My Annual Year-Wheel Tarot Divination

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!)

Dizzy yet?

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On Grief and Grieving

The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness–
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way.

–Sylvia Plath, “The Moon and the Yew Tree” (1961, lines 17-22)

The more that I think about it, the less I believe what I experienced at 4:52 this morning was the ending of a dream. It was more of a spontaneous shamanic journey, the kind I’d had with disturbing regularity in the first two years of my brother Mark’s death. What I know for certainty was that I was in the Duat, and Sekhmet was next to me. She panted/grunted while scenting the air, Her lioness nuzzle awash in blood. Her pupils were massive, dilated, and gleaming like actual carnelian stones. Torch light either gleamed from behind or radiated from within Her. There was a wall behind us. We stood within a long, dark corridor. I knew unequivocally that Sekhmet protected me fiercely against evil entities that wanted to harm me. She fed on them. I was afraid–not of Her, but of where we were. I wanted out. And no sooner did I think that than did I feel myself being rapidly “plucked” upwards–in sheer nanoseconds. It was a jolting sensation, but I felt myself being pulled up out of the ground–even through my bed’s mattress!–before “crash landing” back into my body. I gasped and thrashed a bit–hitting my fiancé in the process–before sitting up and grabbing my iPhone from my nightstand. 4:52. Continue reading

Circles of Power: Reflections on Receiving My Elekes Initiation in Ifá

During my lunch break today, I swear I spotted an avatar of the Orisha Eshu. A young man skateboarding downhill on Adams Street in the shadow of the Sears Tower (yes, you read that right: as a native Chicagoan, I refuse to call it by any other name), weaving in and out of hordes of slow-moving tourists on this gloriously sunny and summer-like Monday. He sported a t-shirt that looked like a modified version of the Chicago flag: instead of the iconic series of four red, six-pointed stars, however, the word “Character” was emblazoned in large cursive script.

Ashé, ashé! I mentally affirmed as I read the t-shirt’s message and silently blessed the youth that whizzed past me. I pulled down on the collar of my shirt to expose my newly acquired elekes, and I said a prayer of thanks to each of the Orisha whose energies find manifestation in the individual necklaces ringing my neck, the necklaces I received this past Saturday night (the timing was interesting: Dark of the Moon and right on the cusp of the onset of a Mercury Retrograde period) in an initiation ceremony that lasted nearly four hours. Continue reading

In Praise of Anubis, Neb-ta-djeser: Lord of the Sacred Land

What an auspicious and delicious Friday the 13th this has been, and I haven’t even left the office yet to begin my lovely and leisurely three-day Valentine’s Day/Presidents’ Day holiday weekend!  (Io, Aphrodite!) I’m just giddy that this is the first easy-going Friday I’ve had at my job in months. And while much of my focus, die-hard romantic gal that I am, is centered on the joie-de-vivre that my bodacious beau Daniel and I are sure to experience tomorrow at the Lyric Opera production of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” (let’s get medieval!), February 14 is also a very special day for me because in the old Cairo calendar, it’s the Feast of Anubis, the jackal-headed son of my Patron Goddess, Nephthys. The Egyptian god Anpu or Yinepu–Anubis to the Greeks–has been making His presence known in my life in major ways in the past couple of weeks, particularly by offering His services as a spiritual guide and protector, so I’ve decided to set up an additional shrine to Him here at my office desk just now! (Crazy colleagues and clients, be gone!)

 

A serious contender for my next tattoo! I love how majestic Anubis looks but check out that fierce and fabulous Ammit towering above the scale! Gotta love that "Eater of Souls"! Rawr!

A serious contender for my next tattoo! I love how majestic Anubis looks but check out that fierce and fabulous Ammit towering above the scale! Gotta love that “Eater of Souls”! RAWR!

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My Annual Year-Wheel Tarot Spread

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

Go to Hel, Part 1: How My Polytheistic “Dark” Goddess Proclivities and Seriously Weird Wyrd Opened Wide the Gates to Hel

Theologically speaking, as a hard polytheist, I believe that the Deities I love and serve objectively exist and have distinct, independent personalities with likes and dislikes, preferred/time-honored ritual offerings, and unique bodies of lore surrounding Them. They are not mental constructs/Jungian archetypes drawn from some collective Unconscious well. Continue reading