Recipe for Spiritual Protection Spray

I’m gearing up to do a house cleansing for a client this upcoming weekend and I took advantage of astrological timing to create the following spiritual protection spray. I’m going to leave this with the client once the house cleansing/spirit banishing process is complete and recommend she use it on herself and her young children to clear their auric fields.

I thought I’d share the recipe for the spray with you, gentle reader.

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Ave, Magna Deum Mater! The Rites of the Goddess Kybele, Then and Now

Go to the Phrygian shrine of Cybele, to her groves

Where the voice of cymbals sounds, the tambourines rattle,

Where the Phrygian piper sings with the deep curved pipe,

Where Maenads wearing ivy throw back their heads,

Where they practice the sacred rites with sharp yells.

Where they flutter around the goddess’s cohort:

It is there we must go with our rapid dances.

–Catullus, Poem 63 (circa 60 BCE)

When we think of the Ides of March, naturally, our minds as postmodern Westerners turn to thoughts of the assassination of Julius Caesar in the year 44 BCE (Before Common Era). But the ancient Romans left us a far greater legacy than the anniversary of a sordid murder. This time of year was a very holy one in the Classical Mediterranean world. Aside from celebrating the Feast of Anna Perenna, the Goddess of Timekeeping, on the banks of the Tiber River and in a sacred grove between the Flaminian and Salarian Roads, the ancient Romans kicked off a multi-week Festival in honor of the Great Goddess Kybele (Cybele), a Phrygian Mother and Mountain Goddess/Lady of the Beasts as well as order-upholding Goddess of the Polis, She Who was known for Her ecstatic Mystery cult (featuring Her slain and reborn consort, Attis) and for granting the Romans victory in their demoralizing and horrendously protracted Punic Wars (264 – 146 BCE) against the Carthaginians. Continue reading

Baba Marta: Slavic Goddess of the Liminality of March

In South Slavic folk belief, the month of March is personified as a goddess named Baba Marta (“Old Woman March”). The erratic weather patterns typical of this month are ascribed to the goddess’ seemingly fickle nature: She likes to be an Old Winter Hag one day and a beautiful Spring Maiden the next, ushering in either snow and cold or balmy temperatures with sunshine, depending on Her mood.

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Just yesterday here in Chicago, in fact, we had a freakish snowstorm with near-zero-visibility conditions overtake the afternoon after a spell of Spring-like weather. When I spoke to my parents on the phone and we discussed the weather, we all agreed that Baba Marta was having a grand old time causing the mid-month snowstorm. My mother sang the “Baba Marta” nursery rhyme / children’s poem she remembered as a child. It was composed by the beloved Serbian poet, Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj (1833-1904; fun fact: his last name is the Serbian word for “Dragon”!). I’ll write it in transliterated Serbian first and then translate it into English:

Baba Marta, narod veli

Chas sneg, chas vedrina

Sprolechem se vrlo chesto

Usput sretne zima!

 

Baba Marta, the people say

Now blizzard, now clear sky

Springtime very often

Meets winter!

 

For many Indo-European cultures, the year began with the arrival of Spring and the main Deity presiding over the transition from the old year to the new aptly has characteristics of a liminal nature. This Being can can alter the hinges of Reality, alternating between What Was and What Is Yet to Be. The Kalends of Ancient Rome commemorate the arrival of the month of March and the new year by celebrating the Matronalia, a days-long festival honoring several goddesses (“the Mothers”), chiefly Juno as the Supreme Mother and Bona Dea but also Anna Perenna, the Goddess of Time-Keeping. The Romans honored mortal women as Their earthly counterparts. (Interestingly, in the UK Mothers’ Day takes place in March [it took place this past Sunday].)

The Slavic Baba Marta reminds me of tales I have heard from Ireland and Scotland of the Cailleach Bheara/Bheur, the ancient Goddess of the Land, Hag of Winter, Who, when She sees fit, can transform Herself into a beautiful Spring Maiden (Bride or Brigid in Scotland), often by rejuvenating Herself in a sacred body of water. Doubtlessly, these tales wove their way into Arthurian lore of the late Middle Ages with the recurring “loathly lady” characters like Dame Ragnell, women of power who can transform themselves from frightful crones to seductive young lovers when knights worthy of their help learn the valuable lesson that a woman’s greatest desire is to never have her sovereignty forfeited.

Many Slavic cultures retained the folk memory of these goddesses long after Christianity displaced Their official worship. Customs like the burning of the (female) effigies of personified Winter during the Maslenitsa festival in Russia and the Ukraine, a Carnival-like celebration that precedes the start of the Lenten season, or the March 1 exchange of “martenisti” figures on Baba Marta’s Day in Bulgaria show that the death-dealing Winter Witch and the life-affirming Goddess of New Beginnings are ever in Their peoples’ hearts.

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Bulgarian Martenisti effigy.

Slava, Baba Marta! / Glory to Baba Marta!

A Strange Dream of Deity Possession

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced any disturbing dreams but the one I woke up from at 5:05 this morning (it’s still pitch black at that time in Chicago’s late-winter skies) still has me reeling and viscerally experiencing its effects in my chest: there’s a sensation of tightness and literal heaviness in my heart chakra area and I’ve got an elevated heart rate (116 BPM). I dreamt that I had gotten possessed by none other than the goddess Kali-Ma; the scene switched from its original location and had me in my living room of my childhood home, where my dead grandmother on my mother’s side was speaking to me until she saw my possessed state and became terrified of me and backed herself up against the south wall of the living room, screaming in horror. I was horrified because the part of me that was still “me” in my consciousness was incapable of stopping any of it.

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How Death Crashes Our Assumptive Worlds: A Dispatch from the Frontlines of Grief and Spiritual Crisis

Very sad and shocking news was relayed to me as I was about to get ready to shower and start my morning: my dear friend Kathryn, on whose behalf a multi-state healing prayer circle kicked off last weekend in preparation for her grueling cardiac surgery yesterday, died late last night. Apparently, the full moon eclipse energies ushered her out of this world and into the crystalline Otherworld of Caer Arianrhod, where Kathryn can journey to her ancestors and to her Brythonic Polytheist family of the Children of Don. Continue reading

Prayer for Healing to La Santa Muerte Azul

I’m so excited I can’t stand it! Tonight at 7 at Alchemy Arts Bookstore in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, I’ll be presenting a workshop and leading a prayer ceremony in honor of La Santa Muerte. Based on the online registration plus what the store’s proprietor said to me on the phone last night, it’s going to be a packed house, which has me giddy as I’m very much looking forward to sharing my love for La Santísima with so many people eager to learn about how they can cultivate a devotional relationship with Her. Continue reading

My Year-Wheel Tarot Spread for 2018

Happy New Year, gentle readers! My time-honored tradition of casting this 13-card Tarot spread for myself as a forecast for the year ahead has continued unabated since 1989, I just realized. I was in high school at the time and used the Marseilles deck that was gifted to me by my now-late uncle Milan; it was my very first deck. If you’re familiar with that deck, you know how challenging it can be to study the meanings of Minor Arcana cards that aren’t Court cards; with little pictorial symbolism to go on, I went straight for memorizing the meanings of the numbers, wincing every time I would come to draw a Five card, irrespective of the Elemental suit, and rejoicing at the Aces, Sixes, and Eights. Continue reading