• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

(I'm going to double up for a week or so, and post these notes on Samhain prep at my home site and here.  Those of you who are kind enough to read both may feel you're seeing double for a bit. )

As I'm readying myself for this hard and sacred time, I'm reviewing my daily practice and wondering if it is optimum for keeping me focused and open.

Do you have a personal daily practice? Or perhaps I should say a personal spiritual practice--many modern Pagans find it difficult to fit a daily practice into their busy lives.

...
Last modified on
2

 

 

O, Etsy. You purveyor of all that is desirable and yet sometimes dubious. I didn't appreciate Etsy (and probably still don't) until my hip daughter introduced me to Regretsy. Mothers of gods, what a hilarious mess.

...
Last modified on
3
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    A wonderful post. While my wife and I derive a significant portion of our income from Etsy, not selling the types of things mentio
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks, Peter. We talk so much about community in Pagandom and Heathenry but we sometimes don't walk our talk. I hear from too m

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A couple of weeks ago—which partially explains my absence from this hallowed place—Mother Grove Goddess Temple ordained a group of women as temple clergy. The women—and in this case they were all women—were already priestesses but they went through a long process of study and practicum to make them clergy.  They can perform all the rites of passage (including the legal one of marriage), can teach and speak on behalf of the Temple and its programs and philosophy.

It was a powerful ritual at a local herb school, because the Temple is small. There were candles and simple black robes. There were special guests and people making speeches. There was a choir and a reception. There was an audible gasp in the congregation when the women’s stoles were placed on their shoulders and they turned to face out. At that point, they were introduced one-by-one as “Reverend.”

Formal, legal.  Just like other religions do.

...
Last modified on
8
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Betty
    Betty says #
    I wish I could become clergy, but I don't know how. I'm self employed so I can't afford to go to seminary, but I do take classes h
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    Good for them. Congratulations to all the new clergy members!
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Congratulations to all the new Reverends!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, “you are not the boss of me” was muttered any time two or more of us were gathered together. Wicca had erupted into a new tradition every few days, Druids were behind every oak tree and the rise of the Recons made everyone proud and bristly with new knowledge of old matters. We ate the prolific casseroles of endless potluck feasts and we went to each other’s rituals when that was allowed.  Afterwards we’d gather with folks of our own trads and we’d compare circle castings and elemental pairings, and gossip about the size of the high priestess’s crown.

The same thing goes on still, of course. We each choose the path that is laid for us and we seek out a tradition—old or new—that seems to fit what we believe, really believe, down deep inside. We go through the Seeker stage to the Neophyte stage. We read all those simple 101 books and go to workshops and public rituals. We buy or make flowing gowns and tunics and sport a big pentacle from Spencer’s gifts. We learn to pronounce “Samhain” correctly and at some point we choose a tradition that really fits or we proudly declare ourselves Solitaries. If we are very lucky, we have a succession of good teachers. There may be a circle or coven or grove in which we learn the arts of leadership and we begin to teach the next generation of Earth-loving, opinionated folk who are not going to be bossed around.

Lately though I’ve noticed a change in our crabby and electronic world. Instead of quibbling about whether it’s proper to work within a circle or if one can stand in a lineaged Wiccan tradition while also being a Sumerian Recon, we’ve gotten awfully pissy about right and wrong and…correct.  No longer content to go our separate ways and merely gossip about those goofy (fill in the blank), we seem to expend rather a lot of electronic air in actually trying to convert each other.

...
Last modified on
7
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I could not help laughing as I read this, thinking that anyone who tries to convert you probably doesn't try moe than once! Good p
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    You'd be surprised. :>)
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Wonderful post, Byron!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

...
Last modified on
4
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Brian Shea
    Brian Shea says #
    I wonder if it's the same with leprechauns on St. Patties day?
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    I've often thought about this subject in terms of museums, but never thought about the Tiki connection. There's an art museum near

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In a thread on my Facebook page, we're having a thoughtful and heartfelt discussion of what LGBTQII (H? A?) means and how we get past the alphabet soup and down to real human beings and their experiences in the world of the world. (I shared a story from the Sacred Space Conference in which I had carefully said all the letters several times. After the talk, a young person came up to me and actually patted my arm. "Mama, we usually just say 'queer.' ") That thread is civil but not shallow--probably because we mostly know each other and there is a level of affection and even some trust. But there is hurt there, too, and anger.

I am concluding this written exploration of these ongoing challenges with this post but am continuing my own study and discussion and mostly listening--to my co-religionists, to my heart, to the Divines, to the Ancestors and Beloved Dead.  I find that listening is both compassionate and safe--a good place to watch and learn, too.

We are in a time of great change, both as spiritual movements and as cultures.  We are finding the words we need to use but we are also feeling our way through a dominant culture that informs much of what we do--from our actions to our thoughts.

...
Last modified on
2

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Nota bene—I had planned to post this second part earlier in the week but have been drawn—lured!—down the tricky rabbit trails in our community. Some of you will understand this guilty pleasure: following link after link in a circuitous, riotous and ultimately informative research effort.

These are not issues exclusive to the Pagan/Heathen communities but—as with many other sticking points—it is writ large here. Sturm und drang—polished and deliberate language used as both weapon and shield. The bristling armed camps face each other across a wide gulf. After many months of observing, listening and analyzing, I did what any curious person would do. I went to the edge of that deep gap and simply looked in. It seemed the best way to understand the level of disconnect that I was encountering as I pondered the situations and the reactions to them.

Slick, clever, running both hot and cold, the talk (in person and on-line) surrounding some relatively simple questions of protocol belies the complexity of the times, the personalities and the issues involved.

The great scholar Gerda Lerner has often been my guide as I attempt to look through the lens/lenses of that construct we call “history.”  Her work has been instrumental in revealing the hidden roots of ostensibly modern problems.

Last modified on
2

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

(I originally wrote about these issues--because I believe this to be more than one issue, not a binary--in my personal blog.  In the interest of clarity and time, I have taken some parts of that initial post, which most of you have not seen, and worked them into this first part. Please forgive me, long-time readers,  if it seems like you've read some bits before.)

I've been threatening to write about this set of situations--really write about it--for over a year.  Every time I wrap my head and heart around it, some new information comes to light and I step back a bit, wondering what else I can add from so far away.

I will engage these on-going issues in three parts--Waxing to Full, Waning Moon, and Dark Moon. I hope you will bear with me as I develop my own thoughts, bear witness to what I haven't seen and step into a world that is both mine and not mine.

It's the women-born-women issue, of course--something that has been seething in some circles for a while now. The first large-scale incident, as far as I know, was at last year's Pantheacon, there was a fascinating repeat at Pantheacon 2012 and then we got the coverage of that powerful circle that blessed this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Last modified on
7
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kenaz Filan
    Kenaz Filan says #
    I've posted a response at http://kenazfilan.blogspot.com/2012/07/from-pantheacon-to-buncombe-county-for.html
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    I am so enjoying this conversation with you, Kenaz. I will cover a bit more about safety and maturity in my next post and will loo
  • Kenaz Filan
    Kenaz Filan says #
    Diaper duty is going well: Annamaria is her usual cheery and vocal 8am self, while I am gearing up for that second cup of coffee.

As the Green Solstice blew past us with threats of rain and humidity like a sauna, we began to contemplate the Long Dying of the Year.  Yes, I do feel a bit like Marvin in Hitchhiker's Guide as I realize that the next holy day around these parts is in fact the first harvest festival.

What has been remarkable in those days since the Solstice is the fact that nothing seems easy, everything seems to require more effort than it ever did before.  But there are also moments of such delight, of such brightness and joy.

Three interfaith adventures this week--all survived with varying degrees of success.  The school superintendent's Faith-Based Leadership Advisory Council meeting was very long and I suspect we are coming close to the place where we will not get along and be forced to talk about what happens when my religion requires you to follow it. (Not that mine does, of course.  I'm Wiccan.)

Last modified on
2
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I appreciate the way you put a positive spin on the world; I could see the kids with the water hose in my mind. I'm praying for yo

Weird Ways of Witchcraft by Dr. Leo Louis Martello;  reprint of the 1969 original, with Foreword by Rev. Lori Bruno; Weiser Books, 2011

 Weird Ways of Witchcraft (Dr. Leo Martello)

cover of the new edition

I had forgotten how beautiful Leo Martello was. I never knew him, but remember the photos of him with flowing raven locks and a beard to match, dressed in a Renaissance tunic, a cape thrown carelessly across his shoulders.

Last modified on
3
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Very fun stuff -- I'm trying to recall which Martello book(s) I had, or have had (considering the far flung state of my library si
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks, Alan. Anne is right about the original source for that phrase. And I'm pretty sure the play is the source material for t
  • Larksong
    Larksong says #
    Byron, Thanks for bring this book to our attention, it sound like quite a trip to read. I'll glad Martello did such a complete jo

Introductory Post

Several years ago, the local Gannett paper in Asheville, NC asked me to be one of its community bloggers. When I asked what they'd like me to blog about, they were very clear—they wanted their readers to know more about Earth religions, about events and personalities in the local Pagan community and something about the sort of Appalachian rootwork that many mountain folks practice—myself included.

They were looking for a consistent explanation of which Witch was which.

I blogged for them most days, accruing a sizeable number of words that covered the original intention and also threw in some politics, organic gardening, beekeeping and photos, for good measure. It was my first stint as a blogger and I found I liked it. It was a format that allowed me complete freedom and no interference. Periodically, the web master would send me some stats and thank me for my work.

Last modified on
5
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ken
    Ken says #
    As a new pagan whose been wandering in the dark since I came to this state, I'm glad I have someone nearby to seek guidance from.
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Ken, where in the state are you? And...thanks for your kind words.
  • Ken
    Ken says #
    I live in the Goldsboro area. I sort of just discovered this website, as well as other blogsites like it. I didn't know such a lar

Additional information