Ave, Magna Deum Mater! The Rites of the Goddess Kybele, Then and Now

Go to the Phrygian shrine of Cybele, to her groves

Where the voice of cymbals sounds, the tambourines rattle,

Where the Phrygian piper sings with the deep curved pipe,

Where Maenads wearing ivy throw back their heads,

Where they practice the sacred rites with sharp yells.

Where they flutter around the goddess’s cohort:

It is there we must go with our rapid dances.

–Catullus, Poem 63 (circa 60 BCE)

When we think of the Ides of March, naturally, our minds as postmodern Westerners turn to thoughts of the assassination of Julius Caesar in the year 44 BCE (Before Common Era). But the ancient Romans left us a far greater legacy than the anniversary of a sordid murder. This time of year was a very holy one in the Classical Mediterranean world. Aside from celebrating the Feast of Anna Perenna, the Goddess of Timekeeping, on the banks of the Tiber River and in a sacred grove between the Flaminian and Salarian Roads, the ancient Romans kicked off a multi-week Festival in honor of the Great Goddess Kybele (Cybele), a Phrygian Mother and Mountain Goddess/Lady of the Beasts as well as order-upholding Goddess of the Polis, She Who was known for Her ecstatic Mystery cult (featuring Her slain and reborn consort, Attis) and for granting the Romans victory in their demoralizing and horrendously protracted Punic Wars (264 – 146 BCE) against the Carthaginians. Continue reading


Tempest in the Desert: A Devotional Group Ritual to Set

For a long time, it was the conviction of scholars that the fact that one and the same deity might display divergent and sometimes even contradictory qualities could best be explained by assuming that such a god had resulted by a historical process from several simple deities. This train of thought is based on a rationalistic misunderstanding and a failure to appreciate the nature of religious experience. In essence, each important god comprises all possibilities. Gods can not be sorted out like buttons.

–te Velde, Herman. Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1977. pp.101-102.

Tempest in the Desert: The Ritual

(c) 2015 A. Applegate / aka Katakhanas


Opening Song in Egyptian

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                                    I rejoice

Ma a-ᾴ paut neteru                                                   May I look upon the company of the Gods.

Nuk ut’a tep ta ҳer Rᾱ mena-a nefer                      I am strong upon the earth before Ra,

Ẋer Ausȧr                                                                   May my arrival be happy before Osiris

Nuk t’a pet                                                                  I have sailed over heaven

Nuk ȧȧh                                                                       I am the moon

Ba-ᾱ pu neteru bai u en neheh                   My soul is the Gods, who are the Souls of Eternity

Au-ȧ ab kua neteri-kuᾴ                                              I myself am pure, I am mighty

A net’-hra-k Neter Set Ankh Ka                                  Homage to Thee, Set of the Living Ka

A net’-hra-ten nebu heh                                               Homage to Thee, Ye Lords of Eternity

Nuk ab per em seҳet                                          I am the pure one coming forth from the field

Ȧn-na en Ɵen netersenƟer                                          I have brought you incense


Tu a Suti                                                                          You are Set

Urt-Hekau                                                                       Mighty One of Words of Power

Ta-k-na uat seś-a em-hetep                                    Grant to me a way that I may pass in peace

Ȧn-na kert ᾱb-kua                                                          I am silent, I am pure

Ĺ-nᾱ, ҳerk-k neb Ra                                                       I have come to Thee, O my Lord Ra

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                                        I rejoice

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                                        I rejoice


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Devotionals to Death: An Evening with La Santa Muerte

Mark thy calendars, fellow Chicagoans! I’m going to be giving a La Santa Muerte workshop at Alchemy Arts Bookstore on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, from 7 to 9:30 pm! Behold, my wondrous marketing copy:

Ever since Her humble public debut on All Saints’ Day, 2001, in Mexico City’s barrio of Tepito, the skeletal grin and bony stature of the beloved folk saint known as La Santa Muerte (“the Holy Death”) has been gaining devotees by the millions across the Americas. Who is this feminine face of Death? What are Her different aspects? Which forces are culpable for launching Her cult into what has been called the fastest-growing religious movement in the world? How does one cultivate a relationship with La Dama Poderosa (“the Powerful Lady”)?

my statue of la santa muerte verde

This fantastic, Mexican-made green lucite statue of La Santa Muerte Verde, the Lady of Justice, is one of my favorite devotional touchstones. I am looking forward to sharing my love of La Flaquita with Chicago’s occult/metaphysical communities at Alchemy Arts! 

Join Fellowship of Isis Priestess and devout Muertista Rev. Anna Applegate for a lively two-and-a-half hour workshop that covers both theory and practice: a historical overview and discussion of La Santa Muerte and the rise of Her cult will be followed by a devotional religious service to Her for spiritual protection and empowerment. If you feel so inclined, you may bring an offering of a red apple for Her altar.

People of all spiritual backgrounds are welcome!

A donation of $10 per person is requested to help with printing costs for the booklet that participants will receive, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Viva La Santísima!

Virgin Death Goddesses: Hel, La Santa Muerte, and Yewa

Editorial Note: This is the transcript of a talk I gave at the 24th Annual Fellowship of Isis Chicago Goddess Convention, October 28, 2017, at the North Shore Holiday Inn in Skokie, Illinois.



Good morning and thank you all for coming to our 24th Annual FOI Chicago Goddess Convention! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Anna and I’ve been proudly serving as legally ordained FOI clergy since 2012, though I have been active in Chicago’s Pagan community for 18 years and counting. I’m the executive editor of Isis-Seshat, a quarterly publication of the Fellowship of Isis, and I’m the founder of the chartered Iseum of the Rekhet Akhu, whose mission is to highlight the interrelatedness of the communities of the living and the dead and to cultivate transfigured spirits (akhu in ancient Egyptian) in human form.

So why did I choose this topic? We’re in the season of Samhain, the Celtic reckoning of the end of summer and the liminal time between one year and the next, and during this time our thoughts often turn to ones of our own mortality, as well as to remembrances of those who have gone before us. More than any other time of year, the honoring of the Deities and Spirits of Death is top of mind for most of us.

As a show of hands, who here honors a Death God or Goddess in their personal devotional practices? (Pause.)

I’m a Polytheist devoted to such Holy Powers, and I’d like to spend some time with you discussing three in particular: the Norse Goddess Hel, Mexico’s La Santa Muerte (the Holy Death), and the Nigerian Orisha, Yewa—Who They are, Why They matter, and how you can cultivate a devotional relationship with Them if you feel Their bony hands laying claim on you. What’s striking about these Death Deities of various cultures—northern European, North American, and West African—that I’m going to talk about is that They’re gendered female and They’re regarded as virgins, so we have a lot of intersectionality to examine when we focus on what we know about each Goddess historically and what we know about Them in contemporary worship.

But before we start discussing each of these three Cosmic Femmes Fatales, I’ve got a few thoughts I’d like to share on what significance gender bears as well as historical notions of the concept of “virginity” and how these impact the mythologies and the cultic practices surrounding the worship of Hel, La Santa Muerte, and Yewa.

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Hymn to Hekate

“Hymn to Hekate”

(c) A. Applegate 2017


We give greetings to fair Hekate,

Mighty monogenes--sole child of starry Asteria and the Son of Eurybia.

Titaness of the Threefold Realm of Earth, Sea, and Sky,

Revered above all the Ancient Powers by Olympos-dwelling Zeus Himself.

With pleasing eyes, accept our sacrifice

Hekate Khthonia,

Mistress of the Underworld surrounded by swarms of spirits,

And open the ways to the dreaded realm of Thy majesty,

O Brimo,

That we may claim our rightful power in service to Thee.


With pleasing eyes, accept our sacrifice

Hekate Krataiis,

Strong One of the Wine-Dark Sea,

Who birthed death-dealing Skylla,

And open the ways beneath the waves,

O She-Wolf, O Sea Wolf,

That we may draw into the depths of our being

Unending praise of Thee.


With pleasing eyes, accept our sacrifice

Hekate Soteira,

Queen of Angels, Savior of the World-Soul,

And open our ears to receive Thy counsel in the Music of the Spheres.

Hidden Hekate, fair of face,

Mighty Hekate, Lady of Power,

Lead us through the crossroads at the behest of Thy grace,

In our magical endeavors,

Help our workings to flower.

In heartfelt devotion,

We kneel before Thee,

Goddess Incomparable!

Io, Hekate!

Hekate altar

My Hekate altar is the heart of my temple space. Photo (c) A. Applegate 2017.

Hymn to Hermes

“Hymn to Hermes”

(c) A. Applegate 2017


We give greetings to Hermes,

Clever Son of Zeus and Maia,

Wanderer of all the worlds

God of great cunning

Who, on His very first day of drawing breath,

Proved Himself a maker of music and mischief,

Strummer of the lyre,

Thief of the cattle of Apollon

The One Who achieves fame amongst the Gods by His deeds

The Prowler by night Who lurks in the street before the gates.


We hail holy Hermes

Who wards all wayfarers

Whether travelers for pleasure or commercial pursuits,

or those seized by thanatos

Who wend their way into dark caverns to be seated as guests

in Hades’ great, gilded halls


We hail Hermes Psychopompos,

His most sacred charge

Serve as our unerring Guide, our Companion, O Khthonios,

May Your lamps reveal the Mysteries

Glory gleaned in gloomy depths

To those ready to receive the Light of Your Wisdom


Hermes of Arkadia’s dawn

Hermes by Persephone’s shade

Be here with us as our magic is made!


Io, Hermes!

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