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
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
As an esoteric astrologer, I tend to see the first month of a new year as a tone-setting month for that year as a whole. January 2018, book-ended as it is by two full moons on the first and the last days of the month (and the second full moon is a total lunar eclipse–more on that in a bit), is a powerful month, indeed. True to its namesake of the liminal Roman god of doorways, Janus, the month will have us starting out facing the past (Cancer full moon on the 1st) in order to set our intentions for the future (Capricorn New Moon on the 16th and Leo total lunar eclipse full moon on the 31st). The fact that no less than 6 planets will be in Capricorn at the time of the New Moon on the 16th means that heavy Saturnian forces are at work to make sure that all of our aspirations firmly pass needed reality-checks before they can be set into motion. Personally, as a Virgo-Double-Aquarius, I’m loving what I see, as the end result will be liberation—from the debris of stagnant energies that clogged our progress in 2017, from falsehood, and from self-imposed limitations. If we play the energies right, the first month of the new year will have us learning to master the art of getting out of our own way!
Do you love to sing, especially at this time of year? Or does your system require a little “liquid courage” to belt out those familiar tunes? Perhaps it would help to sing something a bit friendlier to your spiritual sensibilities? To that end, I’ve composed a Heathen Yuletide carol, which is sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I dedicate it to my Heathen friends and to the God Bragi, Whom I invoked during my own group’s Winter Solstice celebration last night. If you sing my song or share it, please respect my copyright–that’s all I ask. Oh, and sing it with gusto with some mead, please! Enjoy and have a blessed Yule!
“The Twelve Days of Yuletide: A Heathen Carol”
© Anna Applegate 2017
On the first day of Yuletide, my true love gave to me…
A rune set carved from a pine tree
Here we are in the United States, having another weekday Halloween experience. As much as I have absolute gratitude for my job and the manifold blessings it brings, I honestly wish I were at home now…daydreaming (in terms of the day’s planetary transits, the waxing Pisces Moon is squaring dour Saturn, making this an ideal day for daydreaming and otherwise not being “productive”), preparing for tonight’s great Samhain Sabbat ritual experience, greeting trick-or-treaters that may be diurnally marching around or pushed in strollers by their caregivers around my cul-de-sac…and just plain old nostalgically musing about the beloved Halloween experiences of my happy 1980s childhood. I wrote about the pleasures of Halloween nostalgia last year, and I find that once again, events in the here-and-now–even a frenzied morning commute into Chicago’s Loop that had my arms overburdened with Halloween treats to bring into the office and share with colleagues–invariably pluck the invisible strings of a mental tripwire, sending me smiling along for yet another journey down a pumpkin-laden Memory Lane.
In my Serbian culture, we honor a curious saint on her feast day today, a protectress of women whose name literally translates to “Saint Friday” (Sveta Petka). Sir James Frazier’s well-known quip about Saint Brigid of Ireland–“She’s an ancient goddess in a threadbare Christian cloak”–seems applicable to the ancient and mysterious Saint Petka, also known as Saint Petka Paraskeva. Her name is a clue to her far-older-than-Christianity origins; it’s clear that her cult places us in the goodly company of Weaving Goddesses known throughout Old Europe: Goddesses of Fate and Destiny. Continue reading
Nine years ago today, my friend Maris made the tragic decision to take his own life; he was two weeks shy of turning 22 years old. He served active duty as a Senior Airman in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu, just blocks away from my former home at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. Maris was the middle son of Ray Butta and the Rt. Rev. Deena Celeste Butta, my former ArchPriestess in the Fellowship of Isis and founder of our Chicago-based Lyceum of Alexandria. In the fall of 2012, Deena herself was shockingly diagnosed with a rare brain disorder; in the 8 weeks remaining in her life after her diagnosis and the rapid onset of symptoms, Deena spoke often to me about how she relished to be reunited with her son–that she could literally feel his presence luring her towards the Mysteries on the other side of the grave.
Shortly after Deena’s funeral at Imbolc of 2013, I had a series of visitations from both her and Maris for several weeks and knew that mother and son were indeed together again in the Afterlife. The two of them would stand motionless at the foot of my bed, silently staring at me. Both had completely white hair. Deena looked just as I had known her in life: tall, beautiful, and elegant, her dancer’s training evident in her poise. Maris, however, had appeared as he must have looked when he was seven or eight years old–Maris as a child, albeit with the surprise of the all-white hair. Maris only ever appeared to me in that state and always with his mother, whereas sometimes I would have visions of Deena walking alone on a moonlit beach and I realized she was aligning herself with the energies of the Lady of the Lake, one of her favorite Goddesses.
The shock of Maris’ suicide rippled across the Pacific. There were no indications that he suffered from depression. Military service runs in the Butta family and Maris was proud to have served his country in the Air Force. He left no note behind, no clues. He took his life in a public location in downtown Honolulu and nearby security cameras captured everything, quelling fears that he may have been the victim of foul play. In the immediate aftermath, Deena asked me about my experiences with what I perceived as profoundly negative spiritual entities residing all over Oahu’s lush, rain forest-canopied leeward coast, where Maris and I both used to go hiking. Could any of those hostile spirits have driven Maris to suicide? I do believe that such a phenomenon could have been at least partially culpable. I had a horrible, heart-sinking-into-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling that Maris’ spirit risked becoming earth-bound on Oahu and possibly subjugated to the more powerful, nonhuman entities that hold such sway over the island: as a result, a massive undertaking of repeated ceremonies of release, performed both on Oahu and in Chicago, went underway.
And all of it, of course, coincided with the energies of Samhain.
As it still does.
With the great gates of Scorpio swung wide open to usher in the season’s retinue of restless spirits in this liminal time between the ending of the ancient Celtic year and the beginning of the new, I take comfort in one of the maxims my Gardnerian coven used to say in ceremonies performed on behalf of the Mighty Dead: “May we meet, know, and remember, and love one another again.”
Tonight I will hail Maris at my shrine of my beloved dead. A Sagittarius in life, he wanders freely still–of that I’m certain. All I can do is pray that my love and prayers born of tremendous heartache can reach his spirit and the hearts of his living family members.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than twice as many Americans die by suicide each year than by homicide. Please seek help for a loved one in crisis or reach out for help yourself if you’re feeling suicidal: someone is waiting to take your call 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).