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.
She is rising, She is rising
From the pit.
Come, we will go to Inanna,
We will sit in the lap so holy,
Inanna is ascending, Inanna is ascending
From the pit.
–Lady Olivia Robertson, “Space Magic: Oracle of the Goddess Inanna” (From the FOI Clergy Booklet, “Urania: Ceremonial Magic of the Goddess”)
In the Chicago-based Fellowship of Isis Lyceum to which I belong, we have a lovely and emotionally impactful way of commemorating the descent of the great Sumerian goddess Inanna at our annual Samhain ritual as well as Her ascent at our Imbolc gathering. Continue reading
The Fellowship of Isis Chicago’s Lyceum of Alexandria-Mishigami (note: Mishigami is the Ottawa First Nation’s term for Lake Michigan, literally “Great Water”) invites one and all to its public Yule ritual on Saturday, December 19, 2015, at the Life Force Arts Center in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., we’ll convene and present newcomers with an Introduction to the Fellowship of Isis (FOI) and briefly survey its nearly 40-year history as an esoteric organization dedicated to championing the Divine Feminine as embodied in the Great Egyptian Goddess Isis.
The Yule ritual itself will begin promptly at 5 o’ clock. There will be a brief introduction on the cave as a symbol of the Holy Mother and various Deities associated with caves, light, and winter. Homeric and Orphic Hymns will be recited. Additionally, special rituals will be held for Teutonic Gods and Goddesses honored at this time of year, with a lighting of a Yule log and Old World wassailing. December 19 is also the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas the Wonder-Worker in the Eastern Orthodox Church, so He will be acknowledged with storytelling and an exchange of holiday gifts–fear not, the Krampus will surely be honored as well! (Let us all give the Krampus His due!)
Our Yule altar last year.
The Main Liturgy to be performed is the 7th ritual from the late Lady Olivia Robertson’s Dea: Rites & Mysteries of the Goddess booklet: “Winter: Star Rite,” which honors the Goddess Rhea and various celestial Divinities. Rhea is a Goddess of the Drum, so bring your handheld percussion instruments, from drums to tambourines to sistrums! The Liturgy will conclude with the Lyceum’s time-honored tradition of the Pillar of Light prayers for those in need of healing.
“Rhea” from the 1895 “Manual of Mythology” by Alexander S. Murray. Public domain.
After the liturgy, there will be ample time for feasting together! To that end, please bring a potluck dish or beverage to share.
A suggested donation of $10 per person helps defray rental costs. However, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
We hope to see you there!
You know you’ve been investing a lot of energy in public Pagan rituals when it takes you an entire week to replenish yourself! That’s always a delicate balance to walk: acts of service to your Powers and your city’s spiritual community while ensuring that your own personal reserves of energy don’t get depleted. And when you add the effects of a full moon total lunar eclipse in the mix, it goes without saying that you’re going to be living in what the ancient Chinese proverb refers to as “interesting times”!
Yet it was all well and good last weekend when the 22nd Annual Fellowship of Isis (FOI) Chicago Goddess Convention held sway in the city! The time-honored tradition of FOI clergy and friends/members of the Chicago Pagan community at large and representatives of other groups and traditions/Kemetic devotees/and curious seekers gathering together for a weekend of exchanging ideas, partaking of public ritual, celebrating, and welcoming the energies of transformation is alive and well.
With the exception of the Bears’ loss to the much-hated Packers in Soldier Field during the season opener, yesterday was a perfect day. The 2015 Chicago Pagan Pride event held at the historic Pleasant Home in Oak Park, Illinois, drew a record 500 attendees. And roughly 20 of those folks joined me at my 1 p.m. workshop and devotional ritual to honor the Great God Set. Continue reading
Great news! I’ve just received word from the organizers of the annual Chicago Pagan Pride celebration, which is scheduled for Sunday, September 13, in Oak Park, Illinois (a beautiful southwest Chicago suburb known for being the birthplace of one of my favorite Modernist authors, Ernest Hemingway), that my proposal to lead a workshop and ritual honoring the Great God Set has been approved! Huzzah!
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