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Yule 3573 BCE/Yule 2013 CE

YULE 3573 BCE        

The big warrior stepped carefully around her sleeping Tribe mates. With the soft glow of the embers from that old hearth, she could just make out the small form of Maki, lying on her side and curled up into a mound.  Tem bent down and touched the sleeping youngster lightly, patting softly a portion of the lump that she thought was a shoulder. The girl sat up, squinting in the dim light and looked up expectantly.

Good, Tem thought, the girl’s training was holding. Youngsters in the Tribe were taught to make no noise upon waking, even when surprised.  In some situations, noise could mean life or death for some. Tem pointed her chin toward the cave opening and gestured for the girl to come.

Maki rose quietly, shedding a pile of skins, and made her way to the cave entrance. Tem held open the covering just wide enough for them to exit, and they stepped together out into the dark morning.

Tem led the girl short distance from the cave under a stand of Pines, and turned toward her.  Standing tall, she held her staff up above her head. “This is the morning after the longest night. The old hearth fire is dying. As Guardian to the Queen, it is my responsibility to supply a new Yule log for the coming turn of the seasons. Once the sun rises, the Queen and many helpers will empty the Hearth of ashes and debris, and clean the space afresh. When she is ready, She will signal us to light the new Yule log and rejuvenate the fire. I have chosen you to assist me.”

The girl did not reply. She simply stood and shivered.  Tem stood silent, watching the girl. The Hearth Queen had been correct. The girl was experiencing the depression that sometimes attacked in the dark time. Tem hoped she could help the girl begin to turn herself toward the light. This kind of lethargy could infect others in the Tribe.

“Before we scout out the sacred tree and cut the new Yule log, I have something to show you. Follow me.” Tem turned and walked briskly away, not looking back to see if the girl followed.

Maki hesitated, and then became afraid. Tem moved so quietly that Maki could not see where she had gone. It was so dark!  She quickly started to walk in the direction Tem had taken.  Before she had taken 5 strides, Tem appeared in front of her. ”come.” she said.

Tem led the girl uphill. They were quickly at the edge of the trees. As they entered the big clearing, the night seemed to lighten a bit. In the middle of the clearing, Tem turned once more to the girl. “Before we take the log from the sacred tree, we must prepare ourselves.”

Tem held her hands to the sky, facing the mountain and spoke “Mother, we thank you for the dark and for the light; for the sun and the moon. We thank you for the life we have experienced in this turn of the wheel, and ask for your continued support and guidance.”

She turned to the girl and spoke softly “I know you are not thankful for the dark, and that you yearn for the warm mornings to come. But look up, young warrior. What do you see?”

The girl looked up. “I see the moon and the stars.” She replied. “They are beautiful.”

“And did you not learn this summer how to navigate by using the stars?” Tem asked her.

“I did. There is the North Star.” The girl pointed.

“Maki—if you are lost in the woods and cannot find your way to the river and our village, what should you do?” Tem asked.

The youngster made a “tsk” noise. It was a very elementary question. “Wait for night, of course. Find the North Star and go in the opposite direction till you find the river.”

“So, young Guardian, the dark DOES have value. The dark guides us and helps us find our center, and our home. Without the dark, we could all be lost.”

Tem could see the light of awareness come into the eyes of the girl. She laid her big hand on the shoulder of the girl.

“Now, we are ready. Let’s go find a sacred tree. This turn you will light the yule log for our people. For this task can be done only by one who has learned the lesson of the Dark.”

        

YULE 2013 CE

Forget not the value of the darkness. For only in the dark can we see the stars.

That is my lesson for this Yule. I have been told that due to a funding issue and through no fault of my own, I will be laid off on Dec 30 from the new job I have so loved.  I am sad. I knew taking the job that it was a project position, subject to Congressional funding.  But I never even considered that the idiots in Washington would take out their vitriol upon those who are trying so hard to assist the long term unemployed. Silly me.

But the Wheel and the Tribe always come through when I need them. I have been guided toward another position, permanent this time. One that will provide me with the opportunity to do some good, and in the field I want, and with a little more money.

I am confident, as the light returns, that this ending will spark a new fire, a new beginning that will serve me and my Tribe and allow me the opportunity to do good work.

I have learned from Experience, and from the Hearth Queen, that in tough times, one must keep a good thought, a clean heart, and soldier on.

And so it goes…..

 

 

 

 

Hallows 3573 BCE/2013 CE

 

Hallows 3573 BCE

The wound on her leg sent lightning bolts of pain upward with each step.  She leaned heavily on her hastily carved walking stick, struggling up the grassy incline. She checked the horse’s gait again. The mare had taken no harm from the mishap that had wounded the warrior.

 It happened when they were crossing the wide river. A log, floating quickly downstream, had knocked the warrior off her feet into the cold water. As she tried to swim back toward the horse, she was swept downstream by the fast current and tumbled across some big rocks. She had finally found her footing and made it back to the shore, but she had sustained a gash across the outside of her thigh that was pretty deep. She found the mare, who had made it across alone, and bound the wound with bandages from her pack. The bleeding had stopped, but it was still painful to walk. She had elected to find a walking stick and continue onward without unloading all the precious cargo from the horse, because she knew she was close to her destination. She held on to consciousness by savoring the aroma of smoking meats that wafted on the frosty biting breeze.

  Her horse was laden with sacks and packages; the fruit of her summer’s trading. The big warrior had travelled all the way to the seas since leaving the village late last spring. She had made several very good trades, getting a high price for the finely crafted bows and skins her Tribe had made last winter. They would be glad to have the goods she was bringing. Tripping over a root, she reminded herself to stay in the now. None of these things would do anyone any good if she failed to get home to deliver them.

Walking more carefully now, she crested the hill and stopped to look out over the valley. Yes, she could just make out the thin smoke rising through the trees from her village.

She exhaled long and loud, and smiled as her heart filled. Home at last.

 

Hallows 2013 c.e. 

Not much of a breeze today, as I stand in the side yard, holding branches for my partner Justice as she slices them into a burnable size for our indoor fireplace. The logs vibrate as the new chainsaw touches the bark and I lean in, holding steady. The new saw glides through the wood smoothly, and she smiles, happy with her new tool.

She had an old chain saw, much loved, that she used until last winter. But it had reached the age where the motor was starting to wear out, and I was becoming increasingly worried about her safety.

As always, we first considered used saws and talked it over. IN this case, we decided to buy a new one. This is a tool we will use for 10-15 years, and most of the ones we could afford used were large and heavy or had lots of wear.  So I did my research, found one on sale and we went to have a look.

And now here we were, slicing through wood easily and quickly. A good decision, I think.

It’s been a good harvest season overall. We have put up; tomatoes and peppers grown by our “pack”, pears that we bartered with the neighbors, apples from Lance’s yard,  grapes from the land of a friend, pickles, dilly beans, and blueberries from the farmers ’ market. I do most of the canning and freezing at our house, and Justice is in charge of growing things. It’s a division of labor that I really like. Other members of our pack pitch in, and we all share and trade the things we have put up. 

We’ve “buttoned up” the house and sheds for winter, and made several lean-to’s in the yard for the dogs to get out of the wind or rain. We have put away the mower and trimmers, lined up the little snow blower (found on the curb 5 years ago), propped shovels and salt outside the front door. I have kitty litter on this week’s shopping list (we don’t have cats-we keep it in the cars in case of getting stuck on ice).

While I watch the game tonight, I will be making fire starters out of cardboard egg crates (NOT Styrofoam!), dryer lint and melted candle stubs. I make 8-10 dozen of those every year, and store them in our dormant little cook stove that sits next to the fireplace. 

So, like my warrior Guardian ancestors, I am ready to tuck myself in, warm and snug, for the long Wisconsin storytelling season. It feels good to be ready…an accomplishment for a city girl to know that if the lights go out (for a short or long time) that I and my pack can survive and take care of ourselves and our loved ones. 

May your coming dark season be warm and safe and happy. May you have health and prosperity and love.  Many blessings in the Dark.

Porchdawg

 

 

 

ACTION Interview with Jade River

Yule 2012 interview with Jade River in ACTION (the official newsletter of Alternate Religious Educational Network).

Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess—International
Interview with Jade River
By Christopher Blackwell

We hear from time to time about the Dianic Tradition in Wicca, it has quite an history of its own so it is sometimes interesting to talk with some of the people and some of the groups that are in involved with it. I heard of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess—International and asked Jade River if she could tell us about it and the women’s spirituality movement in the midwest. She was kind enough to give me time for this interview.

Christopher: First could you give us a bit of back ground about yourself?

Jade: I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky in a fairly functional family. There were two major influences in my teens and early 20s…music and my uncontrolled empathy.

I am a singer. I sang in school choirs, several folk groups and even had a regular spot on a teen television program. The ideals of the music I sang (racial justice, peace and freedom) formed the basis of my values. These were divergent from a majority of my community. But, the music carried me forward into places different from my family and neighbors.

The second influence was what drew me to the Craft. The women in my family were psychic. This did have a degree of usefulness and practical functionality. They knew when someone was arriving unexpectedly, a general level of communication with each other and a multitude of other skills from the mundane to the exceptional. Each of us had our own areas of strength in this realm and like my Mother and Grandmother I too carried this ability.

Despite the fact I came from this family of gifted women, no one ever talked about how to harness this skill. These abilities were clearly not a secret, but it seemed my Mother and Grandmother used their capability with aplomb. I, on the other hand, was overwhelmed with information. Instead of trying to increase my psychic skills, I was looking for a way to turn it down. I knew the craft taught psychic skills and I hoped to find others who could mentor me.

Christopher: How did you find your way into Wicca?

Jade: In 1975 I was an unhappily married suburbanite. I had done exactly what I thought was expected of me…got my degree, married well, bought a house, got a dog, got a job, and had a baby. Despite following the conventional formula for happiness, I was miserable. I had been an active Girl Scout from grade school through college and worked every summer at camp until I married. I used to wonder if all the other “grown up” Girl Scouts were also living somewhere in suburbia and feeling as dismal as I.

A bright glimmer among the tedium occurred when an old Girl Scout friend called to tell me she was going to be in Louisville. She also announced with some bravado that she was now a lesbian and asked if that would cause any problems. She said, “I’m a lesbian.” I said, “I’m a liberal.” and that I would be glad to see her. I was soon to discover where many of the grown up Girl Scouts had gone. They were part of the lesbian community. It did not take long for me to realize I was also a lesbian.

I left my husband with lightening-speed and my new love and I stepped together boldly into the women’s movement of the 70’s. Within the lesbian community there were women who called themselves witches. I sought them out and pestered them with questions. Eventually, they told me they considered “witch” to be a political identification and had no idea what the spiritual connection was. They did, however, know of some “real” feminist witches in Ohio and networked me to them. This group in Cincinnati became my first coven.

Christopher: What started your interest in Women’s spirituality?

Jade: The coven I joined was a feminist Dianic group. Z Budapest had made the connection between the oppression of women and their empowerment through magic. My coven, although well intentioned, didn’t really know how to do ritual or celebrate the holydays. However, armed with Z’s book, then called The Feminist Book of Light and Shadows, we set out to make magic.

I don’t believe any of us knew there was a “mainstream” pagan movement at that time. Feminist Craft said you were a witch if you said you were three times and then thought about what that meant. According to that declaration we were all witches and we began, along with other feminists, to build Dianic tradition.

Christopher: What was the Pagan community like back then in your area?

Jade: My first experiences with pagan community were in Kentucky. This was before the internet when just finding other pagans was a challenge and, at times, scary. When we did find someone we would first meet in a public place just in case the person was unbalanced or an evangelical Christian.

I met a Gardnerian who set off her smoke alarm during the only ritual she shared. I didn’t know what a Gardnerian was, but that didn’t keep me from snickering about the smoke alarm. After that she was not to keen on showing me more. I have to say that I did not seek out the mainstream pagan community. Dianic Wicca was insular, consuming and self-perpetuating. The numbers of women identifying as Dianic was growing and as far as I knew, we were all lesbians.

With my move to Wisconsin in 1982 I came into a much larger and diverse pagan community. There were many options for practice in and around Madison including the emerging Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess.

Christopher: What was Of A Like Mind?

Jade: In 1978 I attended a conference called Witches and Amazons in Columbus, Ohio. Several friends and I drove to the gathering in a panel van loaded with beanbag chairs for seats. A woman who had traveled to the Amazon in search of amazons spoke, as did Z Budapest. The conference was inspiring and I was exhilarated to be surrounded by other feminist witches.

When we crawled back into the van I announced to the women on their beanbags I thought I knew how to organize for the Goddess. They scoffed because I was always organizing something. I told them I was serious and that if I just had a little money I thought I knew what needed to be done.

When I walked in my door at home the phone was ringing. It was my Mother calling to tell me that my Grandmother (who I loved, but with whom I had a tremendous values conflict) had just died and left me a 2.5-carat diamond ring, a mink stole, some nuclear power plant stock and a little cash. Having just said, “If I had some money I would organize for the Goddess.” and having inherited things which I judged urgently needed transforming, I took this as confirmation of the work I was supposed to do.

As I waited for probate to close I evaluated my situation. I did not think I could organize in Kentucky. Life there was difficult for a liberal, and even dangerous for a lesbian and a witch. I needed to find a more hospitable location. I was surprised to discover that Wisconsin was the only state in the United States where being a lesbian was protected by law and that there was a large pagan community in and around Madison. So, in the fall of 1982, with the money I got from my Grandmother, my 9-year-old Son, my Partner and I moved to Wisconsin.

I had heard a quote from Gandhi that said something like: “If you want to build a movement you need to have a press.” Taking Gandhi’s advice, I decided my first step in organizing for the Goddess was to begin a newspaper.

After arriving in Wisconsin, I began to look for women who could help me start the paper. I thought I needed 3 people, one who knew about printing, one who knew about writing and one who knew about photography. However, soon I met Lynnie Levy. Lynnie had a degree in printing, a degree in photography and a few years earlier had been in graduate school in English. I talked with Lynnie about my interest in starting a newspaper for spiritual women. She readily agreed to work on the project.

I again took this as a sign I was on the right path. We named the newspaper Of a Like Mind and the first issue was published in Oct. of 1983. Of a Like Mind was a newspaper and networking resource for women in women’s spirituality and the Craft. At the time Of a Like Mind began it was the only publication about women’s spirituality. The paper contained not only articles, but also extensive networking information that allowed women to find and make contact with each other.

Margot Adler says in Drawing Down the Moon, “In 1983 Jade (River) and Lynnie Levy began publishing Of a Like Mind, which quickly became the most important magazine of the women’s spirituality movement, and remained so for years.”

Christopher: How and when was Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess formed? Anything unique about it?

Jade: Soon after beginning Of a Like Mind Lynnie and I started working on incorporation papers for a legal women’s religion. My “day job” was as a nonprofit administrator. I believed there was a way to honor the anarchistic nature of women’s spirituality and still qualify for the benefits of organized religion. Doing research about acknowledged religious structures in the United States, I found one of them to be “congregational.”

The basis of the congregational religious model is that the members have enough in common to be considered a religion, however, each individual and even group within an organization has autonomy. Thankful for the religious dissenters who fled to this country and allowed this system to be recognized, we decided “congregation” was the correct name for a group of anarchistic feminists.

Eventually, we chose the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess—International (RCG-I) as the name for this newly formed organization. Here’s how our early information described the reasoning behind the name.

“Our name was chosen to reflect the matrifocal origins of women’s religion. Women’s religion and culture are not new. They were once prevalent throughout the world, and within them women’s religion provided a structure for women’s spiritual beliefs that validated women’s experience. In the course of the past 2000 years, as belief in the great Goddesses was replaced with patriarchal religious choices, the option for women to express their spirituality in a woman-centered way was lost.

Our name acknowledges this is not the first time women have recognized the need to express their intuitive and spiritual selves in a supportive structure with other women. We are not beginning to find each other for the first time, but are re-membering and re-forming the ancient congregation of the Goddess.”

Incorporation is the first step in applying for tax-exempt status and in early 1984 the Congregation became a legal entity in the State of Wisconsin. Lynnie and I worked for months on our application for tax-exemption. When it was finally completed we mailed it off to the IRS with some trepidation, but in Sept. of 1985 RCG-I became the first feminist religion with tax-exempt status and, in fact, one of the earliest pagan organizations to hold this recognition.

Christopher: What can you tell us about the first Dianic Wiccan Conference and when did RCG-I begin to have other well-known women in the women’s spirituality start taking part in workshops.

Jade: Dianic Wicca has never had a point of centrality. Z had written The Feminist Book of Lights and Shadows and feminist witches carried it home and began their practice. Most Dianics had only sporadic contact with each other at festivals and women’s gatherings. We did not know each other. One evening I curiously asked Lynnie what she believed other Dianics thought. Without pause she answered, “Why don’t we get them together and ask them?” In that moment, the Defining Dianic Wicca Conferences were born.

These conferences were organized as colloquiums. We selected 16 topics to be discussed in two conferences in 1986 and 1987. The topics included things like the relationship of Dianic Wicca to healing, ritual, feminism, divination, The Goddess and other related topics.

In the fall of 1986 the first conference took place. About 70 women attended the 4-day event.

Probably the biggest surprise for us was that heterosexual women came. Up to this point, I had never known a heterosexual Dianic, but they were there at the first conference and have been and continue to be a part of the Dianic tradition. It was an amazing gathering full of dialogue, engagement and enlightenment. What we found was that Dianic Wicca had developed differently in different areas. It was an amazingly resilient organic tradition that had evolved to meet the varying needs of diverse communities.

After the first two conferences the discussion was not complete. There was, however, an adjustment of direction. The name of the conference changed from Defining Dianic Wicca to Developing Dianic Wicca.

In all, there were 7 years of Dianic conferences. The exchange at these gatherings helped solidify and quantify what it means to be Dianic. Although there is still more diversity in Dianic Wicca than in many traditions, the Dianic Wicca conferences were an influential element in forming the tradition.

Over the years, many well-known women who had an association with Dianic Wicca attended these events. Authors, artists, healers, guardians and ritualists all found their way to the conferences. Among the attendees were, Z Budapest, Shekinah Mountainwater, Patricia Monaghan, Diane Stein and many others who were or have become well known in the women’s spirituality community.

Christopher: What to you is the most important thing about Dianic Wicca for a woman?

Jade: Most of us have been raised in a culture that does not acknowledge women as sacred. In fact, many traditional religions believe that women are responsible for the fall of “man” from grace. This lack of representation among divinity along with the burden of a cosmic guilt trip is a pejorative reaction to women from male dominated religions. Even in many mainstream pagan traditions women are not allowed to conduct ritual without a man until they reach a certain status.

Women need to have space in which they are not held to the standards of patriarchal culture that devalues women’s work, lives and spirit. When women circle with other women they tell each other truths they do not speak in mixed gender groups. In Dianic Wicca, women can find and revere the sacred in themselves. I strongly believe that without an underlying change of religious structure there can be no lasting change in our culture. Dianic Wicca is a part of this change.

Christopher: What other events did you reach out to and take part in?

Jade: I’ve presented workshops at numerous events and festivals. Many of them were within the scope of the women’s spirituality movement. Womengathering, The National Women’s Music Festival, Goddess 2000, and the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival are a few of the better known.

People are sometimes surprised to find I’ve presented at many mainstream pagan events too. Starwood, Pagan Spirit Gathering, and COG Merry Meet are some of them. One of the workshops I presented “Everything you ever wanted to ask a Dianic, but were afraid she’d bite your head off” was always well attended by both women and men who were curious about Dianic tradition.

Christopher: How and why did you come to publish To Know: A Guide to women’s Magic and Spirituality?

Jade: To Know was published in 1991. In the ‘90s women’s spirituality was still emerging as a choice for women. I found through Of a Like Mind, and the festivals I attended, that women repeatedly asked the same questions. The answers to these questions became To Know. The book explores the beginning of the women’s spirituality movement, the thealogy and practice of women spirit, and perhaps even more important, at that time, where could one find women to practice with and what to expect if you did. To Know is out-of-print, but one can frequently find copies on used internet book sites or used bookstores.

I am also the author of the three curriculums used by the Women’s Thealogical Institute (WTI), in its self-directed training programs. Additionally, I wrote Tying the Knot: A Gender-neutral Guide to Handfastings or Weddings for Pagans and Goddess Women. It is a pagan wedding planner which includes everything from why one would choose to have a handfasting to how to tell your Grandmother your pagan. Here’s what Patricia Monaghan says in her review of Tying the Knot. “Magical and practical at once, ‘Tying the Knot’ should be first on a couple’s list of required wedding items. --Patricia Monaghan.” Both the WTI curriculums and Tying the Knot are available on the Congregation’s website.

Christopher: When did RCG-I start chartering other circles under its umbrella?

Jade: The Congregation received umbrella status in 1991. Since then RCG-I has chartered 10 Circles. Not all of them are still in existence, however, these Circles remain the largest coalition of pagan women’s religious groups in the country.

Christopher: How did you come to be ordained by Z Budapest as a Dianic Elder Priestess?

Jade: I have never known what criterion Z uses for choosing Priestesses to ordain. I think it might be potential and/or merit. Z was planning the Goddess 2000 festival. Z called me several months before the gathering to ask if I would accept ordination as a Dianic Elder Priestess. She said she knew the Congregation had already ordained me, but she wanted to ordain me as a Dianic Elder. I have always considered Z to be a primary inspiration for my work and it seemed appropriate for me to recognize her influence in my practice and for me to acknowledge my connection to her lineage. So, at Goddess 2000 I became one of about a dozen women who have been ordained by Z Budapest.

Christopher: What is a day at the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess like? What does it offer, what events does it have and how can women learn more about?

Jade: It’s hard to describe an average day at RCG-I. The administrative offices of the International Congregation have been housed in its “Mother House” in Madison, WI since 2000. The Mother House is also home to several Madison based Circles of the Congregation, two WTI groups, a weekly craft circle (as in knitting, quilting, etc.), a Goddess Women’s book club, a Bardic Circle, a divination night and She Sings a Goddess Women’s choir. Rituals and Deepenings are held quarterly.

The Congregation’s largest events, and one of the best ways to get to meet the women of the Congregation, are its two annual gatherings. Since 1987 RCG-I has sponsored the Women’s Thealogical Institute (WTI). WTI is a 6-year self-directed training program that for some women leads to legally recognized ordination. Having ordained 39 Priestesses and with nearly 100 graduates WTI is the oldest and largest school for Goddess women in existence. Each year ordinations are held at the Gathering of Priestesses and Goddess Women the third weekend in May.

The Hallows Gathering is held the third weekend in Oct. Both of these events are held at an indoor group camp in Wisconsin Dells. Further information about activities at the Mother House, WTI and the Gatherings are available on the RCG-I website.

Christopher: What plans, hopes and dreams do you have for the future?

Jade: There are almost 3300 members of the Congregation. They are from every state and all the territories in the United States, all of the provinces in Canada, most English speaking countries and many non-English speaking countries as well. I see this as only a beginning.

It has always been my hope that a growing number of women will become aware that a religion that holds women as divine exists and is an option for their spiritual practice. Each woman who comes to know herself as sacred is like a pebble dropped into a pond. The ripples from that woman reach out to touch many others.

Learning to see our sisters and ourselves as part of the divine changes the way we think about and view each other. It may be that those around her do not always know what is different, but a “Goddess Woman” carries with her a deep sense of being one with the Mother, the planet and other women. She understands men are women’s children and she approaches all humanity with compassion. I imagine a world where our daughters are raised to believe they are whole, sacred beings, and in which Goddess temples welcome us again.

On the End of the World: Thoughts on the New Age

The Wheel turns. We stand at the precipice of the new Age. Like any change, this one will be accompanied by bumps in the road, adjustments, and temporary discomfort. But THIS change, THIS turn, THIS moment is change on a monumental and global scale. Welcome, my sisters and beloveds and Bredin to the Age of Aquarius.

And at this moment, here is where our Tribe stands: We KNOW one another. Our Guardian Order has re-formed and our members are able to perform independently or as a group. We are of one heart. Our Priestesses are active and in contact. Our Shamans, our healers, our artists, our scholars, our Guardians, our ritualists, our teachers, our Priestesses; each pursues Her own task, living in awareness of our Beingness.

And the apocalypse? We have lived through an apocalypse that started 2500 years ago, that may well have made our Tribe extinct. And there is no reason to go into the whole horrific herstory. Each of us wears it and lives with the knowledge every day.

And yet, we remain. We survive. We have Re-formed, and are living our Tribal culture, within the bounds of what is possible in this physical plane. We continue to research, building on the monumental contributions of Gimbutas, Monaghan, Stone and all of our scholars. ASWM continues to do its work and share its knowledge. And we each continue to practice our individual callings, doing the work of our Mother.

AND we continue to keep the home fire burning brightly, only now when the Wolves come home, there are others of their kind at the perimeter and tending the fire to welcome them back to the pack. All of our women continue be a beacon and a home for those who arrive after we did.

THIS Guardian would say that the state of our union is strong and healthy and wise. And that it continues to grow and evolve.

I give thanks to the Mother for the great blessings of my personal life; my wonderful relationship with my beloved, my comfortable home, my deep and abiding connections to my Priestesses, the unbreakable and indescribable bond with my Bredin, my warm and fulfilling friendships near and far away, and the great good fortune to finally know where I belong and the joyful enlightenment of my transpersonal connections.

May we all prosper and thrive, may our Tribe continue to grow and be a beacon, may we remain strong and connected and healthy and wise. My wish for the new millennium is for every womyn to find her place and her safety and her confidence and her work. And for the hearts of each of us to be healed and fulfilled.

Happy Solstice, everyone. Today the light begins to return. May it find you well and happy. Love, Kip.

Honoring the Bard

The tiny pellets of ice, carried on the gusty wind and landing like so many tiny needles upon the shins and forearms of the big warrior went unremarked, almost unnoticed, as did the flapping of the robes against her thighs and shoulders. The wind smelled of snow, and the smoke from the bonfire below.

Standing like a great stone statue on top of the hill, she listened intently, catching scraps of the far off and mournful sound. In the square, the people were singing and playing their instruments in tribute to the Bard who had left this world to continue on her ethereal journey. Intermittently, a human sound would reach the warrior's ears: a laugh, a cry, an intelligible shouted word.

As the last of the day sank behind the horizon, a great sadness welled up inside the warrior that even her great strength could not contain. She tilted back her head, face open to the cold rain, and let out a howl that could be heard across the bogs and down to the rocky shores of the sea. Long it was, and loud; filled with the anguish and grief at the loss in this world of so melodic a voice, so sharp a mind, so indomitable a spirit, so loyal a friend. And when the warriors voice cracked and her breath was exhausted, she stood like that, face to the sky, eyes closed, releasing the flood of tears that had been contained behind the dam of her will.

And in the silence, Brigid's grace; an answering howl from the woods, and one from the shore, and another that sounded like it had echoed off the rocks. The warrior raised her head, tilting it sightly to one side, listening. Yes. there were several answering howls. She was not alone. The Guardians grieved together.