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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The Mantle of Brigid: An Imbolc Prayer for Protection

After stirring “in the belly” (what Irish Gaelic “Imbolg” literally means) of a fallow season, we undergo birth pangs to extricate ourselves from winter’s constricting force. Fueled by the Goddess/Saint Brigid’s sacred fires of hearth, head, and heart that warm, inspire, and heal; and cleansed by Her holy waters of renewal, we stand assuredly in Her might.

Let us pray:

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Happy Birthday, Nephthys!

It’s very fitting that on this fifth and final of the ancient Egyptian Epagomenal Days (according to my reckoning of the Cairo Calendar), this liminal time between the year that is ending and the one that is beginning, that we celebrate the birth of the Great Goddess Nebet-Het (Nephthys), Wife of Set, Sister to Auset and Ausar, Mother of Anpu (Anubis). She is “the Lady of the House,” i.e., the embalming tent, the mourning kite and funerary goddess, the One Who Welcomes Those Who Enter Amenti.

I truly do believe in my heart that She Wyrdly marked me, to borrow the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “from childhood’s hour.” The parade of funerals in my own blood family starting from my early childhood (and shocking deaths too, I might add, such as my being the first person to surprisingly discover my maternal grandfather’s body after he had hung himself; I was 8 years old at the time) were, in hindsight, an Ordeal Path that ultimately baptized me into Her service. Her eerily-lit Underworld pathways are not for everyone but I look back on none of those profound episodes of loss with self-pity. Nephthys is absolutely my heart’s delight, and the Chief Power to Whom I dedicated myself for lifelong service when I became ordained as a Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis nine years ago. She is also the Patroness of my Death Midwife work.

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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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The Mystery, Majesty, and Moral Ambivalence of the Great God Set

According to the way I reckon the old Cairo Calendar, today is the Third of the Five Epagomenal Days, sacred days set aside as certain Gods’ (the Children of Geb and Nut) birthdays during the liminal period of the old year ending but the new year (Wep Ronpet) not having yet begun. (The New Year in ancient Egypt was calculated by the heliacal rising of the star Sirius, which usually takes place between what we know now as August 1-3.) Day Three of the Epagomenal Days commemorates the birth of my most cherished Kemetic Holy Power: red-hot, ultra-dynamic, take-no-bullshit SET!

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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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Honoring Vesna, Welcoming Spring

One of the central tenets of Traditional Witchcraft, in distinction to Wicca, is an emphasis on bioregionalism: leveraging the energy currents of the climate and seasonal changes that are specific to your area at a given time of year instead of relying upon a fixed system of seasonal rites, which may not reflect the conditions of your bioregion at all (Kelden 141-142). In my current climate and my specific locale (Chicago), the seasonal shift to Spring began pretty much at the month’s outset. Thus, I’m not waiting for the arbitrary date of the Spring Equinox to honor the Goddess Who, in Serbian culture, represents the new life and renewal associated with the concepts of dawn, reemerging/blossoming vegetation, clear skies, and fertility (of people, domesticated animals, and wild animals) that we associate with the season of Spring: Vesna.

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An Encounter with an Avatar of the Goddess Brigid

As far as Sabbat celebrations go, Imbolc was always one of my favorites (I love liminal markers in the shift between seasons, especially between winter and spring), but the Imbolc of exactly one year ago, 2020, will forever be cherished in my heart as the most spiritually poignant one I’ve ever experienced. I had a moment of profound epiphany that any contemporary Polytheist, of any tradition, would recognize the same way I had: a moment of instantaneous transformation wrought from an encounter with an earthly avatar of a very Living Deity, a vibrant Holy Power Who will always command my reverence and devotion even though the Gods of the Celts have, largely, remained elusive to me despite my many attempts at reaching out to know Them. I know in my heart that in the second floor hospital room of Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois, an avatar of Brigid knocked on the door and asked to be let in to comfort my suffering mom. And she came on Imbolc Day: February 2, 2020.

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Imbolc Crafting: Weave a Brigid’s Cross

I’m so thrilled to have the awesome folks at Chicago’s own Irish-American Heritage Center pass along this how-to video on weaving a Brigid’s Cross from newly harvested reeds. Blessed Imbolc!

Hail, Brigid, Triple Goddess of Poetry, Smithcraft, and Healing! May Her Holy Wells and Sacred Flames heal us, inspire us with creative visions, and endow us with courage!

https://www.facebook.com/IrishAmericanHeritageCenter/videos/255050419510356

Book Review: Jeff Cullen’s Liber Khthonia (2020; Brujo Bros LLC)

I’m going to state my personal bias up front: This is an astonishing modern grimoire written by a personal friend of mine who is an extraordinarily talented Witch, artist, writer, and devotee of the Goddess Hekate: Jeff Cullen. In 2019, he approached me and announced that he was going to be developing the idea for Liber Khthonia into a book. In addition to consulting me in an editorial capacity to discuss the structure and content of the manuscript (I did copyedit the final draft), Jeff honored me greatly, knowing of my reputation in the Chicago Pagan community as a Priestess of Hekate Khthonia, by asking me to write the book’s Foreword! I was thrilled to do so and saw the entire undertaking of the publication of Liber Khthonia as fulfilling a vital need among the Goddess’ ever-growing number of devotees worldwide who have been yearning for just such a book to deepen what can only be called a devotionally anchored Hekatean Tradition of Witchcraft. The book, hot off the presses, is now available in a handsome hardcover edition that truly belongs on the library shelves of every Witch who adores the Queen of Witches!

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