Several months ago, I engaged in a 9 week Working with Santa Muerte. The obvious question any sane Setian would ask is why did I undertake the nine weeks of devotion to Holy Saint Death? There answer to that question is complex. First, I felt and acknowledged the “gravitational pull Runa” that lead me to start researching Saint Death. I have come to trust that pull and engaged it through what I refer to as the Explorer Perspective or that approach to Initiation that encourages and thrives within the strange and tangential directions we are often presented with. Second, I can see a long pattern of working with Death goddesses in my Initiation. The dark feminine, the dark aspects of my anima we could say, has been an objective (or projected) part of my spiritual life for a long time and it felt like it was time to reinvest in that aspect of my Psyche. However, this approach was a difficult way for me to engage with that aspect of my Psyche since much of the language and many of the activities associated with a devotion to Santa Muerte are Right Hand Path practices. The Working also helped to remind me and encourage me to Play. I was also simply curious as to what the outcome would be. Holy Saint Death also provided me with an invigorated approach to practical magic. I love the visceral and aesthetic nature of hoodoo but I never really had a need to really practice it. Santa Muerte combines the folk magic aspect of practices like hoodoo with a heartfelt veneration at the core of it. In other words, there was a consistent momentum or ongoing reason for the practice. The veneration aspect was the most difficult aspect for my Setian sensibilities to accept but it was an important part of the Working and one that I am glad I embraced and continue to embrace. However, I should mention that at no time was I venerating something other than a part of myself. I don’t posit an ontological entity called “Santa Muerte” but I do acknowledge that She is more than my ego-complex. Continue reading
I like the winter months. I prefer cold over hot. I like the dark days of winter over the bright sunlit hours of summer. There is little more annoying to me than hearing cries of “I can’t wait for summer!” as soon as the temperature reaches about 15 degrees Celsius. The first sign of thaw means a gateway is opening to hordes of insects, hordes of screaming children, and disgusting heat and humidity. However, the thaw also brings a sense of awe to my ice encased Heart.
The weather has been warm over the past few days. The accumulation of snow and ice has mostly melted. The birds (that is to say those birds who aren’t badassed enough to stay out during the winter months) have started to sing again. Even though this process of thaw happens every year there is something liminal and numinous in the experience. Underlying the reawakening of spring life is an underlying expression of newness and of rebirth. Obviously I’m not stating new insights; spring is often seen as a time of rebirth.
However, most discussions of such renewal are focused on the external world. I mentioned warmth, snow, and bird-song above. These are all descriptions of external phenomena. We can limit our experience and expression of spring to those external phenomena but there is more to it. As Black Magicians we can take these experiences and apply them to our own Initiation in subjectively meaningful ways. For example, when I opened the kitchen window recently I heard a bird singing (a spring bird not one of the awesome all-year-round birds). I stopped what I was doing. I closed my eyes and I listened. I didn’t simply think “Ah yes, a bird is singing…spring is here.” The bird’s song was a signal and reminder for me to be present. Each moment of being present is a potential moment of awe as we come to experience our Self. After months of dark winter silence, the bird-song resonated through me as a reminder to take a new look at my Self. It was a song just for me and I was thankful for it. I’m still not looking forward to the inevitable idiocy of summer but I am happy that the bird-song is back to remind me to be present and to Become.
I spent my childhood in Regina, Saskatchewan. Like most people who live in parts of Canada where it snows, blows, and freezes, you grow up wearing parkas: thick winter jackets. Halloween costumes take on a strange surreal manifestation when they are stretched and pulled over thick parkas and toques (I guess the kids call them beanies but whatever) and topped off with big red mittens. As a kid, parkas, snowsuits or snow pants, mitts, and snow boots offered protection from the snow and the cold. They also created a sort of isolation pod for the person wearing them. You couldn’t feel much of anything save for the prickly kiss of the wind-chill. You lost peripheral vision. If you had a scarf wrapped around your face then you could occasionally lost your breath (and on rare occasions, you may have managed to swallow bits of yarn or other fabric). Winter was a complicated and feral time of snow forts, snowball fights…snow violence I guess. Continue reading