Tag Archives: festival

Images from the Rite of Her Sacred Fires on 05/24/13

Ritual Structure

Ritual Structure

The Wizard and the Full Moon
The Wizard and the Full Moon

Lighting the torches

Lighting the torches

The Wizard assembling the Altar

The Wizard assembling the Altar

Her Sacred Fires
Her Sacred Fires

The Altar

The Altar

Triple Hekate

Triple Hekate




A Ritual of the Resurrection

Asphodel by Niko Leonardos 2013

Property of The Curio Cabinet and J.A. Doyle, the Wizard of Grand 2013. The public is free to copy, use and distribute as long as it is not reproduced for commercial gain, either privately or within a business. The Curio Cabinet and the Wizard of Grand are not responsible for any effects of this ceremony, real or imagined. To perform this rite is to acknowledge your personal responsibility.

This ritual is intended to connect us to the energy of the Vernal Equinox. A time of equilibrium, just before the scales tip in favor of the Light, we can internalize this energy of balance and shift. We often view the seasons as being separate from us, that the ground thaws and the tree buds outside of our selves. In truth, we change as the seasons change, we rotate along with the great Wheel of the Year, we join in the Resurrection of the Sun and the Earth in Spring. If we are going to change, anyway, it can only empower us further to acknowledge this transformation and embrace it. A wonderful way to embrace change is by marking it with a ritual or ceremony, to greet these powers of transformation in a sacred space. It can be performed by one person, or with a little editing, by a group.

Time: Good times for this ritual are March 20th (Equinox), March 25th (Lady Day), March 27th (Full Moon), and March 31st (Easter) in 2013.

Place: Anywhere peaceful, sacred space can be made indoors or, weather permitting, outdoors.

Garments: Preferably clean and fresh white, green, or soft, spring colors. Flowing robes are not prerequisites to performing ceremony and street-clothes will do just fine. Wear what you are comfortable in. Some people choose to perform in the nude, called “skyclad.”

Altar: The Altar should be set up in the East, to align with the direction of the rising sun. Cover the altar’s surface with a cloth. Gather symbols relevant to the ritual. Refer to the previous article, “Celebrations of the Vernal Equinox” for inspiration. My altar is decorated with a Crucifix from an aunt, an Orthodox icon of Christ raising the Dead, a statue of the figure Baphomet for balance, and a statue of the Hellenistic Goddess Kore-Persephone in honor of her ascent from the Underworld. Other than decorations, some specific objects are required, such as, a candle, a bowl of water, incense, an egg, and snake sheds (consider using a rope, necklace, twine or similar).

Preparation: Allow yourself at least 1 hour where you will not be disturbed. It is quite jarring to be in the middle of ceremony only to hear the phone ringing in the other room. You want to create an environment where the “supra-natural” can occur. Take a shower or a bath. Allow yourself to relax in the water. As you scrub your body, imagine that the troubles, worries, responsibilities, and other psychic rubbish clinging to your aura is washed away. After you feel clean, exit the shower, pat yourself dry and put on fresh clothes. Wherever you have decided to perform the ritual should also be clean and fresh, free of clutter. Kindle the incense if you have it and take a moment to be silent. Focus on why you are doing this ritual, how you would like to connect to the balance of the Vernal Equinox, what you desire to happen in celebrating the Resurrection.

The Wizard of Grand's Vernal Equinox Altar 2013

The Wizard of Grand’s Vernal Equinox Altar 2013

The Ritual

You approach the Altar and light the candle upon its surface. Holding your arms out in exaltation, you say, “Blessed be, O Illuminating Flame! Impart the powers of Aries the Ram and the Vigor of the Emergence of Spring to this Ritual of the Resurrection.”

You approach the Altar and take up the water bowl with both hands, holding it aloft. You say, “Blessed be, O Lustral Waters! Impart the powers of purification and consecration as I mark this space as sacred.”

Holding the bowl in one hand and dipping your fingers into the water with the other, you walk in a clock-wise fashion around the room while sprinkling the blessed water. Stop at the cardinal directions of East, South, West, and North. Returning to the Altar, you replace the water and take up the incense. You say, “Blessed be, O Holy Fume! Impart the powers of protection and consecration as I mark this space as sacred.”

Holding the incense in your hand, you walk clock-wise around the room while wafting the smoke throughout. Stop at the cardinal directions to honor and welcome them with the smoke of the incense. Returning to the Altar, waft the incense over your body and over the Altar, paying close attention to any icons or statues you have. Replace the incense. Take a moment to imagine the circle around you glowing with light brought by your ritual acts to purify and protect the space.

Hold out your arms slightly and proclaim: “I, (state your name), have created this sacred space for the purposes of celebrating the Vernal Equinox and to take my place in the Resurrection as the Light of the Sun increases and the Green Kingdom of the Earth reemerges. I have assembled the sacred symbols, the Egg and the Serpent.”

You first take up the egg, focusing on the symbol. Within one egg is the potential to begin new life. Within an egg are the nutrients needed to support a life. What life comes from inside the egg must eventually break free of the shell, on its own, to breathe and grow. What in you seeks to break free of its shell to breathe and grow? Hold the egg in your hands, press it to your chest at heart-level (not too hard, though!). As you feel your heart-beat through the egg, turn your attention to the heart-beat of all life on this planet and in the Universe. Your heart-beat is not so different than the pulse of a far-away star.

Now, setting the egg down, you take a moment to focus on the symbol of the serpent. Tune into the serpent energy. Shifting, slithering, shedding, transforming, above and below the ground. Move your body like a serpent. Take deep breaths and let them out in long, drawn-out hisses. Evoke the serpent energy within you. Imaging colors of greens, golds, bronzes, and reds shifting throughout your aura. As you dance and hiss like a serpent, shed the aetheric forms of yourself that you no longer need, the forms of yourself that restrict your growth. The snake must shed its form to grow bigger and more powerful.

At this point, you take the serpentine symbol and the egg together. You begin winding the serpentine symbol around the egg, loosely so the egg does not crack. When you have finished, place it back on the Altar. This is the Cosmic egg of Orpheus from which all of Creation, and most importantly, Phanes, the god of Light, emerges.

Ophis et Ovum

You refresh the incense, breathing in the perfumed air. You center yourself again, closing your eyes for a moment to visualize the Cosmic Egg in your mind. The Serpent coiling about the Egg squeezes tighter and tighter in the darkness of Chaos. Eventually, the coils put too much pressure on the Egg and it cracks. From the cracks come a burning whiteness, filling Chaos more and more with every beat of your heart. The darkness within your mind turns to brilliant light. The light floods out from your mind into your aura and permeates your being. This is not physical light, but the mental and spiritual light that fuels us. Feel this light purify you with its burning whiteness. Offer up anything to the light that does not serve you, allow your Self room to grow.

You open your eyes, still holding the visualization of the light in your mind, focusing on the flame of the candle. You stand back and reach out your arms in exaltation. You say, “I, (state your name), have gathered the sacred symbols and performed the sacred rites. I have resided within the Egg of Life, I have danced with the Serpent of Wisdom, I was present when the Light of Creation emerged from the Cosmic Egg. My heart-beat is the pulse of a star. I rise with the light of the Sun, my emergence is as the rebirth of the Green Earth.  I have gathered the sacred symbols and performed the sacred rites. I am resurrected in Body and Spirit. So Mote it Be. Amen.”

And now, you take as much time as you need to rest in this state. When you are ready, walk counter-clockwise around your sacred space and pause for a moment in each cardinal direction, thanking those who reside there. Stand straight and imagine the excess energy built up in the ritual leaving your body though the soles of your feet on the ground or your palms to the sky, dispersing into the air. Snuff the burning candle and use it again during a meditation when you wish to reconnect to this ritual. If you divine for yourself, either through tarot cards or another method, now is a good time to do a reading. Many ceremonies are also followed with a feast or meal to help ground the participants in “mundane reality” following the trip into the realm of the sacred. Think about preparing the egg used in ritual as an act of communion by either frying it up with some toast or incorporating it into food another way. Otherwise, dispose of the egg by burring it in your yard. You can also try to test your luck and balance the egg on its end.

When you perform this ritual, please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments section! Thank you and Blessed Vernal Equinox!

Celebrations of the Vernal Equinox

By J.A. Doyle, the Wizard of Grand

In 2013, the Vernal Equinox will take place on March 20th

The word “Equinox” comes from the Latin words meaning “equal-night.” On two days a year, in the Spring and in the Autumn, we experience near-equal times of day and night. The Spring Equinox is the astrological New Year, when the Sun enters the sign of Ares. In astrology, the sign of Aries the Ram is ruled by the Red Planet, called Mars by the Romans and Ares by the Greeks. The month of March was named so by the Romans in honor of Mars, and they held great festivals for Mars during this time. In Ancient Mesopotamia, the Babylonians celebrated their New Year at the New Moon after the Spring Equinox in celebration of the Epic of Creation and the triumph of the God Marduk over the Dragon-Goddess Tiamat. The Israelites adopted the Babylonian calender and also celebrated the Spring Equinox as their New Year, eventually holding “Pesach,” or Passover, in honor of the Exodus of the Jews from Egyptian slavery.

Tiamat and Marduk

The Germanic Eostre, Goddess of Dawn and Spring

During the 2nd-Century, the early Christian Church rendered “Pesach” into the Greek “Pascha” and celebrated the Resurrection of Christ during this time. As Christianity spread into Northern Europe, they found the Germanic Pagans celebrating the “Eostarmonath”, first attested to by the 8th-Century monk, Bede the Venerable. Bede claims that the Pagans had honored the Spring and dawn goddess Eostar during this month, and that this practice had died out by his lifetime but the people still call the “Paschal season” by the old name. So, we see now how “Passover” became “Easter.”

The festival of Easter retained many older Pagan symbols and traditions. Legends of Slain and Resurrected Gods or Heroes were widespread in Antiquity, and many of their rituals were celebrated around the Spring Equinox. Even today, Easter is determined by a Lunar reckoning, being observed at the Sunday after the Full Moon that falls after the Spring Equinox. The March Hare, or “Easter Bunny,” was associated with copious fertility and the Spring Equinox in Antiquity, also thought to be a hermaphrodite by some ancient writers. Easter ceremonies also often include great fires (the zodiacal sign of Ares is elementally associated with Fire), and scapegoating rituals meant to cleanse the community of sin. Sometimes the two are combined, such as in the burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot, practiced by many Mediterranean and South American communities. 

Netherlanders watching the Eostar-fire

Passover Meal

Eggs, in particular, have been associated with the Spring Equinox throughout history. Eggs are a symbol of new life, fertility, and the cycle of life. The Seder plate of Passover includes an egg and Early Christians would have had knowledge of, if not participation in, this. Also, because of the food-restrictions during Lent in the Middle Ages, Easter-tide was when eggs could be reintroduced to the diet. Mesopotamian and Mediterranean Christians dyed eggs red to symbolize the blood shed from Christ, and developed an egg-cracking ritual wherein the participants tap eggs together and whoever had an egg that remains intact at the end receives good luck. A popular folk tradition, particularly in North America, is the balancing of an egg on it’s tip. While may claim it can only be done on the two Equinox days, I must admit I have seen it done at other times. I prefer to think that to balance an egg on the Equinox is to only invite good luck and balance into one’s life, or at least a sense of accomplishment.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

St. Patrick

A few days before the Equinox, the Feast of Saint Patrick is celebrated on March 17th. Commonly associated with the color green, shamrocks, and great feasting, St. Patrick’s Day has become a modern expression of an ancient desire to celebrate the Spring (as well as a brief break from Lenten restrictions). According to legend, St. Patrick was sent by Rome to Ireland to spread Christianity. He allegedly used the shamrock with its three-leaves to explain the nature of the Holy Trinity to the Irish Pagans. The legend of St. Patrick chasing serpents from the Emerald Isle is an allegory of his conversion of Druidic peoples. Through this association with serpents St. Patrick was, through syncretism, identified the Vodun creator spirit and father of the loa, Damballah Wedo, the white serpent. His feast is celebrated in Haiti and New Orleans on March 17th. Damballah is also said to hold the Cosmic Egg that contains all of Creation in his mouth. Serpents, in general, are also symbols of resurrection and rebirth because of their shedding. Interestingly enough, the earliest celebration of the Spring Equinox by the Babylonians focused on the slaying of a serpent-like Goddess and the creation of the World from her corpse. The connection of serpents and the arrival of Spring is an ancient conception.

Damballah Wedo’s Veve

What we see throughout history is a celebration of resurrection, new life, and fertility. Observances to mark these celebrations are made by the position of the Sun, Moon, and stars, as well as by the warming of the air and the return of green to the Earth. Humans have performed rituals throughout history in honor of the Slain and Resurrected, parallel to the increasing sunlight of early Spring. Fires are made heaping up to the skies, images representing what we wish to cast off are immolated with the promise of new growth. In celebrating the Spring Equinox, with symbols of eggs, hares, serpents, and divine figures victorious over Death, we align with the powers that these symbols hold, and reaffirm our connection to the cycles of Nature and the omnipresence of God. It is a time to allow ourselves, like Nature, to rise up towards the Light of the Sun and begin to grow anew. It is time to celebrate the Re-Creation of the World.

The Wizard Attends Convocation 2013: The Year of the Sun

The Sun card from the Tarot

Convocation is a gathering of Mystics, Neo-Pagans, Witches, Shamans, and Alternative Religious groups that takes place during February in the Detroit area. Every year centers on a theme based on one of the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Going in order, this year was The Sun and the catchphrase of the convention was “A Little Illumination Please.” I had not attended Convocation since they moved to their new location at the Doubletree in Dearborn. While I think I will always fondly remember the old hotel, I fell in love with the new one. The Lobby and commons area was gorgeous. It reminded me of a train-station with its big clock on the high wall. My favorite feature was the fountain pond with a waterfall. It was crossed by a bridge. At the bottom of the pond were pennies thrown with wishful thinking. As far as a gathering of Pagans and Mystics is concerned, I think that the Doubletree was quite accommodating. We were checked in by a very friendly, curious girl at the desk, with dark-rimmed glasses and wavy red hair. She was my favorite and was always smiling and ready to help. The rooms were nice and neat, very standard.

The workshop I first attended there was originally a lecture called “Homosexuality in our Magical World.” The original instructors had to drop out so the Convocation planners turned to Matthew Venus of Spiritus Arcanum to moderate the workshop. There were about 10 or more people in attendance, sitting in chairs in a circle, identifying as gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgendered, and pansexual. We discussed problems such as being queer in a religious community that mostly identifies with fertility cults and a gender binary of “God and Goddess.” This, we resolved, is really a spiritual metaphor describing the Universe at large, both internal and external; as above, so below. We talked about how we as queer people are not only queer, but also willing minorities in the sense that many of us in the “Alternative Religion” group sought it out on our own. In this way, queer pagans hold an interesting space in between spaces.

Just after this workshop was a LGBT meet-and-greet held by Trillium Reclaiming, a branch of the Reclaiming Tradition. We introduced ourselves as a large group, but quickly after that we split off into circles of more familiar faces. While the meet-and-greet went on towards the midnight hours, a group of friends and acquaintances came to know each other better over extremely expensive hotel cocktails before retiring to bed.

It was hard getting to sleep that night because of all the excitement and energy. I maybe slept for a half-hour before we arose to attend our next workshop, a ritual led by Matthew Venus called “Fires of the Phoenix”. Matthew, dressed entirely in white linen, stood in the middle of the room of people, a canvas painted with mysterious symbols before him on the ground. He intoned an incantation to connect with the energy of Heaven & the Underworld, to center them here on Earth. After this, we focused on our breathing, closing our eyes and taking deep breaths, we listened to Matthew’s voice as he guided us on an internal journey. Individually, in our own minds, we crossed a river to a moonlit temple where we offered up herbs and our sorrows to a Phoenix. We merged with that Phoenix as it immolated and turned to ash upon the pyre of the herbs we offered, only to emerge again as a hatchling Phoenix at Sunrise, purified and reborn. I have been led through this ritual meditation by Matthew before, and yet this time was different for me. It had a very large impact upon me, and I can say I felt different after the journey.

The next one I attended was instructed by author, shaman, and activist, Raven Kaldera, who was also one of the wise voices at the queer discussion the night previous. Raven’s class focused on Personal Gnosis, or knowledge gained that cannot be verified as truth from books or the internet. As an example, someone may utilize Copal as an offering of incense when doing a Jupiter Ritual. While Jupiter is not explicitly connected to Copal anywhere, while meditating on the aspects of Jupiter a practioner may have had a strong message to burn Copal. This is why it is called “Personal Gnosis,” or Personal Knowing- it does not come from books or learning.

When practicing religions that communicate with Gods and spirits, it is good to take a moment to discern between what may be the voice of the god and what may be the voice of your “mental sock puppet”, as Raven put it. Working within Norse mythology and traditions, Raven pointed out that he approaches his theology as a “Hard Polytheist”- with absolute literal belief in the existence of and interaction with the Gods of his tradition, just as we might say an Evangelical Christian is a “Hard Theist”. Some people are “Soft” in their spiritual approach, meaning that for some the Gods, spirits and other incorporeal beings they interact with are portions of their psyche, or archetypical symbols empowered through history and culture. With either view, taking time to sort through what you receive spiritually or are inspired to do by an incorporeal source is imperative to spiritual growth.

I would have to say that I recognize Raven Kaldera as an excellent member of our community at large. After encouraging us to debate with that “mental sock-puppet” in our minds to see if it really is “Odin” or whatever God we are attempting to communicate with, Raven spent a lot of time describing the ideal type of leader. Since a focus of the workshop was on Personal Gnosis in a group setting (such as a magical lodge, coven, or study group), Raven went into explicit detail about the responsibilities of the leader in a group that would deal with Personal Gnosis. Raven impressed both myself and my agnostic partner who has his career in Human Resources. My partner said that he would heir Raven Kaldera to handle Human Resources just based upon what he talked about in the workshop.

Another workshop I attended was Temple of Witchcraft Minister Adam Sartwell’s Animal Magick class. He spoke of techniques to connect to animal spirits, meditations and offerings, as well as his own experiences in practicing these techniques. Adam led us through a guided journey twice to meet with a spirit animal. The first time I was seeking resolution for a problem I was facing and was shown an image of a Bald Eagle swooping down to catch a Salmon in it’s talons. I am still trying to work out all the meanings from this particular vision. During the second time, I met with the Fox and he showed me how to run fast in the snow and we merged into one creature. This, I think, was to deepen my connection to the animal spirit I feel closest to.

Later in the evening, we got ready to attend a ritual called “Congress of the Bones,” essentially a ceremony of necromancy. Before your imaginations get too wild with images of bones and candles strewn about, ghosts summoned from their tombs to predict the future or murder the living, allow me to explain. The type of necromancy enacted in the ritual that night was one of communion and love, not supernatural enslavement of ghosts or zombies. As person who has lived through the deaths of too many family members and friends since early childhood, the reverence for my Ancestors and the remembrance of my loved-ones, the work of necromancy is very dear to my heart. In this ritual we called to the Dead, our family and friends, our pets, and our teachers from beyond, to be with us again in an in-between space.

We assembled the circle, chairs were laid out around the perimeter. There were possibly 100 people in attendance, led by author and teacher, Christopher Penczak and his fellow Temple of Witchcraft Ministers Steve Kenson and Adam Sartwell. Upon the central altar table were cups of water, wine, a loaf of bread, and some other offerings given to the spirits of the dead in love. I was asked by Christopher if I would invoke the Primal Mother and Father, our first human ancestors- Eve and Adam, if that is what you call them. I was very honored to accept! Matthew Venus also had an active role in the ritual by summoning the Forgotten Dead- those who are no longer remembered and cared for and those who were lost in war or murder, the lonely ones. Four more people sitting in the cardinal directions volunteered to hail the spirits and summon the elements fire, air, water, and earth from the East, South, West, and North, respectively. Additionally, twelve participants around the circle volunteered to call to members of the Mighty Dead, those who are dead who, in life, did great works and have been elevated spiritually- Saints, Bodhisattva, Heroes, and Ascended Masters.

Joining hands, we proceeded to cast a circle to serve as sacred space, where the supernormal can occur. After the initial rites were performed we sat down, there was a buzz in the air. I was nervous, so I continued to focus on my breathing as we had begun in the casting of the circle. I took a moment of stillness to connect with the energies of First Parents. In my mind’s eye I perceived two figures behind me, a female at my left and a male at my right. Their forms were humanoid, shadowy but defined, there was no clear ethnic origin- my intent was to connect with our earliest Ancestors with whom all people of the Earth share blood with.

When I heard my cue, I left the circle and, although I cannot remember the precise wording, I was inspired to call them in this way: “Maaa! First Mother, giver of Blood, Keeper of the Gate of Life, we invoke your presence in this rite!” and “Paaa! First Father, giver of Bone, Keeper of Seed, we invoke your presence in this rite!” I encircled the altar table in the center of the room where Christopher, Steve, Adam, and Matthew stood, and rejoined the perimeter. I was confident that the summons was effective and that the spiritual presence of the Primal Mother and Father could be felt. I chose to call them by intoning “Ma” and “Pa” because I have found that in many languages around the world, the most basic words to describe “mother” and “father” are commonly “ma” and “pa” or “da”. In this way, I furthered the connection and, in a way, took on the role of the child calling to his parents for love and affection.

During another portion of the ritual, we looked internally to call upon ancestral spirit allies to be with us. I was joined in spirit by my birth father, Michael Andrew Doyle. In my mind’s eye, I was also encircled by numerous scribes, old men and women reaching far back into time; I knew these spirits to be the priests who, throughout history, worked the Art of Magic within the Art of Pen and Word. I understood that they appeared to me because this is part of my work, continuing the tradition of magic as a writer. I will share one more part of my experience, a bit of personal gnosis gained from the necromantic rite. In my mental vision, I was informed by a spirit with a flame on its brow, “The Way is found in Words, Stones, Herbs, and Stars. BUT without the fifth ingredient of the HEART, it is for nothing.”

The other workshop that left a profound impact upon my spirit is one I cannot go into great detail about, precisely because of profundity of that impact and what I heard there. It was taught by Enafae Moore and Auntie Dame, and it was called Step Through Your Looking Glass. Auntie Dame was the teacher of the man I was apprenticed to, Matthew Venus, so because of this connection from Auntie Dame to Matthew to me, I was enthralled to her during this class. Dame has such a great way of teaching a room full of students. Her style is one of humor, honesty, no excuses, no bullshit. She talks about magic and spirituality without apologizing, without trying to water it down or make it sound scientific and rational. Enafae and Dame did visit upon some quantum physics theory, but I get the feeling that the actual work, the experience of magic is more important than cold-hard proof. If you want to practice magic, if you want to live an extraordinary life, if you want to fulfill your potential as a being of light made of star-stuff, you just have to accept it. Dame and Enafae’s workshop was about illuminating your Shadow, accepting who you are, who you think you are, what has happened to you, what you have done, how other people see you and taking that energy, directing it into your Destiny for the better, hopefully not only for your self but for those around you as well.

Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of lunching with Matthew Venus, Auntie Dame, shamanic practitioner Kenn Day, and one of his students before going off to another one of Matthew’s workshops. I was pleased to see that even my elders in the community have a sense of humor and humility! I enjoyed being in the presence of respected teachers like these, to see their humanity and, well, realness. I was humbled and delighted.We finished lunch and parted ways with our hosts to one of the lecture rooms. Matthew taught his class about the history and use of dolls in magic. Ranging from statues made of stone and wood to cloth-and-thread figures stuffed with cotton and herbs, dolls and figurines can be used (and have been used) for both healing and harming magic through out history. Many people think that jabbing a needle into a doll’s heart is solely for the purpose of cursing and hurting the person the doll is representing. What I gathered from Matthew is that the needle could be seen more like the needle used in Acupuncture, which are intended to open channels of energy in the body. When the needle is being jabbed into the doll, it is really all about the intention of the person doing the jabbing. Were the person focusing on sending healing energy into the heart, to help clear out a blockage in the heart or aid spiritually during surgery. In all sorts of magic, what really makes them “good or evil”, “ beneficial or malevolent” is simply the intention of the magician themselves. Although, this concept opens up some philosophical musings that will be visited upon in a later blog post here.

While visiting the Merchant’s room I caught up with Jim Ekhardt of Blackberry Pines Farm, and he invited me to attend the Annual Summer Gathering, held on Lake Michigan this year! I have had the honor of meeting Jim before a few times, a friendly, jovial spirit with a big smile, big beard, and big personality. In times past he has always encouraged me to attend the Annual Summer Gathering and I haven’t for various reasons (excuses). Seeking community now more than ever, I am looking forward to the opportunity to be at the ASG. I’ve never done ritual on the shore before!

As the evening approached, the Convocation crowd was getting more riled up. It was time for the masquerade held every year in a large ballroom in the hotel. Over the evening, the mystics and shamans transformed from (mostly) ordinary-looking people into mythological forms. Faerie babies, demon cowboys, dominatrix goddesses, angelic geisha, and all manner of gender-blenders came together on a dance floor in the Doubletree in Dearborn. Don’t think it was all spiral-dances and cheesy Pagan chanting! You’d be surprised at how… dare I say?…. normal we “freaks” are once you get to know us, and see how bad our dancing is! It was hilarious dancing with this crowd, sometimes to Top 40 remixes, other times to group dances like the Time Warp and the Harlem Shake.

Finally retiring from the commotion of the masquerade, our group found our way back to the hotel room. When we were away from the larger mob of the convention, where the personae we often adopt to interact with unfamiliar people has a little bit more space to fall away, when the true reflection of who we are was able to shine through, those were some of my most cherished moments at Convocation. I learned much from attending workshops, I experienced a lot in rituals and meditations, I gained a new-found sense of who I am and obtained a firmer grasp on the understanding of my power and potential…. and all of these things were transmitted to me through a foundation of community, friendship, and compassion. It reminded me that All You Need Is Love and that the True Magic, The Law of the Universe is Love. This, I believe, was expressed to me in vision during the Congress of the Bones when I received the message from that spirit, “The Way is found in Words, Stones, Herbs, and Stars. BUT without the fifth ingredient of the HEART, it is for nothing.”