Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference, West Kentucky Hoodoo Rootworker Heritage Festival, and other gatherings.

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Byron Ballard

Byron Ballard

H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at info@myvillagewitch.com,

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A Cold Night and a New Dawn

Dramatic weather here and elsewhere--yesterday I watched an enormous weather front come up from the South in the form of a dark gray shelf cloud. It was a scene out of Hollywood: surely a mothership of some sort was lurking there or it was the precursor, the warning of some King novel.  I got back into my car and drove home to my old house that was under the edge of that shelf of doom.

And by the time I'd parked the car and looked up, the front had moved backwards, retreated back the way it had so ominously come, ragged now, undramatic, ordinary.

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Postponing the Return of the Light

I'm simply not ready for the dark to be over. So I've decided to put off welcoming the Sun back until a few days before Imbolc.

If then.

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Unchurched

Though my people are Methodists on one side and Baptists on the other, I was not raised in either church. I got formal religious training from a parochial Lutheran elementary school and my own intellectual curiosity. Friends and neighbors invited me to visit their churches with them and I sometimes did--giving me an interesting smattering of all kinds of ceremonies and observances.  My grandmother sang in the choir of a small Methodist church and I sometimes went to church with her and my grandfather. I sat in the second row between him and a former mayor of our little town and I was very well-behaved. Of course.

I have never been christened or baptized because I grew up "unchurched," as we say in the South. One of the best parts of that sort of upbringing is that I don't carry around a load of anger or fear or resentment for my treatment at the hands of a monolithic institution like The Church. And I got to make macaroni picture frames in vacation bible school and I was a sure winner at the Sword Drill.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Obviously so.
  • David Polllard
    David Polllard says #
    There are some Pagan traditions which come closer to the social aspects of churches, like the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, or if yo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
It Gets Easier. Trust Me on This One.

This morning I packed a basket with Goddesses and Wiccan tools and headed out to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Swannanoa Valley.  I was invited to talk to the young people's RE (religious education) class--they are doing the section on Neighboring Faiths. I sometimes do the sermon at this sweet church and always enjoy the time I spend there.

I began by asking them all how well they'd scored in the Great Pumpkin Candy Berserker Night celebration. Most of the kids know me so it was pretty comfortable for them to talk--since I'm not technically a stranger.  I then read part of the Charge of the Goddess and we launched into an hour's worth of discussion on the Wheel of the Year, European tribes, tools of the trade and the nature of the Divines.  We finished with casting a circle.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks. Everything seems best when simplest these days.
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Great post. I really agree with the part about finding your practice getting simpler and deeper.

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The Ancestor Vigil

We've been doing the Ancestor Vigil here for about 20 years and every year it is a little different but the intention is always the same. It is not a Samhain ritual, it is not a celebration of Hallowe'en, it does not glom onto the trendy love of Dia de los Muertes. It is a ritual commemoration of the Recent Dead, the Beloved Long Dead and the Mighty Dead.

We set up a central altar, a candle-lighting station and a place to get more info on Mother Grove Goddess Temple and to leave your food donations for the food pantry. People are invited to place mementos on the altar and there is a place in the ritual where we speak the names of the dead that are closest to us.

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Tending the Tales of Grief

Every so often, I offer a workshop or discussion on Ancestor veneration. I hadn't done one in several years, but felt the urge to do it this year.  Last night was the chosen evening and we drew in together at Mother Grove's little chapel to talk about the Dead and our Dead.

It was informal--more of a conversation than a class.  I started out with some general information about honoring our Beloved Dead through altars or memorial displays. We went on to discuss the layers of the Dead that we may choose to honor--family and friends who have died,  all those folks we find on Ancestrydotcom and those intentionally selected heroes and inspirations who have no blood or cultural tie to us but who have inspired us through their story.

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  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Beautiful words.
Tidying Up and Baking Cornbread for Themselves

Readying for Samhain is a long and delightful process around here. Last week, I tidied the Ancestor Altar at Mother Grove Goddess Temple and poured some wine into the silver chalice on the third shelf.  This morning--in spite of the distinct possibility that we have some temple mice--I added some bread to the little feast.

It's the alarm clock that we usually use to wake them up. That isn't necessary now--as I've written here before, the Veil is so thin these days as to be non-existent. It is a loving, albeit symbolic, gesture.

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