaveras County contest imposed strict rules that regulate the frogs’s welfare, including limiting the daily number of a frog’s jumps, and mandating the playing of calming music in the frog’s enclosures. One assumes this is an attempt to reduce pre-game jitters. Because California’s red-legged frog is an endangered species, it’s barred from the competition. It is also forbidden for any competing frog to be weighted down by any means, as the frog in the Twain story was. Hopefully, the frogs don’t suffer too much as I worry about such things. After all, they’ve been captured and removed from their natural habitat and forced to enter into an all too human realm.
Photo credit Frank Schulenburg CC BY-SA 4.0 2016
The frog jumping competition is a generous slice of American Pie. There is a whimsical quality of tradition, innocence, and plain good fun at a time when simple joys like County Fairs seem to be a thing of the past. Some frogs take the leap right away as if everything depends on the result. Others are frozen in place and never budge from the starting circle no matter the “encouragement” from their jockeys. This year’s winner jumped more than nineteen feet, certainly impressive, but not far enough to break Rosie’s record. Was it frog ambition or just sheer terror that fueled Rosie’s tremendous jump back in 1986? All the jumpers since have to go over that bar and perhaps Rosie was a unique frog at a singular moment. Maybe her frog jockey Joe Giudici had so much faith in her that his energy boosted her rockets.
I reflected on what it is that propels us to our greatest accomplishments and how can we learn to harness that propulsion at will? Do we make quantum leaps in our own lives through grit and will, or is there something else that moves us to peak moments of achievement? We can’t always choose the arenas of tests and trials that present themselves, but we always have the choice of how we show up to meet the contests. As we meet the challenges in our lives I believe it makes a difference if we call forth our best effort rather than refusing to try because we’re afraid we’ll miss the mark. Until we try we can’t know how we might be changed by taking the leap. And maybe we also have unseen cheerleaders whose faith in us lifts us to greater heights and longer distances once we jump. We can stay safe in the pond, or maybe become a champion–the attempt is up to us.
Me with two cobra friends at Kom Ombo, Egypt in 2012
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing,” Helen Keller
This October I will embark upon my thirteenth trip to Egypt with a dozen other intrepid travelers. It’s remarkable really as I never expected to go even once. But I have always been deeply called to do so. My parents told me I was fascinated with Egypt from the age of three. They would find me asleep on open pages of my uncle’s National Geographic magazines, dreaming of pyramids, temples, and fabulous jewelry no doubt.
My affinity with ancient Egypt has been an enduring feature of my life, and given my interests and proclivities, I feel certain that the waters of the great Nile have flowed through my veins for millennia. We are so accustomed to short life spans, and a disbelief in superluminal travel, that we can scarcely imagine how vast and limitless the Cosmos is. I have come to understand that my soul has worked for lifetimes to heal and integrate experiences from ancient Egypt, especially at Abydos during the time of Ramses II and his beloved wife Nefertari 3,300 years ago. I have come to understand that I was born into this lifetime with unfinished business that is long overdue to complete. And so I return, and each time I dig deeper.
Helen Keller and Amelia Earhart have always been major she-roes. Another is Beryl Markham, who was a pilot and horse trainer in South Africa during the “Out of Africa” times. Author Ernest Hemingway praised her work and said it made him ashamed to call himself a writer. I think of those women, and other profoundly courageous souls I have known, in moments of fear and doubt.
Moving out of our steady states of comfort and the illusion of safety causes us to grow, to widen our horizons, and to experience more of the world. Unless we are narrow and spiteful by nature, we are better for it. We all face choices in life about how we respond, and some of them are profoundly difficult. Some of us wait for the verdict of a test that could yield a terminal diagnosis, or learn to walk again after a debilitating injury. Others pick through the rubble of what was once a treasured home after the ravages of a storm or fire. How do we move on? How do we face loss and uncertainty?
Death is certain, only the timing is unknown. It seems richer to embrace the unknown and cultivate a sense of adventure, grabbing onto life for all its worth, the joy and the sorrow, and the surprises that come when least expected.
Let me know if you feel called to Return to the Nile with me this fall.
“May we come and go in and out of heaven through gates of starlight. As the houses of earth fill with dancing and song, so filled are the houses of heaven. I come, in truth. I sail a long river and row back again. It is a joy to breathe under the stars. I am the sojourner destined to walk a million years until I arrive at myself.”
Normandi Ellis, Awakening Osiris
Existence is vast, seemingly boundless and immeasurable. The latest figures from NASA estimate that there are one hundred billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy pictured above. There are also estimated to be a jaw-dropping two trillion galaxies in our universe alone. It’s impossible to comprehend this immensity of scale, and yet it’s believed by scientists that we are also part of a multiverse. Perhaps an unknown number of universes co-exist in a Cosmos of parallel dimensions that spread light through infinite space and time. What is the significance of one brief human life in all this immensity?
The ancient Egyptians were master sky watchers. Monumental temples aligned with the rising of bright stars and calendars and ceremonies were planned based on the sky. Egyptian funerary texts called the Book of Gates proclaimed that when Ra, the sun god arrived at the twelfth and last hour of the night, before dawn, the miracle of rebirth occurred through the gate “with the mysterious entrance.”
In The Traveler’s Key to Ancient Egypt, author John Anthony West describes Egyptian funerary texts as “manuals of spiritual instruction” and says the Duat is the “field” in which the transformation of the soul occurs. The theme of transformation and reclamation also runs through other ancient mystery traditions. Many ancient gods were seen as solar and stellar fire, and many rites represented the redemption and regeneration of this spiritual energy. The ineffable mysteries they sought to unveil, and the hidden knowledge the rites contained, held and transmitted this wisdom. Manly P. Hall, in Secret Teachings of the Ages says, “Mysteries were the channels through which this one philosophical light was disseminated.”
The Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece took place from 1,600 BCE to about 400 CE, although most scholars believe their origin is much earlier in the Mycenean period. They were contemporary with, and bear strong resemblance to, the Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris. In the Greek mysteries the goddess Demeter, carrying two torches named “intuition” and “reason,” searched the world for her daughter Persephone, who symbolically represented the lost soul. She had to be rescued from the underworld, where she had been abducted by the god Hades.
Sometimes the light seems to go out in our lives and we can be deeply challenged by a darkness of spirit. Although we know the Sun still shines behind the clouds, and the stars still burn even though hidden in cities by artificial light, at these times we need courage and the love of friends. Poet Khalil Gibran said, “One may not reach the dawn except by the path of the night.” This is true, but there have always been those who hold lanterns to guide our way through the darkness to the mysterious entrance of initiation. We can take heart that this universal path of spiritual teaching has permeated spiritual traditions throughout time. Often called the Underground Stream, the spiritual wisdom of ages is always present, even though hiding in the shadows at times. Our job is to remember that the light is always there and to prepare ourselves to receive the gift of ancient wisdom, which sheds light on the Path.
(Huge thanks to Ted for this amazing
review of Volume One in the Sky Lore Anthology series. It’s a thrill to
hold two decades of work in my hands. If you’re tempted, there’s
purchasing info for both volumes at the end of his review. Thanks in
If you were ever a reader of Atlantis Rising magazine over the course of its impressive twenty-year flight, you will likely have seen, and been drawn to read, some of Julie Loar’s regularly-featured and highly-polished astrology articles upon first publication. The recent good news is that they have just become even more accessible together in this self-published retrospective anthology collection—without having to wait to catch the next one on the fly—in the wake of her extensive interest in and wide-ranging knowledge of this fascinating and always controversial subject, whether ancient mythic, modern discursive, or cutting-edge technical (!).
The subject of astrology stimulates a lot
of creative writing in our time as it has for many centuries, having
been the commonality and primary core subject, as C.G. Jung noted, of
many if not most traditional wisdom traditions leading up to and
including his own most impressive additions to modern psychology, as the
mix and clash among religious, scientific and pop variants still
contend for mind and shelf space. Of course there is a lot of
student-level enthusiasm as well as some amount of backsliding in all
this robust output of writing—not to mention the entertainment genre—so
something has to be good to maintain its position on the front lines of
conversation at the astrology brew pub. Julie’s selection of forty
articles in five major categories of her highly varied and successful
previous outings, virtually as they first appeared, are still highly
topical, in this first, Ancient Sky Watchers volume, and they
do indeed rise to a high level of interest and accessible value, being
well worth the read—one at a time before and after tea or in binge
mode—especially if you are looking for a fresh, comprehensive and
well-researched take on this perennial subject, either as student,
professional consultant, critic, or occasional curious onlooker.
It is a real treat to find an author in
this fascinating subject area so simultaneously knowledgeable,
sophisticated and articulate about the prehistoric mythic traditions of
Egypt and Sumer vis-a-vis those of ancient Greece and Rome, the
approaches and strategies of an experienced modern astrological
consultant, and the more recent discoveries in space science from
ground-based telescopes and satellite instrumentation—all referencing
the impact or influence on our lives of many kinds of very real
celestial objects now known and understood in greater detail than ever
before. It’s not easy to provide an entry into the basics of celestial
mechanics, whether for students of qualitative astrological
interpretation or quantitative scientific rigor, but Julie goes to some
length to make this subject approachable with her writing and teaching
skills for either group. Being able to visualize (and understand!) the
varied daily motions of Earth, Moon, and Planets, not to mention the
longer-term cycles of eclipses, comets and the grand Precession of the
Equinoxes, is the point of entry into the cosmic sky-watcher game
(beyond just looking, which is cool enough), and if you have not
bothered to look up at the sky—urban dwellers in night-lighted areas are
most disadvantaged—then this is a place to begin to get your bearings.
Julie, I have been a lifelong sky-watcher as both astrologer and
amateur astronomer (and unlike her, a design engineer of space-satellite
instruments), and I have to admit that I have learned an enormous
amount from the original publication on her articles over the years
before meeting her in person a decade or so ago. As an astrologer, I
was most lacking in knowledge of the mythic and historical origins of
ancient astrology, and in that, she is probably as good as anyone now in
print, to help us understand the viewpoint and philosophy of the
ancient interpreters of this universal cosmic art-science or
pre-scientific art that has been continuously available to all people of
all cultures virtually for all time—in fact it is probably the most
universally shared common human experience ever on our little ”blue dot”
(to echo Carl Sagan) of a water planet in the outer reaches of the
Orion Arm of the ever-so-glorious Milky Way Galaxy. Julie ranges
through many familiar subjects on the astrology agenda, often with a tip
of the hat to Joseph Campbell and a few other luminaries, to making
strikingly original observations about ‘sky paintings’ on the cave
planetarium walls near Lascaux in France (‘animals of the hunt’ as a
very early “Zodiac” with the Pleiades depicted) to the Dendara Zodiac in
Egypt (symbol for Zodiac sign Cancer correctly interpreted and
understood, possibly for the first time).
If we ever wondered what was going on with
the mytho-poetic stories of the legendary gods and goddesses in the
ancient Mediterranean world, many of whom are now up in the
constellational sky, go no further than any number of sophisticated
recapitulations and explanations along the way of the Titans and
Olympians who, then as now, populate our astrology archetypes. Julie
presents the pantheon with sympathy and insight—and scholarship. One
can spend a great deal of time spinning through various re-tellings of
these yarns without much accumulated insight, as I did, before focusing
on Julie’s understanding, among other things, of the category of the
feeling for “the Sacred” in the ancient world. In a sense these poetic
stories were the religions as well as the ‘movies’ of those times and,
though varied and ever-changing, they had a similar cultural place
understood by the natives, just as their story-board correspondences are
understood by us today. The truth is that the people of these earlier
times, though certainly less educated and knowledgeable scientifically,
were mostly just as smart and passionate within their range as modern
people, however much our somewhat condescending idea of “progress” may
be in need of remedy. Of course times were very different then—the very
thing astrology helps up to understand in the most meaningful way! If
you have not yet been initiated into the grand scheme of the Platonic
Year, this is the place to perk up to a more than merely fascinating
In the middle span of her territory Julie,
as a very well experienced consulting astrologer, fills in all the
blanks that many readers will be looking for in the always telling areas
of personal interest with “cook-book lists” of astrology planets, signs
and aspects, the working tools of the trade in astrology chart art,
which will tell you, from time to time, about wherever you might begin
to fit into various developmental sequences, as a Sun in Aries, Moon in
Pisces, cuspal ascendant and the standard stops in between. Her
approach in such thematic articles adds immeasurably to the flat
newspaper entertainment style (which, sadly, is all many people will
ever know about astrology), and brings it all back home with insights
only an experienced and conceptually sophisticated analyst can succeed
with in a brief offering. It’s not a substitute for an in-depth
‘reading’, but her itinerary is always thought-provoking and often
spot-on. She’s been a guide on many Egyptian tours, too, and has
specialist knowledge in this area of ancient sky watcher lore for
mainline Graeco-Roman astrologers who came in at the intermission of the
Perhaps the most intriguing and possibly
surprising aspect (there’s a timeless astrology term) of Julie’s
presentation is her enthusiasm and detailed knowledge of
state-of-the-art scientific discoveries in more modern astronomy and
astrophysics (more interpretative scholarship). The impact they will
have on the meaning and development of astrology for astrologers (note:
we are not astrologists but hope you get the gist of astrology )
in the future will doubtless be great—even revolutionary—as it attempts
to assimilate the existence of various big moons, little asteroids,
dwarf planets, the rocky Kuiper Belt, the icy Oort Cloud and the
mysterious—and quite likely astounding—discovery of either a huge new
planet termed, “Planet Nine” (was that where John Lennon was from?),
orbiting in the far reaches of the outer solar system, or as Nemesis, a
small companion proto-star in an extreme orbit nearby our solar
system. This is the modest tip of the iceberg of Julie’s more ambitious
project of revisioning astrology, now going forward as we may look back at her musings over the course of the astersand disasters of
our still new Century 21. Julie Loar is a star in her own right who
knows about the real stars way out there—the real subject of astrology
that, sadly, has been lost behind much of the yet most valuable modern planetary astrology (a very complex subject in its own right in any event) … and much, much more.
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This is how Volume One of Julie Loar’s “Sky Lore Anthology,” Ancient Sky Watchers, ends—in an exciting rush into anticipation of future science breakthroughs … and of course, the meaning of
them to be discerned by and for those of us who know … it ain’t all
random grains of sand on the beach, folks. If you are one of us, you
will not be disappointed, and if you are a sceptic, you will learn a lot
that will make you very thoughtful. This is a major publication event
in the astro-theme world … with Volume Two (As Above, So Below) also available now … and also to be acknowledged in review ASAP.
Click the first link below to buy Volume
One on Amazon in print or ebook. It’s also available from Barnes and
Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.
Volume Two, As Above, So Below: Sun, Moon and Stars is also available. This is the Amazon link.
Kalki, the last incarnation of Vishnu — Image credit — Jose-Patricio Aguirre (Chile)
The Shambhala Prophecy
as told by Joanna Macy
“I often tell this story in workshops, for it describes the work we aim to do, and the training we engage in. It is about the coming of the Kingdom of Shambhala, and it is about you, and me.” Joanna Macy
(Joanna Rogers Macy, is an environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. She is the author of eight books). I share this piece of her writing with the greatest of respect. It a Buddhist prophecy that calls us to “war.”
“Coming to us across twelve centuries, the Shambhala prophecy comes from ancient Tibetan Buddhism. The prophecy foretells of a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Great barbarian powers have arisen. Although these powers spend much of their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable destructive power, and technologies that lay waste our world. In this era, when the future of sentient life hangs by the frailest of threads, the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.
You cannot go there, for it is not a place; it is not a geopolitical entity. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. That is the term the prophecy used – “warriors.” You cannot recognize the Shambhala warrior when you see him or her, for they wear no uniforms or insignia, and they carry no specific banners. They have no barricades on which to climb or threaten the enemy, or behind which they can hide to rest or regroup. They do not even have any home turf. Always they must move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.
Now the time comes when great courage – moral and physical courage – is required of the Shambhala warriors, for they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power, into the pits and pockets and citadels where the weapons are kept, to dismantle them. To dismantle weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where decisions are made.
The Shambhala warriors have the courage to do this because they know that these weapons are “manomaya.” They are mind made. Made by the human mind, they can be unmade by the human mind. The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers threatening life on Earth are not visited on us by any extraterrestrial power, satanic deities, or pre-ordained evil fate. They arise from our own decisions, our own lifestyles, and our own relationships.
So in this time, the Shambhala warriors go into training in the use of two weapons. The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary, the prophecy foretells. The Shambhalla warriors must have compassion because it gives the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act.
But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other – you need insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound inter-relatedness, you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of compassion.
Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world. Many in the Tibetan lineage believe that this is the time of this ancient prophecy. If so, perhaps we are among the Shambhala warriors.”
These are powerful words and a call to action, reaching across time. We must find the strength and courage to arise and be the best we can be at this time of challenge. I stand with you, brave warriors of the heart. May we have courage.
Author & Speaker: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World