Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.  Mother's Day dates back to ancient cultures in Greece and Rome.  In both cultures, Mother Goddesses were worshipped during the springtime with religious festivals.  The ancient Greeks paid tribute to the powerful Goddess Rhea, the wife of Cronus, known as the Mother of the Gods.
Similarly, evidence of a three-day Roman festival in Mid-March called Hilaria, to honor the Roman Goddess Magna Mater, or Great Mother, dates back to 250 BCE.

The history of the Ancient Norse people is complex.  In day to day life, most women presided over the farm work, house work, weaving and childcare; they were also shown to do some business and commerce of their own (scales have been found in women’s graves).  Most women's lives were bounded by hearth and home, but they had great influence within this sphere.  The keys with which many were buried symbolise their responsibility for, and control over, the distribution of food and clothing to the household.

There were also Female Skalds (Poets), Shield Maidens (female warriors) and Priestesses.  And the Seidr, a type of Norse magic that was most commonly performed by women. 
Norse women had rights that didn’t exist in other parts of Europe (such as the right to divorce their husbands and own land).  Typically a male heir inherited the farm, but it wasn’t unheard of for a wealthy widow to take over an estate if her husband died and if she didn’t have grown sons to run the place.  There were also laws that penalized men for violence against women or from giving women unwanted sexual attention.

As Christianity spread throughout Europe, the celebration of the "Mother Church" replaced the pagan tradition of honoring mythological Goddesses.  The fourth Sunday in Lent, a 40-day fasting period before Easter, became known as Mothering Sunday.

The modern American holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in West Virginia.  Her campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died.  

Anna’s mission was to honor her own mother by continuing work she had started and to set aside a day to honor mothers, "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world."  Anna's mother, Ann Jarvis, was a peace activist who had cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Work Clubs to address public health issues.


Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Mother's Day, but the day nearly always falls around Beltane.  It's the time when the Earth Mother opens up to the fertility God, and their union brings about healthy livestock, strong crops and new life all around.
When Margaret Murray wrote God of the Witches in 1931, scholars quickly dismissed her theory of a universal, pre-Christian cult of witches who worshipped a singular Mother Goddess.  However, she wasn't completely off-base.  Many early societies had a mother-like Godform, and honored the sacred feminine with their ritual, art and legends.

For instance, the ancient carvings of rounded, curved, feminine forms found in Willendorf.  These icons are the symbol of females once revered.  Pre-Christian cultures like the Norse and Roman societies honored the deities of women, with their shrines and temples built to honor such Goddesses as Bona Dea, Cybele, Frigg and Hela.  Ultimately, that reverence for the archetype of "mother" has been carried over in modern Pagan religions.  

Some might argue that the Christian figure of Mary is a Mother Goddess as well, although many groups might disagree with that concept as being "too Pagan."  Regardless, those Goddesses of motherhood from ancient societies were a widely varied bunch - some loved unwisely, some fought battles to protect their young, while others fought with their offspring.

Take advantage of the blooming of spring, and use this time to celebrate the archetype of the Mother Goddess, and honor your own mother, female ancestors and friends.


This simple ritual can be performed by both men and women, and is designed to honor the feminine aspects of the universe as well as our female ancestors.  If you have a particular deity you call upon, feel free to change names or attributes around where needed.  Otherwise, you can use the all-encompassing name of "Goddess" in the rite.
  1. Decorate your altar with symbols of femininity: cups, chalices, flowers, lunar objects, fish, doves or swans.  You may also need the following items for this ritual:
    • A white candle
    • Photos or images of mother, ancestors or other females
    • An offering of something that is important to you
    • A bowl of water
    • A handful of small pebbles or stones
  2. If your tradition calls for you to cast a circle, do so now.  Begin by standing in the Goddess position and saying:

I am (your name), and I stand before you,
Goddesses of the sky and Earth and sea,
I honor you, for your blood runs through my veins,
one woman, standing on the edge of the universe.
Tonight, I make an offering in Your names,
As my thanks for all you have given me.

  1. Light the candle and place your offering before it on the altar.  The offering may be something tangible, such as bread or wine or flowers.  It can also be something symbolic, such as a gift of your time or dedication.  Whatever it is, it should be something from your heart.  
  2. Once you have made your offering, it is time to call upon the Goddesses by name. Say:

I am (your name), and I stand before you,
Isis, Frigg, Hela, Jord, Gaia, Freya.
Mothers of the ancient people,
guardians of those who walked the Earth thousands of years ago,
I offer you this as a way of showing my gratitude.
Your strength has flowed within me,
your wisdom has given me knowledge,
your inspiration has given birth to harmony in my soul.

  1. Now it is time to honor the women who have touched your life.  For each one, place a pebble into the bowl of water.  As you do so, say her name and how she has impacted you.  You might say something like this:

I am (your name), and I stand before you,
to honor the sacred feminine that has touched my heart.
I honor (Susan), who gave birth to me and raised me to be strong;
I honor (Maggie), my grandmother, whose strength took her to the hospitals of war-torn France;
I honor (Cathleen), my aunt, who lost her courageous battle with cancer;
I honor (Jennifer), my sister, who has raised three children alone…

  1. Continue until you have placed a pebble in the water for each of these women.  Reserve one pebble for yourself.  Finish by saying:

I am (your name), and I honor myself,
for my strength, my creativity, my knowledge, my inspiration,
and for all the other remarkable things that make me a woman.

  1. Take a few minutes and reflect on the sacred feminine.  What is it about being a woman that gives you joy?  If you're a man performing this ritual, what is it about the women in your life that makes you love them?  Meditate on the feminine energy of the universe for a while, and when you are ready, end the ritual.

I (your name) , am giving thanks to all the Mother's of Midgard,

to all the females above and below.

I close with honor, Blessed Be and Hail.


Thank You to all the Mothers!


1 comment:

  1. Hi, I've read all of your post is such a nice post. I really love my mother and want to say with Happy Mothers Day Gif which I found on Gifs Images Here. Thanks for sharing this.