Today (Friday, March 17) was an incredibly full first day at Paganicon. Even before the workshops began, I spent 90 minutes volunteering to help a friend unload her cargo van outside the hotel (in the fabulous 17° sunshine) of shelving and her original (and quite heavy) multimedia works of her art she would be showcasing at the Art Show. The experience definitely counted as my cardio and my strength training workout for the day! Thankfully I’d had a hearty breakfast beforehand (food in the hotel restaurant as opposed to my road trip staples of cereal bars and Fruit Roll-Ups strips), and, more importantly, three cups of coffee, so I felt more than alert by the time the first of my three workshop intensives began at 10:30 in the morning.Continue reading
Tag Archives: grief
Serbian Folk Customs and Sympathetic Magic for Christmas Eve, 6 January: “Welcome, Cousin Oak, to Our House”
Holiday traditions take on an even greater importance for me now than they did years ago: as nearly the last member of my family to carry them on, it’s vital for me to participate in them. Cultural traditions impart to us a sense of belonging and continuity. No matter where today’s Serbian Diaspora lives around the world, today’s date, 6 January, is that of Christmas Eve (Badnje Veče, literally “The Eve of the Oak”—pro tip: Christ has nothing to do with these customs) and it brings with it a unique set of cultural customs and traditions that are anchored in Winter festivals meant to placate the Ancestors first and the Old Slavic Powers such as the protective God, Perun, Whose cult is tied to the oak tree, widely venerated across the Slavic world for centuries.Continue reading
Farewell, Beowulf the Cat
This painful year is book-ended by horrific losses to me: my father’s sudden death in January, and on this last day of the year, my beloved animal companion of the last 15 years and 3 months, Lord Beowulf, is dead.Continue reading
Án Mórrígan: My Praise Poem/Ritual Invocation to the Great Irish Goddess of War and Prophecy, Samhain 2022
This is the most spiritually significant time of the year for me, Samhaintide. For many weeks I’ve been pondering the overlap in calendrical calculations of seasonal shifts as well as cultural customs between the ancient Celts and the Slavs. Any Celtic linguist as well as any modern Witch will tell you that the Gaelic Samhain denotes “Summer’s End,” and the time to honor the dead and prepare for the trying season of Winter occurs in early November.Continue reading
Happy Fall, Y’all
We’re nearly three hours into the Autumnal Equinox from my Northern Hemisphere vantage point in Chicagoland. Fall Equinox, or Second Harvest, is one of my favorite Sabbats to celebrate. I honor my Holy Powers in this gilded season and watch the foliage of my local treescape transform from green to gold. The dying year is prepared for its final resting place in Winter’s embrace. With every falling leaf, I submit to Divine Mystery and ask for the guidance of my Goddesses and Gods to see me through the season of lengthening shadows, while I remember with thankfulness all the forms of abundance my Holy Powers have bestowed upon me.Continue reading
In Loving Memory of My Father (1940-2022)
It breaks my heart to announce that my father died today, two months shy of his 82nd birthday. He had greatly suffered physically the past four years from his Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and psychologically the past year from his advanced dementia, but it was neither of those things that killed him.Continue reading
30 Years of Living Vegetarian: Spiritual Reflections
Exactly 30 years ago today, I chose to become a vegetarian. I wanted to turn a date associated with the worst pain my parents and I have ever known–the day that my 20-year-old brother suddenly and violently lost his life– into something life-affirming.Continue reading
Reflections on Lammas and Text of My 2021 Ritual
The transition from July to August and the first 10 days or so of August are among my most cherished times of the year. The sight of Summertime abundance on display—basketfuls of mulberries from my own front and back yards; and from local markets, piles of ears of golden non-GMO sweet corn from fields within a quarter mile of where I live; honeycombs and cranberries harvested from Wisconsin farms a short drive across the border; a profusion of luscious peaches, varieties of apples; blackberries; and even gooseberries from Michigan—is a welcome treat for the eyes that never fails to lift my spirits and pivot my consciousness into an attitude of gratitude.
Even in the midst of a worrisome drought that’s affected my county since Spring, the Gracious Gods bestow an outpouring of gifts and it’s right and just to give Them thanks and praise. As I smeared organic blackberry preserves on my Lammas ritual leftovers of rosemary-infused bread loves that I sliced and turned into Serbian-style French toast for breakfast this morning for my family, I sighed with contentment. Life is more than good. And every day that I’m above ground is a very good day.Continue reading
Dulce Domum, the Soul Returns Home: Last Night’s Fellowship of Isis Funeral Ceremony for Grendel the Cat
The reality is that grief from pet loss is not as easily ‘fixed’ as some would have us believe. It’s hard to live in grief that’s judged as unworthy. Grief is about love, and our animal companions often show us some of the most unconditional love we could ever experience. How often, despite our best efforts, do we absorb some of society’s judgments and think, I shouldn’t be grieving this much? Yet when we let these thoughts in, we betray our genuine feelings.
—Dr. David Kessler, You Can Heal Your Heart: Finding Peace After a Breakup, Divorce, or Death (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House Publishing, 2014), p. 136.
My role as cat midwife/cat mother has come full circle for my beloved Grendel: On September 21, 2007, I midwifed his feral birth in the woods behind my parents’ house; last night, June 11, 2019, I served as the death midwife who ushered him into the Spirit World after I made the heart-wrenching choice (given his Stage IV stomach cancer diagnosis less than 3 weeks ago) to have him euthanized at home sooner than I was expecting to. Continue reading
Shining a Spotlight on Dark Nights of the Soul
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide Sea!
And Christ would take no pity on
My soul in agony.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, In Seven Parts” (1798), Part IV, lines 224-227
In my last post, I wrote about the beauty and the power of prayer and how it forms the core of my contemporary Polytheist devotional practice. But I certainly have had my challenges over the years in sustaining my practice, like any other religious person committed to devotional piety. Whether the span lasted for weeks or even months on end, the spiritual crisis known as the “dark nights of the soul,” a term first coined by the sixteenth-century Spanish Counter-Reformation mystic known as St. John of the Cross, was a dreadful phenomenon I’ve endured many times. Continue reading