As far as Sabbat celebrations go, Imbolc was always one of my favorites (I love liminal markers in the shift between seasons, especially between winter and spring), but the Imbolc of exactly one year ago, 2020, will forever be cherished in my heart as the most spiritually poignant one I’ve ever experienced. I had a moment of profound epiphany that any contemporary Polytheist, of any tradition, would recognize the same way I had: a moment of instantaneous transformation wrought from an encounter with an earthly avatar of a very Living Deity, a vibrant Holy Power Who will always command my reverence and devotion even though the Gods of the Celts have, largely, remained elusive to me despite my many attempts at reaching out to know Them. I know in my heart that in the second floor hospital room of Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois, an avatar of Brigid knocked on the door and asked to be let in to comfort my suffering mom. And she came on Imbolc Day: February 2, 2020.
I’m going to state my personal bias up front: This is an astonishing modern grimoire written by a personal friend of mine who is an extraordinarily talented Witch, artist, writer, and devotee of the Goddess Hekate: Jeff Cullen. In 2019, he approached me and announced that he was going to be developing the idea for Liber Khthonia into a book. In addition to consulting me in an editorial capacity to discuss the structure and content of the manuscript (I did copyedit the final draft), Jeff honored me greatly, knowing of my reputation in the Chicago Pagan community as a Priestess of Hekate Khthonia, by asking me to write the book’s Foreword! I was thrilled to do so and saw the entire undertaking of the publication of Liber Khthonia as fulfilling a vital need among the Goddess’ ever-growing number of devotees worldwide who have been yearning for just such a book to deepen what can only be called a devotionally anchored Hekatean Tradition of Witchcraft. The book, hot off the presses, is now available in a handsome hardcover edition that truly belongs on the library shelves of every Witch who adores the Queen of Witches!
My time-honored tradition of performing divination to foresee the year ahead with my calendrical/zodiacal houses/clock face spread continues unabated. However, due to being very busy working New Year’s Eve and Day and needing yesterday to rest and decompress, I had to wait until today to actually do my Tarot spread. Come join me on this journey of (self-)discovery, won’t you?
Once again, pre-Christian Celtic and pre-Christian Slavic magico-religious observances overlap at this time of year. While many Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate May 1 as Beltane, and bring the greenery o’ the Wildwood into their homes and ritual spaces, my Serbian Witch self celebrates this Friday as Biljini Petak, the “Friday of Gathering Wild Herbs and Flowers.” Celtic or Slavic, this time of year is held sacred as the start of summer, and some very ancient Powers are revered and thanked for Their blessings of returning the earth to vibrant life and verdant fecundity after the barrenness and tedium of winter.
The Sun’s annual transit through Taurus is one of my favorite times of the year. There’s a real palpable sense of Spring finally arriving (its arrival is typically delayed here in chilly Chicago): the trees and tulips are flowering, the warbler birds are out in full force to serenade day and night, and my personal artistic/creative endeavors receive a very welcome Venusian boost of energy. I’ve been making quite a lot of necklaces to sell on my Etsy site, JackalMoonDesigns, and I’d like to showcase a few of them for you now. COVID-19 be damned: it’s time to get our ritual bling on!
I love being a morning person. I’m not one to sleep in past 6 a.m., even on the weekends, so I’m up and walking my dog, L’il T-Man, very early in the morning. Our first destination is the paupers’ graveyard near my home. It’s a treat to witness the dawn of a new day from the vantage point of standing in one of the commemorative concrete circles, each of which bears bronze plaques that honor a different demographic group buried on the premises (e.g., John Doe Civil War dead, John and Jane Doe victims of the 1871 Chicago Fire, Cook County Asylum for the Insane patients and their children, etc., over 38,000 total bodies).
And in the past 7 years of living in this far Northwest side Chicago neighborhood, the paupers’ graveyard has been my focal point of clean-up efforts every Earth Day. With today being the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and it being the Dark of the Moon at the time of this writing (the New Moon at 3° Taurus will occur tonight at 9:25 CDT), I am dedicating my clean-up efforts in a wider context of spiritual service to one of my Patron Deities, the ancient Anatolian-Greek Goddess, Hekate Khthonia (Hekate “From Inside the Earth”).
April is National Poetry Month. As a former college English instructor, a published poet, and an ordained Priestess, I honor the legacies of artists whose works have transcended the boundaries of their artistic mediums, and the vagaries of the times in which they lived, rippling out with profound spiritual force to affect so many people today. American poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) is such an artist who has had an incalculable effect upon my developing spiritual consciousness from my adolescence onwards; I go so far as to hail her in the ranks of my Mighty Dead, my spiritual forebears in Witchcraft.
Three years ago, I began to meditate on the idea of Plath’s poetry as a vehicle for encountering Dark Goddess energies and the need to harness those energies in a public Pagan ritual format. I knew I wanted to weave together the strands of my academic analysis of her work (I taught American poetry at the undergraduate level for 3 years as an adjunct English professor on Oahu), my Priestessing skills in generating energy and directing it towards a specific purpose to benefit a group of participants, and my own personal religious devotion to specific Dark Goddesses (e.g., Hekate, Nephthys, Hel). Art served as the medium of inspiration, as it often does: not just Plath’s poetry, but my artistic interpretations through acrylic paintings of some of Plath’s most famous works.
The following chronicles my process and its eventual public ritual outcome: an evening of tribute to Plath’s genius through the ritual encountering of Dark Goddess energy, recitals and discussions of Plath’s poetry, and a shamanic journey facilitated by the use of my 2017 painting An Homage to Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’ as a portal into the Otherworld. My goal was to have ritual participants surrender to the “blackness and silence” of the Dark Goddess, as described in Plath’s inimitable voice, and experience the transformative gifts of the Shadow.
Supposedly, here in my home state of Illinois, the governor’s stay-at-home/self-quarantine order designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, an order issued on March 21, will be lifted on April 30: just in time for Beltane/May Day! Continue reading
In this era of social distancing amidst this pernicious COVID-19 global pandemic in which we find ourselves, focus on how your solitary spiritual practices can not just grow, but thrive. One helpful method of personal spiritual battery replenishment takes its cue from the swelling Traditional Witchcraft current in contemporary Paganism, whose tenets include, among other things, establishing a dynamic relationship with the spirits of your local landscape.
“The Devil is not so black as he is painted.” (16th-century French proverb)
This past Monday, January 20, my parents and I celebrated the highlight of the year in terms of Serbian Orthodox religious festivals: the slava, or feast day, of our family’s patron saint, John the Baptist. It’s a day when many ritual protocols have to be observed to ensure blessings on the family in the year ahead. This feast day is the third out of a three-day series where the focus is on the literal and spiritual washing away of winter’s miasma/spiritual impurity from people and their homes. Not surprisingly, blessed water plays an integral role in each day of the festival; the customs clearly attest to pre-Christian origins.