Sunday, September 8, 2013

She Rides a Pale Donkey

You pray fervently for peace in the Near and Middle East. If your eyes could well up with blood for tears, they would. Your desperate words: do you wonder why they hit a wall? Do you wonder why there is silence?

Your hearts say you want to know, but your livers will be bitter. There are many reasons. I, the Mother of Lions, will tell you if you really want to know.

You pray to the wrong gods.

You pray to this god from Greece or that god from Norway, or maybe the gods of the Celts, of the Indians, of the Romans... They are good gods, bold gods, true gods, but they will not interfere here. Or you pray to a one-god--and that is a multifaceted issue for another day. You forget that there are...or were...gods here. The neighbor gods in Sumer or Assyria, in Egypt, or the Hittites and Hurrians of Anatolia: sometimes these neighbors were our allies, but sometimes they were our enemies, but their gods sometimes appear in our lists here.

Or you could bother for once to look up who the original gods of Canaan were: but no. You pray for peace but you are too lazy or too fearful to learn our names. You couldn't be arsed to leave us a puny stick of decent myrrh incense and a few kind words.

Perhaps you do pray to us. What then? Why do we not answer? Have you even noticed that we do not answer? Do you really even care?

Imagine for a moment that you have a son, a beautiful glorious, strong, vibrant, intelligent, handsome son. In your son you see all the hopes and dreams of yourself and your lover represented in his breath, in his eyes, in his very veins. He comes of age and decides that you were wrong about everything. Others have poisoned his mind and he refuses to listen. Even now, he lies there in the gutter, in filth, wounds festering, his soul ready to expel like vapor through his nostrils. You come to him to help, you come to him to take him to a healer, to clothe him, to feed him, to give him shelter, to ease his pain. He can only waste his strength to spit at you. Perhaps this situation goes on for a long time as he wastes away. Ten years, twenty years, forty years. You have grown old and weak in this time, and your fortunes have declined as others have forgotten about you. Again you try to help, again he spits at you if he even remembers you. There is only so long before you become too weak too help, or you realize that there is nothing you can do: he will accept nothing from you. This is how things are to me. This is why there is not peace.

It is not that we do not speak. It is not that we do not answer. It is not that we would not help. We are not without compassion. It is that we desperately yell, we scream, we shriek until our throats swell with rawness, and still you do not hear. It is because we have extended our hands countless times before only to have them bitten off.

The viper that encircles your feet, the poisonous snake that rises up against you: we did not call it. You called it. It is yours, it is your doing. The venom it spits is your own. You deal with it.

You ask where are we when you need us? I ask: where were you for the past two thousand years...? We are still spit on today. Out of all of the gods the world over, we have suffered the most. Our shrines are defiled, our holy places destroyed, our sacred items defaced, our names blotted out, to say nothing of our representatives and the horrors they've experienced over time. Where were you? I shall tell you where you were--you were on your knees in temples of deceit, with your minds distracted and your mouths filled with garbage.

I love you all. I am your queen and I have never stopped loving you, my people, everywhere--you stopped loving me. Love me or love me not, but at least love yourselves enough to awaken, to fill your eyes with light, to fill your mouths with sweet clean water, and to let the wind free your minds. These things I cannot do for you; you must do them for yourselves. You must take responsibility. You must heal the rift, you must make up for those who break faith with me. Peace will come to the land of our origin when we are once again accepted there; not merely, barely tolerated. Peace will come again when oppression no longer weighs like summer heat-haze on the dusty cracked city sidewalks. It can come, it will come, eventually, but I cannot make happen what you will not accept.

How can I heal you, how can I lead you, when you doubt every word from my lips? When you turn a blind eye to me? When you allow that my crown is broken, my scepter bent, and my purple mantle tattered with poisoned thorns? When you will not invite us into your homes and feed us at your tables? You treat your dogs better than us. What should we do for you? What could we do for you? A burnt bridge cannot be crossed: it must be built anew. A dry oasis yields no water. An olive grove chopped down and used carelessly as firewood can give no oil.

For now, it is better to live in tents in a foreign land as refugees surrounded by strangers who love us as family than to be surrounded by family who would rather we be strangers. It is cold in these foreign lands, but not nearly as cold as our "reception" in the place we once called home.

You cannot ascend to your roof when it is on fire.

Addendum, Sept. 12, 2013:

What you read above was an oracle given to me by the goddess Athiratu.

People either believe the deities as real, living powerful beings, or they don't. People either believe that I can receive an oracle from my deities, or don't. If a person has checked "yes" in either "don't" category, then whatever I do is suspect from there. How you read an oracle is a reflection of your belief or your lack thereof--either in the deities, in myself, or in either.  The nature of oracle is what it is. If I were to edit my goddess's words for content and style, I would feel that I had failed in my duty to her and to others who need or want this message. If you don't believe that what I wrote was an oracle, if you don't need or want this message from her, you are at liberty to ignore it.

Please also visit Reflections on "She Rides a Pale Donkey"

Today is
3 Niqalu, Shanatu 86
It is the third day since the new moon; the month is Niqalu. It has been 86 years since the rediscovery of the city-state of Ugarit (in modern-day Syria) from whence came many of our holy texts.

Image Credits
Picture by Crystal and used under Creative Commons license.


  1. May the rightful Gods of Canaan ever and always be hailed. And may the usurper and his people be drive forth before them.

    1. I tend to look at the usurper's role as that of spreading a contagious fog. In that case, may Shapshu's golden rays of sunlight burn away the fog that we may be blessed with enlightenment.

  2. So I have questions, because the Canaanite faith is one I barely know. There is power in this post but there are also things that I do not understand.
    Who is it that is speaking?
    When She speaks of Her people, does She mean all of us as humans or those from that area whose ancestors worshiped She and Hers?
    When She says we pray to the Gods of our own faith when we should be asking She and Hers for peace in the area in which They are from, it's followed by saying They won't answer because Their worship should be fully reinstated. So does this mean that those whose homes are with Other Gods should not even bother with prayers of peace in the Middle East unless we fully honor She and Hers, either alongside ours or exclusively?
    If She and Hers are not the ones who call to us, if They are not where our soul's home is, does this mean we should not even speak to Them?
    Should we give up our prayers to Whomever we pray to for peace simply because we get the sense from She and Hers that we are not Theirs?

    1. Some of the answers to your questions could arise from a more careful reading. Others you can Google. However, I will help you.

      The answer to 1st question is Athirat (See:

      Your second question can be answered in several ways. It is true that in the area once called Canaan, there are people now living who are descended from the Canaanites / Phoenicians. They are her primary audience. But also consider the Phoenicians were the world's foremost traders, you will understand their descendants traveled widely, so her people are not only in one place. (Some of us are actual descendants countless generations down the line, or spiritual descendants, all of whom live in other regions of the world.) Then you must consider the interlopers, the followers of a jealous and angry god, who outlawed the worship of our Queen as well as the rest of the Canaanite pantheon. Those interlopers were later joined by two other groups, the Christians and the Muslims, who also tried to erase the fact of the Canaanite pantheon's very existence. It is true that the last two groups persecuted other gods in other countries, but those two groups paid special attention to the Canaanite gods by demonizing them more than all the rest put together.

      Your reading breaks down here. She does not say the Canaanite gods don't answer or haven't answered in the past. No one is listening closely enough. No one hears.

      She says, "It is not that we do not speak. It is not that we do not answer. It is not that we would not help. We are not without compassion. It is that we desperately yell, we scream, we shriek until our throats swell with rawness, and still you do not hear."

      Answer to your 3rd question: You either believe in Canaanite gods or you don't. It is *appropriate* to approach the Canaanite gods with respect to their own people. You may pray to whomever you like, but that doesn't mean your gods can do, or will do, anything at all. Athirat says they won't interfere, so why don't you take her word for it?

      Your 4th question doesn't seem to take into consideration that it is an oracle through whom the Goddess speaks. This is a prophecy, a prediction. She is telling you what will happen when we take responsibility and do our part to heal the rift:

      "Peace will come to the land of our origin when we are once again accepted there; not merely, barely tolerated. Peace will come again when oppression no longer weighs like summer heat-haze on the dusty cracked city sidewalks. It can come, it will come, eventually, but I cannot make happen what you will not accept."

      You have to decide what doing your part means, and then follow through. She's not going to do it for you.

      Your 5th question twists her words. She has not said you shouldn't speak to her. You have said it. But have the gods of your faith told you not to speak to her? From the way you write, it doesn't seem so.

      Your last question tells me you don't think you belong to her. But if that were true, I don't think you would be here.

    2. Hello, Anonymous. I think names are lovely. I'm Tess. What's your name?

      1. Athiratu, the head goddess of the pantheon, the co-creator/co-owner of the universe alongside her husband Ilu. Please see the link Tanith provided.

      2. People, her people, any people, the people of her homeland, the people who would honor her, polytheists, the people who have forgotten her, anyone who is bold enough to listen. At least that's the sense of it that I get. I think she has a fluid and inclusive idea of "her people". But she is beginning to cease working with those who have spit on her for generations...

      3. If you have a problem with a flooding river, would you not pray to a river deity? If you have a problem with the Near and Middle East, would you not pray to a Near/Middle Eastern deity? You can always ask the deities of your own religion to aid the deities who are or once were local to that area. And you misunderstand her, I think: she is not making demands that her religion be fully reinstated, nor is she demanding that her religion is the "one true religion"--she's had quite enough of that foolishness. She is asking that her religion be accepted, that people quite destroying her places, her items, her people. And she indicates not that this is necessarily a punishment (although the warrior goddess 'Anatu is on an angry spree right now) but as a natural consequence of actions which have led down a destructed path. Athiratu is capable of wreaking destruction, but she has no need to when people are quite busy doing it themselves. None of this has to do with exclusivity of worship.

      4. If you are praying for peace in the Near and Middle East, she *is* calling you. She is calling anyone who listens. Speak to Whomever you like.

      5. If I prayed for peace in Ireland by forgetting, overlooking, or neglecting, or snubbing the gods of Ireland, nary even sparing a kind word for them and a tall stout regardless that they are not my regular deities, I would feel that something was deeply amiss. I would feel as if I were insulting the gods of Ireland, saying "You all can't do your job, so I'm finding a good Norse god who can go over there and clean up your homeland and the people who call it home!" This isn't right. I think this is what she is trying to say and how she feels about the matter. Everyone prays to every other deity but the deities of Canaan when it comes to matters regarding Canaan; it is as if these deities are completely forgotten.

      I would also ask you to read Tanith's comment. It is a good one.

    3. Apologies for the things I misunderstood. I read and replied to this very quickly before work and lost some of the message in my haste. To put my last question more clearly, as it is the one I still do not understand: we are told here that no other Gods will answer prayers about peace in the Near or Middle East, so if we have been told or have the extremely strong sense that we will not be working with the Canaanite Gods even in a minor capacity, does this mean we should entirely ignore the idea of praying for peace?
      "Your last question tells me you don't think you belong to her. But if that were true, I don't think you would be here." Could you please explain this more? I'm not sure what you mean, as I came here because Galina posted a link and the attached commentary looked interesting, so I checked it out.
      As for the Gods of my faith, it's not so much that I am being told not to speak to her as that I am being told that my place is not with the Canaanite Gods and that I shouldn't have bothered with this in the first place.

    4. Hello, Tess. I would prefer to be Anonymous, thank you. I do not have a Google account, LJ, WP, TypePad, AIM, OpenID, or a URL to list with my name.

      "I would feel as if I were insulting the gods of Ireland, saying "You all can't do your job, so I'm finding a good Norse god who can go over there and clean up your homeland and the people who call it home!""
      While I understand the importance of speaking to Gods related to an issue, whatever it is, I strongly disagree with the perception that talking to your own Gods implies that you don't think the Gods of a region are doing their job. My Gods are the ones I know, and I look to Them first for guidance if I do not know who to turn to in a given situation.

    5. So you won't even give me a moniker or a nick name by which I can refer to you? When one enters into a conversation--wanting enough of my time to answer her many questions--and won't even give me a name by which I can call her, I immediately distrust her. It demonstrates a breech of etiquette and hospitality.

      Ok, Tweedle Dee of Wonderland it is. Tweedle Dee, I understand what you're saying however I would counter with "Piety can be measured not just in how you treat your own gods, but in how you treat 'foreign' gods."

      You ask for peace over a foreign area, it is appropriate to at least respect--and not snub--the gods who originated from there. Athiratu indicates that this is part of the reason why the turmoil continues.

      Even I, as a Canaanite, have prayed to and honored foreign gods where kind, appropriate, and hospitable.

      If my own gods would guide me to ignore hospitality in these matters and other matters, I would check with an oracle to see if my connection with my own gods is faulty.

    6. Anonymous, we are told your gods won't interfere.

      "You pray to this god from Greece or that god from Norway, or maybe the gods of the Celts, of the Indians, of the Romans... They are good gods, bold gods, true gods, but they will not interfere here."

      That's where you are the audience.

      Granted, it can be a little confusing because her primary audience would be a descendant of Canaan / Phoenicia. Athirat does make a good point that praying to deities of neighboring peoples (i.e., Hittites) is problematic because sometimes those peoples and the Canaanites met each other in battle. It just doesn't seem wise to pray to a potentially hostile deity. At least it doesn't seem so to me.

      If you, Anonymous, are the same person as the Anonymous who talks about the potential insult to one's own deities, I would suggest you ask them directly if they would be insulted. I don't know how you'd work that in your area of expertise, but I would go into a trance and ask.

      If you are not the same person, you write:

      "As for the Gods of my faith, it's not so much that I am being told not to speak to her as that I am being told that my place is not with the Canaanite Gods and that I shouldn't have bothered with this in the first place."

      I can understand being told that your [primary] place is not with the Canaanite gods, but why do you think your gods wouldn't want you to bother with this? Actually, I'm not sure what "this" is. It could be writing a response to the original post. It could be praying to a deity outside your usual pantheon. It could be something else altogether.

      My understanding was that you had come here without being prompted by anyone else. That's why I said I didn't think you would be here unless you belonged to Athirat. But I'd also echo what Tess said about Athirat's sense of inclusivity.

      I think that in the ancient world, at least in the Mediterranean area, people worshiped or acknowledged gods who didn't originally in their "countries" or ethnic groups. I can't say I have a vast reservoir of information at my disposal or I would try to see if there was more than one god that became insulted or angry about people praying to another god. I can't really think of any other than the Abrahamic god, but I really don't know for certain.

    7. You left open the option of privacy in ways to sign in, and yet you greet people with condescension when they use it. Do not become angered when someone eats a cake you offered.
      You then twisted my words. I am not sure how you got the impression that I "mistreat" or "snub" other deities or that my Gods are telling me to ignore hospitality. What I said was that I turn to my own -when I do not know who else to turn to-, and this was only said as an explanation that talking to unrelated Gods is not always a sign of thinking the appropriate ones cannot do their job because it can be a matter of turning to trusted to sources to find out who the appropriate ones are.
      You opened your table to all who would come and yet you greet them with rudeness when they do come. You lay out a banquet with masks and become offended when they are worn. You allow them to engage in conversation, then become angered when they give their opinion if it challenges yours.
      I thank you for the time and knowledge you have given me. May your Gods be ever honored most highly. I would ask how to honor them as well, as you know this better than I, but I do not believe you would be willing to help on this matter which you brought forth. I will bother you no further.

    8. Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude! Hold up. I think you're misjudging / misreading Tess in a big way.

      There are potentially two people writing as Anonymous, though I'm not going to go to the trouble of analyzing the text of both responses to make sure. (The samples probably aren't large enough anyway.) One Anonymous is OK with what I've written. The other is a little on the testy side when Tess asks for a mode of address. You may not like playing by her rules on her playground, but having a conversation is much easier when you have some sort of identifier. Really, it is.

      If I'm not mistaken, Tess was also being somewhat *playful* by giving you a name. By naming you Tweedle Dee, the other Anonymous who may or may not be you, is Tweedle Dum. If the other Anonymous is you after all, that's actually funny. You just have to get the joke.

      I don't know how things were when you were a kid, but when I met someone new in the neighborhood or on the playground, we exchanged names before saying, "Do you want to play?" That's really all Tess did. You refused, with no little crankiness.

      OK, fine.

      No doubt you've been playing on the Interwebs for a while, though, so you know there's always some troll or other coming out of the woodwork. That's not to say you're a troll, but Tess has had some, shall we say, "interesting" responses to her posts so she has reason to wonder whether she should trust you. Since I also went to a lot of trouble to answer your questions, that time-taking thing means I know whereof I speak when I say it wouldn't have killed you to come up with a name just to make having a conversation easier. That's all good manners do, smooth the way between people and between cultures. (I let her know who I am, so it's not as if I'm asking you to do something I wouldn't do myself.)

      Frankly, it doesn't seem as if you've talked to your gods about approaching the Canaanite deities. I'm reading about your feelings ("I strongly disagree"), but although you say you believe that praying to your own gods doesn't impugn the capabilities of the Canaanite gods, you also write:

      "My Gods are the ones I know, and I look to Them first for guidance if I do not know who to turn to in a given situation."

      The implication of that sentence is that you know *without a doubt* what you should do and therefore you're not seeking guidance. And the subtext of *that* fairly arrogant thought would read as something of a snub to the Canaanite gods, even if that's not how you meant it. In any case, I'm pretty sure that's why Tess gently suggested an oracle. She's actually doing you a service. She is assuming, in print, that you asked for guidance. So if you believe your gods *told* you it was OK to be rude by ignoring the foreign dignitaries in their own lands, then she suggests an oracle just in case your 4G has slipped to 3G.

      You may take great umbrage and stomp off in a huff, but I haven't been *nearly* as kind to you as Tess has. Nope, not one bit.

    9. In Canaanite custom, as well as custom abroad, it is common courtesy to at least give a name. I'm not asking for email, tax ID number, bloodtype. Just a name. Like Kimberly or something. In Canaanite culture, they would have gone farther and introduced themselves as "So-and-so, son/daughter of such-and-such" and give a cursory linage: names are a big deal to Canaanites. I'm not asking for a lineage, and I don't expect it here. When I allow for "anonymous" comments, I do so on an honor system. I may open my doors figuratively and invite people to the feast, but I expect a guest to act honorably as a guest and that means giving at least a name if the guest would like to engage in further discourse. If no name is given, it puts the host at a disadvantage, which abrogates usual courtesy, expectation, and hospitality.

  3. Thank you. This is beautiful.

    1. You are welcome. Thank you for heeding her words.

  4. Thank you for sharing what many feel in their souls but could not find the words to express the raw emotions.

    1. You are welcome. It is a difficult, painful subject, full of handwringing, crying, and drawn out, heavy pauses.

  5. To the Ba'alim of Eretz Cana'an and the Asherahs, respectful greetings.

    1. Yishlam le-iluma kina'ani, may there be peace/wholeness/wellbeing to the gods of Canaan.

  6. A quote from the deities page here:

    "Yishlam le-ilīma ugariti, yishlam le-ilīma kina'ani.

    Peace and wellbeing to the gods of Ugarit, peace and wellbeing to the gods of Canaan"

    With great respect & sincerity I repeat

    Yishlam le-ilīma ugariti, yishlam le-ilīma kina'ani.

    And Peace and wellbeing to the people and region. May the world awaken to all those calling out silently. May we all find our innate ability to listen and hear truth and act with courage

    1. Yes, and it bears repeating time and again. Thank you.

  7. Hello, Tess. What a stunning, moving post. And thank you so much for your courage to create and maintain this blog.

    I just wanted to add to the conversation here that several years ago I got the idea that we needed to start honoring the ancient Gods of the Middle East in order to pray more effectively for peace there. The horrible conflicts in those countries has become the problem of all of us, not just that of those who live in the Middle East. Everything that happens there affects the whole world. But the people of the Middle East suffer especially greatly. And that breaks my heart.

    At the time (when I started thinking about payers for peace to the indigenous Gods of the Middle East) I was very focused on learning more about ancient Indo-European pantheons such as Celtic, Germanic, and Indo-Iranian. But very strongly I got the sense back from those Gods that they were not going to interfere, just as your oracular words from Athirat pointed out above (a little UPG confirmation there). So I wrote and lead a ritual for peace in the Middle East while I was in a class (on constructing Pagan liturgy). My liturgy included giving offerings and prayers to the ancient deities of Canaan, focusing especially on Athirat and Ilu. We (mostly Celtic NeoPagan Druids), then performed the liturgy with great success. Everyone loved it. Omens were very favorable that the Gods had heard us and accepted our prayers and offerings.

    At the time, as I said, I was completely focused on Indo-European pantheons -- trying to get "back to my roots" as it were, having primarily English, Welsh, and German ancestry. Shortly thereafter, though, I took a genetics test through the National Genographic Project just for fun and to contribute to the project. And, to my complete astonishment, discovered that my Mitochondrial DNA originated in the Levant! I had no idea that some my ancestors were from that part of the world. And the highest concetration today of those with my same Mitochondrial DNA still live in the Middle East.

    The reason I am sharing this here on your blog is so that other readers can see that, indeed, Athirat's words above ring true in the livers, hearts, and the very DNA of many of us -- even if sometimes we do not consciously realize it. Just as has been stated above, many of us are physical or spiritual descendants of those who worshiped the Gods of Canaan in ancient times. I, for one, count them among my Gods.

    May all the Gods bless you for speaking out here. And may many many people who visit here listen to the words of Athirat for ALL our sakes.



    1. Hi Areille, what a surprising and beautiful discovery to make about your ancestors!

      Indeed, I am not the only one who has witnessed a "wall" in regards to prayers for peace.

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Arielle.

  8. Athiratu... after reading this and the more in depth article about Her linked from here, I rather think I may wish to get to know Her when I can.

    1. Please do, James. She is a Great Lady and a wise queen.

  9. Thank you for posting this. I did not know anything about Her until reading this, but now I will be researching the Canaanite gods.

    When I was in school 20 years ago, my best friend had just moved to the US from Syria and somehow managed to learn English in just a couple of months before school started. We stayed in touch for a while after school - we almost ended up roommates - but she had a hard time with life in the US and ended up moving back to Syria. I pray for peace there a lot, and wish I knew how she was. My prayers will now be redirected.

    1. Thank you, Laura, I know She will listen... And I hope your friend is alright.

  10. This is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I will be adding a prayer to my daily devotions for peace in the Levant. Hopefully, the gods will listen and help their lost children. I suppose those of us who honor once forgotten deities have a lot of pain to make up for, a lot of wrongs to right. Most of us probably aren't prepared for that.

    1. As the old children's game goes, "Ready or not, here I come!" It doesn't matter whether or not we feel we are ready--these matters require attending now regardless of readiness. We just have to do the best we can. The deities know this, the deities understand this, and most of them (at least of the Iluma, the Canaanite pantheon) are willing to work with us and be patient. Sometimes the best and quickest way to learn is through active engagement. I thank you for taking the time to honor her and work towards restoration and making things right again.

  11. This is a bit late, but I wanted to reach out because it's been too long since I've initiated any contact with fellow adherents. Thank you, Tess, for sharing this oracle. I've been out of the loop, religiously speaking, for a while and was really surprised to stop by tonight and find this response from Athirat after making prayers and offerings at the new year for peace in Syria (and honestly wondering if divine intervention would do any good in a place where the gods have been utterly rejected for so long).

    This message feels sad and unsettling, but probably because the truth can be difficult to acknowledge. Thanks again and I hope you are well.

    Monica (aka openhands83 from yahoo groups)

    1. Hello, Monica, it's lovely to hear from you again.

      Yes, her message is saddening and unsettling, but there's a ray of hope in there. Look again and let love and strength clear the clouded tears.

  12. Tess, I am sorry to have missed the uproar and accusations in response to this post. As a "100%" Jew, I support this oracle, and would have been happy to publicaly support you. There will be no peace in Ca'anaan until the Queen if Heaven us once again honored in the streets, homes and temples of Jerusalem.

    1. Thank you, D., I appreciate it. May she bless you and your house.