“You’ll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice.”
—The Wicker Man (directed by Robin Hardy), 1973
A fundamental principle in the West African indigenous religion of Ifá is that of ébo, or sacrifice. That which is offered is of great value both to the one offering as well as to the Recipient, be it one or more of the Orisha or the giver’s Ancestors. Continue reading
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.
Here’s the MP3 file for your aural pleasure!
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?
This is an exciting time! In the four years since I have inherited the mantle of Executive Editorship of Isis-Seshat, a quarterly, international journal of The Fellowship of Isis, this has been the favorite theme I’ve devised: Polytheists and Pagans as “People of Prayer.” Why did I choose this theme? Continue reading
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.
Seeking Submissions for the 2016 Summer Issue of Isis-Seshat Journal on the Theme of “Holy Powers, Holy Places, Sacred Spaces”–Deadline: Friday, July 8
From the mystae of ancient Greece walking the sacred way from Athens to Eleusis to celebrate the Mysteries of the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone, to modern pilgrims (Polytheist and Pagan as well as Roman Catholic Christian) in Kildare, Ireland, tying clootie rags on the hawthorn trees flanking holy wells to transmit their prayers to Brigid, to Brazilian Umbanda practitioners tracing the ponto rescado (sacred sigil) of Pomba Gira Sete Encruzhiladas with gunpowder or corn meal in the middle of a three-way crossroads in a cemetery, the association of Holy Powers with Holy Places is a natural one in the human brain hardwired for religious devotion. Whom do you honor, and where? Do you have narrative experiences to share of journeys to sacred sites? How were you transformed by your visit? What does it mean to demarcate Sacred Space at the outset of a ritual? Those are the issues I’d like to explore in the Summer 2016 issue of Isis-Seshat journal, a quarterly journal of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis open to all theistic Pagans, Polytheists, shamans, spirit-workers, and related practitioners besides FOI members (clergy and laity). Continue reading
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
The Autumn issue of Isis-Seshat, the quarterly issued official journal of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis (or FOI; furthermore, I serve as Isis-Seshat’s Executive Editor), featured the bulk of my lengthy interview with one of Kemetic Reconstructionism’s most ardent and articulate champions, Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa. He is the co-founder of Hwt-Ka-Ptah/ Temple of Ptah Nevada, a Kemetic Reconstructionist temple dedicated to the celebration and restoration of authentic ancient Egyptian spirituality. He is also High Priest of Per-Auset/Temple of Auset Nevada, a nonprofit educational religious organization representing the Egyptian tradition of the Goddess Auset/Isis. Ptahmassu was legally ordained as a Priest of the Goddess Auset in 2002 by the Rt. Rev. Lady Loreon Vigné, Archpriestess of the Temple of Isis in Geyserville, California–a state and federally recognized church founded to honor the Divine Feminine as embodied in the Egyptian Goddess Isis. In 2004, he was ordained by FOI co-founder Lady Olivia Robertson as a Priest-Hierophant serving the Goddess Sekhmet. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa serves the Neteru as a Kemetic iconographer; as founder of Icons of Kemet, he uses his skills as a painter and craftsman to create icons of the Goddesses and Gods of ancient Egypt in order to further the restoration of Their ancient temple traditions.
Not all portions of my interview with him found their way into the pages of Isis-Seshat, and it’s the theological discussions we had in particular that I would like to share here on my blog. Our conversation is completely unabridged, so brew a cup of tea and settle in for a passionate apologia of Kemetic Reconstructionism. I hope it will bring edification and inspiration to all polytheists (whichever Powers they honor in their devotional practices), and, in particular, adherents of Reconstructionist traditions. Continue reading
“They [the Egyptians] are religious to excess, beyond any nation in the world.” –Herodotus, Histories, Vol. II (Euterpe): An Account of Egypt
The View from Postmodernity
What is it about ancient Egypt that captures our hearts and fascinates us through the millennia? Continue reading
Circle Sanctuary’s 35th annual Pagan Spirit Gathering gets underway this weekend, and I’ll be presenting two Kemetic-themed workshops/leading group rituals there for the second consecutive year. In my preparations for one of the workshops, a Kemetic Reconstructionism 101 primer aimed at an adult audience of mostly eclectic Pagans and perhaps (hopefully!) a smattering of Reconstructionists from other traditions (Hellenismos and Heathenry, for the most part), I thought it would be useful to fully articulate not just what Kemetic Reconstructionism is, but what it most decidedly is not: Tameran Wicca, which, I suspect, many people in the audience will be coming from as a frame of reference. After delineating what strike me as the most crucial distinctions between the two Egyptian-oriented traditions, I devised what I’m calling a Ninefold Kemetic Worldview; it appears below.