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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My Question to Christopher Penczak on Mystic Chat (Recorded 2/3/2022)

My friend Chris Allaun of the Chicago chapter of the Queer Neopagan spirituality group Fellowship of the Phoenix invited me to participate in his Zoom interview last night of acclaimed contemporary American Witchcraft teacher and author Christopher Penczak, and I’m glad I did. Here’s the link to the full 54-minute-long recorded interview. My question comes in at 38:31. Here’s the transcript of what I typed in the Chat and how Christopher Penczak answered:

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My Year-Wheel Tarot Reading for 2022

Happy New Year! Here we are, trucking into year three of the global pandemic experience, but as Ifá revealed to me years ago, don’t let calamities in the outer world interfere with your Sacred Work of receiving your Ori- and Orisha-given blessings. Ashé! And so I abide by my annual tradition of detailed Tarot divination via my Zodiacal 12 Houses/Wheel of the Year spread. Come join me and peer betwixt those goodly pillars of Boaz and Jachim for some wise insights…

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A Great Time Yesterday at Pagan Pride Milwaukee!

My Pagan art and jewelry Etsy business, Jackal Moon Designs, had a wonderful debut in-person at Pagan Pride Milwaukee, a day-long event held yesterday at Moose Lodge #49 (5476 S. 13th Street) in Milwaukee’s South Side. This was my first odyssey as a fully vaccinated individual attending an in-person Pagan Pride event since the pandemic began. (By way of contrast, Chicago’s Pagan Pride, slated for October 3 this year, will once again be an online event.) I had the immense pleasure of reconnecting with Wisconsin-based friends in the Pagan community I haven’t seen in at least 2 years, as well as meeting and networking with new-to-me individuals and organizations in the greater Milwaukee metro area.

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Happy Belated World Tarot Day!

Preparations for today’s Super Full Moon Eclipse in Sagittarius got in the way of my celebrating this yesterday, but happy belated World Tarot Day and may all your divinatory readings bring you joyous journeys of self-discovery! I decided, after emerging from my overnight ritual/puja/vigil whose focus was spiritual protection during the eclipse, to do a Tarot reading: 6 cards to detail what the next 6 months have in store for me, post-eclipse. Here are my results.

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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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Happy Earth Day, Earthlings!

No, I’m not writing this post from the perspective of outing myself as an extraterrestrial, although, to quote the character of Harry (marvelously played by Alan Tudyk) on the hit SYFY Channel series Resident Alien, “I hear they’re pretty cool!” 🙂

Earth Day: Cause for Optimism, Cause for Despair

Every Earth Day brings up a whole host of emotions for me: on the one hand, I feel gloriously optimistic and tremendously inspired by the passion of climate change activists, especially galvanized young voices on the vanguard of the movement such as 18-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and her peers. There’s no denying that in the past decade or so here in the US, environmental, climate change, and habitat/resource conservation issues have definitely risen to the forefront of the collective consciousness, economically (feeling greater degrees of empowerment as consumers to align our shopping choices with our personal values) and politically (where these issues are, unfortunately, vehemently debated across party lines, of course). From the social justice angle voiced by BIPOC activists denouncing the overt, systemic racism behind decades-old policies of polluting communities of color and the sacred lands of First Nations Peoples to the more personal economic and health angles of looking to maximize energy efficiency and reduce waste in the home while opting for organic foods on our plates (and even growing our own produce), more and more people are, thankfully, thinking about and acting upon a desire to promote sustainability. (Today’s Google doodle, screenshot below, made me applaud and cry tears of joy!)

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 3.46.04 PM

On the other hand, since I aspire to live every day as Earth Day with my conscious choices, I also feel a world of despair weighing on my heart. The plain facts of the case are that we’re all crowding ourselves on an increasingly fragile planet with drastically shrinking resources. Our late-stage global capitalism exudes a rapacious appetite for destruction, laying waste to swathes of Amazonian rain forest with illegal logging (China can’t get enough timber) and drying up entire rivers in Chilean villages so life-giving water can be rerouted to corporate-owned avocado orchards (watch the Netflix documentary Rotten if you haven’t already; it’s a disturbing eye-opener of the ugliness in global food production). I seethe with rage. I feel sick to my stomach. I often cry in states of deep despair when I watch the YouTube videos of my favorite evolutionary biologist, Dr. Guy McPherson. In his ocean of data pertaining to mass extinction events and what he terms “near-term human extinction,” he soberly tells us that our efforts to save the planet, while stemming from noble intentions, amount to “too little, too late.”

That’s despair and tidal waves of hopelessness stemming from the macro level. At the micro level, to give but one example, when I see how my neighbors repeatedly throw litter around in my neighborhood (in front of one park in particular), often from their cars as they careen down my street at outrageously high speeds, I feel the heaviness in my chest and tightness in my throat that is the same visceral response I have to grief. Since the pandemic began last year, it’s routine for me to have latex-free disposable gloves in my purse or in my pockets, so I invariably make a beeline for the garbage I see strewn about and take the time to dispose of it in the closest public trash can I can find. But I can assure you I am grumbling very misanthropic thoughts under my breath as I do so! I think a part of me wants the human race to die off because we in Western societies have been, since the advent of the Industrial Revolution at least, such ungracious guests in our Earth Mother’s house! Like the brilliantly visionary Tool song “Aenima” informs us, “The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.”

It’s painful.

We live in very challenging times and it seems like we’re on the fast-track, collectively, to devolution, not the vaunted “progress” that our misplaced faith in technology as the ultimate savior tricks us into believing.

What’s a Witch to do?

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