Venus Retrograde 2017: Inanna in the Underworld

Every 18 months or so, the planet Venus appears to move backwards from our Earthly perspective for a period of roughly 40 days. This transit, known as a Venus Retrograde, has a deep impact upon us because it’s one of our solar system’s three personal planets (along with Mercury and Mars), so the effects are more greatly felt in our day-to-day emotions and experiences, unlike the effects of the slower-moving outer planets’ Retrograde periods (e.g., Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto). Astronomically and esoterically, Venus will transform during this period from being the Evening Star that’s been seen on the Western Horizon at sunset to the Morning Star in the East. In order to do that, She (I speak of the planet and the goddess with equal reverence, so I capitalize the pronoun) will undergo Her period of retreat, taking us all into a symbolic Underworld journey to reevaluate our relationships and finances; what we value, including our own sense of self-worth; and what we find beautiful/aesthetically pleasing. Continue reading

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Martinmas: The Curious Lore Surrounding St. Martin’s Day (November 11)

A canonized saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Martin of Tours is revered across large swaths of Europe–including Protestant-majority northern European countries. Celebrations of his Feast Day on November 11 speak to a devotional cult that incorporates many curiously Pagan elements of great antiquity, indelibly ensconcing him in a meta folk consciousness channeled through traditions that aren’t about to die out any time soon. From Sweden to Spain, from England to the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, St. Martin’s Day/Martinmas/Martinstag/Sint-Maarten gives rise to seasonal celebrations that commemorate blood sacrifice and feasting (cattle, pork, and especially geese), the building of sacred fires (both bonfires and more controllable lantern-lit processions led by children), uncorking the season’s first wines, welcoming the start of winter, and singing in the streets for Halloween-like treats. Continue reading

Tomorrow Morning’s Penumbral Lunar Eclipse in Libra

If you live in the U.S. and you’re awake and facing the soon-to-be-setting full moon in the western pre-dawn skies, you’ll more than likely see tomorrow morning’s penumbral lunar eclipse in 3° Libra. It reaches its apex at 6:48 a.m. Central Daylight Time. Unlike the more visibly dramatic partial and total lunar eclipses, the visual effects will be subtle–a perceptible darkening of the moon’s surface. But the lack of visual appeal doesn’t in any way detract from the astrological intensity. Continue reading

Welcoming the Lunar New Year 4713 and the Kalends of Mars: Matronalia

It’s been a busy weekend for the Chicago Fellowship of Isis (FOI) Lyceum of Alexandria, one replete with two milestones: the re-launch of Isis-Seshat magazine, the quarterly issued journal for FOI members worldwide (I serve as the Executive Editor); and our first-ever public ritual, held last night, celebrating both the Chinese Lunar New Year 4713 (the Year of the Wooden Goat) as well as the Matronalia, the Roman Pagan festival honoring Juno as Goddess of Sovereignty; it occurred in ancient times at the onset of the Kalends of Mars (March 1). The evening was quite a departure from our usual public gatherings, wherein we enact a ritual chosen from the FOI’s official published corpus of liturgical texts for clergy training. Instead, Demetria, our Lyceum’s Priestess-Hierophant, and I devised a program comprised of short lectures (related to, in honor of the Year of the Goat, goat deities from around the world; astronomy and astrology; Taoism; the I-Ching; and Roman observances of Matronalia) broken up by the ritual activities of breath work, meditation, the blessing of seed packets, and a healing prayer circle we call the Pillar of Light, whose purpose is to channel energy for those not present who are in need of, and who have asked for, healing to enter their lives. Once the circle was opened, we celebrated with potluck feasting and cheerful conversations with the two newcomers who’d graced us with their presence; not only were they new to the Fellowship of Isis, but they were new to Paganism in general, so it was very pleasing to get to know them and receive their feedback that they found our gathering welcoming, informative, and heart-centered, which was music to my ears. Continue reading