Happy Navratri: Blessings of Durga-Ma!

This is a holy season for many religious traditions. Last night at sundown, the Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah (L’Shanah Tovah to all my Jewish readers and friends!) began, kicking off the period of the High Holy Days that culminate with the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur on the evening of October 8; this new year is the year 5780 in the Hebrew calendar.

Yesterday also began, for the 1 billion+ adherents of Hinduism around the world, the 9-day Festival of the Goddess Durga known as the Navratri. These are among the most auspicious days of the year in the Hindu religion, and while the whole country of India celebrates the Navratri, the festival is celebrated with a particular fervor in the Indian states of West Bengal (home to the Kali-centric city of Kolkata) and Gujarat.

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Gede Parma in Chicago for a two-day workshop: “Dancing with Deity—The Art of Sacred Possession”

It isn’t often that celebrated Reclaiming and Feri Tradition Witch, published author, and artist Gede Parma, who also uses the name Fio Aengus Santika, comes to the United States, but when they* do, it’s always a reason to celebrate! I have had the pleasure of sharing heart-centric ritual space in Traditional Witchcraft contexts with Fio during their last two Chicago visits in 2014 and 2017, respectively. They are a highly dynamic ritual facilitator and conductor of spirits. I’ve always left their workshops and delightful time spent socializing feeling elevated and transformed for the better afterwards.

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Tomorrow Night’s Highly Hyped Friday the 13th Pisces Full Moon

Let’s talk about tomorrow’s highly hyped Friday the 13th Pisces Full Moon! It will be exact at 11:33 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Like all Pisces lunations, it’s going to pack an emotional wallop and will bring both unique opportunities and inherent challenges not just on its own but in relation to the other planets.
As you can see below, we have a LOT of dynamic activity, as the Moon at 21 degrees Pisces will be conjunct Neptune, Pisces’ ruler, within a 4-degree orbit. This Piscean duo will be opposing the stellium of planets in Earthy Virgo (Mars, the Sun, Venus, and Mercury). At one level, many of us will be highly challenged by not being able to feel grounded. The bigger threat, though, especially for people with a preponderance of Earth Sign planets in their charts, is FALLING PREY TO DELIBERATE DECEPTION FROM OTHERS. This can range from contending with liars and cheaters in interpersonal, especially romantic, relationships to being hoodwinked by misleading language in contracts, etc. DO NOT MAKE ANY MAJOR DECISIONS OVER THE WEEKEND. Pisces likes to cast spells of illusion on the unwary. Keep your BS detectors fine tuned and at the ready!

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Come Check Out My Workshop on Ancient Egyptian Magic at the 2019 Chicago Pagan Pride!

This year, Chicago Pagan Pride will take place on Saturday, September 28. It’s being held at a new venue in the city: Que4 Studios, 2643 W. Chicago Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood. At the magical time of noon, I’ll be leading my “Hands-On HEKA” workshop on magic in ancient Egypt. Are you local? Come and say hello and sit for a (Greek Magical Papyri) spell, ha ha! 😉

tyet

The sacred talisman of the Tyet Knot, also called the Girdle of Isis.

I’m excited to be joining fellow Windy City Pagans, Polytheists, and Witches for a day of shared learning and networking! And the following weekend, the Chicago Fellowship of Isis community is having its 26th Annual Goddess Festival & Conference at Prop Thtr: a three-day event! Learn more on our Facebook page.

Check Out My New Jewelry Listings on JackalMoonDesigns!

I was ridiculously productive in the sweltering Chicago heat yesterday, making no less than 14 gemstone beaded necklaces in the span of an 8-hour workday; 12 necklaces have since been listed for sale on my Etsy site, JackalMoonDesigns. From devotional pieces intended to honor Deities across a swath of pantheons (Celtic, Kemetic, Hellenic) to my new and expanding line of Spirit Animals to more standard occult fare, there’s truly something for everyone in this diverse lot!

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A Religious Cult Without Context, for Starters: The Many Annoyances of Ari Aster’s 2019 Film, “Midsommar”

It was during an AMA on Reddit 13 months ago that American writer and director Ari Aster first announced that Midsommar would be the title of his next film and he was hoping to release it on Midsummer’s Day of 2019. He teased at its folk horror genre classification, revealing that Roman Polanski’s Macbeth (1968) and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973)—which, incidentally, happen to be two of my all-time favorite films—served as Midsommar’s two biggest cinematic influences. I was ecstatic upon hearing this news.

Coming hot on the heels of his powerful and bold 2018 debut film, Hereditary (you can read my review of it here), the bar for my expectations was set very, very high. I wanted to love Midsommar—I truly did. Unfortunately, though, in sharp contrast to the undoubtedly flavorful hallucinogenic teas consumed by the characters in the world of Midsommar, the film came across as grossly insipid to me. Far from elevating the folk horror (sub)genre, as one reviewer gushed, Midsommar flattened it, rendered it as non-engaging and as uninspiring as pieces of disassembled IKEA furniture spilled out of their cardboard box.

Worse, I worry about the potential social ramifications of backlash against Pagan communities in the U.S. and in Europe—when we’re not fighting for our rights to (re)claim ancient sacred sites for contemporary religious worship from countries where Abrahamic monotheism strongly imprints the laws of the land (look at the situation in Greece, for example), we’re constantly trying to disprove to our secular and monotheist- majority neighbors that any connotations exist between our autonomous, fragmented communities and established “cults.” The disturbing kinds of cults—Jim Jonesesque, Peoples’ Temple-congregants-offing-themselves-by-the- hundreds-in-remote-Guyana kinds of cults. In that regard, this film doesn’t exactly serve as a brand ambassador for contemporary Western (Neo-)Paganism.

Warning: My review is rife with plot spoilers! 

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The Great Lake County Ghost Adventure: My Second Paranormal Investigation

More notches in my paranormal investigation belt!

On Sunday, June 30, 2019, I had the immense pleasure of joining local historian, prolific author, and renowned paranormal investigator, Ursula Bielski, and her Chicago Hauntings crew for my second professional paranormal investigation—or series of paranormal investigations. Dubbed the Great Lake County Ghost Adventure, we traveled to and investigated many sites in Lake County, Illinois, over the span of seven-plus hours. This particular tour is one that Ursula and her team have been leading for the past four years and counting. There were approximately 30 people aboard the coach bus with me that departed from one of the municipal parking lots in historic Long Grove, Illinois, at 10 a.m. that day.

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