It’s been a little over a week since I appeared on Magick Radio Chicago as the sole guest invited to speak about Contemporary Polytheism (episode 134). Hosts Drew Prince and Alicia Nell Mitchell (a.k.a. “Galaxy Goddess”) asked me questions and we had a lively two-hour discussion, ranging from the 10-fold criteria I see as essential to a Polytheistic Worldview, to the points of commonality and difference between Polytheism and the broader Pagan movement in the West, and so much more.
It’s not often that I begin my day composing a Facebook post asking for pensive responses to a theological question of mine, but that’s how my morning started. Twelve hours and 100+ comments later, I’m reflecting on my musings, my Facebook friends’ insights (to the ones that overlap as readers of this blog, thank you for your input!), and it’s time to craft a blog post around it all. This was my inquiry for discussion:
Serious theological question for my fellow devotional Polytheists: Do you believe that the Gods you serve are limited in Their ‘outreach’ based on geography? Case in point: during my years in Hawaii, my contact with worlds-wandering Hekate and the Kemetic Deities I serve never abated (the Latter Group loved Hawaii, from my experience), but, try as I might, neither Odin or the Vanir were accessible to me out there. However, whenever I visited Chicago, my ‘line’ to Them was instantly reestablished. Upon returning to Hawaii, the spiritual phone line ‘went dead’ again until I moved back home permanently.
What have your experiences been with Gods and spatial/temporal boundaries?
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”)?
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!
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.
I had the opportunity yesterday afternoon to attend a series of performances of great relevance to contemporary Polytheists and the struggles many of us face in the West of assuring our dual Overculture (dual in the sense that it is both secular as well as overwhelmingly Abrahamic monotheism-influenced) that our modalities of religious worship constitute living, grounded-in-the-here-and-now traditions, not ones consigned to the dustbin of history. Made possible by a collaboration between the nonprofit organizations Inherit Chicago, the Indo-American Heritage Museum, and the National Hellenic Museum, the performances in question all related to the theme of “Female Power Models in Greek & Indian Mythology.” Dr. Lori Barcliff Baptista, Director of the African-American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, served as the moderator, introducing the sets of performances and facilitating audience discussion between them and at the end. Continue reading
Announcing the 24th Annual Chicago Fellowship of Isis Goddess Convention, Dedicated This Year to THEMIS
Calling all Kemetic and Hellenic polytheists, Pagans, ceremonial magicians, FOI members worldwide, devotees of the Neteru of the Two Lands, devotees of the Deathless Hosts of Olympos, and friends! All are welcome to the 24th annual Fellowship of Isis (FOI) Goddess Convention in Chicagoland! It takes place Saturday, October 28, 2017 at the Holiday Inn North Shore Chicago (Skokie Business Center), 5300 W. Touhy Ave., Skokie, IL 60077, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (On-site registration begins at 9 a.m.) Plenty of room to move and to park as the hotel has, naturally, free visitor parking and a plethora of access points via mass transit. FOI members flying in from out of state are eligible to receive a discounted room rate at the hotel.
Sponsored by the members and friends of the Chicago-based FOI Lyceums of Eleusis and Alexandria Mishigami; the Iseum of the Rekhet Akhu and the Iseum of Hathor-Neith-MahaLakshmi; the Kemetic Temple Kheperu em Inu; and by Chicago’s Life Force Arts Center, this year’s Goddess Convention is dedicated to the Titan Goddess and Cosmic Law-Giver, Themis. The Main Liturgy to be performed is the Priesthood Alchemical Drama “The Riddle of the Sphinx”—the first ritual in the late Lady Olivia Robertson’s FOI clergy publication, Fortuna: Creation Through the Goddess. Continue reading
“Traditions Thriving in the Cross-Currents of Global Paganism”: A Call for Submissions for the Summer 2017 Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal
Seeking Submissions for the 2017 Summer Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal on the Theme of “Traditions Thriving in the Cross-Currents of Global Paganism”
Deadline: Monday, August 7 Continue reading