I’ve really been enjoying working with saints lately. Even though I’m irrationally not too fond of the Pope, I do appreciate the saints because I’m always looking for their Pagan origins and, through constant worship, they have powerful thought-forms behind them.
This week I’ve been particularly drawn to Saint Martha who has two, very distinct aspects. The name Martha has it’s roots in Aramaic and it translates as ‘lady’ or ‘mistress’.
The first aspect of Martha concentrates on the lady tag, particularly being the lady of the house. Martha, who shared a house with her sister Mary, opened her house when Jesus was passing by (or something like that). Martha spent her time cooking and being the perfect hostess, whilst Mary sat there listening to the big J. Martha grumbled to Jesus about her sister’s idleness but it fell on deaf ears.
This is how she became to be associated with housekeeping, home makers, domestic servants, innkeepers and cooks. She’s often portrayed in a kitchen, with a broom, ladle or key nearby. A perfect saint for a kitchen witch, perhaps?
Martha may have been the sister of Mary Magdalene, and it’s said she travelled to France in around 48CE. Whilst there she helped control a dragon-like creature, the Tarasque. The beast had been happily eating people before she arrived and the king couldn’t seem to kill it, so Martha went to the creature, sprinkled a bit of holy water, said a few prayers and charmed it with song. This tamed the beast so she took off her girdle and used it as a leash to guide the creature back to the town of Tarascon (named after the creature). The townsfolk were so terrified of seeing the monster, guided by Martha, that they took no notice of the fact it was now tame and hacked it to pieces.
This story about Martha reminds me a lot of the Strength card in Tarot, where brute force is ineffective to taming the beast. During the middle ages, the lesson of trapping more flies with honey than vinegar became lost, and Martha was portrayed as a domineering woman who used whatever means necessary to get what she wanted. And usually, she was trapping men with her girdle.
Particularly in Spain during the burning times, the inquisition recorded charms and spells used by ‘witches’ who had petitioned Saint Martha to aid them. The Martha mentioned in the Bible seems to be outspoken and not afraid to question authority, so she would have been the perfect choice for women, who were oppressed by the religious climate and strict patriarchal society, to seek help and change their situation.
Saint Martha the Dominator is petitioned for help with control over situations or people, and she favours women (but will work with men). She is often asked for help in situations of control or abuse. Her colour is green and her day is Tuesday. And I do believe she’s partial to cake as an offering.