The ATC’s Journey to the Underworld

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They say that when we start playing with all these myths, and writing rituals, and sharing mysteries, that we often don’t know where that path will lead.  At Spring Mysteries Festival every year, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church puts on Paganism’s only annual passion play, the Eleusinian Mysteries.  If you’ve never been, Spring Mysteries Festival is the ONE pagan pilgrimage that you really owe it to yourself to find the money to attend.  If you were in Greece 3000 years ago, you would save up and make the pilgrimage to Eleusis.  If those mysteries were still going on in Greece today, we would all be saving up for a plane ticket and accommodations to experience the story of Great Mother and Holy Daughter and learn the mysteries imparted at the ancient altars of Eleusis.

Those mysteries are still going on today.  They are alive and well in Seattle, Washington.  Well, off the coast of Washington, over on the sound, but you’d fly into Seattle. The festival is held every year on Easter Weekend.  If you haven’t been, you absolutely owe it to your soul to come and experience when the Gods Walk the Earth.  My first year was one where they kept saying, “These mysteries will change you.”   I kept thinking, “Yeah, it will totally change all these other people.  Not me.  I mean, Persephone is my patron.  I teach these mysteries and perform similar rituals at my own coven.  So, I won’t be changed.  But, yeah – all these other people are in for a ride.”  Oh, the arrogance of a Leo child.  Oh, was I ever wrong.

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On Friday, at Parade to the Sea, when the Gods appeared as if from nowhere, Tears began leaking from my eyes and would not stop.  I was looking at Athena.  Not someone dressed as Athena, but ATHENA!  There was ARES!  There was HERMES!  There was the Great Mother and the Holy Daughter!  Tears stream down my face whenever I think of it.  That amazing moment touched me forever.  I cried the rest of the day.  Not sobs, just a continuous stream of tears.  I was home.

I joined the church as an affiliate leader.  I adored Pete, and talked with him often.  I worried about him being up at the Tab by himself.  Dusty encouraged me to start calling Pete every Tuesday to stave off Pete’s loneliness.  After asking him if I could help with anything every week for about 6 months, he decided to offer me the Seminary.  I was thinking more along the lines of writing an article for Panegyria.  But, we worked it out and it wasn’t soon before he presented me with the prospect of taking his place as Archpriest.  Archpriest? Or Archpriestess?  Uh…

I often think, how silly that there has been so much pain over a gender issue.  But this one thing, me being a woman and not a nan, caused a rippling impact in our church that plummeted us into our own group journey into the Underworld.  Oh, there were many other issues that rippled from this one.  So many, that we could not contain them all, or even sort them out.  Pain, hurt, anger, fear, and confusion brought gossip and tall tales which villainized our beloved leaders, or martyrd them depending on where your opinion landed.  The church that we knew, loved, and built our spiritual family in was torn in two, like the Great Mother and Holy Daughter, only in your face –  up close and personal.

The Mysteries seems so romantic when told in an afternoon, or over a period of a few days, hades_and_persephone_by_sayara_s-d4umejjwhen you can see the pattern clearly and all ends happily ever after.  But, when it’s happening to you personally, it’s dark, hard, cold, and depressing, with no end in site.  Why witches think the Underworld is a cool place to go see is beyond me, even though I too romanticize the journey.  The reality of experiencing death, whether in the loss of a person, or in the loss of anything, it hurts.  Oh yeah, it changes you, but it hurts like Hades too.

You’re this way because these are the choices you willingly made.  To change, the Goddess sometimes has to make choices for you.  Ones that you wouldn’t make.  Lessons of the Dark Goddess suck!  But, they are necessary, and they do often take you to your goals.

We ritualize and explain this over and over.  The Lessons of the Dark Mother are upon you when you’re angry at the path, when you don’t understand, when you don’t know, but have judged, when you think someone or something is WRONG.  We know it’s a time to reflect and look within.  It’s a time to consider other choices.  It’s a time to change within.  It’s not a time to attack others, but more often than not, in our pain, that’s what we do.  That’s what Demeter did.  She couldn’t help it.  She blighted the earth.  Maybe because she was mad.  But, probably because she was in so much pain she couldn’t help it.  It takes happiness and love to make something fertile.  It takes happiness and love to go to work everyday, to feed your family, to nurture your children.  It takes happiness and love to keep getting up every morning and doing what you have to do.

We were all real complacent with the ATC and what it was doing.  Things seemed Utopian from the outside, like Camelot, or maybe Avalon.  When it came to our realization that Pete and Debbie were not going to go on forever, and change was upon us, it plunged all of us into Demeter’s state of losing our own personal Holy Daughter, the church we all loved, nurtured, and put a ton of our sacred energy into.

How has it changed us?  How will we come through this?  The fear, the anger, the pain –  it has touched us all.  All of us have sacrificed.  All of us have lost something important to us.  None of us got what we wanted – not Pete, not Debbie, not me, not you.  But now that we have Blue Persephonerecognized that we are walking the Eleusinian Mysteries as a church, what do we do with that?

Release judgement, for one thing.  Release the fear.  Forgive everyone that hurt you.  Forgive yourself for being hurt.  Forgive the path for being hard.  Forgive the Goddess for giving us what we need to grow and transform.  Forgive the church for being part of the cycle that it has taught to the world for 30 years.

Remember this story ends in love, and get back to it.

How do you do that?  Well, you say it, you write it, you declare it to others.  Then you fill that void with gratitude.  You look at what good has come of it.  You look at what you learned.  You remember the good times, and those you loved, and you reconnect with them.  You vow to continue to be ever loving, ever growing, ever changing, ever lasting.

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In Honor of our Founder

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Pete Pathfinder Davis

1937 – 2014

Born on Ostara, 1937

Crossed into the Summerlands on Samhain, 2014

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Pete Pathfinder Davis 1937-2014

 

Thank you Heather Greene for this beautiful article from the Wild Hunt:

On Oct 31 at 6:00pm PST, Pierre Claveloux Davis, also known as Pete Pathfinder, passed away. The announcement was made by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church:

[Pete] was surrounded by loved ones, and went peacefully in his bed. Today, on our most holy day, when the barrier between the Worlds was at its thinnest, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of his life’s work, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church; our Grandmother Hekate, Patron Goddess of our Order came across and brought home with her one of her most devoted sons. Founder of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Panegyria Magazine, Spiral Scouts, The Pagan Information Network, and Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, Pete’s contribution to Wicca, and Pagan rights can never be overstated. From prison ministries, to Veterans rights, and his ability to standardize our faith through the Government, Pete’s legacy, and the freedoms enjoyed from his actions will be felt throughout the duration of Wicca on Earth.

Pete Pathfinder was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1937 to a Catholic father and Pagan mother. However it wasn’t until he was 37 years old that he himself fully entered into the Pagan world as a Wiccan initiate. Then in 1976, he relocated to Index, Washington — the place he would call home for the rest of his life.

Once established in Washington, Pete began to realize his dream of creating an oasis for local pagans. On Samhain 1979, Pete established the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC). In 1983, he himself initiated into the New Wiccan Church (Kingstone) tradition. Then, in the winter 1984, ATC members performed a ritual dedicating their own newly built MoonStone ritual circle, located on Pete’s property. From that point on, ATC began to grow and Pete’s dream evolved into something new; something bigger. He wanted to establish a legally-recognized Wiccan church.  - See more at: http://wildhunt.org/2014/11/pete-pathfinder-1937-2014.html#sthash.BbKEd4Zt.dpuf.  – see more at: http://wildhunt.org/2014/11/pete-pathfinder-1937-2014.html

Quotes about Pete from Facebook:

In Memory of PeteJeanine and Jon Lesniak: Jon and I had the honor of calling Pete “friend” for the better part of 25 years.Pete lived by his own advice and accomplished so much, and won so much respect for doing so. Blessed Be!

Friend: I have been truly blessed by my association with you. Your great work, your life, has been an inspiration to me. The time we have been able to spend together, has truly blessed and energized me. I will miss your biting wit, your keen mind, and your single minded focus.

Jacqueline Mackenzie: Like me, I am sure there are many Elders who have gone on to help seekers on their life’s pathway to spiritual enlightenment because Rt. Rev. Pete Pathfinder Davis was their Elder’s guide. The gifts that this teacher gave to me can neither be explained or even named on this plane. May his work be forever remembered in the hearts and minds of his students. May ATC continue to grow under those who he trusted to carry on n his physical absence regardless of what the future holds.

Community Member: Even though we knew his time was near, my heart is sad this night. Go softly into that good night, you will be missed.

Melissa Anderson: From us at Circle of Ancient Sisters, we offer condolences and much sadness this great loss to the Pagan Community.. we shall place a sacred candle on our alters around the world for yet another blessed elder..

Halo Stormchaser:I love you Pete. You have always been there for me and a joy in my life. I will miss you more then you know. I know I will see you again one day in the Summerlands. I will never forget you.

Reohad McCloud: Pete, I loved going out to visit you and sit in the library and talk. Thank you for all you have done to make the world a better place for pagans everywhere. Walk in Beauty

Gabriel Matson: “Mother of all, absorb the spirit of our loved one, back into your womb from which he was born, There, reshape him in your place of molding, preparing him for rebirth among his people.”
A book of Pagan Prayer, Ceisiwr Serith

Loved One: We were so blessed with the time that we spent with him, even with all of his health issues, he made sure to welcome us into his heart and life. We will miss him! Love and healing to you in this darkened time! Leave it to Pete to cross on exactly the 35th Anniversary of the ATC (his great work) and the thinnest of the veil.

Janice Brown: About 19 years ago I met Pete, he became one of my closest friends. In the 5 years that I lived in WA, became more that a friend, I called him “Dad”. He was my east coast dad as he and I would say. I spend many hours at the Tab helping out with festivals, rituals and other jobs as needed. While there Pete and I talked a lot, and over a short time he became a Dad to me. Even though I moved back to the east coast, my heart was still there with Pete and my Wa Family. Pete, you were my friend, teacher….and proud to say “my west coast Dad”. Your love and memory will always be in my heart. Rest in peace Dad…love you always.

Erin L Peterson: Pete Pathfinder married my wife and I in 2002 he counseled us several times before officiating the ceremony. He will be dearly missed…. Blessed be Pierre and Merry part…

The Community: May he rest in the arms of the Goddess.

For those that wish to come in perfect love and perfect trust to honor Pete’s passing, there will be several celebrations.  Please attend any or all events that suit you.

  • November 8th 2014Full Moon Memorial – Moonstone Circle, Index, WA
  • December 27th, 2014The Passing of the Holly King – Seattle, WA
  • April 2nd-5th, 2015Spring Mysteries Festival – Honoring Memorial for Pete, Fort Flagler, WA

 

BREAKING: Pierre Claveloux ‘Pete Pathfinder’ Davis has passed away.

Today at 6pm Pacific Time, Pierre Claveloux ‘Pete Pathfinder’ Davis was taken across the veil. He was surrounded by loved ones, and went peacefully in his bed. Today, on our most holy day, when the barrier between the Worlds was at its thinnest, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of his life’s work, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church; our Grandmother Hekate, Patron Goddess of our Order came across and brought home with her one of her most devoted sons. Founder of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Panegyria Magazine, Spiral Scouts, The Pagan Information Network, and Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, Petes contribution to Wicca, and Pagan rights can never be overstated. From prison ministries, to Veterans rights, and his ability to standardize our faith through the Government, Petes legacy, and the freedoms enjoyed from his actions will be felt throughout the duration of Wicca on Earth.

Pete Pathfinder: Born on Ostara, 1937. Crossed into the Summerlands on Samhain, 2014.

Please hold your phone calls until Nov. 2nd and give the family and church time to grieve. If you would like to post your condolences for the time being, please go to: https://www.facebook.com/ATCIntl 

Pete ‘Pathfinder’ Davis has crossed the veil

Today at 6pm Pacific Time, Pierre Claveloux ‘Pete Pathfinder’ Davis was taken across the veil. He Pete 'Pathfinder' Davidwas surrounded by loved ones, and went peacefully in his bed. Today, on our most holy day, when the barrier between the Worlds was at its thinnest, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of his life’s work, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church; our Grandmother Hekate, Patron Goddess of our Order came across and brought home with her one of her most devoted sons. Founder of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Panegyria Magazine, Spiral Scouts, The Pagan Information Network, and Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, Petes contribution to Wicca, and Pagan rights can never be overstated. From prison ministries, to Veterans rights, and his ability to standardize our faith through the Government, Petes legacy, and the freedoms enjoyed from his actions will be felt throughout the duration of Wicca on Earth.

Pete Pathfinder: Born on Ostara, 1937. Crossed into the Summerlands on Samhain, 2014.

Please hold your phone calls until Nov. 2nd and give the family and church time to grieve. If you would like to post your condolences for the time being, please go to: https://www.facebook.com/ATCIntl 

The Aquarian Tabernacle Churches Statement on the Tragedy of Jacob Crockett

The Aquarian Tabernacle Church would like to reach out to the city of Stillwater, Oklahoma in this time of darkness. 21 year old Isaiah Marin nearly decapitated 19 year old Jacob Crockett the son of an Oklahoma state trooper. Marin has been called a “religious zealot” and a “fanatical Christian” and Crockett was killed for his own religion; Wicca. We would like to remind Police Captian Randy Dickerson that Wicca is the fifth largest religion in the nation and this seems to be a crime of hate and prejudice, and that ruling out religion as a motive would be remiss. As a large, world-wide, Wiccan, Organization we would like to offer our condolences to the Crockett family and lend our support during these difficult times. Our church headquarters can be reached at 360-793-1945 and we invite those affected by this tragedy to reach out to us.

Happy Samhain – A Poem by Dusty Dionne

Happy Samhain by Dusty Dionne

Happy Samhain
Trick or Treat
Candied apples,
Spooks and sweets

Thinning veil
That holds the dread
of long lost loved ones
Long since dead

Skeletons walk
on Halloween night
Gargoyles circle
in stone aided flight

Witches in belfries
in conical hats
and blood sucking fiends
that turn into bats

Houses on Chicken Legs
Hop through the park
Werewolves’ own howling
ring through the dark

Muggles are running
back to their beds
from vision of ghouls
with long severed heads

The Children of Samhain
With cloaks pulled round tight
Walk with the deceased
On All Hallows Night

With hisses and boos
From graveyards of mist
and sullen long longing
From dead widows lips

Today is the night
And the night is today
When spirits and loved ones
return here to play

So under the covers
or out on the town
The spirits will find you
You’re not hiding, You’re found

So make up a dinner
Set it out for the dead
They’re ever so hungry
and long to be fed

And tomorrow upon waking
If you make it to morn
And your sanity’s in tact
Your clothes are untorn

And the sun looks upon you
smiles its smile
then forget not to sit
and pray for a while

Thank the creator
Say your’ Amens’
And know that last night
Will not happen again

At least not till next time
In exactly one year
When the veil’s at it’s thinnest
and the dead smell your fear

So enjoy this fair evening
And dance with great life
Which will honor the deadites
Who rile in strife

And come back and tell me
Your great tales of fear
And celebrate Samhain
The Celtic New Year.

A Message from a Unique Shaman

By Rev. Terry Riley HP SDCW – ATC

I was at a festival in Missouri last week and a young man who was autistic kept coming up to me and asking the same question. Now at first glance this didn’t seem that important. However, here recently I have been looking into mental illness and how it has been misunderstood by modern western medicine. Since our Church, Southern Delta Church of Wicca – ATC, as part of our community service has applied and going to be accepted as the local Chapter in NE Arkansas for NAMI, (National Association of Mental Illness) we have been looking at Mental Illness from a spiritual point of view.

In the olden days in most tribal cultures a mentally ill person was considered gifted or a Shaman not yet fully born. In our society they are looked upon differently as “Not Normal” so to speak. So they are shunned and carted off to be medicated because they are a burden on society and more often than not treated as someone to be pitied.

There is a great article by Doctor Madidoma Patrice Some’, a shaman of the Dagar people of Africa. He says that a person with mental illness signals “Good news from the other world” because a person with mental illness is a “Healer trying to be born” for the betterment of the community. For further reading here’s the link to the article: http://earthweareone.com/what-a-shaman-sees-in-a-mental-hospital/

I’ve always believed this and believe it even more now after having a special message given to me by one of these powerful individuals. During the festival he kept asking a question I did not know anything about. And he kept calling me, “Mr. Old Druid.” I was teaching at the Festival on how Wicca is moving into a new era and how our clergy needed to be trained not only in coven structure; but Church structure as well. I was also pointing out how we as Wiccans needed to be more proactive publicly, politically and promote the Faith as a religion of honor, integrity and dignity equal to other major faiths of the World. Now admittedly, I have caught flack over the years from some Wiccans who don’t see my point of view, probably even some who attended the festival. But I always end these talks with an analogy: “The religion of Wicca is the fastest growing religion in the United States, because it’s changing and growing. It’s like a Caravan that’s moving on. In the old days when caravans began to move there were always dogs running alongside the wagons barking. These dogs will continue to bark, not realizing they have a choice. They can jump on the caravan and ride it with us or stand there and bark, but the caravan is going to move on. What we have to explain to them is the fact that we are not leaving them behind. The fact is they’re choosing not to go with us.”

Witches in the News

While Paganism is typically a quiet, closed community that doesn’t attract much media attention, occasionally something will happen that brings out the media in droves.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here. Paganism does not get the best media coverage. It’s easy to point a finger at journalists and say “Do your job better!” but there are things that Pagans can do to help this process along.

Having gotten a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Washington University, I might be able to shed some light on how Pagans can start to see more accurate coverage that goes deeper than “What is Wicca? What is Paganism?”

There are two major types of coverage that you’ll be dealing with – breaking news and human interest.

For breaking news coverage, often there isn’t time for a journalist to have done their research before doing interviews. Be prepared for “obvious” questions (e.g. Do you worship Satan?). For these situations, it’s best to answer briefly and redirect the conversation to the news at hand. (e.g. No, we do not. We’re here at the courthouse today because…)

For human interest pieces, the journalist should have done their research before coming out for interviews. If they ask obvious questions like that, respectfully question them on how much research they’ve done on the topic before coming out to talk to you. Don’t tolerate the interview about your upcoming event or Sabbat focusing on how Pagans don’t worship Satan or eat babies. The contents of the interview will reflect the end piece. If they spend five minutes on the event and 30 on Wiccans not believing in Satan, expect a piece that doesn’t focus on your event at all.

On the flip side, expect questions about spelling or even offer it up before they ask (e.g. We’re celebrating the God Lugh – that’s L-U-G-H.) Offer additional contacts and be available for followup questions and fact-checking. Also, make your title clear. Are you a Reverend, Lord/Lady, a High Priest(ess), etc?

After the interview, be prepared for follow-up questions via email or phone, or be prepared for the copy-desk to call you to confirm facts/quotes/spellings.

Once it’s published, be sure to read it carefully and send it to other Pagans. If there is a mistake contact the outlet’s corrections department as soon as possible about it. Ask that they update the online version and run a print correction if it ran in the physical paper. This is standard procedure when a mistake happens – and mistakes do happen. Let them know you’re reading – and reading closely.

On a larger level, contact the Associated Press about their style guide. Ask them to clarify that Paganism should be capitalized if Christianity is and that Goddess should be if God is. Make it clear that you want equal representation. Until these are implemented into the AP Style Guide, it’s up to the reporters and editors and not much can be done regarding the discrepancies.

As always, be respectful, but it’s time to start demanding more coverage than the basics.

Walk like an Egyptian by Merhamet Miller

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The Season of Djehuti or Thoth
“Thoth, Wise Ibis, he of glib tongue
Record keeper, voice of Atum Ra,
You witness all, You speak only wisdom
Please guide me in my words today.
May I hear your voice through the words of others
And listen, sending them to my heart
So that I may grow into being emerald green
And pleasing in sight and sound like you…”—-Merhamet

This season we celebrate Thoth and this is who we must walk with this summer. His original name to the Egyptians was Djehuti/Tjehuti (Day-who-tee). Most of us see him as a God with a pen in his hand and a tablet, and yet we know because of his transformation through the Greeks and the Middle Ages he became the God who is considered the Author of the “Emerald Tablets”. Thus, the God that was originally seen as the “Voice of Ra” and “Glib of Tongue” and “Wise” was transformed into the “Magician’s God”.

One of his most relevant transformations in our modern times is that of the “God of Technology” for living in an era where technology is part of everything he “soothes us” and shows us “how it can aid us” and helps us maintain balance with it. Unlike many primitive Gods or Goddesses that rail against technology, or seem to shy away from it Thoth encourages us to embrace it…for it is a gift, and he is part and parcel of that invention.

He was originally paired with a Goddess named Seshat as his mate. She was the Goddess who lived in libraries, and organized the Akashic records which he himself had created and gathered and put into physical form. She also created mathematics, was called the Silicon Goddess and so it becomes apparent that in the beginning Thoth was partnered with a Goddess/feminine energy that was his counterpart in all things.

Together they created the record banks that people of all spiritual paths access when they meditate, journey, or ask a question and receive an answer from their Spirit guide. Many people also see the Library that Seshat and Thoth created as a history of the universe; and feel that the “truth” of who they are and what we are “here for” lies within that space. So we find that many, who worship Thoth, see him as the historian and approach him not only for information about past lives, their purpose, but also ask him to help them write their personal history.

In the mid to later dynasties Thoth became paired/married to Maat the Goddess of Truth, Justice, and a “philosophy” of life. While many modern Pagans have a problem seeing Thoth switch wives we tend to forget that in Ancient times it was not uncommon to have more than one wife or even husband (especially in Egypt) and that the Egyptians many times merged deities into a new one when the function of the older deity became mute. In short, Seshat lost favor and was forgotten by the people and Maat emerged as part and parcel of the daily life of Egyptians.

“Walk in Maat”, “May you live in Maat”, “May your Maat be strong”, we phrases said to friends, family, strangers, guests, and rulers in Egypt on a daily basis so it is not unusual that Thoth was paired with this Goddess whose daily invocation was part of Egyptian life. It shows us how necessary, and essential he was to the Egyptians themselves. Thoth and Maat were a pair, and that both of them were what ruled and made Egypt wonderful (to the Egyptians) was understood.

You may wonder why I am explaining Thoth through other deities, but to be honest there are not many surviving records or stories of Thoth that are told without him being described without other Gods and Goddesses being involved. It is as if he and the Gods of Egypt are part and parcel. Nut, and Geb who gave birth to Isis, Set, Osiris, Hathor, Horus the Elder, and Nephthys would not be here if it were not for him. He constantly intervenes with Atum Ra, Khefru, Khhnum, Ptah, he is the “intercessor” of the Great Judgment halls where all the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt convene and meet constantly to discuss how they would handle issues or things. He is the reason there is “order” and “chaos” he would not let Horus the younger slay Set for to do so would eliminate chaos from which everything is created. He made Ra, call back Hathor/Sekhmet so that all of humanity was not slain. He is the voice of reason and wisdom and it is recorded that most, if not all, Pharaohs kept the priest and priestesses of this God as the Chief Adviser when running their kingdom for they were literally a medium for “Thoth” who advised them on what they should do.

Thoth ColorSo how did he become to be called the “God of Magick”? All Gods and Goddesses of Egypt were Neter and were Heka (magick) and employed Heka; Isis was considered the “Queen of Heka” and there was a God named Heka who gave the energy of magick form. It should be noted that the “Emerald Tablets of Thoth” is attributed to Hermes Trismesgitus (Hermes thrice born, or Hermes thrice greatest) it is the foundation for the philosophy Hermetica which is a legendary Hellenistic Greek telling of philosophy, history, and story of transmutation(you know iron to gold), the Philosopher’s stone and much more.

Hermes was the Greek name or version of Thoth; though he does not resemble the Thoth of the Egyptians but this does not seem to bother Modern Pagans. What many also forget, when reading this text is that it a composition written by someone claiming to be the “third incarnation of Thoth” and while that is not a far stretch for worshipers of him to believe, in actuality the text seems to be an Arabic work written during the 6th or 7th century (Arabic and Turkish dialects are what modern Egyptians speak even today). If you are a worshiper of Thoth and have never read the work, you should and it is up to you to decide if you feel the work is “legitimate” and “Thoth-like” or “worthy” or not.

Myself, I do not find it a far stretch of imagination to believe that Thoth evolved this far, or would finally share his history and I have found the work interesting especially his description of the “fall of Atlantis”, and his role in it. The magick, and history shared in this book establishes Thoth as the God of Magick and very ancient indeed, and makes many of us forget his roles of : the harbinger of technology, the God of Wisdom, the historian, he who has a ‘glib tongue’, the voice of Atum Ra, he who dispenses the offerings equally, the great arbitrator, the scribe, the creator and maintainer of Akashic records. In fact, I feel if we approach Thoth, like many of us do as “Just the GOD of” Magick it might be why he rebukes us and walks away. He has so much more depth than this, and has so much more wisdom and knowledge to share.

How can we worship Thoth in the 21st century? Why not take a practical approach? When you use technology (cell phones, internet, calculator, computer) ask Thoth to help you or dedicate it to Thoth! When you need wisdom ask Thoth for help. When you need to speak clearly, and smoothly…call on this deity. When it seems life has handed you chaos, and you are seeking to transform it call on Thoth. When you mediate, or journey, or astral travel call on Thoth! But most importantly, remember this lay out an offering to him (beer and bread are favorites) but in modern times the Gods love anything that you love! Thank him for his role in your life, or just for being present in this modern world! Take the time to delve in deep with this deity and see that his hand is on our civilization everywhere. This is a deity that will not die, crumble, or go away, he just evolves, and provokes us with the development of Technology. His time is here once again…and it cannot end badly; if we just listen to his wisdom.

“Man is in the process of changing, to forms that are not of this world; grows he in time to the formless, a plane on the cycle above. Know ye, ye must become formless before ye are one with the light.”~ The Emerald Tablets of Thoth

Hail and Welcome People of the Woods

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July 2014 Interview of Maeve and Greybeard, The People of The Woods

 

I heard Lady Bella speak once on the topic of silk worm silk v. spider silk. She said that the silk produced by spiders is so much stronger and better than the silk produced by silk worms, but the process cannot be duplicated. Silk worms are dumped into a bin and left over night and in the morning there is a pile of silk, but if you dumped spiders into a bin and left them over night in the morning you would have one fat and very full spider and no silk. Obviously this is the most simplistic description of what is truly a complex process. But think for a moment of the paradigms involved. One is a group that works together to accomplish their goals, the other is a group that literally consumes each other and by proxy itself. In this way, we as Pagan’s, have an opportunity to choose our path. We can be one who contributes to the good of the whole, one who chooses to share resources and in turn one who receives the benefit of shared assets, both tangible and metaphysical.

The Aquarian Tabernacle Church offers a unique opportunity to solitary practitioners and independent groups in that they have the chance to step under the umbrella of ATC, be embraced in love and fellowship, and be granted support by becoming an affiliate. For the groups or solitaries out there who struggle along on their own the chance to affiliate with ATC can be a wondrous sharing of experience, ideas, and affections. In that vein I asked Maeve and Greybeard, leaders of ATC’s newest affiliate, to sit down with a Kurious Kitie and share their decision.

 

We met at Goddess Fest, an annual festival held in picturesque Julia Davis Park, which is located in downtown Boise, Idaho. Maeve was a striking woman with silver hair and bright eyes that flashed with wisdom. She had a commanding bearing and I thought that I could sit at her feet and learn for eons. Greybeard was a darling grandfatherly sort with twinkling eyes, rosy cheeks, and an enormous grey beard worthy of his name. With his joviality and warm smile he made me think of hot apple cider, fruit cake and holiday carols, reminiscent of Father Christmas.

KK: Thank you both so much for sitting down with me. I really appreciate the chance to rifle through your brains.

Maeve (M): Thank you for asking us, Kitie. We love the chance to share our beliefs with others.

KK: Tell me, what is the full name of your circle?

Greybeard (G): The People of the Woods; Church of the Old Religion.

KK: I asked you here because you decided to affiliate with the ATC. I think that is kind of amazing and I wanted to find out more about you, your church, and your decision.

Maeve shared with me that she and Greybeard had been together for over 17 years. In that time Greybeard had also been a longtime friend of Pete Pathfinder and the decision to affiliate with ATC had been in the forefront of their minds for the last decade.

G: I first met Pete at a COG convention…

KK: COG?

G: Covenant of the Goddess. At one of their conventions in the 90’s.

Greybeard had heard some stories about disagreement among affiliates in the Seattle area. The details of which were foggy, but he wasn’t surprised because disharmony among circles was the norm.

G: At that time I was the High Priest of a church called Our Lady of the Woods. I maintained a loose contact with Pete, sometimes just having exchanged web addresses on our websites. Back then the ATC website always had a countdown clock to Spring Mysteries, but I was living too far away to go. I wanted to pursue an affiliate at that time, but the group, as often happens, split in two.

KK: Forgive me, I’m still a new born in most things Pagan and I sort of have a million and one questions. So, when you tell me that groups often split, do you mean that in the sense of birthing a new church where your dedicants go and form a new church or do you mean some sort of disharmonious rending?

G: They divide into separate covens and split off.

M: Disagreements sometimes happen, but more often what happens as we train up coveners [M and G's term for members of a coven], after a few years in the dedicant stage they may be mature enough to want to do something of their own. They may end up being HP & HPs and we’ll be coveners, I don’t know, but we want to make that process smooth for them, because it is a natural maturation process. Part of our tradition is that we have certain things that we share and hold in common that we want to pass on. Another part of that tradition is being flexible and allowing for change, because there is a lot of spontaneity and creativity in the way that we do rituals. We welcome that and include peoples ideas and creativity and let them have the chance to develop authority and that kind of attitude on the part of coven leaders… ya know, sometimes you find it and sometimes you don’t.

Maeve chuckled softly, tossing her hand up, eyes rolled high  her passion for mentoring brought her to the edge of her seat.

M: There is a lot of variety in the way covens actually work out over time.

We like the autonomy that the ATC promises to local covens. That you can be autonomous and still be affiliated.KK: That is a really positive healthy attitude and I really appreciate that. That’s really what I meant when I said that it’s really eye opening for me when you say that it is common for them to split. It seems that it would be the natural evolution of a group to grow and eventually hive off.

M: Sometimes it’s negative and sometimes it’s positive, but it’s allowed for in a lot of the books. That as they grow they begin to want to do things in their way and then they go out and form a new coven and that is how we grow.

G: People and relationships grow and change after a few years.

M: Often people move and this way they can take what they have learned with them and share it with others.

G: The People of the Woods, was first formed in Los Alamos, New Mexico and then moved to Albuquerque. We used the state symbol of New Mexico, the symbol of the Zia Pueblo people, because it is on the state flag. There’s been some legal battles because the Zia Pueblo claim the state stole the symbol from them, but we stole it from both of them, so we have no pride.

His beard twitched with rosy cheeked laughter and I saw a glimpse of the mischievous boy he must have been. 

G: We can worship the sun ourselves.

KK: What made you want to come to the ATC then?

G: We dropped out of COG in the 1990’s, Maeve finished her PhD and we moved to find a job for her. Our other coven members moved to different places, the original group dissolved, so we started inviting people to join near Spokane, but Maeve was so busy with scholarly work and we didn’t have a lot of time to spend on it. I did networking in the Spokane area with other pagans. I would sometimes travel to Pagan festivals doing teachings and rituals as an honored guest.

Greybeard shared that the legal battle involving the Church of Iron Oak drew his attention back to the ATC. During their campaign he contributed to their legal defense fund and re-immersed himself in the trail blazed by Pete Pathfinder. Now relocated in Washington, they were finally able to participate in Spring Mysteries. Impressed by the professionalism of the ATC staff, they also took the chance to meet Jon and Jeanine Lesniak of Golden Thread Grove (A Boise ATC Affiliate) They had not realized how large the ATC had grown and they were amazed at the number of affiliates.

G: We liked a lot of the things we found with the ATC. We want to work with the broader Pagan community all over the country. Our decision in part was that we wanted to support the ATC in what they are doing. I think it’s good for our religion and for ourselves.

M: The short version was that I got tenure, I became department chair and I finally had time and really wanted larger ties. The move to Washington has caused a lot of growth for us.

G: We like the autonomy that the ATC promises to local covens. That you can be autonomous and still be affiliated. You don’t have to do everything the ATC way, exactly. And then, they are Wiccan and we are Wiccan and that works out real well. In these days where there are so many kinds of Pagans, it is nice that they are officially Wiccan. Bella’s nice!

KK: (laughs)

M: The ATC manages at the same time to have clear principles and standards that they are very specific about and at the same time the people are very loving. The whole atmosphere and the energy is very positive.

Maeve and Greybeard attended Spring Mysteries again in 2014. It was their second pilgrimage to Fort Flagler and this trip was special to them. Having made the decision to affiliate, they didn’t make the journey alone. They brought a few coveners with them to share in the blessings of the Mysteries. The couple met with Lady Bella at the sea side cottage. It was there closeted with other third degrees, affiliates, and WSTS professors,  that Lady Belladonna welcomed them into the group and announced them as the ATC’s newest affiliate. The pair were shocked yet pleased, because they had not yet turned in their paperwork or told the Lady of their decision.

KK: She just knows sometimes.

M: We were glad because we had made the decision and it was a warm welcome.

She went on to describe her own personal dark night of the soul being tied to a destructive individual who claimed to have leaning toward the priesthood. After freeing herself and rediscovering her own worth, Maeve was blessed with a chance meeting with Starhawk.KK: How did you personally come to a pagan path?

G: I was raised in the Episcopal Church but I never really got it. Then I spent 20 years looking around for something better. In my early 40’s I met a woman who shared hobbies with me and we really hadn’t been following any religion at all, but I spent time out in the woods communing with the trees and after a discussion with her I found out the whole Pagan thing existed. There was no Pagan Pride in those days, and if there had been I don’t know that I would have gone to it or known enough about it to go.

Greybeard went on to describe his path of apprenticeship for three years before becoming High Priest of his, then, coven. The group that he had studied with was called the Temple of the Pagan Way in Chicago, a Quasi-Gardnerian group.

G: Fairly recently we were contacted by the original founder of the Temple of the Pagan Way, who over the years had lost most of their material. They are trying to reconstruct their history and documents and they contacted me.

KK: Wow! That’s amazing.

G: I have been supplying them with copies of the material.

M: He saves everything.

G: My file cabinet of shadows never fails! A book of shadows is nice, but a file cabinet… It’s a lot more space and you can be very organized. In the 90’s we developed a disc of shadows on DOS. As computers evolved we changed our format so the disc went away, but the file cabinet stayed.

Once my giggling was under control, Maeve continued with her story.

M: I also was raised kind of Episcopalian… well I wasn’t anything for a while, but I was a very religious child. I sought out churches and finally my family gave up and started taking me to a couple of churches so I wouldn’t get baptized into something weird.

KK: Whoa! That’s very open of them.

M: Yeah, I guess so. I never thought of it that way, but I guess it is.

KK: It sounds like they helped you make your own way rather than force you into something.

M: Nobody forced me. (laughing) I would go to the church down on the corner and get my little sister up and dressed and take her with me, but otherwise it was by myself. Then we went to the Episcopal Church for a couple of years. I found it really satisfying in so many ways. It was wonderful training in ceremonial magic, so I learned a lot with ritual and I really appreciate that. Then as an adult, I found it increasingly unsatisfying. I decided that my relationship was actually kind of addictive. I would feel the need of something, go to church and at that time I was going to church that had a lot of formal services. The kind of intense rituals and then at the end I would just want to go again. It was like an addictive cycle. It was no good. Maeve hit this slump of discontent in the mid-70’s. At the time she was a 20-something grad student, and she reasoned that with her knowledge of ritual and mythology, she had a strong enough foundation to form her own religion. She researched Goddess figures and started writing her own rituals, based on what fit her spiritual needs.

M: I decided that I would figure out what I need! In the mid-70’s there were not a lot of books around, and it took me a while realize that I had kind of reinvented witchcraft! (laughing) I thought, “Oh wait a minute! I know what this is!” It was kind of weird, but that was my introduction to the Pagan path.

She went on to describe her own personal dark night of the soul being tied to a destructive individual who claimed to have leaning toward the priesthood. After freeing herself and rediscovering her own worth, Maeve was blessed with a chance meeting with Starhawk. She connected with a coven of women and they worked together for years, learning and growing together. When that chapter drew to a close that she met Greybeard.

M: This taught me that what we have, what we do is so rooted into our natural connection to the Earth and its cycles. It can be destroyed, but it comes back because we pay attention to the cycles and the seasons, to what gives us pleasure and meaning and what life is about and then we can recover that knowledge. So, I invented witchcraft! Not many people know that. (laughing)

KK: (laughing) Amazing! You’ve given me so much material already, but I feel like there is a little more there. Since affiliating with ATC, what has been the most surprising?

M: When we go to ATC events people remember our names and give us big hugs. I’m really shocked at that. I’m not used to being so welcomed. I will add that Jon (HP of Golden Thread Grove, Boise affiliate) doesn’t always remember names, but that’s ok because we don’t always remember names. “Oh it’s you!” (laughing)There are some things you can do with numbers, with a public presence that you just can’t do without it. KK: If there was one specific thing that your group could lend to the ATC as a whole, what would that be?

M: We were talking about that last night. We see that Jon and Jeanine are doing work at Hekate’s Sickle and our feeling about that is, for the two of us that we have decided to be old. I mean, we’re pushing 70 and I’m getting past middle age and we’re getting into the time where I’m ok to say “old” and that is going to be my excuse for sitting down and letting other people work. But we have some new coveners who are young, some of them are very young. We are building a new generation and bringing new coveners into ATC and getting them over to experience the Mysteries and Sickle. So, what I want to give to ATC and to the world in general is another generation. To give them the means to continue growing and building our work. And what we can give them is some wisdom from our 40-50 years in this practice and stability, including some financial stability. We are able to contribute more than a lot of groups will. So, I think that there’s some benefits of age that we have and then being able to raise up another generation that will continue their work, I hope.

KK: You damn kids, get off my lawn!

M: (laughing)

G: I think being an ATC presence in the Spokane, Eastern Washington area is a benefit to the ATC in general because the mother church is primarily on the western side, and being able to network and build up the ATC is quite a gift.

M: That’s an excellent point. Greybeard is wonderful at networking.

G: We have met a group that is already working with the Greek and Roman pantheons and bringing them into the Spring Mysteries is a gift. Also, being able to join into Goddess Fest to support other groups is wonderful, it’s a little closer to Spokane than Seattle. I would like to get involved with helping the overall national organization a little bit. Bella is extremely loving and magical, she has a lot of work to do to keep this organization going and I see some of that… having areas where it might need some help. Contracts is my professional field. I don’t know where I can help with that, but as time goes on I’m hoping to help out some there.

KK: to G – You know, Dusty is very good, where if you tell him you want to work, he will find something for you to do, so there are going to be plenty of opportunities. To M – When you were saying that it’s OK to be old, I was thinking of this African Proverb that says “When an elder dies a library burns down.” That is always what I think of when I meet someone who accepts their age and who accepts their position to pass on their wisdom to a younger generation.

M: That’s very sweet. I’ve heard that proverb before, that’s the kind of wisdom that comes from an oral tradition and really ours historically is an oral tradition. We both feel a lot of need and desire to pass on what know and to create the circumstances where coveners can have those experiences for themselves. We really do want to share what we have experienced, valued, and learned to next generation.

KK: Is there anything that you would like to add that I haven’t already thought to ask?

M: I would like to add that I think that the ATC as an organization of affiliates is doing important work. It is so easy for small Pagan groups to feel isolated. The cultural environment has changed, but it’s not as different as we would like. There are some things you can do with numbers, with a public presence that you just can’t do without it. Just like there are some things you can do if you have a group that you can’t do in solitary practice, in terms of the energy or just in terms of creating a kind of public safety space for us to be Pagan’s. So, I think the affiliation process is really important. One of the reasons we wanted to do this is that we wanted to add to that network that Pete has done a lot to create.

Maeve called over a tall, statuesque woman. She was introduced to me as Aria, a member of their coven. Aria’s hair was blonde and lovely, with a face both open and honest, if a little fresh.

KK: You joined The People of the Woods and you came all the way from Spokane to celebrate with us this weekend?

She said “Yes.” with a pleasant smile.

KK: We love that! What drew you to their church?

Aria: I was listening to Maeve talk, and I felt this way all my life and didn’t have a name for it. I was just feeling like I needed to develop it and I was searching on the internet and found the link on Witchvox. I sent them an email and we started talking and it’s just been the best. I feel complete and I hadn’t felt that in a long time… well, ever.

KK: That’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. To Greybeard and Maeve – Now for the fun questions! What is your favorite ice cream?

M: Sadly, I am lactose intolerant, after finding that it took 5 years to give it up. But I used to like French vanilla chocolate, but now I have to subsist with sorbet. That’s not really ice cream.

G: My favorite is orange with chocolate chips. But it is rare and hard to find, the last orange I found was at a Haagan-Dazs in the Atlanta zoo. About 15 years ago, I found an ice cream shop in Seattle that made their own, orange freckle ice cream. It was delicious. That’s my favorite, when I can get it.

KK: Ok one more. If you were on another planet looking at this planet through a telescope, what would you name the planet or constellation?

M: The whole galaxy? And what language would we be speaking?

G: Fred. Fred I think.

M: I think it would have to be something untranslatable that would sound kind of like Klingon. Translated as the galaxy of trees.

KK: Awesome!

M: I would suspect that the trees are very important and I don’t know why.

G: I should speak to Jon about this! We are celebrating John Barley Corn and you cannot get a glass of John anyplace.

M: I thought about that and I trust that he has tried to get that to happen and cannot. I suspect city ordinances has something to do with that.

With hugs, tears, and laughter I thanked Maeve and Greybeard for their time and wisdom. They left me feeling simultaneously exhausted and energized. My questions were answered and a thousand more spawned. The ATC is truly blessed to add such incredible people into their fold. I hope to visit them again so Greybeard can regale me with tales of the Salem Witchtrials and Maeve can blow my mind with her knowledge of mythology. I hope that by reading this, others will have the chance to dine on a meal rich in wisdom, loaded with experience, garnished with humility and washed down with a tall glass of John.

Hail and Welcome, People of the Woods.

 

As always, Send any topics you would like discussed or questions you would like answered to me at Tiffanyafarlow@gmail.com. Feel free to comment below.