Biljini Petak: “Herbal Friday” Before St. George’s Day

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.

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In Service to Hekate: Dark Moon Deipnon Ritual and Paupers’ Graveyard Cleanup on Earth Day 2020

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”).

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Piles of Trials: April’s Astrologically Ornery Days

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

Replenish Yourself: Gather Sprowl from the Land

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.

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The Devil in Serbian Folklore

“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.

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Break Down, Break Through: The Astrology of January 2020

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?

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My Year-Wheel Tarot Reading for 2020

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.

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10 Years in Ifa

Today, 13 December, 2019, which many peoples of (northern) European descent celebrate as St. Lucy’s Day (which I dedicate to the honor of the goddess Hekate as Phosphoros, “Light-Bringer”), marks my exact 10-year anniversary of receiving my Hand of Ifa (the culmination of a three-day initiation ritual) and of being crowned with my Guardian Orisha. Today marks a tremendous milestone in my life.

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Happy Navratri: Blessings of Durga-Ma!

This is a holy season for many religious traditions. Last night at sundown, the Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah (L’Shanah Tovah to all my Jewish readers and friends!) began, kicking off the period of the High Holy Days that culminate with the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur on the evening of October 8; this new year is the year 5780 in the Hebrew calendar.

Yesterday also began, for the 1 billion+ adherents of Hinduism around the world, the 9-day Festival of the Goddess Durga known as the Navratri. These are among the most auspicious days of the year in the Hindu religion, and while the whole country of India celebrates the Navratri, the festival is celebrated with a particular fervor in the Indian states of West Bengal (home to the Kali-centric city of Kolkata) and Gujarat.

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