Our Philanthropic Update

Everglades Moon Puts our Money where Our Hearts Are through Donations

Everglades Moon Local Council does more than just serve as a way for the witches and pagans of Florida to connect and grow. Our members decided that we would use some of our council funds to make donations to charities around Florida. To make the most impact, charities were selected in North, South, East, and West Florida. We have been busy making people happy, making life a little easier for someone, and making friends.

Here’s where we’re upholding those who are doing great work:

Make donations to The Children's Hunger Project of Brevard County

If you follow our Facebook page, you know that EMLC members have been very involved with The Children’s Hunger Project. This organization provides food assistance to children in Brevard County in a dignified and respectful manner. Every Friday, The Children’s Hunger Project sends elementary school children home with a backpack full of food. Their plan is simple: See a hungry kid. Buy food. Feed the kid.

Everglades Moon Local Council is proud to be among the Churches and Hebrew Schools who help The Children’s Hunger Project continue to feed the children of Brevard County. In fact, when they reached out to thank us for their donation, they said they were thrilled to have a Wiccan group among their supporters!

If you are local to the Cocoa area, they are always looking for volunteers. You can also head to their site to make your own donation to help them continue to keep Brevard children fed and healthy.

Make donations to Gadsden County Human Society

We all love our pets, and so donating to a Humane Society seemed like a no brainer. Our members suggested Gadsden County Humane Society to receive a donation from us. GCHS has no source of funding other than donations. Their group consists entirely of volunteers. In fact, they don’t even have an actual facility: all animals are fostered until they can find them a home. GCHS spays and neuters the animal, and supplies all the food and health care for them until they are fostered.

Visiting their Facebook page gives you a sense of the number of animals they save and support each year. When we reached out regarding where to send our donation, they were incredibly happy to receive our assistance. If you’re looking for a Humane Society to donate to, their donation page makes it quick and simple to donate via PayPal.

Make donations to The Wild Hunt

If you are a Witch, Wiccan, Pagan, or just friends with one, chances are good you’ve seen a post or two from The Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is a daily news journal that covers news and events relating to modern Paganism, Heathenry, Polytheism, and other minority religions.

(Full Disclosure: Members of EMLC are active contributors to The Wild Hunt)

The Wild Hunt is completely community funded. Their campaign drives help cover their administration and hosting costs. With those concerns out of the way, they are able to dedicate the time and resources necessary to providing some of the best coverage of current events you’ll find.

Everglades Moon is proud to be among the Fall Funders of The Wild Hunt! If you’re looking to make your own donation to them, you’ll find the details in their FAQ.

 

cardiac_kids_foundation_of_florida

We are so proud of our West Coast Florida pagans who selected the Cardiac Kids Foundation of Florida to be the final recipient of donations from EMLC this year. This organization provides assistance to families and their children with heart disease. In addition, they fund medical research, education, and charitable health care for children with heart disease through local charitable initiatives and life saving mission trips.

Not only do they lend their experience in connecting hospitals with nurses, doctors, and staff to help with heart procedures, but they also provide financial help and assistance to families who cannot afford prescription medications post-surgery.

Our own Dona Pantera has participated in their annual Jamaican Mission Trip, when doctors and nurses from the US fly to Jamaica and perform life-saving surgeries on the littlest of hearts.

There are many ways that you can donate to help children born with congenital heart disease. Head over to their Donation Page to help!

Covenant of the Goddess Releases Statement on Recent Violent Events and Racial Inequality

Covenant of the GoddessCovenant of the  Goddess released a statement about recent violent events and racial inequality.

We, the members of the Covenant, acknowledge and share the concern that many in our world and within our Pagan communities have voiced regarding inequalities in justice. We find that all life is sacred, and as such, all lives matter.

Today, we the members of the Covenant especially stand together with the people who are not privileged by race and class and say to you: Your life matters. We stand with you and work alongside you in ending the systems that disenfranchise you. We encourage and support all efforts by those within our communities to explore the realities of racial inequality and to work to find ways to eliminate these injustices. We hope this will create a wave of introspection and reflection throughout our world, bringing about new levels of understanding and an appreciation for the unique expression of the Sacred we each embody. We stand together with communities seeking nonviolent means of safety and reform, for the unnecessary harm of any person is an affront to the Sacred and is in contrast to our central ethical tenet: An it harm none, do what ye will. May the work we do together today create a peaceful and just tomorrow.

For more information on ways that members of Covenant of the Goddess are working to make their communities better for all, please visit the CoG Blog, which chronicles the work of the Covenant as a whole, as well as individual councils. You can also connect directly with Covenant of the Goddess at their Website or Facebook Page.

More Memories of Merry Meet

This week we have another EMLC member sharing her memories of the most recent Grand Council/Merry Meet in Atlanta. Lady Bridget Sidhe-Lyric, HPS of Witch and Famous, and our outgoing National Membership Officer, shares her experiences at Merry Meet below.

This year’s annual meeting of Covenant of the Goddess (called Merry Meet for the festival side and Grand Council for the business meeting) took place in Atlanta, GA at the Crown Ravinia Hotel from Aug. 21-24. As usual, events started off with the Leadership Institute the day before the meeting. We were treated to a visit to the Nature Conservancy in Atlanta where they rescue and return to the wild many animals and birds, and also caring for those that cannot be released. We hiked the trails watching for signs of wildlife, visited the Aviary where owls, eagles, hawks, and other birds are in recovery, and walked through the nature exhibits designed to educate and entertain.

The latter part of the morning and early afternoon were devoted to a panel discussion on Interfaith work with many of the Covenant’s own National Interfaith Representatives and a special guest, Selena Fox from Circle Sanctuary. I was surprised to find myself very engaged and fascinated listening to their experiences, information, and advice for those interested in doing this work. I think all who were there agreed that we learned a lot and were inspired to see so many people of such varied backgrounds and faiths discussing this topic. The theme of this year’s Merry Meet was “Common Ground” and I think that this presentation beautifully illustrated that theme.

The business meeting of the Covenant got off to a great start on Friday morning, as we knew we already had quorum since enough members had registered to be present or to represent other members. The meeting was started off with a remembrance of so many of our Elders who have passed away, many of them having passed recently this year, and who have given of their time and love to forward our faith. Their names were said aloud, and then there followed a minute of silent prayer for all who had passed.

Later on that day, we also honored our Veterans in an historic first with Circle Sanctuary and Covenant of the Goddess both together in a joint ceremony for the first time ever. Veterans both present, and represented by others or family members, were given a medal from CoG presented by Kasha, and a ribbon from Circle presented by Selena. I was asked to accept on behalf of Lady Incendia Apollonaris of Dragonwhisper Coven of EMLC for her service in the Army Reserve, Army Nursing Corps. Although I didn’t really want to be in the picture because I thought that people might be confused thinking that it was I who had served, I decided not to duck out as it seemed disrespectful. So if you see pictures of the presentation with me at the end of the line, that’s why. I was honored to be entrusted to give this medal and ribbon to our own Lady Incendia and hopefully will be able to do the presentation justice at our annual meeting.

The rest of the business meeting went similarly as it has in past years, with reports first from the National Officers (of which I was one this year serving as membership officer) and then with reports from the Local Councils, from the National members, from the Interfaith representatives, and then from the Committees. The one report that stands out in my mind was from the CoG Survey which was done just prior to the meeting and the tabulated results that were presented were an eye opener for a lot of people. Over 60% of the respondents identified themselves as solitary practitioners, and about 36% identified themselves as working within a coven structure. That tells me that our organization, in order to grow, needs to be focusing more on the needs of Solitary members. Additionally another statistic that struck me was the large number of people who said that they became Wiccan while in their 20’s, which tells me that we are not serving the younger generations as well as we could. I am hoping that the full results of the survey will be up on the CoG’s main website very soon. We can learn a lot from those results and use them to focus our services and our membership on what is needed by the Wiccan Community.

If you haven’t been to the Grand Council annual meeting of CoG before, here is a brief description of how it works. Members submit proposals to the Council as a whole and these proposals are discussed and debated by those present with input from the members that they represent. Discussions can get passionate and a little heated at times, but since our organization works by consensus process, everyone who has something to say gets a say. These things do take time, but it can become fairly clear early on if there is too much contention around a proposal, and then there are several ways it can go. The person or people who presented it can withdraw it. The proposal can go to committee for development over the next year, and those involved will hone it and hopefully present a more unified idea next year. The proposal can also go to a short committee, which will discuss and hone the ideas over lunch, dinner, etc, and come back with the altered wording later on in the meeting, usually the next day. Several proposals were passed as written, one went to the short committee and then was passed the next day, and a couple went to the longer committees and will be brought up again next year, with new refinements.

It never ceases to amaze me at the patience and passion that our members have for this process! Just in the midst of heated discussion, someone will walk up to the microphone and propose an idea or wording that everyone suddenly realizes will work, and there seems to be a collective sigh of relief that goes up in response. (or is that just me?!) The National First Officer who runs this meeting has to perfect a fine line, keeping the meeting moving so we will get through the agenda while still allowing the discussion and expression of ideas that is the consensus process. Kasha, a member of the Coven of the Moonlit Sea in our own EMLC, did a wonderful job of that!

If you have never experienced CoG’s Grand Council, you should really make an effort to attend at least once. This is a process, that if seen from beginning to end, can be both scary and exciting. And CoG has a lot of famous Pagan people who are either members or former members, so there is an opportunity to meet and get to know the people who are authors and writers, artists, interfaith workers, etc. Not to mention the workshops that are available during the time that Grand Council is happening. This year it was put on by Dogwood Local Council and many of the local council folks take the time to share their knowledge and energy by presenting workshops on various topics. These are in general much better than what is offered at a lot of Pagan Festivals – at least in my experience anyway – and although I didn’t get to go to any this year, it is always a high point when I do get to do that.

Hopefully someone from our local council who was able to attend some of the workshops will write and tell us about those! I was so involved with the meeting this year that I really didn’t find an opportunity to get to a workshop. There was at least one or two that I was planning to attend, but I lost track of time in the meeting and missed them.

In the evenings we spent time with friends, both old and new, chatting and catching up on news. This year some of the EMLC members played “Cards Against Humanity” with a certain celebrity Pagan and we had a blast! On Saturday night, Dogwood hosted a Masquerade Dance, where we all dressed up and wore our favorite masks – and Everglades Moon members danced till the DJ had to go home! Yes, we closed the place! It was great fun, even though many of us were very stiff and sore the next day.

This is a large part of the charm of Merry Meet – as it moves around the country and is hosted by different local councils, we get to visit with new folks who live there, get to see their part of the country and experience their local environment. We get to discover what is special and Sacred about where they live, and share those moments with friends, and make new memories. We get to visit with friends that live across the country from us, and that we only get to see in person about once a year. We get hugs! We laugh and have fun together, and argue and debate together, and then laugh some more.

Next year’s Grand Council will be hosted by Touchstone Local Council and will be in California, to be held Aug 13-16, 2015. They will have more information on their website soon, and for more information about CoG in general, go to www.cog.org.

Covenant of the Goddess Votes In New Board

Each year, Covenant of the Goddess holds its annual meeting. At Grand Council, decisions are made that impact the whole of the Covenant.  During this consensus-based meeting, offers are elected.  We’re so pleased to welcome in the new board, who will take the reigns at Samhain, 2014.  May Coventina guide you as you do the work of the Covenant!

National Board 2014-2015. Front Row: Stachia Ravensdottir, Lady Emrys. Back Row: Zenah Smith, Jack Prewett, Gordon Stone, Kathy Lezon, Lady Annabelle, Cat Perron, Lady Mehurt
National Board 2014-2015. Front Row: Stachia Ravensdottir, Lady Emrys. Back Row: Zenah Smith, Jack Prewett, Gordon Stone, Kathy Lezon, Lady Annabelle, Cat Perron, Lady Mehurt

And here’s who’s who:
First Officer: Kathy Lezon (Everglades Moon LC)
Second Officer: Zenah Smith and Stachia Ravensdottir (Touchstone LC)
Public Information Officer: Gordon Stone (Northern Dawn LC)
Pursewardern: Lady Mehurt (Dogwood LC)
Correspondence Officer: Lady Annabelle (Hills and Rivers LC)
National Membership Officer: Cat Perron (Everglades Moon LC)
Recorder: Lady Emrys (Hills and Rivers LC)
Publications: Jack Prewett (Touchstone LC)

We’d like to also extend a big THANK YOU to the outgoing board. We do appreciate all the hard work you did in the past year!

For a full review of the 2014 Grand Council, visit The Wild Hunt’s review of a Very Southern Merry Meet.

The 2015 Grand Council/Merry Meet will be hosted by Touchstone Local Council. It will be held in Ontario, CA from August 13-16th.  This will coincide with CoG’s 40th Anniversary!

Covenant of the Goddess establishes an educational Abuse Advisory Committee

Covenant of the GoddessNEWS OUT OF GRAND COUNCIL: During Grand Council, 2014, Covenant of the Goddess established an Abuse Advisory Committee to “advise, educate, and support the Covenant on issues of physical and sexual violence.” The new committee will consist of members who have professional expertise and training in this field.

The primary duties of the committee “include the provision of education to COG members on issues of abuse, consultation to the National Board when needed, and consultation to COG coven and solitary members when their community is impacted by physical or sexual violence.”

For more information about the formation of this committee, it’s goals and members, please visit the Covenant’s NPIO blog!

CoG News: New Board and Successful Grand Council

Covenant of the GoddessThe 2013 Covenant of the Goddess Grand Council in Salem, MA has now come and gone.  Many EMLC’ers were able to make it up for the event and represent the great state of Florida (and the great Witches and Wiccans who call it home)!

For those who do not know, Grand Council is when the members of Covenant of the Goddess get together to do the Covenant’s work. It’s when budgets are decided upon, bylaws are reviewed, proposals are made, and a new board is chosen.  The new board will be sworn in for their term starting at Samhain. The 2013-2014 Board Is:

Kasha Lezon – National First Officer (Everglades Moon LC)
Lady Mehurt – National Second Officer (Dogwood LC)
Lady Bridget – National Membership Officer (EvergladesMoon LC)
Lady Emrys – National Recorder (Hills and Rivers LC)
Garth Garrett – National Pursewarden (National Solitary)
Jennifer Bennett – National Correspondence Officer (Weavers LC)
Lady Miraselena – National Public Information Officer (Dogwood LC)
Jack Pewett – National Publications Officer (Touchstone LC)

The 2013-2014 CoG National Board
The 2013-2014 CoG National Board

We’d like to extend a huge EMLC CONGRATULATIONS to this new board, and a giant THANK YOU to the outgoing board.  To the new board, may your hands be deft, your minds be clear and your hearts be compassionate. To the outgoing board, thank you for your kind service to the Covenant. To all, may Coventina bless you!

EMLC would also like to send a big THANK YOU to Weavers LC, who put on a fabulous Grand Council! Congrats on a job well done! And, of course, a big Moonie THANKS to those Florida witches who trecked up to Witch City USA to represent us.  We love you guys!

2013 EMLC'ers at Grand Council
2013 EMLC’ers at Grand Council

If you missed it, and want to learn more about what happened during Grand Council in Salem, our National Public Information Officer provided an in-depth write-up for our friends at The Wild Hunt.  Head over to their site via this link to read her thoughts (spoiler alert: she had a blast!).

SAVE THE DATE: Next year’s Merry Meet and Grand Council will be in Atlanta, GA, hosted by Dogwood LC.  It will be held August 21-24th. See you there!

EMLC Podcast: Episode 5 – Lammas

PodcastLogoWelcome to the Lammas (or Lughnassadh) episode of EMLC’s pagan podcast, Reaching for the Moon! We’ve got so many exciting things to share with you this go-round. It’s a veritable cornucopia of information and contributions!! As our Local Council continues to share with us, we continue to share them with you! In this episode you’ll find:

  • An Introduction by Sirona
  • SAVE THE DATE! Turning the Tide 2013 will be Dec 6-Dec 8!
  • Music: Live music by Mama Gina from the Summer Solstice Festival
  • Pagan Parenting: How to talk about religion with your child’s new teacher
  • Pandie’s Pagan Projects: Pretty Lammas candles for your altar
  • It’ll Grow on You: Lord Riekin discusses uses of Cayenne Pepper and Garlic
  • News from EMLC: CoG’s Upcoming Grand Council – see you there! Follow us on our @EMLCTweets twitter with #GrandCouncil2013
  • Music: Riekin’s Brew, by Lady Bridget
  • Interview: An interview with Amber Moon of Officers of Avalon
  • Workshop: Part 2 of Kasha’s Money workshop, Candle Magic!
  • Music: Magical Child, by Lady Bridget

You can subscribe to our podcast using this link for iTunes, using your favorite Podcast listening device from this download link, or right here from our site by clicking the grey PLAY button below!

Are you in touch with us? Be sure to subscribe to our podcast to stay in-the-know with what’s going on down here with Everglades Moon LC. But our podcast is not the only way to keep up with us! You can LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter! We’re LIVE TWEETING Grand Council 2013 live from SALEM this year!  If you’re there, use #GrandCouncil2013 to be included in our discussion!

If you have suggestions or comments, we’d love to hear them! If you’d like to contribute something to our podcast, whether it’s your music, an article, or something else, please leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you to help make that happen! Please be sure to leave us feedback on iTunes. It’s a great way to help other pagans find us, and makes us feel awesome when we see those 5-Stars!

You may have noticed that we’ve got some really nice music between our segments now. This great music was supplied by JewelBeat. Download your free music and free sound effects at www.jewelbeat.com.

Blessed be!  We are EMLC, and We are CoG!

The Covenant of the Goddess Continues to Support the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions

Parliament_CogA recent posting on the Covenant of the Goddess NPIO website reaffirming CoG’s long-time support for the Global Interfaith Council for a Parliament of World Religions.  You can read the report in it’s entirety at the NPIO Blog.  It says, in part:

The Parliament is at a critical point.  The Covenant of the Goddess is happy to be able to continue its support for the organization in a time of financial need,” says Ginger Wood, First Officer of Covenant of the Goddess.

Along with other offers of support. CoG is donating $2000.00 to the Parliament to assist with their current financial crisis.  CoG has been a strong supporter of the Parliament since 1993.  This organization was one of the first to allow Pagans to be involved in active interfaith activities.

For those of us who are Pagan, or who follow any of the Earth-centered spiritual paths, the Parliament has provided a welcoming place where we could openly share our practices within the community of the world’s religions. The Parliament was the first major interfaith organization to give our community a seat at the table,” remarks Andras Corban-Arthen, a CoG member serving on the Council’s committee to choose the next Parliament site and on its Indigenous Task Force.

This Global Interfaith organization is still in need of additional assistance.  If you would like to make a personal donation of any size, you can do so through the CauseVox website.

Covenant of the Goddess on Marriage Equality

For Immediate Release
DATE OF RELEASE: March 27, 2013
CONTACT:  Heather Greene, National Public Information Officer
WEBSITE:  www.cog.org
The Covenant of the Goddess, a Wiccan advocacy organization, responds to the recent cases presented before the Supreme Court on the topic of Marriage Equality.
The Covenant of the Goddess extends its support to the entire LGBT community in its struggle for marriage equality within our country. We respect the diversity of religious thought even when it’s divergent from our own. As such, we support the legalization of civil marriages with all the associated civil benefits. Religious ceremony and choice should remain a private matter. While this issue is debated in our country’s highest court, we will continue to hold space with our own LGBT members and their families.
Equal_Heart Equals
Manifest_equality

Will 2013 be the Year of the Witch?

2013Witches and Wicca have certainly been in the news a lot during these first few months of 2013.  Will 2013 see more stories of tolerance (and, unfortunately, intolerance) of Wiccan and Pagan religions?  Only time will tell.  But if the rest of the year follows suit with the activity of 2013, this might very well be the Year of the Witch!

You could say that some of this started last year.  Back in December, the current Grand Master of the Freemasons of Florida issued his edict that Pagans, along with other groups, would not be eligible to petition for membership in their fraternal organization. This is an issue that is still being discussed in the halls of Florida Freemasonry, as well as among the brotherhood nationwide. Everglades Moon issued a Media Statement about this situation, and our site quickly become one of the places pagans visited for more information.

Also last year, the University of Missouri updated their Guide to Religions: Major Holidays and Suggested Accommodations to include Pagan holidays. While this happened in 2012, it wasn’t until Fox New on-air personalities discussed Wicca rather unfavorably that this update sparked national media coverage.  Rather, it sparked national media coverage of Fox News’ coverage of the story.  It resulted in an apology Tweet from Tucker Carlson and an on-air apology… of sorts. Covenant of the Goddess issued a statement on this situation.

In other news….California’s Department of Corrections has been taken to task for it’s “Five Faiths” policy, where it limits the hiring of paid chaplains of the  Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American faiths. Inmates brought a complaint to court, saying that while the Department of Corrections does have Wiccan volunteers, they are not able to come in as often as the chaplains of the other religions.  While the suit was dismissed in 2011, this latest suit asserted that the prisons may not be using neutral standards when deciding how best to spend money on the prisoners’ religious need, and may be in violation of the constitutional ban on a governmental “establishment of religion”. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling now allows for the case to proceed in court.

We return back to Missouri for the last bit of Wicca in the news.  Last week, a judgement in the case of  Hunter v. Salem Public Library Board of Trustees was reached. In this case, the Salem Public Library system was actively blocking sites it deemed “occult” which included, according to the ACLU complaint, “prevented access to sites such as the official webpage of the Wiccan Church; the Wikipedia entry for Wicca; Astrology.com; and the Encyclopedia on Death and Dying.” A federal judge ruled against the library, saying that while the library can have filters for obvious instances of pornography, as well as anti-virus filters, they cannot block viewpoints with which they disagree.  Even Rachel Maddow covered it, saying “At least this Salem Witch Trial worked out better than the last.”

And while Wicca and Paganism have been in the news, let’s not ignore the bounty of movies featuring witches that come out in 2013.  These include Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Beautiful Creatures,  and Oz: the Great and Powerful.

With so much activity so far in 2013… could this year be the Year of the Witch?