Oak & Aconite Coven May Day 2022 Ritual

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!

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Have Yourself a Witchy Little Easter

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).

Robert Cochrane, 1931-1966

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Reflections on Lammas and Text of My 2021 Ritual

The transition from July to August and the first 10 days or so of August are among my most cherished times of the year. The sight of Summertime abundance on displaybasketfuls of mulberries from my own front and back yards; and from local markets, piles of ears of golden non-GMO sweet corn from fields within a quarter mile of where I live; honeycombs and cranberries harvested from Wisconsin farms a short drive across the border; a profusion of luscious peaches, varieties of apples; blackberries; and even gooseberries from Michiganis a welcome treat for the eyes that never fails to lift my spirits and pivot my consciousness into an attitude of gratitude.

Even in the midst of a worrisome drought that’s affected my county since Spring, the Gracious Gods bestow an outpouring of gifts and it’s right and just to give Them thanks and praise. As I smeared organic blackberry preserves on my Lammas ritual leftovers of rosemary-infused bread loves that I sliced and turned into Serbian-style French toast for breakfast this morning for my family, I sighed with contentment. Life is more than good. And every day that I’m above ground is a very good day.

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Invocation of Hekate at First Harvest

My ritual partner and I have been co-creating our ritual for the Sabbat of First Harvest, which we’re commemorating this coming Sunday, August 1. We’re Polytheistic Witches, both fervently devoted to Hekate, and I thought I’d share the Invocation to Hekate I’d written. (The full text of the ritual itself will be published to this blog as well, so stay tuned!)

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Blessed Beltane and Happy Orthodox Easter!

Blessings bright on this beautiful, summery (here in Chicago, we’re looking at bright sunshine and temps in the mid-80s again!) Beltane and Eastern Orthodox Easter Sunday! As my friend Szmeralda observed, “You’ve got double the magic!” in my household as dual-faith observances, begun on Friday, continue. 

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My Year-Wheel Tarot Reading for 2021

My time-honored tradition of performing divination to foresee the year ahead with my calendrical/zodiacal houses/clock face spread continues unabated. However, due to being very busy working New Year’s Eve and Day and needing yesterday to rest and decompress, I had to wait until today to actually do my Tarot spread. Come join me on this journey of (self-)discovery, won’t you?

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June 21, 2007: A Midsummer Faining to Honor the Sun Goddess, Sunna

Introduction

Twelve years ago today, my best friend (who is an amazing priest and vitki in his cultic tradition) Richie and I led a public Heathen devotional ritual known in some contemporary Norse Polytheist traditions as a faining (distinguished from the more-commonly-known ritual of a blòt; the former is distinguished by bloodless sacrificial offerings). It was a glorious day at a Lake County, Illinois-based forest preserve ritual location that I have always regarded as inherently sacred and immensely powerful: it is a place that shimmers with the energies of so many welcoming and helpful forest spirits, prairie spirits, and water spirits (lake and river). In attendance that Midsummer’s Day were good friends and notable Heathens in the community, such as my friend Atheleas, who served as the Illinois Steward for The Troth at the time, and several of her kindred members.

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Dulce Domum, the Soul Returns Home: Last Night’s Fellowship of Isis Funeral Ceremony for Grendel the Cat

The reality is that grief from pet loss is not as easily ‘fixed’ as some would have us believe. It’s hard to live in grief that’s judged as unworthy. Grief is about love, and our animal companions often show us some of the most unconditional love we could ever experience. How often, despite our best efforts, do we absorb some of society’s judgments and think, I shouldn’t be grieving this much? Yet when we let these thoughts in, we betray our genuine feelings.

Dr. David Kessler, You Can Heal Your Heart: Finding Peace After a Breakup, Divorce, or Death (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House Publishing, 2014), p. 136.

 

My role as cat midwife/cat mother has come full circle for my beloved Grendel: On September 21, 2007, I midwifed his feral birth in the woods behind my parents’ house; last night, June 11, 2019, I served as the death midwife who ushered him into the Spirit World after I made the heart-wrenching choice (given his Stage IV stomach cancer diagnosis less than 3 weeks ago) to have him euthanized at home sooner than I was expecting to. Continue reading

Exorcism Incense Recipe

I’m sharing my most potent incense recipe for use in rituals meant to banish unwanted spirits from places or people. Using a mortar and pestle, finely grind into a powder the following:

  • 1 part frankincense granules
  • 1 part benzoin resin (solid)
  • 1 part dragon’s blood resin (solid)
  • 1 large dried bay leaf
  • 3 small pieces of dried Solomon’s Seal root
  • 3 small pinches of dried rosemary
  • 3 small pinches of dried angelica root
  • 3 small pinches of white sage leaves
  • 3 small pinches of dried rue
  • 3 small pinches of dried rowan bark
  • 3 small pinches of dried St. John’s Wort
  • 3 small pinches of dried Dittany of Crete

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Lastly, add 7 drops of lavender essential oil. Stir the mixture well and store it in a small jar with an air-tight seal.

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This mixture has a dual purpose of banishing hostile spiritual entities and marshaling the aid of your helping spirits.

Tempest in the Desert: A Devotional Group Ritual to Set

For a long time, it was the conviction of scholars that the fact that one and the same deity might display divergent and sometimes even contradictory qualities could best be explained by assuming that such a god had resulted by a historical process from several simple deities. This train of thought is based on a rationalistic misunderstanding and a failure to appreciate the nature of religious experience. In essence, each important god comprises all possibilities. Gods can not be sorted out like buttons.

–te Velde, Herman. Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1977. pp.101-102.

Tempest in the Desert: The Ritual

(c) 2015 A. Applegate / aka Katakhanas

 

Opening Song in Egyptian

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                                    I rejoice

Ma a-ᾴ paut neteru                                                   May I look upon the company of the Gods.

Nuk ut’a tep ta ҳer Rᾱ mena-a nefer                      I am strong upon the earth before Ra,

Ẋer Ausȧr                                                                   May my arrival be happy before Osiris

Nuk t’a pet                                                                  I have sailed over heaven

Nuk ȧȧh                                                                       I am the moon

Ba-ᾱ pu neteru bai u en neheh                   My soul is the Gods, who are the Souls of Eternity

Au-ȧ ab kua neteri-kuᾴ                                              I myself am pure, I am mighty

A net’-hra-k Neter Set Ankh Ka                                  Homage to Thee, Set of the Living Ka

A net’-hra-ten nebu heh                                               Homage to Thee, Ye Lords of Eternity

Nuk ab per em seҳet                                          I am the pure one coming forth from the field

Ȧn-na en Ɵen netersenƟer                                          I have brought you incense

[BOW BEFORE SET’S IMAGE; ARMS IN OSIRIS POSE]

Tu a Suti                                                                          You are Set

Urt-Hekau                                                                       Mighty One of Words of Power

Ta-k-na uat seś-a em-hetep                                    Grant to me a way that I may pass in peace

Ȧn-na kert ᾱb-kua                                                          I am silent, I am pure

Ĺ-nᾱ, ҳerk-k neb Ra                                                       I have come to Thee, O my Lord Ra

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                                        I rejoice

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                                        I rejoice

[BOW AND SHAKE SISTRUM]

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