Monday, December 07, 2015

Review: PaGaian Cosmology Meditation CDs

PaGaianCosmology Meditations, set of 3-CDs with  16 page booklet by Glenys Livingstone, Ph.D, 2015.

This set of three CDs with booklet is a treasure. Narrated and written by Glenys Livingstone, author of the book PaGaian Cosmology, and founder of the outdoor Goddess temple, “Mooncourt,” in the Blue Mountains of Australia, the ritualized meditations focus on what Livingstone calls “seasonal moments” – solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarters. The CDs contain both the spoken word and music. Livingstone’s narration delivery, including pace and timing of pauses, is outstanding – easy to understand and neither overly dramatic nor boring, but rather wonderfully appropriate. Each meditation includes music, and when there is music, the balance between the narration and music seems perfect to me. The material for each seasonal moment includes preparation – including suggestions for altars, such as colors, altar cloths, candles, and other “props” – and meditations that sometimes include dance and song, and which often have time for optional individually-determined work, such as drawing and writing.

 Disc 1 begins with an Introduction to the entire set, followed by material for Samhain/Deep Autumn. Livingstone introduces the reclining Goddess of Malta as the focus for this meditation. A picture of Her is shown in the booklet and Livingstone suggests that participants mimic the Goddess’s posture during the meditation. The music and drumming accompanying this meditation add to its sense of mystery. Disc 1 continues with the meditation for Winter Solstice/Yule. Among the preparation suggestions are that 8 candles be used, representing “moments of significance” – events in the Universe beginning billions of years ago (with a scientifically-based explanation of the creation/birth of the universe and its stars, planets, etc.), and continuing to the present day. The Goddess focus of this meditation is “Mother Sun”/Tiamat. Livingstone suggests singing the “PaGaian Joy to the World,” the words for which she has written and included in the booklet.

Disc 2 contains material for three seasonal moments. For Imbolc/Early Spring, Livingstone suggests focusing on the Goddess Radha and mimicking of her pose  (shown in the booklet); lighting of a “bridal” candle; and “Brigid-ine” words of commitment, along with “words of praise,” which Livingstone speaks and which are also included in the booklet. The background music is played by a wind instrument – what sounds to me like a flute. It is also suggested that participants dance, “Misirlou,” a well-known folk dance*, instructions for which are given in the booklet with a link to where you can see the dance done on the PaGaian site. The second meditation on Disc 2 is for Spring Equinox/Eostar. Among the suggestions for props are flowers, egg, seeds, and a small underworld space (including gates). The meditation focuses on darkness and light; the Goddess Persephone’s return after her journey to the underworld, with her “emergence” and ultimate celebration of the “life force.” The third meditation on Disc 2 is for Beltane/High Spring. Preparations include using a “object of beauty,” such as a gemstone or flower, and a pot that is meant for containing a flame to be lit. This meditation includes several goddesses, poetry and a focus on gravity, love/desire, passion and beauty – including the meditators’ own beauty.

Disc 3 contains meditations for three seasonal moments and a “Whole Wheel” meditation. The first meditation on this disc is for Summer Solstice/Litha. Suggested props include food such as bread, fruit, and wine or juice. The meditation, with the Goddess focus on “Mother Sun,” compares this seasonal moment with Winter Solstice, and focuses on food in what may be to some people unusual ways. The second meditation is for Lammas/Late Summer. Its props include some related to death. The meditation focuses on harvest as death, including our own death. Livingstone suggests that participants do a dance she has named, "Harvest Dance," and based on one she learned from Jean Houston. Directions for this dance are given in the booklet. The third meditation on this disc is for Autumn Equinox/Mabon, which focuses on transformation. One of its props is the apple with its “pentacle core.” The Autumn Equinox is compared with the Spring Equinox and also focuses on the Persephone/Demeter myth and mother/daughter mysteries. Its Goddess focus also includes Gaia. The final meditation on this disc – and in the set as a whole – is the “Whole Wheel Meditation,” in which participants are directed to lay out a wheel of stones and are told how to use the wheel for each of the seasonal moments, according to global hemispheres. The meditation includes “stories” related to each of the seasonal moments and provides a review of the entire cycle on both the level of the cosmos and on the personal level.

These are meditations of great depth, which contain both mystery and celebration. You can find the credits for the music and other material in the booklet, which is tucked into a pocket like the CDs. This excellent set is suitable for both individual and group use, and is likely to appeal to both those beginning on the Goddess path as well as those who have been on it for a while. I recommend it with gratitude for the technical perfection of its audio and the spiritual depth of its content. You can find more information, including how to get it, on

*Because I have been involved in folk dance groups in for many years – particularly those focusing on dances from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area – and have danced "Misirlou" oodles of times, I’m going to indulge myself by giving you a bit more background on this dance. Although strongly Greek-influenced, the dance has a multi-ethnic/multi-national history and present. According to most sources it was first devised at an American university in the mid-20th century by combining the quicker steps from the traditional Greek dance, Syrtos Kritikos (which I've also done many times), with the more slowly paced Greek song, “Misirlou.” The dance is also sometimes done to the title song from the film “Never on Sunday,” in which it appears, as well to other melodies in various countries and by various ethnicities. Livingstone uses another Greek melody when the dance is performed at Mooncourt.  The music and dance most commonly used in the U.S. can be viewed at on this youtube link, and you can hear the song sung in Greek on this youtube link  (which has a belly dancer who isn’t doing the Misirlou, but the same melody is often also used for belly dancing). Additional information about the creation and dancing of Misirlou can be found here and here.

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Judith Laura

More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.