“Tending to the Ancestors”: The Winter 2018-2019 Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal Is Now Available!

It gives me great pleasure to announce, after several days of intensive copy editing and graphical layout, that the 48-page, full-color Winter 2018-2019 issue of Isis-Seshat journal has officially been released! With its theme of “Tending to the Ancestors,” the issue features various Polytheists’, Pagans’, and Witches’ perspectives on the importance of  cultivating and maintaining ancestor veneration in their daily devotional practices, how they do it, or why they abstain. Hailing from no less than 3 different continents, this issue’s contributors reflect a world of culturally contextualized traditions, from the Heathenry/Teutonic Polytheism of Northern and Central Europe to West African and Afro-Cuban Diaspora religions. I’m so deeply thankful to the gorgeous and deeply personal original works of art, poetry, and essays that were sent to me as submissions! This issue would not have been possible without so many peoples’ support.

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People of Prayer: A Call for Submissions for the Spring 2018 Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal

Seeking Submissions for the 2018 Spring Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal on the Theme of “People of Prayer”–Deadline: Friday, March 30

If meditation is the act of listening to the Divine, prayer is the art of speaking. It’s an under-discussed topic in Polytheistic and theistic Pagan communities, which is unfortunate, as it really is the most basic component of establishing and sustaining a devotional relationship to one’s Patron Deity or multiple Holy Powers. Many people who “come home” to a Pagan spiritual path may have an aversion to prayer because they associate the practice with the undesirable (Abrahamic) religion of their upbringing, but there are ways to overcome the negative perceptions and conditioning related to former religious experiences so that one can have a thriving, judgment- and distraction-free prayer practice that sustains the spirit. Those are the issues I’d like to explore in the Spring 2018 issue of Isis-Seshat journal, a quarterly journal of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis that is open to contributions from all theistic Pagans, Polytheists, animists, shamans, spirit-workers, and related practitioners besides FOI members (clergy and laity). Continue reading

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).

Announcing the Call for Submissions for the Spring Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal

I hope the Lunar New Year of the Fire Monkey has gotten off to a very good start for everyone! This solar transit in Aquarius has kept me very busy (both my Ascendant and Moon in my natal chart are in Aquarius), very socially engaged in Chicago’s broader Pagan and occult/magical communities, and eager to implement projects both spiritual and artistic sprung from felicitous, unanticipated idea exchanges with like-minded souls met through networking. (My mentors in the business world have always been 100% accurate about networking: It happens everywhere, not just behind office doors at planned events–so yes, always have your business cards on hand whenever you leave the house!)

I was very pleased with how the Winter issue of Isis-Seshat journal turned out; it went into production and was delivered to contributors and subscribers three days early, despite a Mercury Retrograde! And all surplus printed copies, for the first time ever, have been completely sold out, so I want to extend my deepest thanks to all new readers who have approached me both online and offline to request a copy! The issue’s theme of Divination definitely resonated with many, and from places as far away as Germany, the UK, and even Australia, FOI members heeded the call for submissions and sent me informative and thought-provoking essays that made my heart happy to print. My thanks to everyone who helped make the Winter issue the wonderful publication that it is!

And so I naturally turn my thoughts, as the journal’s Executive Editor, to the Spring issue. As I plot Isis-Seshat’s editorial calendar for all of 2016, actually, I’m happy to announce that I’ll be continuing this trajectory of having very specific themes. I’ve decided that the Spring issue’s theme is going to be “Worlds Beyond: Mapping Out the Soulscapes Encountered in Ritual.” From exploring the states of consciousness we reach in the apogee of the rituals we perform to establish and maintain contact with our Holy Powers, as well as detailing our encounters with those Powers, to discussions of various culturally specific cosmologies that delineate the Worlds inhabited by our Gods and spirits, this Spring issue is going to serve as cartography for the ardent witch, the devoted priest(ess), the selfless shaman, the courageous magician, and the neophyte newly launched on her or his journey of spiritual self-exploration.    Continue reading

Announcing the Call for Submissions for the Winter Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal

As the Executive Editor of Isis-Seshat journal, the quarterly publication of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis, I’ve decided that I want the Winter issue to focus on divination as the nexus of cultus, community, and culture. As the etymology of the word denotes, the purpose of divination is to reveal “the will of the Gods.” In our postmodern Western societies, of course, the concept has largely been divorced from its polytheistic impetus and has become co-opted by (or, if you prefer, degraded to) a secularist impulse for “fortune-telling,” largely for its entertainment value. Continue reading

My Book Review of “La Santa Muerte: Unearthing the Magic & Mysticism of Death” by Tomás Prower

Ready for a sneak peek into the Autumn issue of Isis-Seshat journal, which gets released on November 10? It’s a death-focused issue, so what better Deity to profile–in a book review, no less–than La Santa Muerte, to Whom I am fervently devoted. Tomás Prower’s just-released English-language tome that purports to cover theory and practice is the subject of my review. Make way for Virgo scrutiny! Read on…

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Dark Nights of the Soul: A Call for Submissions for the Autumn Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal

Isis-Seshat Autumn Issue Call for Submissions!

Ah, Autumn! What a delicious season it is here in my native Chicago, one that rattles fallen, decayed leaves like so many bones on the city’s windowpanes. Some may feel pangs of anxiety with the noticeable decrease of daylight, seeking shelter, companionship, and warmth to ameliorate the impact of the season’s omnipresent reminders of mortality. Others may treasure the call to hibernation and solitude, and like the lone figure in The Hermit Tarot card, kindle their lamps of inner wisdom to lead the way. Still others feel…stuck. Enmeshed in isolating feelings–exacerbated by the encroaching darkness and cold of the season–of depression, especially on a spiritual front. Why do I feel so disconnected? I can’t find it within me to pray. What do I do now? My beliefs are changing. To Whom do I turn? A spiritual crisis ensues, and the stuck ones are trying to climb their way upwards and outwards from the abyss many thinkers of a variety of spiritual traditions have labeled “The Dark Night of the Soul.” Continue reading