Pagans and Death: Holding Space for Other Faiths


Pagans believe a wide variety of things when it comes to death.  Some believe in the Summerland, a place to go to rest after this life.  Some believe we die and our soul energy becomes part of the Universe from which we came.  Some believe we just die, plain and simple.  But what do we do when we are faced with the death of a loved one who believes in something different?

Every faith has a slightly different theology on death.  Working within the context of that faith can be hard for someone who doesn’t believe, but ultimately, it is the choice of the dying as to what faith they want to be surrounded by.  It’s our responsibility to make sure that happens for them, despite our own faith or sometimes lack thereof.

Recently, I reconnected with my uncle.  We had been apart for many years.  He was my Godfather, my Confirmation Sponsor, my mentor, and my friend.  He helped raise me in the Roman Catholic faith and he never said anything negative to me when I slid easily into the Pagan faith.  “You do what you gotta do.  Believe what you believe and don’t let anyone tell you something different.”  We picked on each other mercilessly, but he was like a dad to me.  But at Thanksgiving, I realized that he no longer embraced the faith that he was once so strong in.  I don’t know what brought him to that point, but it was clear when he was asked to participate in the Thanksgiving blessing and he refused, that something had changed.  All the while, he was dying of cancer.

In situations like that, how do Pagan ministers fit in?  How do we minister to the dying?  Do we minister at all?

090215103814_DC HOSPICE PatientRoom

Being Pagan in a Christian Family

I was there as family.  But I was holding space for him.  I was holding space for everyone that visited.  But what does that mean?  “Holding space”?  It means providing support for the dying.  Being nonjudgmental.  Being present and not thinking about the bill you need to pay or the grocery list.  It’s being able to take care of the needs of the dying.  Or maybe you hold space for the people taking care of the dying and give them the support they need.  Make sure they nourish themselves, stay with the dying and let the support people take a day off.

Holding space has no religion.  It has no faith other than the faith in humankind, that we live and we die.  By holding space, with no faith attached, only love, we ease the passing of our loved ones and allow them to die in the way they choose.  It’s not easy.  Watching someone you care about die is probably one of the hardest things to do.  Holding space for them is a gift for everyone involved.

What Does it Take to Hold Space?

Anyone can hold space.  You don’t need specific training or a fancy title to hold space for someone.  You don’t even have to hold space for someone that’s dying.  You can hold space for a woman giving birth.  Or a couple getting married.  Or even for someone who’s had a really bad day that needs some support.

  1. Patience: being patient in a situation that can be frustrating or scary is a necessity. You can be the quiet voice that provides a grounding point.
  2. Calm: keeping calm when someone’s world seems to be falling apart isn’t easy. But helping them take a breath and meet everything head on, with a calm head and an open heart can be a very rewarding experience.  Let them make the decisions that need to be made, sometimes with a gentle nudge if it’s an imperative subject.  All the while, maintain your calm.
  3. Knowledge: knowing the process the person is going through, whether it is death, birth, or anything in between, is helpful to know what is coming and how to help the person if they need assistance.  The internet is full of great, reliable resources for research.
  4. Be ready for anything: When you are holding space, be ready for anything that can happen. Have healthy snacks available, tissues, basic medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and music of all sorts.

Holding Space in Any Faith

When holding space, sometimes that means reading to the dying or playing and singing music for them, especially when they transition.  You don’t have to be Christian to read the Bible aloud, or be Muslim to read the Quran.  The purpose of reading is known to the dying, and you can provide them the comfort they need, without judgment.  Playing or singing music can help calm the nerves of the dying and the people attending to them.

Listening to what the dying needs is paramount, as is having a plan, should they become unable to speak, which often happens near the end.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself as well.  Treat yourself well, do something nice for yourself every once in a while, and remember it is ok to cry out your emotions.  You need the release so you can take care of others.

Holding space for people is a gift given from a place of love.  Spread the love and help where you can.  Hold space when needed, and know that someone will hold space for you one day.


9 Reasons to Go to Pagan Spirit Gathering

PSG2016 logo (1)


It’s that time of year again!  Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), hosted by Circle Sanctuary, will be ending registration on June 4, 2016, so if you are thinking of going, get registered!  If you have no idea what PSG is, keep reading for more information and reasons to attend!

For more information and to register, click here!

Nine Reasons to Attend PSG

1.  Coming Home!  For many PSGers, attending PSG is like going home.  If you’ve never been, it’s like finding family you never knew you had.  People are friendly, helpful, and ready to make new friends.  From the Gate Crew that checks you in to your new neighbors for the festival, you will be met with smiles and friendship.
ComeHomeLabyrinth2.  Merchants! PSG brings out the best merchants in Pagan wares, including (but certainly not limited to,) Taldish Castle which features all kinds of Pagan things from around the world as well as hand made items, Wizard’s Emporium that features clothing, Pagan things, and more, and Rainbow Dragon Dreamz which features stones, horns, and more.  At last count, there are 33 different vendors this year!

3.  Workshops! If you are looking for workshops, PSG has them in every flavor you could imagine.  PSG pulls in the best teachers out there from our communities to create a list of workshops that will satisfy your every curiosity.  Over 100 workshops are available for your perusal!  Check out the workshops here!

4.  Rituals! There are over 30 rituals at PSG, starting with the opening ritual on Sunday and ending with the closing ritual the following Sunday.  In between, there are rituals for Rites of Passage, opening different areas around town, Handfasting, and Baby Wiccaning.  There are small rituals and huge rituals, rituals for men, and rituals for women.  There’s even a ritual to Bast!  Check out the rituals here!

PSG Main Rite Bonfire 20125.  Pagan Leadership Institute (PLI)! The PLI is for any Pagan that is in clergy, ministry, or any leadership position, or is training to be in one.  These specialized classes help deepen our understanding of what it means to be a leader, as well as give us more tools to use when we go back home.  PLI classes are taught by leaders within our community.  Look in the workshop link above for PLIs!

6.  Community! PSG creates a village or town that is entirely Pagan.  It’s a great opportunity to be immersed in the Pagan community, which is unique to PSG.  Once you are there, you can let your Pagan flag fly and be yourself!

PSG Solstice Fire 2010

7.  Sweat Lodge! Have you ever wanted to participate in a sweat lodge?  PSG is the place to enjoy a good sweat!  The people that set up and facilitate the sweat lodge are amazing and they walk you through every step.

8.  Concerts! PSG brings in some amazing Pagan musicians that will teach workshops, hold meet and greets, and have concerts!  This year, Tuatha Dea, Celia, Spiral Rhythm, Sentinel Grove, Arthur Hinds, Brian Henke and Beltana Spellsinger will delight everyone with their own brands of music.


9.  Nationally known presenters! Selena Fox, Byron Ballard, Kathryn Hinds, Lupa, Judith Olson-Linde and Nels Linde will share knowledge through workshops and meet and greets.  It’s a great way to get to know these great leaders in our community.


10.  BONUS! Bardapalooza!  In this one night, all of the musicians will come together for a wonderful night of sharing music between the groups, to the awe of everyone in attendance!


If you’ve never attended a festival, you should seriously look into PSG.  It’s an amazing experience no matter how long you’ve been on your path.

Many Blessings!  Come see us at PSG under the Three Rivers Pagans banner!


Getting Festival-Ready



It’s been a long winter.  The cold and snow seemed to really bring people down this year, and it seem to extend long into our traditional spring.  The energy and wonderful feelings of the last outdoor festivals of last year are fading a bit, but that wonderful season is about to start again.  It’s time to get out your camping gear, clean things up, and check you list twice before heading out to some great events with fabulous people.  But what do you really need when you go camping at a Pagan event?

First and foremost, you need shelter.  Whether you use a tent that’s been in your family for years or a new one out of the box, or even have a camper, you need to make sure it’s in good working order and you know how to set it up.  Consider if you are going to be by yourself or if you’ll have others staying with you and make sure everyone knows how to set up and take down the equipment.  Before you head out to your first festival of the season, make sure all the seams are waterproofed and that it’s all nice and clean.  There’s nothing worse than setting up your home for the week and realizing there’s a hole in the fabric or that it’s moldy.  Ok, maybe there’s one thing that’s worse.  Realizing you left poles or tent stakes at home.


Along with shelter, you need bedding.  Make sure it’s bedding that you are going to be comfortable with for the duration of your festival, and take at least one more blanket than you think you need.  You never know if you’ll get a night that is a bit colder than normal, or if you’ll get a sunburn (like I usually do) and want a little extra warmth for a night or two.  Take care to make sure you have batteries for an air mattress pump, and that you have an alternative plan if your bed springs a leak.  My favorite that I’ve used for a few festivals is a thinner queen size air mattress with a memory foam mattress pad over the top.  The pad is washable, which is perfect after a hot and sweaty festival.  I actually hate going home to my big king size comfy bed after I’ve been on the air mattress.

Will you be cooking at the festival or are you going to eat from vendors?  If you’re cooking, precook everything you can.  Make sure you have a list of meals and all the ingredients, including spices.  You don’t necessarily need a list of what meals on what day, but don’t take your whole kitchen “just in case” either.  If you are planning on eating at the vendors, do some research as to what types will be there and how people like their food.  Take plenty of money and put it in a safe place.  And don’t forget to inquire about ingredients if you have allergies.


Water or other hydration is exceptionally important at summer festivals.  There are two festivals that are a must for me in the summer, and I have to treat the water issue differently at each one.  The first one is held at a location that has very iron-filled water, to the point that it comes out of the spigot orange.  I can’t stand the taste.  The first year we tried to filter it with a Brita filter.  Even running it through twice didn’t make it better, although keeping it cold and adding lemonade mix made it tolerable.  This year, I’m bringing bottled water, in gallons to produce less waste.  At another festival I attend, the water is perfect with a Brita filter, if I remember to change the filter from the first festival.  So know the quality of the water at the location you are going to and make adjustments as needed.  Staying hydrated is very important!

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time for the fun stuff!  Clothing, depending on the festival, can be any variety.  Think of comfort, especially with the weather.  I love flowing dresses, capris, tanks, sandals, and just easy things to wear.  Don’t forget a light jacket or sweatshirt, and if you like, jingling skirts for dancing around bonfires.  Festivals are a time where you can shed your mundane clothing and get creative.  I see a lot of people, men and women, in sarongs and they look pretty darn comfortable.

Other things to bring to a festival are musical instruments!  Drums, rattles, guitars, anything that can make beautiful music and you are comfortable in playing is perfect for festivals.  I have a djembe that I adore and take with me, as well as a rattle egg.


Lastly, take a moment and make yourself up a portable altar, if you are so inclined.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and probably shouldn’t be expensive, but pack up a few things that make you feel at home.  I usually add a few crystals, a Goddess statue I made, a battery operated candle, and an altar tile.  I have a little handmade table that packs flat and a pretty cloth I toss over it, and it’s a great focal point when I need to take some time and meditate or just get away for a few minutes.

There are a lot of other things you can and might need to take with you.  Before heading out to any festival you haven’t been to before, ask other people that go what you need to bring.  Most often, the festival has a list they can provide for you.  Camping at Pagan festivals is one of the most rewarding things I do during the summer.  The friendships I’ve made and connections I forged are wonderful things that keep me going through the long winter months.  I heartily recommend hitting up some Pagan or other festivals.  It’s well worth your time!

Reclaiming Your Power

“You can’t be a victim, and a magician…”-Amber K

Within many sects of Paganism it seems there is a lot of thoughts, actions, and words that feed into a victim mentality. We blame others for our short comings. We blame being a minority for our lot in life. We blame others in our community for our own hang ups. Yet we don’t look in the mirror and see what is the biggest obstacle in owning our own power. We don’t see that at times we are our own worst enemies. I know I have been guilty of it, but improving bit by bit.

We also take away our power by apologizing for things we don’t need to. For example while at Chrysalis Moon some people were talking about how they were embarassed by how they sounded singing. The ladies running the workshop stopped the discussion there and stated that there is no reason to apologize. It is time to own their own power and their own voice.

This is a call for that. We as a community need to stand tall and take hold of our power. We need to no longer let the world around us make us victims. We need to realize the power of our own actions and words. After all isn’t that what magic is about? Isn’t it about the power of our words. The power of our thought. The power of our intent. The power of the action and follow through. If we don’t claim that power than what good is it to do ritual? What good is it to do any magic?

Our words and thoughts form our universe. We have forgotten this. Have been told that we are not able to shape the world around us. We let the noise and problems of the real world taint us. We are walkers between the worlds. We go between the magic and the mundane. We must remember this.
I understand how we all are victims of something or another. Victims of abuse. Victims of rape. Victims of class warfare. Victims of this and that. Sooner or later you need to move on. No longer letting others take your power. No longer letting others set the course you set. Set your own course. Use these lessons wisely. Just don’t let them put you in a rut. Don’t let them take away your power by letting them live in your head. By letting them live in your energy. By letting them consume your life. For then your power will be lessen.

To close out in the words of the ladies mentioned earlier at Chrysalis Moon, Lucinda Sohen and Corey Rose. “You are beautiful. You are Wonderful. Just the way you are”

In Service of the Lord and Lady,

Cadell Ea Wolfram

Chrysalis Moon: Best Little Pagan Festival in Indiana

Chrysalis Moon Logo 2014

Chrysalis Moon

If you’ve never been to a Pagan festival, or even if you are a seasoned veteran from way back, Chrysalis Moon is a festival you don’t want to miss.  Last year was the first year I attended and I’ve been counting down the days til I get to go again.  Seriously.  I’m counting.  90 days until I make the 2 hour trip from Fort Wayne, as of the day I’m posting this.  I’m excited not only to be going to Chrysalis Moon again, but I’m excited to be going with so many of my friends.

What is Chrysalis Moon and Why is it so Special?

Chrysalis Moon is a Pagan festival held in Tippecanoe River State Park, in Winnemac, Indiana.  There are special guests, musical guests, and classes taught by members of the Pagan community.  This year, the special guests are Pagan authors Joyce and River Higgenbotham, and healing practitioners Corirose Anjali and Lucinda Anjali.  The musical guests, returning for the second year in a row, is Murphy’s Midnight Rounders.  They were a blast last year and I can’t wait to reconnect with them this year.

Chrysalis Moon is special for many reasons.  The classes are amazing, with a wide variety of topics.  This year, one of our own community members, Mark Pope, will be teaching a class on Asatru practices.  Every night, there is a big bonfire with a drumming circle and dancing, as well as revelry and fun.  You can walk the labyrinth if you like, which is created by lit tealight candles.  (I encourage walking the labyrinth, especially if you’ve never walked one before.  It’s life changing.)  On Saturday evening, there is a large ritual based on the theme of the year.  It’s 5 days of fun, learning, and community, that is inexpensive and fantastic.

One of the things that sets Chrysalis Moon apart from other festivals you might have attended is the accomodations.  Instead of bringing your tent, cabins are provided in your fees.  They are wooden buildings reminiscent of Scout camp.  They have beds and doors and a roof and everything!  Four camps are set up in circles, with a lodge that has electricity, along with six other smaller cabins, a fire circle, and a flush toilet station.  The fifth, center camp has a couple of cabins where the special guests stay, as well as a kitchen for them and a larger fire circle.  Meals are on your own, so you do need to bring food and some way to cook it, as well as a screen tent if you like.  Sleeping tents are not permitted, but there’s plenty of space in the cabins.

Last year, we stayed only for Friday through Sunday and this year we are going to stay the whole event, Wednesday through Sunday.  We want first crack at the wonderful vendors and we don’t want to miss a beat when it comes to classes and community.  It’s a great way to get out of town for a few days on the cheap and chill in nature with awesome people.

How do I Learn More about Chrysalis Moon?

For more information, check it out at their website!  Classes and rituals are listed as well as prices and other important information.  There’s still time to get your registration in.  Tell them you are going to be with Three Rivers Pagans to get in our camp!  We are taking up residence in Earth camp this year, the northernmost cabin pod in the park.  Closer to the event, we’ll get together to plan things like shared meals and carpooling too to save money on the trip.  So let me know you’re coming along!  Chrysalis Moon is sure to be the best time spent this summer!

Chrysalis Moon logo used with permission.  Artist: Cern Greenman

What’s in a Name?

~by Pandora Silverfin

Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane.  It is one of eight solar Sabbats.  This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic word Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing).  Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May 1 or May day, or on April 30th.

Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals.  The name means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate.  In the Irish Gaelic language, the month of May is known as Mí Bhealtaine or Bealtaine, and the festival as Lá Bealtaine (‘day of Bealtaine’ or, ‘May Day’).  In the Scottish Gaelic language, the month is known as either (An) Cèitean or a’ Mhàigh, and the festival is known as Latha Bealltainn or simply Bealltainn.  The feast was also known as Céad Shamhain or Cétshamhainin from which the word Céitean derives.  Beltane was formerly spelt Bealtuinn in the Scottish Gaelic language; in Manx it is spelled Boaltinn or Boaldyn.  In Modern Irish, Oíche Bhealtaine is May Eve, and Lá Bealtaine is May Day.

Beltane was an ancient Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.  It marked the beginning of summer and was linked to similar festivals held elsewhere in Europe, such as the Welsh Calan Mai and the Germanic Walpurgis Night.  Beltane and Samhain were the leading terminal dates of the civil year in medieval Ireland, though the latter festival was the more important.  It is a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun’s progress between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.  The astronomical date for this midpoint is nearer to 5 May or 7 May, but this can vary from year to year.  In modern Scottish Gaelic, Latha Buidhe Bealltainn or Là Buidhe Bealltainn (‘the yellow day of Bealltain’) is used to describe the first day of May.  This term Lá Buidhe Bealtaine is also used in Irish and is translated as ‘Bright May Day’.

According to Nora Chadwick, in Celtic Ireland “Beltine (or Beltaine) was celebrated on 1 May, a spring-time festival of optimism.  Fertility ritual again was important, in part perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun, symbolized by the lighting of fires through which livestock were driven, and around which the people danced in a sunwise direction.”  In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods “A-Maying,” and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning.  Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night.  May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season for the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians started at Bealtaine.  Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as the Aos Sí.  Like the festival of Samhain, opposite Beltane on 31 October, Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand.  Excavations at Uisnech in the 20th century provided evidence of large fires taking place.

Beltane and Beltane-based festivals are held by some Neopagans.  As Neopaganism can vary largely from tradition to tradition, representations can vary greatly despite the shared name.  Some celebrate in a way as near as possible to how the ancient Gaels did, while others observe the holiday with rituals taken from sundry unrelated sources, Gaelic culture being only one of the sources used.

Neopagans usually celebrate Beltane on 30 April–1 May in the Northern Hemisphere and 31 October–1 November in the Southern Hemisphere.  Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice (or the full moon nearest this point).  In the Northern Hemisphere, this midpoint is when the ecliptic longitude of the Sun reaches 45 degrees. In 2014, this is on 5 May.