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.
I received my copy of the John Bauer Tarot (published by Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy) in the mail last night and I’m opening the deck now at my office (it’s a slow morning in my Big Pharma world, LOL). John Bauer (1882-1918) was a Swedish painter and illustrator; a great deal of his work was informed by his love of his culture’s folklore, which obviously informs the artwork of this deck. (His work to me is similar to the English artist Arthur Rackham; they were contemporaries.)
The first workshop I attended at Paganicon 2019, held last month in Plymouth, Minnesota, was a workshop on Traditional Witchcraft facilitated by a young Witch named Kelden, so that I was how I came to meet him and how I came to buy on the spot two copies (one for me and one for my BFF) of the oracle deck that he and his friend and deck co-producer, fellow Trad Craft Witch and artist and illustrator, Maggie Elram, just self-published: The Traditional Witch’s Deck (2019). I’m not surprised that an oracle deck has emerged that is exclusively dedicated to Traditional Witchcraft, given how popular the magico-religious practice has become within the landscape of today’s Paganism (chiefly as an alternative to Wicca); in the charming little paperback published book that accompanies the deck, Kelden explains that his aim was to “create an oracle steeped in history and folklore” (p.58). He and Ms. Elram have done a wonderful job!
I thought I would share verbatim my email reply to a friend I’ve only ever known on Facebook, one who knows I am an adherent of the African Traditional Religion (ATR) of Ifá. She reached out to me via email last night, asking my advice on how she can get started as she’s read a lot of books and has an affinity for several of the Orisha and Lwa but she wants to go about things the right way. This is how I replied to her questions this morning; her name, the state where she lives, and the name of a mutual acquaintance she and I share have been removed for privacy purposes. I’m sharing this correspondence here as this is something I get asked quite often and I would give the same advice to anybody. Continue reading
Happy New Year, everyone! Last night I performed my time-honored divination ritual, casting my 13-card Year-Wheel/12 Houses of the Zodiac Tarot spread to see what 2019 has in store for me month-by-month as well as filtered through the aspects of life experience denoted in the zodiacal 12 Houses of Western astrology. I carved some space and about an hour to myself amidst the revels at a friend’s house, and I think he and his two adorable Havanese dogs (sisters from the same litter) proved to be good luck charms for my reading, as I haven’t drawn such an awesome spread in a long time!
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
So we’re immersed in a bit of a cosmic paradox, eh? Here we are, just out of the starting gate of a brand new year, eager to implement all the grand plans we’ve resolved to weave into the tapestries of our life stories in 2016…and along comes a series of astrological events that are the equivalent of STOP signs: a Mercury Retrograde (first in Aquarius for all of two days, then backtracking into Capricorn–in fact, all four Mercury Retrograde periods this year will occur in Earth Signs), starting today; also starting today, the Capricorn Sun conjuncts powerful Pluto, and this aspect seeks to destroy and rebuild foundational structures in our lives, individually and at the collective level (a legacy of the messiness that we’ve inherited in the past four years of the potent and painful Uranus-Pluto square, which I’ve written about here); and this coming Thursday, the 7th of January, will have benevolent and bulbous Jupiter, our Daddy Warbucks of the Zodiac, going Retrograde until the 9th of May (but not leaving the Retrograde shadow period until early August), making us feel as though our personal development is being curtailed, ill luck is prevalent, and cosmic resources are that much more difficult to access. (The opposite, of course, holds true if you were born during a Jupiter Retrograde: this is one of your luckiest times of the year!)
As the Executive Editor of Isis-Seshat journal, the quarterly publication of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis, I’ve decided that I want the Winter issue to focus on divination as the nexus of cultus, community, and culture. As the etymology of the word denotes, the purpose of divination is to reveal “the will of the Gods.” In our postmodern Western societies, of course, the concept has largely been divorced from its polytheistic impetus and has become co-opted by (or, if you prefer, degraded to) a secularist impulse for “fortune-telling,” largely for its entertainment value. Continue reading
Happy October! These are great days to be a devotee of the Kemetic Neteru in Chicago! Last weekend witnessed the convening of the 22nd Annual Fellowship of Isis Chicago Goddess Convention–more on that in a subsequent post–and for the next several days, noted Egyptian studies author Normandi Ellis is going to be giving workshops in and around the city on various aspects of ancient Egyptian religion and modern-day ritual and divination systems. I had the immense pleasure last night after work of attending a three-hour class Normandi taught at the Life Force Arts Center entitled Medju Neter: The Oracular Use of Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Continue reading
Last night marked the end, in the Serbian calendar, of the “Unclean Days”–a period of time characterized by folk observances that reveal a commingled Pagan and Eastern Orthodox Christian sensibility. One of the major themes emphasized during this liminal 12-day period between the waning influence of the old year and the embryonic energies yet to crystallize in the new is the auspiciousness of performing divination.
Now, while my mother tells me that I had a great uncle in Serbia who performed divination by gazing into an old brazen bowl into which he read the shapes of a beeswax candle’s droplets in spring water, and my mother’s own mother told fortunes with a regular deck of playing cards as well as scrying in Turkish coffee grounds, I like to stick with the Tarot. But not just any Tarot deck–though, admittedly, like many Pagans, I have several at my disposal–my preferred one is the very first one to come across my petite priestess hands: a Marseilles Tarot deck given to me by my awesome Uncle Milan, my mother’s brother. During his 50 years of life (cut short by lymphoma) on this planet, he was an astute esotericist, Jungian psychologist, gifted viola player, and good-humored, pipe tobacco-smoking outdoors enthusiast. The Marseilles deck was his, given to me before my fifteenth birthday with a very knowing wink from his deep-set, coal-black eyes. Continue reading