Monday, June 15, 2009

The Summer Solstice: Praying to Water

This is an absolutely fascinating article by astrologer Dan Furst, "Praying to Water: The Summer Solstice of June 2009," Date: 2009-06-15, at the Llewellyn Journal. I never thought about the Summer Solstice in terms of water and the Goddess until I read this article this evening. Wow! Excerpt: The hot water has been packing them in too, according to another Ellen Barry report on the famous Witch’s Well of Tuhala in Estonia.2 This spectacular hot spring has long been sacred to the local animist religions of Taarausk, centered on worship of the forest god Taara—it’s intriguing how many green deities from so many traditions bear versions of this sacred name—and Maausk, which means “faith of the earth.” Under the center of Tuhala, fifteen rivers flow through underground caverns, crashing and rumbling in sounds that are said to be ghost witches in their sauna, beating one another with birch branches until the Witch’s Well erupts, as it did this winter for the first time in three years. When it does, witches and shamans and students of magic come to do ritual, and mothers bathe their babies in the earth-scented mist and warm water. . . . I'm just wondering off the cuff if Taarausk, centered on worship of the forest god Taara—it’s intriguing how many green deities from so many traditions bear versions of this sacred name—and Maausk, which means “faith of the earth" might not be related to the sacred bull (tauro/toros/tauros), which is related to lunar "horns" (the crescent Moon), an archaic symbol of divine power worn by early goddesses around the world. How ironic, since the "bull" is a male animal, probably meaning that early iconographers totally misinterpreted what they were seeing through a patriarchal gloss! A tip-off to the "mother earth" identity of this goddess is the fact that she was worshipped in a forest -- sacred groves and, in desert areas, sacred trees, were icons of the Goddess. And then there is Ma or Ma-a (mother or mother-of, in just about all languages). It's clear from both words that "usk" means "earth." Thus, the "forest god Taara" and "Maausk" is really identifying a Mother Goddess of the Earth, who perhaps shows herself only during particular phases of the Moon, and the two words combined in archaic times in a local dialect to form a regional Earth/Moon Goddess. Could "Taara" also be related to the distant "Tara" in Ireland, the legendary seat of the very first Kings of the land, known in former days as the "Emerald (green) Isle?" Here is Ellen Barry's article at The New York Times. It made me sad. Tuhala Journal A Hole in the Ground Erupts, to Estonia’s Delight By ELLEN BARRY Published: December 8, 2008 TUHALA, Estonia — All day, people crunched through the frost-encrusted woods, in snowsuits, leather jackets and perilous heels, until they came to the spot where the water was churning. According to legend, the witches of Tuhala were taking a sauna underground, beating each other vigorously with birch branches, oblivious to the commotion they were creating on the surface. The famed Witch’s Well of Tuhala erupted last week for the first time in three years, attracting pilgrims from all over Estonia. Exhaling puffs of vapor in the slanting light, the visitors dangled pendants to test energy fields and held arthritic fingers perfectly motionless over stones. “Estonia is full of natural magic,” said Mari-Liis Roos, 37, a translator who had come to Tuhala with her husband and son. “It’s hard to describe. Sometimes you don’t want to explain these things, because it is so personal.” [I thought Mari-Liis' name is very interesting. Mari = Mother or Mother Earth and Liis could be a variant of Lily, a sacred symbol of many ancient goddesses]. Estonia has been bullied into a series of belief systems over the centuries, from Catholicism to Lutheranism to Russian Orthodoxy and Soviet Atheism. Seventeen years after gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Estonia is one of the world’s most secular nations; in the 2000 census, only 29 percent of its citizens declared themselves followers of a particular faith. That does not mean they are atheists. Craving an authentic national faith, Estonians have been drawn to the animistic religions that preceded Christianity: Taarausk, whose god was worshiped in forest groves, and Maausk, which translates as “faith of the earth.” Ancient beliefs have survived in the form of folk tales. In stories, the sins of humans reverberate in nature — lakes fly away to punish greedy villagers, or forests wander off in the night, never to return. Trees demand the respect of a tipped hat, and holes in the ground must be fed with coins. In the case of Tuhala, the physical world begs for such explanations. The settlement, believed to be 3,000 years old, sits on Estonia’s largest field of porous karst, where 15 underground rivers flow through a maze of caverns, audible but unseen by human inhabitants. [How do they know 15 rivers meet there? They must have been traced. Interestingly, 15 is one of the ancient sacred numbers.] One result is sinkholes large enough to swallow horses — the Horse’s Hole, as it is known, appeared in 1978 — or people, as in the Mother-in-Law’s Hole. Streams appear and disappear like phantoms. The most famous oddity is the Witch’s Well. Geologists believe that after flooding rains, underground water pressure builds to the point that water shoots up out of the ground, usually for a few days. Each time it happens, people travel great distances to see it. Ellu Rouk, 69, a thin woman with clear blue eyes, walked away slowly after a few moments by the well. She said she had a deep involvement with the natural world. Her special ally is a birch tree in her yard, so powerful that a malicious neighbor has plotted to kill it, she said. When she cuts roses and sets them in a vase, she said, they sprout roots. These dramas, she said, are an “inheritance” from her ancestors. “There is an old Estonian god, Taara,” Ms. Rouk said. “He lives. He exists. Though there are people who would like to get rid of him.” “Christians,” she added, “have no respect for nature.” Magic seems to be back in fashion, said Evi Tuttelberg, who lives in a 500-year-old farmhouse near the well. Ms. Tuttelberg, 80, used to laugh when her mother-in-law reported seeing flaming devils flying over Tuhala. In her mother-in-law’s day, people left offerings of money and food at the “sacred juniper” and spoke of secret underground chambers hidden in the fields. Then Estonia entered its long Soviet period, and witches and wood elves receded from public discourse. The same went for the Witch’s Well, she said. “No one used to talk about it,” she said. “It was just a hole in the ground.” But this year, it was a marvel. A fresh and loamy scent rose from the forest floor; electric-green moss sprang underfoot, and water had frozen into beads on bare branches. People wheeled their newborns all the way to the water’s edge and watched as mist rose from the cropland. Ants Talioja, whose family has owned the land for 11 generations, wandered around proud and distracted, like the headwaiter of a restaurant. When he stopped moving for a moment, though, his expression was pained. There are plans to build a limestone quarry about a mile and a half from the Witch’s Well, and Mr. Talioja said he feared that the project would drain the water that coursed mysteriously under Tuhala. That would mean this year’s eruption could be the last. Mr. Talioja, 62, was born over that flowing water, and he said he believed that it had given his family certain gifts; one woman in his family lived to the age of 105. The mining company has offered to pipe in fresh drinking water to compensate for the 1,000 wells that could run dry, he said. But it was clear from the grim expression on Mr. Talioja’s face that piped-in water was no substitute.
Is there a possible connection between this legend of the Witch's Well and the legends of the Celtic EACH UISCE (pronounced agh-iski), also AUGHISKY --known also as Cabyll Ushtey ("Highland Water Horse"). Also EACH UISGE (ech-ooshkya) -- and (agh-iski) The water-horse?

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