This is one of my favorite times of the year! I cheerfully wish those celebrating May Day / Beltane tomorrow in the Northern Hemisphere and All Hallow’s / Samhain in the lands Down Under wonderful festivals! May your Gods and Spirits gladden your hearts and guide you at this powerfully liminal turning o’ the tides (made all the more potent by a Taurus New Moon eclipse!). For me and for my Slavic forebears, early May marks the beginning of Summer (in the Serbian calendar, it’s the fixed date of St. George’s Day, May 6).
It’s a time of honoring the fructifying powers at work in the land; in particular, it’s a time of cultivating right relationship with the Fair Folk / the Fae / the Vile (pronounced VEE-lay) and demonstrating through your ritual actions that you know how to be a courteous and hospitable neighbor to Them. I’m looking forward to doing my solitary Walpurgis Night ritual tonight, where I honor the Lady of Elphame, and I’m giddily looking forward to celebrating May Day tomorrow with my coven that my dear friend Adam and I formed late last summer. After a winter gestational period of figuring out what to call ourselves and detailing our coven’s brand (yes, I have a background in marketing!), the name came quite suddenly last month while meditating on our Divine Patrons, Hekate and Pan: Oak & Aconite Coven!
You know that a newly released film has made quite an impact on you when, hours after you’ve left the theater, you obsessively muse upon its indelible imagery and the effect of the moviegoing experience is all you seem capable of discussing with family and friends. In fact, you’re filled with missionary-level zeal in urging people you care about to go see the film as a matter of vital importance.
I had the immense pleasure of seeing Robert Eggers’ The Northman (Focus Features, 2022) yesterday and I’m still very much enthralled by it. I greatly encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in Old Norse Religion–whether that interest is based in academia or in a lived personal spiritual tradition or both–to see this film at once. Let it transport you to 9th century Northern Europe, from the desolate coasts of the Orkney Islands to the lushness of the Dnieper River in Kievan Rus to the majestic valleys of Iceland. Indeed, the overall effect of the film on me was equivalent to an intense 2-hour-plus shamanic journey to a sensational Otherworld brimming with wonder and terror. There are thoughtful and deliberate evocations of Old Norse Deities, chiefly Odin and Freyr, that are sustained in the film and add to the feeling that, if you honor these Gods, you’re partaking of something akin to religious communion just from the very act of watching this movie. But make no mistake, as a member in the audience, viewing this film is not a passive experience. If you’re a Heathen or a Witch or a Pagan, this film will call you to participate at a Soul Level. You will, frankly, be shook.
In the Gregorian calendar, today is Good Friday for millions of practicing Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians: the most solemn day of the liturgical year as it commemorates Jesus’ torture and death by crucifixion (a common method of capital punishment meted out in ancient Rome) on the hill of Golgotha. For many modern Pagans and Witches, celebrating the holidays of Christian family members or loved ones is a common occurrence, especially in the interests of maintaining interfaith harmony and treating any religious devotee’s holy day with the respect accorded to it.
Easter for Witches: Celebrated or Not?
Several of my friends, current and former coven members, and acquaintances I’ve made in the broader Pagan community in the past 23 years express a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors on whether or not to celebrate Easter. Many Witches (Wiccan, Trad Craft, or other/non-specified), including my adored friend and current ritual partner A.H., are militantly anti-Christian and want no trace of Christian symbols, liturgical references, mythological constructs, etc., influencing (some might say “tainting”) the practices of their Craft. Other Witches, especially those involved in interfaith ambassadorship through formal group associations or civic involvement, swing the proverbial pendulum to the opposite extreme and are content to join their Christian family members, neighbors, or fellow civic religious leaders in celebrations of Easter, whether that means participating in a religious service or an interfaith communal meal or partaking in more secular activities such as supervising children’s Easter egg hunts and the like.
Easter and European Traditional Witchcraft
In the annals of Traditional Witchcraft as practiced in various European countries, celebrating Easter was par for the course. In Sweden, for example, there’s a folkloric belief that witches fly off to the island of Blåkulla to meet the Devil on Maundy Thursday. The sense of spookiness has been diluted into the contemporary custom of children dressing as “Easter witches” known as påskkärringar, who go go-to-door asking for Easter candies in the same manner of American children trick-or-treating on Halloween. And in Traditional Witchcraft as it developed in the mid-to-late 20th century under the tutelage of Robert Cochrane, Easter is actually seen is a high tide of magical power (Pearson 164).
After stirring “in the belly” (what Irish Gaelic “Imbolg” literally means) of a fallow season, we undergo birth pangs to extricate ourselves from winter’s constricting force. Fueled by the Goddess/Saint Brigid’s sacred fires of hearth, head, and heart that warm, inspire, and heal; and cleansed by Her holy waters of renewal, we stand assuredly in Her might.
It breaks my heart to announce that my father died today, two months shy of his 82nd birthday. He had greatly suffered physically the past four years from his Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and psychologically the past year from his advanced dementia, but it was neither of those things that killed him.
Happy New Year! Here we are, trucking into year three of the global pandemic experience, but as Ifá revealed to me years ago, don’t let calamities in the outer world interfere with your Sacred Work of receiving your Ori- and Orisha-given blessings. Ashé! And so I abide by my annual tradition of detailed Tarot divination via my Zodiacal 12 Houses/Wheel of the Year spread. Come join me and peer betwixt those goodly pillars of Boaz and Jachim for some wise insights…
No matter where you are in the world, Friday’s lunar eclipse at 27° Taurus will be impactful. For starters, it’s the longest eclipse in duration in over 580 years of human astronomical reckoning:it will last three and a half hours! In the Central Standard Time zone of the U.S., which is my time zone (please adjust for your corner of the world accordingly), the Taurus Moon will noticeably begin to become engulfed by Shadow at 1:15 a.m. and the Shadow will have dissipated by 4:45 a.m. on Friday, November 19. The apogée of lunar fullness happens at 2:57 a.m.
What Mysteries will our beloved Luna undergo during this long descent into Shadow? Her story will ripple out and reach us all, especially with the dramatic backdrop of planetary aspects that set the stage for this eclipse.
Happy birthday to my Virgo readers! September is one of the few months of the year that we get a break from the eclipse cycles, which kick up again in November. This is going to be a largely pleasurable and healing month given the planetary aspects, thanks in a huge part to the New Moon at 14° Virgo tonight: Monday, September 6 (Labor Day in the USA); it will be exact at 7:52 p.m. CDT (please adjust to your local time zone accordingly). If your Virgo birthday falls within a couple of days before or after this New Moon (mine does!), you’ll really want to pay attention: such a once-in-a-decade Birthday Lunation heralds the unfolding of a brand new life path (and the confidence to walk it!), major changes for the better! Read on, gentle reader…
Exactly 30 years ago today, I chose to become a vegetarian. I wanted to turn a date associated with the worst pain my parents and I have ever known–the day that my 20-year-old brother suddenly and violently lost his life– into something life-affirming.