Friday, February 24, 2017

Circe: Queen of the Witching Isle

Circe, by Wright Barker (1889)

Recently, I've been doing a lot of work with Circe, the Witch of the Odyssey.   Circe is one of my favorite Witch Queens; her very name, which means “falcon” bespeaks the “magic circle”.   Hesiod and Homer both say that she, and her brother Aeëtes, are the children of Perse (Okeanos’ daughter) and Helios. Some others say she is the daughter of Hekate and Aeëtes, or even Hekate and Hermes. Personally, I think she is the daughter of Helios, fostered and taught in the arts of the Witch by her half-sister Hekate.  In any case, like almost every Witch Queen, she has an inheritance of both luminance and depth.  

She is best known for her role in the Odyssey, where she is described as beautiful, seductive, clever, and dangerous. When Odysseus and his warriors come to her enchanted isle, she bewitches his companions with a magic potion, turning them to pigs. Following advice from Hermes, Odysseus counters her enchantment with the sacred herb moly.  After some sexual escapades, Odysseus and Circe become allies; he remains on her island for a full year, while she is pregnant with their son. During this time, Circe taught Odysseus to enter into the Underworld, there to seek the guidance he required to make his way home.

Her island, Αἰαία (Eëa), was magical in and of itself.  It's exact location is unknown.  Many writers, over the millennia, have tried to identify it as some particular Mediterranean island, but I think it exists only in a time and space apart from our world, afloat in the great River Okeanos, who encircles the world, accessible only from the Other Place.  I believe it to be a great center of teaching, where the sisterhood of Witches that begins with Gaia, Phoebe and Hekate, and continues through Circe, Iphigenia, and Medea continues to learn and to teach.  I have been there in my dreams, and I encourage you to seek it out as well.  To that end, I have created this mandala-esque sigil ikon for Circe, and the Isle of Eëa.  The words in the background read: "Circe, Witch Goddess of the Holy Isle, First Priestess of Eëa, I beg to learn at your feet. Admit me to your circle. Take me as your daughter."

Watch for more Circe-related work and offerings over the next week or two.