Pagan Community Notes: California fires, Raven’s Loft, Elaine Coleman, and more

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forest fire 2268729 640CALIFORNIA – For a second time this year, massive and catastrophic fires are destroying parts of California. The Thomas fire, which is the biggest, is currently being called the “fifth-largest in the state’s history,” and it reportedly continues to force “new evacuations in towns as far north as Santa Barbara.” The state’s famous Santa Ana winds have only made the situation worse.

The state boasts a large Pagan population from south to north. The last set of fires, which occurred in the fall, brought local Pagans and many distant friends together to perform water magic in order to help curb the damage and stop the flames. As columnist Crystal Blanton wrote, “Rain magic and other forms of weather related workings have a long history in many different cultures. Indigenous groups around the world engaged in different forms of prayer, workings, dances, and rituals to ensure the land was taken care of and the people had their needs met.” Diana Rajchel, who organized one of the group workings in October, asked participants to bring “a little bit [of saved rainwater] to use in this as part of the sympathetic working.”

While no official calls for group water magic have gone out yet, it is fair to assume that many Pagans, and even others outside of that specific community, are in fact saying prayers and doing spell work to bring the rains. As both Blanton and Rajchel said, “This is one of the oldest forms of community working around – the work for the good of the land and the people.” If you or your group are engaged in water magic to help California, we welcome you to post in the comments.

We will continue to report on this story and bring news of the affected area and Pagan events as needed.

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Raven and Stephanie Grimassi have re-opened their online store after a fire destroyed their home in July. “Raven’s Loft online shop is now back up to full operation. Customers wanted, no previous shopping experience required,” Raven jokingly said in the announcement.

On June 27,  a house fire broke out at the home from which they operate the store Raven’s Loft. According to the fire marshal, the blaze was caused by a lightning strike during a thunderstorm. The home was unlivable and the couple evacuated. A fundraiser was set up to help the couple recover and, as of publication, they have raised $19,258. The campaign is still open.

The shop itself, which once had a storefront in Escondido, California, has operated strictly online since 2002. Due to the fire and the cleanup, the store had not been operational since the fire in July. Raven Grimassi made the announcement Nov. 30 that the store was back  in business and that the House of Grimassi would once again be offering classes and readings.

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[Facebook profile photo]

The Chicago Pagan community has lost one of its members. Elaine Coleman, the high priestess for the Wiccan Temple of the Celtic Way (WTCW), has died after living with lung cancer for several years.

Coleman was born in 1943 and grew up in Richton Park, Illinois. Her son Paul wrote, “My mother enjoyed dancing and figure skating. She taught my brother and I how to ice skate. This eventually led us to enjoy the game of hockey….She skated for the Homewood-Flossmoor drill team for many years. She enjoyed individual competition, team competition and loved many of the ice shows that her drill team was involved in.” Her husband Dan added, that she started life as “a competition ball room dancer … performing with a dance troupe here in the U.S. and Canada.”

But he says that her “proudest accomplishment was she became a high priestess of the Wiccan temple of the Celtic way which she ran with [him] for 32 years.” Through that work, she became a member of Covenant of the Goddess and was active within her area’s local councils over the past two decades. After one disbanded, Elaine and her coven assisted in founding the Midwest Regional Local Council. Elaine also served as the organization’s treasurer, or what the organization calls “pursewarden” for several years, and regularly attended the annual national meeting.

One close friend posted on Facebook, “No matter what was going on in her own life, she put others first and would always make time to talk…sometimes for hours. She always tried to be nonjudgmental and unbiased, but would not hesitate to tell one how she ‘felt’ ”

Dan Coleman said, “She was my perfect example of how to live, love, laugh, and enjoy life and living to embrace joy and help others. My wife Elaine exemplified what it means to be a giving, caring, loving, trusting, woman who has truly been a beacon of compassion with an iron fist in a velvet glove.”  What is remembered, lives.

In other news

  • Organizers of Mystic South announced that registration and submission forms are open for the 2018 event. The Altanta-based Pagan conference held its inaugural event last year in July. While it was ultimately a successful event, attendees found themselves in an unusual situation when a main water pipe broke leaving the hotel without water and air-conditioning for nearly 12 hours. Mystic South continued on despite the problems and ended on a high note, with a closing ritual given by John Beckett. This year’s event will be held at the same hotel and the organizers are looking forward another successful event, but with water and air conditioning. Mystic South is currently accepting registration as well as submissions for vendors, workshops, and the dedicated academic track called PAPERS (Pagan and Polytheist Educational Research Symposium).
  • The Solar Cross Temple continues its monthly “Devotions for the People,” n public service provided over the internet. Based in Oregon, the Solar Cross Temple offers monthly devotionals every third Sunday with different themes and different leaders. This month’s devotional is aptly titled, “For the Renewal of Hope,” coinciding with the spirit found in many of the festivals that occur during this time of year. The devotional is presented by  Anthony Rella. Anyone can participate and the instructions are posted on Facebook.
  • Colorado-based Cró Dreoilín and the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans at Jefferson Unitarian Church have announced the dates for the fifth annual Paths and Traditions fair. Held in January, this fair is one of the very few organized Pagan-related activities that happens during this month. It is described as “a day-long open house for those who are new or seeking info on Pagan and Polytheist paths to come and meet representatives of various traditions or groups.” The organizers are currently looking for more groups to attend in order to share their information or offer workshops for the attendees. The Paths and Traditions fair will be held on Jan. 13 at the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado.
  • The Museum of Women and the Goddess Temple of Orange County, based in Irvine, California, recorded and created a video of their 2018 Yule celebration. The event took place Dec. 2. and was coordinated by museum director Ava Park, who reported that this year’s ritual was dedicated to “the ancient Egyptian Goddess ‘Nwt, the Goddess of the Vault of Heaven’… Her body made of stars … the stars upon which you gaze each evening as you lift your eyes to the night sky.”  The video is published below and available directly on YouTube.

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte:

Deck: Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Card: Hermit, major arcana, IX (nine)

The Hermit is a card that can reflect a variety of circumstances and outcomes–wisdom, higher education, self-examination, and delving deep into the mysteries. Contrarily, it can reflect the eschewing of all of those things, as well as extremely unwise actions being taken.

This week is liable to be full of challenges that will require us to look beneath the surface and use most or all of the many skills we possess to come out on top. Sometimes the best move is to stand still until we fully understand the action required.