A Devotional Ritual for Nephthys to Bless and Protect the Dead

This past Saturday at World Tree Healing, I led a workshop on “Loving and Serving ‘Dark’ Deities.” It was a well-attended workshop and for the first hour, I engaged the participants in a series of discussions based on the following prompts:

  • How has staving off criticism from mainstream religions made Paganism afraid of its own shadows?
  • How do you help outsiders to your tradition distinguish between “darkness” and “evil”?
  • Has anyone ever had an experience of invoking Dark Deities in a group ritual context and then been castigated for invoking Them?
  • How is the function of the Trickster valuable to a society? Who is devoted to Trickster Gods?
  • In his Manifesto for his powerful Apocalyptic Witchcraft, Peter Grey has declared: “We call an end to the pretense of respectability.” What are your thoughts on this? What do Pagans lose by attempting to claw their way to the interfaith table, begging for scraps of acceptance from Abrahamic religions?

It was a great discussion that appeared to make two people with Abrahamic allegiances very uncomfortable, so they left after I had announced that we’d be taking a short break before our ritual to Nephthys would begin. Good riddance, I thought. I certainly didn’t want the miasma, or spiritual pollution, of their presences to spill over into my devotional ritual to my Patron Deity. The major risk of hosting a public Pagan ritual is that you never know what kind of people may show up, especially folks with overtly hostile ideologies (read: patriarchal monotheists) who attend solely to destabilize the gathering, which is why I absolutely favor doing private ceremonies in the company of fellow devotees I can vouch for.

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Devotional Ritual to Sekhmet with Spellwork to Reverse the Evil Eye

This past Saturday evening, I had the pleasure of leading a workshop on ancient Egyptian magic at World Tree Healing bookstore and metaphysical resource center here in Chicago. Called “Hands-On Heka,” the workshop I devised featured an overview on the three types of magic, as I classify them, that we know that ancient Egyptians of all social strata practiced: funerary magic, ritual magic, and everyday (sometimes referred to as “crisis-mode”) magic. From this latter category, I devised a devotional ritual to the great goddess Sekhmet, Lady of Power, which featured a historically verified spell meant to reverse the Evil Eye. The spell involved the creation of a papyrus talisman, which we did together as a group based on a hieroglyphic prayer I created to evoke Sekhmet’s aid for spiritual protection. However, there was follow-up work for the ritual participants/workshop attendees to do once they returned to their homes: once activated, the papyrus talisman had to be “put to work” in what is arguably history’s oldest form of the Witch Bottle.

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I’ll Be Teaching a Workshop on Ancient Egyptian Magic at World Tree Healing in Chicago on March 18!

Mark your calendars, Chi-Town peeps, and anyone who may be visiting the city on Saturday, March 18 who may be interested in learning about ancient Egyptian magic! I’ll be leading a two-hour “Hands-On Heka” workshop at World Tree Healing metaphysical resource center in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood from 5 – 7 o’clock that evening.

Behold, the power of marketing copy:

“Hands-On Heka: Magic in Ancient Egypt”

For centuries, much of the world agreed with Clement of Alexandria (3rd century C.E.), who referred to ancient Egypt as “the mother of magicians.” In this workshop, Rev. Anna Applegate, a legally ordained Priestess in the international Fellowship of Isis, will give an overview of magic, or heka, in ancient Egypt, focusing on the three main divisions of funerary magic, ritual magic (performed in temples), and everyday magic. Participants will get to experience hands-on heka by creating papyri talismans to keep.

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I’m Teaching a “Kemetic Polytheism” 101 Workshop at World Tree Healing in Chicago This Saturday!

Aloha and Happy New Year! I’m back in wintry Chicago, having recently returned from my dreamy destination wedding and honeymoon on the magical island of Maui (where I took the gorgeous Kihei sunset photo you see as the featured image for this post). Yes, my Bodacious Beau™ Daniel and I finally tied the proverbial knot! Huzzah! And now that planning workshops, public rituals, and other magical events for the year has begun in earnest, I’m happy to announce that I’ll be leading a two-hour “Kemetic Polytheism 101” workshop at World Tree Healing metaphysical bookstore in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood this coming Saturday, January 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. CST.

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Pet Loss and Disenfranchised Grief

I just returned home from burying my beloved animal companion of the past 12 years–my cat Thor–on my parents’ property. I am exhausted, and tears have freely commingled with sweat and snot on my dirtied, makeup-smeared face. I look like a parody of a zombie meant to spring out upon unwary, cash-paying visitors to “haunted house” attractions in this Halloween season. Everything about me feels “off” today because it’s plain that my visible manifestations of grief, what used to be publicly acknowledged as mourning, are no longer welcome in this death-denying, youth extolling, commodifying, grinding capitalist world where productivity comes at the expense of our collective humanity. A grinding world where, especially when it comes to the loss of a treasured companion animal, one is met with snide remarks of “Get over it–it’s not like a person died” or “It was just a cat. The city is crawling with them; just go get yourself a new one.”

This grinding world is the locus of disenfranchised grief, which noted grief expert Dr. David Kessler defines as “a type of grief that other people might deem as ‘less than'” (You Can Heal Your Heart, p. 136). Pet loss is the most common form of disenfranchised grief; the losses women experience after undergoing an abortion or experiencing a miscarriage are even more glaringly absent from any form of public discourse.

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Our Gods Are Not Vending Machines

I was relieved to have recently been unfriended on Facebook by a woman who didn’t like my response to her questions in a post she’d tagged me in. This woman–let’s call her Rachel–announced that she was going to embark on a quest of “serious magic” to not merely land herself a lover, but a life partner “willing to put a ring on it.”

“So for the working I plan on doing,” Rachel wrote, “I’ve been doing some research on which goddess to call upon. I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following: Frigga, Freyja, Erzulie Freda, Astarte, and one Slavic goddess whose name I can’t pronounce. Anna, who should I go with? What do you think?”

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