The PantheaCon Report: 2017 edition

Gather round stardust children for a tale of journeys with Egyptian Gods, magickal plants, Pokemon battles and a prophecy of Pie. Annually, over the course of 4 days hundreds of practicing Pagans, Occultists, Witches and ‘tourists’ descend upon the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose to share, present and sell at Pantheacon. There is a story within each person’s experience, and this was mine. Day One, Jupiter: The sun was shining, hundreds of crows surrounded my crappy motel, cawing and squawking to the beat of my heart. The evening was lulled by their chattering: breakfast for dinner, “The Color of Money” on television and polishing my ass-kicking boots. Nervous energies supplanted and the ground of being invoked...not all have enemies, but it’s better to be prepared when arriving at a place full of other magick workers. Expansive in Her wings, Mother Hekate placed the Cowl about my shoulders, making me invisible to some but accessible to others. I walked, I wandered.

Day Two, Venus: Rain and wind molested festival goers, making an otherwise difficult unpacking moreso. I was set to install and erect the Hekate altar, but was fresh out of graveyard dirt...a very specific part of my devotional shrine. Since the boys from The Vodou Store were not vending this year, I searched all through the commerce areas but only managed to find black salt as a substitute. With that on one side, and rain water the other, a large black cauldron sat before Her with a bottle of mead for pouring libations. As I set Her in place, both Her torches managed to come off the statue…I super glued them back on and did not realize the personal significance until the very end of the conference, when I was packing Her back up.

First up for me was an intriguing lecture, "Deconstructing Crowley: Don’t Fear the Beast" by James Stone. Upon walking into the room, a dark ambiance captured the tone of  chants, the focus being on a Thelemic altar with a lotus-seated man wearing the head of a goat... as Baphomet. I was giddy and about to get ‘fangirl’ when the music changed to “Mr. Crowley” by Ozzy Osborne and a woman supplied a black ‘curtain’ over the transforming Deity...and a devil puppet appeared to be singing the lyrics. The emotions completely shifted in the room, immediately becoming much more light-hearted and one of entertainment, versus the heaviness I first encountered. The rest of the lecture was of the same entertaining vibe, presenting the many interesting trials and facts of The Beast...much I already knew due to my reading “Perdurabo” by Richard Kaczynski. I was very much PLEASED to see a good, accurate and thoughtful presentation given to break up the otherwise generic and often misunderstood stories surrounding this groundbreaking innovator of magick; most McWiccans run the other way for fear of pollination. I was hoping to see some of these newbs in the class, but unfortunately it was the older crowd who were probably more fans of the subject and lecturer than folks actually NEEDING to get educated. Still, a worthwhile effort on the part of Mr. Stone. Side Note: I got to speak with him VERY briefly on the very LAST night of PCon and wished to have more time together...so will engage through his Facebook page Deconstructing Crowley .

The next was really more of a discussion than presentation, “Witchcraft Herbs and Plants” with the renowned author and editor from Llewelyn Worldwide, Judika Iles. Now, I DO have one book from her that was gifted to me, an Encyclopedia of Magical Beasts. I never really bought her “5000 Spells” or other reference books for a few reasons, but mainly because I lack the shelving space. I have become a bit of a witchcraft book snob, staying away from mainstream publishers and detouring around reference books by single authors because I always figured, WHO is gonna know ALL this information except to copy it DOWN? Illes is a highly knowledgeable, intelligently spoken and one of the more well-read witches whom I’ve had the pleasure of changing my opinion of in recent years. Her discussion of witchcraft plants was indeed slimmed down to the scheduled time slot, as we easily could have all shared for HOURS our stories, experiences and expertise on various botanicals useful in magick. Suffice it to say, she really emphasized the importance of growing/developing a relationship with any herbs we use, even for people who have a blackthumb. Some favourites mentioned were mugwort, wormwood, and datura...all dangerous if misused and all highly effective to varying degrees for the Arts. She gave props and mention to two well-known and skilled cultivators, Marcus R. McCoy  and Harold A. Roth ...two I admire in the botanical world.

Later that evening, the worlds of activism and Pokemon collided in the Discordian ritual, “Fifty Shades of Greyface Go!” Occultists gathered outside the doors holding signs in protest, “Down with the Trainers” and “Free the Pokemon”...which I found personally hilarious; referencing a conversation I had with my own kid regarding these creatures: they are essentially slaves to the trainers, who make them fight and hurt Pokemon for their own glory. In the ritual, attendees were given soft Pokeballs and pens to draw sigils or symbols or simply to replicate the cartoon balls. These were then used as projectile weapons at actors in Pagan scenarios with inappropriate behaviors. Some examples included “Surprise Animal Sacrifice”, “Vegetarians, it’s okay to eat meat this time”, “Don’t worry about your allergies, it’s Magick!”. Laughter, smiling faces and flying balls made for good fun with purpose.

Day Three: Saturn Bright and early, a small hidden room with a large, round table was hard to find. “Advancing Devotional Practice” was just that, a round table. I was looking forward to what I thought was a presentation or ritual regarding devotional-centered paganism, but mostly it was author and teacher Silence Maestas facilitating discussion amongst attendees. It was interesting to hear from so many, and to be counted among the few who actually have a fully engaged altar. Whilst both are valid in the eyes of the Gods, there was a split in how people felt about the opposite. One daily devotional practitioner mentioned how others have expressed disappointment in her for not “getting past altar work”, that somehow this was only a beginner’s level of working with Deity. For some people simply doing their jobs, cleaning their homes or acknowledging Deity all day long were sufficient enough… but then they mentioned their dusty altar tools and unkept waters. It is a personal thing, sacred space. For those of us who fully engage with Deity, it is near impossible to be in Union with Them and still be functional. We start with prayer at our altars, but we carry Them with us in the secret shrines of our hearts. That is the effect from devotional work... not the cause.

The HIGHLIGHT of the weekend, and I didn’t even know it, was “Enochian Magick as a Consciousness-Altering Ceremonial Drug” by none other than Lon Milo DuQuette. Now, I have absolutely NO experience whatsoever with anything remotely angelic, with the exception of the LBRP . I don’t fuck around with angels because I don’t care for their Deity. However, as my late work has me ascending out of the Underworld and into the Heavens, I realize there are critters above and below for which I must acknowledge. Who better to introduce their magickal language than Mr. DuQuette, a magician I respect very highly and a kindred spirit in humour. But please don’t ask WTF we did, because I couldn't even tell you (obviously plan to buy the book).

 

All I CAN tell you is what we DID: First we attuned to the Angels and were instructed to pay special attention to whatever image we saw, then to draw that very thing as a symbol, one which we could focus on later. Then with paper laman and Solomonic ring, we activated the exterior circumference of DuQuette’s beautiful holy table, painted and inscribed with Enochian invocations and squares, whilst he activated the interior. The words were strange on my tongue, but I fervently tried to keep up. Our voices going faster and faster to keep up with the master. Until we were finally finished and stopped...sitting in meditation and observing whatever imagery came to us. It wasn’t until after this ritual was finished did I even understand it’s effects...I first saw wings (obviously I was projecting the imagery of angels). But then I saw a snake...then a rod. I knew already there was a Caduceus appearing in my mind’s eye; this was my symbol. Then the second image it was a bowl of water. When I checked with others throughout the evening who had also been ‘zapped’ by Mr. DuQuette, I saw a pattern emerge: the first image always something phallic like a rod (a staff, a wand, a tree), and the next image was something solid combined with something fluid (a crocodile on water, a boat, a chalice). This REALLY blew my mind and I am STILL processing this. DuQuette will always make me turn fangirl in his presence, but now it’s even worse.

 

Once I put my Self back together, I participated and assisted the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn’s world premiere presentation of “Aum Duat: The Night Journey of Ra”. It was a multimedia event including sacred costuming, theatrical props, musical processions and a dramatic reading from ancient texts, describing where the Sun God Ra goes when He dies each night. Recognition and honoring the path of the Undead prepares our Ba/Ka for the one we all walk someday, through the Underworld.

Day Four: The Sun ‘Twas an early day, with heavy academic lectures through most of the morning and into the afternoon; at least, this was the plan. “Akhenaten and Moses: Origin and Consequences of Monotheism” fascinated me...I had some inkling of this before this most quality presentation by Jehon Grist . I had to cut it short for the other fabulous lecture, Practical Neoplatonic Theurgy; there is a book by presenter Bruce MacLennan which explores the science of this methodology through the philospher Hypatia and her contemporaries. I put in service to the Red Tent  where serpents slept and yonis ruled. At dinner I ate beef stew, medicated with several hash joints and later went to “Hekate at the Crossroads: A Meeting of Mind & Movement” with veiled Priestess Tempest and the Nathaniel Johnstone Band. I watched as She danced to solitary violin, heard soft calling from a vocalist, and with each layer She removed another aspect of Hekate was revealed. Hekate Chthonia, Trivia, Brimo...She lead everyone in a beautiful spiral dance. I saw what She was doing, dancing them into Her spiral, Her Strophalus , the Labyrinth of Her mystery. I sat next to my sister-Priest...we held that space for their work to be protected. They were linking Her energy, allowing everyone who wished a connection to Her. I already have a connection so didn’t feel the call to participate in THAT capacity. The music was ethereal and I found myself simply swaying and enjoying the company of fellow Hekateans. It was joyful and inspiring. Sitting in meditation I awaited a message to come through to me and the clearest image was a pie...a large pie I could share with everyone else. When the dancing Priestess sat down to some oracle work, a message of strength and unifying for common goals came through. This was confirmation of Her message from my personal practice, which is always exciting. I come from a place of agency with compassion, liberation and the freedom of finding common ground where I can. Everyone likes pie...if not, then let them eat cake. Either way, we can come together at the table.

Day Five: The Moon This year everyone played nice. There were solid sacred spaces and gentleness as a storm raged outside the Doubletree Hotel. Freeways were closed that weekend for flooding, people were evacuated, and power was lost in some neighborhoods of San Jose. Yet everyone took care of each other, not because we HAVE to but we WANT to. Walking around were folks volunteering as “Emergency Magical Help” first responders: any suite or attendee bearing a red, cup like symbol can be be asked for assistance in grounding, cleansing, de-possession, etc. This has been a much needed service as some people get swept up in the carnival aspect of the Conference, forgetting that we do very heavy work there too. For some it is difficult to reconnect with the ‘reality’ of the really, real world.

It’s hard to walk any magickal path over a significant amount of time and NOT notice the hurting hardships of others. The trick is not to let it overwhelm you. It was my role to offer a place of reprieve all weekend at the Hekate altar. Way up, in the corner of the 10th floor amongst Kemetic Gods with Her friend the Herm, Hekate received mead and barley and salts and rainwater...enjoyed the people who came in and sat with Her. Some cried, some smiled, some just looked at the statue and wondered who made it. When I dismantled Her altar on Monday,again Her torches came off; I was able to super glue one back on all the way but the other will not stay. I am not sad as I slowly step into Her priesthood, as She hands me a torch. Perhaps next year I shall present, too.

Episode 5: The Hekatean Special

[audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Ep5_Hekatean-Special.mp3"][/audio] As promised, here is the long-awaited episode in which I spill the beans about Hekate. I hope this will become an annual event, growing and maturing with the show.There's music, anecdotes, information, recommended materials...slight rants. I kept this episode all about Our Lady of the Crossroads. Below you will find links to websites and online sources, shops and artists of which I am a proud patron. Please enjoy.

Jeff Cullen Artistry and The Vodou Store are both resources I have been dedicated to over the years. Graveyard dirt, blood sacrifice oil, bath formulas, my Hekate statues and art...so many of my supplies are purchased by this dynamic duo.

Conjure Oils have created the perfect Hekate oil....it is sweet and dusky, something beautiful to wear. I am very, very picky about fragrances due to a very sensitive nose, but being able to order from a localish company (Oregon) and loving the little pips (samplers) allowed me to try different scents without investing too much.

Wendy Rule is a modern songstress, bard, witch of words and sound. Seeing her in concert was like witnessing a spellworking, as everyone became entranced. Please support pagan artists, especially  exceptional ones like Rule.

Jade Sol Luna books are available on Amazon and I highly recommend them.

Sarah Iles Johnston has many other titles all in classical Hellenic studies.

Avalonia produces many kinds of books, even though I do not care for the woman who runs the company I think they put out some quality resources.

'Hecate', Natascha Root Photogrpahy.
'Hecate', by Natasha Root Photography

 

Liminal Book Review: Ritual Offerings

Ritual Offerings: Feeding Your Spirits – Empowering Your Magick. Edited by Aaron Leitch; 2014. Nephilim Press. 274 pages. Copy 629/1000.

My magick really went into overdrive when I started making offerings. Always a theist of some kind, I was trained early in the techniques of Buddhist meditation and mantra. Part of that practice included giving to the Buddhas water, flowers, fruit and devotional time. At first I thought it was just an external expression of focus, a kind of eye candy trigger to get myself present. It wasn't until later, when I started doing Druidry, that it became much clearer in the subtlety of what was happening: relationships were being formed and alliances made with Deity. The Indo-European concept of 'ghost-i', a reciprocity of “I give so that you may give”, just never sat right with my compassionate sensibilities. I give because I am generous or wish to alleviate suffering, not so I can build up a karmic reserve....a cosmic bank account from which to draw upon when needed. But I have also seen the results in the form of phenomenal spiritual experiences, blessings and small miracles.

 

The anthology Ritual Offerings  covers the many complexities involved in the conversation of devotion between polytheist, occult and Deity-centered magickal traditions ranging from Wicca to hoodoo, Golden Dawn to Tibetan Buddhism. A very practical collection of essays, this anthology includes many well-known and respected authors from the occult world: Sam Webster, Brother Moloch, Frater Ashen Chassen, Jason Miller, Nick Farrell to name the ones I recognized and why it was initially purchased. The book itself is an incredible work of art. This hardbound cover is half oxblood and half leathery black, with an embossed sigil covering most of the front and part of the back, wrapping around the spine. The turn in page has a most beautiful image of an illustrated altar with offerings and other arcane symbolism, in the front and back of the book. It also includes a satiny page marker sewn into the endband, which is very convenient and user friendly.

By far my favourite essay included in this anthology was Brother Moloch's “Ancestors & Offerings”. The practice of ancestor worship in the West has been a long forgotten , Brother Moloch gets right into the nit and grit. Details and suggestions for beginning a ritual practice involving ones' Dead, the essay breaks it down describing what and why to offer, how much/often, where to make offerings and working for results. This very frank and practical piece gave me some ideas on how to persuade them to work with me. As someone with a lot of Christianity in their family, I have found they are not always cooperative with what I want to accomplish...Brother Moloch draws upon his various spiritual lineages to explain ways in to maneuver around these kinds of obstacles. For example there are certain things nearly all Ancestors seem to like such as coffee, clean water and a simple white candle. He mentions a few things I had not thought to try before such as the naming of all my family lineage as a way to connect the dots with them all, or listing off all my blessings so they know how thankful I am for it all.

In “Offerings in Iamblichan Theurgy” Sam Webster breaks down the levels of offerings made and how they perpetuate our magick. One of the most compelling parts of the essay goes into the age old argument of “The Gods need our offerings because....”. According to Iamblichus, the Gods, in fact, do NOT need our affectionate attentions in order to survive. The Gods are deathless, unchanging and slightly self absorbed. If it makes no impression on the Gods, WHY do we make offerings then? Sacrifice is not made with expectations of reciprocity, but given out of love for Deity. In the making of offerings, the materials used are charged with the 'Word' or names of Deity, which are their essence. “Each thing in the world instantiates a complex union of the Words of a number of the Gods...we offer back to a God that which has a part of its constitution the Word of the God. As Iamblichus notes, Creators most love their creations” (p.215). For example, I often offer to Hekate graveyard dirt as this is a place She especially enjoys, it resonates with the chthonic aspect of Her as a guide of the Dead.

A few pieces in the anthology were shorter than I would have liked; less than 10 pages which really would be more of an article than an essay. Although packed with information, Jason Miller's essay “Severed Head Cakes and Clouds of Dancing Girls: Offerings in Tibetan Buddhism” felt as if only the very surface of this subject was scratched at. My training in chod gave me an insight many Western practitioners may be missing in this piece, but Miller still does a great job of explaining without going too deeply into the practical applications. One example he gave as an offering are the making of tormas, clay-like cakes which can be molded into various shapes and used in place of a blood sacrifice; “mar-chod, the 'red offering' of sacrificed animals and humans that Buddhists do not practice” (p.184). He also mentions a practice I find to be missing in Western traditions, the feeding of Demons and other 'lesser' beings. This is a difficult thing for Western practitioners to understand, as they generally see the feeding of demons as a way of encouraging their presence to be near. In Buddhism it is believed all beings, everywhere, suffer. These demons and other harmful spirits are intensely miserable which is why the act of offering tormas or other objects which are pleasing is a way of easing that suffering; it is an act of complete compassion.

This is a book any serious magician should have on their bookshelf, if not for the wealth of information contained within, but for the beauty without. Not often will I pay over $50 for a book that is not a textbook, but this was an especially wonderful exception I do not regret. I think it will also increase in value over time, as the authors are all five-star practitioners and the limited prints will ensure it's rarity.

Liminal Book Review: "Snake Yoga" (DVD)

Snake Yoga: Sacred Feminine Wisdom. Le'ema Kathleen Graham; Goddess Work. DVD and booklet . 2008. http://www.snakeyoga.com/

Having been at home for the past 5 years, with my family and doing a Master's degree online has really been conducive to the lazy lifestyle I like to maintain. But, it has also meant I've "let myself go". I have never been an especially athletic person but developed a love of yoga. I was exposed during my high school years through an alternative high school I attended; and by that, I mean a "continuation" school for teen pregnancies, drop outs, and troubled youth. One of our teachers was a hippie and introduced meditation, yoga, drumming and many other skills I have actually used in my life. Staying flexible and disciplined, I continued this practice into my college years. It was low impact and deep but something I carried on even throughout my pregnancy. But after the c-section, it was hard to get back into a routine soon. One thing led to another, yadda and yadda...I needed to reconnect with my body again. The Hatha yoga I had learned as a young woman didn't work the same in my 30s. The heat and sweat aggrivates my I.B.S. , living in my head through grad school has kept me disconnected from my body in many ways. There are so many excuses and reasons why I can use. But in all honesty, it is my spiritual life which has become more physically demanding than it used to be. Practicing true asanas, making the body strong, and conscious of what goes in it seems so much more important than it used to be.

Snake Yoga: Sacred Feminine Wisdom

So you can imagine my surprise when Priestess Le'ema sent me a copy of her "Snake Yoga" dvd...with tattooes for my daughter (snakes of course!). Gentle, the movements and stretches were definately not what I expected. My pre-natal yoga was extremely soft and how I thought this practice would be...but the stretches go very deep, deeper than my new mishappened body was used to. But I tried it anyway, on the floor with the air conditioning on full blast. Many of the poses were old friends with new twists on them, to compliment the serpent theme of our practice; the "Serpent on the Tree of Life" (Vṛkṣāsana) and "Cobra" (Bhujaṅgāsana) are two old favourites. I never once felt 'hot' as our breathing was not the warm, open AUM of firey movements, but a sinewy "HSS" that was cool and controlled. As a devotee of Hekate, I resonated most with the "Medusa" pose: a deep squat, tongue out and hair writhing with hands in a prayer position. I couldn't help but feel the power coming up from Brimo...the serpent of the Earth rising up and causing my legs to shake, thighs to quiver and eyes to naturally roll until the energy shot out through my third eye. It was very, very intense.

The DVD is very well produced, with an atmosphere of sacred motion that does not seem artificial or forced. The music was soft and something I did not pay much attention to until the second viewing, as the practice was new to me and I focused more on it. A nice fusion of ambience and tech, it didn't overwhelm with volume but complimented the practice. The booklet which came with the DVD was an extra bonus, with beautiful illustrations by Hrana Janto, of Le'ema in the different poses with the serpent beings superimposed upon her...like a picture taken of her ethreal body as she shapeshifts into these poses, not just doing yoga. The animated chakra feature was an interesting bonus, which I think is especially helpful for women who are new to this kind of deep, internal practice. Another great feature is being able to turn the words off completely during "play", so there is only the movement of your own body and the serpentine music. The closed-caption makes it especially accessible for those who are hearing impaired, and like me have a toddler sometimes playing nearby.

I would love to do yoga with this woman in real life some day and feel after a few weeks of doing this practice, several times a week... I will be ready for that bicycling machine I have placed below Babalon in my bedroom: because movement through sex, dance and yoga are all ways of allowing that shakti energy, that dormant wild and angry woman inside a place to let it ALL go, safely. 

Will the REAL Hekate please stand up?

I live between two rival gang areas, near a bridge that gets 'tags' quite frequently; the city is actually quite good about re-painting within a week of the spray painting. Usually the gangs include roman numerals or words misspelled in some kind of Spanglish. I have been tempted to go over them with red pentagrams,  Satanic sigils or protective talismans. Maybe then they will know who's neighborhood they are in. This is similar to my journey with Hekate. I started out in one gang, then moved to another and then another until I have become my own gang. Things are about to get a little technical and dramatic, so try to follow along. Hekate is an ancient Titaness whom modern Neopagans try to compartmentalize so they can understand Her better. This really is nothing new... the Chaldeans made Her part of a menage a trois as Queen of Heaven, with Hekate as the go-between of two masculine Gods. In recent UPG from various LHP ideologies, Hekate has become the diabolical witch Queen of the Underworld. Had-Hekate-Hadad....Belial-Hekate-Lucifer. She is the same... always sandwiched between two Gods. The modern Wiccan interpretation including Hekate as part of the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetype; the go-between as the kindly grandmother who is friend and guide to the Queen of the Underworld, Persephone, during the annual reunion with her Mother, the Queen of Earth Demeter. Then there is the Hekate-Kali connection; Mother Destroyer who loves hard and fierce, the other side of the same coin. She has so many names and epithets which have been attributed to Her and many other Gods too, shared as titles over the last few thousand years.

So, who is the REAL Hekate? Is there ONE? Has She just morphed and evolved over the centuries until there is nothing left of Her true form, but the clothing and armor we dress Her in? How did a psychopomp, so closely associated with household cults and worship, become inflated to “Queen of Witches”, the “Cosmic World Soul” and the “Triple Goddess”?

Every year, at the full moon in May, devotees of Our Lady participate in a global event known as the Rite of Her Sacred Fires. It is difficult to pinpoint where this Rite's origination actually came from, since it's author, Sorita d'Este, claims it was given upon completion of an anthology by Hekate Herself. The publisher Avalonia, owned and operated by Ms. d'Este, released two other titles regarding Hekate prior to the anthology, fully named “Hekate Her Sacred Fires: A unique collection of essays, prose, and artwork from around the world exploring the mysteries and sharing visions of the torchbearing triple goddess of the crossroads” (boy, that's a mouthful). Ever since the initial Rite in 2010, more folks are finding Hekate in their lives. She is everywhere and each Hekate is more experiential, personal and approachable than the last.

The Rite includes no formal casting of circles, calling of guardians, or special equipment; only a red candle. Specific gestures are used at the beginning, similar to the Rosicrucian or Kabbalistic cross, with hands ending up positioned in opposite directions, one palm up and the other down. There is an initial invocation to the “Queen of Heaven” and several other instructions which include not naming Hekate at all. It is not until the juicy part of the Rite, when the flame is lit, is Hekate actually called into presence. So I ask...who is being invoked at the beginning of this Rite then? The Mother of Hekate, Asteria, the celestial Titan...Her father Perses, a Titan of Destruction...All three realms are Her domain by right of Zeus' proclamation, the Land, Sky and Sea accessible to none other except the psychopompus; Hermes and Hekate.

Accessible to all who seek out Her, the peak is when barbarous words are intoned.... “Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui”. This is what caught my attention all those years ago...I had already been working with Hekate quite intimately in 2010, after our Coven took oaths to Her. We were spending a year facing fears and who better to be the guide of our own personal Tartaros than Hekate. During the first two months with I was in a car accident that completely totaled our family vehicle, after we just sold the spare. Although no one was hurt, and the car paid off, it was a lesson in futility as I faced the impact it made financially. I was desperately looking for a way of connecting and serving this most powerful Titan, but how? I found the Rite of Her Sacred Fires less than two months before it was scheduled to commence. I bought books by Sorita d'Este, Jade Sol Luna (including a few albums), read Orphic hymns and immersed my Self in Our Lady of the Crossroads. We moved to a house in front of a natural crossroads, having a stream in the front with the property flanked by bamboo groves on one side and pine on the other, Our Lady awaited in the shadows for me to speak to Her.

It was during this event I performed the RoHSF for three days, each time at midnight. It changed me, just as it did everyone else. I caught that 'fire' and immediately wanted more, so applied immediately for Covenant of Hekate membership and was quickly approved (member #82). I was exhilerated when I performed the Rite of the Red Cord. Having just been through the spiritual betrayal of a best friend, kicked out of my Druid Grove (and since has been REPEALED) and in a rocky marriage, I was ready for something strong and true. My spiritual teacher had left years ago, off to the south of France, so I had been in a spiritual limbo so long. It was only appropriate that Hekate answered that call. Because there is so little information on Her cult I sought out other Devotees, to share experiential and academic information with each other, creating a web of witchflame that would set the world on fire. This is when I realized...the CoH was not about Hekate. I watched as endless arguments from armchair historians online became pissing contests, plugs for non-Hekate related books from Avalonia appeared in the forums, and devotion to Hekate centered around the Neoplatonic Hekate as “Cosmic World Soul”. What exactly does this mean to me, as a polytheistic Pagan witch? If Hekate is the great Queen of Heaven (Hera) and Hell (Persephone), the embodied soul of the World (Gaia), and all of these other titles, could there still be room in my spiritual life for the other Gods, Goddesses, spirits, Dead and teachers who I already revere? This was beginning to seem like a Yahweh-type situation....and I wanted to run from that as fast as I could.

So much was beginning to stink and I left, after 3 months of membership, as my questions and exploring only seemed to anger members. And to be fair, I stirred up some shit after posting a Scribd link... but hostility occurred when I also shared any other publisher's work. The symbol for the Covenant of Hekate includes a four-armed equal cross topped by a crescent. The THREEway crossroads are sacred to Our Mother...four belongs Hermes. The red cord was hanging on me, the knot in my belly. I made an Oath to the CoH and Hekate...how was I going to just LEAVE? The CoH does not provide an exit ritual for members when they leave, and none of the Torchbearers knew what to say or do. There was magick in that knot, tying me into the web created and resonating, fed once a year, Hekate devotion becoming more popular than ever before, She was becoming big money and the Rite a global phenomenon which I still participated in every year.

I liked having a day sacred to our Mother Hekate, and the idea of having a synchronized ritual is something even now I love. Until this year I performed and taught the RoHSF; the only thing which stayed with me from the CoH. However, in preparation this year, I took a different look at it. I even finally read the anthology for which the Rite is named. I saw the connection between what the Rite and the CoH were. Hekate had nothing to do with it...this was not Her and I suddenly became violently ill. I saw the web which weaved them all together, the agreement which bound them, and the karma feasted upon. There is reason why the path of mysticism is not for everyone, and it draws the wrong sorts of folks....looking for answers when there really are none to be had. Offering bad chocolate and wine to Hekate is not going to change your life. Dressing your altar in the finest silks or organizing large fetes does not interest Her. This other thing, this egregore, this servitor serves a purpose but it does not serve Hekate or Her Devotees. Reading some books and praying alone might feel like advancement. Proclaiming oneself a Priest of Hekate does not make one so. The true Hekate comes through the minute a Devotee turns away from others' paths, reflects only themselves and commits to the one thing: Service to Her.

People ask me, what happened after I left? Well, I surrendered to Hekate, handed over my life to Her Will which is my True Will. She guided me to perform the following ritual, The Burning of the Cord, and my life has changed ever since. Cutting the psychic connection, burning the remains and burying ashes are all ancient methods of severance... and represent Her tools of magick. In the darkness She and I have been, dancing with one another. It took the SAME prayer said for two years to our Lady of the Crossroads, honoring each Dark Moon and weekly offerings which finally opened my ears and heart to Her messages. Time has moved on for me and my work with Her has intensified. She has taught to me: traveling to others' dreams, accepting and passing on Oracles in Her name, trance journeys through the Underworld and Middle Realms, and so much more than I can even proclaim aloud virtually. The road of Hekate is rough but it is one that MUST be traveled alone. Many groups come and go with the best of intentions with Our Lady of Land, Sky and Sea...but it will never work because Her natural cult does not flourish this way.

Burning of the Red Cord

Preparation:

Set up your altar space and prepare yourself as you did for the Rite of the Red Cord for the Covenant of Hekate. Some special items needed will include “sweet water” (water from a running or natural source such as a spring, well, ocean, or rain), soil, and incense of your choice. You will also need an envelope, scissors or a ritual knife, the Red Cord with the dedicated knot, and any other 'offerings' you'd like to include such as stones, feathers, etc. Also a spade or shovel, and someplace suitable to bury the objects.

 

Light candles, salute Hekate in the CoH fashion, then recite your personal Hymn to Hekate.

Rite:

Hold the cord in your hands for 3 breaths. Recall the Rite of the Red Cord and how you felt when you performed it, the actions or feelings which drew you to CoH in the beginning. With the knot held between your forefinger and thumbs. Say:

“As this knot continues to be a symbol of my devotion, may the oath which binds it to you Hekate hold fast. Whilst your fires burn at the heart of my devotion, sever my connection with the Covenant of Hekate, making it separate but equal as you see fit.”

As you focus on this, place it in the envelope, with whatever other offerings. Seal with wax using a favourite Hekate invocation. I work with Hekate Brimo, the Serpent Goddess a lot so in this particular Rite I invoked Her energy for assistance:

“O Brimo, ego reginum mah sacrum honoro” or “Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui, Phobantia Samne”.

Afterwards, take your spade and envelope to a crossroads; dig a small pit, burn and bury the contents of your envelope. When it has finished and is smoldering, cover it and leave, not looking back either at the CoH or the cord's grave.

Hekate Tree Trivia

Mother Invocation

I have not forgotten You.

You, always in my life,

Are still watching me.

Most caring of Mothers,

In the guise of a strong warrior-maiden

You brought me down this path,

Giving me courage and strength to endure.

I finish waxing and reach the nourishing peak,

My route has gathered in Your fullness.

Mother Goddess,

May I be fruitful and never have for want.

May I be a vehicle  of Your compassion and loving kindness.

May I open my heart to Your blessings.

May I be a shining example of Your happiness and health.

All of this and more,

As Your daughter,

I pledge and pray.

Red Rose of May

PBP: “S” is for Sinister Sorority

I am the eldest in a trio of daughters; after me is G and the baby is J. I am dark-haired and pudgy, G is the tall thin blonde, and J is the strong lean red-head. We are likened to the Powerpuff Girls, if they were cast as the Stygian witches or dancing Fates in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The thing about us growing up, we were closer than most siblings. Sure we fought, and still do... but that happens. After spending time all sharing a bed, or a room several times, they have been the sentinel of protection and comfort as only family can be... we have an unshakable bond that none have dared to break. My sisters are not magickal folk, and actually are quite skeptical in their thinking. Not that the esoteric is completely without rationale but my natural abilities to see the unseen and serve the Dead has certainly been the butt of jokes in our family for years. Being a good sport I can take it, but the need to be understood is sometimes overwhelming enough that I seek reassurance outside my small, comfortable retinue of Goddesses and allied ancestors. For several years I participated in and facilitated many groups for women: moon circles, covens, red tents... all were moments in my life when I could forget the competition and cattiness I otherwise fear from women. These types of gatherings reminded my tomboy spirit that there is a femininity within that is free to come out and play every once in a while. I learned about the roles we all play as women, the various stages our bodies go through and the sacred/profane juxtaposed in our lives. I worked through my past lives as women, and men, as mothers, midwives birthed new miracles, ideas and Be-ings. As the wise witch, the harvested and cleared way brings death, endings. To transform darkly, in that compost of ashen blood is to be reborn again. That is what we are as females... the beginning and the end both consummated in blood.

It is through this blood I am connected to all others, including my spiritual sisters. It is also how I have connected with Hekate, through the blood of pain and shedding... but She is not the only one who can fill this role. A stated before in several other blogs (see Sacrificial Schedules), I do not adhere to the roles of 'archetypes' for my personal ideology, although I am supportive if others wish to use them as tools for understanding the ways of deity. For me, they are separate Be-ings and entities... much as people are; we are all made of celestial 'stuff', it just takes on different forms of matter (and anti-matter sometimes). For example, whilst many Neo-Pagans may experience Hekate as Be-ing Morrígan, or even sometimes Ereshkigal, She is only Her Self with me... I experience these other Deities completely in a different way. I am drawn to many chthonic Gods and Goddesses, and even though they share similar characteristics, no two are exactly the same; nor do I experience them in similar ways either. I consider them part of the same Sorority or Fraternity.... they are like brothers and sisters in their collective roles, but are still very much individuals.

It is with this in mind my path has taken a slight turn, as yet another deity has entered my Left-Handed (or SINISTER) journey. Not long ago, I petitioned the Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, on behalf of a friend who is part hispanic; being in a punk band and a little 'rough around the edges' I thought they're be a perfect match. Since this working, Santisima has become more and more of a presence in my life. I created an altar, researched Her history and folklore. Filtering out relevant and quality information is difficult with such a recent Lady of Bones... in a long line of death Goddess, La Flaka is the new girl on the block. She is sister to Kali in Her removal of obstacles, fierce in Her love like the Morrigan, protective as Hekate of Her children, and regal as Queen Hel. As I take Her boney hand, a nod of approval is given by the other Sorors as I face Her embrace.

Blancha Santa Muerte

PBP: “Q” is for Queenly Ways

Playing with my daughter, I notice she is much more 'girly' than I was at her age. I never wanted to be a princess, waiting for some prince to rescue me. When I was a kid the only role models I had which even remotely reflected what I could aspire to be were more like She-Ra (a tough and tumble feminist), Rainbow Brite (who was really more like Strawberry Shortcake as a thoughtless little girl), and Barbie (ruining girls' self images since before my mother was born). We were playing in my daughter's princess dresses (she settled on Merida) when she told me “Mommy, I am the princess and you're the Queen, okay?” I asked her, “Why do I have to be the Queen? Why can't I be the witch in the dungeon?” And she reminded me: “Mommy, Queens can be witches TOO!” She made a good point. This reminds me of the 'sovereignty' which has been a theme in the Pagan community lately. Here in the Bay Area, I am blessed with seeing the microcosm reflecting the greater magickal population, at least I think it's fair to say. It started flowing through with the work of T. Thorne Coyle with Morpheus Ravenna and the Priests of the Coru Cathubodua at Pantheacon last year... a blood ritual to the Morrigan. It was through this donated blood which participants became part of the same tribe, under the leadership of this Queen. And what does this mean, 'sovereignty', for the Pagan community in general, not just devotees of the Morrigan? Why would a bloody war Goddess be interested in modern Pagans embracing their own power and independent nature? Does Be-ing a Queen mean authority of others as well? Is it a superiority complex or Satanic focus of Self fulfilling prophecies? Perhaps it's not so much this particular deity/entity/Be-ing which is requiring it, or should I say commanding us all to look at self rule.

The sorority of feminine sovereignty is pretty big: ancient Ishtar/Inanna, Babalon of the New Aeon, blood thirsty Queens such as Morrigan and Kali; red dakinis are reaching out in Her name as Lilith and Tara/Kurukulla. Heeding the call are priestesses, witches, energy workers, and many others who are attuned with the currents our planet passes through. This wave of new generation community leaders reflects how our Paganism is evolving and changing with the times. They are initiating and ushering new ways of thinking and practicing ancient concepts. I was deeply reminded of this during conversation with another initiator in this sovereign wave, Lasara Firefox Allen; Priestess, International Author, Educator, and Activist for sexual liberation and revolution. Allen published Sexy Witch (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide) and  is currently preparing to facilitate a weekend workshop she has titled “Embracing the Red Queen: Women, Competition, Cooperation and Co-Creation”; an intensive She reminded me that the actual etymological root for the word Queen is actually “wife”... “a sovereign woman as in one who does not need a King... (symbolic of ) the evolution of consciousness”. This is interesting in that lineages were at one point carried through the royal lines of women... a King was made by the Queen he married, not the other way around. Women are learning to have worth not in comparison to her consort, but standing in her own community of women.

From "Through the Looking Glass", 'Queen Alice' by John Tenniel.

 

For Lasara Allen, the Red Queen is not just the Sacred Whore but a kind of 'egregore' which has evolved from the consciousness of all the ones who connect with this red current, something beyond the simple Archetype. “For now just think of it as RED; power, sex, love, anger, passion, desire, strength, blood, wounds, healing, birth, death. QUEEN” (Lasara Firefox Allen). Something I have known for a long time, and that is also a factor for many other women, is that ladies have a tendency to “tear each other down”; sure we might be supportive face to face, but even at rituals or other public events I have overheard the cattiness which still lingers, usually spurned by envy or cowardice. Allen explained to me how “Women do not have a language for competition... this is about stepping into full power, full actualization”. She describes a place many feminists promise but eventually fail to deliver: a real sharing of power. In her 30-something years of training and service (which consists of several formal titles along with applied practice), Allen draws from her experience in reviewing patterns and seeing what stages of development worked in success situations.

COMPETITION: Learning how to claim our power in an authentic, straight-forward, honest way. Owning the edges that we stand at and sometimes step over. Admitting we are powerful. Admitting that we are vulnerable. Entering into a willingness to become naked in our RED QUEEN energy.
COOPERATION: When we come together in our truth, we learn to become true allies to one another. We learn how to support one another in full expression and creative action. We learn how to hold one another up while staying strong in our core.
CO-CREATION: Building from cooperation, we move into the ability to trust ourselves and one another enough to give ourselves over to the process of creating a whole that is more beautiful, powerful, complex, healing and healed than we may have ever thought possible.” (Lasara Firefox Allen)

As a Queen, Allen also holds a title I find many leaders in the Pagan community lacking: Mother. Allen does what she calls “Transparent Parenting”, not hiding the services she provides or teachings from her family. Surrounded by a supportive network of family and friends, Allen, like many Priestesses, lives her life “walking with the entity”. “Our life is the biggest prayer we can offer” she tells me. The openness shared with her children and spouse gives me something I can realistically envision for myself: the Queen rules the house, with one hand on a child and another a septor.

 

**Embracing the Red Queen Retreat will take place on privately owned, beautiful, Goddess-Blessed land here in the Willits area. It’s out Pine Mountain way, south-east of the valley. Spending the weekend in the great outdoors, we will ground our practice and process in the Earth Itself. Sleep under the stars, bring a tent, or sleep in the large, common-room tent space. There may be space inside the house to sleep on the floor by prior request, and there are a couple of beds that will be available by prior arrangement. There is a jacuzzi (bathing suits optional!), a beautiful fire circle, a lovely little garden, and a beautiful home in which meals will be prepared and served. Directions to the location will be made available with your other registration information before the event.

Liminal Book Review: Lunatik Witchcraft

Lunatik Witchcraft: Illuminating Your Underworld. Shay Skepevski; 2012. Lulu.com. 196 pages.

This gem of gnosis is offered up to the Hekatean community as a grimoire from mystic and artist Shay Skepevski of Sydney, Australia. With a familial background in Macedonian and Greek cultures, Skepevski draws on his heritage along with commonly known primary sources concerning the worship and magic of Hekate. Skepevski's Lunatik Witchcraft focuses SOLELY on Hekate as Matron and Guide on the path of shadows... alone and without the need of some consort. Between personal narrations, rituals, and background given with each step of the journey, Skepevski initiates the seeker into his praxis through the Underworld to the very heart of Hekate's light.

The book is split into two sections (EN EREBUS, 'In Darkness' and PHOS, 'Light!'), it is not organized by chapter. Skepevski's style is very non-linear and in keeping with the 'lunatik' feel of the offering... and what a gift to us all it is. Lunatik Witchcraft is organized in a way which takes the reader on a journey delving deeper into one's own 'lunatik flame' of inner illumination; reminiscent of the Luciferian flame offered in many LHP traditions. Unlike these others, I like that Skepevski explores so many varied topics of Her traditional and magickal domains including: herbs, necromancy, prophecy, trance and ritual drunkenness shared with the likes of Dionysian maenads in it's frenzy.

“Bearing the Lunatik Flame (Lunatik Consciousness) has the potential to become an extremely mantic experience, guided by Hekate's well-known powers of divination and prophecy. Her light shall shine down upon the unknown and we shall wield the psychic power to unify with the whole of nature, as we mould our psyche into infinite other forms and open a clearer line of communication between Witch and animal, or tree, fire, moon and Witch. We will be able to evoke the fires of creativity, ecstasy, inspiration, epiphany, and clarity from our deepest and most luminous soul” (Skepevski, p.126).

Skepevski is straight to the point in supporting his methodologies, which are all sound and grounded in obvious research and experience. I like that he also did this without including footnotes all over the damned place to prove it; giving it a true grimoire feel. Personally, I would determine this to be VERIFIED personal gnosis: I am verifying it Mr. Skepevski.... publicly and with the love of Our Lady. I tell you that many of the practices and ideologies you are revealing in this wonderful devotional offering (and it IS), I have been led to doing the same in my private personal practices over the past few years, with Hekate as guide. This is a wonderful offering to the Hekatean community and bless you for sharing it.

Having followed the work, writings, philosophies and poetry of Skepevski for quite some time now, I was rather disappointed the artwork included in the text was only printed in black and white. I am sure this was due to cost, but Skepevski's paintings are illuminating, highly evocative and would have made this a true masterpiece. I pray some publisher picks it up and re-issues a collector's edition of this beautiful book, as a hardbound color incarnation of Her flame.

"Peacock Vision" by Shay Skepevski.
"Peacock Vision" by Shay Skepevski.

 

 

PBP: “L” is for Love

A philosophical cliché, the most requested of magicks, some chemical reactions in the human body... my search for Love has propelled me through many lifetimes. This has been the year of exploring Love. I've had issues with the acceptance of Love and giving unconditionally; I always wait for the rug to be pulled from under me. I didn't really know the depth it could go until I had a child, the connection went beyond anything I could imagine.

BABALON

BABALON

I sometimes fantasize about the Gods having this kind of love for us, the humans and other creatures who can express adoration for the Divine. I am IN LOVE with my deities, there is no question of that; but is this Love reciprocal? Earlier this year I attended a more private gnostic mass, as practiced by the Ordo Templi Orientis. It was a very intimate gathering with no one I really knew. The only light was from the roaring fireplace I sat in front of, and the illumination from a high altar which the priestess later sat upon. She transformed from Nuit wrapped in the veils of night, to the naked Babalon. I approached Her, took the cake of light into my body and drank from Her cup. The Scarlet Woman offered Her arms to me and I accepted the embrace. The feeling of Love divinely flowed through my body, carried by the rotten, red blood of earthly fruits. Her nude skin, wide hips and face disappeared into the mantle of Nuit and it fell about my shoulders very gently, enrapturing me in a self-love I had never felt before. I remembered what it was like to be a woman: not the wife or mother or sister or any other mask I wear. Underneath the raw part of me quickened, awakening a primal energy which I did not realize had fallen asleep. My arms tightened around Her as I buried my head in Her lap, and felt as a lover in afterglow.

Last weekend I embraced Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma; a simple woman who has taken on the role of Mother to the world. She is something of a phenomenon:  has hugged something like 32 million people, donated time and money to several charitable/humanitarian issues, and is someone I have wanted to meet for many, many years. I went to Her ashram center, located less than 20 miles from home. I arrived at 4:15 pm and left around 2 am; most of that time was spent waiting to see Amma. It was a carnival atmosphere with people queuing up nicely and leaving their shoes neatly outside the temple. Large television screens all over the grounds allowed everyone a chance to shop for Amma memorabilia, food, clothing, get a massage... it was a marketplace with all proceeds going to Amma's Ashram and charity works. I was 'adopted' by an older Indian couple who wanted to show me the ropes; they also told me how they had once waited 7 hours just to enter an Indian temple for an Amma event. I was becoming steadily nervous as I anxiously sat through the seating sequence, Her procession in and the talk She gave (Amma is actually a VERY funny lady). We were all given blessed water as well.

After She changed clothes, from a simple white cotton sari of purity to the red/gold cloth of a Goddess, Amma was ready to gift the world Her unconditional Love. Under an elaborate umbrella and flower petals thrown in blessing, She commenced the hugging. I had been told these embracing marathons sometimes can last 14 hours solid. I just sat there watching Her for a good hour or so, in awe. She embraced whole families, played with and kissed little children, hugged humbled business men who knelt crying, new age ladies in flowing white dresses and henna adorning their hands wrapped around Her in a familiar manner. There were all kinds of people, from many different walks of life, all wanting to hug Amma.

When my turn came up it was around midnight. I sat in anticipation, moving up the line which fast approached the dais She was seated on. I watched as Amma held the people before me, all  I had spoken with earlier who were so surprised I was there alone, never having attended an event like this before, nor the ashram, and also that I had volunteered during my wait (called Seva, it was service helping in the bathrooms... appropriate considering my IBS issues I thought). Amma received them sweetly, gently, and with the grace of a mother fitting snugly against Her child. I longed for that type of embrace, secure and loving in an unconditional way, bridging across dimensions in the arms of a Goddess... for She was no longer jolly Amma, but a bigger than life presence; a Be-ing of light which radiated throughout the interior of the Ashram.

I felt intimidated and unsure as I approached Her, on my knees. I crawled and wanted to bow in reverence, but was forcefully brought up by Her attendants. They pushed on my back, grabbed the back of my neck, and gave me just enough time to look in Her eyes and say “mantra Amma” before they plunged my face straight into Her bosom, which was full of fresh flowers. She smelled of rose and sandalwood, it permeated my mind sending a piercing sting to my heart. She gripped my head, hugging me fiercely She placed Her lips against my right ear and said something I still have no clue of. Then She did something I did not expect... She kissed me on the forehead, roughly and then released me just as quickly, ready to accept the next devotee.

I was handed a special card and given instructions if I wanted to come back and wait to receive a mantra. So whilst I was waiting, it finally settled on me... and I began to weep not tears of joy, but tears of disillusionment. She wasn't at all gentle and nurturing with me. I could feel Her fierce Love bubbling beneath the surface of an otherwise joyful face. Her compassion was intense, something I have only felt in sexual union or with divinity: ... She expressed it to EVERYONE. I was jealous in a way, that someone could have that capacity and really, genuinely LOVE us all. She was like Babalon: a cup that runs over, which I could dissolve myself into and forget who I am, where my past lies dead and why I wanted this. Just Be-ing in Her presence, I could continue to feel Love spreading as an infection.

I received my mantra and promised never to tell it to anyone. Today I was praying with it and my four year old came in and she started immediately saying the words I was struggling with. I knew then, my little guru was the living embodiment of my Love, that was initiated by my husband and created in my body. The mantra brought the simplest awareness of presence back.. I reconnected with Babalon as priestess and mother Goddess as Amma, realizing I contain part of them inside, mixing with the stardust and DNA which already makes up Me. Upon the path of Love, none is mundane or profane. Love is sacred and the universal Law.

Liminal Book Review: The Dance of the Mystai

The Dance of the Mystai – A Modern Mystery Tradition. Tinnekke Bebout; Pagan Writers Press, Houston, Texas. 3441 pages (digital).

Part introduction to the modern mystery tradition of the Mystai, part journey of feminist self-discovery, and another part personal narrative, The Dance of the Mystai is an inspiring book which points to the very heart of Goddess spirituality, then offers secretly to give more; rendering this reader's heart as overflowing with longing of spiritual Sisterhood. Touching on the universal themes of Patriarchy and the need for Goddess religion in women's lives, it was nothing I have not read already; but it was interesting to read the personal narratives and how they shaped the author, Tinnekke Bebout, into the Priestess she is today.

It was the Mystai's work with Hekate and the emphasis on training, creating a modern tradition in Her service, and the acceptance of personal gnosis which made me interested in this book firstly. The face of Goddess spirituality is changing and with it the new Aeon is ushering in a time which does not attempt to re-create a movement but to pick up where our mothers and grandmothers left off and continue the work. And it IS work... as Bebout points out very clearly. The book hits the ground running to explain what the Mystai is and is not: an emphasis on personal work and reclaiming mysteries without influence of 'group think'. Bebout points out the privileged and comfy place we are all used to coming from, and why we are also not getting the results we long for; the deep spiritual connection that comes from recognizing our own innate abilities.Dance_Full-200x300

"I know from experience and simply from being a modern American woman that we are not used to heat, exertion, and other adverse conditions and certainly don't look to experience these things on what may be in our minds a vacation. That is the first change we need to make: the Mysteries are not a vacation. They are not a Goddess Festival where various paid speakers will pass on ideas or skills while everyone sits in relative comfort and has meals prepared for them. They are not a convention where people sleep in hotel beds and wander from event to event... the Mysteries are a spiritual journey to the inner world of the Goddess. They are simple and profound" (pp.510-511).

The first sections of the book go straight into the structure and working theology of the Mystai, including the liturgical calendar (lunar based), offices and lyceum curriculum. The second major section deals with the basics of trance, magickal theory and application, and devotional workings, all which are not necessarily from a beginner's perspective. Including in the bulk of the work is several devotional poems and hymns, narratives and personal confessions as Bebout includes works created by Mystai sisters; sharing and baring the soul of sisterhood.

Bebout and the ladies of the Mystai are creating a modern tradition which speaks on a soul level with women everywhere. Much like the Fellowship of Isis, the Mystai's ideology rests in the universality of the Goddess and that "we are the Daughters of the Goddesses in all Their myriad and wonderful manifestations" (p.191). Several Goddesses of the Mystai tradition include Hekate of course, Aphrodite, Athene, Gaia, Inanna, Isis, Kwan Yin, Lilith, and Sophia. In my own workings with Hekate as my matron, She acts as a guide or 'agent' in the Otherworlds... perhaps this is the same reason why so many Goddesses are interested in the Mystai. The work they are doing resonates with my desire and need for a focused priestess training in the service of Hekate, without telling me what is right and wrong, trusting in the validations I receive from no other higher authority than my Goddess. The Mystai have re-confirmed for me that the way of gnosis and revelations CAN be shared in a nurturing, supportive community. I have found my way and look forward to my training.

The Dance of the Mystai

PBP: “I” is for Identity

I am a Woman, born female of a female. When pregnant my daughter was inside my womb, holding my potential grandchildren within her womb, and so on into the infinite microcosm of the universe. I bleed, have breasts, and was told growing up I couldn't do a lot of things. No one can ever understand this unless they too have experienced it; they can try to empathize, or imagine, but it's never really the same thing. The mystery of the blood and milk of my body I  reclaim as sacraments of potent magic; containing human growth hormones and other life-creating molecules. If my body chose to it could create a child without the aid of a male; parthenogenesis does occur. My spirit chose this body for a reason and I accept it with faithful curiosity. I will not apologize or call myself otherwise. I am a Sister, by blood and choice to many siblings. Some are older, some wiser, but all I love and support with my spirit and heart. Forgiveness is easy with them, but hurt sometimes cannot be forgotten. I will embrace you, invite you into my world of creative imagination and endless possibilities. All I require is trust not to betray our promises of loyalty nor breaking oaths sworn on shorn hair. Be true to yourself and the mysteries we share together. Know we share the heart of sisterly love and a bond which goes beyond blood.

Plain ol' Fawn.

I am a Scholar, quick of mind and long of tongue. My voice is powerful, words flow like imbas through my spirit and onto the page/screen. I am a perpetual student, hungry for knowledge. I am the sleeping philosopher with Hedonist head and body separated by miles of confusion, they come together when peace is achieved. I am learning the ways of listening, attuning to quiet wisdom and hearing the voice of the Universe reveal secrets in archaic images and symbols. I know the language of the Otherworld, gestures of praxis, printed paradigms filled on shelves of the great Akashic library. Cautious relevancy and research lends to my careful approach. Information becomes knowledge on the esoteric and mundane landscapes, spiritual evolution opens minds and filters hearts against falsities filled with ego or ill-motives. I am skeptical of ghost-sightings, spirit conjuring/seance and other easily manipulated group experiences; but I am extremely tolerant of others' personal religious and spiritual paths. I will support the right of a hate group alongside an LGBT organization. I believe people have a right to be ignorant, but not disrupt another person's Will.

I am a Witch, pursuant to my ideology and belief system. I can manifest miracles, enjoy the unexpected, and communicate with spirits/deities/dead. I know the magic of herbs, how to heal and hex with them, the language spoken yet seldom heard. I can dream about the future, drop in to visit friends astrally, and travel through time (sometimes). I know my past lives and those who shared pasts with me. I can read the cards and reveal secrets from deep within you. I know vengeance and have the practice of patience on my side. Years can go by before I take action. Just know it is the Witch who chases down traitors, thieves, liars and other offenders of spirit. I shall sit on their chest, make it difficult for them to get up in the night to relieve themselves. Rotting houses from the inside out, losing touch with everything that once was sweet, now turned sour. The Witch in me knows how to dig in and get the work done.

I am a Priestess, by right of my own. I do not need another human to make me so. Hethert has placed the mantle about my shoulders, the Morrighan crowned me with personal sovereignty, hands blessed to heal in the name of Buddha, and Hekate governs mind, body and soul... given over to Her Will. I have anointed the dying, joined families in marriage, and gave protection to the weak. My powerful voice evokes and invokes with precision, no God can resist my call of presence. I am a natural leader and loyal follower. I pass the torch and share privilege of service. The years of teaching, inspiring, nurturing natural talents, answers for seekers who approach with challenges... my role is not done. I have hidden myself away, in the cave to tend wounds, heal burns of ignorance and hypocrisy. I will never be caught off guard again, since the rules of the game are understood to be ever-changing, so must I be.

Liminal Book Review: Summoning the Fates

Summoning the Fates: A Woman's Guide to Destiny. Zsuzsanna E. Budapest; Three Rivers Press, New York, NY. 1998. 242 pages.

I do not put much stock in Astrology, especially since taking an Astronomy class in college and learning about the Earth's precession; making me a Taurus instead of Gemini. But as anyone who has years of experiencing magic and psychic workings knows, we become more sensitive to the energy vibrations present in the universe the more we attune with these currents. Without consulting a natal chart, I have intuitively experienced the presence of two powerful, planetary energies in my life: Mercury and Saturn, both probably considered the most intense heavenly currents from our solar system.

Naturally Mercurial, I am constantly changing and swift in mind. A constant communicator, manipulator of energies and quick to learn new technologies, Mercury is very active in my life. It influences my impulsiveness, instinctual actions, and sharp silver tongue. Unfortunately it also goes retrograde three times a year, effecting me in the most strange ways (more on that in a future blog). Mercury is the most eccentric of our solar systems' planets, taking the most imperfect path around the sun. It's orbit is every 88 Earth days, a fast traveler through the sky. I describe this energy to juxtapose with the energies of Saturn, which is in some ways quite the opposite.

Saturn is a rather large planet, and one which orbits very slowly around the sun; coming back to carry us off into another life every 29-32 years. It is the energy of the harvester, reaping what has taken so long to grow; even the symbol for this planet looks like a sickle: ♄. Because it takes so long for this presence to appear on the horizon, the energies have a chance to build up over time; this may be why Saturnine energy is so heavy For those who believe in it, Saturn is connected to our destiny or fate, the path/lesson we are given at the time of birth in this lifetime. When it returns to a place in orbit, at the time we were born or at other points of our lives, the energies of this planet either manifests as an acceptance, or forces us to take our medicine the hard way. Either way we choose, and there is always a choice, it is not going to be necessarily easy but will guarantee change.

 

Although this book is aimed at being a guide for women, I truly believe the information and stories are accessible for everyone, no matter their sexual identity. In typical Z fashion, the Goddesses are invoked and worked tas words on the page. The Fates, no matter which culture they are experienced in, will always have a similar attitude towards mortals. Z expresses this point, almost as if the Fates are speaking THROUGH her:

“Guess what? The Fates don't do details. Wiping things off the Earth is not their beat. They only do the big picture, turn the wheel of the ages, and facilitate our souls' choices. The Fates don't create evil. Evil is a perception from our point of view. It belongs to the small picture. To us it is overwhelming, but cosmically it is the bat of an eyelash. It is a knot, a rough thread in the Fates' hands, but they don't tangle it. Despite everything we can do to snarl up the works, they turn the wheels and keep everything moving, flowing, spinning. Surviving” (p.51).

So when Urdh hands over the reigns to Verdandi around the age of 29-32, we return to the crossroads. Some people go back to school, others divorce or have babies, start a new career... there's a multitude of changes that occur during this tumultuous time. Everything up to this point was in preparation for what our life's work is to be and now we get to be more of who we truly are. Z offers up prayers, small rituals, and reflections that give hope and meaning to difficult periods in our lives. In helping us to understand these cosmic energies, Z is giving us the tools in an age when information empowers.

As someone who has JUST passed through my first “Saturn Return” (as they call it), I can attest to the transforming energies which take over things. My life completely changed; I got married, had a baby, stayed home and went back to school for a Master's... I also gained weight, lost some friends, and moved far away from family. It was at this time Hekate came into my life as well. By accepting what was presented to me, I have opened up more potentialities and opportunities for spiritual and financial growth in BIG ways; everything with Saturn is larger than life. With Verdandi in charge, we hone our talents... blooming under the immense pressure of the crown as we become masters of our selves, or buckling under it's weight. I, for one, hope to turn into a diamond.

http://www.zbudapest.com/summoning-fates.html

Resurrection in Madness

The end is just another beginning as we return to life; because really, most of us are just spiritually dead walking around in meat suits. In resurrecting our practice, we are also resurrecting our spiritual selves. I find myself being the 'feast or famine' type and I am sure the deities I work with loathe me for it... but obviously there is something sentimental about me or they would never pay me attention. I bug them so much that eventually they are forced to hear me out or forever be bothered by the adorations and beseeching of a mad woman. As I finish this devotional project, I realize I have nothing more to say. I feel the blank emptiness which comes from intense Zen meditations, the peace and mindfulness associated with completing a service, ritual, or any sacred time spent out of ordinary reality can seem like forever. I have barely been able to complete my homework assignments over the last 13 days; not able to write or read anything not related to Hekatean thought or chthonic practice. My family has become accustomed to my nightly meditations, prayers sent with the burning of incense, and strange, intangible uttering as I pray to Hekate in dead languages. My recitation is taken from the album Tales of Moon Face by Jade Sol Luna, from the track “Welcome to Styx”. As I continue with this practice, I find the words becoming intelligible with heightened meaning (I use his Latin version), giving me strength and courage to face the parts of myself I fear most and in their exposure, burning them up in the light of Lucifera.

We honor you Queen of the black night. Hecate, mother of magic, at moonlit crossroads you befriend the hopeless. Torch held high you walk beside Demeter searching for Persephone. You work from afar; weaving spells of water, earth and sky you catch every eye in a fatal trance. Persian Artemis, invincible huntress, you hold freedom’s key. I honor you Hecate, accept our love and bless us, inspire all in the dark.

Mistress of Beasts

Hecate the Beauteous, you I invoke:You, of roads and crossways, Of heaven, of earth, and sea as well. You, the saffron-clad, among the tombs, Dancing with dead souls the Bacchic rite. You, daughter of Perses, lover of desolation, Taking joy in deer and dogs, in the night. You, terrible Queen! Devourer of beasts! Ungirded, possessed of form unapproachable! You, bull-huntress, universal sovereign Empress: You mountain-roaming guide, and bride, and nursemaid, I entreat, O Maiden, your presence at these sacred rites, With grace to the Oxherd and a joyful heart eternal”

- Orphic Hymn to Hekate

In the hands of Hekate are the torch and the scourge, sometimes shown as a noose or whip. This is a symbol of Her dominance over all beasts, including humans. She is a Mistress who dominates, and as such many women wish to exhibit the strength of Hekate. In ancient times, black ewes/lambs, puppies, and pigs were sacrificed in Her honor; like many chthonic deities, Hekate enjoys warm blood. She is Therobromos, 'roaring like a beast' or 'cry from the city of the beasts'; Hekate is especially connection with dogs, specifically black females, or bitches as they are commonly referred to. Barking or howling dogs are said to be Her calling card. Dogs have exceptional night vision, are liminal creatures who can swim in water and walk on land. Undomesticated they travel in packs, more often than not reverting to their scavenger ancestors... frequenting where dead bodies would have been burned outside the city walls in ancient times. Other animals associated with Hekate are the horse (probably in Her connection with travelers), the serpent (for obvious reasons), the lion (from the Chaldeans), the cow or calf (black with horns). In Her synchronicity with Artemis, She is the huntress who runs with the deer, protecting the sacred herds.

It is in honoring this wild spirit of Hekate that we reconnect with our own savage selves. We can remember through our DNA what our ancestors left to us: the capacity to communicate, appreciate and create art whilst also respecting Her other children who inhabit the feral lands of the forest, desert, and under the earth. Her mysteries are common knowledge to animals, the cycles of seasons and surrendering to instincts come second nature. We repress these feelings, calling them illogical or rational; to what purpose do they serve, to think of ourselves in light of primitive humans? It gives us a sense of humility, realizing even after we are finished destroying the planet for ourselves that nature will simply adapt and life will go on without us. It's arrogant to think once we wipe our species out of existence the rest of the planet will perish as well... when that is simply not true. Earth has had many different type of environments and atmospheric changes in it's lifespan of 4.54 million years. We are merely a tiny spot on the lifeline of impacts of our planet; but Hekate and the other Gods still find us amusing and know it is up to us to save ourselves.

Hekate is very active these days. More and more people are being 'called' into Her service; although I do see more asking for favors than giving adoration. Egos become inflated with power, even when proper tribute is given, when really they should be broken... flattened with the devotee naked and bleeding before the Goddess. Only when we come before Her in our rawness, our vulnerabilities exposed, will She let loose Her dogs to ravage and tear us to pieces...for in that state we can put ourselves back together again; like the Japanese philosophy of 'wabi-sabi': something is more valuable because of it's imperfections, impermanence, or impurity. Animals understand this in their living moment to moment and Hekate reminds us that we are never more powerful than right now, this very second, because it is all the time we can fully realize.

Of Starlight and Black Flames

"O triple form of darkness! Sombre splendour! Thou moon unseen of men! Thou huntress dread! Thou crownèd demon of the crownless dead! O breast of blood, too bitter and too tended! Unseen of gentle spring, Let me the offering Bring to thy shrine's sephulchral glittering I slay the swart beast! I bestow the bloom Sown in the dusk, and gathered in the gloom Under the waning moon, At midnight hardly lightening the East; And the black lamb from the black ewe's dead womb I bring, and stir the slow infernal tune Fit for thy chosen priest.

Here where the band of Ocean breaks the road Black-trodden, deeply-stoopy, to the abyss, I shall salute thee with the nameless kiss Pronounced towards the uttermost abode Of thy supreme desire. I shall illume the fire Whence thy wild stryges shall obey the lyre, Whence thy Lemurs shall gather and spring round, Girdling me in the sad funereal ground With faces turnèd back, My face averted! I shall consummate The awful act of worship, O renowned Fear upon earth, and fear in hell, and black Fear in the sky beyond Fate!"

- by Aleister Crowley, from The Invocation of Hecate

What is the purpose behind gaining spiritual knowledge, seeking it out, if not for an end to the means? Even if a glimpse is taken into the light filled world of bliss, for even a moment to experience, in those little blessings we desire only more. It only whets the appetite, causing us to seek out these moments of union with Hekate more often. The only problem with this is often it leads to disappointment; even if we re-create the situation in which we received some of Her grace, it will not automatically bring about a profound experience EVERY single time we meditate or participate in practice. So we go on living our lives, paying taxes, making dinner and are supposed to just be 'alright' with this.

The third eye chakra is called Ajna, 'command' or 'summoning'. It is through this part of our bodies we communicate with the world of spirit and intuition. Projecting and receiving messages, energies, and visualizations are the normal parts of being a magickal practitioner. It is through this center of our ethereal bodies we receive the intuitive blessings of Hekate Luna, meaning 'moon'. This cooler light is a stark contrast to the fiery solar plexus from before, with the illumination being more watery and fluid than the flickering fires. The purifying waters of Her ebb and flow correspond with Her lunar phases of worship: creative in Her fullness, cutting in Her wane, bliss in Her potentiality at the Noumenia (dark of moon), and growing in knowledge with Her waxing.

In my meditations last night, I had the vision of being a beacon, filled with a blazing starlight. This condensed to a single beam that shot from my ajna, which bent and spiraled around me. I felt the brightness turn to night, like squid ink... it settled and stuck to my body, coating it like a butter for basting. I began to panic, afraid of what was going to become of my soul as the liquid dried and became hardened. It was shiny, like metal polished bright. I realized it was my armor but not like the medieval kind; it was pliable, moving with my ethereal body like a nanotechnology for the spirit. I have caught the white flame of Hekate in my third eye and merged it with the black torch of my heart. This alchemical process is the start of something bigger than I can contemplate and I am surrendering.

Hekate sends Her lunary rays into our bodies, giving us the potential for great things; freeing up worries, enhancing physic vibrations, offering mysteries of magickal challenges with the promise of empowerment. The armor is not just a protective coating, but the cocoon in which we can transform, mutate, evolve into a higher form of ourselves. We need only trust ourselves; the whole of the Universe is already within us.

 

Neheti at deviantART

The Stormy Voice of Silence

"Hekate Enodia, Trioditis [Trivia], lovely dame,

of earthly, watery, and celestial frame, sepulchral, in a saffron veil arrayed,

pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade;

Perseis, solitary goddess, hail!

The world’s key-bearer, never doomed to fail;

in stags rejoicing, huntress, nightly seen, and drawn by bulls, unconquerable queen;

Leader, Nymphe, nurse, on mountains wandering,

hear the suppliants who with holy rites thy power revere,

and to the herdsman with a favouring mind draw near."

- Orphic Hymn 1 to Hecate

The voice of Hekate comes in different ways. I have heard some people say She whispers in their ears, or She speaks through the symbolism of Tarot, scrying, or other types of divination. Personally, I have found Her to be rather quiet, considering She has so many heads. The messages She gives to me come through my dreams; there are just too many coincidences to NOT take them seriously. I have visited people whilst I slept, watched what they did at night (whether making music, writing, painting, or meditating). I danced a disruptive disco with fiery red dresses and roses into their dreams, without intention. I talked to these people afterward and they confirmed some things to me, so I do not take these experiences lightly. I couldn't figure out, why was Hekate showing me these things? What do I care if someone creates a cool Kemetic calendar for Bast? Or a cd of guided meditations for Hekate? I mean, it would be nice if they did these things so I could enjoy them, but I wasn't understanding the 'benefit' of the visions.

 

It wasn't until about a month ago, when I received my custom statue of Hekate that I began to see the purpose. Hekate knows my voice is my instrument and charged me with changing my practice. So I thought long and hard; my practice of the past 2 years have been completely centered around Hekate Brimo and Chthonia, the serpent Goddess of the Underworld, in the darkest places on Earth. The fresh skin under the shedding was glistening and shiny, like a rainbow. But I didn't know what was next, now that I had transformed.

I had become fearless in the pursuits of my magick: cast my first real curse which brought more satisfaction to me than anything I could have expected, began seriously studying Thelemic and Satanic philosophies, and worked with the energies of Babalon. When I started studying the occult as a teenager, the first thing I went to was curses; no love spells or quick money fixes for me! This speaks volumes about the kind of curious mind I have, if I allow my inner wild woman free reign. It's like drugs... everyone says that cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol are the 'gateway drugs': I went straight to LSD at 14. Going for the jugular in the situation is usually the balls-out way to go; but the more I read, the more I realized that when you play with fire you get burned. So I quickly turned my magickal curriculum toward other pursuits such as herbs, divination, healing and meditation. I was not ready for the big guns... but here I am, 20 years later, with more experience under my robe and an academically trained mind to decipher the bullshit from real thing.

Hekate Enodia ('of the ways') resides in the throat chakra, Vishuddha. She is bluish-gray, like an early morning storm, with three faces looking out in all directions. Her roads of communication are lit by the light of Lucifera... divinely inspired and made manifest with repetition. You see, people don't understand the nature of ritual: it is a set of actions usually performed more than once. By only doing prayer work occasionally, you get occasional results. As Aleister Crowley is known to have instructed: Enflame thyself in prayer and invoke often; and it is true! By keeping these paths of communication open with the flowing of chants, songs, or invocations, the hard road becomes a well-worn path.

My voice is the most powerful tool in my entire arsenal of witchery... I need only say something out loud or type into text and it comes to pass. My gift for invocation and diligence in mantra work is something Hekate is pushing me ever harder to put into practice. I find it brings me visions, messages to other people, and clear focus in my practices; but it also is confusing since Her communication is so cryptic in language. Her visions often require contemplation and research, all part of the path. Her whispers are howls of wind, the shift in Her dress sounds like barking dogs, and the snakes of Her hair writhe with the songs of the spheres. Keeping my mouth shut long enough to listen, I am learning Her ways.

The Moonchild

*Warning: this is a highly personal and graphic blog post. Read with an open mind and heart.

I was in college, a failing relationship and ready to make a change in my life only I didn't know it yet. Having been working with the Divine Feminine and eventually the Masculine energies, there was for the first time a peacefulness about my spirit. I was in a comfortable, empowering place with daily practice, regular yoga and eating well. It seemed I was at the peak of my journey when a curve ball in both the spiritual and physical effect was pitched.

Commuting 45 minutes to school, working on campus, and getting out of classes late at night (around 10 pm), I often spent the night  friends' houses so I could save the gas and sleep. It was during this time, I was sleeping on a witches' couch, that I felt a presence looming nearby. It didn't seem malevolent or intending to irritate me, just hovering and watching. I asked in the morning if they had ghosts in their building, with the expected “of course” response. I assumed it as such and simply ignored it. It wasn't until the following week when I slept on another friends' couch that I felt this same energy; and somehow knew it was the same being I had encountered at the other place. I began to think...had it followed me?

Pondering these thoughts in the middle of the night, suddenly I felt it trying to get into my gut. A fluttering, a stirring, a breezy touch on my ethereal body, immediately causing me to send out an instinctual shield. Of course, the Be-ing backed off and I was irritated I could not see, hear, or smell it (yes, I smell ghosts). I did not want to communicate with it as I felt it had tried to violate me... I was sleeping and had psychic defenses down so to speak. If a spirit was trying to enter my body without permission, well I wasn't having any kind of games of the sort.

The following weekend I kept my 'spidey senses' open. Although there was not another encounter, I noticed other differences going on. I would know when the phone was about to ring, or a certain song was coming on the radio. My dreams became cognitive in small ways, with small happenings being played out first in visions and then waking world. I was a little freaked out with these gifts, although secretly excited too. But I also wanted to know why they were occurring, and if they were connected to the nocturnal visits. It was when I skipped my period a ton of bricks fell on my heart. I was pregnant and due on Samhain, October 31st.

This was not planned...my 5 year long relationship was becoming a little shaky and not very active in the bedroom, so I was really surprised by this. I was also afraid to talk to my partner about it...his daughter was almost a teenager and another daughter had died at 10 days in a previous marriage; this was going to be a tough one. I did not want to have a child yet...I had planned to wait until 30, when I had seen some of the world, had a supportive income with benefits and stability. As it was I drove a 1978 Caballero that often broke down, had no health insurance to speak of, worked 2 part time jobs, and needed to finish my Bachelor's Degree. Where was a new baby going to fit into this? So we discussed it... actually, I should say I told him and he copped out of a decision with “It's your body. I can't tell you what to do with it.”

Being a double major in both Religious Studies and Humanities, I had a good working mind when it came to the philosophical and ethical thought process regarding this situation. I weighed the spiritual questions more heavily than the rational arguments: Is it truly 'murder'? What would be my karmic debt for 'killing' a life? What do other religions or people similar to my spiritual path have to say about it? I talked with a few enlightened friends I am grateful to know, and still it wasn't a pure 'yes' or 'no' in the end.

I made the decision to at least discuss it with a professional and understand how the process worked, before making any final choice. Eventually I decided to terminate the pregnancy. I didn't feel a connection to the tissue that was growing in my womb...it was only 5 weeks (super early) and a small collective of cells. With that said, there was a spirit hovering around, accompanying me every day wherever I was. It kept trying to enter, but I wouldn't let it; I know this sounds like the ravings of a mad-woman, but if you are reading this blog you probably are somewhat experienced in the realms of the unseen, or at least have a fascination with it. Since I was early enough, I chose to take the RU-184 pill; the 'abortion pill' which differs from the easy to obtain 'morning after' pill.

I still felt uneasy. I wanted to reconcile with this so badly in a spiritual sense. I felt this hovering presence, always nearby. It never merged with me, but I knew it belonged to me. After heavy meditation, I was guided to allow myself to enjoy being pregnant for one afternoon...see how it grew on me, literally and spiritually. Would I feel this 'motherly' instinct, some sudden and over-powering emotion that would drive me to protect this small life-force? What is part of my destiny to have this child? I put all of these questions to thought, heart, and communicated with this spirit. I asked for it's name, if it was a boy or girl, talked to my Son with the green eyes and black hair. I said aloud his secret name and explained: “This is not a good time to meet again. You may linger if you wish, but I cannot give to you what is deserved. Come back to me at a better time, when I call you willfully and with love”. And quietly he did...with a ghostly kiss this presence disappeared and I felt a little sad. I was not regretful, the entire situation with my body and relationship was rather bittersweet. But I allowed myself to cry, cleanse with herbs, and prepare for what I was about to do.

Before getting the pills, I had to receive a sonogram to make sure I did not have any issues, that it was a normal pregnancy. When the clinician left the room, I peeked in at my file to see the pictures; I wanted to look to ease my peace of mind in a way. If there was any emotional or psychic connection made, I was going to back out. My original intuition had been true; I saw a blot of tissue and nothing more.

With my best friend and two sisters, I sent away my boyfriend and his daughter...rented some movies, bought snacks, and took the pills. At first I was only nauseated from the stress; and having Irritable Bowel Syndrome already didn't help my gut either. Before the onslaught of cramping, I took one of the prescribed vicodins; which knowing what I do NOW about anti-inflammatories and IBS would have made me request codeine instead! I was so sick, cramping from the inflammation of my intestines, my womb contracting is it tried to release the fibers of blood, tissue and fluids. The vomiting, the shitting, the cramping was not the worst I had ever had, but I knew worse was still to come.

I asked to be left alone, with a red candle burning next to the black for banishing. I watched the flickering image on the television screen through a haze of incense. It didn't help that it was “The Lost Boys”: a bloody, gory vampire movie (but really, those are my favourite kinds of film). It was at this in-between place, a drug and pain induced trance, I began to breath slower, defaulting to my meditation experience to keep calm. Without realizing what I was doing, I walked into the bathroom, sat down, and passed something the size of a baseball, softly through my vagina. At the same time, I felt this relief wash over me: an immense letting go of all my previous guilts and hurts I had hung on to. I did not look down to see what was there...I never looked back.

I returned to my bed feverish, sweating, and dreamed of bloody Goddesses...thirsty and fanged, dancing in fire which ringed all around me under a black tree hung with placentas. My womb burned with embers which glowed blue, this healing energy spread and cooled like no fire of man. I wanted it to engulf my entire being, but it only stayed local to the hurt. I reached in and pulled, the tendrils of muscle and intestines slipping through my fingers as I dug at the fire. I found my own chakra there and spun it round and round until sparks flew, sending white firelight through my entire being, cleansing and cleaning the muckish, tar-colored sludge. I was liberated and purified, settling into a restful slumber.

I never felt regret, and still don't. I now have a beautiful daughter who is almost 4, who has a loving father and a mother who was able to stay home with her. It is not the spirit who visited me during that time, when I was another person. She has always been my daughter, and probably always will be. But the spirit of the first pregnancy, my Moonchild as I call him (after the novel by Aleister Crowley), lingers somewhere nearby in the nether world, waiting to be called into being through some form or another. Our ways are still twisted up somehow. We will meet as other soul-mates, in another time and place, again.

 

Hathor: the Original MILF

Dancing with the Lady of the Sycamore

Being the eternal Maiden was my goal...to stay in the youthful newness and naive knowledge of my spiritual awareness. I wanted to always be fresh in the spiritual endeavors I pursued, something new and exciting at every turn. I loved the spontaneity of sex, drugs, dancing and prayer, always at the center of my life. But then I grew up...graduated college, got married and decided to procreate.  As a matter of fact, I did not really plan on having children until something happened that changed my mind forever (that is another story and psychopomp).

My biological clock ticked at every turn. My mind, where I tended to live mostly, was at odds with my body. I had to reconcile the two through very serious heart chakra focus over the course of several months, a very intensive program I worked daily. I realized the need to share my DNA, creating a sentient being was a kind of duty I had to fulfill, more so than any emotional motivation. I and my husband have a pretty interesting background in our families, both magickally and intellectually; it was up to us to continue these lines. So, long story short, by our first wedding anniversary I was heavily pregnant.

The pregnancy was difficult for everyone except Rowan; she was healthy and cute even in the womb. I had 'borderline' gestational diabetes and wasn't allowed any sugars or carbs, the two things I craved most were doughnuts and fruit. When I was finally ready with the idea of doing a natural birth, my stubborn kid caused me to have a scheduled c-section; the little guru sat full lotus in my womb, what they call an 'upright frank breech'. I tried inversion techniques, flower essence remedies, and finally my OB doctor tried to turn her manually... that little turd put her foot out EVERY time (and the procedure was horribly painful). I felt robbed of my birth experience, I had gotten so hyped up about the water birth we had planned. And now the ultimate opportunity for me to fully experience what I thought was the epidemy of womanhood was taken...but I tried being positive. I put on my REALLY big witchy panties and decided to surrender.

Surgery was strange, as I had never even broken a bone except my pinkie toe up to this point...I was more worried about my IBS flaring up than what they were about to do to my body. Between taking out all my intestines and checking for kinks (whilst my husband watched), the catheter, and i.v. pertosin drip that caused my feet and ankles to swell for weeks: I was a hot mess. The hospital room sucked because it flooded every time I took a shower; my Scorpio child's eyes were older than her years as she seemed to watch it all with amusement. My husband's back had gone out also, so neither of us could pick Rowan up very well. Thank goodness for family!

Although everything else had been total chaos and all of my plans to have my ideal supreme Motherhood initiation had been wrecked, it was breastfeeding in which I excelled. I was the envy of all the breastfeeding moms in our support group who had trouble producing or getting their kid interested. Mine didn't ever seem to STOP! After Rowan was finished eating, I could still pump almost a whole ounce of milk...that is actually pretty impressive. I felt like a milk machine! I was sitting in the lazy boy (my feeding station) every two hours, drinking water, watching a movie or reading. I couldn't drive because of the incisions, I went for walks when the sun was shining that winter, but I was pretty much a lactating hermit.

My spiritual connections were on the dregs; nothing was making sense for me spiritually. I couldn't ground, I was out of whack as my body shifted and shaped into something that it used to resemble. I was forced into it face first: the blood, vomit, shit, staples...dreams came back since I stopped during pregnancy. In the first of many visions, a woman visited me...She was curvaceous, glided towards me from a desert landscape...She looked Egyptian with the cobra at Her brow, make up glittering in the sun. I took Her to be Isis, the only Goddess I really knew from this pantheon. She told me to gather women together, there was work to be done and I was to pool together my connections and networking skills to make it happen. So I did...I contacted friends I hadn't spoken to in years or that had always wanted to do some Goddess work but didn't know where to begin...witches and pagans, it mattered not. And we met a few times, once for a full moon esbat as well. It wasn't until we decided to meet on the night before Valentine's I thought some kind of beauty or love ritual would be good to do. However, during my research it was revealed She was not Isis, but Hathor/Hetheru.

The symbol of the horns is often misconstrued for being the horns of Isis...in fact, they are borrowed originally from our Mother Hetheru; the cow-headed one who is mother to Heru, or Horus. It was the horns I was initially drawn to, but it was Her breasts I connected with. She is the Mother who nurtures and nourishes, but on the same token is a sex kitten. This was an interesting concept to wrap my mind around; no longer was the Goddess only compartmentalized into the Mother, Whore, Virgin, or Crone/Death categories...Hathor is all. She can be the sexy and playful Bastet who is virginal in Her innocence. Hathor is sensual in the partaking of all earthly delights including drinking, sex and dancing whilst donning the mantle of holy slut. As Lady of the Sycamore She is the comforter on the beginning leg of the Death's journey...feeding and nurturing the Ka before we face our ultimate trial. She is also the wrathful Mother Sekhmet, protective Lioness of loved ones, young and old. Hetheru is one complicated, muti-faceted lady that I could identify with on so many levels. She is the original MILF (“Mom I'd Like to Fuck” for those who do not know the term), the belly dancing whilst breastfeeding mama, claws that scratch backs and shreds in vengeance.

Mothers don't have to be June Cleaver, nor do they have to be liberal slobs like the character on 'Roseanne'. We can be our own sexy selves, in these bodies which change and morph into however we respect it. Dancing in my heart, Hathor is a sister to me; reminding gently how to be a good mother, a sexy wife, and a fierce witch when provoked just right. Whilst I do not pray to Her on a daily basis (every Friday is dedicated to Her), She is ever in my thoughts and is watching from afar during my spiritual experiments. She still has much to teach me as I experience Her in different guises; the latest being red-haired Babalon from before the Egyptians. Whatever Her lessons, they radiate as the Sun in my Eastern bedroom... where my heart can roam free.

Het-Heret, Lady of Malachite,

Beautiful Cow in the starry night,

Horned Mother, giver of blessed milk,

Lover of comforts who moves like silk,

I honour you with my own heart-ways:

To your regal beauty, I give praise.

Mistress of the Sycamore, Dancer on the Nile,

with sincerity and devotion I offer a smile.