Studies in Paradigms of Shape and Form

I am currently studying of Ceremonial magic. This has brought me into awareness of the Qabalah. As I study the Qabalah I discovered an intense passion to learn Hebrew. So I scour Hebrew dictionaries, play around with language learning applications, and have come to meditate on the letters themselves. Sometimes it feels as though there is a part of my mind that remembers the letters from another time. I feel similitude and camaraderie regarding some of the fin de siecle authors of the late 19th-early 20th centuries who wrote at length on qabalah and in general on occultism: Eliphas Levi, Manly P Hall, Aleister Crowley.

During this time I am writing more fiction and poetry than I have previously. It is not difficult to see how the works I am reading and studying are influencing my work. What I find most amusing is that it was through reading the poetry of Aleister Crowley that I came full circle to a re-affirmed appreciation of the romantic poets, who had influenced his own writing.  When I was fresh out of high school and entered community college, I was in love with the romantic poets. There was something very special to me about that time period.

Coming back through readings on occultism, entheogens, and sexuality emerging from the end of the Victorian period, I gained a greater appreciation for the focus of their writing during that time considering the dangerous threats made upon their persons if such writing had seen in public circulation. Crowley himself inserted many ideas into his work that were designed to challenge the culture of his time.  Ida Craddock wrote extensively on spiritual relations that attracted the attention and fear of persons who sought to shut down her expression of feminism and spirituality.

A subject of great interest to me at the present are the writings from the fin de siecle era on sexuality, written by bisexual authors. Aleister Crowley and Richard Burton to name a few. Richard Burton’s widow burned his collection of papers for fear of what people of their Victorian England might say if the content were released. I fear that was a tragic loss. Crowley wrote about sex at length in his fiction and poetry. In my own writing, spirituality and sexuality lie at the center of the crossroads of all other things.

There was a time when uttering the phrase “I’m studying Ceremonial Magick” would have accrued the most ignoble treatment onto my person. Nowadays I can go on practically any digital media platform and talk about sexuality, drugs, occultism. I can talk about these things in real time as well. It might garner some weird looks from people who wouldn’t expect to hear it from me, but it cannot endanger me because it has become part of a shared national culture (save versus cultures for whom these topics are more than taboo but illegal and punished severely (even unto death). Even these subjects transcend nation as they are discussed across the globe.  A few days ago I was on facebook and came across a socioeconomic quiz. Its designed to test the elasticity of one’s social bubble, how aware they are of American culture, based on their own socio-economic status as a child and through adulthood. One friend of mine noted that they are asking the wrong questions. I agree with her statement. I stated I feel no shame for being disconnected from American culture.

And then I was reminded of a very powerful statement I heard once. How can a writer contribute to social change if they are not immersed in the culture? There is a melting pot of reasons why people write. Some actively seek to thwart the auld order and evoke change, others strongly feel that they enjoy writing and that is their penultimate raison d’etre, they have no need to further define it beyond a sense of true will.  In 2016 I wrote about my own reasons for writing in relation to the dark night of the soul.

So how does a writer shape his/her world without knowing the culture of place or of time? This is a hard one for me, a moment of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I often relate that I don’t really feel like I belong in this time. If I had lived in the early 20th century I think something in the field of the arts would have suited me best. On one hand I have little to no interest in aspects of our shared social constructs that seek to divide and conquer, and on the other, I’m consciously aware that they exist, I would just rather focus on other things; I’d rather focus my attention on work that brings people together not those that tear them asunder.


Nox Canto

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Who appropriated Who?

This holiday season I have heard nothing from my husband except for the widespread discourse on cultural appropriation with regard to how Christianity misappropriated Pagan symbolism from traditions that celebrated Yule. I know what he’s doing. In his own very special way he is trying to teach our son that there are various paths that share ideas in common, and that all traditions and symbols hail from some earlier point of origin; that our Christmas tree is also a Yule tree. In his own special way he seeks to “take it back”. Our son is six years old and he’s especially fond of Christmas. For him however, Christmas is entirely a social convention, it is a celebration with a tree dressed in a robe of light, and he gets to open presents.

Now I have been celebrating both Christmas and Yule since 1996. Growing up Christian and forging my own path through the jungle, I began practicing witchcraft in the mid to late 90s and cementing my own traditions under the radar of Christian traditions. I knew if my practice was going to survive, it would do so by a blending of those practices.

Research and meditation set me on another course not so distant from this topic. While meditating one evening on my father’s rosary I had an inkling I ought to research the symbolism. It is engraved with the symbol of Chi-Rho, which has become synonymous with Christ for nearly 2000 years. Not surprising, right?

These are Greek letters which were combined to form a kind of bindrune stemming back to the vision Constantine beheld of a banner carried off in the shimmering light of the Sun. This rather late Sol Invictus beheld the vision of this bindrune on a banner of victory on the eve of battle. So we already know that Chi-Rho was perceived in the 3rd century as a symbol of victory.  What came as a very nice surprise to me was the discovery that Chi-Rho are Greek letters that stem back to Horus the Elder. I’ll explain.

In Egyptian mythology, Horus is the son of Isis and Osiris, reflected in Thelema as the inheritor of the new age or aeon, an age of force and victory. Horus is often identified with Lucifer in many respects.  The aeon of Isis is a reflection of a matrilineal agricultural period and mother goddesses. Osiris similarly is a representation of the aeon of the dying and sacrificed gods (the group to which Christ is often attributed).

In the story of Horus, he is born after Isis reassembles the severed body of Osiris and fashions a synthetic phallus with which she seminates herself. Horus becomes the sun victorious who defeats Sutekh (at whose hands his father died). Horus and Sutekh vie for dominance over Egypt, and represent the two kingdoms, however there are variations in the story that claim a peace treaty was struck.  (Is there an association present with the relationship between Horus and Sutekh and that of Lucifer and Satan? I may have to consider exploring that line of inquiry in the future). For now, though, returning to the concept of appropriation.

The ways in which I am working with the rosary are not unlike my husband’s approach to what he calls his “defense against the war on Yule”. We are both coming full circle by bringing awareness to the historicity of symbols that have been previously appropriated. What was once old is new again.

Happy Christmas and Merry Solstice.


Slavic Resources

This year I embarked on a study of Shamanism with the Temple of Witchcraft and one of the focal points of that study was to pursue the study of a pantheon. This is a wonderful concept. One I am acutely familiar with from my days as an undergrad and grad student when I actively sought out any material I could access through the university libraries on various pantheons. The one I always come back to is this: Slavic mythology. Let me tell you something about myself you might not know. My great grandparents emigrated from Croatia to the United States in the late 19th century. This was Croatia when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Census records I have perused (as I am a bit of a genealogy hobbyist) often said Hungary. I didn’t make the connection until recently about how or why this wasn’t inaccurate. My brother and I still converse about Croatian history and our own family history, especially the areas where our ancestors came from. Recently showed my five year old son pictures of Croatia and he has decided we need to go on a holiday to visit the beaches of Croatia. I’m absolutely in favor of that!!!

In lieu of the fact that I have had a few friends (who also have genetic lines that run parallel to my own, gypsy, Romanian, and other branches of Slavic heritage) inquire about the resources of my research, I have put together a beginner bibliography with those resources so that anyone who is also interested in researching Slavic history, religion and mythology can also utilize those resources as well.

Proto-Slavic Mythological Bibliography

Kokic, Gordana. Modern Rodnovery, Hittites and Scythians; Slavic Roots in Antiquity? visited: 18 Nov 2016.

Melhorn, Gary. The Esoteric Codex: Shapeshifters. Lulu, 2015.

Pennington, James Joshua, PhD. St. Perun and St. Volos. Academia. Pp.1-13.  Visited: 5 Dec 2016

Rendić-Mioĉević, Ivo. Retracing The Past to the Cradle of Croatian History. Eastern European Quarterly. 2002. Vol 36, No. 1, pp.1-25.

Smrekar, Saša Iskrić. Cave of Iapodes and its petroglyphs – an early Slavic shrine of Perun/Kresnik, academia, pp.1-16.

Trkanjec, Luka. Chthonic aspects of the Pomeranian deity Triglav and other tricephalic characters in Slavic mythology. Studia Mythologica Slavica, 2013, vol 16. pp9.25.

Wratislaw, A. H. Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources. 1890. Sacred Texts Archive. visited: 8 Dec 2016.



Exploring the mother goddess in prehistory

This week I was researching the mother goddess in the context of prehistory. That meant exploring the art and archaeology of the neolithic, mesolithic, and paleolithic eras. Primary of my focus was looking for goddesses of creation, seas, chaos, before tiamat, but subsequently discovered that when tackling the correspondences in myth, some scholars have drawn lines of association, corresponding the lineage of tiamat (assyro-babylonian) to the lineage of nammu (sumerian). In the lineage myth, Nammu is named grandmother of Inanna, who was honored as the great goddess among the Ubaidian (5000 bce), and Hassuna civilizations (6000 bce), two of the cultures who preceded the Sumerians. Additionally statuettes featuring imagery of goddesses and serpents. So the serpentine attributes were part of the goddess’ identity long before Sumer and Babylon. Not surprising when we take into consideration the serpentine attributes of the goddesses of Egypt as well.

Yet according to the archaeological record, for 6500 years imagery of divinity were found in pairs, from 12,500-6,000 bce, in the former of a mother goddess and bearded god riding a bull or possessing anthropomorphic features such as the bull’s horns. This elicits in my mind, perhaps the early development of mother goddess and horned god. So where did this horned god go, from 6000 bce- 4000 bce, when he emerged again in Sumer?

Jumping way back, the first finds of pictorial imagery, albeit crudely drawn, dates to 17-12,000 ya, and of anthropomorphic animals (and Venus statues) is dated to 38-29,000 ya. The oldest sites, like Oldowan, have finds that date back 2.6-1.7mya, and what was found there were rich deposits of quartzite, basalt, obsidian, limestone. And i wonder, if we could trace some form of religious or ritual experience back to this time period, if we might find divinity honored in the former of the crystalline deposits. The Arabian desert has a rich history of the personification and deification of the goddess in the form of stone, not only with the beginnings of Islam, but as a rich part of preIslamic religion, in which Al-uzza, the warrior goddess was identified with a black stone, possibly a form of basalt.


Why do I write? Searching for meaning in the dark of night

This is probably some expression of the dark night of the Soul. The Jedi would call it one’s great trial; that which tests the strength of character of the student of the mysteries. The fact that I am currently undergoing a seven week alchemical distillation of the Soul, as well as a Saturn return probably doesn’t help. But it is 3am and I am lying in bed examining why I write. Many years ago I had a history professor who said the people who perform the finest research suffer from clinical depression. It’s no coincidence that those of us who closely examine the fine details of the world at large are deeply dissatisfied with our thoughts. I’ve known some people who do not suffer from such maladies and are often out of their tiny little minds.
I can remember when I was a child I began writing to express the thoughts and feelings inside of me. It was poetry first. And then journaling. Soon I discovered I had a penchant for essay writing. In school as soon as I found subjects worthy of my interest I could research them. That meant occultism, religion, women’s studies. In grad school I became very good friends with an African studies major who loved to talk. She talked to ppl because she understood wisdom was everywhere, if you know where to look. We had many of the same interests in history, psychology and poetry. Conversations on psychohistory emerged often. We loved to think about the mindset of subjects of history. What they thought and felt. I found myself writing a few of these perspective pieces and it served multiple purposes. I wasn’t just thinking about getting in the minds of historical persons, but how they would regard the world we live in, filled with people who either worship or revile them.
There are academic projects that I write because the subject matter motivates me. I am passionate about them. Writing fills a void in my heart. There are fictional projects that I write because I am using language, syntax and grammar to tell stories of the past, stories that are reflections of the times we live in, stories that somehow touch the sparks within our hearts; sparks that draw ppl together and hurl them far apart.

There is something very human about the desire for self-expression, and long before the written word our proto-ancestors used symbols to tell the stories of their lives. As our languages evolve, we will find new ways to incorporate them into the storytelling experience. Hopefully this desire for self-expression will also survive.


Standing observance

It’s February 2016 and everywhere burns the fires of political fever. I’ve watched the Republican and Democratic debates, and parts of the internet are ablaze with both blind submission and seething hatred towards the candidates. I’ve been listening to cafe conversations and dinner-table discourse. I hear the same things I always hear. I hear fear and anger in the voices of the many and the one constant among Republicans and Democrats is that people are sick to death of establishment ideas. They want new blood and are driven towards the paths of the anti-establishment. In 2012, when Ron Paul ran as a libertarian candidate, the Republican party managed to steal a large portion of his votes and his delegates. Maybe the establishment didn’t think anyone would notice. People noticed. They were disenfranchised and disillusioned, losing faith in the process. I have a friend who refuses to vote now because of it.

Recent years have also seen a growing sentiment about the shadow aspects of the collective consciousness of society as a whole. People call for the removal of statues of founders of institutions who were slaveholders, the Confederate flag, and other contentious issues of our time far too pendulous for them to face on their own. Instead of embracing the emotions they conjure within themselves, erase these icons from the collective mind of history. In many ways it is a reminder of the rallying cry of groups like DAESH who deface and destroy the icons of their past. 

Working towards the betterment of society, rising above oppression, challenging authority figures – these are all noble causes but to deface, destroy and remove the iconography of our past by dressing it in the garments of Justice is to deny ourselves the rich opportunity of facing our own shadows.  Society is filled with the shadows of the ancestors whose graves led to the foundation of our world. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t easy or palatable in the slightest. But in order to honor the spirit of free speech and discourse, we need to re-learn how to discuss things that make us uncomfortable. 

What does free discourse have to do with the Republican and Democratic debates? Everything. It begins with asking ourselves why third-party candidates are virtually blacklisted by the media. In this season of political fever, the most important discovery we can make is how we feel about the issues and not what someone else tells us to feel, whether they are politicians, journalists, or our own friends and family.