Cross and Pentacle: Two religions at the crossroads

I was a Jesus Freak, a passionate theologian, and a Southern Baptist minister. I worked hard to convert pagans. The pagans won.

Discovering magic as a witch with an intimate knowledge of western christianity I explore the juxtaposition of these two faiths. Christianity and paganism alike are undergoing dramatic changes with parallel trends, conflicting challenges, and a growing concern for interfaith dialogue.

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A Power Outage Full Moon Ritual

I’m lying in bed with my lover when the power goes out. The only light in the room is now coming from the moon’s reflection on the snow outside the glass doors. We look at each other, wondering if we caused the outage. We were running a lot of appliances in our room here at Yosemite Falls lodge, we may have blown a fuse.


We don’t really need light for what we’re about to do now, do we? I say with a grin. He laughs, and turns on the light on his cell phone. So I can find a condom when I need it, he says.


By the time we’re done and holding each other under the blankets, the power is still out. We’re both a little sweaty, but we can tell that the temperature in the room is starting to drop. It’s going to be a cold night and if the power doesn’t come back on...


Let me see if it’s just us, he says, and hops out of bed. I snuggle deeper into the blankets. It’s out everywhere. At least this whole side of the hotel looks dark, he reports


I slip out of bed and put on my snow pants. Not much we can do about it and it’s not even 10pm yet. We might as well go for a walk. And it’s the full moon. It should be plenty bright outside, with the snow reflecting the moonlight.


We’re here for my six year anniversary. My wedding anniversaries used to be big deals, and I missed celebrating them when I got divorced. I the winter of 2010 I moved to California to start a new life. Since then I’ve been celebrating my “rebirth” anniversaries instead. This year, my adventure partner invited me to share a weekend in a lodge in Yosemite. The weather was terrible when we drove here; It took us 10 hours through wind and rain and traffic, and now we want to make the most of our night.


We bundle up and step outside. A ranger tells us that the power is out everywhere, not just this side of the hotel, not just the Valley, but all of Yosemite and for everyone they could reach via radio. The internet is down as are the phone lines, so we have no way of finding out what is going on. For all we know, this could be a terrorist attack which shut down power in the entire country. Heck, it could be a The Change making its way from Nantucket, as described in the novel Dies The Fire.


This would fit quite well into your worldview, wouldn’t it? My adventure partner says, poking my side.


It does, I say, poking him back, but that doesn’t mean I wish for it. I have no love for this oppressive system, but just because this empire is crumbling, that doesn’t mean whatever comes next will be better.


We’ve had this conversation many times. Our worldviews are very different, which is the main reason we’re no longer dating as regularly as we used to, but shifted into being occasional adventure partner. For a while we talk about how well positioned we might be, here in the heart of Yosemite Valley, should this prove to be a serious widespread power failure. But when we reach the bridge, we both fall silent. Whether it is a glitch in the myth of progress, as my partner believes, or par for the course during this time of the Long Descent, tonight is an opportunity.


b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC07638.jpgWe have the trail and waterfall to ourselves. No one else seems to have had our idea. We’re the only ones out and about. All of the lights are out, hotels are dark, the poles of the street light at the bus stop barely visible against the trees. Fog and low hanging clouds obscure the moon, but it is bright enough.


We’re standing on the bridge, looking up at Yosemite Falls. Majestic cliffs reach into the dark sky, water tumbles over rocks, spray reflects different rays of moonlight, filtered through the clouds. Breathless beauty. We stare and sigh and find no words.


My partner digs out his camera and starts photographing the falls. I walk across the bridge, staring at the moon. The clouds are thinning, gifting me glimpses of the moon against a starry sky. We take some time apart. He focuses on his photography, I wander off into a little grove to meditate on the moon.


When we get back together, we talk about this night, the incredible beauty of it, and how lucky we are to see Yosemite without any artificial lights. I’d love to draw down the moon, but my partner is a rationalist. I do want to commune with the moon more deeply, but I don’t want to separate to do a solo ritual nor do I want to priestess a ritual for him.


I ask him if we can do a simple ritual together. He’s wary, not wanting to do anything with spirits or deities, but agrees. It’s a simple ritual of being present, communing with what is. I ask him to walk in silence with me. He’s a curious person and loves to explore, and I like that about him. He’s quick to ask questions and search for answers, to learn how things work, where they come from, what they are called. But tonight, I ask him to set those questions aside.


Seeking understanding is great, I say. There’s nothing wrong with looking up the latin name of a plant, googling where and how it grows, etc. But there is a different kind of knowledge, a communing with something, rather than gaining an intellectual understanding of it.




He’s willing to give it a try. For the next hour or so, we walk a moonlit path in silence. The clouds break completely, and the full moon shines in all of her radiance. We stop and point at things, without speaking. We touch bushes, run our fingers across patches of moss, listen to the sounds the snow makes underneath our boots, smell the bark of trees, and once we even lick the water running off a steep cliff. Our senses are awake and sharpened by the softness of the light. We watch light pattern fall across our path, the snow reflecting moonlight, casting odd shadows as if the light is coming from multiple moons.


Finally we reach an open meadow, covered in a thick layer crunchy snow. We are warm from all of the walking, and lie down on our backs. We stare at the moon. I feel like I am sunbathing, except that it is midnight and below freezing. I giggle at my partner’s attempt at making a snow angel. It doesn’t work, the snow is too dense. Then I look up at the moon again, losing my sense of time, bathing in her light and feeling deeply into this moment. Peace surrounds me, peace fills me.


A long while later I shift my body. I’m getting cold and the clouds are coming back. We get up and make little snowmen, then hike back to the lodge. The lights are on again, the power is back. We walk into our room, turn up the heater, undress and snuggle under blankets.

That was a lovely walk, I say. And an interesting ritual, my partner says. I’ve never done anything like it before. It’s weird to not analyze everything I see. Weird, but kind of cool. I liked it. Thank you.

I smile and silently thank the moon, the waterfall, the rocks, the forest, the snow. Sometimes the simplest rituals are the best. Sometimes the best magic is just being present to what is.

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Born and raised an evangelical Christian in Germany, I joined the Jesus Freak movement as a teenager and became a passionate evangelist and worship leader. No one was surprised when I went to the US at age 19 and came back a tattooed and pierced fundamentalist Christian, betrothed to a "Chrispie" (a Christian hippie, that is). I was a virgin the day we married. Five years later I graduated bible college with highest honors and post traumatic stress disorder. I deepened both my theology and trauma on the road by traveling the country in a big yellow school bus. For three years I lived as a nomad, playing music and leading bible studies, from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. I learned that Christianity in America encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, from Amish groups casting demons out of school busses to Roman Catholic priests breaking into government buildings. I saw Jesus in the oddest places. And then everything changed and I ended up a polyamorous Witch in a Pagan community in California.


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