1. a tall, upright, stone often erected to denote sacred sites, or as sentinels.
Many of you are aware my deteriorating health is the reason why I spend almost all of my time in our bedroom upstairs at the Tab. It’s why I have lost contact with most of you, my friends, who I love very deeply. Because there seems to be some misunderstanding about a couple of things, I think it best that I clear them up myself. My isolation at the church isn’t a choice or a way to avoid anyone, it’s a practical matter and increasingly, a medical necessity. I have what’s called pulmonary fibrosis, a creeping degeneration of the lungs’ functional tissue.
Getting out of our second floor bedroom here at the TAB isn’t easy for me. My lung air volume is almost unchanged from a year ago (when it was 53% of normal), but its ability to put oxygen into my bloodstream has dropped and slowed since then. This limits my activity even more. Any small exertion causes an immediate drop. The short 30’ trip to the bathroom and back, even though I am still connected to my oxygen, causes my O2 to drop sharply to 75-80% and sometimes lower. Most of you could run around the block once or twice before your O2 got that low. Anything below 88% is considered critical. For me, that’s a double-hit: I can’t get any exercise, and if I do I can’t breathe. If I don’t exercise, my muscles shrink away, and have no real appetite compared to before. I can’t win, but I’m hanging in there as best I can.
There just isn’t enough functioning lung left to get the necessary oxygen into my bloodstream fast enough. Although, I’ve always been told “talking too much” has been a lifelong problem for me, I now have to limit my talking. It interferes with my breathing rhythm and oxygen absorption by causing me to breathe through my mouth rather my nose (where plenty O2 is available at the end of a hose). These days, I just can’t take in O2 as fast as I burn it up. I used to be able to do everything for myself and do everything physical the ATC needed; now I can’t do anything without a frustrating struggle. For a guy who has been an unstoppable workaholic for most of my adult life, that’s hard to accept and adjust to.
All my friends should understand I can only have 1 or 2 visitors at a time, and then only for a few minutes until I need rest before I can manage any more exertion or conversation. If you’d like to come up for a short visit, please ask my dear wife E’bet or APs Bella to see if I am up to it. If you can’t find E’bet or Bella to ask, just pick up any phone anywhere in the TAB and dial 23 on the intercom and ask me directly. (If I don’t answer, I’m probably napping.) Understand that even on “good” days, I can’t talk for very long. If I start coughing a lot or breathing hard, it’s probably a good time for you to decide to end our visit, but I’ll leave that to you. Some days are better than others.
HOW DID I GET HERE?
I knew this was coming. As a young man in my late 30s, I had a bad workplace chemical spill exposure that apparently did me more damage than anyone imagined. It took years for the latent damage to surface. I’m sorry my health has gotten this bad this suddenly, but make no mistake; I am happy with my life and happy to have been able to work full-time with all of you, to facilitate the ATC being recognized as a legitimate and respectable Wiccan/Pagan church. Working together, we’ve accomplished much for Paganism. Not just in the Pacific Northwest, but everywhere. The tolerance and respect we have gained from mainstream faiths is real, the result of a concerted effort by many Wiccans across the world.
Back when I turned 50 or thereabouts (the early 80s) I think I realized what my life’s mission was really to be, and why I was put here. My business successes, political experience and my elected and appointed government service suddenly all came into focus for me: it was the Goddess’s way of giving me all the skills I needed to do Her works. I was blessed enough to be able to focus the rest of my life on educating our civil culture and mainstream religions about Wicca and Paganism. At that moment I knew what the job required – all skills I had already learned – and where I had to go with them.
Compost Coven’s Mabel Jo Steen (“Mother Moth”) had recently moved back to Seattle, and we met at that time when she attended ATC’s first Solitary Convention in Index, the only “tent camp-out” at the Tab. Jo asked me to accept the responsibility to keep and care for the Hecate Shrine, statuary she had commissioned for San Francisco’s first Spiral Dance ceremony a few years earlier, in an unsuccessful attempt to do what Jo had now discovered we were actually doing here in Washington. Ever since then grandmother Hecate, my patron goddess, was always at my back, whispering in my ear and tactically protecting my rear in battle, and following me with her torch held high, lighting my way forward. I always heeded Her advice unquestioned. So far, so good.
Twenty odd years later, Raymond Buckland, renowned High Priest and author of over 35 Craft books, set my goals even higher when in his encyclopedic “Witch Book,” he said, “Founded in 1979 by Peter[sic] Pathfinder Davis, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) has grown by leaps and bounds, to become one of the most respected Wiccan institutions in the country, if not the world.” What better recommendation or higher praise and honors could any group have from anyone?
I’ve always been aware of and comfortable with my mortality and my waning health. I’ve always said that life is a terminal disease. So, before I got too old and sick, I did what was necessary to assure the continuity of competent and willing leadership, with little to no risk of ATC drying up when I pass away. Bella is doing me proud. She is excelling at the things I used to do daily, successfully overseeing our college-level seminary programs, organizing our festivals, and returning to the in-depth teaching of traditional magical studies. She took on a tough job (mine and hers) and deserves everyone’s renewed and ongoing help and support.
Now I’m reading all the books I didn’t have time to read before, and waiting for Mother Hecate to show up, torch in hand, to light my path ahead. This time, She will have to lead the way because I’m not sure of where She’s taking me! I’m in no hurry.
NOISE AT THE GATHERINGS
The muffled noise and laughter I hear downstairs when there’s a gathering is food for my soul. Sure, from time to time I may be a bit cranky about something, but I’m in my late 70s remember, and don’t think it’s personal. I’m probably just frustrated at some small, annoying thing I can’t seem to be able to do any more, like get my slippers on (or off). I’ve spent a third of my life building the ATC and the sounds, the drumming, the laughter and the chanting all came with the job and are actually joy to my heart. Please, don’t stop making that joyful noise.
Be well, and thank you for supporting the ATC and our Archpriestess, Bella.
Enjoy your time when you’re here. Be assured that I am doing the same.
With all my love and appreciation,
Pete Pathfinder Davis Archpriest & ATC founder