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Bright Moon, Kemetic

Kemetic Bright Moon 7/16

As in previous months, I have done my oracular ritual and received a short message from Bast and Sekhmet. Here is what they said:

There is conflict coming, and you must prepare for it. You are not yet ready, and without preparation you may not achieve your objectives. So: train. Follow your passions to find the way you can join the fight. If you succeed, you will create abundance in your life and in the society around you.

This is the last Bright Moon until after Wep Ronpet 2019, so it sort of wraps up the Kemetic year. I’m using the same dates this year again (I’ve decided I’ll recalculate and adjust if necessary each secular leap year), so the Epagomenal Days start August 2nd, and continue in the following order:

  • Aug 2: Wesir (Osiris)
  • Aug 3: Heru-Wer (Horus the Elder)
  • Aug 4: Set (Seth)
  • Aug 5: Aset (Isis)
  • Aug 6: Nebthet (Nephthys)
  • Aug 7: Sopdet (Sothis) and WEP RONPET!!!

I’ll be doing my tumblr follow-along again, so wander over there if you’re interested, otherwise I’ll be blogging about the holiday after wards!

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Egyptian Tarot

Deck: Egyptian Tarot
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Writer & Artist: Silvana Alasia
Overall Rating: 5/10

Cardstock: The cardstock is Lo Scarabeo standard, which holds up pretty well and isn’t too flimsy. The sides have a tendency to scuff over time, but I’ve used this one for years and it’s holding up well.

Artwork: The artwork is all Egyptian themed, with figures (some of which are recognizable) for the court cards and majors, and pips for the number cards. There are also quite a few hieroglyphic inscriptions, but alas I cannot (yet?) read those. I like the art style and faux papyrus texture a lot more than I like the ragged black borders.

LWB: It’s in five languages, so each card has barely more than four keywords, and none of the art is explained. I’ve heard there is a longer guidebook but so far I haven’t been able to get my hands on it. For general meanings, the LWB is pretty useless, and it doesn’t clarify much of anything about this particular deck, either.

Likes: It’s very Egyptian. I needed something Egyptian, and this is some of the best Egyptian tarot art on the market.

Dislikes: It took me a long time to learn to read with this deck, because it’s not RWS-based and it has so little information. I think it might be Thoth-based but I’m not familiar with that system and I’m not sure. Also, those borders are really high contrast, which draws the eye too much,

Overall Recommendation

If you’re familiar with multiple systems of tarot, or if you can get your hands on the elusive guidebook, this could be a really great deck for anyone who works with Egyptian deities. If you can’t find the guidebook but you’re willing to put in a lot of work, OR you are better than I am at recognizing deities in art and reading hieroglyphs, it could work okay for you. I cannot recommend it to tarot beginners, though.

fae, Holiday Celebration

Our Midsummer, and Working Intuitively

Midsummer, for us, is a celebration of Manannan and Fand. Last year we got down to the waterfront, but this year we stayed closer to home. We made a simple offering of an apple, some cheese (we were having grilled cheese for dinner), a fruity summer alcohol, and their candle, placed on our table and lit.

After dinner, we went to our plot in the community garden a few blocks away, where I *finally* got the weeding done (we’d had an explosion of something I didn’t manage to identify earlier), and did a bit of gathering. I brought home this mugwort and lavender to dry, along with a few other herbs, all harvested with a ceramic knife.

This is also an important time for the Fair Folk, and it does seem that whatever carnival shenanigans were going on earlier this summer are now over, and I’m a bit relieved.

I’m not exactly sure why I needed to harvest these herbs on Midsummer’s Day as the day waned, or what exactly I’m meant to do with them, but the ingredients seem to be a dreamwork blend of some sort, and I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I got a nudge, and I followed it. Story of my life, really. I do most of my witchcraft by intuition, trusting that I’ll figure it out as I learn by doing. Sometimes it all becomes clear later, when someone pops into my life, desperately needing something I made months earlier and then stashed in a cabinet!

Bright Moon, Kemetic

Kemetic Bright Moon 6/17

This Bright Moon’s message from Bast and Sekhmet, channeled as usual in my monthly ritual, is as follows:

“It is time to retreat, to turn inward. Find a place of respite or take what refuge you can, and be still for a moment. Rely on your support network for a time, and cultivate better self-respect and self-confidence. You are worthwhile. Your work is worthwhile. You may be over-committed, however – it is time to see which plans best serve you, which are in best alignment with your values and talents. Get your life back in order as best you can. Create order anew. You may need to delegate, or to hand off projects to others who are better suited to finish them. There is no shame in this. Do what needs to be done.”

For those of us who do yearly planning or yearly goals, June is usually a good time to reflect on the year so far, and adjust things as necessary. I’ll be doing so mid-year planning adjustment for sure. Hopefully this message is seen by those who need it.

The next Bright Moon is July 16, so look for another omen on or around then!

Paganism, Prayer

Prayers to Athena Columbia

So, some Political Shit went down recently, and part of my reaction to it included this pair of prayers to a local cultus aspect of Athena that I consider to be the Patron Goddess of both Washington, DC, and of the American Government more generally (the ideals, more than the failures, that is).

The first prayer was pretty much a knee-jerk reaction to watching states pass laws that blatantly challenge Roe V. Wade and restrict the rights of the approximate half of their citizenry that have uteri (women, but also some trans men and nonbinary folx).

The second prayer came after the other part of my reaction, which mostly consisted of banework. I realized that the representatives fighting against this wave of BS might need a bit of protection against the baneful workings of the anti-reproductive-rights crowd. (Yeah, I’m not going to call them “pro-life”. They’ve been pretty clear that they don’t actually care about life.)

Also, on the topic of sending protective or blessing magic to representatives, which when unwanted I usually consider a type of banework, Gwendolyn Reece’s recent blog is worth reading. I tend to agree that this type of work is both ethical and needed, but I leave in my usual disperse-if-truly-unwanted clause, leaving acceptance up to them and their guide(s)/god(s)/ancestors. Banework does not mean a working is unethical, just that it may be potentially harmful. However, what I consider ethical and what my fellow travelers consider ethical may not be identical – one should always stick to their own code.

I posted these prayers to a small e-shrine I keep on tumblr, but I thought I’d reproduce them here for all of you!


Prayer to Athena Columbia: We are in Crisis

Athena Columbia! Hear the Prayers of your supplicants!
Lady of American Democracy, we are in crisis!
Oligarchy and Theocracy reign and Freedoms are denied:
Athena Columbia Eleutheria, Lady Liberty, we have need of your Light!
We, the oppressed, will fight in the ways we can:
Athena Columbia Nike, Lady Victory, shine upon us!
We will oppose unjust laws, and promote equity:
Athena Columbia Dike, Lady Justice, guide us!
We will search for facts and oppose lies:
Athena Columbia Aletheia, Lady Truth, show us the way!

Pallas Athena Columbia, Protectress of the United States,
Bright-eyed Goddess, Dread Maiden and Glorious Queen:
Hold us to the promise of our ideals,
Make us ever aspire to your righteousness,
Keep us on the path towards equitable governance,
And destroy those who would privilege only themselves.


Prayer to Athena Columbia: Protect our Representatives

Athena Columbia! Hear the Prayers of your supplicants!
Lady of American Democracy, protect our laudable representatives!
Those who uphold the ideals of freedom and an end to oppression:
Athena Columbia Eleutheria, Lady Liberty, bathe them in your Light!
Those who fight for our rights and for a better future:
Athena Columbia Nike, Lady Victory, show them your favor!
Those who seek to create an equitable legal code:
Athena Columbia Dike, Lady Justice, guide their pens!
Those who are informed by factual reporting and science:
Athena Columbia Aletheia, Lady Truth, help them see clearly!

Pallas Athena Columbia, Protectress of the United States,
Bright-eyed Goddess, Dread Maiden and Glorious Queen:
Help them hold fast to the promise of their ideals,
Encourage them to aspire to your righteousness,
Usher them down the path towards equitable governance,
And protect them from those who would do them harm or lead them astray.

Bright Moon, Kemetic

Kemetic Bright Moon 5/18

Yesterday was the full moon in Scorpio, and today I performed my oracular ritual to Bast and Sekhmet as I do every Bright Moon (or the days surrounding it). This time I also renewed a long-term spell jar that I created with their help, and I performed a small execration, asking for help overturning unjust laws. After those were complete, I asked for this month’s message, and received the following:

“Your current environment may seem a bit dangerous and bleak. Wealth and Power support each other and injustice seems to prevail – for now. There will come a turning point soon, and you must find a role that suits you and play your part. There is still much work to be done. We will strive together for satisfaction and well-being, and a positive resolution.”

As always, the closer your situation to my own, the more that message is likely to apply. But perhaps others will find a seed of inspiration in there as well.

The next Bright Moon is 6/17.

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Shapeshifter Tarot

Deck: Shapeshifter Tarot
Publisher: Llewellyn
Writer & Artist: DJ Conway, Sirona Knight & Lisa Hunt
Overall Rating: 6/10

Card images (c) Llewellyn

Cardstock: It’s somewhat flimsy, but very springy to shuffle because of that, and the high gloss makes the cards slide against each other smoothly. It doesn’t have any nicked edges, but in the five years I’ve owned this deck it’s never been one of my go-to choices, so it hasn’t seen as much usage as some of my others. I’m not sure how it will hold up under heavy usage.

Artwork: The art is heavy on the blue/green/yellow part of the spectrum, and the images are soft watercolors with no hard outlines. The art almost looks a bit washed out in comparison to the dark blue borders. In keeping with the theme, many of the cards have figures that appear to be in the middle of shape-shifting, with animal imagery overlaying human figures. There’s also some implied nudity, so be aware of that.

LWB: The little white book is pretty useless if you’re looking for actual card meanings. The Majors each have a short paragraph, which is helpful, but the pips and court cards have 3-5 words and that’s it. I’m glad that we have more information for the Majors, though, considering they renamed almost all of them (Sorcerer and Sorceress for Magician and High Priestess, Mother and Father for Empress and Emperor, Circle for Wheel of Fortune, Shapeshifter for Hanged Man, Rebirth for Death, etc). They also added three cards: The Double, The Journey, and The Dreamer. The LWB also includes a couple of original spreads, which is nice.

Likes: I’m partial to air wands and fire swords, so I like that about this deck. I also generally find the artwork evocative, which helps considering how sparse the LWB is. I also like that the court cards are all depicting figures from Celtic mythology, and that these are clearly labeled in the LWB. For example: Gwydion and Arianrhod are the King and Queen of Wands, and Lugh and Brigid are the King and Queen of Swords.

Dislikes: I’m not really sure that the shapeshifting theme is really strong enough to carry this deck, and not all of the mythology choices for the court cards make sense within this context. Brigid, for instance, is depicted as shapeshifting into a wildcat of some variety, which seems an odd choice to me. I think transformation might’ve been a better theme, and would have given them a little more artistic leeway.

Overall Recommendation:

Overall I’m kinda lukewarm on this deck. If the idea of shapeshifting really resonates with you and you’re an intuitive reader, it’s probably perfect. If you’re looking for a deck that draws from Celtic mythology, you’re probably better off looking for something else. I like it, and I’m going to keep it in my collection, but I think it’s going to remain a deck I only use occasionally.

Event, Paganism, Retreat/Convention

Beltaine at Fertile Ground Gathering!

So, this past weekend, Scott and I went to Triangle, VA for 2 days of Fertile Ground Gathering. The event runs Thursday through Sunday, but for personal/family logistic reasons, we only attended Friday and Saturday, the days with the bulk of the rituals and workshops. The Acorn Sprout did not come with us – after discussing it, we though it would be better to leave a toddler still in diapers with his grandparents and cousins for the weekend than to bring him along camping in the (likely) rain. There were kids activities, but we expected they would be geared towards slightly older children. So, we dropped off the Acorn Sprout on Thursday afternoon, packed up, and left at 7am on Friday. We arrived around 8:30am, in time to register and have a little breakfast before the first workshops. As with other events, I’m going to be focusing mostly on workshops I attended, rather than what Scott attended, because I took notes with plans to blog about my experiences!

Early Religion in Scandinavia – Jane Sibley, PhD

This was an extremely informative workshop, and Sibley seems to really know her shit – which I would expect from someone who *is* Scandinavian and speaks a Scandinavian language and got a PhD in folklore! Much of the presentation was drawn from a book she wrote called The Divine Thunderbolt, which includes both comparative mythology and the archaeological record, though the book has a much wider scope than the presentation, which focused on the Scandinavian Thor and his cognates in Sámi and Germanic mythology. She also emphasized how much of what modern Heathens and Norse Polytheists consider lore was likely made up by, or at least heavily edited and rewritten by either Snorri or the Brothers Grimm. She believes we need to pay more attention to the archaeology and the Icelandic sources.

There were a few takeaways that I think will be relevant to my own practice. Firstly, Sibley said that the Norse originally had a tripartite elemental system, similar to the Celts, with Earth, Water, and Sky/Air, fire being considered just a hot air. Secondly, she said that Thor should probably be considered Vanir, as he predates Odin and the Aesir, but things get kind of blurry, because the bloodlines are all mixed up anyhow. (Just think about how many of the Aesir are said to have Jotun parents!) Thirdly, Sibley discussed the importance of linen or flax and leeks used together for protection magics. Lots to think about!

Making My Introductions

Before lunch, Scott and I popped down to a place we’d found last year at Hallowed Homecoming, which takes place in the same camping area, and greeted some of the local spirits we’d met in October.

Wakening Ritual

This was a sort of opening ritual, following the Warding Ritual Thursday night. It was short, but to the point, and allowed people to find their trance in stillness, slow motion, or ecstatic motion as they preferred. As it was quite warm out and I was struggling slightly with my chronic illness, I opted for stillness, but that is frequently my preference in any case.

Fiber Magic – Katie LaFond

This was an extremely small workshop – just the presenter, myself, and one other attendee! It was an interesting twist of fate, though – three women of three different ages, discussing fibercraft and witchcraft. LaFond had brought extra supplies and several things to demonstrate, so she set me up with some yarn and a crochet hook while she talked about different ways she uses fibercraft to do witchcraft, from knitting intentions into baby blankets, to creating a family cable pattern for sweaters, to how she sewed planetary robes for her husband to use in his astrology work during the associated planetary days and hours. She demonstrated two different kinds of wool spinning, showed me how to spin flax and let me try that, and set up the other woman with a collapsible lap loom. We also talked about witchcraft more generally, and homesteading and gardening, discussing our lives, our paths, and our crafts as we worked away at our little projects. I made a small crocheted floppy witch hat, for one of the Acorn Sprout’s dolls.

Friday Evening

After dinner, there were a few musical performances and then a bonfire. We stayed to listen to most of Melanie Bresnan’s set, but we went to bed before Maharal began. I have seen them perform before, however, and I do recommend seeing them if you get a chance!

Weaving your Destiny – Chris LaFond

This workshop sort of built upon LaFond’s earlier workshop on the natal chart but I have a vague understanding of my natal chart so I figured I would be able to follow along. As it turned out, we had an entirely new group of people anyhow, so he spent the first fifteen or twenty minutes giving us an overview before moving into his main topic, which was about how to use planetary timing to predict possible events coming up in your life, and how to have a better handle on working with planetary timing, instead of against it. He explained that his approach to astrology is more pre-1700s, before the Enlightenment came and added in a bunch of early psychology, and that puts him in contrast to most pagan and mainstream astrologists, who use newer astrology methodologies. Because of his focus, he doesn’t really use the outer planets much. He also uses Whole Sign Houses, where the Houses of one’s natal chart start at the beginning of the sign and encompass the whole sign, instead of starting at a specific degree of the sign.

LaFond explained the Chaldean order, and how our lives cycle through it, spending a number of years under the influence of each planet, starting with either the moon or the sun, depending on whether one was born at night or during the day (defined as whether the sun was above the horizon or not). Since I was born at night, I spent the first 9 years under the influence of the moon, then 11 years under Saturn, and I’m currently within the 12 years under Jupiter. Within those periods, each is broken down into 7 again (because no outer planets, remember), and so I am currently in the time of the Moon, within the period of Saturn.

LaFond also explained how an astrologer can cycle the natal chart forward every year and use that as a means of predicting the year to come (on the birthday, not the calendar year). For my chart, that means I’m in a 5th House Year, now, and my fifth House is in Taurus. Another means of predicting the year to come that he discussed was to cast a new chart for the solar return of your birth, which is usually within three days of your calendar birthday.

Next, LaFond discussed planetary days and hours, and emphasized that the “hours” are just daylight or nighttime divided into 12, so only near the equator near the equinox do they actually last an hour! Also, the planetary days all begin at dawn, and the first planetary hour is the same as the day. They cycle through the week completely (again, with only the 7 planets of older astrology). This made me think of the old nursery rhyme/divinatory poem that starts “Monday’s Child is full of grace…” I’d always considered myself a “Monday’s Child” because I was born on a calendar Monday. But by this system, as I was born before dawn, I was born on the Day of the Sun, instead!

Accidental Wanderings

After Chris LaFond’s workshop, I wandered down to the water there, which I have come to learn is called Happyland Camp 5 Lake. I saw a number of turtles and frogs and it was really quite lovely, especially since the rain overnight had taken the heat away. On my way back to the feast hall I started wondering about one of the local spirits, and I took a wrong turn – I found myself at a footbridge over a creek, near the fire pit, but I also found my answer. Not exactly my intention, but once I acknowledged that and understood the message, I found my way to the feast hall for lunch with no further ado, so: no harm, no foul. Perhaps a good reminder to keep slightly better track of my surroundings, however!

Warrior Blessing Ritual

Irene Glasse led a Warrior Blessing Ritual after lunch, for blessing and healing of the Warriors among the Dead, the Living, and the Future Generations. It was a really heartfelt and emotional experience, especially as I took the time to connect with two of my great-grandfathers who were in service during WWII, and I reflected upon the military service of other family members and friends, both living and deceased.

Power, Freedom. Boundaries, and Consent – Rath

Some of this presentation was apparently based on a Foundations class Rath had previously taught. There were only a handful of us in attendance so we sat on the porch instead of inside the craft cabin, where we were divebombed by carpenter bees on occasion, but it was nice to be outside in the warm-but-not-too-hot weather.

Rath began with Power, and had us all give words we associated with it, and asked us if we wanted power. I said “it depends”, which is a normal tendency of mine that is perhaps related to my dealings in Faery – I generally want to know all the details before I agree to something, and there are plenty of circumstances in which I would not want specific kinds of power! Rath then discussed “power over” vs “power with”, and different models for wielding or sharing power. When he discussed Freedom, Rath also used two kinds: “freedom to” vs “freedom from”, though he spent more time focusing on “freedom to”.

That brought us to Boundaries, both in the personal (between individual people) and in pagan traditions and systems of magic, where some things are a part of the system or tradition, and other things don’t fit the paradigm. Rath emphasized that even the most eclectic and welcoming groups have a boundary somewhere, using Mormons as an example of a spiritual tradition most pagan groups would consider outside their boundaries. Following on boundaries, we talked about consent, and how in an ideal world consent would always be explicit and informed, but that some experiences are so difficult to fully explain that nearly everything is only partially informed, and in many cases consent is implicit instead, though it can still be revoked.

The final segment of the workshop was focused on exploring a number of different common pagan group models, and pointing out the flaws in each, because at the end of the day, no group is perfect, and all are open to different sorts of abuse. The best thing we can do is to try and mitigate the flaws as much as possible as group leaders, and as group members we should try to find groups that best fit out own personal boundaries.

Wandering Ritual

This ritual began in the ritual field we’d used for the Wakening Ritual, and instead of a Maypole, this year we wove ribbon as a community, in keeping with the theme “Weaving a Tapestry”. The Fae were invited to weave with us and then to join us in as we processed back to the feast hall and walked through hanging veils into the evening’s revelry and feast.* The ritual was not to be closed until Sunday morning, but as Scotty and I needed to be home Sunday and a thunderstorm was rolling in, we left instead of staying for the feast, and therefore missed the Kindred Crow set which was somewhat disappointing. Still, we got home in time to get decent sleep, which I needed. One of these days, though, I am going to actually manage to see them live!

Overall?

Overall, we had a pretty enjoyable experience. It was really nice to be out in all that GREEN! I’m not sure if we’ll be back next year, though, because Beltaine is usually a pretty busy time of year for us, both for our hearth cult and because it’s near the Acorn Sprout’s birthday!


* Note: I had serious misgivings about the structure of this ritual, not least because we were all supposed to be in the Otherworlds with the Fae all night, despite the fact that there were quite a few young children attending the event. As a practitioner of the Fairy Faith, I really can’t emphasize enough how mercurial and potentially dangerous the Fae are, especially around Beltaine. I was told that offerings were made and precautions were taken, but as I wasn’t there for the Warding Ritual and I wasn’t given details, I can’t speak to their efficacy. I made my own supplications and performed my own protective magics. I’ll leave you with Morgan Daimler’s words on the subject.

fae, Spiritwork

Faery Weather Report: Beltaine

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but last night I was meeting with some of my local witches, working on a small-but-growing pagan community at our local UU church, and as the conversation drifted, one of them asked if things had been weird for others, as it seemed to them that there’d been an uptick in spirit activity, especially of the chaotic and dangerous sort. Others agreed, and though I hadn’t really noticed a change, my daily life is mostly lived inside my own wards, and wherever else I go I can’t help but notice a flurry of spirit activity unless I specifically shield it out. For better or for worse, my particular brand of Senses mean that I very rarely experience the Veil the way I usually hear others talk about it. So I took a moment to check in with my local allies among the Fair Folk, and the response was swift and somewhat amused at my lack of awareness.

I was told that, yes, the Borders were Open. Fae were riding and rioting like they normally do at Beltaine, only it had begun with the first sliver of crescent moon in April (approximately the 7th), and it would continue until the very last crescent was lost to darkness in June (approximately the 2nd)… or perhaps beyond. Topsy Turvy time was upon us, and Lawlessness, and all things were allowed during the extended carnival.

While that might sound fun, for humans it is Bad News. Capricious at the best of times, fae unrestrained by anything resembling rules of engagement are incredibly unpredictable. And unpredictable could mean anything from general bad luck and milk souring to getting distracted at the wrong moment and dying in a freak accident. In my experience, that’s one of their favorite ways to steal children and pregnant people in our modern world: accidental deaths.

So: shield yourself, your family. Ward your home, your vehicle, your place of business. Get some iron and rowan. Look to folklore. Be careful out there.

I do not know how far afield this warning stays true, but it applies at the very least to the Potomac River watershed, and I have corroboration from a colleague in Baltimore that it’s true up there as well. So likely for most of DelMarVa, DC, parts of PA and WV. I would not be surprised if it’s more global than that but I have no evidence one way or the other. If you have contacts among the Fair Folk local to you, I suggest you check in with them. (It’s good praxis anyway, to check on anything a fellow witch tells you, yes? Yes.) At the very least check in with your guides or do a bit of divination, to get specifics on how things may affect you.

I’ll be camping for Beltaine next weekend so I will not be available after the 2nd, but before then I’m happy to answer questions or offer advice. I’m not the only one who does this work, though – chances are you already know someone. Ask around.

If you’ll be at Fertile Ground Gathering in Triangle, VA, however, I’ll see you there on Friday and Saturday!

Bright Moon, Kemetic

Kemetic Bright Moon 4/18

Today for the full moon, as I have for the past few years, I performed my oracular ritual to Bast and Sekhmet, and came back with a message from Them, recounted below:

“This is a difficult point in time, but we are here beside you. Before order can be recreated, things must be upended. Chaos heals what slow progress cannot. There is not much you can do at the moment, in the microcosm, so take the time to rest and retreat to your place of safety and comfort. The chaos may bewilder you and cause you alarm, but it is still necessary. The balance will be restored in time, when accounts have been tallied and brought into accord.”

The past week has certainly felt chaotic to me, and I’ll be taking that advice as best I can. Bright Moon Blessings to all of you!

[If you are interested in supporting this specific part of my work, I accept shrine donations (to cover the cost of offerings, shrine box upgrades, and the like) on Ko-fi! My current goal is to get a small scented oil lamp, to use instead of the small candle I am currently using!]