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!

Reflections on Merry Meet

EMLC’s own Cat Perron, who will be serving the Covenant as National Membership Officer on the National Board from 2014-2015, provides us with her reflections on this year’s Merry Meet and Grand Council.  This year’s Merry Meet was held in Atlanta, GA, and our gracious hosts Dogwood Local Council, did an amazing job!

My first Merry Meet was fabulous!  Particularly because I had one of my BFFs, Deborah, with me.

Where do I start?

On Thursday, The Leadership Institute was not only informative, with various people in leadership roles from different faiths, it was in a gorgeous setting:  the Chattahoochee Nature Center.  We had a lovely walk through the wooded areas surrounded by trees and wildlife on our way to the meeting.  All the people involved do really wonderful work on behalf of their paths AND interfaith issues.

Friday had some wonderful workshops:  the medicinal uses of mushrooms (amazing!), Shamanic Trance Work (my favorite—I met a dolphin!), and Sacred Dance (fun!), to name a few.  Plus I was glad to get more information on the Faerie Seership in Canu’s informative class.  The food was very good as well, particularly some of the desserts (the pecan pie came in HUGE pieces!).  I also attended part of the Grand Council meetings, particularly since I was up for NMO.  When I went up to talk/answer questions there was much friendly jesting, like “Are you SURE you want to do this?” etc. and since I was unopposed, I got stuck . . . I mean, I have the privilege of being the next CoG NMO.

I also got to hear all about the NEXT Merry Meet!  Selena Fox was wonderful as the keynote speaker at Friday night’s dinner, she speaks so clearly and succinctly and has such positive energy as well.  And did I spend more money than I had intended with the vendors?  Of course I did!  I think it is a tradition.  I got a couple of lovely wish balls, a gorgeous poppet, a beautiful ebony wand (and got to meet the engaging and adorable Gypsy Teague!) plus some toiletries from our own Christina Wilson.  Oh, and I got a copy of “How to Become a Witch” by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K signed by both of them!

Finally, the masquerade part was a blast!  Although we were told it was masks only, most people came with the most interesting and creative costumes:  a little steampunk, a little Game of Thrones with some beautiful masks, too.  Canu looked particularly handsome in his suit and top hat with a black swirly mask and Sirona was lovely with rhinestones in her hair and a beautifully done makeup job—she just “painted” her mask on her face.  There was lots of laughing, group dancing and singing along with the music.  Yes, a good time WAS had by all, but particularly—me!

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!