I have learned as much about Goddess Spirituality from participating in rituals to the Panagia in Greece as I have from books. This is the time when Greeks honor the falling asleep of the Mother of God, an echo of the rituals of Death and Rebirth in honor of Demeter and Persephone.
From the evening of the 14th through the day and night of the 15th of August, thousands of pilgrims ascend the Holy Rock of Petra, Lesbos to honor the Panagia—She Who Is All Holy. There is something really beautiful in being among them. Last year six of us set out from Molivos at 7:30 on the 14th to meet in the square of Petra to ascend to the church.
Petra was already full of so many pilgrims that police had forbidden traffic in the main square and were directing cars into a nearly full parking lot in a field. When we got out of the car, the two others who came with me and I had a perfect view of the steady stream of pilgrims climbing the rock, which was already lit up in the twilight.
I'll go with you, I told my friend Lola over dinner when she mentioned her desire to do El Camino. Struggling with recurring cancer, Lola was courageous and confident about taking on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. My hometown priest used to talk about El Camino during Catechism class. Your sins will be pardoned when you arrive at the Santiago Cathedral, he used to say. As a child, I questioned whatever the clergy said, earning their accusations of being a Doubting Thomas. Even though I did not believe the sin absolution story, the idea of walking El Camino intrigued me. But I did not know why. Did I have a secret sin that needed forgiveness?
Nona Sabbata is my Latin jargon for "The Ninth Sabbat."
For over five years now our Coven has been providing open public [Wiccan] community rituals a minimum of twice a month. In all that time, of all of those rituals, we only cancel one of them each year. Because we're at PantheaCon. And by "we're" I mean over eight of us. We all load up one very large van, and pile into one very nice hotel suite. It's like a non-stop four day slumber party with your best friends, at your favorite intergalactic spiritual space station. Which no one seems surprised to find located in California's Silicon Valley.