Priestess of Story and Song
2014 Priestess in the Wildflower Tradition
Artemis and Hekate
Greetings and welcome! My name is Gwen, Priestess of Story and Song. I am a member of Hive 14, ordained as a Wildflower in 2014. In CAYA I am publicly dedicated to Artemis and to Hekate. In my personal devotions I am also dedicated to Arianrhod and to Hestia. Artemis has been my patron goddess for many years—or more aptly, I have belonged to Her. She is my sister, my mentor, my friend and my guide. She stalks the boundaries of life and death, and encourages me to be strong and incisive, to stay mindfully involved with nature, and to value living beings. I began working with Hekate more recently, but She has claimed a long-term position in my life as challenger and loving illuminator at the crossroads. I work as a hospice chaplain (providing emotional and interfaith spiritual care in an institutional setting), and these two goddesses are present daily as I accompany people through times of uncertainty, fear, joy, remembrance, grief, and death. I also volunteer as a prison chaplain. I help people find meaning in, and make sense of, their own life stories, especially the stories that are unfolding now.
“The language of the soul is story and song, and paradox is the window to the holy.” -Herbert
This is one origin of my priestess title: a quote from one of my seminary professors about the crucial roles of art and storytelling in spiritual care and chaplaincy, as well as more broadly in the ways that we relate to our humanity and to the Divine.
If you are in an Earth-based spiritual tradition and are interested in becoming a chaplain or pastoral counselor, please contact me.
I have resources for you.
The other origin is in geekery. Like many of us, I am an avid myth geek. I have enjoyed composing retellings of ancient myths that incorporate many layers of story and symbolism, and performing them in ritual space. This storytelling feeds me on many levels, and I am excited to feed my communities with it. I am also an avid geek geek: writer, tabletop gamer, scifi/fantasy fan. You can visit my deviantart page for natural photography, Pagan art, and detailed drawings of robot apocalypses and dinosaur rodeos on Venus.
I work with Public Service and the blog team, and occasionally serve on rituals.
Code of Ethics:
Respect and compassion for the world as the immanent body of the Goddess is at the core of my code. I will endeavor to treat beings and places with the respect and compassion due to them as parts of Her.
“An' it harm none, do what ye will” is the next guiding principle of my ethical code. I recognize that it is impossible to act in a way that causes absolutely no harm to any being. Breathing and walking kill microorganisms. But through this guide I will consider the consequences of each action and act to cause the least harm. This includes being attentive to the harmful consequences of choosing inaction. I have an obligation to care for other beings where I can. I recognize that sometimes actions that cause pain can be the least harmful of my options, and as such may be the most correct course. (Telling my friend that her behavior hurts me may cause her pain, but it will be more healing for both of us than hiding and suffering until I snap.) One concrete manifestation of this principle is my decision to be vegetarian, to only consume things that are prepared without killing animals.
The “do what ye will” portion, as well as “All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals” (from the Charge of the Goddess), are important secondary guideposts. Pleasure and joy are holy, and provided I am acting from love, respect, and non-harm, are good. I can care for other beings much better and more sustainably if I am also seeking my own joy.
Finally, respect and compassion for the world as Goddess includes respect and compassion for myself. I will not always live up to my ideals. When I fall short, I will evaluate, make amends, plan positive alternatives for next time, and forgive myself for not being perfect. I will strive to hold the same balance of accountability and compassion and forgiveness in my relationships.
Favorite Pagan Books:
The Pagan Book of Living and Dying by Starhawk and Macha Nightmare. I cannot tell you how important this book has been to my chaplaincy and spiritual care work. Contains practical and theological essays, chants, meditations, and more.
The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog by Patricia Monaghan is a folklorist's physical journey throughout Ireland interwoven with mythology, history, and lyrical theological meditations on the interactions of Irish Catholicism and Goddess-worship ancient and modern. It gives the best and most nuanced portrait of Celtic spirituality and religion of anything I have read.
A Wiccan Herbal by Marie Rodway. I have a lot of herbalism books, many of them more comprehensive than this little volume, but this is the one I keep returning to again and again.
The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology by Storm and Cotterell is a thorough encyclopedia including Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, Buddhist, Persian, and African mythologies. This hefty tome has a great index and doubles as a weapon in event of zombie apocalypse.
Triumph of the Moon by Hutton is an exhaustively researched history of Western Neopaganism tracing our roots in European folk magic, Renaissance high-ceremonial magic, Enlightenment-era realistic history at our new/old tradition. I read all the footnotes, and there's a lot of footnotes. It's that and 19th century Romanticism, and through the modern era. It is an engaging and realistic history at our new/old tradition. I read all the footnotes, and there's a lot of footnotes. It's that good.
Favorite Pagan Websites:
If you are looking for Pagan community in your area, check out www.witchvox.com and www.meetup.com. I've found that some areas' groups are more active on one site than the other, but between the two of them you're likely to find someone near you. Also Witchvox has a wide variety of topical articles, some of which are excellent, some less so.
www.shadowscapes.com Artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law does amazing detailed and dreamlike art using mythology, faerie lore, archetypes, and deep creativity. Lots of her pieces have ended up in my digital religious art collection for contemplation.
www.paganforum.com is a friendly, knowledgeable community where I have spent a number of years, though I am no longer active (my old posts are under Gwen). It has a core of long-term members from a broad diversity of national, cultural, family, generational, and religious backgrounds (including some non-Pagans) as well as an ever-changing roster of shorter-term members. The community is small enough to get to know each other, and big enough to be a helpful resource. Discussion is intelligent, polite, and fun, and you can get multiple interesting perspectives there on just about anything.
Religions of the World is not a Pagan-exclusive resource, though it contains several useful sections about Pagans and Witches. It is an incredible resource on world religions that contains information provided by, and links to pages by and for, members of each major and many, many minor religions. If you have a question about pretty much any religious path, this is a great place to start. Why is this here? Because I believe firmly in the importance of understanding the basics about other religions as part of being human.
Encyclopedia Mythica isn't as exhaustive as the physical mythology encyclopedia I mentioned in my “books” section, but is the most comprehensive online myth resource I know of. Articles divided by topic and by geographic area/ culture.
Blessed Be! Thanks for stopping by.