Friday, February 10, 2012

Who is Cardea?

People often write to me, addressing me as "Cardea". They think that since this is the name of my shop, it must be referring to me. It's not:) And for those of you who do not know me yet, my name is Sarah and I hope to meet you soon:)

Cardea is the roman gddess of the door hinge. She rules all thresholds and doorways-both physical and spiritual.
She protects the family and children of the house and keeps evil spirits from crossing the threshold. Her name comes from the Latin word cardo, which means "hinge" and which also encompasses the wider symbolism of the pole or axis around which the earth spins. She is therefore a Goddess of the Center as well as the change that emanates out from that center. The word cardo was also used by the Romans to refer to the north-south axis on which a new city was founded (the east-west line being the decumanus), and from this we get our word cardinal, meaning fundamental or principal, especially regarding the directions.

Cardea has close ties with the ancient Roman God Janus, God of beginnings and endings, who also watched over doorways, and was depicted as having two faces to see both past and future (our month January, the first month of the year, is still named for Him). The tales say that Cardea and Janus were lovers; and to reward Her for sleeping with Him, or perhaps from love, He gave Her the door-hinge as Her emblem, and the power to prevent evil spirits from passing through doors. Because She could keep evil spirits out of the house, Cardea was worshipped as the protector of children, for it was believed (or at least the children believed) that at night witches transformed themselves into screech-owls and flew in the windows of the house to suck the blood of unwary children. The Latin words striga for "witch, hag, vampire", and strix for "screech owl, vampire" are rooted in this folklore.

The legends say that Cardea protected these children with hawthorn (also known as whitethorn), by hanging a small branch of it over the child's window or in the baby's cradle. Hawthorn is considered a sacred plant in legend and is famous in folklore for its magical powers of protection. There is a legend where Cardea banished vampires from a young boy's room, healing his sickness and making him well. After purifying the doorposts and threshold with a sprig of arbutus (of which the strawberry tree is one species), a sow was sacrificed as a symbolic replacement for the child. In the last part of the ritual a hawthorn branch was then hung in the window. This child was Procas, a young prince of Alba Longa, who in due time would be the grandfather of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. 

So. This is Cardea. She is one of two dwelling familiars in my home. She potects my children and keeps me living between realms so that I can create and serve. She protects me as well, by keeping me away from the "real" world just enough so that I am not spoiled by it and no longer able  or willing to do my work. She  keeps me from becoming too absorbed and concerned with things of this physical world, for how easily one can be swept away into selfishness and an impossibly fast pace that no one can survive or serve in. She keeps me in the center, on the axis. she has made a home for me here and I am welcome always. To be too far one way or the other is just that; too far. 

Her power is to open what is shut and shut what is open.

She teaches the acceptance of flux because it is inevitable. She teaches to be understanding that it is not always time for us-others must have their time too. So when it seems we are being subjected to suffering, to ill fortune, it is only becuse it is someone else's turn to have an open door, for each door can not remian open or closed forever. We all get out turn on the wheel. We all have our ebbs and flows. We all turn on the axis. This teaches us acceptance, grace, justice, patience, and compassion.

She keeps our house sound and stong, our cupboards full, our beds warm, and our work joyous and prosperous. So, why "Conjured" then and not "Conjuring Cardea"? Because, she is already here with me, always has been and always will be. There is no "doing" for it has already been done and can never be undone. There is no working I could do to bring Her here-She lives here, and simply "is".



  1. Fabulous story and a wealth of information. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. glad you enjoyed it michelle! thanks for reading:) bless!