Thursday, December 29, 2016

Twelfth Night Charm

On this, the final night of Yule, we celebrate with a Core Order of Ritual, Deity of the Occasion as fitting based on your chosen form of divination. The following charm may either be performed alone just prior to divination or as part of the working of the rite with the divination to be a forecast for the year to come for the collective of folks gathered.

Devotional/Prayer: A Charm of Twelfth Night Blessing and Divination for the Year to Come

For this, light one candle for each line of prayer and then make the offerings when instructed.

With this first flame, we honor our Mothers of Old.
With second flame, our hearth and home.
With flame of three, our land-kin, most fair and free.
With flame of four, men upon our family trees.
Five flames bright, our beloved housewights.
Six flames bright, our Ancestral Guides.
With the seventh flame, the Winter Goddess we hail.
With the eighth flame, the Evergreens prevail.
With flame of nine, our allies be praised.
With flame of ten, to the Gods be our glasses raised.
Eleven flames, bring in the boar.
Twelfth Night’s Flame, completes the lore.
Reflections on the year now past
Inform our paths as we now cast
Our lots to see what the future holds
May our fortunes be foretold!

Cast your divination set or take your annual omen per protocol. Once your reading has been made clear, offering a spirit, food, or incense in thanks.

At midnight, take the Yule log outside and throw it on the fire while bringing next year’s log into the home. If you are not using a Yule Log, you may want to carry out the “old year” with the tea lights on a cookie sheet and “bring in the new year” with a fresh set of tea lights.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Be an Activist and Advocate for Change

Below, you will find attached ten tips for leaders to work toward social change I got from the class I am taking at Regis. First, some words of my own.

Social engagement, for me, has been very hard. I have often shied away from conflict, especially loud conflict, and I have experienced my share of gaslighting and tone-policing most women who speak out are subjected to at one time or another in their lives. I have had people stand up for me during those times as well, and I still remember and cherish each and every time someone spoke out to help me.

Those who see "boots on the ground" calls to action result in distress, guilt, and even shame in our "inability to help:" this is for you. I am writing this today, feeling inspired to share what has helped me to break my silence and cycles of fear.

There are actually three different classifications for those who are part of a social movement, Activists, Allies, and Advocates.

The Activists are easy. We see these folks on picket lines, holding signs and chanting, inspiring massive groups of people to speak in unity. This can be a very scary thought for the introverts and softer folks among us. If this is you, there is nothing wrong with you.

The Allies are those who learn about the plight of the group for which they want to speak on a deeper, more personal level. They learn about who they are, what they care about, how they got here, and what they need. The allies listen and act when there is a chance. These interactions are more likely to be one-offs and likely have fewer participants. They make a big impact on smaller situations and individuals. These are important. There have been some good resources floating around on what it means to be an ally. The title, "ally," is not one you can give yourself, though. You have to earn it through action.

Advocates are often the administrators. I have heard the term "administrative activist" thrown around to describe them. These are the folks who write letters, organize campaigns, run the crowdsourcing, provide a plan for clothing and feeding a long-term protest, and focus on being a voice for social change among leaders and politicians. These folks are vital and often unsung heros of these movements.

My point is we need all three of these, and no matter what our strengths or areas where we can improve might be, we can be a vital part of creating social change for the groups we serve. The ten tips in this short piece are likely to be useful no matter what your mission might be.

Thank you for reading. May you be inspired today. May your heart be moved.

Be an Activist and Advocate for Change

The nonprofit sector is the second largest part of the private economy in the United States, generating almost $1 trillion per year. This sector employs nearly 10% of the workforce and in many locations that number is even greater. With such a huge potential economic engine and political power base, why are nonprofit organizations almost never taken into consideration when key community and political decisions are made? Why aren’t nonprofits more engaged in advocacy and activism?

The answer: many nonprofit leaders are afraid of the political process and/or don’t think they need to get involved in lobbying and activism. Some of them are even afraid that if they lobby they will lose their funding. The fact remains that nonprofits can only gain strength and power (as organizations, alliances, and as a sector) if they become active in the activist process.

Here are some tips on getting involved as both an advocate and an activist.

  1. Every nonprofit has the right and the responsibility to become engaged and involved in activism. The IRS permits a certain percentage of a nonprofit’s income to be used to support lobbying around issues (not candidates). If you want to file as an actual lobbying organization your board of directors can easily pass a stipulation to the 501 (c) (3) called an; H election.
  2. Of the $1 trillion per year going into the nonprofit sector almost $750 billion comes from the government and public sector. This is a huge amount of money and the decisions on the use of the money are determined by the elected officials and the bureaucratic structures.
  3. Activism is all about leadership development. It takes an effective leader to testify in front of a house or senate committee, and to mobilize people to write letters and e-mails. Advocacy is a great training ground for the development of strong leaders.
  4. Be clear when it comes to voicing what you want. Make sure you are very clear and specific when you request something from a decision-maker.
  5. Research to make sure you know what you are talking about. Before you begin to write letters or testify make sure you do your homework and know the facts. It is not okay to just have a lot of passion and compassion. You need to be competent as well.
  6. The media can become your best friend. A famous community organizer once told me that the “media is the great equalizer.” The media can help spread the word and help mobilize other people. But treat the media with respect and be prepared and careful when talking with a reporter.
  7. Don’t be intimidated by power. This is a big issue with many nonprofit leaders who feel intimidated by elected representatives and people of authority. Remember, these representatives work for you and it is important that they listen carefully to the people who are close to the issues and solutions.
  8. Don’t be afraid of power. One definition of power is “the ability to act.” Without this ability we feel helpless. In the middle of the word empowerment is power – we should all be working on helping people gain more strength, confidence, and power.
  9. Mobilize your constituency. The political establishment responds to people who are committed enough to express their opinions and become involved in the democratic process. We need to demonstrate democracy by having people become active in the issues they care about through letter writing, emails, testifying, phone calls, and personal visits.
  10. Have a “deep throat” working for you. When working on an issue, try to have a friend “inside the system” provide you with information that will help you map out a strategy, or time the writing of a letter, or advise you as to when it will be a good time to testify.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

We Can't Drink Oil

The bosom of the Earth Mother upon which we feed
Fills our mouths with oil as we suck upon our greed.
The Earth is our Mother, abused by our fathers,
We roll our eyes at her and begin to despise her.
We look out upon her and see where she’s not pretty anymore—and look away.
We take her for granted, and we ignore her anguish.
What’s one more scar? What’s one more bruise?
What’s one more cut, one more bleeding mark upon her flesh?
Why does it matter when everything is so broken?
Why does it matter when the marks are already there,
Reminding us of the wounds that are festering below
Because we won’t let them heal?

Instead, we set our sights skyward, looking up at the clouds and the stars,
Looking up at the skyline, at twilight, at dawn.
Looking toward the light to block out the shadowy places
To avoid seeing what has happened, is happening around us.
Looking away from the places that hurt our eyes,uhh
Looking away from the places that hurt our hearts,
Looking away—from all that we’ve done to her.

Battered and beaten and bruised and yet still she blooms,
Bringing us season after season of crops to feed us
Even though we deplete all her resources,
Rip everything from the land that would keep us strong,
Pull everything from her that makes her rich to make ourselves rich
Until she is dusty and dry without even enough water to shed a tear.

Impenetrable desire for money and power lead to shots fired,
Hearts shatter, the Ancestors are crying.
The children of the earth are willing to die for this.
Are we really willing to kill them?
Backhoes and bulldozers tearing up the land,
Bringing the ancestors bones to the surface.
If this were a white cemetery, all hell would be raised with those bones.
The bones of the Ancestors of the peoples of this land,
Living people who elicit no more than a shrug
if even a second glance at their suffering.
What kind of nation have we built upon the bones of these ancestors?
What kind of nation do we live in? Where do we live?

We call the Gods and Goddesses the First Children of the Mother.
We call the Mother by the names we give to her where we stand.
Here in Colorado, she is known for the earth colored red.
We hail to her as our Earth Mother, Mother Colorado.
If the native peoples are the First Children of the Mother of this land,
Do we not then owe them our respect? Do we not owe them honor?
Do we not owe honor to their Ancestors, to the Ancestors of this land,
To the Ancestors of the people who were first
To worship the Earth Mother in this place?

Instead we call them Outdwellers .
We push them to the outskirts of our society.
We call them “less than” and corral them onto broken lands
Where they try strive to hold on to what little bit of sacred space they have left,
And we take that from them, too.
When will we learn to respect them? When will we learn?
Soon the oil will be gone, the water will be gone,
The food will be gone, the animals will be gone, and the people will be gone.
The Earth will remain, but if we don’t stop, she won’t be able to sustain us.
Earth Mother, save us from ourselves.
Earth Mother, hear our prayer.
We can't drink oil.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Short Essay on Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation. Since the beginning of our predecessors’ quest for control of the lands of the Americas, colonization efforts have served to massively appropriate the lands, art, ceremonial artifacts and practices to the extinction and near-extinction of hundreds of Indigenous cultures. The remaining fragments that the Indigenous peoples have are heavily tied to their religious identity. The appropriation of these last vestiges of a once-thriving people is fueling the final extinction of the original cultures (Young & Brunk, 2012, p. 93). Appropriation is different from cultural exchange in that exchange occurs naturally between two or more cultures whose interactions are on a peer-level. Appropriation occurs when a group with more power takes cultural elements from a group with lesser power without their permission or instruction. We see far-too-many self-professed “White Shamans” whose lineage involves a list of other white people who have learned the knowledge they teach from books written about Indigenous peoples that often blend the religious practices of several tribes while giving credit to almost none of them. These individuals are often referred to as plastic shamans, these people attempting to pass themselves off as shamans, holy people, or other traditional spiritual leaders with no genuine connection to the traditions or cultures they claim to represent (Pagan Wiccan, 2016).

The spirit of appropriation is also relevant to those who work with “dead cultures” such as the Old Irish, Old Norse, and Indo-Iranian hearth cultures. As Starhawk (2011) states, appropriation is “Taking the gifts of the Ancestors without a commitment to their descendants” (p. 59).  This is the premise of much of the awareness we promote at Mountain Ancestors. Rev. William Ashton II (2016) recently spoke of Outdwellers being made by a new power of dominant culture pushing the conquered peoples to the outside away from the fire; his modeling involves making an offering of tobacco to the descendants of this land, those who we have made the Outdwellers, in the hopes that we will one day heal the wounds inflicted by colonialism in the United States. Further, we promote the exploration of the current, modern peoples from the cultures whose Gods and practices we have borrowed or reconstructed in addition to the scholarly pursuit of ancient archaeology and lore, not only as adult education, but also as part of children’s education. We have been working toward peace relations between the pagan community and the Indigenous peoples in the area. There are several local tribes, and it is part of our work to build a bridge of respect and understanding with them in the hopes of building community.


Ashton II, Rev. W. (2016). Outsiders. Mountain Ancestors Fall Symposium. 17 Sept 2016. Boulder, CO.

Pagan Wiccan Plastic Shamans. Retrieved from

Starhawk. (2011). The empowerment manual: A guide for collaborative groups. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Young, J.O & Brunk, C.G. eds. (2012). The ethics of cultural appropriation. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Part the Mists: A Podcast Interview

Rev. Badger and I attended an ADF festival, more of a retreat, with Columbia Grove, ADF, at Trout Lake Abbey in Washington. The entire event was meaningful. We met some pretty brilliant folks, including Phaedra Bonewits, whom neither of us had seen for ages. 

During the trip, I was honored to be asked for an interview with Arin. They asked me quite a few questions about how I ended up where I am. Also included in this issue are words from several members of the ADF Hellenic Kin.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

So begins a new chapter...Married Life!

Today, Rev. William Ashton and I were joined in marriage at our home in Longmont surrounded by friends and family. Our presiding clergy was our own Rev. Derek Wrigley, and the ceremony was lovely. I feel blessed and doubly blessed for the love and support of so many wonderful people. May the blessings of love and compassion fuel the fires of your hearths.

By the waters that support and surround us, 
by the sky that stretches out above us, 
and by the land that extends about us, I offer you blessings. 
May your love run deep as the Waters within the Earth. 
May your spirits soar together as you celebrate your joys.
May your dedication to one another be as mighty as the Mountains upon which we stand, 
And may the fire that burns at the center of all things burn within your hearts for all your days.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What do you feel makes a person an effective leader in ADF?

From Leadership Development 1...

In order to succeed as a leader in ADF, there are many traits of which an individual must already be possessed. There is also a vast difference in the traits required for local leaders and international leaders. On a local level, a leader has a better chance for success when they are able to function within a group setting, and basic leadership training will often suffice. Individuals who wish to serve at an organizational level must be able to perform well with little support and be highly self-motivated. ADF does attempt to provide support in some instances, but this is inconsistent and difficult to maintain. We are an organization of volunteers, and we have a tendency to use this as an excuse to cover up the fact that we often do not give our leaders the tools they need to do their jobs.
In order for leaders in ADF to provide a better place for our folk to commune in fellowship and align our values with the work of the Three Kindreds, it is imperative that we instill a better sense of value in the human resources we have as an organization—and the human element may be the only real resource we have. We currently have a wide variety of leaders who are in various stages of burnout, and until we recognize this, we will not be able to provide the healing necessary for these once high-performing individuals to excel once more. It is time to move from “Fast as a Speeding Oak,” which we have used to allow ourselves to stagnate, to “Why not Excellence?”

Isaac’s vision is still relevant and sound. We are drifting as an organization, and sound leadership is required to keep us on task. Our leadership teams do not operate with collaboration or in consensus, which leads to quite a few folks who feel unheard and left out of some of the most basic but important aspects of ADF functionality. We have leaders who have been stating out loud that they are burnt out, and instead of providing relief to them, we have a track record of providing criticism that has even been coupled with a pronouncement of disappointment. In order to be leaders in ADF, we need to begin leading by example, not following the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” but the platinum rule, “Do unto others that they would have done unto them” or alternatively stated, “Treat others as they want to be treated” (Allessandra, Platinum).

The number one, single most effective way of ensuring success as a leader, as a person that others will willingly follow, is to treat others with respect and dignity and in the manner they want to be treated instead of projecting onto them how we assume they want to be treated based on our own ego-reaction to their situation. Leaders have followers. If no one is following you, or if people are following you out of fear, are you really leading?