Casting Divine Rainbows into the World

Three years ago, this week, a group of CAYA clergy and initiates embarked upon an exploration of how our collective might offer sacred services that honor gender diversity. That first year, we were a humble study group— scouring the interwebs for kindred spirits, perusing books and blogs for hints and inspiration, and attending any event where we might find signs of the intersection of Trans identies and Pagan spirituality.

By the next solar return, a divine vision had sparked the Rainbow Moon Circle, and a cycle of rituals honoring deities of many Mxgender (AKA non-binary)  and transformative identities was held at The Sacred Well. Our ritual planning committees were often overwhelmed by the tremendous force of previously untapped energies that wanted to pour through the little channel we had opened. Sabbats and Esbats leapfrogged and piggy-backed into our sacred space, and though it was exhilerating and magickal, we knew we needed to open up even more space to let this divine flow expand and unfurl.

Another blessed vision sparked The Divine Spiraling Rainbow Tribe. This spring, Melissa ra Karit Initiated both zirself and the Mxgender mystery tradition. As ze has delved into pioneering work, the still rather hybrid Rainbow Moon Circles continued to be held— this year at Qulture Collective. Working closely together (ze and myself, Baba Bee), we have spent the past solar cycle untangling the thrumming, undulating, sparkling heap of rainbow threads and gathering together two distinct yet deeply related skeins of energy: the any-and-all-genders-or-none Moon Rituals following the Wildflower Tradition of the Rainbow Moon Circle and the Mxgender Solar Rites of the Divine Spiraling Rainbow Tribe. At our final hybrid ritual of 2016—The Rite of Release on November 19 at Qulture Collective—we will ceremoniously acknowledge this parting of ways.

2017 will bring these two powerful currents to the public, with Rainbow rituals at PantheaCon, both locations of The Sacred Well (Portland AND Oakland!) and at Qulture Collective. Hail and welcome these magickal siblings in the ever-growing family of joyful service we call Come As You Are Pagan Congregation.

CAYA Pagan Congregation’s Death & Wisdom Festival 2016

Come As You Are to...

Death & Wisdom Festival 2016
with CAYA Pagan Congregation

In honor of this, our 10th birthday weekend, we are inviting folks to join us for any or all of these FOUR Events:
Rite of the Underworld Crone, 10/28 - women only
Rite of Death & Wisdom, 10/29- open to all
Dark Moon Circle for Hecate, Queen of Crossroads, 10/30 - open to all
Dia de Los Muertos, 11/2- open to all

Rite of the Underworld Crone
Friday, October 28, 8:00-10:00PM
The Home of Truth Cottage (round back), 1300 Grand Street, Alameda
$10-$20 donation requested
Women-only, clothing-optional ritual

High Priestess Yeshe Rabbit and the Mothers of the New Time will be honoring Baba Yaga, and the ways in which wisdom emerges from the poisonous trials of life.

Rite of Death & Wisdom
Saturday, October 29,
Doors open at 6:30, ritual begins at 7:30

The Home of Truth, 1300 Grand Street, Alameda
$10-$20 donation requested
Open to all, children must be closely supervised by a parent at all times.

Our community gathers for our annual devotional to the Ancestors and the cthonic deities associated with the mysteries of death.
This year, we are especially honouring Inanna, Ereshkigal, Melinoe, Hekate, and Bassareus Dionysos. Please feel free to bring an Ancestor photo for the altar, and a clearly-labelled dish to share during the cakes and ale portion of the ritual.

Temple of Hecate, Queen of Crossroads
Sunday, October 29, 8:00-10:00PM
The Sacred Well, 536 Grand Avenue, Oakland
Donations gratefully accepted

Dark Moon gathering honoring the Queen of the Dead, and the wisdom Ancestors who have come before us. We do this each month, but this month we will have a special activity to connect with ancestral wisdom.

Dia de Los Muertos
Wednesday, November 2, Meet at 6:30PM
22nd and Bryant Streets, San Francisco

Our new Templo in honor of Santissima Muerte will be launching its activities at this celebration. We will be building an ofrenda and participating in the procession to Garfield Park. Ven con nosotros!

May Court Interview with Lady Yeshe Rabbit and Merry May! Song from CAYA Coven

Each May at the Festival of Bliss & Blessings, CAYA bids farewell to our Winter Court and welcomes our new May Court.  This year, as we crowned Rúndaingne Ash, Quetzal and Melissa Ra Karit to our 8th annual May Court, we asked High Priestess Lady Yeshe Rabbit to talk a little about the tradition of the May Court within CAYA and the role that the Court plays in our Coven.

Can you talk a little about the history of the May Court in CAYA, and share any memorable moments or stories?

The idea of a May King and Queen is not unique to CAYA, and different Pagan communities handle this sort of thing in their own ways, but in CAYA I originally envisioned the May and Winter Courts as being emblematic of our community’s well-being...that if we, as a Coven, honored and uplifted these individuals, it would be a blessing for us all. Our first May Court was named in 2008, I believe, with Greywolf and Ladybug presiding, and we have had many courts since then, obviously. One magical thing to note is that in the years we have been doing this, several of our May Queens conceived much-desired children during their tenure.

What roles do the May King and Queen fulfill within CAYA?

They symbolize our collective hopes and efforts toward growth and abundance in health, wealth, and love, and represent the spirit of Spring and possibility. On a more practical level, they prepare and deliver messages from their own personal stores of wisdom at each CAYA Sabbat ritual for the community to contemplate.

This year, we have added a new May Court role, the May Nymph. Can you tell us a little about that role and why it is important at this time?

As our community shifts with the changing tides of society, it has become increasingly important in CAYA that we hold spaces for those who destabilize the gender binary. King and Queen in CAYA have never been tethered to gender, and we have had female Kings, though no male Queens in the Court yet. I suspect that is simply because there are probably 3 women to every man in CAYA! But, regardless, the King and Queen roles are not limited to men and women respectively...anyone of any gender identity can be a May King or Queen. However, the titles of King and Queen are still rooted in a binary construct. Therefore, the new designation of Nymph represents our commitment to specifically creating space to honor those who transcend binary gender identities, who inhabit the magical spaces of being betwixt and between, who are committed to sharing their own beauty with the world, and who have liberated themselves to express their unique gender and sexuality, not confined by traditional or stereotypical roles. Though mythologically the word “nymph” is frequently associated with the feminine, in this context it suggests the transcendent, magical, ethereal, ephemeral quality that those who like to play with gender expression often bring to our circles in terms of beauty, art, adornment, and creativity.

What special qualities, attributes, knowledge, skills, etc., do we look for when choosing a May King, Queen, and Nymph?

Creativity, abundance, celebration of life, ability to rejoice and find/manifest goodness, lightness of heart, willingness to bring forth new ideas, and delight are key to these roles, but sometimes we might even crown someone who struggles with one of these things as a way to help support them in finding that joy or that lightness of heart or whatever it is that seems hard at the time.

Do you have any particular advice or words of wisdom for this year's May Court as they don their crowns?

“Let the beauty you love be what you do.” - Rumi

To celebrate the Festival of Biss & Blessings and the crowning of our May Court, CAYA Choir performs the song "Hail the May King & Queen!*, written by CAYA High Priestess Lady Yeshe Rabbit and members of the 2008 CAYA Beltane Committee for the crowning of our first May Court.


* Note: This song was written before the addition of the May Nymph, perhaps next year CAYA Choir will have another song to sing!  

Hail and farewell, Tooth Fairy!

by Lady Yeshe Rabbit

At my first Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium, it rained like hell. We were setting up tents and trying to stay dry as best we could with rivers of water running through camp. Lots of women were pretty miserable, holed up in our separate spaces, so the organizers decided to gather us all into the big tent for songs and stories and general cheering-up. Plus, it was warmer in there.

They called for folks to come to the tent, and lots of women still hung back. So a wonderful woman named Tooth Fairy came marching through camp to gather us and encourage us to come to the big tent. 

She was singing "Come, come whoever you are, even though you've broken your vows 10,000 times, come, come again..." Her song drew us out, and pretty soon everyone was singing and gathering in the big tent for what turned out to be a fun night followed by a wet-but-wonderful weekend.

Two months later, I woke up from a dream in which that song was running through my head and another voice said, "You will start a Coven. It will be called Come As You Are Coven and it will be a place where everyone can find something they are looking for." A month after that, CAYA was born, with +Molly McEnerney leading our first Mabon ritual at Live Oak Park. That was the night we met +Stella Iris and +Jack O'Bears, too.

A year or two later, at NCWHS, I saw a note on the altar that said, "Tooth Fairy, we miss you." I presumed she had died, as she was already quite advanced in age. However, I was wrong, and two years later at NCWHS I found out that Tooth Fairy wasn't dead- she had just decided at the age of 80 or so to move to Guatemala! My friend Nymiah gave me Tooth Fairy's beat-up old hat at that gathering.

At CAYA's first Harvest Home Giveaway ritual, before we gave items to each other, we gathered items of significance to the Coven to give to the Earth Herself. One of the items I gave to the Earth was Tooth Fairy's hat, with the wish that she be blessed and safe and well wherever she went. We buried those items in a dry creek in Middletown.

I saw her once more, at NCWHS a year or so ago. We smiled and spoke briefly. It was nice to be able to thank her for her inspiration.

Last week, Tooth Fairy finally did cross over. This photo is Tooth Fairy smiling in her sleep a few days before she died.

Much love, gratitude, and many blessings to Tooth Fairy as she ventures out of the body on her next journey. We in CAYA would not be here if it was not for her song. Because of Tooth Fairy, we have an example of how one woman singing can impact thousands of people. Hail and farewell!