Once again, pre-Christian Celtic and pre-Christian Slavic magico-religious observances overlap at this time of year. While many Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate May 1 as Beltane, and bring the greenery o’ the Wildwood into their homes and ritual spaces, my Serbian Witch self celebrates this Friday as Biljini Petak, the “Friday of Gathering Wild Herbs and Flowers.” Celtic or Slavic, this time of year is held sacred as the start of summer, and some very ancient Powers are revered and thanked for Their blessings of returning the earth to vibrant life and verdant fecundity after the barrenness and tedium of winter.
The Sun’s annual transit through Taurus is one of my favorite times of the year. There’s a real palpable sense of Spring finally arriving (its arrival is typically delayed here in chilly Chicago): the trees and tulips are flowering, the warbler birds are out in full force to serenade day and night, and my personal artistic/creative endeavors receive a very welcome Venusian boost of energy. I’ve been making quite a lot of necklaces to sell on my Etsy site, JackalMoonDesigns, and I’d like to showcase a few of them for you now. COVID-19 be damned: it’s time to get our ritual bling on!
I love being a morning person. I’m not one to sleep in past 6 a.m., even on the weekends, so I’m up and walking my dog, L’il T-Man, very early in the morning. Our first destination is the paupers’ graveyard near my home. It’s a treat to witness the dawn of a new day from the vantage point of standing in one of the commemorative concrete circles, each of which bears bronze plaques that honor a different demographic group buried on the premises (e.g., John Doe Civil War dead, John and Jane Doe victims of the 1871 Chicago Fire, Cook County Asylum for the Insane patients and their children, etc., over 38,000 total bodies).
And in the past 7 years of living in this far Northwest side Chicago neighborhood, the paupers’ graveyard has been my focal point of clean-up efforts every Earth Day. With today being the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and it being the Dark of the Moon at the time of this writing (the New Moon at 3° Taurus will occur tonight at 9:25 CDT), I am dedicating my clean-up efforts in a wider context of spiritual service to one of my Patron Deities, the ancient Anatolian-Greek Goddess, Hekate Khthonia (Hekate “From Inside the Earth”).
April is National Poetry Month. As a former college English instructor, a published poet, and an ordained Priestess, I honor the legacies of artists whose works have transcended the boundaries of their artistic mediums, and the vagaries of the times in which they lived, rippling out with profound spiritual force to affect so many people today. American poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) is such an artist who has had an incalculable effect upon my developing spiritual consciousness from my adolescence onwards; I go so far as to hail her in the ranks of my Mighty Dead, my spiritual forebears in Witchcraft.
Three years ago, I began to meditate on the idea of Plath’s poetry as a vehicle for encountering Dark Goddess energies and the need to harness those energies in a public Pagan ritual format. I knew I wanted to weave together the strands of my academic analysis of her work (I taught American poetry at the undergraduate level for 3 years as an adjunct English professor on Oahu), my Priestessing skills in generating energy and directing it towards a specific purpose to benefit a group of participants, and my own personal religious devotion to specific Dark Goddesses (e.g., Hekate, Nephthys, Hel). Art served as the medium of inspiration, as it often does: not just Plath’s poetry, but my artistic interpretations through acrylic paintings of some of Plath’s most famous works.
The following chronicles my process and its eventual public ritual outcome: an evening of tribute to Plath’s genius through the ritual encountering of Dark Goddess energy, recitals and discussions of Plath’s poetry, and a shamanic journey facilitated by the use of my 2017 painting An Homage to Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’ as a portal into the Otherworld. My goal was to have ritual participants surrender to the “blackness and silence” of the Dark Goddess, as described in Plath’s inimitable voice, and experience the transformative gifts of the Shadow.
Supposedly, here in my home state of Illinois, the governor’s stay-at-home/self-quarantine order designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, an order issued on March 21, will be lifted on April 30: just in time for Beltane/May Day! Continue reading
As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, illustrating the ongoing destabilizing effects of January’s epic Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, the month opens with another show-stopper of a Capricorn conjunction between two planetary heavyweights: Jupiter and Pluto. It amazes me how many big-name astrologers are ascribing positive energies to this conjunction. “Jupiter! Our Great Benefic!” they cry. “He expands whatever He touches!” Yes, He does. However, unchecked expansion is not always a welcome thing! Think of cancer-causing free radical cells, for example. They’re a Jupiterian phenomenon in the body, expanding the influence of a terminal disease. Continue reading
In this era of social distancing amidst this pernicious COVID-19 global pandemic in which we find ourselves, focus on how your solitary spiritual practices can not just grow, but thrive. One helpful method of personal spiritual battery replenishment takes its cue from the swelling Traditional Witchcraft current in contemporary Paganism, whose tenets include, among other things, establishing a dynamic relationship with the spirits of your local landscape.
“The Devil is not so black as he is painted.” (16th-century French proverb)
This past Monday, January 20, my parents and I celebrated the highlight of the year in terms of Serbian Orthodox religious festivals: the slava, or feast day, of our family’s patron saint, John the Baptist. It’s a day when many ritual protocols have to be observed to ensure blessings on the family in the year ahead. This feast day is the third out of a three-day series where the focus is on the literal and spiritual washing away of winter’s miasma/spiritual impurity from people and their homes. Not surprisingly, blessed water plays an integral role in each day of the festival; the customs clearly attest to pre-Christian origins.
It’s not difficult to see the effects of this month’s heavy-hitting, powerfully transformative planetary transits and aspects given the alarming global news headlines. Australia’s incineration and the death of half a billion animal species so far. The build up of war between the US and Iran and the threat of a much larger conflagration in the wake of the drone missile assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Great Britain’s Brexit mess. Ongoing anti-authoritarian / mainland Chinese government protests in Hong Kong.
It’s a jarring time and it can certainly fill one with a sense of acute anxiety, despair, and hopelessness. It’s as if we’re living out the horrors of W.B. Yeats’ nightmare chillingly depicted in his 1919 poem, “The Second Coming”:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. (lines 3-8)
Much of the chaos and confusion stems from the anticipated exact conjunction, slated for January 12, between structure-, law-, governmental-authority-oriented Saturn and Underworld-rooted, power-conscious, death-and-rebirth preoccupied Pluto. This conjunction is certainly a show-stopper on its own, but there’s actually a quadruple conjunction of planets in Capricorn happening on January 12, two days after a Cancer full moon eclipse! The scope of our narrative broadens. Journey with me into our space-time continuum, won’t you?
Happy New Year and may this new decade bring vibrant health, joy, prosperity, and love to us all! Per my time-honored tradition, before commencing my revels last night I sat in silent contemplation, reviewing my notes on the yearly forecast Tarot reading I did for 2019 to gauge my accuracy and then doing my reading for myself for this year.