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

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The Plains of Fire and Love

I was at Pagan Spirit Gathering until last Sunday. My dear sisters, Star and Gl/oriana, made a perfect encampment, one that became filled with love and laughter. The smell of good coffee drew our kindred from Tuatha Dea most every day, beginning the days with so much kindness and fun.

It was very hot. Southern Illinois in June was dusty and humid. The field where all my classes were held was soon dubbed the Serengeti. Shuttles were our chariots to the stage or the barn where I had my meals or the shower truck where I had infrequent doses of water over my too-pale body.

My classes were very well-attended and well-received. Old friends were hugged and kissed. Likewise with some of the new ones, too.  We were too innervated by the heat to do much shopping but I came away with a new book by Judy and Nels Linde, and a stack of cds from Brian Henke.

And there were rituals of joy and of grief, of longing and of homecoming. In the evenings, there was always drumming and music, and the sound of frogs.

The nights were astounding in their magic. We have too much light pollution where I live to fully appreciate the nightsky anymore. But there, ringed by the tall trees, my mind grappled with old memories of once-familiar celestial bodies turning forever in the darkness. Dippers and dragons, Mars and the dear old Moon.

There was a scent in the air, come nightfall. Unwashed bodies cooled, candles were lit, food was cooked, incense delicate as dragonfly wings moved on the wind. The magic of the days was nothing to the night, when all was revealed, all was a mystery.

So good to leave the world behind there. To be wrapped in the chigger/heat exhaustion/frog lust of summer. To remember that nature is not to be tamed, even by magical hands.


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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,


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