DAYTON, Ohio – So far this year, Dayton has seen its share of sorrow and destruction—both by nature and by a human. The tornadoes that swept through in June, left an indelible mark on the land and the people.
The Oregon district in Dayton is a revitalized area that sees a lot of foot traffic drawn to local businesses. It also plays host to many college students who visit to let off a little steam on the weekends.
Tornadoes and bad weather are not unexpected during the summer months for the region, but a mass shooting challenged the strength of the community beyond what natural storms might bring.
The impact of the shooting on the community at large has left all residents confused, shocked, and anxiety-ridden.
TWH spoke with Luna Eclypse, who lives in Dayton and is heavily involved with the Pagan community as an organizer, tarot/runic reader, and sacred flames reiki healer. We asked her about how she and the various communities have been affected.
Luna Eclypse’s sister lives just across the street from the Oregon district, and Eclypse herself lives not far from the immediate area.
The night of the shooting Luna Eclypse was in Cincinnati working as a ride-share driver. She knew something was wrong when she began receiving messages inquiring whether she was okay or not. The trauma being experienced by the community would not be completely clear to her until the next day.
Weeks later, as the community struggles to understand how this could happen, and what the motivation of the shooter could be, there many are seeking solace in spiritual practices.
Luna Eclypse visited the district of the shooting a week after the violence took place. She said the area “still felt really heavy” and that there was a pronounced and “larger than normal police presence.” Shrines had been created to honor and remember the victims with candles, photos, flowers, and crosses.
There were also many people just sitting with their grief and loss. Luna Eclypse said that a few were attempting to lighten the energy and cleanse the area by burning sage. She said that the people doing this weren’t just Pagans, but also secular folks who were trying anything they could think of that might ease the heaviness.
Luna Eclypse had lived in Seattle until recently when she returned to the Dayton community, and her roots, to be closer to her sister. Her focus since she returned to the Dayton area, has been on healing and building community.
She says there is a definite spiritual renaissance happening in the area. It was happening even before the recent attempts to heal the space of the recent violence that claimed the lives of nine people and wounded another 27.
The population of Dayton had been in a slow decline since the 1980s due to the gradual but steady loss of manufacturing jobs which made up a good percentage of the available jobs. Since 2000, the city has made a concerted effort to shift its focus towards other industries like education and healthcare to make up for the losses.
Luna Eclypse says Dayton is a magical place despite its urban landscape partly due to the joining of several rivers that combine with the Great Miami River. The Stillwater River and the Mad River join with the Great Miami River as it winds its way through the Dayton area, which is also fed by Wolf Creek, and Twin Creek. Beyond Dayton, the Great Miami River eventually joins the mighty Ohio River.
Despite an atmosphere of collective anxiety, fear, and trauma, new pathways to greater unity are opening within the community. People are exploring new ways of coming together to effect change and heal.
Since the shooting, there have been some public candlelight vigils, donations of time and services, mental health professionals making themselves available for whoever needs help, and of course fundraising efforts for the families of the victims. More people have been checking on each other, even those who might not really know their neighbors well. Hospitality and courtesy compose the bedrock of the community, and they are on the upswing.
The Dayton Pagan Coalition has their Pagan Pride scheduled for September 21, and has plans for a Shamanic Healing Circle and Stone Soup Ritual, performed by the Dayton Pagan Elders Council, which will be led by Priestess of the Morrigan, Celtic Shaman Tam Rois and Shamanic Witch Shelley Leggett, as part of the closing ritual that will include drumming and a musical performance by Cynthea Carrington and local drummers.
Luna Eclypse serves on both Dayton Pagan Pride and Dayton Pagan Coalition boards, is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in Wiccan ministry at Woolston Steen Theological Seminary. Luna is an OTO initiate and an officer of her local OTO chapter.
She is a dedicated priestess of Santa Muerte and feels especially called to serve the community during this time. She said the expression of grief she experienced from Santa Muerte was as though Death was grieving over the lives taken too soon.
Luna Eclypse believes that when the community truly comes together, embracing all people, regardless of race and cultural differences, that any difficulties can eventually be overcome. In her opinion, the hashtag #DaytonStrong exemplifies the enduring spirit of the people in the city she once again calls home.