Rite of Her Sacred Fires: Annual Global Hekate Devotional Ritual

While many practitioners of alternative spiritualities associate the full moon in May by annually commemorating the Wesak of the Buddha, I choose instead to light fires of welcome for my Patron Deity, the Goddess Hekate. Since 2010, the Covenant of Hekate has issued a global summons of Hekate devotees to participate in its annual Rite of Her Sacred Fires, which always occurs during the full moon in May.  Continue reading

The Autumn Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal Is Now Available!

As the Executive Editor, I’m very pleased to announce that the Autumn issue of Isis-Seshat, the quarterly journal of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis (FOI), is now available! Eighty pages–the longest issue to date–of stunningly beautiful (each issue is printed in full color on 80-lb. high-gloss paper stock) and theologically provocative essays, poetry, prayers, and original artwork from Polytheists (Kemetic devotees and others), Pagans, international FOI clergy, and U.S.-based artists delve into the subject of navigating “Dark Nights of the Soul.”   Continue reading

The Heart of Anatolia: Folk Dancing at the Annual Turkish Festival in Chicago

What a lovely way to spend one’s lunch break in The Chi, especially with this welcome return of hot summer weather! Chicago’s annual Turkish Festival is underway and lasts through Saturday, September 6. Daley Plaza is transformed into a cultural showcase of the best of Anatolia, from tasty foods to bazaars filled with handmade crafts from Turkey. I loved seeing the dancers: the 5-minute video footage I took from my iPhone camera came out really well; I published it on YouTube.

The dancers are lovely, their costumes exquisite, and I like that I have co-ed footage as well as men’s-only and women’s-only dances. Watching the choreography of the women’s dance gave me delightful goosebumps. I instantly thought of the Goddesses Kybele and Hekate. Fittingly, as I meandered around the bazaar afterwards, I found and wound up purchasing a ceramic pomegranate vase. It’s going on my Hekate shrine when I get home from work! In the meantime, enjoy the dance footage!

A Fiery Start to Wep Ronpet

“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

A Wonderfully Wyrd, Spiritually Synchronous Spring Equinox Weekend (Or, “Look, Ma! I Got Engaged!”)

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

Some Thoughts on This Evening’s Final Uranus-Pluto Showdown

Well, folks, the 7th and final exact hit in the protracted Uranus-Pluto square is timed for 8:50 p.m. Chicago/Central Daylight time. This “exuberant” (to borrow the euphemism Rev. Selena Fox uses to describe unruly children at public Pagan gatherings) planetary aspect has been with us since 2012, and revolutionary Uranus in Aries and transformative Pluto in Capricorn have more than done their duty in illustrating profound dysfunction in the various systems we live under–governmental, financial/corporate, societal. (Pluto, in particular, is a planet dedicated to exposing secrets.)

Uranus in Aries at an exact 90-degree square to Pluto in Capricorn. Image courtesy of www.templeofthejaguar.wordpress.com

Uranus in Aries at an exact 90-degree square to Pluto in Capricorn. Image courtesy of http://www.templeofthejaguar.wordpress.com

The key words coming from both planets in their respective signs are “dismantle” and “restructure.” Uranian energy is like The Tower card from the Tarot: a zapping, instantaneous demolition crew knocking down what no longer works/has served its purpose. Let’s-cut-the-bullshit Pluto in Capricorn detonates with the force of a nuclear blast (think of how Robert Oppenheimer, before testing the atom bomb for the first time, quotes the 11th chapter, the  “Viswarupadarsanam,” of the Bhagavad-Gita, citing Shiva’s declaration that “I have become Death, Destroyer of Worlds”–that’s Plutonian energy in a literal and figurative sense), asking us how we’re going to birth new selves and structures into being, ones that can adapt to the New Normal.

These are energies that make people uncomfortable because of the sweeping changes they bring. In fact, the last time that Pluto and Uranus met was in the mid-1960s, setting the tone for the dramatic cultural and political transformations that occurred in the U.S. and around the world: second-wave feminism, the Civil Rights movement, anti-war protests amidst an escalating Cold War, political revolutions (Kennedy’s assassination, and further down the line, the Watergate scandal was hugely Plutonian given the element of exposure).

Narrowing our focus to the past three years of this planetary square (Obama’s second term, for those of you who are counting), we’ve had an Arab Spring, a resurgence of Cold War rhetoric and saber-rattling between Washington and Moscow, the mounting ecological devastation of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, various harrowing incidents (read: the shooting of unarmed black male youth) bringing to light (there’s that Plutonian spotlight) the egregious imbalance of power tied to race, class, and gender issues in the U.S., the alarming rise of the Islamic State and its heinous killing spree (cultural, religious genocide) in the Middle East and concomitant destruction of world heritage sites, and global economic volatility (the “austerity measures” the EU demanded of Greece, as one example, not to mention our own $13 trillion debt and counting to China) and instability, with talks now of countries like Hungary and Iceland vowing to pull out of the EU, to name but a few events. I’m sure you can think of more.

But as the great occult axiom from the Emerald Tablet imparts, “As above, so below; as within, so without.” That the motions of the planets impact vibrational levels experienced by people on earth at the collective and individual level is the underlying principle of astrology. Think: How has your life evolved in the past three years? What dramatic changes have you undergone? I’ll wager you’ve gone through some life-altering ones during this span of time.

Pluto the planet and the Earth Sign of Capricorn are all about power: consolidating it, manifesting it in the public sphere. (Capricorn rules the 10th house of career/public life.) Who have you become/who are you in the process of becoming on the World Stage? How are you being perceived by the world at large? How does your sense of vocation fit into it? Are you in a position to share the gifts that you’ve been given with others? This is the time to showcase your leadership in an inspirational way, to reclaim (if you’ve lost it) your sense of personal power and use it in the paradigm that Starhawk calls “power-with,” not “power-over” another

And that’s just it: we need to think collectively, about the imprints our thoughts, words, and deeds leave behind. Be mindful of a ripple effect you create, even in the most seemingly mundane of moments, for that is where the magic lies. It could be something as simple as greeting a stranger in the elevator of the office building where you work, holding a door open for a mother struggling with pushing a stroller inside a restaurant’s entrance, offering a person with disabilities your seat on the bus. Little moments of kindness can turn a person’s day–and perspective–around for the better in an instant. The new Uranian-Plutonian paradigm calls for interrelatedness.

Of course, as with the advice given by flight attendants in the emergency preparedness demos before your flight takes off, it’s best to have your own proverbial oxygen squared away before you can lend a hand to your seatmates. As this planetary square is a very intense one–and note that it happens just four days before the Spring Equinox Total Solar Eclipse, which brings its own high-intensity energy levels–it’s very important to make self-care your top priority. Eat nourishing foods, and try to limit your caffeine intake. Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Go for walks and let your feet connect with earth energy: stabilizing, grounding. Exercise in other ways, especially in methods that showcase a mindfulness link with the body’s movements, such as dance, yoga, t’ai chi, other martial arts. Surround yourself with positive people who love you, whose interactions leave you feeling energized and content, not depleted and defeated.

Those are the basics of self-care. For those on a spiritual path, especially a Pagan one that features devotional practices at its core, turn to your Power(s) for help. Pray for the removal of obstacles in your life, that the Uranus-Pluto square helps you clear away effortlessly (and hopefully gently!) that which is no longer aligned with your highest good. That the new Self you’re birthing into being (Plutonian rebirth, the phoenix from the ashes) consciously moves forward as a more fitting receptacle of Divinity. Stronger yet more humble. More aware. More generous and helpful. Fully attuned to the rhythms of the interdependence of all beings.

This past weekend, now that the snow has mercifully melted here in Chicago, my Bodacious Beau™ and I began to clear away a lot of debris in and around our humble home, starting with the east-facing balcony of our condo and the veggie and flower garden we have there. Happily, the potted rose from my birthday last September managed to stay alive over the winter in our kitchen, so we transferred it outdoors and repotted other plants as well (rosemary, oregano, hyacinth, spider plants, “hot cakes” seedlings). The black pansies we bought at a local nursery were potted together as a devotional act for Hekate: Goth flowers for the win! And all that sweeping away of gunk and reorganizing that we did really amounted to an effect that’s so refreshing, such a big “Ahhhhh!” every time I walk by the patio door. (As Stephen King would say, it’s become a “sweet spot” of our home.) It’s also a perfect metaphor for the Uranus-Pluto square too: out with the dead, the detritus, and in with the green shoots of new growing things. As we used to chant at Imbolc in my Gardnerian coven (whilst sweeping the ritual space widdershins with our besoms):

Thus we banish Winter

And thus we welcome Spring

Say farewell to what is dead

And greet each living thing

Thus we banish Winter

And thus we welcome Spring

 As the energies of this Uranus-Pluto square rely upon death as the necessary precursor to rebirth/renewal, it’s also been a good time for Dan and I to take morning and evening strolls in the local cemetery, leaving offerings for Hekate, Hel, and the spirit children that died with their mothers in the poorhouse at the Read-Dunning asylum for the criminally insane. On Saturday evening, we even went to fly a kite with the intent of sharing joy with the ghost children, as there was a nice (and apt) strong breeze from the north and kite flying brought out our own inner children in full force. There’s an example of interrelatedness right there: the worlds of the living and the dead reinforcing one another. Death and life, the two sides of the same coin.

Life is breath, and so I suggest we all take a series of deep breaths and set our intention on the new Wyrd we’re weaving together as this final Uranus-Pluto boxing match gets underway. It’s Go Time!

Be blessed and may your ancestors, your Goddesses, Gods, guides, and helping spirits help you navigate the remainder of the month with ease. May you be granted safe passage through the crossroads.

Ashé!