Living Deliciously

“As she making her beede in her Chamber, there appeared in the shape of a man in blacke cloaths and blackish cloaths about five weeks past, and bid her good-morrow. And shee asked what his name was, and he said his name was Blackeman, and asked her if she were poore, and she said I; and then he told her he would send one Grissell and Greedigut to her, that shall do anything for her...and after Blackeman was departed from her, within three or 4 days, Grissell and Greedigut came to her, in the shapes of dogges with great brisles of hogges haire upon their backs, and said to her they were come from Blackeman to do what she would command them, and did aske her if shee did want anything, and they would fetch her any thing”  - from “The Witches of Huntingdon” by John Davenport, 1646.

 

Modern witches make things so complicated; go to a graveyard at midnight, burn some hard to find herbs and make offerings of goat’s blood to summon the Man in Black for pacts of riches and fancies. Apparently in the old days it was easy as making your bed to summon such spirits! All joking aside, this is a common theme in traditional craft these days, making contact with this Witch Father...but is there a modern significance of these beast-spirits which appear to be familiars of Him?

Stories of Black Dogs, Hares,Cats and Birds abound in witch trial confessions as both familiars and fetches of the accused. The Devil appears to witches in various animal forms such as serpents, dragons and ‘night birds’, which inhabit ‘desolate places’...the real form of Him being too terrible to behold:

“He is some ugly terrible Creature to look upon, some black man with with a pair of Horns on his head, and a cloven foot, and a long Tayl, or some monstrous Beast that inhabiteth in the Woods, and walketh about in the night to scare people” (A Candle in the Dark)

Animals could also be ‘hag ridden’ by suspected witches to get around during their nocturnal journey; bewitched and innocent creatures were believed to be kidnapped for their infernal bidding. Or the animal would be the Devil Himself, becoming a horse or goat for the same purposes of transportation. Animals were used as tools of magick, more likely their parts being ingredients for particular spells and workings. The most famous, at least among modern witches, is the Toad-bone; gathered in a particular manner and used to give the witch power over any animal but particularly horses.

“There was one charm she told me of wich was practiced wen any one wanted to get comand over there fellow creaturs. Those that wished to cast the spell must serch until they found a walking toad. It was a toad with a yellow ring round its neck, I have never seen one of them but I have been told they can be found in some parts of the Cuntry. Wen they found the toad they must put it in a perforated box, and bury it in a Black Ant’s nest. Wen the Ants have eaten all the flesh away from the bones it must be taken up, and the person casting the spell must carry the bones to the edge of a running stream the midnight of Saint Marks Night, and throw them in the water. All will sink but one single bone and that will swim up stream. When they have taken out the bone the Devell would give them the power of Witch craft, and they could use that power over both Man and Animales” (Haggard, ed., 1935, pp. 13-14).

Supernatural animals also appear in folklore traditions as guides, such as the appearance of the phantasmal Black Dog who is a harbinger of death, much the same as an Irish Banshee (bean-sidhe). One of the earliest in recorded history occurred during the Italian Ver Sacram (“sacred spring”) when lost tribal warriors were each led by a different animal totem, various species sent by the patron God Mars.

Francisco de Goya Lucientes, "Witches' Sabbath (The Great He-Goat)"

The Goat, in particular, has one of the oldest connections with witchcraft and the historical Witch Father than of any other animal. From the deity Ra in ancient Egypt, to the Greek cult of Pan and later the famous Mendes Goat worshiped by modern Satanists, the twisted horns and side-protruding eyes of these cloven-footed creatures have been involved with the mysteries of witchcraft for thousands of years. One of the first animals to become domesticated, it has lived within close proximity to humans a long time; and like Cats, easily revert back to their once wilder behaviors. Able to eat practically anything and live in almost any environment, the Goat is present in nearly every culture of the world.

It was only in recent years the Goat made a huge comeback as a familiar spirit, a most charismatic and frightening beast named Black Phillip in the 2005 film “The Witch”. Making small appearance throughout the story, which takes place in 1630’s New England, it is not until the very end when He transforms into the very Devil we expect...to entice a young soul with promises of dresses, butter and ‘to live deliciously’ in exchange for her signature in a pact. Of COURSE the puritan girl signs, then follows Black Phillip into the woods and joins the wicked sorority who have already gathered there. The promise of “Living Deliciously” is not a new concept, after all. In some witchcraft trial records there are similar promises made, by Witchfathers and Faeries alike:

“Thow art a poor woman and a beggar among a cumpanie of harlots, goe with me and I’ll make the a Lady and put in a brave castall quhair thou shalt want nothing and I will free the of all the poverties and troubles thou art in” (Stuart, 1843 "Extracts from the Presbytery Book of Strathbogie").

The imagery, the words, the goat...all enchanted many movie-goers, especially this witch. It was this egregore of a Devil, the Witch Father, which inspired me to seek out His hand. Lucifer is a similar being, but with too many ties to the Judeo-Christian current. Black Phillip has stepped forward from these shadows of blasphemy to become something meaningful.

But how was I to even begin working with this egregore? After all, he is only a fictional character from a movie, right? Well...not really. The spirit which Black Phillip was based on wears a devilish mask; it is still the same Man in Black. For such pop cultural magicks, I looked to the Chaotes for inspiration with a sigil by using a great website that makes them, and prayed for guidance through my Matron, Hekate. The following is an operation which I created, included friends with and who saw amazing results. I then gave it to others, who also received blessings both great and small. It is now time to test it on a broader spectrum...to anyone else who feels their life does not have enough deliciousness in it, who needs a good ‘road-opener’ and who would like to make contact with Black Phillip in all His blackened glory.Think on the meaning of what is IS to 'live deliciously'? Is it to have enough money for travel? More friends? A better job so you don't have to worry about bills so much? Maybe more time for bubble baths and massages? The sky is the limit in this operation...just be sure to have a very clear picture before beginning.

 

The “Living Deliciously” Spell

Items needed:

    1 Seven Day Candle, in white/purple/or red, blessed and consecrated

    Essential oil each for Jupiter and Venus (or a blended planetary oil for each)

    2 bowls for offerings

    Fresh flowers, fruit or incense of your choice

    Clarified butter (ghee)

    A bottle of red wine

    An application or table of the planetary hours

    A piece of paper

    A green inked pen, preferably sharpie or other permanent marker

 

  • Begin thy spell upon a New or Waxing Moon, within the hour and day of Jupiter (Thursday) or Venus (Friday).

  • Upon a sheet of paper, blessed and consecrated in hours of Jupiter or Venus, write names of thy witches of Black Phillip. Whilst inscribing these names, visualize how they will be 'Living Deliciously': imagine what it is like for thou to have all desires met, comforts and beauties associated with those blessings. Set the charged paper aside.

  • Write upon the glass of thy wicked candle this following sigil:

  • Thou mayest include other symbols or images which doth conjure living deliciously; mine own contained Venus and Jupiter symbols.

  • Place into thy vessels for receiving offerings of rich butter and blood wine, arrange thy fragrant flowers.

  • When ready place thy paper upon the altar, place thy candle atop it. Light thy flame, burn thy incense and begin thy evocation, in whatever way thoust sees fit. Sayeth these words aloud:

Black Phillip, I conjure thee!

Bless this spell, and empower me

The means to live deliciously!

  • Hold within thy witches' mind the Vision of Living Deliciously whilst gazing at thy sigil.

  • Allow thy candle to burn, adding to it thy corresponding oils (Jupiter during the hour of Jupiter and Venus during the hour of Venus) into the melted wax, evoking Black Phillip throughout the rest of this first day as often as possible.

  • Repeat every day in thy hours of Venus and Jupiter, or every Thursday and Friday throughout this moon phase until the Full Moon, in which thou shalt rest until it is anew. Dispose of thy offerings as thy see fit.

  • Repeat the entire process every month, with ghee and wine being primary offerings but adding a third different offering each time, of thy choice.

  • When thy candle has completely burned down...thank Black Phillip wholeheartedly and receive your blessings in full! Dispose of thy candle glass safely in thy recylcing bin.

Suggested further reading:

The Witch’s Familiar

Animal Familiars

Black Phillip: The Real Story

An Historical Study of the Toad-bone Amulet

Modern Bard: My Evolving Storytelling Philosophy

Introduction

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls” - Joseph Campbell

My bliss led me to a Bachelor's in Religious Studies and Humanities because I love a good story. Anything is possible and everything is permitted in the imagination, but experiences are something completely different. It is in the art of Storytelling the two can intersect safely.

Conceptualization

And there are among them composers of verses whom they call Bards; these singing to instruments similar to a lyre, applaud some, while they vituperate others” - Diodorus Siculus Histories (8BCE)

There is a spiritual connection with telling stories, especially when it is a recited sacred script. It is said the ancient Celtic Bards studied for a minimum of twelve years, memorizing the unwritten stories of their Ancestors and land. They were a kind of walking library; knowing songs, poems, sagas, history and general gossip was their vocation. As part of the Celtic hierarchy, Bards held a place of wisdom and respect in society.

The Bards were singers and poets, the Vates were seers and scientists, and the Druids were both scientists and moral philosophers, the judges and arbitrators of both private and public disputes” (Jones & Pennick, p.84).

Today's 'bards' exist to the masses as pop singers, celebrities and internet phenomenon. Not to say there aren't storytellers, but television and computers have replaced the limited access this ancient role once held. There is hope in the long-standing bardic traditions still held in Wales, England and other parts of the British Isles; language & music festivals (eisteddfod) are held in conjunction with bardic events, or Gorsedd.

Value in Librarianship

There is a resurgence of storytelling performing in bars, open mic nights in coffee shops and while usually involving adults only, this trend can easily spill over into the library environment. Storytellers in the library are an invaluable asset for many reasons. Go to a library anywhere in America during a story hour and the proof of audience numbers are there. It is one of the best services which can be offered to the public.

Storytelling is a stealth activity that often moves into professional arenas unrecognized. Most people have a very limited idea of what storytelling actually is, and how it can be effectively utilized not only in programming, but also in management and advocacy. Recent research in neuroscience supports what librarian storytellers have known for decades: human beings are hard-wired for story, and respond to it at a visceral level. Listening to oral stories has been closely connected to the acquisition of literacy skills, the expansion of vocabulary, and the development of active listening skills, but storytelling has also been identified as the single most effective means of persuasion” (2015, p.6).

As I experienced with other student performances in this class, giving a dramatic recitation or telling of modern literature, such as science fiction, not only draws in a curious audience but can also attract new readers to the title. Having storytelling events for families instead of just offering toddler times would be great publicity, not to mention literacy ad-vocation.

Changes

I have been involved in Druidry and the Occult communities for close to 20 years now, having served in different capacities. This dedication to mythology is an integral part of my religious experience; memorizing hymns and incantations are required for certain successful effects. I have a regular blog which includes written narratives, informational pieces and book/product reviews but just this year I decided to include a podcast so I could play music. Never scripted, I stick to a theme and use just some bare-bones notes to keep myself on task.

Since taking this class I have included more personal anecdotes in this audio recording. I have also started thinking about performing within my community, traveling to different conventions or festivals to tell stories of the Gods or recite Orphic Hymns in devotional settings. It is in my immediate plans to reach out to a local storytelling guild, attend some meetings and watch others who are more seasoned while working on my own repertoire. Learning more myths, exploring the uses of props and costumes are plans for my near future.

Conclusion

The tips, experiences and feedback I have received in this class has shaped my confidence in storytelling. I hope to take the skills acquired in this course, along with my new interest in performance storytelling, into a library position or other service oriented opportunity.

 

References

Jones, P., & Pennick, N. (1997). A history of pagan Europe (3rd ed., p. 262). London: Routledge.

Negro, J. (2015, April 1). The whole story, the whole library: Storytelling as a driving force. ILA Reporter.

 

Pantheacon Report: 2015 Edition

With the podcast being such a great success, and personal things occupying most of my time lately, it has been rather difficult to keep up with regular blog writing. So to my regular readers, I apologize for making you wait so long for the next posting! But here it is, my annual PantheaCon Report. Every year I choose a different format in which to write it: rhyming prose, snarky gossip columns, etc. This time, in the fashion of non-creative writers everywhere, I give a “top five” of my experiences and moments at the Con. There is some snark, some love, but all is genuine and personal to how I observed.

#5 Hermes playing tricks.

Several times events were printed in the convention booklet, double checked in the Daily Oracle, AND on the billboard near registration... only to find upon arrival the thing was posted at a wrong time or was completely canceled. Do people ever proofread their shit these days? How can an organization NOT notice all weekend their misprints? Being in the shadow of Mercury's retrograde transit resonated well after it returned to the direct fashion of His orbit.

#4 Attending all lectures and none of the “woo-woo”.

This was not entirely planned, and maybe it is something which just happens when you get enough woo in home/community practice already, but I found it much more satisfying for my soul to not engage on such a deep, spiritual level with the other 3000 pagans converging on the Con. And to be quite honest, I am better for it! I was in bed at decent times, avoided the “Con crud” and didn't get anyone's psychic shrapnel all over me.

#3 Heavy Metal

I NEEDED the presentation from Jason Mankey on “Heavy Metal and the Occult”. Whilst I already knew most of what he was sharing, like the band “Coven” being the FIRST to record a black mass on vinyl, it was a much needed antidote to the fluffy, loving New Agey vibes the Con generally has. Not that I don't enjoy that TOO, but hearing some Mercyful Fate after sleepy harp sounds was a much needed boost to my Saturday afternoon. Bands like Coven, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Venom... all were mentioned with a call from the audience with applaud, yells, and the occasional “yeah!”. It was really refreshing to be with other metal-heads in a Pagan environment.

One thing Mankey really should have included though: Dave Mustaine. In the early days of Megadeth, it was rather well known that Dave used magick and accompanying themes in several tracks from the first few albums: “Five Magicks”, “Bad Omen”, and one in particular, “The Conjuring” from the album Peace Sells But Who's Buying?, is actually a SPELL. In many interviews, even more current tellings by Mr. Mustaine himself, “The Conjuring” is spoken of in hushed tones due to the effects of this very potent magick on the listener. Now that Dave has converted to Christianity, and already received the career benefits from occultist experimentation of the early years, he refuses to play it in concert:

“Behold the flames rise, From the compass' cardinal points, Burn the sacred oil, And, with the ashes you'll anoint,

Arrange the symbols, Of the wizard, and, magician, Light the candles, Place the parchment paper in position, Between its leaves place, The lash from a black cat's eye, A straw of a broom, Fold, and, burn, and, centralize,

Don't summon the devil, Don't call the priests, If you need the strength, The conjuring,

I am the devil's advocate, A salesman, if you will, You know my name. [You know my name],

I met your father years ago, Gave him what he'd please, He called my name, you'll do the same,

I'm claiming what is mine by right, It's time to close the deal, You're bought and sold, bought and sold,

Come join me in my infernal depths, Mephisto's hall of fame I've got your soul, I've got your soul, The conjuring. Obey!!!”

And one more thing, on a personal note: Mr. Mankey if you are reading this, THANK YOU for not talking about Led Zeppelin. I bow to the masters, Jimmy Page and the Boys, but I got overkill as a kid (my Dad is a HUGE fan). Besides, I am more a Deep Purple kinda witch...

#2 Broken Priests

At first I thought it was a fashion statement, all the people walking around with canes and staffs. Then I looked closer and saw the limping, the wounded walking with walkers or with a slight shuffle. Physical manifestations of some battles, many with a tinge too much of madness in their eyes... the kind which comes with psychic wars fought within. Aging elders of many traditions hovered as future ghosts, whilst a changing of the guard is occurring. And who is the “new sexy”, the up-and-coming, or trending teachers? The hyperbole chamber of “Panelists” I just couldn't stomach to hear? The “Goddess of the Month Club” serving communion on behalf of the Virgin Mary to unsuspecting 'playgans'? The “cool kids” wearing sunglasses indoors? I cannot understand how anyone with magick in their veins cannot see or sense this? Perhaps they are too overwhelmed by what another broken priest described as “the witchflame/witchblood" and how it enflames and is drawn to each other. Maybe this is true for Pagans, but I find witches and other “shiny” folks rather repel me. Look at magnets, for example... what happens when you put the two same poles toward each other? They do not seek out the other but rather push against. That can really scramble up some folks if they aren't properly prepared, as we know spiritual work can effect physical matter. This is why it is important to have healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy speech...and healthy relationship with spirit if we are to practice magick effectively. When one part comes out of balance, it effects the rest like fallen dominoes.

As a witch, magician, druid and overall magick worker... let's just say I can 'sense' things. There is a reason I am not quick to jump on the newest bandwagon. I am not the pique of perfect health either, being 38 with the innards of an 83 year old woman essentially does not say much about my physical well-being. However, I have seen the pagan community, and the wider world as a whole, in the midst of a spiritual battle. And my friends, it's not looking good. Yes, the pessimistic, party-pooper of PantheaCon title is proudly worn on my lapel. I cannot help it, having a Cassandra effect on my prophecies. There is an intense lack of awareness going on, a kind of narcissistic apathy in which these individuals bring others into their bubble of fluff (even dark fluff, with it's ooey gooey bloody kisses). Pats on the back for online statements, rivals in book sales and products competing with 'boring' genuine practice, edgey styles trumping hidden gems...these were the faces which walked the pathways of the Doubletree all weekend. And the whole thing kinda made me sick.

I did not attend panels filled with people considered to be well-meaning yet highly personal in their politics. Because, frankly... I don't care. I don't care if someone is a racist. I don't care if someone mish-mashes gods together or is even an atheistic-otherkin witch who dresses up as a furry. None of it matters at ALL. What does matter is how you live, not what you say. And those who 'walk the walk”, walked strong. When your nose is to the grind, you don't notice what others are doing.

#1 The Grown-Up Table

I hear, “I WANT to be one of the cool kids!”; to that I say, “Keep your cool kids, I want to sit at the grown-ups table”. What that means is this: there is something exciting, something fulfilling in being part of a public group or priesthood which everyone wants to join or participate in. I know something “new” to the community is exhilarating, especially when wrapped in leathers and the politically correct du'jour of the day. I guess there is a certain amount of power one can get from another person's fear of you, the popularity of your Gods, or being a Pagan that gets along with everyone. That being said, I am in it for the long haul not to be a rock star.

So, this year I hung out with the elders. I talked to people who have been at it for 30 years or more, seen all the trends and done all the things. I asked questions about their practice, how they stay involved without getting others' poo on them, and what it was like for their children to see it all. I shook hands with and smiled at people who KNEW they had done me wrong, had insulted my intelligence or otherwise wasted my time and energy. After completing a year's worth of very disciplined spiritual work, I was able to walk up to elders that otherwise would have made my knees shake, told them about my own process, and sometimes made them laugh. I can reminisce about times I fucked up, or times I succeeded, without getting theoretical.

A wide-eyed girl came up to me, asking how to become a witch and what the difference between a magician and witch were and who do I suggest she study with.... it was just exhausting. But then I remembered how I was that girl, but she had more guts than me in the asking. So I told her my story (briefly) and gave her some advice: talk to everyone she could, ask after them in the community and to actually DO the Work. She looked at me like “Gee, thanks lady” and walked off. Guess I wasn't sexy enough for her short-attention span, but the seed was planted. I have a confidence and maturity now which does not make me indifferent or apathetic, only more discerning with a high ethical standard seen as being 'conservative'. But yes, this is what being a grown up means! It means we hold our tongues, we recognize and call-out injustice or hypocrisy, we have boundaries and provide protection, but most importantly, we don't have TIME for the bullshit. I have offerings to make, spirits to invoke, children to bathe, the Dead to service and spiritual battles to fight for. Keep your cliques and social clubs... I am too occupied tasting the marrow of magick.

 

*Further Note (2/20/2015): I want to add, for the sake of clarification... I DO care very, very much about the oppression of other people, regardless of culture or skin color. The inherent racism and bigotry in our society these days is very much a sickness of spirit. I have been, and always will be, a supporter of those who stand up for the rights and liberties of others. However, I realize I am also NOT the person to do it either. When I say "I don't care about racism" I only mean this within the context of my spiritual practice...activism is not part of it. Until I am told HOW to be an ally by the very people being oppressed, I will stand sentry for those needing support, shelter and spiritual healing.

Hermes of the 30 Days

Note: I think it is rather interesting that I have been doing these types of devotionals for years (40 days, usually), and now there is a whole "thing" people are doing for 30 days. Or, maybe it was independent of what I was doing...but whatever the case, I am happy to see so many Pagans actually doing the work through this type of writing. As such, I have decided to join in what all the cool folks are doing, and answer a question a day to heap more devotional work to the one I already have going. Right now, it is all interconnected.

Day 1: A Basic Introduction of the Deity; or Who is this God I have taken an Oath to?

(ll. 1-29) "Muse, sing of Hermes, the son of Zeus and Maia, lord of Cyllene and Arcadia rich in flocks, the luck-bringing messenger of the immortals whom Maia bare, the rich-tressed nymph, when she was joined in love with Zeus, -- a shy goddess, for she avoided the company of the blessed gods, and lived within a deep, shady cave. There the son of Cronos used to lie with the rich-tressed nymph, unseen by deathless gods and mortal men, at dead of night while sweet sleep should hold white-armed Hera fast. And when the purpose of great Zeus was fixed in heaven, she was delivered and a notable thing was come to pass. For then she bare a son, of many shifts, blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods. Born with the dawning, at mid-day he played on the lyre, and in the evening he stole the cattle of far-shooting Apollo on the fourth day of the month; for on that day queenly Maia bare him."  (This translation, by Evelyn-White, is in the public domain.)

Hermes, messenger of the gods, flies on winged boots. He holds his kerykeion or herald's wand in hand, and wears a petasos (traveller's cap) and chlamys (cloak).
Hermes, messenger of the gods, flies on winged boots. He holds his kerykeion or herald's wand in hand, and wears a petasos (traveller's cap) and chlamys (cloak).

This last year, I took an Oath of Dedication to the God Hermes. As part of this fulfillment, I am to immerse myself in the lore, praxis and philosophy of Hermes; interestingly, this also includes vows not to lie, steal or cheat (except in acts of war). I have taken this oath very, very seriously as I know nothing short of insanity awaits should I break it. I thought I knew Hermes until I began doing devotionals. According to Theoi.com (a most excellent resource) , “HERMES was the great Olympian God of animal husbandry, roads, travel, hospitality, heralds, diplomacy, trade, thievery, language, writing, persuasion, cunning wiles, athletic contests, gymnasiums, astronomy, and astrology. He was also the personal agent and herald ofZeus, the king of the gods. Hermes was depicted as either a handsome and athletic, beardless youth, or as an older bearded man. His attributes included the herald's wand orkerykeion (Latin caduceus), winged boots, and sometimes a winged travellers cap and chlamys cloak.”

Hermes is the quintessence Ideas. During my undergraduate work I overcame a test-anxiety which developed early in my college education. A witch taught me a great spell: “By the Wings of Mercury and the Wisdom of Athena”, and I would eat a piece of chocolate, sitting there savoring it whilst my classmates dove into their tests. I sat with it melting in my mouth, gently recalling rituals of the night before as I studied...imagining my Self wearing a helmet of silver, wings like an eagle flanking either side, and all the information at my fingertips...recalling easily through my mind what I needed, sleeping on books with them literally under my head to absorb through osmosis. Any and all methodologies I tried and succeeded against many odds (graduate with a double major in Religious Studies and Humanities, with honors).

Classically Greek, Hermetically Egyptian, sometimes old and at other times a youth, Hermes is a trickster and catalyst. He is swift, a patron of travelers as Hermes also travels the expanse of the Multiverse...sometimes with wings on feet, to fly Him quickly. He is a mover and a shaker, this One...surviving amongst the ceremonial magicians and evolving into a modern Deity. In a flash, He sparks like neurotransmitters, at the crossroads of information; I bet Hermes inspired the internet. He is sometimes the consort to Hekate...in chthonic mode, Hermes guides the Dead to their respective place in the afterlife, in opposition to my Lady who leads the Dead out of Hades. They are the only two who can do this; even almighty Zeus cannot travel through ALL the realms with such ease. His task of shepherding juxtaposes with Hekate's reaping. They are two sides of the same coin in many ways. It is through Her I am getting to know Him.

The Lady of Guadalupe

Growing up Catholic, we were taught about the Trinity of God. The first part was Jesus, usually exemplified as the ‘baby’ Jesus; sweet, loving and innocent. So full of love, he gave up his life for me. I remember thinking to myself: I don’t remember asking for a sacrifice.. even so, how is there something out there tabulating my sins? Next was God the Father, the one who saw me when ‘no one’ was looking. The very same wrathful and punishing God whom destroyed the world with floods, banished humans from the Garden at Eden, and basically the disciplinarian of the spiritual relationship. This God frightened me. The final aspect of God was the easiest to imagine as a child, the Holy Spirit. This intangible and somewhat abstract piece of the God puzzle was ecstatic, it visited the saints, sex with the Virgin Mary, and when physically manifested it appears as a white dove, descending upon the chosen. The Spirit was sometimes revealed as Gnosis, divine intelligence, dreams and blessings. I imagined it as a dove, flying out from a ray of sunshine on a dark day. It gave me hope and I loved this God.
Our church was built in the Gothic revival style of the late Victorian period:  complete with flying buttresses, highly stylized vaulted ceilings, a gilded altar containing the host box with huge beeswax candles and seasonal accoutrement. In the corner, juxtaposed to the confessional booths, was an alcove with the Virgin Mary, standing on a snake and hands in prayer position. There was always candles burning below her feet, patrons asking Her to pray for them. We sat next to the Madonna in the pews quite often and I prayed to Her, secretly. I remember my grandmother having a grotto in her southern California backyard. Even though I never really saw my grandmother there praying, I did what I thought we were supposed to do: I placed flowers at her feet and prayed.
I was on a quest for this feminine divine, or ‘Goddess’ as I called it. I wasn’t sure what She looked like or how I would know who She was, but I knew it wouldn’t look in any way like a man. As a teenager, I tried to eradicate any form of spirituality resembling Christianity or Catholicism. I claimed myself Pagan Witch: the rebellious daughter of forests and waterways, the one who ran with deer and made magicks. But Mother Mary was a presence which stayed throughout my life in some form or another, usually hovering over my head and making psychics wonder how I am not Cathlolic. For a while, I was beginning to think perhaps it was my own ties as a thought-form from my youth, ones I perhaps hadn't fully let go of. It wasn't until a culmination of omens that I knew She was trying to speak to me, and there was a lesson to be learned.
I used to have a student job at the library of the University I attended, specifically in the Juvenile/Curriculum sections (among everything else on the top floor). One day whilst shelving, a book about Juan Diego popped off the cart; he was an indigenous man the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to on an ancient hill near Mexico City. I stopped to read this story and thought how wonderful it must have been to see and talk with Her. All the stories I read about Marian sightings, She always delivers messages not really engaging as She did with this simple man. However, Juan Diego was in the end charged with passing on a message to the local diocese: She wanted a chapel built where the apparition took place. As proof of this encounter, the Lady of Guadalupe filled his arms and shirt (held out like an apron) with roses. As he was questioned in disbelief at the mission, Diego unfurled the roses to reveal an image of the Virgin Mary, but in a very indigenous style.
Original Picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe (also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe) shown in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in México City. The Catholic Church considers the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe imprinted on the cloak of Juan Diego as a picture of supernatural origin.
Original Picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe (also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe) shown in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in México City. The Catholic Church considers the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe imprinted on the cloak of Juan Diego as a picture of supernatural origin.
The next day we had a surprise guest speaker in my 'Women in Religions' class. She was a friend of our professor and spoke about Our Lady of Guadalupe, making connections between Her appearance and the sacred site in which She revealed Herself. Making Her desire known for a chapel to be built, on the same location in Tepeyac as the ruins of another sacred site originally belonging to a pre-Colombian Mother Goddess, Tonantzin (a title meaning 'Our Reverend Mother'). The similarities between this older Mother Goddess and the 15th century Virgin Mary were expressed in the miraculous image. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a 'Black Madonna', meaning Her skin is not the anglicized white most are used to seeing. Her hands are in prayer whilst wearing a blue starry robe, standing on a crescent moon. Juan Diego was added to the bottom, appearing to 'hold up' or unfurl the icon and reveal the Mother as new and improved. Her message to me, appearing over and over, bittersweet as the chocolate of Her land:
It does not matter whether She is Our Lady of Guadalupe or Tonantzin: She is a New World Goddess. As Mother to all cultures and races, She has come out of a melting pot. The Americas are a culmination of so many different people; indigenous, by birth, built on the beauty and love for the soil beneath our feet. She cares not if you are Pagan, Catholic, Hindu...all are welcome in those outstretched arms of unconditional love. She is the soil with Her dark skin, the starry heavens a mantle for Nuit, the crescent beneath Her feet chthonic...She is Mother, to all. There are no coincidences and still I hold a special place of honor for Her, as a genus locci elevated... how could I not? There are literally shrines  all over my neighborhood.
“Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more?”

**Signal Boost** The Ancient Egyptian Daybook Project

Word has since gotten around about Tamara L. Siuda’s Ancient Egyptian Daybook Project, and although the initial fundraising goal has been surpassed by a little over $5,000 USD, it still needs support from donors in order to fund extended goals — one of which includes an Egyptian calendar application for portable devices! What is the Ancient Egyptian Daybook? As described by Siuda on the Kickstarter page, it’s a work about Ancient Egyptian calendars. Not only will it explain how the Ancient Egyptians devised and organized their multiple calendars, it will also lay out major festival days and other religious observances, as well as celestial events, important to that surprisingly advanced Ancient culture.

The Daybook is not simply intended for Kemetic practitioners’ use. It is an academic, scientific work, one which can be utilized by many people, whether religious or secular, from the serious scholar to the dabbling enthusiast. Tamara L. Siuda is a degreed Egyptologist; rest assured, it will be nothing short of a serious, authoritative work, but it won’t be written so as to be inaccessible to non-academic readers.

I urge my friends and readers to contribute to this project if at all possible. It is an important work, one which will contribute greatly to Egyptological scholarship and the proliferation of accessible, reliable information on one of the more obscure topics within Egyptology.

Without our communal support, independent projects such as these cannot hope to get off the ground. Please help support an independent, dedicated scholar by contributing funds and spreading the word.