Interview With the NEW HeadMistress of the Ball! (And Bazaar)

gerri

For those of you who do not know there is now a new head of the ball, Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb. She has allowed yours truly to stalk her for a few so that we can bring you all some highlights of what goes on behind the scenes of an event most of us look forward to for an entire year. 

How do you feel about taking over as Head Mistress of the ball, were you nervous, excited, or wondering what in Hel’s name were you thinking?

All of the above!!!! And it also depends on the day you ask me this! Like most things in my life it wasn’t really a matter of deciding to, actually there wasn’t much thought involved! (Which could be my problem) Mostly it was the love of it being at such a wonderful event, watching others have a great time, and knowing that we need to keep it moving forward!

What is the wildest, craziest idea you’re thinking up for the ball?

I am definitely a free thinker, which usually gets me in trouble, however if I let you in my brain you would probably runaway screaming, so I’ll keep the crazy ideas to myself and committee to shoot down politely as not to scare the locals.

Are you happy to be getting the reigns? Or do you feel like telling everyone to shove the reigns where Ra won’t shine?

I’ve always been a take “the reigns” type of person, but again it does depend on the day you ask on whether I am on top of the mountain, or trying to crush someone with it!

Any advice you’ve asked of your mentor?

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t speak to Gordon, he is absolutely incredible at what he does and my work is really cut out for me to fill his shoes, but somehow ill get it done, and probably in heels!

What is the most insane question you’ve heard Gordon receive about the ball?

I can’t even begin to answer this question, but a book could be written on some of the crazy things people have asked or requested.

Anyone ever ask either of you would there be any human sacrifices, death magic, or Sex Rites involved (don’t give me that look cuz people have asked me was it some type of orgy party, Ha! The world is full of fidiots.)?

Actually and unfortunately YES they have! And depending on WHO asked sometimes they got an answer that probably still left their tongue on the floor for weeks.

What would you like to see happen within the future of the community?

Of course I can give the “beauty queen” answer! But it still holds true! I would love to see unity in the community being non judgment of each other!! I can’t begin to tell you the nasty things I hear behind my back even from people who don’t even know me, it’s okay, I know they must really have issues and I have big shoulders. This is the only community in the world where you can be who you are!!! I know that must scare some people, but acceptance is key!

How rich would you be from all of the times you’ve heard Gordon being asked if both Wiccans and Pagans were allowed, even though it clearly states WITCHES ball?

I can honestly say I have never heard that one, but have been asked if NON-Pagans can come!

Ever been tempted to hex someone for saying witches aren’t real? Any regrets?
No one has ever said that to me, surprisingly. But I’ve had my share of my right wing friends patronizing me with stereotypes.

Do you think you’ll ever wish you had just stayed in the shadows instead of becoming a figurehead?

This made me giggle…… I think you need a balance of both shadows and limelight. Sometimes more fun can be had in shadows…..

What is the dumbest thing you’ve witnessed during the ball once everyone was liquored up?

Oh let’s see, people going into wrong rooms at the hotel, falling into bushes, urinating in public, okay enough about my ex…..

Do you think if there had been an All Witch Lives Matter movement in Salem that would have stopped the Witch Trials sooner?

Um no….but I am thinking I need this on a t-shirt LOL!!!

Did you know? Salem College is the oldest female college in America.
Did you know? Salem College is the oldest female college in America.

Should only witches be allowed to attend Salem University (yes, it is a real school, Nessa wants to go, she even had me make her a t-shirt with their school colors, motto, and name for College day last school year. Such a Minnie me. It’s nothing like Hogwarts though, THAT would be fangtastic, nut they don’t teach magic.)?

Well how could you tell? Anyone can call themselves a witch! (Much like any other religion). Actions speak louder than words in this case. I can tell when I see a true witch, but to limit anyone of learning anything to me would be silly. I believe the only valuable thing we truly own is our knowledge, everything else can be lost..

Why is there never a cauldron there? There could be a huge one filled with liquor, and a lil bit of punch.

I am not sure…. Probably because we have to play by the “Royalty house” rules, lol, but great idea!!!

Will you have one for next years ball?

Well, since this question was left unanswered, I just might sneak one in. I still play in the shadows. Muahahahaha! LOL!

Thank you Gerri for being such a good sport and answering my insane questions. I think some crazier ones for next year. PROMISE!!

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

 

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.

 

Big News at the Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund

On June 11,  the Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund announced its 2016 Scholarship Winner Pete Ryland Shoda, III.  An intelligent and thoughtful young person, his essay was just what the board looks for when making their decision.  It was reasoned, expressive, and genuine.  He, and his Father, were there to accept the check at the Magical Education Council’s annual Pagan Picnic. The check was presented by Rev. Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb and Paula Ireland.

By Cory W. Watts from Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America (Lake Michigan) [CC BY-SA 2.0
By Cory W. Watts from Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America (Lake Michigan) [CC BY-SA 2.0
Hailing from Grand Rapids, Pete recently completed his studies at the West Michigan Aviation Academy.  He intends on continuing his education at Grand Rapids Community College and Northwestern College.  His studies in Michigan offer the best education for flying, since our weather has sudden climate changes.  His ultimate goal is a degree in Bachelors Degree Aviation Operations.

 

His winning essay:

WHAT BEING PAGAN MEANS TO ME

What being Pagan means to me, it means I have the ability to walk in the woods, talk to the Divine, become part of Nature, and most of all, it gives me the choice to worship where, when and how I want.

Most people would say that being Pagan means they worship the Goddess.  While this is something that I do as well, it also has allowed me to worship much, much more.  People that go to church go one time a week, a couple hours, then that’s it, they go home. Not Pagan’s, not me.  Being Pagan means that I have a lot to live up to.  The God’s and Goddesses are watching me, Mother Nature is watching me, and the wind is listening to me, carrying my spells, chants and requests to the Universe.  Always helping, always taking care to leave a small mark, always being a good person to others, taking care of the Earth, giving back when I can.  These are some of the things that being Pagan means to me…… (you can see the complete essay by going to the MPSF Winner’s Page.

The MPSF gave its heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the sponsors of the fund this year.  Every year the list seems to grow.  This year, they are Universal Society of Ancient Ministry, Magical Educational Council, Witches Of Michigan, Candle Wick Shoppe, Coventry Creations, Midwest Witches’ Ball, and a first time donation by the Ancient Faiths Alliance.  Also included are the many shops, individuals, and organizations that each contributed to the future of our young Pagan scholars here in Michigan.

Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund
Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund

A surprise announcement was also made this year.  The MPSF has been under the masterful guidance and administration of Gordon Ireland since its beginnings.  Through his leadership, he and Paula have seen it grow, thrive, and ensure that the money is there for our young Pagan students.  However, he announced last year he would be stepping down and search was on for someone to step into the position, not his place (no one can fill those shoes).

The new administrator was announced to be Kenya Coviak.  Yes, that’s right. That is me. So here is your full disclosure, I am the new administrator for the Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund.

It is time to plan for a new year and a new season of financial aid will be upon us soon. I urge all who read this to contribute to our children’s future by supporting the fund in any way you can.

 

There should always be a Pagan Scholarship Fund in Michigan. 2017 is coming.