Musings on Spirit Familiars

My household in my 1200-square-foot Chicago condo is comprised of myself, four cats (Beowulf, Grendel, Hela, and Máni), and a corn snake named Brimo. I often think about the fact that, were I transported to Early Modern Germany or Scotland, I’d have certainly been executed for the “crime” of Witchcraft because a woman alone as the sovereign of her household was shockingly unacceptable, and my animal companions—deemed devils in animal form according to the superstitions of the time—would have certainly cemented my reputation as a consort of Satan and gotten me strung up on the gallows or worse. I simply could not have been viewed as a childless-by-choice woman who loves her pets as family and treasures each of their unique personalities as gifts.

witch-feeding-her-familiars

A wonderful Witch Mother feeds her familiar spirits kept in the cupboard.

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I’m teaching my “Loving and Serving Dark Deities” Workshop at Alchemy Arts Tomorrow Night!

Cue the Norwegian death metal music score and strap on your dildos! It’s time for me to once again lead my popular workshop on the Great God Set and other “Dark” Deities! I’ll be speaking from 7 to 9 tomorrow night at Chicago’s awesome Alchemy Arts Bookstore, located at 1203 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, where the owner has known me since I was a high school sophomore!

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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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Prayers to La Santa Muerte: Para la Protección

My work with La Santa Muerte Roja began in earnest in November of 2013, when my boyfriend presented me with a Mexican-made statue of Her that he bought in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (As an aside, if anyone wishes to learn more about Her “cult” and its growing influence North of the Border, I highly recommend R. Andrew Chestnut’s well-researched anthropological overview, Devoted to Death.) The red aspect in La Santissima’s colorful spectrum of energies is devoted, naturally, to amor, but all aspects of Holy Death entail providing devotees with protection on the spiritual and physical planes. Hence I wanted to share some of my prayers and practices for English-speaking devotees. Continue reading

Vračari: The Serbian Feast Day of Saints Cosmas and Damian, Folk Magic, and the Sacred Twins of African Origin

In Serbian folk understanding, there are two days of the week that are ideal for “throwing” magick (gatane, vračane): Tuesdays and Fridays. Hence today is a doubly auspicious day for magickal workings–not only is it a Friday, but it’s the Feast Day, in the Serbian Orthodox Church, of the Vračari: the Twin Magicians, Saints Cosmas and Damian (Kozma i Damijan in Serbian).

Brazilian-made statues of Saints Cosmas and Damian are prominently featured on my ancestor altar. A Byzantine icon depicting Them as the "Vračari" lies at the base. I bought the statue in one of New Orleans' many Vodou shops when I visited in 2011.

A Brazilian-made statue of Saints Cosmas and Damian is prominently (and permanently) featured on my ancestor altar. A Byzantine icon depicting them as the “Vračari” lies at the base. I bought the statue in one of New Orleans’ many shops catering to Vodou practitioners when I visited the Crescent City in 2011.

The official Eastern Orthodox Church lore regarding them is pretty scant. Catechetical books say they were they were doctors renowned for supernatural healing skills, ones who didn’t accept payment for their miracle cures. They lived/were martyred in the third century CE, and they even wound up healing the nasty man who sentenced them to death.

This is where folklore becomes much more of a reliable indicator of the importance of these saints in Serbian culture than official Church doctrine. In a nutshell, Sveti Vračari–literally, “the Saints Who Throw Magick”–are petitioned by everyday people (but especially women, as Serbian folk magic is overwhelmingly a female phenomenon) to expedite their personal magical workings. Should the Saints’ Feast Day fall on a Tuesday or Friday, so much the better! Those workings can be of a self-directed or externally oriented nature, of course, and since Saints Cosmas and Damian were healers while alive, spells to effect healing in one’s self or on behalf of someone else are, not surprisingly, the chief reasons why the Vračari are invoked. Continue reading