Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Trees, Aging, Community & Cottage Mates

Three friends, Lord Verderius, Macha & Canu, 'neath ancient oak

I recently returned from MerryMeet, CoG's annual Grand Council (business meeting) and festival. This year two Local Councils, Touchstone and Orange County, hosted MerryMeet at Highland Springs Resort , a former stop on the Butterfield State Coach Line through the San Gorgonio Pass on the Bradshaw Trail from Los Angeles to Yuma, Arizona.

I can just imagine what an oasis Highland Springs would be to stage drivers and passengers on a hot August day's journey. They changed horses and rested, sometimes under an oak that's several hundred years old. They say it's seen hangings in its day. Here are some photos that show its age and massiveness.

I shared a wee cottage with two charming mates, Canu and Lord Verderius from Everglades Moon Local Council in Florida. The place had the look of one of those LA courtyard apartments from a Raymond Chandler novel, with cacti, flowers, butterflies, tiled roofs and plenty of dust, dry air and hot sun.

I spent a lot of my time there with the two of them and my friend Cary the Fairie from Santa Cruz. They're all male friends much younger than I, men I have great fondness for. I felt looked after. We stood together for the main ritual. Verderius fetched me a chair when my back started aching from standing too long. I felt supported, appreciated, enjoyed. Like I found more Witch kin.* And Cary? Well, Cary and I don't see enough of each other, but we always know each other is there.

May our friendships endure and grow strong like the mighty oak.

* One could stretch a point and consider Canu and me kin via Coven Ouroborous Isis Gnosis in New England.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good News!

Patrick was released from hospital this evening, with brace and cane and orders not to leave the house for two days minimum. He will have a long recovery. He remains heavily medicated to relieve intense pain. In spite of these difficulties, Patrick's recovery has been amazing, no doubt helped in great part by the workings and prayers of many Pagans. Many of us appreciate his work on our behalf and many others simply love his Irish charm. If ever there was a man with the gift of Blarney, that man is Patrick.

Patrick will be recovering at home for at least two months. To those who've asked about sending flowers, yes, he'd love flowers. He's heartened by your cards. He's looking forward to reading email that's been sent to He welcomes cards and letters, prayers and workings, all good wishes. For obvious reasons, he will be unable to accommodate every request from those many who are accustomed to seeking Patrick's help. He needs to focus on his own healing. This restriction in his activities is probably the most frustrating part of this whole situation, as far as Patrick is concerned.

Barbara has been with him every day for the last two weeks, through scary times. Care came from Ohio last Sunday to help. They could use some caring attention as well.

Patrick's home and on the road to full recovery. Praise be, Lady, praise be!

Women's Suffrage Day

Victoria Claflin Woodhull

Let us not forget that today is the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. We've come a long way since Victoria Woodhull ran for President in the election of 1872, before we women could even vote.

Today we have the likes of Rep. Barbara Lee of Alameda County, California, the only Congressperson who did not support Bush's war-mongering. We have our own Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a former welfare mom. We have Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barbara Mikulski, Claire McCaskill, Barbara Boxer, and so many other remarkable women in Congress.

Progress is being made.

Patrick Update, and More

I spent about four hours with Patrick on Saturday. He's much improved. He can walk a little bit (to the bathroom) and was fitted for a brace for whenever he sits or stands. He's heavily medicated for the intense pain he continues to suffer. I plan to see him again tomorrow afternoon. He's very grateful for all the work friends have been doing for him. He welcomes more. You can contact him with your good wishes at Then he can read your greetings when he's up to it, and probably when he'd be most cheered by them, since he'll be home recovering for a time.

* * * * *

On another matter, there is a fascinating Democratic National Convention going on, for anyone who may be living under a rock and doesn't know that. For the first time in history there are three 'out' Pagan delegates! Plus an active Pagan support group. We don't want to make too big a deal and cost him the votes ignorant and/or intolerant voters, but we're there. Here is the blog of two of those delegates.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Patrick McCollum, a Witch Hero in Need


Many of you know or have heard of Patrick McCollum. A man of many accomplishments and a devoted Priest of Brigit and goldsmith, Patrick has done as much, if not more, than anyone to ensure Pagan rights. For years he has served with the Lady Liberty League, in which he was an active participant in the Pentacle Quest*, has been consulted by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

In the area of prison ministries alone, Patrick has been the Wiccan/Pagan Chaplain for the California State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for many years, serving about 900 Pagan inmates in the enormous California prison system (a major growth industry, I'm sorry to say). This service requires him to travel up and down the state to remote areas where prisons are located, all at his own expense -- and we all know what's happened to the price of gas.

He has consulted on religious accommodation in prisons with the governors, attorneys general and/or prison authorities in at least 14 states plus the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He serves as liaison between the American Academy of Religion and the state chaplains of all 50 states. Furthermore, this past February he testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on religious accommodation; his testimony appears in the Congressional Record.

A sober-looking Patrick testifying before the
U.S. Civil Rights Commission in Washington, DC

Not only is Patrick a dear personal friend, but also he serves as the Director of the Chaplaincy Program at Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan chaplaincy course ever.

Patrick fiddling at a Cherry Hill
Seminary retreat at Camp Salamander
in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The reason I'm writing all this about Patrick -- and I am only scratching the surface -- is to tell you that he is dealing with a medical condition for which I'm asking your help. On August 15, Patrick underwent surgery for a long-standing problem with his spine. The surgery itself went well, but two days later Patrick suffered a complication that necessitated further surgery on August 18. He has been in ICU at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, California since then, and remains there, although much improved.

Patrick welcomes healing. Given what I've told you about him, and that you have a photo and know where is is, I ask that you remember him in your prayers and rituals, light candles, appeal to his Lady Brigit, and do whatever else you can to hasten Patrick's relief from extreme pain and his ultimate recovery.

Patrick welcomes cards, but, please, no phone calls or visitors yet. His wife, Barbara, could also use some energy.

* Dr. Todd Berntson's film about the quest, "A Hero Denied," will have its first public screening at the Cherry Hill Seminary Winter Intensive in San Jose (the day before PantheaCon begins) in San Jose, California in February. The screening will be followed by a talk by Todd about the making of the film, and by both Todd and Patrick about the quest.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Starwood - Magical Tree

Lauren lives much of her life at Brushwood, where she's sometimes been artist-in-residence. She has lots of favorite places. She showed Corby and me her "Ent," her magical tree back in the woods where she's made a shrine to the tree and created a moss garden at its base.

Here you can see where the lightning split the venerable old tree.

Lauren at her tree.

Moss garden.

Corby and me in front of the tree.

Later when I spoke of the tree, some others said they'd visited it and recognized that someone had been honoring it, but hadn't known the back story. They'd just enjoyed the presence of this life that's esperienced so many passing seasons.

A Little More on Starwood

I found the photos! They were in my camera all along. I remember taking out the camera at the airport to download the photos into my computer, then realized I didn't have the proper cord with me.


Here's a photo taken at dusk of Kala, Lauren peaking from the rear, Corby in the purple shirt, and, front and center, dress in his brand new dress (one of several) scored from a Starwood vendor. Behind them is a big god's-eye-like sculpture. In left background is the pool house.

We all love the easy clothing-optional at Starwood, although some folks forget about sunscreen and get burned in tender parts.

More photos and chat anon.