Allyships and Familiar Spirits: The Summer 2018 Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal Is Now Available!

Tending to my cancer-stricken father has definitely pushed me way behind in my production schedule for the Summer 2018 issue of Isis-Seshat journal, a quarterly journal of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis for which I serve as the Executive Editor, but I’m pleased to announce that I’ve just launched it and PDF copies are available for immediate download on my Etsy site, JackalMoonDesigns.

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Allyships: A Call for Submissions for the Summer 2018 Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal

Seeking Submissions for the 2018 Summer Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal on the Theme of “Spiritual Alliances with the Animal, Plant, and Mineral Kingdoms”

Deadline: Friday, July 6

Anticipated Release Date: Monday, July 23

Many of us who engage with the Sacred in Polytheistic, Pagan, or Animist ways maintain a “this-world” focus, believing that we can enlist the aid of helping spirits from the world around us in our Work. But what does that mean, exactly? How do you know when your pet cat, for example, takes on a role greater than that of household companion and aids you in your ritual magic?

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CC0 public domain image courtesy of Pixabay

What about the relationships you have with the plants that fuel your herb magic—how did you initially cultivate those relationships? What guideposts signaled to you that you were on the right path? How do you maintain those relationships with those plant spirits?

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CC0 licensed public domain image courtesy of Pixabay

Those are the issues I’d like to explore in the Summer 2018 issue of Isis-Seshat journal, a quarterly journal of the worldwide is open to contributions from all theistic Pagans, Polytheists, animists, shamans, spirit-workers, and related magical practitioners besides FOI members (clergy and laity).

 

Content suggestions may include, but certainly aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Personal discovery essays, i.e., how you came to cultivate these Allyships
  • Incorporating the use of crystals or other minerals in energetic healing practices
  • The history and the role of the Familiar in Witchcraft traditions, and how your practices continue those traditions
  • Working with the Fae
  • Guided meditations in forming various Allyships with spirits of the land or sacred beasts

So those are some ideas that merit exploring in this upcoming Summer issue of Isis-Seshat. However, I will also gladly accept any of the following:

  • Reports of Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere) or Winter Solstice (Southern Hemisphere) group or solitary rituals
  • Announcements of any special events, clergy ordinations, etc. from any FOI Lyceums or Iseums
  • Original works or art / photography tied to the issue’s theme

Again, those are just some suggestions to get you writing!

As always, here’s my laundry list of criteria for acceptable content:

  • Essays, articles, poetry, meditations, electronic images of artwork that are yours, not someone else’s—you retain full copyright of your work.
  • If your pieces have been previously published elsewhere, that’s okay—just say so (identify where and provide the copyright date).
  • There is no word count limit. Previously published essays/articles have ranged from 1,000-4,000 words.
  • Please use MLA style when citing references.
  • The preferred format for written material is MS Word; kindly don’t send me PDFs.
  • The preferred format for digital art is JPEG or .TIF; please ensure it’s a high-res file (minimum of 300 x 600 dpi).

The deadline is Friday, July 6, 2018, and the anticipated release date is Monday, July 23.

This Call for Submissions is open to all Polytheists and theistic Pagans, irrespective of which cultural pantheon one’s honored Powers derive from—i.e., you don’t have to be a devotee of the Kemetic Neteru (i.e., the Gods of Ancient Egypt) to contribute content to Isis-Seshat journal.

I sadly am not in the position to financially compensate Isis-Seshat contributors. All contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the magazine. If you have any questions, please email me at jackalmoondesigns at gmail dot com.

I look forward to hearing from you! Blessings in the name of Isis-Seshat, Goddess of Writing! May She always render you True of Voice!

Seshat

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Remembering Maris and Reflecting on the Sad Legacy of Suicide

Nine years ago today, my friend Maris made the tragic decision to take his own life; he was two weeks shy of turning 22 years old. He served active duty as a Senior Airman in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu, just blocks away from my former home at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. Maris was the middle son of Ray Butta and the Rt. Rev. Deena Celeste Butta, my former ArchPriestess in the Fellowship of Isis and founder of our Chicago-based Lyceum of Alexandria. In the fall of 2012, Deena herself was shockingly diagnosed with a rare brain disorder; in the 8 weeks remaining in her life after her diagnosis and the rapid onset of symptoms, Deena spoke often to me about how she relished to be reunited with her son–that she could literally feel his presence luring her towards the Mysteries on the other side of the grave.

Maris

Senior Airman Maris Michael Butta, 1987-2009

Shortly after Deena’s funeral at Imbolc of 2013, I had a series of visitations from both her and Maris for several weeks and knew that mother and son were indeed together again in the Afterlife. The two of them would stand motionless at the foot of my bed, silently staring at me. Both had completely white hair. Deena looked just as I had known her in life: tall, beautiful, and elegant, her dancer’s training evident in her poise. Maris, however, had appeared as he must have looked when he was seven or eight years old–Maris as a child, albeit with the surprise of the all-white hair. Maris only ever appeared to me in that state and always with his mother, whereas sometimes I would have visions of Deena walking alone on a moonlit beach and I realized she was aligning herself with the energies of the Lady of the Lake, one of her favorite Goddesses.

The shock of Maris’ suicide rippled across the Pacific. There were no indications that he suffered from depression. Military service runs in the Butta family and Maris was proud to have served his country in the Air Force. He left no note behind, no clues. He took his life in a public location in downtown Honolulu and nearby security cameras captured everything, quelling fears that he may have been the victim of foul play. In the immediate aftermath, Deena asked me about my experiences with what I perceived as profoundly negative spiritual entities residing all over Oahu’s lush, rain forest-canopied leeward coast, where Maris and I both used to go hiking. Could any of those hostile spirits have driven Maris to suicide? I do believe that such a phenomenon could have been at least partially culpable. I had a horrible, heart-sinking-into-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling that Maris’ spirit risked becoming earth-bound on Oahu and possibly subjugated to the more powerful, nonhuman entities that hold such sway over the island: as a result, a massive undertaking of repeated ceremonies of release, performed both on Oahu and in Chicago, went underway.

And all of it, of course, coincided with the energies of Samhain.

As it still does.

With the great gates of Scorpio swung wide open to usher in the season’s retinue of restless spirits in this liminal time between the ending of the ancient Celtic year and the beginning of the new, I take comfort in one of the maxims my Gardnerian coven used to say in ceremonies performed on behalf of the Mighty Dead: “May we meet, know, and remember, and love one another again.”

Tonight I will hail Maris at my shrine of my beloved dead. A Sagittarius in life, he wanders freely still–of that I’m certain. All I can do is pray that my love and prayers born of tremendous heartache can reach his spirit and the hearts of his living family members.

 

Postscript

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than twice as many Americans die by suicide each year than by homicide. Please seek help for a loved one in crisis or reach out for help yourself if you’re feeling suicidal: someone is waiting to take your call 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Road to Mana: Re-Membering Soul Loss, Restoring Forgotten Gods

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.

–T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (“Little Gidding”), 1942. Section V

Epilogue, Part 1

Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, July 9, 2015

“Anna, my spirit guides told me this: ‘The place where this all started [Hawaii] is what’s going to heal her.'”

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“A Deed Without a Name”: Spirit Possession, Sacred Service, and Sedna–OR, I Get By With a Little Help from my Helping Spirits

“I don’t get it,” Dan, my Bodacious Beau™, said as we carefully stepped our way across city blocks of ice-coated Chicago Park District sidewalk prior to descending to our subway platform this morning. “I don’t see how this serves you or benefits Sedna. What I see as the outcome of this kind of ritual is the toll it takes on you–physically, cognitively–you’re worn out this morning. You’ve basically lost your voice again, your vocal chords are so strained, and I can tell you’re still not fully grounded. And it’s not clear to me what Sedna gets out of this. What’s an Arctic deity doing in Chicago? But honestly”–and here he came to a complete stop in our walk–“I just find the whole thing scary.”

I stopped walking also and gazed eastwards across the vast expanse of snowy terrain claimed by this particular Park District on the northwest side of the city. The sun, slowly rising above a silhouette of tall buildings, looked like a frozen egg yolk trying to crack itself in a relentless vise grip of winter gray. I noted how my breath issuing from my nostrils hung in the air like a dragon–like Fafnir! I whimsically thought. But the morning’s 14 degree F temps were like a balmy paradise compared to yesterday’s abominable -4 degrees daytime high. It was the coldest day of (this tediously long) season thus far.

Minus the buildings, this landscape pretty much looks like the fucking Arctic right now, so why couldn’t this be Sedna’s playground too? But I kept that thought to myself. Instead, I replied to Dan’s statement with a question:

“What was it like this time? Compared to the sounds you heard coming from the temple room last November?” I had a feeling I’d be able to anticipate his response, but I had to hear him say it. I needed the confirmation.

Dan’s eyes widened as he slowly uttered his choice of words. “Way more intense. Definitely more violent-sounding, with a different range of sounds too. I was actually very worried about you but I know you’ve instructed me to never interrupt you when you’re in trance.”

I paused as I carefully chose my next series of questions, fearing rejection or humiliation even though my sensible Virgo/C3P0-like logical brain told me I had nothing to fear. After all, my partner, a ceremonial magician himself, has been an unwavering supporter of my method of trafficking with spirits–alien to him thought it might be in practice.

“What if I told you…that I didn’t journey to Sedna’s Underworld last night at all?” I slowly began. “What if I told you that no sooner did I begin drumming than She shot up through the floorboards and took control of me immediately? And that I, as a shamanic first, literally puked on my own chest and pissed my pants [insert the sight of Dan wincing here] when She did so? That She also brought a whole troop of spirits with Her and they’re all there in the room–blammo!–for good? That She’s now something like the tutelary deity of our temple space?”

The quallupilluit, vengeful water spirits of the Arctic with a solid track record of kidnapping human Inuit children when they venture too close to the water's edge.

The quallupilluit, vengeful water spirits of the Arctic with a solid track record of kidnapping human Inuit children when they venture too close to the water’s edge.

“I’d say I believe you,” Dan said somberly. “And I’d also say that even though you’ve got big cojones, you’ve got to be careful.” Continue reading

“Love’s Magic Realm”: The Venusberg of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” and European Witch Lore

Und dunket mich, wie si gê zuo mir dur ganze mûren, ir trôst und ir helfe lâzent mich niht trûren; swenne si wil, so so vüeretvsie mich hinnen mit ir wîzen hand hôhe über die zinnen. Ich waene sie ist ein Vênus hêre.

Methinks she comes to me through solid walls, her help, her comfort lets me nothing fear; and when she will, she wafteth me from here with her white hand high o’er the pinnacles. I ween she is a Venus high.

–Heinrich von Morunge, quoted in Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, Vol. II. (1844)

This past Saturday night, my bodacious beau and I experienced an unforgettable Valentine’s Day at the Lyric Opera production of Wagner’s Tannhäusera three-act opera, first performed in 1845, based on a medieval German legend that Wagner treats with a bombastic Romantic libretto, some of the best choral singing in any opera ever (the famed “Pilgrims’ Chorus” in Act II), and the thematic treatment of the human inner struggle as Wagner understood it (in a Christian schema) between the lure of carnal desire and the quest for spiritual redemption (the Id vs. the Superego, if you want to page Dr. Freud about it). This theme would find greater development in Wagner’s later operas of Lohengrin (1848), Tristran und Isolde (1859), and especially Parsifal (1882), works that are also steeped in medieval lore that commingles Pagan and Christian characters and sensibilities.

Experiencing Tannhäuser as our epic date night seemed all the more appropriate considering that the goddess Venus (sung in this production by the stunning German mezzo-soprano Michaela Schuster) is not just a principal character, but Tannhäuser’s lover. This is made unequivocally clear before any singing takes place at all; it’s during the dizzying Prelude that the audience is treated to the stunningly hypnotic, stupendously athletic, and sexually explicit Bacchanalian dance choreography (brava to choreographer Jasmin Vardimon!) that introduces the concept of a loving and lavish Venus doting on her mortal amour, the wandering singer Tannhäuser (sung by acclaimed South African tenor Johan Botha). Who better to see and hear on stage on Valentine’s Day than the sea foam-born Roman Goddess of Love? However, it didn’t take long for my Pagan Priestess PowersTM to discern that Dark Goddess currents were swirling about, ones that would contextualize Tannhäuser’s fall from grace amidst his peers and society squarely within European witch lore. Would Tannhäuser have been shunned the way that he was–especially by the pope during his pilgrimage to Rome–if his “sin” was merely sexual congress with the Goddess of Love?  Of course not. He is shunned by his peers because they know–in a feat of dramatic irony audience members might know not if they’re not versed in Teutonic mythology–who the Goddess Under the Mountain really is. She is none other than Frau Holda (or Holle or Hulda), the Chthonic Goddess to whom German witches were said to journey to during their Sabbat rites (Ginzburg, The Night Battles 55); the Goddess who leads the Wild Hunt or the Furious Horde, die wütende heer (Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, Vol. II, 268)Hence by having stayed with Her in Her Underworld for several years before returning to, as Venus in Act I scene ii calls it, “the cold world of men,” Tannhäuser returns from the Land of the Dead, a feat that would have been unthinkable outside the pale of Christian Grace. Continue reading