MITHRAS, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the wall!
“Rome is above the nations, but Thou art over all!”
Now as the names are answered, and the guards are marched away,
Mithras, also a soldier, give us strength for the day!
–Rudyard Kipling, “Song to Mithras” (1922)
During my lunch break yesterday I went to the Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza, Chicago’s annual Yuletide celebration of Teutonic culture and the contributions of German immigrants to the city’s rich, culturally woven tapestry of history. Amidst the cheerful booths showcasing Bavarian woodcarvers’ wares such as nutcrackers and cuckoo clocks, and the food vendors with their mouthwatering apfelstrudels and warm and spicy glüwein to ward away winter’s chill, you’ll find a Nativity scene, the subject of many a tourist’s photograph. In front of it, stretched out on a fence, stands a banner from the Freedom from Religion Foundation brazenly wishing passers-by a “Happy Winter Solstice!” There’s a message below the headline, the first sentence of which reads: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the Birth of the Unconquered Sun–the TRUE reason for the season!” I smiled and applauded, then took the obligatory photo for my Instagram account. I thought warmly of the first Winter Solstice public ritual I’d ever participated in, way back in 1999, which honored the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) as the god Mithras. I was obsessed with researching everything I could about the cult of Mithras, and I took it upon myself to write a research paper that I presented to the Gardnerian coven I belonged to at the time. I’d like to share the fruits of my research here, as Winter Solstice is imminent, and I like to muse on how this Persian import of a cult provided serious competition for a nascent Christianity in the Late Roman Empire. Oh, if only history could have turned out differently… Continue reading
“I dried my tears, and armed my fears
With ten thousand shields and spears.”
–William Blake, “The Angel” (1794)
I think of my body like a harp sometimes, one with finely tuned strings that get plucked days in advance of certain cosmic phenomena happening. For me, no cosmic phenomena register so viscerally like the energies surrounding eclipses. To quote T.S. Eliot’s magnum opus of Modernism, The Wasteland (1922), “My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad” (line 111). Continue reading
Calling all Kemetic polytheists, Pagans, Tameran Wiccans, ceremonial magicians, FOI members worldwide, devotees of the Neteru of the Two Lands, and friends! All are welcome to the 22nd annual Fellowship of Isis (FOI) Goddess Convention in Chicago! It takes place Saturday, September 26, 2015, at the ManKind Project Building, 1900 W. Fulton Street, Chicago, IL 60612 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (On-site registration begins at 9 a.m.) Mercifully, parking is free and abundant outside the ManKind Project Building–a rarity in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood! Huzzah!
Sponsored by the members and friends of the Chicago-based FOI Lyceums of Eleusis and Alexandria Mishigami; and the Iseums of Hathor-Neith-MahaLakshmi and the Rekhet Akhu; and the Dunsmuir, California-based Lyceum of Karnak; as well as by Chicago’s Life Force Arts Center, this year’s Goddess Convention is dedicated to the Great Ennead of Holy Powers. The Main Liturgy to be performed is the Priesthood Alchemical Drama of “Uranus, Coming Forth by Day”–the sixth ritual in the late Lady Olivia Robertson’s FOI clergy publication, Sphinx: Goddess Myths and Mysteries.
It was deliberately selected not only for its themes of redemption and rebirth–ones that are very relevant in a strife-ridden world where many people are coming to consciousness about stepping up their service to their Powers and the planet as the latter continues to undergo great upheavals–but because it is solely oriented towards the Neteru of Egypt. The performance of this Main Liturgy is a sacred reclamation of “Isis” as a Holy Name of a Great, Ever-Living Goddess–not a besmirched, degraded, and hated name inaccurately assigned as an acronym to depict the egregiously evil deeds of terrorists fueled by a vicious Abrahamic zealotry. There is an urgency behind this reclamation; we love our Goddess in Whose Name our Fellowship is derived and anchored, as we love and adore all the Children of Shu and Tefnut. At this time of the Autumnal Equinox in North America, when energies are focused on giving thanks for a successful harvest and on preparing for the darkness to come, we honor the Powers from Whom manifold blessings flow. The Powers that sustain us. The Powers that light our way through the Duat.
Fellow Virgos, it’s time to cash in our karma coupons! The Big Daddy of our solar system, Jupiter, has officially entered our Sun Sign (in the 1st House of Self) and will remain there for the next 14 months! Make the most of this auspicious period and welcome Jupiter’s blessings of abundance, joy, expansion, vitality, well-being, and just plain ol’ good luck! It seems we’re way overdue for this outpouring of benevolence–the past two years have been pretty rough, eh?–so who better than the planet dubbed the “Great Benefic” to bestow this cornucopia of goodness in our Sun Sign of the Bona Dea, the nurturing Earth Mother! Boom-shakah-lakah!
“Sekhmet the Healer” stained glass by Chicago artist Thom Lausch, now hanging in my living room’s east-facing window. This gorgeous piece was my birthday gift from a dear friend who also happens to be the Executive Director of the Life Force Arts Center of Chicago, where Mr. Lausch often exhibits (and sells) his work. This is my photo; please do not use it without my permission.
If any of my coworkers happen to be reading this, they’ll learn in advance that I plan on calling in a sick day for work tomorrow, as my kidneys are in extraordinary pain. The infection I was diagnosed with last Monday has only worsened with the antibiotics regimen I commenced that day. I was hardly experiencing any pain when I saw my primary care doctor; by the following morning, a dull thud in the middle of my back morphed into a screaming, burning pain that’s only gotten worse in the course of the week.
When I’m in the midst of ritual activity, my body takes a back seat to corporeality, if that makes any sense; instead, an involuntary process of readying myself to be a fitting receptacle for engaging Powers and spirits overrides whatever biological processes I might otherwise find to be more pressing concerns (e.g., hunger, fatigue, having to relieve my bladder, etc.). Given that all last week had me in rounds of devotional rituals during the Epagomenal Days, I dismissed my kidney pain and the regimented schedule of antibiotics and other meds as inconveniences to be dealt with at a later time.
The night of July 31 witnessed the most frenzied activity and invoked many a fiery correspondence: the Blue Moon would wind up overseeing my participation in the Polytheist Day of Protest Against Daesh, wherein I unleashed a doozy of a curse with the aid of a variety of Deities I invoked from the Fertile Crescent as well as Egypt and Greece—Nebet-Het (whose birthday was celebrated in the fifth and final Epagomenal Day; She is also my Patroness), Sekhmet, Set, and the Triple Hekate I honor at both the night of Dark of the Moon as well as Full Moon: Hekate Khthonia, Hekate Brimo, and Hekate Phosphoros. The vessel for my curse was my workhorse of a massive cast iron cauldron and the roaring fire it contained; the fire was comprised of a base of rubbing alcohol (91%) and epsom salts, to which I added my own urine, cactus quills from Texas, asfoetida, and powdered ague root and leaves. Continue reading
What do you get when you combine a romantic weekend getaway at an out-of-state B&B (a getaway that you planned for your partner’s 32nd birthday); supreme hospitality and welcome from the genii loci as well as the human residents of a place you’re visiting for the first time; the energies of the Titan goddess Hekate; the energies of the Inuit goddess Sedna; the energies of All-Father Odin; the energies of the particular Elder Futhark runes Dagaz, Ansuz, and Gyfu; an amber ring; and the supremely potent cosmic “reset” button energies ushered in by Friday’s whopper of a total solar eclipse Spring Equinox? YOU GET ENGAGED, THAT’S WHAT! Continue reading