Oak & Aconite Coven May Day 2022 Ritual

This is one of my favorite times of the year! I cheerfully wish those celebrating May Day / Beltane tomorrow in the Northern Hemisphere and All Hallow’s / Samhain in the lands Down Under wonderful festivals! May your Gods and Spirits gladden your hearts and guide you at this powerfully liminal turning o’ the tides (made all the more potent by a Taurus New Moon eclipse!). For me and for my Slavic forebears, early May marks the beginning of Summer (in the Serbian calendar, it’s the fixed date of St. George’s Day, May 6).

It’s a time of honoring the fructifying powers at work in the land; in particular, it’s a time of cultivating right relationship with the Fair Folk / the Fae / the Vile (pronounced VEE-lay) and demonstrating through your ritual actions that you know how to be a courteous and hospitable neighbor to Them. I’m looking forward to doing my solitary Walpurgis Night ritual tonight, where I honor the Lady of Elphame, and I’m giddily looking forward to celebrating May Day tomorrow with my coven that my dear friend Adam and I formed late last summer. After a winter gestational period of figuring out what to call ourselves and detailing our coven’s brand (yes, I have a background in marketing!), the name came quite suddenly last month while meditating on our Divine Patrons, Hekate and Pan: Oak & Aconite Coven!

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The Mantle of Brigid: An Imbolc Prayer for Protection

After stirring “in the belly” (what Irish Gaelic “Imbolg” literally means) of a fallow season, we undergo birth pangs to extricate ourselves from winter’s constricting force. Fueled by the Goddess/Saint Brigid’s sacred fires of hearth, head, and heart that warm, inspire, and heal; and cleansed by Her holy waters of renewal, we stand assuredly in Her might.

Let us pray:

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My Year-Wheel Tarot Reading for 2022

Happy New Year! Here we are, trucking into year three of the global pandemic experience, but as Ifá revealed to me years ago, don’t let calamities in the outer world interfere with your Sacred Work of receiving your Ori- and Orisha-given blessings. Ashé! And so I abide by my annual tradition of detailed Tarot divination via my Zodiacal 12 Houses/Wheel of the Year spread. Come join me and peer betwixt those goodly pillars of Boaz and Jachim for some wise insights…

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Happy Birthday, Nephthys!

It’s very fitting that on this fifth and final of the ancient Egyptian Epagomenal Days (according to my reckoning of the Cairo Calendar), this liminal time between the year that is ending and the one that is beginning, that we celebrate the birth of the Great Goddess Nebet-Het (Nephthys), Wife of Set, Sister to Auset and Ausar, Mother of Anpu (Anubis). She is “the Lady of the House,” i.e., the embalming tent, the mourning kite and funerary goddess, the One Who Welcomes Those Who Enter Amenti.

I truly do believe in my heart that She Wyrdly marked me, to borrow the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “from childhood’s hour.” The parade of funerals in my own blood family starting from my early childhood (and shocking deaths too, I might add, such as my being the first person to surprisingly discover my maternal grandfather’s body after he had hung himself; I was 8 years old at the time) were, in hindsight, an Ordeal Path that ultimately baptized me into Her service. Her eerily-lit Underworld pathways are not for everyone but I look back on none of those profound episodes of loss with self-pity. Nephthys is absolutely my heart’s delight, and the Chief Power to Whom I dedicated myself for lifelong service when I became ordained as a Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis nine years ago. She is also the Patroness of my Death Midwife work.

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The Mystery, Majesty, and Moral Ambivalence of the Great God Set

According to the way I reckon the old Cairo Calendar, today is the Third of the Five Epagomenal Days, sacred days set aside as certain Gods’ (the Children of Geb and Nut) birthdays during the liminal period of the old year ending but the new year (Wep Ronpet) not having yet begun. (The New Year in ancient Egypt was calculated by the heliacal rising of the star Sirius, which usually takes place between what we know now as August 1-3.) Day Three of the Epagomenal Days commemorates the birth of my most cherished Kemetic Holy Power: red-hot, ultra-dynamic, take-no-bullshit SET!

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My Year-Wheel Tarot Reading for 2021

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?

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In Service to Hekate: Dark Moon Deipnon Ritual and Paupers’ Graveyard Cleanup on Earth Day 2020

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”).

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Encounters with the Dark Goddess: Artistic and Ritual Reimagining of Sylvia Plath’s Poetry

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.

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