My beloved dead

I kicked off this year with a journey to the underworld to truly confront my ancestors and ancestry for the first time ever. It took me longer than it probably should have to connect that with a Mercury-ruled 4th House profection year. And that’s what this year is about for me—finally diving into working with my beloved dead.

It’s not so much family history. That’s something I’ve been interested in for a long time. For me, the dead and ancestor worship have always been topics that have made me uncomfortable. I’m not sure why, other than it’s likely some misunderstood holdover from childhood Christian teachings. Christianity sure has more than its fair share of venerated dead, so I clearly missed something in those early teachings. Or perhaps I just got the overly sanitised version. I mean, just look at all the bits of dead saints that are around the place.

Which is another interesting side effect of ancestral work for me. For the first time ever, I actually ‘get’ saints. Before this year I had absolutely no connection to saints whatsoever, despite a full on Catholic upbringing. It wasn’t until I saw them framed as venerated dead, as ancestors, that they clicked for me.

Turns out that the saint our family has looked to the most in the past is Saint Christopher. I inherited two small medallions of Saint Christopher a million years ago and both of them surfaced again this year after being lost in the bottom of drawers and boxes.

Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers, is sometimes depicted with the head of a dog. This connects him to Hermanubis and, all of a sudden, here we are back with Mercury. Hermes Chthonios is leading me back to my ancestors. (Incidentally, Saint Christopher’s feast day is 25 July.)

So after years of basically ignoring my ancestors, I created a dedicated altar for them. And, after years of feeling weird about putting up photos and making offerings of food, I finally gave that a go too. My goodness, were they just waiting for that. The immediacy and intimacy of connecting with your ancestors is something I did not expect. It’s beautiful.

Not everything is sunshine and roses, though. As a white person with mostly English ancestry, there’s a lot of terrible stuff that needs to be acknowledged and accepted. Working with my ancestors has brought that into sharper focus for me. I am much more aware than ever of my privilege.

On a spiritual level, there is a lot of trauma associated with the absence of ancestor veneration in my family. I’ve been working pretty consistently with my family lines for a few months now but there is still a sense of more people waiting desperately just outside the candlelight for the help of the living. But the dead, my dead anyway, are patient and they’re overjoyed to have finally gotten someone to the point where I am now.

And then on a personal level, there is my ancestor who, in life, was not a nice person at all. So far I’m leaving him well off to the side. I hope eventually there may be healing, because if he had not done the terrible things he did to those closest to him, I would not be here and nor would my family be as prosperous as it is now. But that’s a lot to try and reconcile. So, for now, I’m growing and regrowing my relationships with others of my family and they are some of the most beautiful and loving souls I have ever encountered.

For additional praxis, because I really want to go deep with this death-work, I strung a custom set of prayer beads to use to pray for my ancestors and the dead more generally.

The beads are obsidian and turquoise, with 99 in the main loop and 21 in each of the 7 tassel strings. Nine, seven and three are significant numbers for me. Each tassel string ends with a different charm that represents an energy or concept:

  • a feather for peace
  • a rose quartz heart for love
  • a piece of turquoise for healing
  • a cross for faith
  • an owl for wisdom
  • a labyrinth for the way (in the sense of the opposite of being lost)
  • and a tree of life for family.

I use these as focuses for prayer, either sending them to my ancestors or the dead who may need one or more, or to request my ancestors share them with me and my living family. I discovered that they can also have a divinatory use. Depending on who I’m praying for, one of the charms may activate or jump out to show the specific area of need.

After I first made the prayer beads, I took them to the local cemetery and spent an hour or so just praying for all the dead who were there. I found the experience to be incredibly calming. I had an unexpected and overwhelming feeling of rightness and almost a sense of coming home.

And then, just as I finished, an angel appeared.

The myth of this moment

Moon and Venus in Gemini assailed by a bat

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on at the moment in terms of narratives. It seems like everyone has their own version of the crisis—everyone’s going to die, no one’s actually sick, COVID’s very infectious, children can’t pass it on, stay home to keep safe, it’s my right to exercise, there’s no toilet paper, I made bread.

But these are not the myths of this time. These are the small personal stories that are played out and leave scars and fade across the ages. The myth is much bigger. To find a version of it, I looked to the astrology. Jupiter entering its fall in Capricorn and conjoining the South Node. The Pluto/Saturn conjunction in Capricorn. Venus retrograde in Gemini and Jupiter retrograde in Capricorn.

What follows is probably not very good astrology, but it is a mythic-style narrative. And I tried to put into it some of the teaching elements that myths have—the advice for what to do in this situation that can be handed down through thousands of years in a simple-seeming story until it’s needed again.

I’m not pretending that this blog post could become anything that epic. But writing it was cathartic. I actually wrote it a week ago and almost deleted it because the depression and oppression swamped me for a while. But I made it through that wave and this has helped me frame what’s happening. It’s reassuring to be able to see the way to an ending that I would like.

The myth of this moment

The King of the Dead and the Lord of Time conspired long together. They saw the brightness of the Queen of Heaven and the fiery joy of the Sky King and decided that a harsh lesson must be taught.

The Queen of Heaven slipped by them, one at a time and thought she was free. But the Lord of Time and the King of the Dead cast spells on her. For they knew her sister would soon call her down into the Underworld to imprison and slay her and they hoped to weaken the Queen so that she would not return.

The Sky King they called to their mountain fastness where he was weak, and combining their powers they unleashed the Dragon on him. The Sky King overcame the Dragon, but its tail battered him, sapping what little strength remained to him.

And while Sky King was distracted, the King of the Dead and the Lord of Time emerged from the Underworld and, hidden by the bright beams of the Sun, they enacted their deadly plan.

A plague was unleashed upon the land and, though it killed, that was not its true purpose.

It took the people of the Sky King—the travellers, the explorers, the teachers, the generous—and it locked them up and made them hoard their goods greedily.

It took the people of the Queen of Heaven—the lovers, the dancers, the musicians, the friends—and silenced them and made them fear each other.

And the King and the Queen looked down on the world and saw that all they had worked for was gone. And they despaired.

And the Queen of Heaven was dragged down into the Underworld. And the Sky King fell on the very border of the King of the Dead’s domain and tumbled back down the unforgiving mountainside.

But the people saw what had been done to their strong and beautiful Queen and their wise and generous King. And they realised with horror the parts they had been forced to play.

So the people gathered together in any way they could. And they cared for one another, and sang songs, and played music, and taught children, and made plans for the future.

And the echoes of their joy and love went down into the Underworld and up into the stony heights and the Queen of Heaven and the Sky King were renewed and came forth once more.

And the people danced joyfully with the ones they loved. #RSPM

I tripped and fell out of linear time

I recently had an experience where I stood outside the solar system, looking down on it and rolling and unrolling time as I moved through space and swung my arms. But even that is too linear a description for the experience. I could see and feel that everything was cyclical—endless iterations of the same moments, small or short ones nested in larger, longer ones, spherical layers of varying thickness that could be moved around, along and through or turned and twisted and realigned like a quantum puzzle box. But always the same moments/entities from the longest to the shortest, from the micro to beyond the macro.

And I say it was a recent experience because measured on a calendar it’s just a few months. Experientially, it is a lifetime ago.

This disruption of my once-strong sense of linear time has continued and may be getting stronger.

I mentioned in my post about my visit to Marcus’ pā site the strange feeling of entering cyclical time. So much of that experience brought the past and the future together and tangled them in the present. We did an intention exercise for the future of the site but what was confusing for me was that I kept getting a strong feeling of ancestors. I took me a long time to realise that these were future ancestors—ancestors that hadn’t even been born yet. But still ancestors: the dead who have passed on and now look back to help the living.

I’ve been doing a lot of ancestral healing work, using Daniel Foor’s methods (highly recommended). But that started well before my visit to the pā site, which had a massive ancestral healing focus for me. So if I hadn’t done the healing work before going, would it still have had that focus? Would I have had the opportunity to go if I hadn’t done the prior healing work? Or was it because I was going to go that I started the healing work months before?

I’m wondering after my experience with the pā site’s future ancestors if, once you’ve got your past ancestors healed, you can then call on your future ancestors—descendancestors, if you like—and bring back even greater healing and magic from them because the healing you did in the past has strengthened them even further. If time is cyclical, that means there must be a point where your ancestors and descendants converge at the opposite point in the cycle, the other side of the circle to you.

But that point is probably also you, making the cycle more like an infinity loop. Which means that your ancestors and descendants only belong to either the past or the future depending on which way you are facing.

Pulling things back from this trippy abyss (and before I break out the Burger Rings) one of the immediate, linear-time effects of this visit to cyclical time at the pā site was my outrageous ‘luck’ in catching connecting flights home. I was delayed over and over again, well past my scheduled layover times but I always somehow managed to make the connections. I’ve travelled internationally enough to know that this sort of thing does not normally happen. And I wasn’t the only one who experienced it.

Since then, it’s not that I know things before they happen, but I’ve found myself doing or saying things that end up being extremely advantageous for me when later events happen. In other cases, the things I did or said are literally just ahead of actual events. I randomly decided to trial working from home a few days before everyone was forced to. Again and again I’ve found myself spending time on tangential matters at work only to find out that they’re suddenly incredibly necessary and urgent. And here I am, already prepared.

The smack-upside-the-head example of this for me was the lunation rite I started in February that ended with me getting a temporary promotion right when hundreds of thousands of other people started losing their jobs.

This shift outside of linear time may be something that boosts the effectiveness of magic.

For the first time in my life I am actually starting to feel ritual. I’ve never been able to connect with ritual before now. It always felt artificial and constrictive. But now I can feel my daily recitation of the Orphic Hymns stepping me outside of linear time and connecting with all of the Monday’s that have ever been. I’ve been doing it daily for almost a year now, so maybe I’ve just reached that tipping point where daily practice becomes a ritual. But this has coincided exactly with the massive disruption to linear time perception that quarantine creates. At the same time as my ability to access space has been reduced, my ability to connect to cyclical time has increased.

Would I have been in this position if I hadn’t had those experiences in January? Or did I/my ancestors/my descendants/whoever arrange those experiences so that I could reach this point at this time in this place?

To bring things back around to the beginning again, my break with linear time in January was only a few days off the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn—the planet of time meeting the planet of death. And the current escalation coincides with Saturn’s shift to Aquarius—the air sign beyond the boundaries of the norm.

So, how much of this is in my mind and how much is not? If we’re moving into the Jupiter/Saturn air triplicity this year, is there any difference anymore?

Why did my experience of cyclical time begin with a vision of the solar system? Maybe it is a gift from the stars themselves—the campfires of our ancestors.

A sigil a day keeps wealth coming my way

Inspired by Rune Soup’s last premium members’ course on wealth magic and Circle Thrice’s lunation rite, I decided to do a magic-every-day practice for the Pisces to Virgo lunation (24 Feb to 24 Mar). It wasn’t the full Circle Thrice lunation rite. I’ve never done something like this before and I was worried about the amount of time that daily ritual would take. I also don’t really have an existing relationship with many of the deities Ivy suggests petitions for and I haven’t done very much with the grimoires yet, either. So I feel like I’m coming at that rite from a less than ideal starting point.

I decided to simplify, go my own route and focus on the daily planetary rulers. I began exploring astrology a couple of years ago and it has gradually permeated much of my practice. I feel a very strong connection to the astro-energies now and tapping into them over the last year magically has been extremely effective.

I have a physical representation of the planets, each one a sphere of semi-precious stone that I collected at random over the years and one day realised matched almost perfectly. They all live in a line on one of my bookshelves in my Spirit Room (read: spare bedroom). Each morning I hold the sphere relating to the planet that rules the day (Sun for Sunday, Moon for Monday, etc.) and recite the relevant Orphic Hymn. I then place the sphere on a little bowl/stand on the shelf above the others, directly over the Earth sphere to represent it ruling the day. I do the same each night for the night planetary ruler.

It was easy enough to add a sigil to my daily morning practice so I figured I’d see if I could tie together a sigil statement relevant to the lunar day and the planetary ruler of the day. It worked surprisingly well. Although there were a couple I had to get creative with, such as Mars ruling one of the lunar love days and Venus ruling the lunar day for compelling enemies. But in the end, I managed to work it out.

I set up a spreadsheet with all of the lunar days and their rulers and spent a few days at the start of the month preparing appropriate sigil statements. That meant there was no thought involved in the actual process, making each morning launch as easy as possible.

The daily ritual was simple—my usual morning prayers, the creation of a sigil based on the statement of the day and then reciting the Orphic Hymn of the daily ruler to the sigil as a means of activating it. I found the whole thing surprisingly effective, with the added bonus of getting better at crafting sigils on the fly. I managed to do a sigil for every day (a couple of times I even did two), not necessarily in the hour of the ruler, but as close to it as I could. I kept the sigils in a stack on my altar, each one waiting for the next day’s to cover it.

I’m really pleased with the outcome of the lunation rite. Obviously it had a wealth focus. I didn’t get the result I planned but, while thousands of people were losing their jobs, I got the opportunity to act in a higher role that pays a lot more than I’m used to. It means I’m completely exhausted and run off my feet dealing with all this pandemic stuff but I am so incredibly grateful. It’s a very Jupiter-in-Capricorn outcome, really—here’s more money and status but, boy are you going to work for it.

I started this lunation rite in a very different world to the one in which it ended. I’m very glad I did it when I did because I think that the effectiveness was boosted by already being in flow as the big change hit. I wasn’t suddenly trying to change a difficult situation. Instead, I had early tendrils reaching out into the future, already seeking the best possible outcome even as the situation changed, and that’s what helped me land it.

All ♀️Venus♀️, All the Time

Moon and Venus in Aries, 2020

I’ve been doing a lot of personal work on my self-confidence and my ability to open up and be vulnerable with other people. Slowly dismantling all those little self-created complexes and bargains I made over my life that hold me back from relationships and intimacy. Working back through all those insecurities and fears that I’ve built up from small events as a child (or as an adult). Acknowledging, accepting and congratulating all those decisions I made that were the best I could do with the knowledge and experience that I had at the time.

I’m closer than I’ve ever been to self-love, self-confidence, and being ready to actually try an intimate relationship with another human being (preferably someone who looks like Henry Cavill).

And now, across the world, people aren’t allowed to touch each other.

Well, FUCK THAT! FUCK THAT SO MUCH!!

Especially because the ruler of my 7th House is in my 12th, which apparently means I’m more likely to hook up with sexy foreign men. (Although, I guess there’s also a case to be made for some kind of quarantine romance—not quite as sexy as a vacation romance in an Italian winery but…)

Obviously I’m not advocating for, or at all planning on, breaking the physical distancing measures. Sick isn’t sexy.

But what I am doing is all Venus, all the time.

She’s the one planet in my natal chart that’s in a good house so I’ve enlisted her help with this area of my life. Inspired in part by Rune Soup’s latest premium member course on wealth, I’ve created a Venus altar.

I chose the statue very deliberately. My Venus doesn’t modestly veil her nudity with hair and hands. My Venus dances naked down the middle of the street, blowing kisses to all the boys. My Venus is confident and proud of her body. My Venus is not afraid to show it all off, to feel sexy. My Venus is open and vulnerable and powerful. My Venus lets people in and loves them all fiercely, careless of whether they might hurt her. My Venus adorns herself with beautiful things, embraces the stares and compliments. My Venus is sensual and loving and joyful.

My Venus is who I want to be.

So, while I can’t go out and meet new people and be with them and touch them, I’m going to soak myself in all things Venus. I’m going to carry her with me wherever I go. I’m going to fill my home with beauty and art and music and light. I’m going to make sure that, by the time this is over, I’m in an even better place than I was before. I am going to burst from my apartment like a goddess from the ocean and bring love and joy to the world.

This is what I think is needed now.

All Venus, all the time.

Actual literal Venus soaking made possible by the amazing Sphere and Sundry astrological talismanic materia. This is from the Exalted Venus range, copper Venus talisman by the talented Tony Mack.

Dreams of beauty in the sky

Tonight is the conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Neptune in Pisces. I didn’t think I’d be able to see it with all the cloud around but as the sun set, the clouds dissolved and this beautiful moment shone out.

I like to take photos a lot. There’s something about capturing the perfect moment of light, shadow, shape and colour that is magical to me. I suspect some of the influence comes from my natal Neptune, which sextiles a lot of my chart. It’s interesting that this conjunction happened the day after my birthday when dad loaned me a new camera to try with a new lens I had bought as a present for myself. Pisces is my rising sign and my natal Neptune is in my 10th House. The connections just keep lining up.

Part of this may also have been my recent realisation about a talisman. I was lucky enough to get one of the Moon-Neptune in Pisces talismans from Sphere and Sundry, made by the talented Tony Mack. (Side note: Sphere and Sundry is AMAZING.)

This was the first astrological talisman I’ve ever owned. I still don’t know exactly why I had to have it so badly but I think it’s partly for deeper journey work and partly for photography. It’s as though the shadowy Neptune side is the deep diving guide of the unconscious and imaginal, and the bright shimmering Moon side is the inspiration for capturing the perfect light.

The talisman as a whole has a lovely dreamlike feel. Holding it I plunge into a warm blue and shining ocean, dissolving comfortably away. It has a truly magical energy. I just have to find out how to direct it and decide what to direct it at. Photography seems a good choice. Talismans and photographs capture and hold a moment in time. Both hold energy and power. I’m wondering if there’s such a thing as talismanic photography. Tonight’s photograph of the beautiful conjunction in a dreamlike sky isn’t a bad start.

When Venus meets Pluto and why learning CPR is important

A few months ago, transiting Venus in Libra conjoined my natal Libra Pluto and formed a square with transiting Pluto in Capricorn as it conjoined my natal Capricorn Venus. This was a fairly significant astrological moment and I’m sorry to say that I completely missed it. I wasn’t expecting anything at all.

Once you attune yourself to the planetary energies, however, they can get a bit shouty if you don’t pay attention.

It started with hearing birds and their alarm calls outside my apartment door. I noted it as something mildly odd, didn’t think more of it and continued to get ready for work.

Stepping out of my apartment door to head to the train, I was confronted with a man, slumped in a corner of the stairwell (which, while decoratively hidden from the street is actually open to the world) being bombarded by the local birds.

I jumped and made a very manly sound of surprise, called out to him and dithered for a second wondering what to do. I vaguely remembered my CPR training, did the checks you’re supposed to do in these situations and called the emergency services. He wasn’t breathing so I started CPR.

Fortunately, the paramedics appeared within a couple of minutes and were able to bring him around. When they finally got him to open his clenched fist, it turned out he was clutching an engagement ring and a gold, heart-shaped padlock charm.

Symbolism much?

Within a couple of hours of the perfection of a major Venus/Pluto aspect (that doubled its energy for me personally) a man holding precious tokens of love collapsed outside my apartment and nearly died. In fact, if I hadn’t gone to work that day, he wouldn’t have been found for hours and would have died. I’m the only one who uses that part of the stairwell in the mornings and where he slumped in the corner, he was completely hidden from anyone else.

I didn’t think of the astrology at the time. I put it down to an unusual event and something to tell my friends about.

Then, a couple of weeks later when the Moon activated that aspect again, I heard the birds.

This time, I immediately stuck my head out the door in my pyjamas to see what was happening. A few steps below where the man had been was a dead kingfisher, its body being picked at by the raucous local birds.

Not knowing what else to do and never having seen a kingfisher in my area before, I grabbed a towel, shooed the birds away and gently picked up the body. Luckily I was holding it very daintily (being not at all squeamish) because as I carried it into my apartment, it suddenly jumped up zoomed off.

Guess I won’t become a veterinarian anytime soon.

This was enough to get my attention so I googled around to see what I could find about the mythology of kingfishers. Turns out there’s a Greek legend about Alcyone and Ceyx, a very loving couple, who died/were killed and the gods turned into kingfishers. Alcyone is also the name of the brightest star in the Pleiades, although the mythology is unrelated.

Guess which constellation was rising at the moment I found the kingfisher?

That was enough to send me scrambling for my ephemeris (read: astrology app) to see what else matched up and that’s when the whole thing with the man and the ring and the death and the bird and Pluto and Venus all crashed into me.

Obviously the stars were going to extreme lengths to get my attention.

The message? Don’t die alone in someone else’s stairwell. It is very definitely and urgently time to let go of the walls and barriers keeping other people out. Or you’ll die. Alone. Emphasis on the dying part. Dead.

Message received.