This is an exciting time! In the four years since I have inherited the mantle of Executive Editorship of Isis-Seshat, a quarterly, international journal of The Fellowship of Isis, this has been the favorite theme I’ve devised: Polytheists and Pagans as “People of Prayer.” Why did I choose this theme?
As I write in my Letter from the Executive Editor:
Pagans who revere at least one Deity or abide by the Wiccan duotheism of “Goddess and God,” and certainly Polytheists who aim to cultivate devotional relationships with multiple Gods, are people of prayer. Yet I’ve often wondered why the centrality of prayer in devotional practice or even in magical workings seems to be curiously lacking as a subject in any Pagan discourse. What’s the hang up? Is it just perceived as “not cool”—something people don’t want to admit to doing because acknowledging that they pray to Beings external to themselves, whether formally or not, makes them sound “weak” or incapable of handling their problems? Do people find that prayer is a “tainted” practice for them because of negative associations acquired from one of the Abrahamic religions of their upbringing?
Naturally, many people entering the Big Pagan Tent as their new spiritual home can bring a lot of baggage with them from their previous associations with monotheism. The main reason I wanted to focus on this theme for the Spring issue of Isis-Seshat was to get frank discussion out into the open as well as to provide encouragement, raising ourselves to a high vibrational level by learning from each other’s beliefs and practices. Few things elevate my spirit more than witnessing another person’s devotional practices, whether those are expressed through carefully planned rituals or spontaneous acts. Even if the Deities honored are Ones that I personally do not relate to, my Sun Sign Virgo heart leaps with joy because I can feel the love behind the act of service.
My favorite, most memorable moments of prayer since I “came out of the broom closet” more than half my life ago have included other people. Many of those moments came unbidden—usually in sudden response to an overwhelming feeling of awe, like when my friend Katie and I were arrested by the sight of the bulbous, orange full moon rising over a three-way fork in a footpath carved out of red clover in a massive meadow in southern Wisconsin last year at Lammas Eve. I felt the Presence of Mighty Hekate, one of my three Patron Deities in the FOI, overtake me, and I raised my arms aloft and began shouting out a litany of praise to Her, my voice reverberating across the valley. Katie joined me. Fireflies danced about on the sultry air that night, punctuating our prayer with light. It was glorious!
This past winter, I had the enormous pleasure of leading a group prayer service to the skeletal Mexican folk saint, La Santa Muerte, at a Chicago occult bookstore that I’d been patronizing since I was fifteen years old. I typed out a 10-page prayer book comprised of prayers I’d written myself to give praise to various aspects of Mí Flaquíta (“My Skinny Lady”) and shared them with my fellow devotees. Some of the prayers were formatted as call-and-response litanies, but most were recited in unison. As I looked around the store, I saw beings positively alight with the energy raised from focused prayer: brows were knitted in concentration and fervent devotion, smiles creased lips, and hands were raised in joy. It was a tremendously bonding experience, not just between me and the other people present, but between all of us and La Santa Muerte Herself—but that’s exactly the point of religion. After all, the word itself means “to yoke together,” and whether you interpret that from a Right Hand Path standpoint of yoking your Self to a Divine Being external to you, or the Left Hand Path standpoint of the Divine Within, prayer is what fuels that dialogue.
So keep talking! Be blessed and be blissed: So Mote It Be!
The amazing, international roster of contributors and their thought-provoking, heartfelt essays and devotional poems/prayers include:
–Galina Krasskova (“On Prayer”), USA, Northern Tradition Polytheism/Heathenry
–Caitlin Matthews (“Praying with the Tarot”), UK, Goddess spirituality, Fellowship of Isis
–Judith Page (“Invocation to Sekhmet”), UK, Kemetic Polytheism, Fellowship of Isis
–Claudia Hamsadevi (“The Goddess Tara and the Forgetful Monk”), Germany, Buddhism, Fellowship of Isis
–Caroline Wise (“There Is No Part of Me That Is Not of the Gods”), UK, Paganism, Fellowship of Isis
–Damian Han (“The Left Hand Path and Prayer”), USA, Luciferian
–Daniel Noga (“Musical Prayers”), USA, Left Hand Path
–Lorna Smithers (“In Moments of Terror”), UK, Brythonic Polytheism
–Jeff Cullen (“A Polytheist’s ‘Thoughts and Prayers'”), USA, Hellenic Polytheism and Witchcraft
–Michael Starsheen (“Prayer in Ancient Egypt”), USA, Paganism, Fellowship of Isis
–Luna Pantera (“The Rosary of Mary Magdalene”), USA, Feri Witchcraft
–Linda Iles (“Prayer: The Joining of Heart and Mind”), USA, Goddess Spirituality, Fellowship of Isis
–Kasey Conder (“Temple of Isis Ploiaphesia Festival”), USA, Paganism, Fellowship of Isis
–Terra Akhert (“Fenrir: A Guided Meditation”), USA, Heathenry
–Chelsea Luellon Bolton (“Hekau of Prayer,” “Prayers to Aset,” “Stand by You”), USA, Kemetic Polytheism, Fellowship of Isis
–Anna Applegate (“Beginner’s Mind,” “Prayer to La Dorada for Financial Well-Being,” “Prayer for Giving Offerings to Sekhmet”), USA, Multi-trad Polytheism, Fellowship of Isis
My huge thanks to everyone who sent me content. I will be mailing out complimentary copies to all contributors today, but surplus hard copies of the issue as well as immediate PDF downloads are available for sale ($8 plus shipping or $5 for the PDF download, respectively) on my Etsy site: JackalMoonDesigns.
Please join me in supporting this wonderful publishing milestone in contemporary Pagan and Polytheist theology!