Chthonia
Chthonia
Brigid Burke
Explore the world of the Dark Feminine in myth, religion, folklore, and magic.
Brigid: Fiery Goddess of the Celts
In this week's podcast we look at my namesake, the goddess Brigid, as we have just passed Imbolc (also known as Brigid's Day). This episode focuses on the goddess rather than the saint, though there are obvious crossovers between the two. Brigid is portrayed as a triple goddess of poetry, smithcraft and healing,and is seen as a fire goddess. In the medieval Irish literature she is portrayed as the wife of the half-Fomorian Bres, and brings the art of keening to Ireland while mourning her son at the second battle of Maige Tuired (Moytura). Brigid is a goddess of Spring, but also has strong connections to warfare, and has a lot in common with her sister (or mother?) goddess, the Morrigan.
Feb 4
1 hr 2 min
Catherine of Siena: a Mystical Union of Flesh
This week we continue our series on Christian female mystics with a look at St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine is an incredibly complex figure, who at once represents the Christian feminine ideal of the Virgin, while also defining her mystical "marriage" in rather shockingly embodied terms. We also look at the way in which she uses fasting as a way of maintaining her own personal sovereignty, and the surprising political and religious power that she wielded as a member of the religious laity.
Jan 21
55 min
Teresa of Avila: the Dangerous Ecstasy of Divine Union
Happy 2024! We start off the new year with the first podcast in the Female Christian Mystics series by looking at St. Teresa of Jesus, better known as Teresa of Avila. Teresa died in 1582 and was canonized a saint in 1622; she was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Teresa was a celibate nun, but had a deep erotic current that ran through her external and internal life, making her unintentionally a kind of Tantric saint. She is particularly remembered for a mystical event known as the transverberation, immortalized in art by Bernini as "the Ecstasy of St. Teresa." We look at Teresa's very unconventional life, the threatening combination of mystical experience and poverty, and that experience discussed in the Fourth Dwelling of her book The Interior Castle known as "The Prayer of Quiet."
Jan 7
1 hr 6 min
Despoina: Mistress of the Eleusian Mysteries
We end 2023 with a look at Despoina, an obscure Arcadian goddess associated with this title which means "Mistress". Often connected to Kore/Persephone, Artemis and Hecate, this child of Demeter and Poseidon holds a powerful secret and a name that would only be revealed to initiates of her Mysteries. The only surviving image connected to Despoina is her veil, and the only account of her shrine in Arcadia comes from a description by the Roman writer Pausanias. Still, the little information that we have tells us a lot about this goddess and her cohorts.
Dec 24, 2023
58 min
Lussi: Santa Lucia's Dark Predecessor
Just in time for Santa Lucia's Day (13 December) we look at Lussi, the sorceress who rides with her ghoulish brood at the Solstice, bringing destruction to homes unprepared for the coming winter, carrying off naughty children, and those who mistreated their animals during the year. Lussi leads a version of the brood known as the Wild Hunt, and bears a lot of similarity to other European winter hags like Frau Holle and Frau Perchta.
Dec 10, 2023
47 min
Yuki-onna: the Spirit of Winter
As we head into the winter season, we round out the last few podcasts of the year with a discussion of the Japanese "snow woman" Yuki-onna. Like many of our Dark Feminine figures, she has both gentle and terrifying aspects; she can fall in love and marry, she can bring treasure, but she also freezes people to death and in some instances cannibalizes them. As a snow woman she is a deep embodiment of the yin principle, which we will explore with respect to her stories and attributes.
Nov 26, 2023
1 hr 1 min
Female Jinn: Ghula and Si'lat
Jinn are spirits created from fire that are part of Arabic and Islamic folklore. A full discussion of the Jinn would take many episodes, so in this podcast I discuss what Jinn are and what is known about their origins, their place in Islamic cosmogony, and the different types of Jinn, particularly the Ghula and Si'lat, who often appear in feminine form to seduce men. Jinn have free will and be considered good or evil; thus these female Jinn may fall in love with a man and marry him, or may lure him to his death and cannibalize him. I will compare these Jinn to similar creatures in other cultures, and explain how they manifest the negative character of the Mother Archetype.
Nov 12, 2023
1 hr 14 min
Eisheth Zenunim: Female Personification of Sin
This week we are talking about Eisheth Zenunim, "queen of harlots" who is considered the personification of sin in the Zohar, and one of the 4 wives of Samael. We discuss Eisheth's relationship to the serpent in the Garden of Eden as well as to Babalon, and her Kabbalistic association with the Qlippoth, the flip side of the Tree of Life consisting of the "husks" of the dead and considered the embodiment of evil. But is she a temptation to sin for the spiritual aspirant, or a neglected part of the fullness of "creation"?
Oct 29, 2023
58 min
Echidna
This week we look at Echidna, the mother of monsters in Greek mythology. Echnidna is said to be the mother of the Sphinx, the Chimera, the Lernean Hydra, and Cerberus among others. She is identified with Python, the dragon slain by Apollo at what would later be his oracle site at Delphi. As a monster associated with rot and decay, she represents terrors of physical death and depression, but is also an alchemical force for transformation.
Oct 15, 2023
48 min
Anath
This episode looks at the third goddess in our Canaanite trilogy, the warrior goddess Anath, the sister or helpmate of the Canaanite deity Ba'al Hadad. Anath's attributes and role with respect to the Israelites is contested, as is her role as a fertility and hunting goddess. The scholarship has a hard time reconciling this bloodthirsty goddess with a connection to fertility, but the connection is actually very clear. We talk about ancient Earth mother worship, the idea of something that is "anathema" (a term that comes from the name of this goddess), and how her violent nature connects her to the agricultural cycle of life.
Oct 1, 2023
58 min
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