Official Statement: EMLC on Escambia County Murders

We at Everglades Moon Local Council (Covenant of The Goddess) are saddened by the violent Deerfield Drive triple homicide, in our home state of Florida. We hope the person(s) responsible are swiftly brought to justice. We are also disappointed that the mainstream media chose to twist the statements made by the Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan and Sgt. Andrew Hobbs. The media, with intent to make a tragic story go viral, portrays members of our community in an inappropriate and ignorant way.

The Public Information Officer of EMLC spoke with Sena Maddison, ECSO Public Information Officer, and she was also disappointed about the way the news outlets chose to headline the story. She stated “The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan and Sgt. Andrew Hobbs never used the word Wicca and by no means, in any way, ever intended for Wicca or any religion to be maligned.”

We at EMLC are always ready to help educate others, including the media and the criminal justice community, about our religion. We hope by providing education to help the broader community understand that Wicca has a code of ethics centered on harming none, and in no way endorses or requires violence, murder, ritual human or animal sacrifice.

EMLC asks if anyone in the Florida community has any information about this case to please call Crime Stoppers at 850-433-STOP or call the ECSO non-emergency phone number at 850-436-9620. You can request to remain anonymous.


EMLC is not alone in speaking out against the media handling of this tragic event.  Lady Liberty League has issued a statement, as they have also been in touch with ECSO and are working to respond to the situation. The Wild Hunt also has ongoing excellent coverage as well.

Several media agencies, including The Washington Post and The Guardian have updated their stories to include not only better research into what exactly Wicca and Witchcraft are, but also information from local pagans who reached out to help bring more understanding and education about what Wicca is to the media.

Update 08/07/2015: Discovery News has a great article taking each point in the story and identifying why it would not or could not be used to link the murders to Wicca. Good job!

For those who would like to watch it, here is the full press conference presented on 08/04/2015 by ECSO regarding this horrific event. The full transcript is available by clicking this link:

 

Editorial: Rights and Responsibilites

I spent this past Friday and Saturday at the Lake Okeechobee Summer Solstice  Festival- this was a pleasant, peaceful event that gained a lot of attention when local Pastors threatened to protest the presence of Pagans in their small rural town.

This weekend Kyrja Withers of New Port Richey posted pictures of her flourishing garden, but only 2 months ago, she was experiencing pellets being shot through her windows and bottle bombs being thrown at her house.

Just a few weeks ago, the new Grand Lodge of Florida elected a new Grand Man, who overturned the ban on Pagan Masons that had been issued earlier this year by his predecessor.

It’s been a rough 6 months for Pagans in Florida, hasn’t it?  And Florida is just one small corner of our country.  Sadly, religious discrimination still exists.

There are gifts that come with these hurdles, though. Communities rally to support, education occurs, interfaith dialogue takes place, organizations collaborate. Change. Progress.  From dark comes the light, we are taught, and the Light is so bright right now, at the time of Summer Solstice, that we can strive to see clearly and light our path for the journey forward.

After all, we have rights to preserve and protect, don’t we?! In the year 2013, discrimination on the basis of religious practice should not happen. Hatred based on misinformation must be battled. We feel outrage, don’t we?! We have a right to practice what we want, where we want! We have a right to feel safe in our own homes and communities, no matter what our spiritual path is! Let them try to stop us! Go ahead and protest! We have as much right to wear or display our symbols as anyone else! Yes! We’re angry!

When we feel these rights have been violated, to whom do we turn? We are so fortunate that within our greater Pagan Community, we have access to media like Pagan Newswire Collective and The Wild Hunt to inform when incidents like this occur, and organizations, most notably Lady Liberty League, to advocate for us, speak to community leaders, law enforcement and media on our behalf.  How blessed we are to have those who assist us in defending our rights!

I would ask you to consider that, in addition to rights, we also have responsibilities. And that our responsibilities are great.

We have the responsibility to walk our talk. That means that if we expect religious tolerance and acceptance, we should be ready with acceptance and tolerance ourselves, treating even those who misunderstand us with respect. It also means to display the same respect for each other.  For a Druid to ridicule a piece of literature about Wicca demonstrates the same intolerance as the fundies on the other side of the gate.

It also means that to someone who does not know the Craft, each one of us represents all of us. So, the person with the pent bumper sticker who displays a vulgar gesture at the traffic light, or the neighbor having disruptive parties in the name of Sabbats, or the individual who insults a reporter leaves misconceptions for everyone else to correct.

Most importantly, though, it means we have a responsibility to pay it back and pay it forward. Organizations like Lady Liberty League operate on small budgets and huge volunteer manpower.  Gods bless Lady Liberty League volunteer Peter Dybing who no doubt got to know the dark roads that cross the state of Florida as he traveled to New Port Richey and Pahokee to assess, educate, collaborate, mentor, and network. What happens when there is a need in a state where there is no volunteer available, or a volunteer without the resources to stay out of town for a few days?  I don’t know what Lady Liberty League has in the bank for situations like that, but I’d bet it’s not as much as they’d like.

We all live knowing that if our home catches fire, we can call 911 and help will be on the way. We have been so fortunate that when members of our spiritual community have been in need of assistance, Lady Liberty League has been right there.  As Witches and Pagans, we need to support our Pagan Rights 911 system, and it needs to start right here in Florida.

So, if you have benefited from the work of Lady Liberty League, or may someday benefit from the work of Lady Liberty League, I encourage you to consider making a donation.  Go to the Circle Sanctuary Donation page  and scroll down to the Lady Liberty League box, and donate any amount.   I also encourage you to share this link with your covens, e-lists, MeetUp groups, festival pages, and any other way of reaching Pagans who can support this organization.  Even small donations by many people make big dollars.

Hopefully soon, we won’t worry about religious discrimination, but until then, I am thankful for the work that Lady Liberty League does, and I want them to have no problem assisting with any issue should it arise with my (and your) festival, MeetUp, job, school, Sabbat celebration, or any other right granted to any other religious person in this country.

Kasha, EMLC First Officer

Let’s remember our Rights, and let’s not forget our Responsibilities!

Meet and Greet and Dance with the Fey!

The Everglades Moon Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess invites you to Meet and Greet and Dance with the Fey!

Leave Mundania behind and join us for the first event of the Florida Pagan Gathering Beltane festival, at the threshold of Here and There and Now and Then.

Reconnect with old friends and meet new ones while you enjoy light refreshments and listen for Their whispers as you glide through the mist.

Come together at The Well and listen to the magickal workings of SJ Tucker.

We will gather in Valhalla after opening ritual on Thursday evening. If you would like more information about EMLC, just talk to us during the festival! You’ll find that we’re an easy-going bunch. Many of us are staying in Cabin 5 and we will be participating in many events throughout the weekend.

Let us know you’re stopping by! Leave a reply below to leave us a message, and we’ll be sure to say hello.

Our Philanthropic Work

There are many reasons why modern Witches consider service an important aspect of their faith.  It is well known that many of us are deeply concerned with environmental issues and the conditions of our animal friends.  But it may be less well known that for most Witches, like many other deeply spiritual people, putting faith into action is a very important part of walking a path of spirit.  This leads us to share the bounty in our lives, to reach out to others in their time of need, and to care for our sacred Earth.

Continue reading Our Philanthropic Work

Turning the Tide 2011 – Workshops

Turing the Tide 2011

Pentaculous Workshops

(check back often, as more workshops will be added!)

Small Mead – Mead in ten days! & Rocket Stove Demonstration – Lord Riekin

Ogham, the Celtic Tree Alphabet – Ash, the Silent

The workshop covers a brief history of Sacred Trees, and the Ogham. The main focus of the workshp is using the Celtic Tree Alphabet as a Divination tool, as talismans, and their uses in SpellCraft. During the workshop participants will have an opportunity to make their own Ogham sigils on prepared twig “blanks” made Ash. If participants wish to carve into the wood, bring gouging tools. Otherwise, markers will be provided. After crafting the the twigs, we will activate them thru a brief ritual.
Continue reading Turning the Tide 2011 – Workshops

In Gods and Godesses We Trust

In Gods and Goddesses We Trust

There have been a plethora of articles looking back at 9/11 and it’s deep impact upon us. For most us, Pagans included, it evoked a strong desire to set aside the small stuff, to connect with our families and communities, and to make sense of our experiences of loss, shock, loyalty, and patriotism. Some of us Pagans experienced an extra sense of fear or uncertainty, too. As a minority religion, the waves of condemnation and fear of Islam and the Muslims around us had their own influence, driving some of us to come out, and others to hide deeper within the arms of the Gods. Our experience of the Wheel of the Year, though, of the lessons of the earth, the sky, the underworld, and the heavens have all been a part of it, too.

When 9/11 took place, all this was mixed up with a growing sense of my role in the Pagan community. I was finding a sense of my priesthood and what type of leadership roles I might explore. At the time, I was the National Publications Officer for the Covenant of the Goddess, and I contemplated what could possibly be said to our community when nothing could really encompass the magnitude or diversity of our experiences and our connection to the community at large. The image that came is one that had been evocative for me for years, of a Goddess displayed in motion, walking forward, with an armful of bounty and and a hand outstretched toward the rising sun. An image that could speak silently to our community as powerfully as it speaks to our nation. For us, in Gods and Goddesses we trust. We place ourselves in their arms and let them bear us when we cannot, and to help us see the way forward, even when the path isn’t clear. The next newsletter cover bore the image of the Walking Liberty half dollar, a symbol of hope, of a path forward, and of our dedication to our nation. She’s helped us find the path forward since, and, instead of looking back today, I’ve spent the day planning a harvest ritual. I’m continuing to look forward to what we can create, to take a step at a time until the path is revealed, and to the bounty and opportunity of our lives. While we will never forget 9/11 or its impact on our lives, the mystery of its meaning lies in looking ahead to what we can create and share, how we can support those that came to the forefront of our hearts that day: our families, friends, coveners, neighbors, and nation.

As First Officer of Everglades Moon Local Council, I look forward to where our community is going. It’s full of folks ready to bring an armful of what we have and offer an outstreched hand to the world, and its a world that needs us and our efforts. As this anniversary of 9/11 turns to a close, what step will you take next, with the trust of of the Gods and Goddesses?

Many Blessings,

Canu

Walking Liberty - In Gods and Goddesses We Trust

Turning the Tides 2010 Recap

Turning the Tide 2010 – In Review

 

Turning the Tide is an intimate gathering of Wiccans and Witches in South Florida.  As Everglades Moon Local Council (EMLC) looks forward to an exciting year of planning for our 5th annual Turning the Tide this December, we decided to take a look back at our most recent successful EMLC TT for reflection, and to share our memories of the event.

Continue reading Turning the Tides 2010 Recap

Turning the Tide 2011

Turning the Tide 2011 – Pentaculous!


Turning the Tide, 2011 celebrates our 5th YEAR of this great South Florida gathering of Witches and Wiccans! Hosted once more by Everglades Moon Local Council, we shall be celebrating a “Pentaculous” 5th year December 2-4, 2011. We will again feature workshops, rituals, drumming, the wreath/centerpiece contest, a pot luck feast and cabin space (limited availability) with supplemental tenting space. Turning the Tide is held at a small campground in Northern Miami-Date County.

Continue reading Turning the Tide 2011

A Pagan Relief Effort for Japan

Peter Dybing, CoG’s current First Officer, has started a Pagan relief effort for Japan.  His goal is to raise $30,000 for Doctors Without Borders work there.  Please consider giving.  The donation page is here, at firstgiving.com.   As a caring human, Wiccan and the First Officer of CoG’s Everglades Moon Local Council, I wholeheartedly support  Peter’s effort.  He’s posted a message of thanks for the giving to date, and you can learn more about him at his blog, Pagan in Paradise.  Let’s keep getting the word out!

Blessings,

Canu

Turning the Tides Workshop List 2010

“Cherry Hill Seminary: Education for Pagan Ministry” with Cosette
As the modern Pagan movement comes of age, it is important to set standards of excellence for
ministry. Cherry Hill Seminary provides quality higher education and practical training in Pagan
ministry. Cherry Hill Seminary offers online distance-learning classes, regional workshops
and intensive retreats to train Pagans for ministerial services, counseling, chaplaincy, and
community leadership. Come and discover more about Cherry Hill Seminary, the first and only
graduate-level education for Pagan ministry in the world.
“Iron Witch” with Cosette
Based upon the Japanese cooking show Iron Chef, Iron Witch carries on the legend of Kitchen
Stadium and the famed secret ingredient. Witches face off in a timed competition to create the
ultimate spell and become the Iron Witch.
Cosette is a Georgian Wiccan in Beachfyre Coven in Miami and a member of the Everglades
Moon Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess. She is a writer for the Pagan Newswire
Collective and Social Networking Coordinator of Cherry Hill Seminary. She is a daughter of the
industrious warrior Ogun and loves technology, ritual, and taking naps.
“Ride the Night Winds: working with astral temples” with Canu
Astral temples are a practical tool for both personal and group ritual use. This workshop will
discuss the uses of astral temples in a Wiccan/Witchcraft practice. Additionally, participants will
experience astral temple space and Canu’s technique for initiating astral travel for individuals or
groups. Come dressed comfortably for inner ritual work, bring something to sit or lay on if you
like, and be ready .
Canu is the High Priest of Beachfyre Coven and has been in the Craft for over 24 years. His
practice includes experience with ceremonial magickal work, pathworking, and astral travel/
temple work in a Wiccan setting. He is an Elder of the Georgian Tradition with an eclectic
Wiccan practice, and has been active in the Covenant of the Goddess, serving as First Officer
and Publications Officer on its national and local council boards. He has been active in 3
different local councils of CoG, and helped found CoG’s Florida presence, Everglades Moon
Local Council.
“ One True Goddess” with Sandra Cheryl Richardson
Are there many Goddesses or is there just one? Can the unity of Divinity be found within the
Wiccan religion? How does Goddess work in our lives? What is creation? Can we know the will
of Goddess? Is She fair? Why do bad things happen to good people? Do our thoughts really
shape our reality? Why do some people seem more blessed than others? What is the true
spiritual meaning behind Aliester Crowley’s statement “Love is the Law, Love under will?” These
questions and more will be answered in this fascinating philosophical discussion on the nature
of Goddess, the spirit, and the mind. Develop a closer connection to Her by gaining a clearer
understanding of the Universe. Learn what you can do to improve your faith and your life with
this knowledge.
Sandra Cheryl Richardson is an internationally known psychic consultant, author, paranormal
investigator, and metaphysical teacher. For nineteen years, she has served as the Elder
High Priestess for the Religious Order of the Circle of Isis Rising, a coven based in Miami,
Florida. Sandra is also the internationally recognized author of the books, “Magicka Formularia”
and “Journey of the Soul.” Over the years, she has appeared on numerous television and
radio programs and been interviewed by many newspaper publications. The New Times named
Sandra “Best Psychic” for the years 1992 and 1996. Miami high schools, universities, women’s
groups, and attendees at various public events have enjoyed her lectures on the occult. The
Miami Police Department also invited her to speak on two separate occasions before police
officers from the United States and South America on the topic of Witchcraft. Serving the South
Florida community as a consultant, lecturer, and priestess has been Sandra’s full time career for
the past twenty years.
“Honey Jars and other Sweet Magic” with Coyote Morningstar
Learn to craft a Honey Jar Spell to sweeten someone to you. Whether for love, to soothe family
relations, or for your boss before asking for a raise. The uses are as varied as your imagination.
A solitary sea witch from West Palm Beach, Coyote has been a WIccan since 1996 and
involved with Everglades Moon Local Council since it’s inception. His Art is shaped by Celtic
wisdom, Faery lore and teachings, and American Hoodoo.
“Roundtable Discussion: Congregational Pagans. The Role of “Laity” in the
growing Pagan Community.” with Coral
As Paganism continues to grow and become increasingly visible in the media and pop culture,
more and more seekers are coming to us with little desire to train, join formal groups, etc.
Instead, these “congregational Pagans” seek to attend rituals and other community events
either as observers or with minimal participation. What is their role in our movement? How
best do we serve them, if at all? How does this affect the ways we view ourselves? Is this a
local phenomenon or something more widespread? Is this really anything new? These are just
some of the questions we will explore in an informal discussion format, so bring your questions
and opinions. And yes, “congregational Pagans” are welcome!
Coral Bruce Harrington has been a practicing Witch for 25 years. He is a founding member of
Spiraling Heart, an eclectic Feminist Coven in Tallahassee, FL; a member of Beachfyre Coven
in Miami Springs; and a recent initiate in the Georgian Tradition of Wicca.
“The Care and Feeding of a Happy House Elf” with Rayna
House spirits can help keep your household safe or they can steal your keys, break light bulbs
and cause no end of mischief! This workshop will explain some of the lore of European house
elves, especially the Slavic domovoi and Celtic brownies, who both expect their house elf rights
to be respected in exchange for their assistance keeping your home and possessions tidy, safe,
and calm.
Rev. Rayna Ardren Owens is a daughter of the Ocean Mother and High Priestess of Beachfyre
Coven in Miami, Florida. She has been an initiated Witch in the Georgian Tradition since 1984.
She is now focused on building her relationship with the fae and recovering the techniques of
her Slavic ancestors for interacting with land and domestic spirits.
“Runecraft- Beyond Divination” with Ash the Silent
In this interactive workshop we will discuss using Runes for purposes other than Divination.
We will explore the creation of “Bindrunes” – which act as a talisman for our desires. We will
create personal Bindrunes. Then, we will have a short meditation on “Binding the Wolf Within,”
as we explore that which fetters us from attaining our goals.
A bind-chant will be recited to seal our intent as we charge the newly crafted sigils with the
blessed smoke of a sage- fire.
Ash the Silent /|, as she is known in the Pagan community, has been a visionary and rekindler
of the “Old Ways” since she was a young Bard in the Druidic tradition.
She is an active member of the South Florida magickal community; and very publicly a Pagan.
As an Elder in the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans she often writes and functions as
High Priestess in Sabbat rituals.
Ash’s craft is Runecraft, and her elements are blood and fire. She is a Crone, with all the
experience that comes with a lifetime of magickal practice.
Ever interested in Occult studies, Ash now practices Chaos and is currently studying the works
of Andrew Chumbly of the Cultus Sabbati.
“The Harvest of the Seeds” with Spelcastor
It’s the time of the Final Harvest. We shall examine the Five Seedsof Life: Wealth, Health,
Knowledge, Relationships and Goddess. What we have sown has long been planted. We shall
draw each from a corner of the Pentacle a seed and reflect upon our choices.
Spelcastor is a solitary who was welcomed as an Elder into Covenant of the Goddess in 2002.
His learning comes from reading, practice, sharing, leading and ritual. He joined CUUPS,
the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, in 1990 and serves as Gatekeeper in Fort
Lauderdale. He enjoys ancient history and brings life to dry texts. Visit www.Spelcastor.org.
“Women’s Rite- Making of Ritual Cakes” with Kasha
The making of Ritual Cakes is a Rite taught orally to the women of the Blue Moon Wicca
Tradition, and one that we may share with other women. The ladies of our Turning Tides
Community are invited to join the ladies of Circle of the Moonlit Sea on Saturday afternoon
to preparing our Traditional Cakes for this evening’s Ritual. No exotic baking experience is
necessary!
Kasha is an initiate of the Blue Moon Wicca Tradition and High Priestess of Circle of the Moonlit
Sea. She currently serves as Second Officer of Everglades Moon Local Council. Her interests
include herbs, Ancestors, Hoodoo, group dynamics, and the ever challenging quest to achieve
balance.
“Mead Making, or- The Nectar of the Gods from your own kitchen” with Ray
Fermented beverages have been around since the beginning of history. In this workshop,
participants will discuss one method for making mead and together will stir up a batch, to be
consumed at next year’s festival. One participant will take home a gallon of our magical must,
to nurture to the birth of their own bottle of mead.
Ray has been an eclectic Pagan for over a decade and a mazer, or mead maker, for just as
long. He is active in his local Witches and Tarot meetup groups, is on staff of the Florida Pagan
Gathering, is a student of Hoodoo, a Faery Seer Apprentice, and a CoFreemason.
“Quantum Magic-Including Magickal Effects in the Physical World” with Corvus
This lecture intends to develop a model of physical systems that include magickal effects
on probability of events in quantum mechanics. We will cover the development of quantum
mechanics up to the Schrodinger equation, magickal cofactors from Chaos magick, and a new
way of looking at mathematical operators that include magickal effects along with proposed
experiments. This will include mathematics, physics and technical information in an effort to
synthesize magick into a scientific framework.
Corvus did his BSc in Physics with 4 years of research lab experience in quantum optics,
and has been published in several refereed scientific journals. He has also been involved in
the Wiccan community since 1989, serving as high priest of his local coven for 12 years. He’s
interests include physics, philosophy, primitivism and magickal systems.
“The Psychology of Ritual” with Lady Bridget
Each ritual has specific parts that are done in a specific order, and as Witches we
recognize “ritual” when we experience it. But why does it work this way? Why is this particular
format so effective? What are we really getting out of group worship? If you are writing rituals
or intend to do so in the future, this will help you to understand what works and why it works.
There is no psychology degree necessary, this is a common sense and practical workshop.
Lady Bridget is an initiate of the Welsh Celtic Pantheist tradition, and has been writing and
performing rituals for 20 years. She is the HPS of the Witch & Famous Coven, a member
and Board officer of Everglades Moon Local Council for many years, and a teacher, mother
and grandmother, singer / songwriter, needlework artist, and the author of the website “Lady
Bridget’s Wiccan Ways”.
“Understanding Your Ascendant” with Fael
Most Pagans are familiar with their Sun sign and what it has to tell them about themselves, yet
few are aware of what their rising sign is and what it means for them. In this workshop, we will
take a look at the Ascendant (your rising sign) and what it means in a natal chart as well as how
it serves as the first step in natal chart interpretation.
Fael has been a practicing pagan for over 10 years and a student of astrology for just over a
year. He is currently studying under Jeffrey Brock, a noted South Florida astrologer, and is a
certified professional astrologer having recently received his Level I certification from the NCGR
(National Center for Geocosmic Research) Professional Astrologers’ Alliance.
“Sacred Sound” with Laertius
This workshop will explore the physical and metaphysical levels of the magical and healing
aspects of voice, resonance and music for both solitary, group and ritual work. This will include
a brief theoretical discussion of sound and correspondences (astrological, chakra, Tarot) as
well as experiential applications of different sound exercises for individuals as well as groups.
Participants will be invited to make sound, both in discussion as well as through intoning,
chanting and singing. The use of simple instruments (what they do, when to use them, etc.)
will also be explored. A handout with resources and notes will be given out at the end of the
workshop.
Laertius is a 1st degree initiate of the Minoan Brotherhood since December 2009 but has been
studying Wicca since 2007. The Minoan Brotherhood is a male Wiccan magickal mystery
tradition, mostly composed of gay men. He belongs to a Minoan coven in Fort Lauderdale and
is currently applying to EMLC as a solitary.
Since early childhood Laertius has been playing various musical instruments (piano, trumpet,
tuba, guitar) and singing. He has conducted several choirs and a band and performed with
many different musical organizations, specifically choirs and instrumental bands. His interests
include exploring the integration of sound into Pagan worship, Tarot, and Reiki. He is active
in different local Pagan communities in Fort Lauderdale and enjoys learning about different
magickal traditions.
“Cherry Hill Seminary: Education for Pagan Ministry” with Cosette

As the modern Pagan movement comes of age, it is important to set standards of excellence for ministry. Cherry Hill Seminary provides quality higher education and practical training in Pagan ministry. Cherry Hill Seminary offers online distance-learning classes, regional workshops and intensive retreats to train Pagans for ministerial services, counseling, chaplaincy, and community leadership. Come and discover more about Cherry Hill Seminary, the first and only graduate-level education for Pagan ministry in the world.