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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Venus Retrograde 2017: Inanna in the Underworld

Every 18 months or so, the planet Venus appears to move backwards from our Earthly perspective for a period of roughly 40 days. This transit, known as a Venus Retrograde, has a deep impact upon us because it’s one of our solar system’s three personal planets (along with Mercury and Mars), so the effects are more greatly felt in our day-to-day emotions and experiences, unlike the effects of the slower-moving outer planets’ Retrograde periods (e.g., Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto). Astronomically and esoterically, Venus will transform during this period from being the Evening Star that’s been seen on the Western Horizon at sunset to the Morning Star in the East. In order to do that, She (I speak of the planet and the goddess with equal reverence, so I capitalize the pronoun) will undergo Her period of retreat, taking us all into a symbolic Underworld journey to reevaluate our relationships and finances; what we value, including our own sense of self-worth; and what we find beautiful/aesthetically pleasing. Continue reading

Go to Hel, Part 3: Bound by Bone—Deepening My Devotion to Loki’s Daughter

The wallpaper on my work PC is a stunning 1905 painting by the German artist Emil Doepler. Entitled “Loki’s Brood,” I find throughout the course of any given workday that I completely lose myself in reverie as I look at Hel. It’s almost as if Her distant gaze, surely focused as it is on Other/Inner Worlds, mirrors my own as I gaze at Her and think on Her glorious Being. Is it possible to truly love—with all the inner reserves of affection and devotion that your heart is capable of squeezing out—a Goddess of Death? Continue reading