Kindness, Compassion and Love: A Quiet Yet Potent Personal Revolution

I know you would never think of kindness and compassion and self-love, as something to be a revolutionary act. Yet a few months ago while 2016 was slowly coming to a close, I posted on Facebook this little blip on my approach to activism:

My activism is a quiet yet potent one. I treat all people with respect and consideration. I’m open to another person’s point of view even when they differ from mine.

For I do not have all the answers. I am willing to do my best to want to understand someone, than to judge and condemn. I’m not perfect in this. Yet I know I do the best I can and fortunately that this is what I am able to do most of the time.

Well this little blip on Facebook got a conversation going between myself and Melissa Welsh:

She shared how being kind is a huge deal. That also kindness shouldn’t be a big deal, yet sadly in the world today during these times it is a very big deal.

She sadly had a very good point as to why kindness seems a rare thing in the world today. We are encouraged on so many fronts to be afraid of this and of that, of this group of people and that group. We are encouraged to judge and condemn one another. We are told how to be, what to do, what to say, what to wear and so much more, so we can be acceptable, to be loved. Then we are faced with the fact most of us feel that others can’t relate or understand us, our lives , our challenges.

In fact most of us feel like we are the only ones facing challenges. Too many of us also feel like life hates us, life is too hard, that life is out to get us and that all that people know how to do is use us.  We live in constant stress and overload. So it isn’t a surprise that most people are in what I’ve come to understand as Survival Mode.

In this mode, that way too many of us live, kindness and human decency can go out the door. We often operate from a very enclosed space that is filled with our stress and worries, it is the only thing we see most days and we lose touch with one another and even ourselves. We lose touch with the rest of life. The part of life that is beautiful, friendly, amazing and surprising. The part of life that makes us smile and laugh and get a glimpse of joy.

As this conversation moved along and another in person conversation in December that I had with  Kenya Coviak  it got to the important part of what this article is about:

Kindness, Compassion & Love starts with us, with each individual, with each person that looks in a mirror!

The three of us, in these different conversations got to the core of why kindness is a big deal. Most of us struggle with loving and accepting ourselves. We struggle with being gentle, kind and understanding with ourselves.

We keep being stuck on the hamster wheel of thinking love, kindness and compassion comes from outside ourselves.

That if only we have this or that, wear this or that and so forth and all of this just so we can be loved, accepted and feel good about ourselves. It’s an even tougher thing for those of us that in one way or another ended up being different.We have mental and emotional things that make us different. Our skin color, our body shape, hair, eyes that makes us different. We have temperaments, personalities and intelligences that make us different. We hold different beliefs and opinions of our families, religions and so many other ways that make us different. Sadly we are not encouraged to celebrate and honor these differences.

So how do we get to that place of being able to love and be kind and compassionate toward ourselves?

There are many ways to getting to that place of love. So let me guide you through some of this. First order of business:

Look in a mirror at least 3 times a day, then as loudly or as quietly for you may have folks in the house or place of work, yet say: I love You!

I know that may seem too simplistic and silly too, yet I tell you it starts the process, it gets the ball rolling. I start you to with a mirror because that sort of puts you outside of you. Let’s face it we can say we love our kids our, partner, friends and many others. Yet we struggle with saying that and feeling that for ourselves. So a mirror is a good place to start. And because there is great power in words and voice it is important that you speak the words I love you!. So yes shout those three words or whisper those three words at least 3 times a day.

Then I have another step I share with you, it is something I do for myself I sing this, chant it or just speak it at least 2 times in a day. Here it is:

I love myself!

I love my life!

All the way through

the deepest depths

the highest heights.

All the way around

and all within

I love myself!

I love my life!

Another thing I chant, sing or speak and I suggest you do this one also 2 times a day is this one:

Oh dear love!

With these eyes let me see

the love that is shining down.

With these feet let me feel:

the love that is rising up.

With these ears let me hear

the love that is all around.

And with this heart and mind

know the love that is within,

everything, everyone and everywhere!

This is just your start! I start you out this way for you start to love yourself, your life and realize that love is there within you and is all around! This gives you a good foundation and also the energies needed to start the next part. Which is deprogramming yourself, disconnecting yourself from all that stuff that tells you, that you are not lovable or that you can’t love yourself or that you can’t know love till this or that happens or this or that you have to have in order to love yourself and your life.

I want to share with you a teacher that writes some wonderful books on how to free ourselves from our programming and how to live a life in which we love ourselves and our lives and can live it with joy. The first book I read of this teacher’s works was suggested to me during a growth and healing spurt that being challenging. I was at ConVocation during that time and some things were being stirred up when somebody recommended Miguel Ruiz’s book: “The Four Agreements“. I didn’t know what to expect. The book isn’t a thick one and it was the first I had heard of this person. Yet I am so glad I bought the book.  Let me share a bit of those agreements:

The Four Agreements: By Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be Impeccable with your World:

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

As you can see just by this introduction, that these agreements are about learning to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves. These agreements help us to not use our words against ourselves or others. That it is alright to communicate yourself clearly about how you feel, what you want and to not be afraid to ask questions. These agreements teach us so much more. And Don Miguel Ruiz’s approach is gentle. It at times felt like I was sitting in front of a loving Great Grandparent that is sharing what life has taught them. I also highly recommend don Miguel Ruiz’s other books for further reading.

Other authors I recommend is Nirmala and Gina Lake. Both of these authors have much to share on how to love yourself and getting free of the programming that keeps you trapped in the loop of not loving yourself.  A couple of both of these authors are:

Nirmala

Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self

Living From the Heart

Gina Lake

Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy

Trusting Life: Overcoming Fear and Beliefs That Blocks Peace and Happiness

There are many other authors and teachers I could share. But I know what I am sharing is a lot in this writing. But each of the mentioned authors can be great guides helping you to deprogram yourself. Will help you learn how to love yourself even when things are challenging and you make mistakes. They will give you a great foundation that will make the next recommendation a bit less challenging with time.

Unplug yourself and start limiting your media interactions.I would suggest start by limiting the amount of news and commercials you watch or listen to. I know I know, I can hear it the What! and such. And I want you to know I’m not suggesting that all media is bad or that all news sources are bad for us. But it does help to unplug ourselves some from certain parts of the media. For let’s face it, most news is all about all the hurtful ways we harm each other, or compete against each other.You are lucky if the news on TV can even share one positive event that happened, save this team or that team won, or hey tomorrow is going to be a sunny day. News on TV can really can get us spooked and stressed.

So yes unplug from the news some. Then commercials sit there and tells us what will make us cool, interesting and such. Commercials will tell us this or that can fix us.  Yes I know when you are watching a show you want to stay on top of things with that show. Yet it is a good thing to watch a lot less commercials. The other area in our lives with media is, social media.

I love social media. It lets me stay in touch with people I meet at festivals and ConVocation and also with some of my family. Yet I know that with social media comes all that sharing of information. Some of it is great and fantastic. But some of it will stress us out and put us in a place of fear. With most social media engines working on watching your likes and loves or even what you hate. They go by what we are responding to!!!So you see on a day you get on and most of what you are seeing is this and that going wrong somewhere or somehow.Don’t click on every single one of them and don’t click the emotes showing how you felt about said thing.

Limit your responses for what lifts you up or what encourages to love yourself or what might help in a difficult yet positive way to see something different about yourself or your life. I know this is a radical idea.

Yet I tell you as a highly sensitive empath  and highly functional Autistic person, cutting out some of that media does a world of good to ease some stress in our lives. Helps us not feel so overwhelmed. We start feeling less fearful. We also start being able to really get to know ourselves and what we really want, because we aren’t getting hammered as much by others telling us what’s good or not good for us through the media. So just do your best to limit some of your media time and what you take in as you look and read.

I know this has been an extensive sharing of things. Yet I know that it is a needed thing for each of us to learn to be loving, compassionate and kind people toward ourselves. We need to learn that we, us, each individual can heal and change things for the better toward ourselves and our lives.

It all starts with You and Me doing our individual best to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves and our lives!!!

Be Blessed Dear Ones and Love Yourselves and One Another!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee

 

Tennessee fires spark coordinated groups relief in Kingsport

Prolonged drought conditions in Tennessee contributed to the sweeping threat posed by Chimney Top Fire as it reached Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The ongoing displacement, and evacuation of homes and businesses have impacted citizens of every faith, following and status. Efforts to contain the fire  will be aided by rains, however this is expected to end Wednesday night. PBN News urges all Pagan organizations and leadership, that are able, to come forward and not hesitate to collaborate with this action as one part of the humanitarian relief.

High Priestess Kimberly Lukes,  of Willow Grove Coven in Kingsport, Tennessee Willing served as a coordinator of a unified night of prayer, energy work, and spell work last evening with other groups in the area. They focused primarily on prayerful directed work for rain, and to protect the animals at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Community Service is an important value of this Coven – Willow Grove Coven, Witchvox

She is currently still working with local groups to continue directed magic and prayers, and is open to being contacted by those wishing to work together and network.  She can be reached at the Willow Grove Coven by calling (530) 949-4573. Efforts are continuing and they have open arms to all who can share this working.

Thousands evacuated as wildfires burn in Gatlinburg

(Video:WKRN.COM)

Emergency shelters in the area are now taxed to capacity, leaving about 2,000 people to take shelter at the Gatlinburg Community Center and at the Rocky Top Sports Park. This is a fraction of rhe estimated 14,000 evacuted citizens. Pagan chaplains and clergy are needed. the presence of all faiths is a strong source of solace to those who may be in spiritual crisis.

One site that is already in place and working is Waverly Road Presbyterian Church’s, led by Reverend Josh Russel. The church has opened it’s Prospect House, at 1401 Prospect Drive, Kingsport, TN. They are

currently asking businesses or individuals to consider donating to this effort. We do know that people can use snacks (remember the needs of children and the elderly), sports drinks, water, baby formula, diapers, and coats and clothing in all sizes.

Drop off at the Prospect House at Waverly Road Presbyterian Church at 1401 Prospect Drive, Kingsport, TN 37664 (behind Mac’s Medicine Mart downtown) today from 12-4 PM, tomorrow from 12-5 PM, and Thursday from 12-5 PM.

He asks those who wish to lend aid and help to this effort to email him at reverendjoshrussell@gmail.com.

The fires of Tennessee are continuing to rage. We ask for all Pagan leaders who are involved in relief efforts to comment below so that volunteers can find you. Networking is key to the level of engagement critical to preventing additional trauma.

 

A Day of Comforting: A Humaning Event

This past Saturday I attended an event at Pagan Pathways Temple which is in the city of Madison Heights, MI. They called their event “A Day of Comforting“. This was an event open to anyone that needed to have a safe space to share about their fears and emotional turmoil and pain. It was open to all peoples and we all made sure to wear a safety pin, so that folks could see a physical sign that this was a safe space, to be heard and supported and to be there for others.

We were encouraged to not only talk about our fears and such, but to also write them down or draw them on pieces of paper that was later burned. We were encouraged also to let our inner child have fun with sidewalk chalk. Drawing and writing loving affirmations, giving support , comfort and encouragement to those that passed by and read them. And a bonus thing of giving others smiles as they saw this sidewalk art and writing.

We also had opportunities to write loving, supportive words of wisdom on posters that has a word or phrase to get us started. These posters are to be placed in the front windows, so that these will be a more permanent display of love and support.

Here are a few of them. A couple are my own personal contribution to the posters.

  • Your body loves you!
  • This planet loves you!
  • All creation loves you!
  • Though I may not know you, I love you!
  • Now look in a mirror and love yourself!
  • No one is perfect.
  • We are all beautifully flawed.
  • We are all worthy of love.
  • Love yourself!
  • Face and listen to your fears, anger, pain and challenges. Its how you learn to love yourself and then also others. It’s how you learn what compassion and understanding is all about.
  • Never be afraid to be yourself! You are beautiful just the way you are! Never change for anyone!

These affirmations, and more, were shared. They will act as guiding lights of comfort, support and understanding. These words will awaken in us to be alright with ourselves and our lives. And it is this person’s hope that this will spread as far as it can go. That this will be a thing that we can practice each day. Treating ourselves and one another with compassion and understanding. They also help us while we express our more challenging feelings, to also then release and welcome healing , loving thoughts and deeds toward ourselves and others. For while we were releasing our fear and such we were also embracing love, compassion and understanding, making sure that  we were not staying trapped in the things that were causing us fear or turmoil.

So today I share this story with you. Let this story and what has been shared be a guiding light for you also!

Secrets of High Priestess Kathie

There are people who are magick users, who find their spell work only through the pages of a book, and they can be competent in one offs. There are those who study the traditions and spirits of magick who create a space in the fabric of reality that allows them to change and bend reality to their wills after a fashion. They are successful to varying degrees, and are worthy of respect. But today, we are going to talk with a woman whose very flesh, fire, and spiritual bloodline is magick. Today, we are going to interview the Priestess of Secrets of Conjure Coven.

High Priestess Kathie, used with Permission
High Priestess Kathie, used with Permission

For those of our readers who may not know you, who is High Priestess Kathie?

I would like people to know that I come from a long line of spiritualist and spiritual people in my family.
I have done readings, been a lending ear to family and friends since I can remember. Professionally, I started doing readings almost 15 years ago(time flies) and I started doing spells and hoodoo around that same time professionally as well. Before that it was just for myself or a friend.

Where does your spark, your passion for magick have as its source?

I would say that it comes from a sense of me knowing that magic has been practiced in my family. It’s in my bloodline, even though some of them may not call it magic, or called it that back then. I remember my grandmother would call it power but to me its the same thing.

Was there a pivotal experience in your life that led you to this path?

Well I was raised up in this path so I saw a lot growing up as a child. But I will say that I started working with the dark arts, or black magic, more when I was attacked by an aunt that was in the church and I had to protect myself from her.

How long have you studied?

I would say really all my life. My grandmother taught me how to protect myself and how to help heal people and my voice is a tool in aiding that.

I can remember being a teenager even and getting occult books, thirsty for knowledge because I knew there was so much more than what I was being taught, being raised up in the bible belt a lot of hidden from me as well.

 

Who would you say have been your most helpful influences?

My grandmother was the most helpful in my life hands down! Rest her memory. My mother and father were supportive of me, but my mother didn’t want me to do this. She wanted a different life for me.
What folks have been there along the way as you grew as a practitioner?

I would say now as an adult my partner he is very supportive of me, friends and a couple of family members
also my brother and sister witches in my coven. The Secrets of Conjure Coven, my spiritual family, is amazing!

Secrets of Conjure Coven
Secrets of Conjure Coven

How would you define your style of magick when compared to what many are publicly teaching today?

I would say my style of magic or practicing is “non conventional” for sure. Definitely unorthodox in many ways lol.  I am known to be very controversial in my practice.

Do you feel there is a disconnect with traditional teachings and skill development when compared to the older generations? Or do you feel that since times have changed, the magicks have changed as well?

I really do feel that there is, and that is because more people are starting to practice magic, hoodoo, voodoo, Santeria, witchcraft than ever before and because of that you have people that did not have the “traditional” teachings from family and certain traditions that was passed down. So you will find a lot of spiritualist and spiritual people combining practices or making it their own way.

You are known to be a leader, not a follower, why do you think that is?

I believe it’s a combination of things. For one, I believe my title has a lot to do with it. Being a High Priestess and also because of my age.

I am a “seasoned witch” and getting ready to get into my Crone years soon and with that comes a lot of experience in life and dealing with clients, other witches who are priests and priestesses, and people in general. I feel the younger people look up  to me because of the wisdom bestowed upon me from living life.

Do you feel that it is tied in with your identity as a spiritual person?

Yes, because all I have ever been around in my life are women and men who were leaders. Most of the women in my family always had their own business, I had a great-aunt that ran a homeless shelter, she had a radio show, and had a street named after her. Then of course my grandmother was a minister, healer, and reader in her community.

They wouldn’t call it readings back then but they would come to her to get a “word from God” which people came from everywhere around the world for her help. So with me being her grand-daughter and her taking me under her wing this is the only way I know how to be. My mother was also a dancer, musician and entrepreneur.

What are your thoughts about the Black Witch Convention happening in October?

I think it’s awesome to have and that Black witches can come together and do something positive. I am in full support of it. I believe it will be a success.

Do you think that gatherings such as that one might be something you might be hosting as your practice grows?

I think that is possible but it’s not anything I have on my agenda anytime soon. But I do fully support those that do it.

When it comes to community, do you feel that we are losing the ability to be supportive of each other without competition?

Yes, some things do need to change and go back to the old ways I suppose. I can say that it is extremely competitive and I have not had a lot of positive experiences with other spiritualist in the business. Insecurities and people just aren’t friendly like they once were and really want to help others and sadly I see this in the African-American spiritualist community. It’s more cut throat. A lot of men don’t have respect for the women and visa versa. It’s become more about business and getting money it seems like, instead of being civilized.

How do you teach and learn from your peers when it comes to dealing with common issues?

Well, for an example I handle social media like I do in real life. I ask questions and also allow people to voice their opinions or contribute. As long as there is no line drawn with being disrespectful. I am open to all sorts of feedback and teach that to others so that they can either improve or add to their own lives.

You are a studious and creative person, how does this come through in your works?

I truly believe that this motivates me to give it all I got and to pay attention to details. I have always been creative and strive to do the very best I can. I was taught to be that way and I believe it shows in my workings. Especially in my readings.

Has there ever been a time when you just relied on the book?

I would say there was a period where I just relied on book instructions for spellwork and beliefs, but it was only for a short time cause I love to think outside the box. That is why I practice more than just hoodoo.

What do you feel is the most important thing about walking the path you walk?

I would say it’s very important to be true to yourself. I listen to people and decide if I want to really apply what they say to my life and if it really would benefit me. For example, I had a few Haitian voodoo people that didn’t like the fact that I worked with Damballah and my offerings I gave. I knew the truth is that it was because I was not initiated. I don’t feel that its in me or in my path at the moment to be consecrated or initiated into a religion.

Is it for everyone?

No, this walk or path is not for everyone. Some people are just to afraid or they have been so brainwashed by western religions(especially Christianity) that they shouldn’t be practicing because they have to much fear, doubt and worried about it backfiring on them.

If you had to speak to a younger you about what to expect in this life, what would you say?

Don’t dwell off life’s rough stuff just know you will always have challenges but learn from your mistakes, don’t be so hard on yourself, and take care of you more. Your hard work will pay off over and over again.

What would you most like to see happen in your own life in the next 10 years in regards to your studies and business?

Oh, I am an information sponge! I love to read, study and share information even if its YouTube videos. I really want to take the time to get more into the Egyptian studies later on. I am just so busy that when I do that I want to devote time to seriously learning and taking some of the practices and adding it to my work.

I only see my business booming. I currently am getting ready to put out my own brand of oils. I have my graphic designer doing my labels as we speak. I will have available for the public, my own organically blended oils that can be used for spellwork, rootwork, spiritual baths and protection.

What kind of clientele would you say most represents your practice?

EVERY WALK OF LIFE. Every race, ethnicity, gender that you can think of. I do not discriminate against clients either. I welcome everyone.

And of these, are there any moments that you would like to share that stand out particularly strongly in your memory?

I remember when I first started doing readings professionally and there was a gentleman that came to me and he told me his name was “Vu Vo”, and of course I was like “Vu Vo who”? He kept telling me his name was Vi Vo not Vi Vo Who lolol. So anyway that let me know that this was my destiny cause I had people seeking me out from Vietnam and around the world on a regular basis.

Do you remember the first time you charged for services?

Yes! What was that like? I was excited the first time I got paid from someone that was not family or a friend was when I first started doing contract work with this online company called Kasamba. I think it’s still around. I just couldn’t believe that I actually got paid great money for doing a reading and giving advice
to someone I didn’t know. I just knew this was for me.

Looking back,would you have charged more?

First starting out, I wouldn’t have charged more, but I would say that I would have eventually started to do this for myself instead of contracting with different psychic companies like circle of stars, keen, bitwine etc. earlier and that would have allowed me to cut out the middle man and save money for me and my clients pockets.

Here we go, how do you feel about the misapplication of the Wiccan Rede to your craft ethics and beliefs?

I respect those who are Wiccan but that rede doesn’t apply to me of course. That is not my belief so when people tell me that it applies to me, I do not listen to that because people are going to want to believe what they want and this is my life to live.

There is a phrase going around, “get your Wicca out of my conjure”. How do you feel about that?

I can understand how the traditionalist feel about that. There are those that want to keep the old practices “strick” but if you really look at it, every house that practiced hoodoo back then did things differently. These days people practice more than one system of magic. I, myself, do hoodoo and witchcraft.  I actually also incorporate some of the voodoo elements into my workings. I find that works for me.  Does it resonate? No, I can honestly say that it doesn’t resonate with me.

What is the main thing that you think keeps people from growing as practitioners today?

Keeping an open mind, which is what I have been trying to do with my own self lately and really try to accept people as they practice. Everyone knows I am against Christianity in Hoodoo and when it comes to African religions but that is just my own opinion and it’s not to be forced on people. What works for one person may not work for the next and like I said, I don’t discriminate. Some of my clients are Christian, also Islamic.

If you could open a school tomorrow, what would be lesson number one?

Leave your fear behind you. If you are afraid of this path you do not need to get in it. You are not ready or it may not be for you.

How do people get in touch with you?

People can find me on Facebook. I would prefer it being through my fan page. Also they can message me at highpriestesskathie@yahoo.com or highpriestesskathie@gmail.com for now. I also will have a brand new website up and running by December of 2016.

Do you ever find that you also get clients through YouTube?

Yes! YouTube had opened another door for me. I do appreciate that. It still feels funny to me when people tell me that they are a fan of my videos or love to watch them. I appreciate that sooo much.

My YouTube channel is less that 3 months old right now and already have almost 600 subscribers. That may not mean a lot to some people but it means the world to me. I am so thankful for my people, supporters and my coven.

And what is the name of your channel, for those who do not know.

It is HighPriestess Kathie on YouTube.

If you were to choose a stone to represent you, what would it be and why?

Black Tourmaline and that is because I have a lot of them I have some on my altar. I use it for grounding me and protection from all enemies against me that are seen and unseen.

Is there anything that you would say that we may not have had an opportunity to talk about here?

Yes….

Something you would like folks to know about you?

I have heard that many people maybe intimidated by me or afraid to approach me because I do work with the dark arts. The thing is that I am approachable and will do the work that you hire me to do for you. I just ask for respect when you come to me and you will get it back in return.

I know I have somewhat of a controversial reputation online and that comes from having problems with people that are in the same business as me. I do not have issues with clients, it’s always someone from the spirituality business and we already talked about how we need to improve that as a community and believe it can be done.I made a video about it and bringing awareness to it will help for future readers, spellcasters, and rootworkers. Social media has a way of making people say things online that they would not dare say in person and that applies to everyone.

Heathens, Pagans, and Burners put ethos before egos in Detroit

On August 14th, Detroit was again the site of the powerful Street Store phenomenon. In the shadow of the Masonic Temple, volunteers from various areas of  Southeastern Michigan came together to put forth their hearts and hands in providing good clothing and material needs in service to the homeless residents of Detroit. This time, the event was at Cass Park, 600 Ledyard Street.

Matt Orlando and Kyle Coviak added their hands and hearts to the Street Store Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved
Matt Orlando and Kyle Coviak added their hands and hearts to the Street Store Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved

Matt Orlando, of Ancient Faiths Alliance and Northern Mist Kindred pitched in to lend an arm. A busy man, he found time to come in and put feet to the street to get to know the people who may not get to speak to candidates up “close and personal”. He is running for Representative to U.S. Congress under the Libertarian ticket this election. And though the folks who live in this district are not his constituents, he expressed his belief that people don’t stop having needs at the edge of a voting boundary.

The good Reverend Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb, of Universal Society of Ancient Ministry dashed off before I could get an image of her dropping off a fresh batch of clothing. She put out a call on the Pagans In Need Facebook page for men’s clothing in larger sizes in the week leading up to the event. Though sick, she still made it a priority to drop and dash back for some needed recovery time.

 

Modest beginnings lead to big things. These racks below look like they are very thin. However, within minutes they were groaning under the weight of hundreds of donated, clean garments. Bins and boxes waited in readiness as they were continuously emptied by all who came.

Burners Without Borders set up the store across from the Wobbly Kitchen Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved
Burners Without Borders set up the store across from the Wobbly Kitchen Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

 

Kyle Coviak, of the GLWC of Michigan, and Ancient Faiths Alliance, also hit the park site with strength and energy. He is known as one of the faces of volunteerism in the local spiritual communities. Working in tandem with a system of constant flow, he kept the clients happy and the lines stocked with clothing and home wares. Neat and tidy is his watchword and it showed.

 

Lifting and loading. Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved
Lifting and loading. Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

*Full disclosure: He is my husband, and at this time we shall all ask for prayers, as I am definitely NOT neat and tidy. His struggle continues.*

 

In addition to these items, hygiene kits were available as well.  Food items were on hand and ready to go. This seemed to work hand in hand with the mission of the good folks across the green.

The Wobbly kitchen, as a gathering and an institution, is all about good feelings, good folks, and food. The smells coming from the buffet were mouth-watering, and the music was jamming. If you want to see more, catch them the 2nd and 4th Sundays.

The Burners Without Borders Detroit chapter plans to do this again. If you want to volunteer, you can go to their WordPress to keep yourself in the loop. The place may change, but the mission remains the same. Be a part of a growing momentum and give of yourself. It feels good. And you might just get to share ice cream at the end.

Burners Without Borders Detroit, Matt Orlando, Kyle Coviak Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved
Burners Without Borders Detroit, Matt Orlando, Kyle Coviak Image: Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

 

Pagans in the Bible Belt

Exodus 22:18  

18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

That is a verse of scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible. So imagine the lives of open Pagans in the deep South better known as The Bible Belt. As an Eclectic Witch living in Alabama I had to overcome many hurdles put in my path. I am not the only witch in the Bible Belt to face uncertainty because of the religion we choose.

“Some may ask what is the Bible Belt exactly The phrase “Bible Belt” is an informal term for a region in the southeastern and south central United States where socially conservative evangelical Protestantism plays a strong role in both the political spectrum and in society in general. The Bible Belt is in the southeastern quarter of the U.S. running from the New Mexico-Texas border up to Kansas and then northeastward to Missouri all the way to the east coast and includes Kentucky and Tennessee all the way to West Virginia and Virginia and all the way down to Florida.” – Jack Wells, “What is The Bible Belt?”

Predominately a conservative “God Fearing” region it is extremely difficult for Pagans to come out of the broom closet.In the Bible belt Pagans are considered evil because we worship “false Gods”. In the Christian faith there is only one true God. The Christians believe we worship demons.

“Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of The Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both The Lord’s table and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:19-21 NIV” http://www.keyway.ca/htm2000/20000924.htm

 When you are an open Pagan in the deep south this is the thought process you have to deal with.

I remember one day at work in the ER one of my doctors noticed my pentacle necklace. He immediately stopped and turned to me and asked if I knew what I was wearing. I laughed and told him of course. He immediately wanted to start preaching to me telling me I was going to hell. I was a demon worshipper. I went to the computer printed off some pages from a few of my favorite sites and gave them to him. I told him to educate himself a little then come back to me because I refused to fight with an unarmed person. He never approached the conversation again.

My ex-husband used my religion against me in a custody case for our children multiple times . At one time he actually got a judge to believe I was evil. I lost my kids for nearly 2 years. He later in life told the deacon of my boyfriend’s church I was a devil worshipper, etc. The good deacon didn’t let his shirt touch his back before he told Matthew’s mom. That destroyed any hope of a lasting relationship for us. I don’t understand why but southerners believe any type of Pagan religion is devil worship.

I have talked with some of the local pagans in my area about what if any problems they have had because of their faith.

Robert-Tony Papoi told me I have been open about my Spiritual Path, and except for a couple of people who I have met at my job – One when they meet me stated they went to mental health. I have NOT experienced any problem.
I have been able to gain decent employment, even management positions dealing with millions of dollars of inventory flowing under my control daily.
I honestly think the biggest problem is the mental fear of being bashed as if we are in middle school and Big Boob Betty will not go to the prom with us if we are different.”

He is one of the most fortunate ones I talked with of late.

Brian Meetze had this to tell me. “my son and I have had a very strained relationship all his life (his mother and I divorced while he was still in the womb and I have played immortal hell trying to see and spend time with him as he grew up) in 2010 as he started his adult life and college for the ministries we had decided to try to start a relationship but it was very short-lived. I found out recently that the reason he backed off and broke all contact was because of my involvement with (at that time Satanism, a practice that didn’t even have anything to do with the “Christian Satan”) even as this discovery came to light he still is apprehensive about my pagan walk now but at least he wants to talk and gain a better understanding of what it is about. Not to convert or like that but to better understand. I’m very proud of his attaining his bachelor degree in the ministry and now starting classes on his masters.

The point of this bit of information is that I have lost my son not from our strained relationship but my spiritual belief. Although most will shun you, they will also eventually, come around seeking understanding as to whether or not this is wicked or evil or if it’s just another spiritual way of living that is innocent and good. I refuse to allow my spiritual belief and walk to be dictated by those who simply don’t understand and refuse to be , at very least, open-minded enough to respect and acceptable to my choice of belief just as I am of theirs.”

Lady Amethyst, who requested I use her Magickal name for the protection of her family, told me ” I have kept the bulk of mine private for my children’s sake, but the Goddess continued to push for this group and for the community we are now building …. I find myself trying to walk a fine line between staying in the broom closet and following my heart.” The group she is referring to is a Facebook group she is administrator of. 

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https://witchsweb.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/20120522-190549.jpg

I have my own experiences and opinions as most people do. I have lost a lot of acquaintances who feared me and my faith. The battle we have is that the southern roots are so deeply in Baptist Christianity. Most of us were raised Southern Baptist………at least in Alabama. We either found that faith lacking or such as my case hypocritical. I believe that the Bible has been translated by man so many times that it has lost its true meaning.

Matthew 6:6-8 of the King James Bible says….

“6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” 

The verse above accuses Pagans of being vain and long winded………….LOL. Who has turned on late night television to see the preachers asking for money. According to their very own Bible they shouldn’t be doing this. Our religion was distorted and changed to their holidays. Our people were burned and tortured by their people. THEY CALL US EVIL?

Detroit Pagans, the Street Store needs you

Burners Without Borders rock the Street Store

In the heat of the morning, a small crew of volunteers came together to transform an empty sidewalk into a happening.  Atheists, agnostics, Pagan ministers, and more were on site to help Burners Without Borders make the Street Store happen this last weekend in the Cass Corridor area of Downtown Detroit.

Setting up with Rev. Gerrybrete of Universal Society of Ancient Ministry - Image Kenya Coviak
Setting up with Rev. Gerrybrete of Universal Society of Ancient Ministry – Image Kenya Coviak

Volunteers with joyful hearts and focused hands created a show room of apparel and material resources for homeless shoppers in the free pop up event.

The Street Store Burners Without Borders - Kenya Coviak
The Street Store Burners Without Borders – Kenya Coviak

The heat of the blazing summer sun seemed to show the inner shine of benevolent energy.

Shoppers come by foot and bicycle.
Shoppers come by foot and bicycle.

The two sides of Detroit ironically next to each other.

A poetic symbol of gentrification and division
A poetic symbol of gentrification and division

In the shadow of new developments, residents who receive none of the fruits of the “new Detroit robber barons” came together with the spirit of the old Detroit unity.

 

Madeline Frost and Danielle Doxie Kaltz in mission of compassion
Madeline Frost and Danielle Doxie Kaltz in the light of compassion

The architecture of a city embattled but still here stands sentry as its streets filled with hope.

Service with a smile
Service with a smile
Food was freely available
Food was freely available

Hundreds of articles of clothing, hygiene kits, water, and food items available to homeless citizens this day.

A view of the display wall.
A view of the display wall.
Hygiene kits - part of standard for Michigan's Burners Without Borders events
Hygiene kits – part of standard for Michigan’s Burners Without Borders events

The work doesn’t stop here though.   Burners Without Borders never stops here in Detroit.  Soup kitchens, charitable events, hat and glove drives, and a backpack program are a few of the programs that make up a tapestry of outreach and support that blankets Southeast Michigan with compassion.

 

Talking about Pagan ministry from the shores of the Fresh Water Seas

Serving as an ordained minister for a several years now, I have found it necessary to form my own moral matrix of beliefs and practices.   The one-size-fits-most rule does not work in life when dealing with the myriad paths and traditions here in the Pagan and alternative worlds of spirituality.

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Highpriestess Reverend Belladonna Laveau is the leader of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. – Lunireal

Two years ago, I committed to teaching an outer court grove.  During the Year and a Day studies, conversations arose about what the basics of being clergy are.  This cause me to challenge the commonly held standards, and question who and what cultures codified them?

Cherry Hill Seminary, and other groups strive to serve as the established model arbiters of this.  But they are not the only route to being living, practicing, clergy.   More importantly, they do not represent me.  Academic training is marvelous, but it does not invalidate the experiences and education of on the ground application of the skill sets needed in non-rarified spaces.

Authors such as Belladonna LaVeau broach the subject in published works.  Her “Awakening Spirit:  WISE Seminary, First Year Certification for Wiccan Clergy”  serves as one of the standards for the new generations.

But what of the non-affiliated among us?  What standards do we choose ?  How does one be a “clergy alone”?

My first attempt to name my standards resulted in this list.  In may of these, I highly recommend that those who have the feeling that they are not sufficiently prepped in certain areas to take additional classes and training.  Many are free or low cost.  Some are available through grants.  Continuing education is an integral part of life long development for ministry.

1. You should have at least attained the age of 21. Why? Because you sometimes need to be able to enter a bar and pick up your damn covener/parishioner from the damned floor and take them to the car.  You should also be able to have discernment and wisdom so that you can make the decision whether or not to take a person to the hospital or other care facility.

2. You should also be able to enter into contracts and be able to understand them.  You should also be able to compose correspondence, serve as a character reference for those in your care, and be able to testify if called on.

3. You should know the laws on Confession. And be able to use them to protect yourself and your client.  This is in reference to the protections afforded and the responsibilities.  This is the rite of the seal of the confession for a Pagan minister/priest.

4. You should know the laws on Mandatory Reporting of information to the civil authorities in your state.  In many states, by being an ordained minister, you are required by law to report harm, intent to harm, and abuse.   In different nations, so when traveling it is critical to know the laws of the land in which you practice.  Persons who fall under these laws are

  • Child care providers
  • Caregivers
  • Clergy, although Clergy-penitent privileged communication is exempt in some areas.
  • Counselors and other Mental health professionals
  • Medical examiners and coroners
  • Health care providers
  • Police and other law enforcement officers
  • School teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, principals and other school personnel
  • Social workers
  • Abortion clinic staff (in some states)
  • Family Life Educators

5. You should know the laws and requirements governing marriages and weddings in your state and for other countries. Also, you should know the requirements to officiate a marriage for someone who has divorced and what paperwork you need.

6. You should know the protocols, rules, and laws on Hospice, Medical Advocacy, Medical Directives, DNR orders, and rudimentary statutory will forms so that you may aid your client to get these resources.*

7. You should know the laws on Birth, Paternity, Foster Care, Kinship Programs, and Adoption so that you refer to sources of information and advocacy for your clients.*

8. You should know the laws on Prison Ministry, even if you do not do this service, and update your knowledge of Prison Chaplain requirements in your state.*

9. You should know the laws on Burial Rites, and have a resource guide for those making end of life decisions.*

10. You should have at least a rudimentary knowledge on Substance Abuse Education and Treatment Programs. Even better, at least some training in this area.*

11. You should have access to mental health service providers, and be experienced enough to know when SOMEONE’S PROBLEMS LIE OUTSIDE OF YOUR SCOPE OF LAY SPIRITUAL COUNSELING. You should know the laws on referring someone for treatment.

12. You have studied, or at least familiarized yourself with the basics of, military chaplaincy and the rights of the people of your faith group

13. You have earned the respect of you, yourself, and others in your peer group as someone who is of good character and consistency*

14. You have cultivated the qualities of leadership in yourself and can undertake hard decisions with fairness and firmness, yet be able to temper them with mercy and discernment

15. If you are of a martial bent, you have the mettle and the character befitting a spiritual leader, and a channel of inspiration and bravery in battle

16. You  act as a Judge in the community, impartial and fair, with Wisdom

17. You should have a set of basic rituals on hand.  This is to include ritual music, chants, and songs.

These include occasions, but not limited to, the following:

  • I. Wiccaning/Baptism/Initiation
  • II. Wedding/Handfasting/Commitment Ceremony
  • III. Divorce/HandParting Ceremony
  • IV. Memorial Services
  • V. Funeral Service/Rites
  • VI. House Blessings
  • VII. Blessing a Person
  • VIII. Rites of Passage Ceremonies
  • IX. Saging/Croning
  • X. Warrior Rites
  • XI. Queening/Fathering
  • XII. Surgical/Medical Pre Prayers
  • Others

Rev. Terrie Brookins pointed out to me something critical when she proofed this.  You should also be able to WRITE rituals as well.  If you don’t know how, try to learn.  If you just cannot, then find a great ritual writer. Why?

since not everything is readily available on Google and often times, clergy members are on the spot, in the woods, with no cell signal.

Also, be mindful of the health and safety of others during rituals and devotions.  Allergies, food intolerance, food allergy, sensitivities to smoke or anointing oil ingredients, aversion to ritual components, these are all factors to weigh.  Be ready to adapt, adjust, and advocate.

Ritual Oil and Matches - Photo: Kenya Coviak
Ritual Oil and Matches – Photo: Kenya Coviak

18. You explain what your beliefs are and some of their history.

19. You avoid shock and awe, but engage in quiet, polite, civil theological conversation in general with other ministers of their faiths about matters of spirituality and life

20. You should know the meanings behind every tool you use, every ritual, and every hand gesture you use in YOUR practices

21. You should have some sort of First Aid Training (this includes Mental First Aid)

22. You to walk into a room and hold your ground, soundly, in the face of those who would ridicule you

23. You should bring no disgrace to those who associate themselves with your ministry

24. You should bring honor to your faith, and associate nothing false

25. You advocate for the weak, no matter the faith

26. If you are of a martial bent, you stand at the forefront of social causes to the best of your ability if your conscience moves you so

27. You should have no fear, nor eat your heart, when you witness something evil or wrong and call it out

*Never hesitate to call in someone who is an expert in this area for help.  And always be aware of a pro bono lawyer or legal aid office that can help here.

In addition to these, there are some experiences that make really good clergy. Not all, but at least some of these are necessary for a balanced view of life.  Some experiences leave the etchings that complete our belief windows.

A_moment_of_red_between_night_and_day
This picture from Jim Corbett is not a mere picture but a system of light and darkness and how even though bent with weight of life, there is an urge to get up from the shadows of night to the sunlight of day – Nimar Dang

1. You have lost someone close to you to death
2. You have had a major medical procedure
3. You have had a brush with death
4. You have had a child
5. You have dealt with someone with a substance abuse issue OR had one yourself OR both
6. You have volunteered to help those less fortunate and/or were yourself at one point in a place to need help
7. You have attended the practices, ceremonies, and ritual services of other groups on your path and on other paths and examined them objectively
8. You have led at least one person through a personal crisis, a “dark night of the soul”, or other close emotional trauma
9. You have been in an accident
10. You experienced marriage, or a long-term relationship, where you lived with the other person
11. You completed a term of military service
12. You have someone in your circle who is in the military

When I first presented this at Michigan Pagan Fest in 2015, Figment (Michael Poe) gave the gift of his wisdom when he pointed out a critical missing quality.  You have to have a sense of humor.  Sacred Mirth is a part of my belief system, and it serves as a mystic’s balm to the soul.

In a look back at this, I find that it has a long way to go.  It did not encompass the factors of emotional intelligence, cultural fictive kin relationships, and more.  These are all things that were an integral part in my college courses in my degree pursuit for a BA in Family Life Education.

It denotes an incomplete inventory.  But the list is a good way to find out lay clergy roles, vs. professional. are actually a representative of your beliefs through that office. It is a self test, and a community test that may be used to check where you are in your practice.

The plan is for an upcoming series of workshops about this topic in the community during the later. The location is Metro Detroit, however, as that is my home base area.   There are brick and mortar, floating, and virtual circles, churches, and kindred here that are putting faith to work on a practical level.

For those seeking Pagan clergy here in Michigan, you are spoiled for choice. The Universal Society of Ancient Ministry offers material and food assistance through Pagans In Need, ministry services, educational scholarships, and a 13 step recovery program, as well as a resource guide.

Pagan Pathways Temple offers ministry, a gathering space, and classes.  They are also the organization that has taken up the mantle of hosting the annual Pagan Pride Day celebration in Detroit.   In addition to this, they are filming the series “Unveiled”.

The Michigan Council of Covens and Solitaires offers an Adopt A Family program, as well as having membership which includes clergy and educators.

And of course, there is also Crossroads Tabernacle Church, ATC.  This group is responsible for many innovations and advances in Pagan Ministry.  They also hold services that serve Washtenaw County, giving life to ritual solstice gatherings.

There are many more here.  There are probably many where you may live.  Take some time to see them.  Also, here is a great site to get you started for building a chant library.  Hedra’s Pagan Chant page is a valuable resource.  For one person’s perspective, please enjoy the video at the bottom of this article.

Join with Universal Society of Ancient Ministry in volunteering Jul 10

On Sunday July 10, the Universal Society of Ancient Ministry and Pagans In Need will be pitching in as volunteers to help the 461st Street Store pop up store here in Detroit.  An humanity-in-action event, it is run by Burners Without Borders.  They have committed to  the The Street Store project and brought it here.

They are issuing the call for volunteers to come out and help with distributing clothing the Detroit Homeless community.  Clean, well conditioned, and presentable clothing is a dignity issue for everyone.  This is especially true for those who are homeless.

Burners Without Borders works year round here in Metro Detroit with dignity, respect, and material assistance for the people living on the streets.  Backpack campaigns, soup kitchens, fundraisers, and more are ongoing.  If you seek, you can find hundreds of folks who can testify to the difference they make.  They are part of a world-wide movement.

Burners Without Borders
Burners Without Borders

 

 

Burners Without Borders Detroit is a direct action organization of concerned people looking to help others with kindness. – Burners Without Borders

The Universal Society of Ancient Ministry and Pagans In Need consistently exercise the principles of service, ministry, charity, and works in action.  The Pagans in Southeastern Michigan are one of the most powerful groups of kinetic social action in this region of the nation, so it the call asks them to come out in force to spread the energy and power of their beliefs to this project.  Many have volunteered with Burners Without Borders on other projects, so there will be some familiar faces.

For more details on this event, look up the Facebook listing 461st Street Store in events.  The place is 445 Ledyard St, in downtown Detroit.  That is not far from Cass Avenue.  The event lasts from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.  Volunteers are asked to cover the 9:00 am – 3:00 pm duration if possible. 

They request you to bring any clothes you want to give (in good condition and clean), hangers, some water or a beverage to keep yourself hydrated, and some sort of snack – if you get hungry.  It is hot this week so be sure to dress comfortably according to the weather. clothes you want to donate.  Check in for meet up is 9:00 am at 445 Ledyard St. Detroit.